Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Speech I Want Joe Biden To Give

[Author's Note: I'm not a speech writer by trade, but here's what I would like to hear from the Democratic nominee. Hey Biden campaign, you can call me any time.)

My fellow Americans, we are in the midst of a daunting crisis. We have faced crises this dire in America's history before, but this is like nothing we have seen in our lifetimes. A deadly pandemic is ravaging the country, our economy is in free fall, and people have taken to the streets in massive numbers to protest racism and injustice. In the midst of this our president has been a modern day Nero, tweeting while the nation burns.

His failure to provide leadership and direction on the virus has caused tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. In the face of mass deprivation he has rewarded large corporations while letting everyday people suffer. His flagrantly racist politics and even cheerleading for police brutality have only fanned the flames of justified discontent. In a truly wretched spectacle he had peaceful protestors gassed so he could pose for a photo opportunity.

We all know that this country cannot move forward with Donald Trump in office. However, it would be a huge mistake to think that this country's troubles only began in January of 2017. Donald Trump did not come out of nowhere, nor did the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. The past forty years have seen a fearsome rise in economic inequality. Our government has responded mostly by putting more people in prison instead of addressing the root of the problem.

It is here that I must admit that I have been part of the problem. In the 1990s I voted for crime bills motivated by the need to protect citizens, and not cognizant enough of the destructive effects of mass incarceration, especially on the Black community. At the time this approach was very popular.  All of us must admit the failures of the past, and to do better to ensure a brighter future.

We are living in difficult times, and problems such as ours demand solutions to match them. If we are to improve the lives of Americans, we must be willing to make sweeping reforms and remake many of our institutions. For example, the virus has shown that a health care system tied to employment where people lose coverage when they lose their jobs, doesn't work. Furthermore, this system is extremely costly, and leaves millions without protection. We need to have a universal health insurance system, so that every American is taken care of.

Some may argue that this will mean restrictions on freedom, but I say that universal health care will empower the people of this country. It will allow them more freedom to move jobs and switch careers, and the freedom that comes from knowing that an essential part of your life is being taken care of.

We need to expand the social safety net in other ways that will bring freedom. For example, we need to subsidize child care, which will allow more parents the ability to take the jobs they want, children of all backgrounds to be better prepared for school, and to reduce a massive fiscal burden on working families. We must provide low-cost college education so that young people may pursue a better life without being crushed by debt. An America where every citizen can pursue their dream no matter how much money they have is in our reach if we try.

This is nothing new in our history. FDR responded to the Great Depression by creating the minimum wage, social security, and farm subsidies. Abraham Lincoln supported the creation of land grant universities to broaden the reach of higher education. Both presidents understood that the best way to respond to a crisis in this country is to focus on improving the lives of regular people.

We also must listen to the voices of protest in the street. Our cities are segregated and they are policed in racist and violent ways. We must end the war on drugs by legalizing cannabis and decriminalizing other drugs so that addicts can be helped and low-level dealers rehabilitated. We must support affordable housing and not just place it in the poorest areas because that doesn't solve the problem of segregation. Housing, like health care, keeps getting more expensive, even though wages aren't going up. We must demilitarize the police, and reallocate resources from the prison-industrial complex to social welfare. Until we make a true effort for what Martin Luther King called "genuine equality," we will never be able to live up to this nation's promise.

In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln called the Civil War a "new birth of freedom." This moment of crisis calls for yet another that is long overdue. In addition to making sure all Americans are able to have a decent standard of living, we also must make our system democratic again. Even before Donald Trump took office, Republicans challenged the Voting Rights Act in court and got key provisions overturned. This has led to naked attempts at voter suppression across the country. The long lines we see on election day are a national disgrace. We must fight to ensure the right to vote by setting uniform voter qualifications across the entire country.

Trump promised to "drain the swamp," but instead has become the Swamp Monster in Chief. He has used the government to advance his personal wealth, but his brazen graft is sadly only an extreme version of the corruption causing our system to rot away. We need a Constitutional amendment to limit money in political campaigns so that the people and not the wealth and corporations have the ears of our leaders.

Donald Trump lost by three million votes, yet still became president. It is time to dismantle the electoral college. Due to the machinations of Mitch McConnell, Trump has packed the courts with radical conservatives. I aim to nominate additional justices to better reflect good jurisprudence and the will of the people. We cannot have a country where the person rejected by the majority still gets to be president. That is not democracy.

