Commentary

The prospective testimony of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford may be our best chance yet at a democratic process in the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. To date, Senate Republicans have tried to railroad through his confirmation, withholding an unprecedented number of documents from the committee and the public. Their cries of urgency ring hollow, as they blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from receiving any proceedings for 10 months.

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America’s cash bail system forces cash-strapped people to choose between remaining incarcerated – and possibly losing their job, housing, or custody of their children – or entering an agreement with shady private lenders to pay for their freedom before their court date. Private lender agreements often require people to pay bail companies steep fees and can trigger high interest rates when a payment is late, pushing people already in financial distress further into debt. [...]

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Saturday, June 30th is my last day as president of Demos, a public policy organization dedicated to creating an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. I have served as Demos’ president for the last four years, but I’ve worked there for 16 — practically my entire adult life. As I look back on what we’ve built together, I feel called to share some reflections from those years, for each of us who yearns to see our nation live up to its democratic promise.

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In the United States, if you don’t buy a gun for several years, you do not lose your Second Amendment right to bear arms. If you never write a letter to the editor or participate in a street demonstration, you retain your full First Amendment rights to free speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hand down its decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which challenges the ability of public sector unions to collect “fair share” fees from workers who are covered by a negotiated union contract but don’t want to join the union. While the case may seem technocratic, its argument is one thread of a well-worn tapestry by conservatives: attacking union rights to thwart working-class solidarity, especially across racial and ethnic lines.

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Twenty-five years ago today, our democracy took a major step forward with the enactment of the bipartisan National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which opened up the voter registration process to Americans left out of the electorate. Yet millions of eligible voters remain unregistered. To fulfill the promise of the NVRA, states must do much more to ensure all Americans have a voice in our democracy. [...]

The ability of college graduates to pay student loans isn’t simply a matter of earnings. It also reflects wealth — and differences that persist in wealth among racial and ethnic groups.

Ask a group of higher-education policy wonks about the best way to address our nation’s growing student loan problem, and you’re likely to find one solution overlaps party or ideology: Enroll more borrowers in income-driven loan repayment. [...]

In the midst of a Twitter feed alight with stories about police being used to shut black people out of places to eat, drink, exercise, and relax, comes a story about Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) using policy to do the same. The federal government is adding new and significant hurdles to communities of color — particularly black people — being able to access housing. [...]

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As the manufacturing footprint in the working class has shrunk, so has the white male archetype that has historically defined the working class. Today’s working class is more female and racially diverse – with whites comprising less than 60% of the working class, down from nearly 9 out of 10 in 1970. Similarly, two-thirds of working-class women are in the paid labor market, up from less than half in 1970.

Despite the long legacy of discrimination in public accommodations—a central battleground of the civil rights movement—looking at each of these incidents individually allows us to believe the fiction that these are aberrations. [...]

In our nation’s operating system, aggressively controlling black people in public spaces is a feature, not a bug.

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