In the near future, the Internet is sentient and her name is Aunt Nettie. Gish Jen’s novel “The Resisters” imagines a dystopian world with two classes: the “netted” (people who work) and the “surplus” (people who merely consume). The book follows Gwen, a terrific baseball pitcher from a surplus family that’s politically active. When her pitching attracts the attention of Aunt Nettie, she must choose between realizing her talents or staying with her family and being a resister. Baseball, for Jen, epitomizes the magic of chance and natural talent. “I wanted to write about our times,” she tells . “But, to write in a realistic mode about our times and everything that’s happening, we would have nothing but shock and anger.”
“The Resisters” was published on February 4th.
Bernie Sanders Ascends, and a High School Simulates the Election
Bernie Sanders’s win in New Hampshire has established him as the Democratic Presidential front-runner. Centrist Democrats regard him not as a challenge but more like an existential threat: they assume that only a moderate—and certainly not a democratic socialist—can sway critical swing voters and win in November. Are they right? David Remnick speaks with Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Attorney General who served as co-chair of the Democratic National Committee after that organization infamously tried to spike Sanders’s candidacy in 2016. Ellison says that the clarity of Sanders’s mission and his appeal to economic problems can win over struggling voters in both parties. Then Nathaniel Rakich, a pollster for FiveThirtyEight, presents what the data indicates about Sanders’s chances. Plus, a civics project goes off the rails when high-school students run a simulation of the 2020 primaries.
The Black Vote in 2020
The last time a Democrat won the White House, he had enormous support from black voters; lower support from black voters was one of many reasons Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. Marcus Ferrell, a political organizer from Atlanta, tells Radio Hour about the importance of turning out “unlikely voters” in order to win an election, which, for him, means black men. , a New Yorker staff writer and historian, points out that the four Democratic front-runners, all of whom are white, may struggle to get the turnout they need. Cobb tells David Remnick that Joe Biden’s strong lead may begin to fall after his weak showing among largely white voters in Iowa; Pete Buttigieg has very low support among South Carolina voters, and even faces opposition from black constituents in his home town, South Bend. But Bernie Sanders, Cobb says, seems to have made inroads with at least younger black voters since 2016. Plus, a New Yorker staffer picks three favorites.
Louis C.K.’s Return to the Stage
Louis C.K. is touring comedy clubs for the first time since accusations of sexual misconduct seemed to end his career, in 2017. Several women charged that C.K. had exposed himself and masturbated in front of them. (Louis says that he believed he had their consent.) The New Yorker staff writer saw C.K.’s show at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club, in Niagara Falls, hoping to see him address the issues through his comedy. “I really wanted him to describe himself,” Als tells David Remnick. “To be Louis that I loved, the person who would have described what those situations were like . . . what his compulsion was, where did it start? Why was it important for him to masturbate and not be alone? Was it a performance? Did he want [the women] to like him?” Instead, with an audience of bros in a small club, Louis dismissed what he called “the thing” as quickly as possible. Plus, a small group of one-per-centers argues that the wealth gap has grown too large, and that it will hurt economic growth. The solution? They want to raise their own taxes.
A Tumultuous Week in Impeachment, and Jill Lepore on Democracy in Peril
The Washington correspondent has been covering the scene in the Capitol as Republicans rush to contain the damage of the John Bolton manuscript leak. Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, told Glasser that “if a Republican makes the argument that removing the President this close to an election isn’t the right response, [that] we should trust the American electorate to make the decision, then you have to support [calling for] more witness and more documents” in order for the electorate to make an informed decision. Glasser also spoke with Zoe Lofgren who is one of the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against the President. Lofgren is an expert on the subject: she was on the House Judiciary Committee in 1998 during the Clinton impeachment, and, in 1974, as a law student, she helped to draft charges against Richard Nixon. Nixon, she points out, was far more forthcoming than Trump with Congress, directing his staff to appear for questions without a subpoena. If the Senate votes to acquit, endorsing a campaign of stonewalling by the executive branch, Lofgren says, “It will forever change the relationship between the branches of government.” Plus, the historian and staff writer Jill Lepore talks with David Remnick about how Americans rallied to save democracy in the nineteen-thirties, and how we might apply those lessons to a time when our own democracy has weakened.