As my friend Barack liked to say, what is wrong with America can be fixed with what is right with America. Our nation rose to the challenge in the Civil War and Great Depression. We can do it again. I am not running for president merely to unseat an unfit, disastrous Donald Trump. I do so because I love this country and I believe in its future. This crisis presents an opportunity for a true rebirth of freedom. Let us not squander this golden opportunity. The darkest hour comes before the dawn.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

People Years, "Commonly Known"

I try to keep my resolutions humble so I don't embarrass myself. (I stopped resolving to lose weight a long time ago. Turns out the constant stress of covid and having my remote working days be a constant ball of chaos led to me eating less at last.) I resolved at the start of this year to listen to more new music. Like a lot of successful resolutions, this required active measures.

Every time I thought about putting one of my tried and true albums on or a playlist filled with old faves, I stopped myself. I was good with this until quarantine flung me back into the warm arms of the familiar. However, as New Jersey's public spaces have opened up, so has my Spotify. It was also good that I enjoyed so many of the new songs I discovered that they ended up being "old reliables" in the midst of the pandemic.

Back when I was a college professor I had a pre-lecture ritual (especially in larger intro classes where my energy was key.) I would indulge in a little caffeine or nicotine and listen to a song to get me in the mood. The song had to be propulsive and upbeat. For my first year as a prof "Omaha" by Moby Grape was my preferred warm up song.

In distance learning "Commonly Known" by People Years became my go to. I know nothing about the band, I just heard the song on a music podcast and immediately fell in love. I played it for some friends this week and they too started bobbing their heads almost immediately. It has that rare combo of push, hooks, and melody. And jangle? Oh yes it has jangle. (As an REM superfan, I am a sucker for jangle.)

These days so much amazing music is being made but the fractured nature of the musical landscape makes it so hard to find. If you find yourself thinking you don't like any new music, it might be that you just don't know where it is. Dig a little bit and be rewarded.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Letter on Local Housing Segregation

I live in a suburb of New Jersey that sees itself as a progressive paragon, but which has also been the subject of reports about its racial segregation. It's a place that has "Black Lives Matter" signs everywhere, but also resists any attempt to build denser housing. This contradiction inspired me to write a letter to the Village Green, which is the local news resource. In case you don't want to click on the link, here's what I wrote below.


Last year the New York Times stirred up the town when it published an article about segregation in Maplewood’s public schools. That article highlighted a dirty not-so-little secret about this place, which prides itself on its progressive nature. A year later, the same town maintains that self-image and is conspicuously involved in protests against racist policing. Signs reading “Black Lives Matter” can be seen all over. However, the deeper structural racism behind the town’s segregated schools has not gone away.

Maplewood’s elementary schools are segregated because Maplewood’s neighborhoods are segregated. In fact, some of the neighborhoods with the thickest presence of the aforementioned Black Lives Matter signs are almost exclusively white. At a time when so many are rightly speaking out against institutional racism, Maplewood needs to examine how its zoning and land use policies reinforce segregation. 

Like suburban New Jersey more broadly, Maplewood’s segregation is rooted in older racist policies intended to make the suburbs white. Redlining established through the post-New Deal FHA’s programs made it so any neighborhood that wasn’t exclusively white lost access to subsidized mortgages. Other policies, like exclusionary zoning, are less obvious but just as important. Whole areas are zoned exclusively for single family homes, shutting out the less affluent (who are disproportionately people of color in New Jersey) by limiting the building of more affordable apartments. These policies in Maplewood and elsewhere contribute to residential segregation. Combined with the neighborhood school model, that residential segregation has major consequences.

Tight zoning rules make it difficult for developers to build and easy for those inclined to stop multi-family dwellings. Developers thus must request variances to get things built, making it easy for all kinds of ridiculous roadblocks to be put in place. If you don’t believe me, come to a public meeting sometime to hear the often Byzantine legal challenges to proposed apartment complexes. The firepower behind these NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) challenges is stronger in whiter, more affluent neighborhoods. Good urbanist policy says that we should have dense housing near transit hubs like the train station, but every time any multi-family development is proposed in the Village, the disproportionately white residents of the neighborhood fiercely resist it. 

