2020: The year in posting

My annual look back at my writing over the past year.

Once again, it’s time to look at what I think were some of my better posts from the past year:

IS THERE A COORDINATED PLAN TO STOP BERNIE SANDERS? - In the months since Joe Biden won the primary, we’ve learned that the Democratic establishment worked aggressively to rally support around him in time for Super Tuesday. We’ve also learned that Biden benefitted from a massive surge in positive media, and that Sanders suffered from a simultaneous surge in negative media focused on his alleged unelectability. And here, before any of that reporting, I flagged a suspicious trend: a sudden cluster of pundits making the same point about his alleged electability, and one that had all the hallmarks of a coordinated rollout.

COVID-19 AND THE AUSTERITY DEATH TRAP - All the way back in March, I correctly anticipated what has become the central struggle of the coronavirus pandemic. In “the political fight to come,” I wrote,

the oligarchs will…make Americans want to risk their lives by denying them the economic assistance they need to survive…rich people can isolate themselves from this disease in ways that the rest of us cannot, and they can also receive medical care that the rest of us can’t, so they are probably right to view the contagion as a personally tolerable risk.

PRIMARY POST-MORTEMS - As it became clear that Sanders was going to lose his bid for the presidency, I laid out my explanation for his defeat: a crowded field that denied him the chance to build momentum, and overwhelming establishment opposition that even a perfect campaign was unlikely to overcome. I elaborated on that second problem here. And I also debunked an alternative explanation that’s circulated in the discourse: that Sanders underperformed with poor and uneducated voters.

THE CANCEL CULTURE IS INCOHERENT - What exactly is this “cancel culture” that we’ve heard so much about? Here, I argued that the terms is being used in at least 13 different ways, which has led to an extraordinarily incoherent and unproductive culture war that persist in the media to this day. Later, I laid out what I think is a much clearer framework for talking about cancel culture, one that captures the various disagreements quite clearly.

CONTRA POST LEFT - Several articles that I’ve written this year have taken on reactionary attempts to co-opt the rhetoric of class struggle and material analysis — a trend most closely associated with a small online clique of media personalities and their fans who’ve called themselves “the Post Left.” In Pseudo-materialism and class identity, I wrote about how these rhetorics have often devolved into a species of crude ad hominem. In Centrist populism and the “double horseshoe” theory of class, I noted how an insurgent theory of class sounds suspiciously like standard-issue centrist politics. And in Who won working class voters? An open challenge and What those country “realignment” charts actually so, I took on an emerging talking point: that the GOP has become the party of workers.

THE DATA FOR PROGRESS CABINET TRACKER - Finally, over the past month or so, I’ve been tracking the success liberal think tank Data for Progress has had in winning appointments to Joe Biden’s cabinet. I also, with the help of some readers, exposed a bizarre scandal: DFP’s quiet efforts to belatedly add to its list of cabinet recommendations people who were already en route to nomination.

That’s just a small sample of the work I did in 2020. If you’ve appreciated any of this and would like to support my writing moving forward, please consider subscribing to this Substack: it’s just $5 per month or $30 per year. I don’t accept payment from other media outlets for my writing, but your subscription will help me pay the bills. It will also fund some more ambitious projects that I’ve been looking at for 2021.

Regardless, thanks for reading. Just a few years ago I was still mostly writing for myself; today, I have a pretty decent mailing list, and a lot of people who talk to about my ideas. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Yr pal, Carl