Monthly Archives: July 2021

The Most Complete Picture Yet of America’s Changing Electorate

Republicans and Democrats have amassed divergent coalitions that will make coming elections especially competitive—and bitter.

Written  by Ronald Brownstein and published in The Atlantic 7/1/21

Once, researchers and political operatives had only a few options: some postelection academic surveys (particularly the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies), precinct-level analyses, and, above all, the mainstay of Election Day television broadcasts—exit polls.

Now the choices for understanding the electorate’s behavior have proliferated. The ANES poll has been joined by the Cooperative Election Study (CES), a consortium of academic researchers from some 50 institutions that surveys a huge sample of more than 60,000 voters. Catalist, a Democratic targeting firm, produces its own estimates of voting behavior, based on sophisticated modeling and polling it does with its database tracking virtually all actual voters. The Associated Press and Fox News teamed up with the venerable NORC at the University of Chicago this year to produce a competitor to the traditional exit polls called VoteCast.

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released its eagerly awaited Validated Voters survey. Pew builds its findings by surveying adults it can identify as definitely having voted in November based on voting records, a methodology many analysts favor. (The CES will soon issue revised results based on a similar process of matching poll respondents to voting records.)

Each of these methods has its fans: Catalist, for instance, has emerged as the data source most trusted by Democratic political professionals, while other politicos and academics swear by Pew or CES. “It is part art and part science,” says the UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck, who helped launch the massive Nationscape polling project, which will eventually release its own assessment of 2020 in an upcoming book.

But with yesterday’s release of the Pew results, one thing is now clear: The principal data sources about 2020 have converged to a striking degree in their account of what happened. “As I’ve been looking at our data and comparing it to some of those other sources, I’ve actually been struck by how similar [they] are,” says the Tufts University political scientist Brian Schaffner, a co-director of the CES study. “You get a pretty consistent picture.”

Read: Democracy is already dying in the states

That consistent picture offers both parties reason for optimism and concern in roughly equal measure. The cumulative message from these studies is that we should brace for more years of grueling trench warfare between two coalitions that are becoming more and more inimical in both their demographic composition and vision of America. And to top it off? They appear to be about evenly matched. (While the Democratic coalition is clearly numerically larger—having won the popular vote in an unprecedented seven of the past eight presidential elections—Republicans have some offsetting advantages, some structural, others manufactured, that could allow them to control Washington nonetheless.)

Here are some other big conclusions from the studies:

GOP constituencies are shrinking, but the party’s hold over them is tightening.

A consistent message in these data sources is that the GOP’s core groups—particularly white people without a college degree—are declining as a share of the electorate as the nation grows more diverse, better educated, and more secular.

The major election studies differ on the share of the vote they believe was cast by white people without a college degree, from a high of 44 percent in the Catalist data, to 42 percent in the new Pew results, to just under 40 percent in the recent registration and turnout study from the Census Bureau (the first time the group has fallen below that threshold in census data).

But whatever absolute level of the vote the studies attribute to those noncollege white people, Catalist, Pew, and the Census Bureau each found the same relative movement, with the share of the vote cast by them in 2020 dropping two percentage points from 2016. That continues a long-term pattern: Working-class white people have declined as a share of the vote between two to three percentage points in each election during this century. That may not sound like much, but it adds up: In census data, they were still a 51.5 percent majority of voters as recently as 2004, before falling just below half in 2008 (almost certainly for the first time in American history) and continuing down to their current level.

Other groups important to the GOP are also shrinking. According to Pew, white Christians fell to 49 percent of total voters in 2020, down from exactly 50 percent in 2016; that’s also likely the first time in American history those voters didn’t constitute at least half of the electorate. Rural communities are also contracting as a share of the total vote (and population) in most states.

Anne Applebaum: Democracy is surprisingly easy to undermine

The countertrend is that the GOP last year continued to amass commanding margins with all of these voters. Even Joe Biden, a 78-year-old white Catholic who touts his working-class background in blue-collar Scranton, Pennsylvania, achieved only grudging gains among white voters without a college degree: Pew found that he won 33 percent of them, just slightly better than the meager 28 percent Hillary Clinton captured in Pew’s 2016 survey. (The exit polls and Catalist, which also put Biden’s share with noncollege white voters at about one-third, recorded similarly small gains.) Likewise, while Pew found that Biden narrowed Clinton’s deficits among both white Catholics and white mainline Protestants, Donald Trump still carried both groups by roughly 15-percentage-point margins. All of the major data sources found that Trump also carried about four-fifths of white evangelical Christians. Similarly, Pew and Catalist both found that Biden remained stuck at the modest one-third of the vote Clinton won in rural areas.

These findings underline the trade that Trump has imposed on the GOP: He’s bequeathed Republicans a political strategy based on squeezing bigger margins out of shrinking groups. Many GOP strategists believe that’s an utterly untenable long-term proposition. “That’s not a formula for winning majorities and winning most of the time,” says the longtime GOP pollster Glen Bolger, who notes that Trump lost the popular vote twice and “got beyond lucky” to win the Electoral College in 2016. But that doesn’t preclude the GOP from continuing to win power in the near term with that approach—given that the Electoral College and Senate magnify the influence of states where those shrinking groups remain more plentiful (more on that below), and the determination of red-state Republicans, through their wave of restrictive voting laws, to suppress the influence of the rising groups that generally favor Democrats.

Class inversion is here to stay.

The new Pew data, like the earlier 2020 assessments, underscore the durability of what I’ve called “the class inversion” in each party’s base. In the ANES studies, the longest-running of these sources, every Democratic presidential nominee from Adlai Stevenson through Jimmy Carter ran better among white voters without a college degree than among white voters with one. But as cultural issues supplant economic concerns as the principal dividing line between the parties, every Democratic nominee since Al Gore in 2000 has run better among white voters with a degree than among those without one.

