I read a tweet the other day that said something like, “Increasingly, Western democracy is based on the idea of having a right to work, not a right to live.” And this seems accurate overall. But what sounds a bit weird to me is the inclusion of the qualifier “increasingly.” The state of affairs this person describes has always been the case.
One consistent modern political narrative, at least in the US, is that of the inevitable leftward trend of society. In this narrative, social liberalism in particular is a certainty, and it’s just a matter of time before current progressive causes become mainstream politics. This Atlantic essay from earlier in the year, titled “Why America is Moving Left,” is a notable example of this idea in action. It’s long and aims to be a pretty comprehensive reflection on the current and potential future state of American politics, and, as such, it also stands out to me as a notable example of what I think this narrative misses about American political realities.
The Frontline documentary “Policing the Police,” released in late June, arrives at what feels like a critical moment in the conversation concerning police brutality in the United States. Then again, it is difficult to locate any period in this country’s history in which this documentary, co-written and reported by Jelani Cobb, wouldn’t be timely. Cobb investigated some of the reform efforts made by the police department and the city of Newark, NJ to highlight the difficulties facing police reform in both theory and practice. The resulting broadcast touches on logistical problems, budget constraints, institutional resistance, a community demanding greater accountability for its officers and respect for its people, and police culture.