For that reason new multi-family dwellings are invariably built in areas of town that are less white. The challenges and hurdles to getting apartments built also ends up making them more expensive, since developers need to build luxury apartments to make up for the expense of getting something built under these circumstances. The artificial housing scarcity also drives up home values in Maplewood and New Jersey more broadly, allowing the disproportionately white group of homeowners relative to renters in this town and in this country to profit off of a racist housing system. 

This has all been going on for decades. The racial segregation that maps onto these housing disparities should be no surprise to us. Yet despite the Black Lives Matter signs on the lawns of Maplewoodians, it’s still just as hard to get multi-unit buildings constructed in the Village as it ever was. 

A great many of the people who make NIMBY arguments may see themselves as anti-racist, or think this is about preserving “neighborhood character” and not systemic racism. However, intentions have little to do with it. To be more blunt, systemic racism, like the coronavirus, doesn’t care about our feelings. 

The way forward should not just include the school district’s integration plan. It should also challenge the zoning and land use restrictions that contribute to the underlying segregation. Other cities have been putting an end to exclusionary zoning, it’s high time that Maplewood did too. The town can do more to support the building of more affordable housing, but the big change needs to happen in the mentalities of Maplewood residents. Those who genuinely care about institutional racism need to be attuned to how exclusionary zoning contributes to it, and stop resisting the building of a town that is more affordable and inclusive. If your opposition to denser housing is framed as “saving the neighborhood” take a moment to think long and hard about the deeper implications of that statement. They might not be as noble as you think. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Dispatch From A Saturday Sojourn In Trump Country

Today I took my daughters to my in-laws' house to enjoy their pool and relax. They live in Morris County in a heavily Trump area, something I never felt so palpably before today. We tend to talk of "blue states" and "red states" but that is a reductionist model because there tend to be political divides within most states. In New Jersey they are pretty stark and today was a pretty clear illustration.

As we drove from our neighborhood through Maplewood and South Orange, we spotted several Black Lives Matter signs. Once we took South Orange Avenue west over the mountain those signs disappeared, replaced by signs for Republican candidates for the upcoming primary. Soon after that it was the blue line flag. In the space of a couple of miles we traveled to two very separate realities.

I enjoyed some time in the pool and take-out pizza for lunch, then let my in-laws watch the kids while I ran some errands. My first stop was a nearby liquor store to get some local beers to take with me for a visit with old friends in Pennsylvania next week. I'd never been there before, I was only going there because it was on the way to the Italian bakery and deli I needed to go to. When I got into the store I heard the fifty-ish owner tell someone about shooting skunks from outside of his window with a .22 as a child. That seemed odd for sure. When I got to the counter I noticed a handwritten sign on the register with a quotation attributed to Maximilian Robespierre. It said something to the effect that "the power that be keep the people in ignorance to keep them down." I was struck by that, and wondered if this place was owned by a secret Jacobin. Then I looked behind the counter, and saw all the Trump ephemera, including a sign that said "make liberals cry again, vote Trump in 2020."

The owner was futzing around with something else and at that point I put my merchandise back on the shelf and walked out because that asshole was not going to get my money. I felt like asking him if his dumb ass even knew who Robespierre was, but I wasn't in the mood to start a fight with someone with a hard-on for guns.

So I went to the Italian bakery and deli. I was glad to see a lot of signage on the door saying "no mask no service." When I walked it I got a bad omen, though. There was a tatted-up rough customer ahead of me in line wearing a prison guard uniform. Another guy, straight out of Morris County middle-aged reactionary white guy central casting, started going off on a profane tirade to the guy behind the counter, who he evidently knew. He started by lamenting "it looks like things are changing." Then it got uglier, saying "if they get their way this whole fucking country will go wild" and "can you believe they are trying to make Friday a special day" with a pretty clear insinuation as to who "they" were. He also kept repeating this phrase about "people need to know their history." I am not sure which history he was referring to. The guy behind the counter did aver that the cops had been acting poorly, but the ranter wouldn't have it.

I wasn't sure how to respond, so I just started loudly chuckling to myself. It seemed to have worked because the guy shut up. I realized in that moment that the Trumpists are starting to reckon with a loss of power. The stuff about "this country is changing" came with a certain weary tone. Perhaps, at last, they are the ones on the run.