The class inversion hit a new peak in 2016, with Hillary Clinton running at least 15 points better among college than noncollege white voters in most of the major data sources (including a breathtaking 27 points better in Pew’s assessment). In 2020, Catalist and the exit polls showed the gap widening, while Pew found it slightly narrowing, but the class inversion remained enormous in all three; each study also found Biden winning a majority of college-educated white voters. (Those gains were central to his strong showing in white-collar suburbs around major cities.) He was especially strong among college-educated white women: “We have the ability to make [them] a base group,” says Celinda Lake, who served as one of Biden’s lead campaign pollsters. But ominously for the GOP, all three sources also showed Biden gaining significantly over Clinton in 2016 among college-educated white men, who historically have been a much more reliable Republican constituency. And while white people without a college degree have been steadily shrinking as a share of the vote, these college-educated white people have slightly grown since 2004 (from about 28 percent to 31 percent of the electorate, per the census). Especially valuable for Democrats: They are highly reliable midterm voters.

Voters of color may be diverging.

Pew’s study found that Biden won 92 percent of Black voters last year, and the other major data sources gave him only slightly smaller shares. Democrats may need to keep an eye on Black men, among whom Trump performed slightly better in 2020 than in 2016, but their support among Black women—which reaches as high as 95 percent in some of these analyses—provides an immovable obstacle to broad GOP gains.

Asian Americans, the fastest-growing nonwhite community, also look solid for Democrats. Although Republicans have strong beachheads in some Asian communities sensitive to arguments against Democratic “socialism” (such as Vietnamese Americans and some Chinese groups), the major data sources agree that Biden still won about two-thirds or more of Asian American votes last year, even as their turnout soared.

Hispanics, though, could be emerging as a wild card. Pew put Biden’s vote among Hispanics at only 59 percent; that’s lower than any of the other major sources, but they all agree that Biden fell off measurably from Clinton (and Barack Obama before her). The decline was most visible among Central and South Americans in South Florida and rural Mexican Americans in South Texas, but it extended far beyond that, Catalist and others found. Trump may have raised the party floor with Hispanics by attracting more of the culturally conservative among them; the yellow light on that prediction, as I’ve written, is that almost every incumbent president ran better, as Trump did, with Hispanics in their reelection campaign than in their first race. The clearest conclusion is that both parties view Hispanics as more of a contested community after 2020 than they did before—and will spend their campaign dollars accordingly.

The generational cavalry is arriving for Democrats.

Both Pew and Catalist found that the racially diverse, well-educated, and highly secular Millennials (born from 1981 through 1996) and Generation Z (born from 1997 through 2014) cast almost 30 percent of the votes last year, up substantially from 23 percent in 2016. Both sources also found Democrats winning about three-fifths of the votes from those two generations combined. If Democrats can defend their lead with that group, it will pay compounding dividends: The nonpartisan States of Change project forecasts that the two generations combined will cast 37 percent of the vote in 2024 and 43 percent in 2028. “You add those two [generations] together and you are talking about permanent structural change,” Lake says. Because these generations are the most racially diverse in American history, this current of new, young voters has been key in increasing people of color from about one-fifth of the electorate in 2004 to nearly three-tenths last year, according to census data. They are also swelling the numbers of Americans unaffiliated with any religious tradition, and Pew found Biden winning more than 70 percent of such “seculars” (even as they cast one-fourth of all votes.)

Conversely, the preponderantly white Baby Boomer generation, which has aged from its 1960s roots into a Republican-leaning cohort, is receding: While Catalist and Pew agree that Boomers outvoted Millennials and Gen Z in 2020, States of Change projects that the younger groups to outvote them for the first time in 2024. (Generation X is projected to remain constant through the 2020s, at about one-fourth of the electorate.)

Two factors might dilute this potential Democratic advantage. One, Schaffner notes, is if the turnout of these two younger generations, which spiked to historic levels in 2018 and 2020, slackens with Trump off the ballot in 2022 and potentially 2024 as well. The other, cited by Vavreck, is that these generations might become more receptive to GOP arguments on issues such as taxes and crime as they move further into middle age, with families and mortgages.

But Lake, like many Democrats, is optimistic that the GOP focus on stoking their base through endless cultural conflict (on everything from undocumented immigration to critical race theory) will leave Republicans very limited opportunity for gains among the younger generations. “Young people are very turned off by the racism, by the climate deniers,” she says. “So everything they are doing to solidify their base, and everything they are doing to try to win 2022, is digging them into a deeper hole for 2024 with young voters.”

Place matters.

A big challenge for Democrats is that the broad demographic changes favoring them—growing racial diversity, rising education levels, increasing numbers of secular adults not affiliated with organized religion—are unevenly distributed throughout the country. Adding to that challenge: The two-senators-per-state rule and Electoral College magnify the political influence of smaller interior states least affected by these trends (particularly the increase in racial diversity). Red-state Republicans are moving to systemically reinforce those advantages with the most aggressive wave of laws restricting access to the ballot since before the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and they are gearing up for equally aggressive gerrymanders of state legislative and congressional districts in states they control.

As I’ve written, the unequal distribution of racial and cultural change leaves Democrats facing something of a conundrum. The minority population is growing fastest across the Sun Belt, but the party generally doesn’t win as large a share of the vote among white people in those states as they do in the Rust Belt states, where minority growth has been much slower. Until Democrats can consistently win Senate seats and Electoral College votes in the diversifying Sun Belt states, that means they still need to win some of the Rust Belt states (particularly Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) where noncollege white people compose a much larger share of the vote than they do nationally. Democrats lately have made progress in the Sun Belt: Biden won both Georgia and Arizona, and the party now holds all four of their Senate seats. But Democrats’ Sun Belt gains aren’t yet expansive or secure enough to eliminate their need to hold the key Rust Belt battlegrounds—and for that they need to win a competitive share of working-class white voters.

The grooves are deeply cut.

The major data sources do show some noteworthy shifts in voter preferences from 2016, such as Trump’s gains with Hispanics and Biden’s with college-educated white voters. But given all that happened during Trump’s tumultuous presidency, including a deadly pandemic, most analysts are struck by the extraordinary similarity in how voters behaved across the two elections. “Continuity is the big story, consistency,” says Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist. Not only did the 2020 result “highly correlate” with the 2016 outcome both demographically and geographically, he notes, but presidential preferences also predicted how people voted in House and Senate races more closely than ever before.

