This week I reflected on the state of American democracy under Donald Trump and considered the importance of history and memory to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Elsewhere:
• I don’t think it’s appropriate for the GOP to rush through Ginsburg’s successor mere weeks before Election Day, four years after refusing to vote on Barack Obama’s nominee to the same court. But neither the hypocrisy of that hurried process nor the Catholic faith of Amy Coney Barrett mean she’s unqualified for the Supreme Court.
(Separate, but related question for you all to consider: is it possible that faith shapes our political views less than we think?)
• How can we avoid these kinds of SCOTUS wars? One reform proposal would link the Supreme Court most closely to the federal circuit court system.
• Add a former Cabinet secretary and battleground state governor to the list of prominent Republicans planning to vote for Joe Biden rather than Donald Trump.
• I know the point of this New York Times headline is that Americans should be troubled that the Trump era has left people from Myanmar to Ontario “feeling sorry” for us. But maybe that should also make us question assumptions of national exceptionalism…
• In my RBG post, I started with Trump’s proposal for more “patriotic” history education. A retired Christian college history professor explained in more depth what’s wrong with that.
• But since Trump is so intent on focusing our attention on 1776… You might been wondering what happens if you update the Declaration of Independence to 21st century English and our current political context.
• One other way that the late 18th century is highly relevant right now: the history of conspiracy theories in the early American republic, as reviewed by John Fea.
• When my biography of Charles Lindbergh comes out in 2021, readers will find that the chapter on the kidnapping and murder of his eldest son is one of the shortest in the book. So if you’d like to read more on that case — and especially the media’s response to it — check out the newest Lindbergh book.
• Why 2020 was the last straw for one formerly evangelical Christian writer.
• I suspect that most of his arguments will be familiar to my readers, but it’s still worth reading Eric Miller’s powerful piece on “the scandal of the evangelical college.”
• On the occasion of their 100th episode, three of my Bethel colleagues talked about why they podcast.
• I don’t know that studying things like history, philosophy, and literature is always a guard against authoritarianism (cf. 1920s Germany, where plenty of classically educated people embraced Nazism), but at least in 21st century America, it seems to help.
• And if you or your child did benefit from that kind of education, you should tell the people who make decisions in higher ed.
• Nationally, undergraduate enrollment is down this fall — but far less than some predicted, and (to my surprise) much more at community colleges than four-year schools.
• Finally, here in Minnesota we’re seeing one interesting effect of COVID: as they get used to working remotely, more young professionals are looking far beyond the Twin Cities for their next house.