it's the latest edition of
The Recommentunde Newsletter
Sent on 1 December 2020 Edition
We won an election y’all.
I had to take a few weeks of pause to sleep, rest, cry, relax, ponder, sleep, and did I mention sleep? So I haven’t sent this email in a while. I hope you understand. I suspect you do because you’ve needed to recover too. If you put any energy into the effort to remove this malignant president from office, thank you. It’s not all good, but things are better, and better is, well, better.
I haven’t indulged much in the paranoia around the outgoing president’s ridiculous and pathetic rantings against the democratic electoral system that got him his power in the first place. It’s been so obviously crude and disgusting, I couldn’t put much more of my attention there.
But I will admit that an unanticipated outcome of the outgoing president’s insistence on continuing his election fight is the immense amount of pleasure I have derived from watching him lose the fight again and again. I learned something about myself: I enjoy watching sore losers lose repeatedly, and I enjoy winning. A lot. In fact, I haven’t tired of the winning at all.
The outgoing president isn’t the only loser, however. He’s taking big parts of our collective belief in self-government down with him, at least in the near term. He’s poisoned the well, so to speak, and given permission for tens of millions of people to claim that Joe Biden “stole” the election.
Many things have been stolen in the United States — indigenous land, the innocence of asylum-seeking children, trillions of dollars misspent on misguided wars, the thousands of hours that went into making Hillbilly Elegy a movie, wealth from workers, and lives that could have been saved had the outgoing president merely gotten out of the way of a sound pandemic response. The United States is the scene of epic instances of grand larceny, but of all the thefts in this nation’s history, the 2020 election is not among them.
However hobbled. However fatigued. However exhausted or embittered, we must move forward. As the great philosopher Brad Pitt insisted in World War Z, “movement is life.” COVID-19 does not care that a vaccine is coming (though that is great). We have to move now to slow the spread and save our healthcare system and the humans that keep it going. We have to move to counter the worst effects of the climate crisis. We have to move to heal the infected wounds of white supremacy and systemic racism. We have to move so my damn Apple Watch stops telling me to move all the time!
I’m sending this email on #GivingTuesday, and for the first time I'm making a concerted effort to support a specific organization: BUILD.org. I've served on the board of BUILD for years now, and it's the best. BUILD works in public high schools with the types of students we as a society write off. Instead, BUILD invests, and the returns are incredible for the students and for the society. Please consider giving through this Facebook link — no fees, and they’ve donated money also.
In episode 15 of How To Citizen with Baratunde, we were fortunate to have Dr. Michael Osterholm as our guest, and his counsel is much needed now. I urge you to listen to his calls for a pandemic of kindness, especially during the terrible weeks ahead.
And in Episode 16, our final episode of the first season, I sought relationship advice from world-renown relationship therapist Esther Perel. It wasn’t my romantic relationship I asked her about, but instead the broken and frayed relationships resulting from this tumultuous political culture in the United States. Many of us have loved ones living in a fantasy land of right wing extremism, COVID denialism, or both. They are parts of us, and I spoke with Esther about how to engage while preserving ourselves. In many ways it’s the perfect cap on a season that opened with Valarie Kaur reminding us to love our opponents, others, and ourselves.
I don’t often use a heavy hand in recommending my podcast, but today I urge you to listen to both these episodes. I guarantee they will help you move forward. Because we gotta move.
And now, for your regularly-scheduled content:
Past is not prologue, but it can serve as a warning. We have millions of Americans invested in a false world, and we need to find a way to defuse this situation before it blows up in our faces even more than it already has.
Thanks, Elizabeth for this one. A very thoughtful assessment of screen time, social media, and more digital activities that usually lead to excruciating hand-wringing by pundits. In this piece, you’ll find nuance, analysis, and maybe even hope.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has delivered a simple and beautiful piece of prose in writing about her miscarriage. So many of us carry traumas that eat away at us in part because we believe we are alone in the experience. This was the case with so many stories from #MeToo to #YouOkSis to #BlackLivesMatter. Read this one slowly, and ask someone else, “Are you ok?”
Stunning clip representative of a stunning adaptation of a stunning book.
History has consequences. This is a sad but important piece of journalism. For the record, I get my flu shot every year, and look forward to the COVID vaccine when it’s available. In the meantime, my mask collection is growing!
This made me smile.
And now for a small selection of some of my favorite media appearances I’ve made that you might have missed.
On Canada’s CBC podcast, Party Lines shortly after the election was called.
WIth former RNC Chairman Michael Steele. This was an incredibly frank discussion, and if you listen to the end, you’ll hear my completely impromptu inauguration speech I suggested for President-Elect Biden.
On All Things Considered with Audie Cornish (BUCKET LIST ACHIEVEMENT!!) shortly before Election Day.
Here’s a good news story about resilience and creativity in the face of great challenges. Enjoy and share!
I can't get enough of the Top Gun trailers. I want to see this movie!
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