Biden and his advisers clearly have a vision of how to break this stalemate: They hope that by delivering kitchen-table benefits, such as stimulus checks, infrastructure jobs, and expanded child-tax-credit payments, while muting his personal engagement with hot-button cultural issues, they can improve his standing among working-class voters of all races, including white voters. But that strategy faces unstinting GOP efforts to highlight the cultural issues that alienate those voters (especially white voters but also some Hispanics and Black men) from the Democrats. Ruy Teixeira, a veteran Democratic analyst, argues that even if Biden delivers material benefits for blue-collar families, downplaying cultural issues such as crime and immigration won’t be enough. “You are going to have to draw the line a little bit more sharply against parts of the party and policies that are anathema to these voters,” Teixeira says.

Still, almost all of the analysts I spoke with believe that however the parties position themselves through 2024, change in these durable voter alignments is likely to come only around the margins.

Big outside events could shatter that assumption, of course, but the striking message from all the data sources studying 2020 is that America remains deeply but closely divided. Wide partisan fissures by race, generation, education, and religion are combining to produce two coalitions that are matched almost equally, with a Democratic edge in overall numbers offset by a geographic advantage (potentially reinforced by restrictive voting laws) for Republicans. “It is going to be super, super close again in 2024, I can tell you this right now,” Vavreck said firmly. “And I don’t even need to know who the candidates are going to be.”

Ronald Brownstein is a senior editor at The Atlantic.

We Are Two Nations, Divisible

Written by Ed Kilgore and published in The Intelligencer July 8, 2021

On Independence Day, which fell on Sunday this year, I found myself as an elder at my small mainline Protestant church lofting up a prayer for “our nation, on its birthday, that we may overcome the conflicts dividing us and find peace and reconciliation.” I’m sure similar sentiments were expressed in many worship services on July 4, not to mention in op-ed columns and in private conversations at BBQs, community events, and family get-togethers. Many, if not most, Americans crave relief from a conflict-ridden and volatile political climate that has grown steadily more intense in recent years, starting even before Donald Trump’s election.

But in retrospect, my pious hopes for unity were just that. And while I do pray a benevolent God may keep us Americans from ripping one another apart over our political and cultural differences, it’s time to recognize that they are real, not contrived; deep-seated, not superficial; and an authentic reflection of divisions in our population, not an invention of manipulative elites, politicians, or the news media. Embracing this fact is important, as history shows; avoiding legitimate forks in the road could lead the country into a wilderness of false compromises and a failure to address significant problems, just as happened when we initially put off dealing with the issue of slavery.

As the Pew Research Center documented in 2017, the breadth and persistence of our differences has been steadily increasing, even though we wish it were otherwise:

The divisions between Republicans and Democrats on fundamental political values — on government, race, immigration, national security, environmental protection and other areas — reached record levels during Barack Obama’s presidency. In Donald Trump’s first year as president, these gaps have grown even larger.

And the magnitude of these differences dwarfs other divisions in society, along such lines as gender, race and ethnicity, religious observance or education.

As Pew noted, partisan polarization (between Democrats and Republicans) is partly attributable to the ideological sorting out of the two parties that began during the civil-rights era. Because this process coincided with greater ideological polarization as well (between liberals and conservatives), it’s easy to pine for the days when there were liberals and conservatives in both major parties and things got done. But nostalgia for the good old days ignores the price that many Americans had to pay for this suspension of political hostilities. In the 1960s, open racism was still largely accepted; the idea of equality for women — and of legalized abortion — was highly controversial; equality for LGBTQ folks was a subversive, underground idea; and a global war against Communism was barely debated until it failed miserably in Vietnam.

While the subsequent decades were increasingly turbulent politically, with conflicts within and between the two parties over a wide range of domestic, foreign-policy, and cultural issues, we’ve been in a true era of polarization since the disputed election of 2000. And while it got immensely worse when Trump became president, his departure has hardly made things better, as Ron Brownstein recently observed:

These centrifugal pressures call into question not only the ability of any president to unify the nation, but also his or her ability even to chart a common course for more than roughly half of the country — either red or blue America. This divergence, across a wide range of issues and personal choices, is rooted in the continuing political re-sorting that has divided the parties more sharply than ever along demographic and geographic lines and produced two political coalitions holding inimical views on the fundamental social and economic changes remaking America. And that destabilizing process shows no signs of slowing, much less reversing, even after Trump — who fomented division as a central component of his political strategy — has left the White House.

Our stark divisions are so painful that it’s tempting to blame them on elites — on the media, who are thought to promote conflict to make a buck, and the political leaders seeking to energize followers by demonizing the opposition and refusing to compromise. But the idea of a unity-seeking citizenry being frustrated by partisan gabbers and pols simply isn’t accurate. And the fact that a change of administration has barely reduced partisan conflict is telling. It’s not just about Trump, as Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz explains in a soon-to-be-published paper he shared with Brownstein.

“One of the most important reasons why Democrats and Republicans intensely dislike each other is that they intensely disagree on a wide range of issues including the size and scope of the welfare state, abortion, gay and transgender rights, race relations, climate change, gun control and immigration,” Abramowitz writes. “As long as the parties remain on the opposite sides of almost all of the major issues facing the country, feelings of mistrust and animosity are unlikely to diminish even if Donald Trump ceases to play a major role in the political process.”

The divisions, moreover, go beyond public policy to matters of personal conduct, as evidenced by the extraordinary reluctance of self-identified Republicans to take advantage of easily available COVID-19 vaccines, with many regarding their encouragement by the government as an infringement of personal liberty. But even the broadest understanding of partisan conflict may understate its pervasiveness and power. As the Bulwark’s Joshua Tate points out, the long-standing conservative tendency to view Republican constituencies as the “real America” has evolved into a paradox: Alleged super-patriots despise much of what their country has become.

Trumpist writers have worked themselves into such a state that they have stretched their critique to include literally half of the American population. As Michael Anton, a former Trump aide who is now a Claremont Institute senior fellow and a Hillsdale lecturer, puts it, “one side loves America, the other hates it — or can tolerate it only for what it might someday become, were the Left’s entire program to be enacted without exception.” Anton, the articulate id of intellectual Trumpism, cuts America in two on religious, linguistic, and even moral grounds, casting the Biden coalition as speaking a babble of languages, worshipping “wokeness” with “Dionysian abandon,” and conceiving of justice solely through the lens of punishment. In a blunt essay, Glenn Ellmers, another Claremont and Hillsdale associate, claims “most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term.”

