John Lewis is right. Again.

In a move that channels the philosophy and tactics of the civil rights era, John Lewis this week openly denied the legitimacy of the incoming administration and refused to participate in the inauguration ceremonies. His stand is more than symbolic. Lewis is cutting through the subtleties and evasions, initiating a critical moral division likely to define and harden the fight against the Trump administration.

Our last professional President?

For the first time in living memory we will now have a celebrity President who fails any credible standard of competence or qualification. The solution emerging on the left, attempting to replace Trump with a better celebrity, fails to address the core problem. For the country to survive in a dawning age celebrity politics, the power of the Presidency and the reach of the federal government may have to be constrained. If competent political professionals are going to be consistently defeated by tabloid figures, then it may be time to rethink the power of the office itself.

Federalism is your friend

Collapsing federal power presents states like California with an opportunity. California has not enacted single payer health care for one over-arching reason – their decision to cede leadership to the federal government. A collapse of federal power may reinvigorate state efforts to craft and refine smart public policy. In same way Massachusetts inspired the ACA, a new wave of state innovations may spawn an era of policy innovation that could break us out of decades of quagmire. In chaos, there is opportunity. If Democrats ever again want to lead in Washington, let them prove that they can lead in California.

Writing about public policy in Trumpistan

Whatever policy emerges from the federal government in this climate, it will be guided by delusions, written by morons, and crafted to solve problems that don’t exist using mechanisms that don’t work. We are going to live for an extended time under a grand national experiment in Idiocracy. The tough, interesting, intellectually challenging work of crafting useful policy has lost any immediate relevance. Policy only matters to some potential future that looms out beyond the horizon.

Milton Friedman makes the case for a basic income

Fifty years later, this explanation of the case for a basic income laid out by Milton Friedman is more relevant than ever. Friedman was describing his plan for a negative income tax, a plan actually introduced and promoted by Nixon, but the skeleton of that case applies to just about any system of universal needs-based support. Also interesting in this clip is the quality of the interaction. Can you imagine any major conservative media figure of William Buckley’s profile engaging in such a smart, thoughtful interaction on a complex subject today?

When whiteness fails

Thanks to generations of progress in civil rights, race, and more specifically “whiteness,” is failing. Being white is losing its meaning, its privileges, its social and even religious significance. As it fades, it has weakened a load-bearing wall in our democracy. Our goal of transcending race, encoded as a distant aspiration in our founding documents, threatens to undermine the “classless” assumptions that make the rest of our system work. Stripped of race as a reference point, and of whiteness as a marker of special privilege, we are left to cope with class as our main expression of identity.

Seven people to watch in 2017

From chaos comes opportunity. Prepare to see new faces and hear new voices. As we begin what will likely be a long, painful struggle toward the Third Republic, these seven people may have interesting roles to play.

Questions for 2017

Happy New Year. Celebrate safely. Thank you for all you’ve done to make this such a thoughtful, smart, challenging community over many long years and into the next one.