Pulitzer-prize winning reporter and New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, who spends her days covering the tumultuous Trump administration, began her Statler Hall speech on Monday with something she said is rare under this regime: an apology.
Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In our very first feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “How have the stakes of American politics risen so high?” Read the counterpart column here. As the rhetoric of both parties, the power grabs of outgoing Republican administrations, and the recent response of Democratic leaders to scandals in Virginia suggest, these certainly are uncommon political times we are living through. The public is not only increasingly polarized, but also increasingly isolated, as the number of counties close to the median voter has more than halved over the past two decades. And yet, to claim that our current political environment involves abnormally high stakes is to sanitize history.
In recent years, Venezuela has become a favorite talking point for socialism’s detractors, who typically invoke the nation when they find themselves without a more substantive defense of their views. “But what about Venezuela?” they ask in comment sections everywhere. The question is rhetorical. Venezuela is just their trump card — present-day proof of the failed socialist experiment. But what if we truly wanted to know the answer to “what about Venezuela?” If the question was asked in good faith, what would the answer be?
Today’s cover of the New Yorker shows Barry Blitt’s “Welcome to Congress,” a moving visual tribute to the historic number of women who have been elected to serve in the Congress. The cartoon features figures that appear to be Sharice Davids J.D. ’10, one of the first female Native Americans elected to Congress and the first openly LGBTQ representative elected from Kansas, Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29 is the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress. By now most of us have heard these names and registered these accomplishments, but the New Yorker cover really communicates how this election cycle was a monumental deviation from the status quo. However, an obvious consequence of change is pushback, and not all media has been as welcoming to this group of trailblazers. Last week, the internet erupted into controversy over, of all things, Ocasio-Cortez’s wardrobe — which is a really disappointing sentence to be typing in 2018.
2018 was a uniquely momentous year in Asian-American politics. For the first time in a long time, it felt like Asian-Americans were being elected outside of California. In New Jersey’s third congressional district, for example, Democrat and former Obama staffer Andy Kim won over long-time incumbent Tom MacArthur, who engineered the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and is closely aligned with President Trump. Republican Young Kim was poised to be the first Korean-American women in Congress, although the race was just called on Saturday for Democrat Gil Cisneros. Certainly, neither of these examples speak to a paradigmatic shift in the representation or enthusiasm of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in politics.