Conservative longing for a lost American “greatness” finds its parallel in the left’s instinctive belief in the inevitability of “progress,” defined as a more rational and equitable political system bent on obliterating illegitimate privileges and empowering members of oppressed identity groups. Right-wing hatred of progressives as inauthentically American is reciprocated by progressive hatred of (or more accurately, contempt for) Trump voters, whom they deem, to use Hillary Clinton’s unfortunate phrase, “deplorables” determined to defend the worst features of the past.

There are, of course, self-identified Republicans who dislike or only conditionally back Trump and his supporters and self-identified Democrats who fear “socialism” or “cancel culture” or “wokeness,” but their numbers seem to be steadily declining. And while the public longs for bipartisanship in the abstract, what they really seem to want is the other side’s surrender, not any actual compromise.

You can look at this pervasive polarization and bewail a lost, if increasingly imaginary, tradition of American unity. Or you can welcome the benefits that come with the costs of disunity: the new clarity and accountability that two parties with systematically opposed perspectives creates. Is partisan polarization dangerous? Of course, as the Civil War showed. Is an absence of partisan polarization dangerous too? Of course, as the oppressive period prior to the Civil War showed, when the two major national parties sought to avoid a reckoning over slavery. Sometimes an end to polarization simply reflects the victory of one set of beliefs over another, as when the Republican Party was formed to demand a curb on the slave power and eventually won power of its own; or when the Democratic Party decisively broke with its limited-government heritage during the New Deal and became the majority party for a generation.

I’d argue we are at another big inflection point. It’s more likely the country will turn left or right than achieve major compromises. That today’s conservatives are frantically trying to suppress popular majorities by exploiting anti-democratic features of our system or, worse yet, by denying such majorities exist is a pretty clear sign of which way the wind is blowing. If the authoritarian strain in Republican politics exemplified by Trump morphs into the kind of reactionary movements that crushed parliamentary democracy entirely in Europe nearly a century ago, perhaps we will long even more for the phony solidarity of an imagined bipartisan past, when backs were slapped and deals were cut in Congress and justice and progress were denied.

There Is No Debate Over Critical Race Theory


Written by Ibram X. Kendi and published in The Atlantic, 7/9/2021

 About the author: Ibram X. Kendi is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of several books, including the National Book Award–winning Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist.

The United States is not in the midst of a “culture war” over race and racism. The animating force of our current conflict is not our differing values, beliefs, moral codes, or practices. The American people aren’t divided. The American people are being divided.

Republican operatives have buried the actual definition of critical race theory: “a way of looking at law’s role platforming, facilitating, producing, and even insulating racial inequality in our country,” as the law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who helped coin the term, recently defined it. Instead, the attacks on critical race theory are based on made-up definitions and descriptors. “Critical race theory says every white person is a racist,” Senator Ted Cruz has said. “It basically teaches that certain children are inherently bad people because of the color of their skin,” said the Alabama state legislator Chris Pringle.

There are differing points of view about race and racism. But what we are seeing and hearing on news shows, in school-district meetings, in op-ed pages, in legislative halls, and in social-media feeds aren’t multiple sides with differing points of view. There’s only one side in our so-called culture war right now.

Conor Friedersdorf: Critical race theory is making both parties flip-flop

The Republican operatives, who dismiss the expositions of critical race theorists and anti-racists in order to define critical race theory and anti-racism, and then attack those definitions, are effectively debating themselves. They have conjured an imagined monster to scare the American people and project themselves as the nation’s defenders from that fictional monster.

The Biggest Threat to Democracy Is the GOP Stealing the Next Election

STEVEN LEVITSKY AND DANIEL ZIBLATT The evangelist Pat Robertson recently called critical race theory “a monstrous evil.” And over the past year, that “monstrous evil” has supposedly been growing many legs. First, Republicans pointed to Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Three days after George Floyd’s murder last year, President Donald Trump recast the largely peaceful demonstrators as violent and dishonorable “THUGS.” By the end of July, Trump had framed them as “anarchists who hate our country.”

Then “cancel culture” was targeted. At the Republican National Convention in August, Trump blasted “cancel culture” as seeking to coerce Americans “into saying what you know to be false and scare you out of saying what you know to be true.”

Next came attacks on the 1619 Project and American history. “Despite the virtues and accomplishments of this Nation, many students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains,” read Trump’s executive order on November 2, establishing the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission.

And now the Black Lives Matter demonstrators, cancel culture, the 1619 Project, American history, and anti-racist education are presented to the public as the many legs of the “monstrous evil” of critical race theory that’s purportedly coming to harm white children. The language echoes the rhetoric used to demonize desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, in 1954.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the conservators of racism organized to keep Black kids out of all-white schools. Today, they are trying to get critical race theory out of American schools. “Instead of helping young people discover that America is the greatest, most tolerant, and most generous nation in history, [critical race theory] teaches them that America is systemically evil and that the hearts of our people are full of hatred and malice,” Trump wrote in an op-ed on June 18.

After it was cited 132 times on Fox News shows in 2020, critical race theory became a conservative obsession this year. Its mentions on Fox News practically doubled month after month: It was referred to 51 times in February, 139 times in March, 314 times in April, 589 times in May, and 737 times in just the first three weeks of June. As of June 29, 26 states had introduced legislation or other state-level actions to “restrict teaching critical race theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism,” according to Education Week, and nine had implemented such bans.

I have been called the father of critical race theory, although I was born in 1982, and critical race theory was born in 1981. Over the past few months, I have seldom stopped to answer the critiques of critical race theory or of my own work, because the more I’ve studied these critiques, the more I’ve concluded that these critics aren’t arguing against me. They aren’t arguing against anti-racist thinkers. They aren’t arguing against critical race theorists. These critics are arguing against themselves.

Read: The GOP’s ‘critical race theory’ obsession

What happens when a politician falsely proclaims what you think, and then criticizes that proclamation? Is she really critiquing your ideas—or her own? If a writer decides what both sides of an argument are stating, is he really engaging in an argument with another writer, or is he engaging in an argument with himself?