Seeing the half-empty arena in Tulsa only seems to confirm that observation to me. Of course, that doesn't mean that Trump and his crew won't try to rig the system now that it's obvious that they've lost any kind of popular mandate. My trip into Trump country also showed me that the reservoirs of white rage that propelled Trump the White House are not going away.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Life's Rough Middle Patch

"Harvest Moon" is a rare positive song about middle age and appreciating what you have

Last week I opined a little on Twitter on the emotional difficulties of middle age, and I think it actually lost me some followers. Twitter is a place slanted towards the young, so I should talk about my middle-aged angst on a blog, which is a fittingly unfashionable platform for an unfashionable topic.

I've been reading a lot recently about "deaths of despair" from suicide, alcohol-related illnesses, and drug overdoses, and how they have been spiking among the middle-aged. This full blown national midlife crisis is getting surprisingly little attention despite the fact that it has dragged down the nation's life expectancy. There are deeper causes behind this, but there's also a reason why this is manifesting among those in middle age.

It's the stage of life that's perhaps the most emotionally fraught, even more than adolescence. Once you hit middle age you suddenly realize that you've gotten to where you are going to be. There is no bright future anymore, just the present for another few decades until you die after you've hopefully had a little time to enjoy your retirement. With each passing day, I can hear a door slam. The sense of possibility that came with youth is gone.

Once you've reached this point and become cognizant of your rut, you start to think long and hard about whether it's a good rut to be in or not. A lot of what we call a "midlife crisis" is merely people realizing the die is cast and they are deeply unhappy about having to live the second half of their lifetimes in the place where they have ended up.

It hasn't been too bad for me. Quarantine has reminded me of how lucky I am to have my wife and daughters. The way my school has handled the transition to distance learning makes me happy to work for them. The appreciations I got from graduating seniors last week reminded me that my job is one that truly makes an impact on others.

However, it's becoming more and more apparent what I am not going to have and where I have failed. Being a teacher who sacrificed prime earning years to grad school means I will never have the money to travel to a lot of the places I've dreamed about since my youth. I am probably never going to get a book published. My attempts to be an "independent scholar" after leaving academia have basically failed. Name publications don't want to publish my submissions, and never will. I haven't made many new friends where I live and it's unlikely I ever will, and will spend the rest of my life hundreds of miles from my family and closest friends.

On balance things have worked out! But that doesn't mean that certain things don't get lost to the point that they can't come back. That's the bitter truth of middle age. It's little wonder that people my age far less affluent than me are dying "deaths of despair." America is a place where it is less and less likely that people can reach middle age feeling good about where they have ended up.

Yet we lack even the most basic public conversation about this. The "midlife crisis" is a stock target of derision in our popular culture. In this youth-obsessed society discussing aging is a faux pas deserving of mockery. It's high time that we reckoned with the emotional difficulties of middle age. Maybe the beginning is for us sad sack middle-aged types to just talk about it.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Neil Young, "Campaigner"

I have spent several years engaging in a research project related to American history in the mid 1970s. I feel like that period is a secret fulcrum. Globalization, deindustrialization, neoliberalism, and mass incarceration really surfaced then, along with the social and political shocks of Watergate, the Fall of Saigon, and an economic crisis. What we are living through right now feels like an even bigger confluence, with the Trump presidency, a pandemic, economic crisis, and mass protests over racism happening all at once.

A key difference in these moments is that in the mid-70s the protest movement of the prior decade were flaming out, whereas now they seem to be getting stronger. One era was defined by resignation, ours is defined by engagement, mostly because the scale of death and political collapse is so horrific. In the mid-70s that resignation was maybe best expressed in Neil Young's famous "ditch trilogy" of challenging albums.

He recorded one album in that period, Hitchhiker, that only recently found an official release (although he re-recorded some of the songs for later albums.) One song put on a later album was "Campaigner," with the key line "Even Richard Nixon has got soul." It's a surprise considering that in the song "Ohio" Young called out Nixon by name for being responsible for the Kent State shooting. This song is a kind of radical act of empathy, an acknowledgement that Nixon was still a human being no matter how awfully he had behaved.

