China in the 1980s can sound like a Paradise Lost—paradise crushed by tanks on Tiananmen Square 30 years ago, paradise erased by massacre and state propaganda ever since, an unmarked memory hole. Except that people remember: the freedom of Democracy Wall; longhair students steeped in Confucian classics but sampling Virginia Woolf and Nietzsche for the first time, and dancing to Bob Dylan. Cosmopolitanism was in: Mao was dead, and Time magazine made the new ginger man Deng Xiaoping its man-of-the-year. John Denver of Rocky Mountain High cheered China’s long march to modernization. Bob Hope cracked jokes and swung his golf club in an NBC special from Tiananmen Square—till, poof, everything changed.
What we know of Tiananmen Square is mostly the tanks turned against plain people 30 years ago. What’s just as compelling in restored memory is the charged air of hope and possibility in Tiananmen, and in China of the 80s, until just days before the crackdown, the end of reform. Tiananmen Square had more and bigger Speakers’ Corners than Hyde Park in London: students, workers, artists plying agendas; musicians trying tunes, rehearsing democracy, you could have supposed. It was a romantic proving ground of blooming civic virtue and community spirit, and the American audience loved it, too.
Tim Alberta’s new book American Carnage documents “the Republican Civil War”: a decade-plus struggle over whether the Republican Party would build itself around white identity politics or try to reach out to a changing America.
Trump’s election settled the argument, and Alberta’s book tracks the way top Republicans processed that resolution — and submitted to their new reality — in real time. The profiles in courage are few and far between; the capitulations, however, are everywhere. Alberta takes us deep inside that process, and the quotes and stories he’s revealed already have top Republicans at each other’s throats.
This is a conversation about what the Republican Party has become, why Donald Trump won the fight for the party’s soul so decisively, why so many conservative politicians abandoned their loathing of Trump to embrace the power he offered, and what comes next. Alberta brings the receipts, and if nothing else, it’s a helluva portrait of how principles are traded for power.
The debate over the “heartbeat bill” signed into law in Georgia last week has been both hyperbolic and vitriolic. Of course, stakes are high in the debate over the legality of abortion and the potential for reconsideration of the Supreme Court precedent set in Roe v. Wade (1973).
But at Reason, we believe calm, rational discussion is possible even between people who strongly disagree. So Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Managing Editor Stephanie Slade, who is pro-life, and Associate Editor Liz Nolan Brown, who is pro-choice, to talk about the present state of abortion politics and the ways in which reasonable libertarians can disagree on this issue.
The political/culture wars are once again at full throttle as Georgia becomes the latest in a series of states to enact serious abortion restrictions, in this case a ban on the procedure when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Is the longstanding legal/cultural consensus (or political standoff) about abortion—that it should be legally available during the first trimester—giving way to a more extreme agenda by polarized advocates on each side? That’s the thorny question underlying this week’s Editors’ Roundtable edition of the Reason Podcast, featuring Katherine Mangu-Ward, Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman and Matt Welch.