Take the journalist Matthew Yglesias. In February, in The Washington Post, he wrote that I think that “any racial gap simply is racist by definition; any policy that maintains such a gap is a racist policy; and—most debatably—any intellectual explanation of its existence (sociological, cultural and so on) is also racist.” But nowhere have I written that the racial gap is racist: The policies and practices causing the racial gap are racist. Nowhere have I stated that any intellectual explanation of the existence of a racial gap is racist. Only intellectual explanations of a racial gap that point to the superiority or inferiority of a racial group are racist.

Was Yglesias really arguing against me, or was he arguing against himself? What about the columnist Ross Douthat? In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, he did what GOP thinkers keep doing to Americans striving to construct an equitable and just society: re-create us as extremists, as monsters to be feared for speaking out against racism. Douthat accused me of “ideological extremism that embarrasses clever liberals,” comparing me to the late Rush Limbaugh. I’ve spent my career writing evidence-based historical scholarship and demonstrating my willingness to be vulnerable; Limbaugh had no interest in being self-critical, and for decades attacked truth and facts and evidence.

Douthat claimed that I have a “Manichaean vision of public policy, in which all policymaking is either racist or antiracist, all racial disparities are the result of racism—and the measurement of any outcome short of perfect ‘equity’ may be a form of structural racism itself.”

Where did he get perfect equity? In How to Be an Antiracist, I define racial equity as a state “when two or more racial groups are standing on a relatively equal footing.” I proposed that an example of racial equity would be “if there were relatively equitable percentages” of racial groups “living in owner-occupied homes in the forties, seventies, or, better, nineties.” By contrast, in 2014, 71 percent of white families lived in owner-occupied homes, compared with 45 percent of Latino families and 41 percent of Black families. That’s racial inequity.

What we write doesn’t matter to the people arguing with themselves. It doesn’t matter that I consistently challenge Manichaean racial visions of inherently good or evil people or policy making. It doesn’t matter that I don’t write about policy making being good or evil, or that I write about the equitable or inequitable outcome of policies. It doesn’t matter that I’ve urged us toward relative equity, and not toward perfect equity.

If you want to understand why I’ve made these arguments, you first need to recognize that for decades, right-wing thinkers and judges have argued that policies that lead to racial inequities are “not racist” or are “race neutral.” That was the position of the conservative Supreme Court justices who recently upheld Arizona’s voting-restriction policies. Those who wish to conserve racial inequity want us to focus on intent—which is hard to prove—rather than the outcome of inequity, which is rather easy to prove. Case in point: GOP state legislators are claiming that the 28 laws they’ve enacted in 17 states as of June 21 are about election security, even though voter fraud is a practically nonexistent problem. They claim that these laws aren’t intended to make it harder for Black voters or members of other minority groups to cast ballots, even as experts find that’s precisely what such laws have done in the past, and predict that’s likely what these new laws will do as well.

Jarvis R. Givens: What’s missing from the discourse about anti-racist teaching

These critics aren’t just making up their claims as they go along. They are making up the sources of their criticism as they go along. Douthat argues that work like mine “extends structural analysis beyond what it can reasonably bear, into territory where white supremacy supposedly explains Asian American success on the SAT.” Who is giving this explanation other than Douthat? I’m surely not. I point to other explanations, including the history of highly educated Asian immigrants and the concentration of score-boosting test-prep companies in Asian (and white) neighborhoods.

White supremacy does explain why more than three-quarters of the perpetrators of anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents before and during the pandemic have been white. Asian American success as measured by test scores, education, and income should not erase the impact of structural racism on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This group now has the highest income inequality of any racial group in the United States. Asian Americans in New York experienced the highest surge of unemployment of any racial group during the pandemic. Do the critics of critical race theory want us to think of the AAPI community as not just a “model minority,” but a model monolith? Showcasing AAPIs to maintain the fiction of a postracial society ends up erasing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Critical race theory has been falsely labeled as anti-Asian. Helen Raleigh, an Asian American entrepreneur, defined critical race theory as a “divisive discriminatory ideology that judges people on the basis of their skin color” in Newsweek. “It is my practice to ignore critics who have not read the work and who are not interested in honest exchange,” responded one of the three Asian American founders of critical race theory, Mari Matsuda, a law professor at the University of Hawaii. “But I do want to say this for the record: Asian Americans are at the center of CRT analysis and have been from the start.”

How should thinkers respond to monstrous lies? Should we mostly ignore the critics as Matsuda has, as I have? Because restating facts over and over again gets old. Reciting your own work over and over again to critics who either haven’t read what they are criticizing or are purposefully distorting it gets old. And talking with people who have created a monologue with two points of view, theirs and what they impute to you, gets old.

But democracy needs dialogue. And dialogue necessitates seeking to know what a person is saying in order to offer informed critiques.

As a scholar, I know that nothing is more useful than criticism to improve my scholarship. As a human being, I know that nothing is more constructive than criticism to improve my humanity. I’ve chronicled how criticism and critics have been a driving force on my journey to be anti-racist, to confront my own racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist ideas—and their intersections. Constructive criticism often hurts, but like painful medical treatments, it can be lifesaving; it can be nation-saving.

But what’s happening now is something entirely different and destructive—not constructive. This isn’t a “culture war.” This isn’t even an “argument.” This isn’t even “criticism.” This is critics arguing with themselves.

Ibram X. Kendi is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of several books, including the National Book Award–winning Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist.


My new blogsite

I have added a new blogsite, Joe’s Political Blog, which will concentrate on political and related issues. Here is the first post on my new blog. Please come to visit me a www.jglangen,

When I look back over my life, I recall many surprises, adventures and wonderful people who have made my life worth living. In simpler days, I basked in all of life’s delights which found their way into my life.

As I grew older, I discovered the challenges which await almost everyone and some fairly unique ones. I thought I knew where my life was headed but was in for a rude awakening. I wrestled with the lifestyle I thought would shape my life, my adventures with the draft board, feeding a family while attending college and graduate school, the effects of mental illness in my family and with the challenges of my career. My greatest challenge was surviving a divorce.

Fortunately I discovered that there is life after divorce, more splendid than I could imagine up to that point in life. I am grateful for how life has turned out for me, I ended up writing a variety of books and many articles over the years. I have tried to focus on the bright side and ways people can enjoy life, each other and themselves. Lately, politics has cast a cloud over everyone I know including me. Some people try to avoid politics, some jump in head first and try to have a positive effect and others seem to have given up on our democratic way of life and have chosen to live in an alternative reality.