A sign that we are in a different turning point nowadays is that I cannot imagine hearing the lines "Even Donald Trump has got soul" and keeping a straight face. Nixon was a horrible person, but he was all too human. In his hatred for the Ivy League and his chip on his shoulder from having come from humble origins there's a little bit in Nixon I can empathize with. This is impossible with Trump, a moral black hole who seems to represent nothing but his own unfettered greed and ego.

The time we are in now is more radically catastrophic than the mid-70s. There won't be any time for wistful empathy for the oppressors. In the end, that might prove freeing.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Cracks in Our Political Ice Age?

A few months ago I was lamenting about how static the politics of American in my lifetime have been. The same debates about abortion and guns I first heard as a child are still raging and have not been resolved. In the Reagan years I first picked up on the critique of how American society was increasingly divided and unequal, and that problem has only gotten worse. The second Gilded Age did not lead to a second Progressive Era. Instead, the divisions in American society obvious since the 1960s have remained and we have just been fighting over them for the last 50 years with no clear outcomes or change. Kruse and Zelizer's recent history Fault Lines does an excellent job of illustrating this.

The wave of protests over the last two weeks are a sign that America's political ice age is maybe finally coming to an end. One of the central tenets of this ice age has been the role of the police. "Small government" conservatives are really more interested in reorganizing the state than eliminating it, and their onslaught led to social services being starved and the prison-industrial complex being fed. For decades liberals, afraid of the wrath of the masses who wanted them to get "tough on crime," just went along with it. In this time of "fault lines" support for the police was one of the few political consensus points.

That has been undermined in a dramatic way. People who once may have felt uncomfortable criticizing law enforcement are openly doing so. Joe Biden's proposal to support community policing while still giving additional grants to police departments fell like a lead balloon. That kind of "reform" simply doesn't cut it anymore.

The sense that the underlying system has failed and needs to be drastically changed has been around my entire life, but the voices for that opinion have been on the margins. Now they are at center stage.  That's because plenty of people in the middle are taking the failures to heart. Politicians like Bernie Sanders who voice this critique have also articulated the need for major change to a larger audience than ever. Events of the past few years make any other interpretation impossible to sustain. Most of what passes for arguments the other way is just nostalgia or a pig-headed refusal to admit being wrong.

Donald Trump's election and presidency represent a total failure of our political system. It matters that he LOST the popular vote by a significant margin. It matters that Republicans have used voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the nature of the Senate to defy the public will. For a lot of people that was pretty abstract up until this year, but the tens of thousands of unnecessary virus deaths have illustrated the stakes of having a nakedly unrepresentative political system. The ways that Republicans at the state level have tried to use the virus to suppress voting have also been noticed in ways that prior attempts at voter suppression were not.

This all happened because Republicans know that the only way to sustain the 45 year ice age that allowed them to ward off change is to rig the system. A clear majority is against them, whether it be from generational replacement or from enough people deciding that the system does not work for them anymore. (That's also why they have won the popular vote in only one presidential election this century, and why the GOP had to turn to Trump. Their own brand is too tarnished.)

But I do wonder how much change will be generated by this unique moment. Last week we were talking about changing policing, this week it's monuments. While I cheer the monuments being taken down, I wonder if conservatives will end up shifting the discourse to turn this into another one of the culture wars that have been emblematic of the ice age. We can't let that happen.

I was inspired in the first place to use the "ice age" metaphor by an account I once read of the zeks in Siberian labor camps hearing of the death of Stalin. They gave a hopeful cheer, and one of the witnesses said it was like in Siberian spring when you could hear the massive sheets of ice cracking. That's how I feel now. The situation is beyond terrible, but there is a sign of hope. This American Spring needs to blossom into a full summer if we are to have a future. See you on the barricades.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Teaching High School Debate Differently

High school debate's worst case scenario

Friday was my last day of regular classes for the school year. It feels good to get across the finish line of a really difficult year. Going online presented a lot of challenges, especially when I had to teach debate over Zoom. My school's schedule has the year divided into five "mods," and the last mod has been completely under quarantine.

I did competitive debate for four years in high school and four years in college. It's an activity that gave an extremely withdrawn, nerdy kid a great deal of confidence in public speaking. In college it allowed me to travel to Ireland and fall in with a great group of friends. My mom was my high school's coach, and so this meant getting to spent a lot of quality time with her. One of our assistant coaches, a local college student, turned me on to philosophy, which I had never read before. My college coaches were wonderful people too, and I learned a lot from them.

