A NATIONAL LOOK AT VOTING RIGHTS. The GOP’s 2012 election strategy has crystalized in recent months. Poisoning the election process with unprecedented sums of money and influence is not enough—Republicans are waging a war on voting by hyping negligible threats of voter fraud and pushing voter ID laws in over two dozen states—all of which disproportionately impact Democratic leaning voters: low-income citizens, college students, women, the elderly and people of color. Here at TheNation.com, we’ve been calling attention these efforts through Voting Rights Watch 2012, a collaboration with Colorlines.com, which focuses on the racial impact and dimensions of restrictive Voter ID laws, barriers faced by voter registration organizations, and efforts to “police the vote” and other intimidation tactics. Reporters Brentin Mock and Aura Bogado have been on the ground in states across the country to offer a look at what’s happening with voting rights in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Alabama, Florida, and others. Their reporting is available here.
REMEMBERING GORE VIDAL. “We are permanently the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing,” Vidal once wrote in the pages of The Nation. Vidal, who passed away on July 31 at the age of 86, was by all accounts a truth-teller, a brilliant and prolific novelist & essayist, a master stylist, and whose erudition and wit were unmatched in contemporary American literary culture. A long-time Nation contributing editor, some of his most memorable essays and quotes appeared in our pages. Described by his friend and colleague John Nichols as a “fierce defender of the purest, most revolutionary of ideals…” Vidal wrote not only as a “citizen of the republic,” but a fierce “critic of empire.” In this powerful remembrance, contributing editor Jon Wiener reflects on a few of the more memorable moments of Vidal’s life and work. We’ve compiled some of Vidal’s most powerful essays from nearly a half century of writing for this magazine. They’re available here.
PUSSY RIOT AND THE TWO RUSSIAS. The imprisonment of three members of the Russian punk rock/protest group Pussy Riot has generated international headlines and sparked widespread activism in support of the group. But I explain this week, while the attention and outpouring of support is gratifying, lost in much of that coverage is a troubling reality. Amidst a broader crackdown of dissent in Russia, President Putin has masterfully played those in support of the group–the Westernized, modern urban “elites” — against those in Russia’s heartland who view Pussy Riot’s act of defiance as an assault on Russian traditional values. If we are to bring these two groups together to oppose Putin’s crackdown and the gutting of public education and pensions, pro-Pussy Riot activism must evolve into a mass mobilization that opposes neoliberal politics and calls for fair elections and an end to corruption. Read my post, “Pussy Riot and the Two Russias“, here.