I thought about politics very little when I was young and saw them as a mysterious world which had little relevance to me and my sheltered life. That is a long story. Fortunately, I have written about it and published the story of my early years in my memoir Young Man of the Cloth. Check it out if you are interested in my early influences and adventures.

I have been posting articles about politics lately on my blog, Chats with My Muse, along with more positive posts about making the best of life. Recently, I have come to realize that the two do not mix. Dealing with the the stink of politics in the same place where I try to help people stay positive does not seem right, at least not to me. I have decided the two topics need separate arenas, at least as I see it.

With all this in mind, I have decided to continue entertaining my positive thoughts and sharing them in my blog, Chats With My Muse. I will discuss the pros and cons of politics, as I and others see them, in this blog.

I hope you will find both blogs useful and that they might be helpful in clarifying your thoughts and feelings about life as well as your thinking about about politics. Please join me in the adventure.

Thank Your Friends for Their Help

Do not save your loving speeches for your friends
till they are dead.
Do not write them on their tombstones;
speak them rather now instead.

~Anna Cummins~


Dear Pat,

A while ago when I was visiting your house, you made a comment to me which seemed like no big deal. You had seen an ad in the paper for volunteers to take part in a study of rheumatoid arthritis. I have been struggling with arthritis for a couple years and thought I might have the rheumatoid variety, but so far had been unsuccessful in finding a rheumatologist.

I had been taking Celebrex and Tylenol for a while with little relief. But lately, every time I moved my shoulder I felt a crunch like I had no cartilage. I was about to resume my search for a rheumatologist, which last time led to a dead end.

The morning after you told me about the study, I called the number you gave me and set up an appointment. I was screened and accepted for the study and finally began treatment. The morning after I started, I woke up with not an ache, pain or discomfort anywhere in my body. I considered it a miracle and felt like a new person.

After being in the study for a couple weeks, I looked around my house and discovered stacks of unfinished projects. When I thought about it, I realized I had been depressed for some time. I work with many depressed people and somehow did not recognize the symptoms in myself.

Every morning since, I have woken up thanking God for leading scientists to the discovery of the medications I now take, for leading me to your house that afternoon, and for your thoughtfulness in telling me about the study. I think I sometimes take others’ help for granted. Maybe it takes something this intrusive to make me realize friends make many gestures which improve my life in less dramatic ways.

We all get busy thinking about our own needs and how things affect us. I have had concerns that our society has been becoming more selfish and people are becoming so preoccupied with their own needs that they do not pay attention to those around them. It is sometimes hard to remember that people traveling their life paths next to us are also preoccupied with their own concerns at the people next to us and gain some appreciation of their struggles. Going further, we can find and share something which might help them a little. Getting in touch with their needs also opens up a channel between us and them and makes a connection with all the people they are connected to. The information you shared with me about the study led to my finding out about the study medications. I shared what I discovered with a colleague, who in turn passed it on to someone she knew with rheumatoid arthritis whom I have never met.

When I think back over my life, I can recall times when I was helpful to others, sometimes in ways which made a dramatic difference in their lives and sometimes in ways which may have made their way just a little easier. I have learned two lessons from your kindness. One is to acknowledge my appreciation for others efforts on my behalf. The other is to extend myself when I can be helpful to others and make their lives a little better.

Action Steps

  • What have been the most difficult times in your life?
  • Which of your friends have been most there for you at those times?
  • How did they help?
  • Did you thank them properly?
  • It’s not too late.

Selection from Dr. Langen’s book,  Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage

What It Means to Be a Civilized Society Why the World is Being Decivilized

Written by Umair Haque and published in Eudaimonia

The Care and Feeding of Angels


Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing
some have unwittingly entertained angels.

~Hebrews 13:2~

I wrote in the past about the angels among us, working quietly to make our lives better and easing the strain of our life challenges. They are often unacknowledged and sometimes unnoticed.

Even though I refer to them as angels, they are not just spirits. They have human needs too. However, in their efforts to care for the rest of us, they often forget about their own needs. They are just as prone to stress and burn-out as we are, although they are probably less attuned to these signs, since they are so focused on what others need.

I have often heard from people who are good listeners that no one cares about their concerns. No one imagines anything could ever bother them. Caretakers sometimes seem indestructible, or maybe it is just our wishful thinking.

Whose responsibility is it to care for the angels in our lives? First, it is their responsibility. Everyone knows that a car will break down quickly without regular service and maintenance. While people are not machines, they also need nourishment, rest, exercise, appreciation and support.

If you are an angel, stop to think how much you are doing for everyone else and also what you need. What do you do for yourself? In your efforts to care for everyone else, do you forget to take care of yourself? Do you listen to what your body is telling you? Do you pay attention to your feelings of stress, exhaustion and loneliness, or do you try to carry on as if you don’t have any of these feelings?

You deserve to take care of your body, and especially of your spirit. Take time to sit quietly and be aware of your requirements as you do for everyone else. You have needs too. Once you are aware of them, set aside some time for yourself. It may seem selfish, but unless you do, you won’t remain helpful to others.

If you are not an angel but have one or more of them in your life, stop to think about what they may need. Encourage them to consider their own desires and what may please them. There may also be things you can do for them. It might be hard to figure out what they want since they do not often make their wishes known. They may seem like they can go on forever taking care of you as they always have.

It helps to let them know you appreciate all they do for you instead of taking them for granted. But this might not be enough, since appreciation might tempt them to work all the harder.

You might watch them and see what they need. They might appreciate being reminded to take time for themselves. You could let them know they don’t have to be of service immediately or on call twenty four hours a day. Or you could find a way to be their angel at least on occasion.

Action Steps

  • Discover who your angels are.
  • Think about how they have enriched your life.
  • Make sure you thank them.
  • What could your angels use from you in return?
  • Do it for them.

A selection from Dr. Langen’s book, Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage. Available from Amazon.

When Exactly Did America Stop Being Racist?

By refusing to cop to ingrained oppression in the U.S., political leaders are living in denial

Scott Woods

Scott WoodsMay 1·6 min read

Photo: Bonnie Cash-Pool/Getty Images

Written by Scott Wood

Many Americans have been mulling over Republican of South Carolina, Senator Tim Scott’s wildly fantastic rebuttal to President Biden’s address to Congress earlier this week.

