How did it come to pass that public employee unions, which scarcely existed 60 years ago, have come to run public schools and myriad state and local government agencies?
Commentary by Michael Barone
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What are "the major problems this country faces"? Writing in The Atlantic, New York Times columnist David Brooks leads off his list with "inequality, political polarization, social mistrust" before concluding with the inevitable "climate change." Today's "inequality," he notes, is as "savage" as the inequality in the 1890s.
America has just exited a biennium of Democratic trifecta -- control by the nation's and the world's oldest political party of the White House and majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. It is only the third such biennium in the last 40 years, since 1993-95 and 2009-11, the first two years of the Clinton and Obama administrations.
From all those lists of best books of 2022, here's one with the potential to change public policy debate and discourse for the better.
Three Big Surprises of 2022: Weakened Russia, Weakened China, Weakened American Economy By Michael Barone
2022 was a year full of surprises. Important things didn't work out as many people had expected on just about every point on the political spectrum.
Will Silicon Valley go down in history the way of the robber barons? There's been plenty of raw material in the headlines for a sharp downgrading of the San Francisco Bay area tech industry's reputation these last few weeks.
When John Quincy Adams was informed by a committee that he was elected president by the House of Representatives, for the first and only time through the procedure set by the 12th Amendment of the Constitution, he responded in writing.
Are we living in an era of political contentment? Most Americans would answer that question with a bellowing "No!" But there's a case to be made that American voters, for all their negative talk, actually don't want a set of public policies markedly different from what we have today.
Note that that seems to be the practical result of the 2022 midterm elections last month.
Unsure of what to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Here's a suggestion of something to be thankful for: the Northwest Ordinance.
A House Popular Vote Majority Produced Few Seats but Is a Good Sign For Republicans in 2024 By Michael Barone
One of the puzzles in this year's surprising and unpredicted (including by me) off-year election results is why the Republicans' 51% to 47% win in the popular vote for House of Representatives did not produce a majority bigger than the apparent 221-214 result. (All numbers here are subject to revision in line with final returns.)
One way to look at this election is as a repudiation of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
When you look around at the political scene, less than a week from the 2022 midterm elections, what do you see?
What issues are the candidates and the parties not talking about? It's worth asking, because sometimes these issues turn out to be important.
If Democrats take a drubbing in the off-year elections -- and it seems increasingly likely, but not certain, that they will -- it will be because they lost their moorings when the country seemed to go crazy with excessive COVID closedowns and irrational obsessions about systemic racism.
Human beings differ in how much risk they will accept. Thus, as an analyst I quoted in a recent column concluded, Russian President Vladimir Putin "was too risk-acceptant" in invading Ukraine and Chinese leader Xi Jinping "has been too risk-averse" in imposing "zero-COVID" lockdowns.
Will 2022 turn out be a hinge year, as a moment when long-standing trends in geopolitics suddenly shifted in a different direction? This week, two important writers, one a long-established and prolific historian, the other a provocative presence on the internet, have argued persuasively that the answer is yes. But there's one other interesting point in common: Neither sees the United States as having played a decisive role in the sudden shift.
Over the last three months, political journalists have been reporting a trend toward Democrats. The Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, they have reported, has provided increased motivation for Democrats to turn out and vote. The easing of gas prices from their springtime peak has reduced concern about out-of-control inflation. Biden administration legislative victories have raised Democrats' morale.
The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and the praise pouring in from almost all quarters for her 70 years of service make a powerful case, even for small-r republican and small-d democratic Americans, for the institution of constitutional monarchy. There is much to be said for having a head of state who is politically neutral, culturally traditional but open to popular innovation, personally embodying the traditional strengths of a nation.
Morale matters more than materiel.
"All political lives, unless they are cut off at midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs." So said the British politician Enoch Powell, whose own once-stellar career ended in spectacular failure.