American Politics

We Can Keep the American People Safe

We Can Keep the American People Safe

David Foster Wallace was not especially interested in politics over the course of his life, and what interest he did exhibit was not driven by much of a political intelligence. He supported both Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot, although the absence of politics from his correspondence suggests that neither position was strongly held or carefully thought out. In a Rolling Stone cover story on the 2000 John McCain campaign that has since become a fixture of his anthologies, he describes American politics as a sentimental battle between cynicism and real feeling, political gamesmanship and public-spiritedness, the last of which Wallace yokes McCain into symbolizing. (He also says that McCain could be the country’s first “real leader” since JFK.) Wallace had a lifelong suspicion of cable news, but the textures of his political thought could sometimes appear to be drawn from that medium.

Year in Review: 2015

Year in Review: 2015

When the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December for the first time since the onset of the financial crisis, the feeling around the decision was one of somber, even funereal, inevitability. It was hard not to think of the mayor of Amity, assured of the water’s safety, reluctantly leading his citizens back down to the beach. Incidentally, Jaws was released in 1975, the last year that real wages rose. We all know the water isn’t safe, but an economy organized like Amity’s has no choice but to act like it is.

Is Moira Pregnant?

Is Moira Pregnant?

On signing up for health care

There’s some evidence that even with the subsidies, many people still can’t afford to go to the doctor: a recent Gallup poll found that 31 percent of Americans had delayed seeking medical treatment because of the cost, even though the number of insured people has increased since the passing of the health-care law. Ours is a now system that demands long-term planning almost exclusively from people whose work is scarce enough and precarious enough to preclude even short-term security.

Race and the American Creed

Race and the American Creed

Recovering black radicalism

Race in the United States is marked by a fundamental paradox. On the one hand, there has been considerable progress: segregation enforced by the rule of law is a thing of the past, and segregation at the level of mainstream culture, though persistent, is considered a scandal. On the other hand, today’s postracial America of Kimye and Pharrell is still the era of the New Jim Crow and entrenched black poverty. Diversity in elite universities exists alongside de facto residential segregation, and a black president administers a minority-dominated prison system.

H.

H.

On heroin and harm reduction

You are cured of your hepatitis after a course of Sovaldi, a new pill that clears the disease in 95 percent of cases. The price of this near-certain cure: $84,000. Each pill costs $1,000. You are fortunate to live in New York, the state where Medicaid coverage of the drug is the most generous. Many states pay for only the sickest patients. You are, relatively speaking, not that sick.

The Sanders Phenomenon

The Sanders Phenomenon

An analysis in advance of the first Democratic debate

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a democratic socialist but not a Democrat, seeks the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States. The story is rich with paradox: the Democrat-of-convenience as tribune of the party’s ancestral commitments; the grumpy old man lighting the youth afire; the defender of the working class become darling of the chattering classes; the hero for the left emerging just when so much of it feels so besieged. Yet Sanders is a disarmingly simple figure, a Rip Van Winkle deep in the Green Mountains from a lost age of class politics. His ideology is universalism; his rhetoric is the jeremiad.