These remarks, delivered Wednesday night, found Scott offering jaw-dropping observations about the Republican party that the last four years of American life have proven patently false: that the GOP had a Covid-19 relief plan; that GOP changes to Georgia voting laws will somehow make it easier for more people to vote; that the GOP opposes Supreme Court-packing. It was a fun house mirror of appraisals.

Being a Black person in America, there was one line from the bizarre oration that stuck out. “Hear me clearly,” Scott said, “America is not a racist country.” Mind you, this is after Scott recounted a litany of racist acts that he’s experienced over the course of his life, presumably to show that he understands what racism is.

If Scott were the only high-ranking politician to make such a claim, I wouldn’t care. There’s nothing that Scott can say on the matter of racism that would surprise me, given his voting record and who writes his scripts. But when Vice President Kamala Harris responded to Scott’s claim (“I don’t think America is a racist country but we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today”), I took note. Not because I agree, but because she and Scott actually agree on something.

President Biden offered his two cents on the matter, as well: “I don’t think America is racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow and before that, slavery, have had a cost and we have to deal with it.”

What’s confounding about their collective conclusion is that they don’t deny that racism exists so much as it isn’t nearly as broad or ingrained as to be considered a way of life. Scott doesn’t provide any evidence that this is true (and, in fact, provides evidence that it isn’t), but Harris, at least, references White supremacists as domestic terrorists, which is a reasonable enough platform. That said, I’m left to assume she might come down differently than most people who believe racism in this country is systemic and not just comprised of tiki torch-wielding mobs.

The question I have for Scott, Harris, Biden, and anyone else who thinks America isn’t racist is: When did that stop being the case?

I think we can all agree that America has been a racist country at some point. Slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation were all orders of the day in American life. These were laws whose outcomes helped build this country from its inception. Without slavery, you don’t have America as you know it — and I don’t just mean in some butterfly effect kind of way. I mean you have no Washington, D.C. or White House. Without segregation, you have no traffic light or pacemaker. And while those may appear at first glance to be nifty dividends, these are blues inventions; things that exist because Black people had to make do in the face of unrelenting racial assault on every level. In short, at some point in the past, America was genuinely and legally racist.

I’d like to know when that stopped. What magical moment in the past baptized America and washed away its bigotry? Which rights were activated on behalf of Black people that absolved America of its original sin?

Tim Scott and Kamala Harris should both, especially as Black Americans, have been able to say that America still struggles with its racism problem. It’s not something America used to be or fixed or voted out of office.

Perhaps the answer is a legal one. When legislation like Brown v. Board of Education (1954) or the Civil Rights Act (1964) were passed, America was obligated to adjust its reality. It could no longer legally discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, and several other personal identities that, oddly, people are still contending with today. Except that America didn’t meet that obligation so much as pivot into more subtle and efficient ways of discrimination. Schools attended by predominantly Black students were and remain routinely under-resourced. You can still see the crimson ink where housing discrimination hasn’t changed since redlining was legal. Disparities in health care, law enforcement, political representation, and living wages persist almost unabated by civil intervention across the board.

All of which begs several questions. If the net result of living in America while Black exposes the same disparities and injustices as it did several generations ago, how is racism not a strain of America’s DNA? How does drawing out daily examples of inarguable and systemic bias not serve as evidence of racism’s existence in American life? How is it that certain Americans can continue to benefit from the ancient and White-facing machine of privilege born of hundreds of years of free Black labor — privilege that Black people consistently cannot access — and the country not be racist by default?

There’s a difference between not being a racist society and being a society that at least tries to get it right most of the time. Despite what most citizens (who, as it turns out, are predominantly White) think of themselves, America is neither of these countries. It turns out that America’s favorite pastime is in fact not baseball but denial. It’s a pervasive and insidious strain of identity that refuses to not see itself as great, even in the face of profound horrors.

The January 6 storming of the Capitol earlier this year was shocking to much of America, but not enough to claim its hands are clean. That tsunami of animus came from somewhere, and it certainly hasn’t felt like the representation of a minority opinion since then. Scott essentially came out as every conservative’s best Black friend and told them they’re not wrong — that somehow, all of the people still accessing America’s privilege conveyor belt are the underdogs here — even though the insurrection lies at the feet of Republican flame-fanning.

What most of America doesn’t get about racism is that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. That faux-philosophical chestnut has never been true a single day in the history of America (or anywhere else for that matter). Consider a hypothetical in which a White employee is iffy on the prospect of the new Black hire. In such a scenario, said White person has lunch with their new colleague and realizes they’re an okay person after all. This wouldn’t be an example of race becoming invisible or transcending race or any other diversity fable; this is a person recognizing that there’s more to Blackness than skin color.

The White person never forgets that the Black person is Black, they simply realize that there’s more to the person than what they see. And just like a person can never get to that lunchtime promised land by ignoring someone’s race, a society can never reckon with or resolve that which it cannot admit.

Tim Scott and Kamala Harris should both, especially as Black Americans, have been able to say that America still struggles with its racism problem. It’s not something America used to be or fixed or voted out of office. It is something that plagues us, much like the pandemic with which we’re now wrestling. It’s a condition of the American existence, and conversely a weed its citizens have to keep pulling out of the ground. But we’ll never get hold of it unless we grab it by the root.

The Perversion of Myth in America Part 5

Dealing with the Myth of Trumpism


In past articles of this series, we have considered the meaning of myth, constructive myths, destructive myths and a perverse myth- Trumpism. In this article, we will consider how to respond to Trumpism before it destroys our democracy. We are already close to another civil war at least in our minds. In the Republican party, a faction of people including legislators have accepted the myth of Trumpism as their “guiding fiction.” Many other Republicans including legislators at all levels tolerate Trumpism whether they subscribe to it or not.

The psychiatrist Alfred Adler coined the term guiding fiction. This is a way of thinking about life which guides a person’s actions. This fiction can be constructive and helpful in making decisions and managing the course of one’s life. It can also be destructive and complicate your life to say the least.

