What is America, America?
America, America is a plea and an ode, a collection of at least twice-weekly dispatches by me, Steven Beschloss, that observe and reflect on unfolding stories and issues that define our country and social-political life.
The title should suggest the sense that America is not one thing: It is a combination of urgent dangers, troubled choices, broken promises—and a disturbingly large number of citizens bent on destroying democracy, abusing the vulnerable and undermining the prospects for a healthy future. But it is also a diverse nation of people who yearn and fight for justice, believe in democratic values like equality, recognize the necessity of empathy and kindness, and who take inspiration from efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable society.
So America, America will send dispatches of alarm and hope, of dark and light. It will follow my intense desire to address the dangers as vividly and directly as I can—and to think through the impulses, ideas and values that drive them. These observations may be influenced by anger and pain that our better instincts seem to be losing out to those who value power above all else. But there also will be dispatches of optimism and hope, genuine offerings of inspiration that seek to remind us that we are not alone and why the fight for better is worth it.
Why Steven Beschloss
My professional bonafides include journalistic contributions to dozens of media outlets—The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, Smithsonian and The Economist Intelligence Unit, among many others. I have been based in New York and Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and Norfolk, Virginia, as well as London, Helsinki and Moscow. I co-authored the book Adrift, which sought to depict the troubles facing the US since WWII and how to fix them, and authored The Gunman and His Mother, to capture Lee Harvey Oswald’s troubled family life and explain the downward spiral that led him to Dealey Plaza in Dallas. I also spent a decade focused on filmmaking, writing and producing fiction and nonfiction films for European television and the US. In all of this, including recent years working at a university teaching and producing media projects in multiple forms, I have sought to make sense of a world that too often defies logic and reason.
But I have to say the years of Trump changed me. There was a time I maintained more journalistic detachment; I hewed tightly to the facts and hesitated to provide much interpretation, let alone explicitly express my moral position or my feelings. Trump and all those who were attracted by him changed that.
For anyone who followed me on Twitter, I hope you have seen my sense of duty shifted, deepened—to tell the truth as clearly as I could. To say what I think and feel. To make every effort I could to provide reminders of the difference between true and false, right and wrong, sanity and sheer madness. Doing this was an obligation at a time when our democracy, human decency, indeed reality itself, was under attack.
If I hoped Trump’s departure could put an end to the worst of this, we have seen how seditious extremists and millions of Americans, including a majority of elected Republicans, continue to stand with Trump and against our democracy and the rule of law.
So continuing vigilance and assertions of the values of democracy over autocracy remain my duty. Dare I say, I think it remains the duty of each of us who care about the promise of America and a better life. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in this continuing journey and why I hope America, America will build into a motivated community dedicated to positive change.
What Subscribers Get
Every subscriber will receive thrice-weekly dispatches, delivered straight into your email inbox. Paid subscribers will receive these plus additional timely dispatches, the ability to post comments, audio versions of written pieces, Q&As, community forums, early access to video interviews and occasional samplings of a book in process. Founding members will receive all this plus invites to other special events and undying gratitude.
A Final Note
I hope you’ll subscribe, be it as a paid subscriber or for free. And I hope you’ll help build this community that cares about democracy and justice and recognizes that there’s so much more we can do together than alone. While I hope my contributions can help you make sense of things, I know that your comments and contributions will help me better understand our country—and maintain my belief that our better angels will triumph.