The Middle Kingdom and the U.S. Economy

In the poker match between President Donald Trump and China’s new all-but-emperor, Xi Jinping, it’s widely assumed that Xi holds the best hand. Yet President Xi’s hand may not be as awesome as it appears, while the United States, even under this very flawed president, may hold some fine cards.

Of course, Xi wields power in a way that Trump could only dream about. He has close to total control over the media, academia and the business community. In a way not seen in my over three decades of travel to China, Xi has fostered a cult of personality that looms over that vast country, and even has developed a strong cheering section among western business and intellectual leaders.

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The Democrats Finally Won the Suburbs. Now Will They Destroy Them?

The Democratic Party’s triumphal romp through suburbia was the big story of the midterms.

In 2016 the suburbs, home to the majority of American voters, voted 50 to 45 for Donald Trump; this year, 52 percent went Democratic. In affluent suburban districts once controlled by the GOP—outside Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Kansas City and Philadelphia, and in Orange County, California—long-held GOP seats flipped and are unlikely to flip back unless Democrats alienate their new constituents by seeking to destroy suburban life.

The suburbs are where most Americans, including roughly four in five residents of our largest metropolitan areas, live. Historically, they have favored Republicans in most elections. But that tie has been weakened for reasons including the growing diversity of these areas and revulsion at Trump, particularly among educated women. Read more

Emmanuel Newsom?

A youthful and handsome appearance, the blessings of the autocrats and clerics of our times, and a fawning media — all these belonged to French President Emmanuel Macron just a year ago. He was praised as everything from the “new leader of the Free World” to Europe’s Reagan.

Today Macron’s presidency is adrift, paralyzed by grassroots opposition to his policies — mostly from the middle and working classes — and a popularity rating about half of that suffered by Donald Trump. Is this the fate that awaits our new governor, Gavin Newsom?

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What Will Come After the Era of Trumpism?

If this undisguised reality series played by Hollywood rules, it would have already been canceled. The President Trump show has failed to grow its audience, and the reviews, even from the mildly sympathetic, are consistently bad.

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The Past and Future of Latino Politics

Perhaps nothing will define our future politics more than the dispensation of Latino voters. Once limited to a few states, Latino voters are now an important and growing factor in many parts of the country beyond the Southwest or New York.

Where are Latinos going? More than African-Americans, who tend to vote roughly 90 percent Democratic, Latinos have traditionally divided their votes, with roughly two in three generally supporting Democrats. Some Republican politicians, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. Bush, new Florida Sen. Rick Scott as well as current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have gotten over 40 percent support or higher.

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The First Shots in the Climate Wars

In launching their now successful protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s gas hike, the French gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) have revived their country’s reputation for rebelling against monarchial rule. It may well foreshadow a bitter, albeit largely avoidable, battle over how to address the issue of climate change.

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The Soul of the New Machine

Thirty-five years ago Tracy Kidder electrified readers with his “Soul of a New Machine,” which detailed the development of a minicomputer. Today we may be seeing the emergence of another machine, a political variety that could turn the country toward a permanent one-party state.

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The Gig Economy, Americans and the Future

The rise of automation and artificial intelligence is keeping many Americans up at night, worrying about their jobs, and certainly those of their children. The World Bank predicts that 57 percent of all jobs in developed countries could be automated in the next two decades. Some studies suggest that almost half of all current jobs will be made redundant while others suggest that past technological innovation created enough new jobs to make for those lost.

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To Make the Internet Great Again, Trump Must Smash Facebook and Its Tech Oligarch Friends

Even as many Americans look with horror on the authoritarian blusterer in the White House, we are slowly succumbing to a more pernicious, less obvious and far more lasting tech oligarchy gaining ever more control over our economy, culture and politics.

“We are certainly looking at bringing antitrust cases against Amazon, Facebook and Google,” Trump said in an interview just before the election, adding that he’s had “so many people” warning him about their overwhelming power.

Unreliable narrator though the President may be, people are indeed waking up to the tech giants’ massive and largely unchecked power, and the consequences of turning over our channels of communication to them. Read more

Lurching to a New Weimar

America seems to be heading inexorably toward a Weimar moment, a slide toward political polarization from which it could be increasingly difficult to return. Weimar — that brief, brilliant and tragic German republic of the 1920s — was replaced by Hitler’s murderous regime in 1933.

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