For some people, the Trumpian myth we discussed in the last post has created a path which requires that they sell their souls to Trump and allow him to become the central focus of their lives. We talked before of the implications of the Trumpian myth including

1, White supremacy and associated racism.

2. Belief that Trump really won the 2020 presidential election despite all evidence being to the contrary.

3. Acceptance of Trump as the only person who can lead us to the promised land, despite the destruction of democracy implied in his approach

4. Accepting Trumpism as the only truth and Trump as the Chosen One as he has described himself.

For those of us who do not ascribe to the Trumpian myth, it is time to consider how to save our country from the self-serving path Trump would like us to follow. First let us consider approaches which are unlikely to succeed.

  1. Rational debate- Have you ever tried having a debate with a Trump devotee about politics? Based on my experience and that of others I know who have tried, such a debate leads nowhere. A constructive debate is based on facts and rational conversation about related topics. Most Trumpian beliefs turn out to be based on fantasy or outright lies like those Trump has been pedaling for years.  Arguing about them is fruitless.
  2. Attacking the Trumpian guiding fiction.- Their principle is that Trump is always right and knows what is best for everyone. He will lead them out of darkness and chaos into the society he will create for our country. This fiction is not open for debate.
  3. Invitation to partnership- Compromise in the form of political bipartisanship or individual meeting of the minds is not an option for those devoted to the Trumpian myth. Trump is right and that is all there is to it.

The bluster of the Wizard of Oz and the intellectual nakedness of the Emperor’s New Clothes are stories that give us some insight into what we face in Trump and his devotees. As for answers and alternatives to Trumpism there are several possibilities which might well make a difference. Here are the ones which came to my mind:

  1. Allowing Trump devotees to see that their needs can be met by paths other than adhering to his empty promises. This is already taking place on several fronts. We are in the midst of a coordinated effort to manage the COVID pandemic which is showing good results. Bailout through cash payments has started our society on the path to recovery. Some Republican legislators are even taking credit for the benefits to their constituents which they voted against. Current proposals before Congress also include taking responsibility for protection of the environment, our home. In addition, police reform is also a legislative proposal leading us toward more protection and less brutality.
  2. Recognizing the lack of practical proposals. In Trump’s quest for the presidency in both elections, he had no concrete proposals other than the New Order he promised. Details of this plan never appeared, not to mention getting anything done- only the overthrow of the status quo which was well underway during Trump’s tenure as president.
  3. Realizing that the only stated goal of the Republicans is to defeat Democrats and block anything they propose. Other than that, the Republicans have nothing concrete to offer even in light of the many needs of our country and citizens.
  4. Recognition that unreformed police tactics are a danger to all of our citizens.  
  5. Recognition of the benefits of the rule of law other than operating on the whims of leaders such as Trump and retribution for not supporting him unconditionally in their attempt to build a society around their own needs rather than those of society as a whole.
  6. Recognition of the contributions of immigrants over the lifespan of our society as opposed to societal inbreeding.
  7. Recognition that all individuals, despite their political leanings, can make a contribution to rebuilding our society together.
  8. Recognition that healthcare, education and job opportunities will create a safer society by greatly reducing the number of citizens angry and frustrated by their lack of progress.
  9. Learning to recognize the contributions of new cultures toward enriching the American experience as we have done with past immigrant groups throughout American history.
  10. Welcoming Republicans who are willing to compromise as partners in working toward our national progress.

In my opinion, none of these possibilities will result in resolution of our difficulties and disagreements. Yet together and with other possible factors  beyond our current awareness, they can help us build a society in which we can all prosper and where we can all live together in peace. 

Things That Make Me Feel Grateful

Let the man, who would be grateful
think of repaying a kindness
even while receiving it.


Several years ago I started following the example of Henry Thoreau. He made it a practice not to get out of bed until he had written down things for which he was grateful that day. I usually have a cup of coffee but like to make my list before doing anything else. In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would use this article to share some of the things for which I am grateful over the past years.

Thank you God for:

  • The cloth-bound journal I found at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore.
  • The wonderful sunrises and sunsets this year which never fail to gladden my heart and raise my spirits. Even on gloomy days, I know that sooner or later one or the other will eventually grace the sky.
  • The warm summer sand at Gay Head Beach on Martha’s Vineyard and the lazy waves lapping at the shore.
  • Attending two delightful weddings in one summer and meeting new people.
  • The many teens honored at the Bishop McNulty Awards for parish service and the adults honored for working with youth.
  • Sharing my perceptions of the world with my brother Bob and his understanding of what is important to me.
  • My mother’s acceptance and caring for every person I have ever brought to her door.
  • My friend Smokey, the joy he brought to my life and his many friends I had the chance to meet if only briefly.
  • Being able to publish three books and write a newspaper column for five years without losing my perseverance.
  • Inspiration for my writing each time I get my fingers moving.
  • My muse, Calliope, and my ongoing conversations with her.
  • Attending the celebration of Rose’s and Russ’s sixtieth wedding anniversary.
  • Seeing Aunt Lucille’s zest for life well into her eighties.
  • Mike and Joe’s delight in each other’s company.
  • Matt’s ability to commune with nature whether anyone is around or not.
  • Visiting England, Spain and Portugal.
  • Peter’s prolific pursuit of his artistic ability.
  • Sue’s professional competence and community contributions.
  • Becky’s continuous caring for everyone she meets following her grandmother’s example.
  • Coming to a decision about Medicare coverage and its many options.
  • Delightful conversations with many people I never thought I would meet.
  • Sailing on cruises among the Caribbean islands in February.
  • Having owned my own sailboat.
  • Visiting a sugar plantation in Barbados.
  • Rediscovering my friend Gerry and knowing I can count on his constant support and encouragement.
  • A sense of prosperity after years of worrying about money.
  • A growing sense of my spirituality and coming to terms with it.
  • Visiting St. John the Divine in New York.
  • My joints working well again after several years of feeling almost crippled.
  • Carol’s love, support and acceptance of me no matter what

 Action Steps to Consider:

  1. Think of some of the things for which you are grateful.
  2. List the people who have meant the most to you.
  3. Tell the ones who are still living how you feel about them.
  4. Do something in honor of the ones who have died.
  5. Consider writing down a few things each day for which you are grateful.


Selection from Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage by Joseph Langen