It was a very good experience overall, but by the time I was done I realized that the whole enterprise was about playing games with rhetoric and not about actually changing the world for the better. In fact, too much immersion in debate can breed a certain kind of cynicism. I remember when we did a public debate on campus and my philosphy professor, who I greatly admired, attended and said the whole thing was "sophistry." That got me thinking abou the true nature of what I was doing, and whether it was the best use of my abilities.

When I parted ways with debate I was ready. After awhile, however, I missed the high I would get from the frisson of a hard-fought round. When I switched from being a college prof to a high school teacher I thought debate would be an interesting and enjoyable thing to introduce to my students. My school preaches progressive education, meaning that the learnign should be student-focused and geared toward exploration. Debate, when done well, certainly fits the bill.

However, I was also aware of how debate can so often work at cross-purposes with a progressive mindset, especially with learning for life. The world of competitive debate is so insular and byzantine that competitors rarely talk in ways that make sense to ordinary human beings. Policy debate, where competitors read evidence so fast that they can't be understood and keep trying to prove that the affirmative team's case will cause nuclear war, is the most infamous example of this. But even in other formats debaters talk too robotically and pepper their speeches with jargon because the judges are members of the same closed system. It's not necessarily a great education for learning how to engage in public discourse. At its worst its a training ground for new Ben Shapiros.

I really believe it can be if done well, however. When I taught my class I set about focusing on educating my students for life rather than competitive debate rounds. Since the school doesn't have a team, I could ignore the latter imperative. We used the Public Forum format, which is easy for the students to learn and allows for a range of resolutions. Each topic we debated was chosen by the students. The main topics ended up being the death penalty, cannabis legalization, and gun control. I maybe would have liked some less obvious topics, but they all allowed for lots of back and forth and an ease of entering into the topic.

For the last week of class I had initially planned on doing a parliamentary style debate on something related to the school. The more relaxed format would allow the students to branch out more and the topic would allow an emphasis on passion and humor. (There is nothing students are more poised to debate than their school's rules.) However, with the protests over George Floyd's death going on, a silly debate like that seemed pretty inappropriate. Instead I had the students all do their own speeches presenting what would have been their opening case for various resolutions related to the situation. If my class was supposed to be educating them for life, I thought it best to let them choose the position and build a case for a position they truly cared about, instead of just being assigned a side.

I was really blown away by the results. The speeches actually gave me a lot of hope, considering how hard the students worked in a short period of time, and how articulate they were in their calls for change. Considering the state of the world right now, high school students should be learning debate so that they can participate and make their own mark in the public sphere. If they come out of it thinking that the truth is immaterial to any debate, or that they have mastered a bunch of rhetorical tricks to win arguments, what have we actually taught them? The world has enough bullshit as it is.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

What If...A Foreign Correspondent Sent A Dispatch From DC?

American In Turmoil After a Week of Unrest

Washington) Turmoil in the capital city today after violent crackdowns by local security forces. The president ordered protestors near the palace tear gassed so he could take his picture with a sacred text outside of a nearby house of worship. Palace watchers assume this was done as a gesture to his supporters, who tend to cling tighter to traditional culture.

The president has also ordered the mobilization of the military against the people in the streets by invoking a 200 year old law written to quell slave uprisings. No word yet on whether generals will comply with the directive. Cities in the provinces continue to experience unrest, and journalists have been assaulted by government forces. As of yet there has been no government takeover of the radio and television airwaves but state-aligned cable networks have been reporting praise for the president's behavior.

The governing party still stands behind the president, and as of yet there are no calls for abdication by opposition leaders. The opposition had failed to remove the leader through legal proceedings earlier in the year. Despite several accusations of abuse of power and corruption, these legal proceedings failed due to obstruction by the governing party.

The president has long been unpopular, and he received three million fewer votes in the last election than his opponent. The United States, however, chooses its president based on an antiquated and complicated formula that allows for minority rule. Recent government inaction in the face of pandemic has exacerbated the tensions caused by having a leader without the support of the people.

Provincial governors and mayors have set down curfews that protestors have openly defied. The American state is currently teetering on the brink, but no definite end to the crisis is in sight.