To Honor MLK, Focus on His Actual Work
Plus, What Even Are the Suburbs Nowadays, Anyway?
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From Me on MLK Day, 2022: To Honor MLK, Focus on His Actual Work.
Were he alive today, on the federal holiday celebrating his contributions to civil rights, Martin Luther King would be 93 years old.
Today’s federal holiday was established 15 years after King was assassinated. (The first proposal to turn his birthday into a holiday came just four days after he was killed, from Rep. John Conyers.) Even though the holiday became law in 1983—and you can read a bit about the many fights over its passage here—it wasn’t celebrated until 1986, because of a clause in the legislation that delayed its implementation for two years—perhaps as a gesture to those who argued it would be too disruptive to business for the holiday to start right away.
In the final votes on the bill, 77 House Republicans and 14 House Democrats voted no, as did 18 Senate Republicans and 4 Senate Democrats. Of course, the Jesse Helmses of the day were opposed to the holiday, but so were some Republicans whose names you may recognize from the politics of recent years: John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch. Each of those three men came to regret their no votes.
Ron-anon Johnson wanted to get beat up on “Meet the Press” — so he could weaponize it. Plus, the active moving backward from MLK’s dream, Trump gets the ultimate whataboutism, debt ceiling dangers, and a football confession. Will Saletan’s back with Charlie Sykes for Charlie and Will Monday.
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DANIEL MCGRAW: What Even Are the Suburbs Nowadays, Anyway?
An underappreciated challenge of the present era in American politics—a challenge for policymakers, for candidates and their staffs, for pollsters, for journalists—is defining what now counts as “suburban.” Over the last half-century, suburban voters came to be recognized as a bloc distinct from urban and rural voters. By the 1992 presidential election, suburban voters were casting more votes than urban and rural voters combined.
But across those decades, the nature of the suburbs evolved. What we nowadays call suburbs look very different from place to place: The older suburbia of the Northeast is quite different from the newer suburbia surrounding cities in the West. We should not assume that the dynamics of age and race and income levels in the populations living in cul-de-sac-ville across the country are identical.
CATHY YOUNG: Ron DeSantis, Chris Rufo, and the College Anti-Woke Makeover.
The latest battle in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s ongoing crusade against “wokeness”—or, if you prefer, the latest maneuver in his march toward the 2024 Republican presidential nomination—is getting a lot of attention. After earlier attempts to clamp down on progressive left ideologies in schools, colleges, and other institutions via legislation, DeSantis is moving to reshape a state college in a more conservative image by overhauling its leadership. On January 6, he announced the appointment of six people to vacant seats on the thirteen-member board of trustees of the New College of Florida, a small but highly rated and politically progressive liberal arts school in Sarasota, Florida.
The most prominent among the new trustees is also the youngest: Manhattan Institute fellow and anti-woke culture warrior Christopher Rufo, who told New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg that he plans to conduct a “a top-down restructuring” of the college—and that he sees it as the first step in a broader plan for conservatives to “reconquer public institutions all over the United States.” Most of the other DeSantis appointees are in the same ideological mold. Once approved by the GOP-dominated state senate, they will likely form a solid conservative majority on the board, with two allies who are already on it and with the filling of another vacancy by the heavily pro-DeSantis Florida Board of Governors.
Go West, young man… Are you coming to our events in LA or Seattle? If so, click the links for a Bulwark+ members-only discussion to meet fellow attendees. I won’t be there, but know these events will be as fun as our first one in D.C. was.
They’re checking a box… My lead column above, written last year, was borne out of frustration that resulted from a deluge of MLK social media posts from Republican politicians, many of whom a year earlier, were trying to overturn lawfully cast votes.
House members and Senators get social media packets from party messaging staff on major holidays, and cherry picking from MLK’s greatest hits like a picky kid at a cafeteria is indeed, depressing. Sometimes, it’s downright maddening. Or both. But while most are checking a box, you actually see some conservative thought leaders actively tell you they’re just celebrating aspects of MLK, which is another way of saying: ignoring him when it’s convenient.
The best way, as I wrote, to honor MLK is to focus on his work. His words. Not a politician or pundit regurgitating them. Start at the King Center. Since libraries are closed, you might try your local one’s digital collection for your own edification, or material for children.
But don’t worry: Some pols aren’t pretending. They’re just spouting crazy things like today is any other day. At least we have that.
Meanwhile… Back in my hometown, Shaker Heights, Ohio, famous for its diversity and integration efforts, African Americans are leaving. Has Shaker lost what attracted many to it, or does it now have more competition?
A near hit… Disaster avoided at JFK.
We elected Biden to be better than this… Writes our colleague Mona Charen in TIME.
A Wikipedia controversy… Is this corn… Or maize?
Biden’s documents… Should have no impact on Trump’s legal problems.
Drought in the west… What the water crunch in parts of Phoenix is like.
A winter walk… With a stone cold killer. Matt Labash on dogs, possums, and the nature of wildness. (Subscribe today if you haven’t!)
Project Veritas… May have bitten off more than it can chew.
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