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Democracy Grief

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Michelle Goldberg has an eloquent and elegiac essay that says something akin to what I was trying to convey a couple of days ago:

The despair felt by climate scientists and environmentalists watching helplessly as something precious and irreplaceable is destroyed is sometimes described as “climate grief.” Those who pay close attention to the ecological calamity that civilization is inflicting upon itself frequently describe feelings of rage, anxiety and bottomless loss, all of which are amplified by the right’s willful denial. The young activist Greta Thunberg, Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, has described falling into a deep depression after grasping the ramifications of climate change and the utter refusal of people in power to rise to the occasion: “If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before?”


Lately, I think I’m experiencing democracy grief. For anyone who was, like me, born after the civil rights movement finally made democracy in America real, liberal democracy has always been part of the climate, as easy to take for granted as clean air or the changing of the seasons. When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term, the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it.


After Trump’s election, a number of historians and political scientists rushed out with books explaining, as one title put it, “How Democracies Die.” In the years since, it’s breathtaking how much is dead already. Though the president will almost certainly be impeached for extorting Ukraine to aid his re-election, he is equally certain to be acquitted in the Senate, a tacit confirmation that he is, indeed, above the law. His attorney general is a shameless partisan enforcer. Professional civil servants are purged, replaced by apparatchiks. The courts are filling up with young, hard-right ideologues. One recently confirmed judge, 40-year-old Steven Menashi, has written approvingly of ethnonationalism.


In “How Democracies Die,” Professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard describe how, in failing democracies, “the referees of the democratic game were brought over to the government’s side, providing the incumbent with both a shield against constitutional challenges and a powerful — and ‘legal’ — weapon with which to assault its opponents.” This is happening before our eyes.

The entire Trump presidency has been marked, for many of us who are part of the plurality that despises it, by anxiety and anger. But lately I’ve noticed, and not just in myself, a demoralizing degree of fear, even depression. You can see it online, in the self-protective cynicism of liberals announcing on Twitter that Trump is going to win re-election. In The Washington Post, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a Never Trump conservative, described his spiritual struggle against feelings of political desperation: “Sustaining this type of distressed uncertainty for long periods, I can attest, is like putting arsenic in your saltshaker.”

I don’t think Joe Biden understands any of this. (Yes yes he’s a million times better than Trump and we will all vote for him and work for him in the general if it comes to that. Let’s hope it doesn’t).

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rocketo
1 hour ago
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seattle, wa
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Tonight on No Passport Required, Chef Marcus Samuelsson Explores the Filipino Food Scene in Seattle

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Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelson highlights the Seattle Filipino community on No Passport Required by David Lewis
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. You might recognize him from Top Chef Masters among various other high profile gigs.
You might recognize chef Marcus Samuelsson from Top Chef Masters, among other high profile gigs. Season two of his PBS show premieres tonight, and the episode focuses on Seattle's Filipino community. John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Since becoming a food writer, the most common recommendation I get asked for is where to find good Filipino food in Seattle now that Ludi’s is closed. Normally I am asked this by Filipinos. My answer so far has been that I have no ideas beyond the Jollibee in the Southcenter Mall food court.

Fortunately, Chef Marcus Samuelsson—who is the only person in history to both cook for the POTUS (Barack Obama) and play hisself in a Scooby-Doo movie (Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost)—came to Seattle to answer that question for me.

In a recent interview, Samuelsson said he's been to our city countless times. "I love Seattle because all the nature reminds me of growing up in Sweden." He even owns a Sonics jersey. (RIP) But he had no idea that almost 3 percent of our population is Filipino until he started filming for the second season of No Passport Required. "With the show I'm always learning about new communities."

Of course, one of the first places they visited was Ludi’s. They apparently filmed in the summer before it shut down. He told me he heard about it closure, "it's sad but that's what happens in the restaurant industry."

Still, there are plenty of great Filipino places in Seattle, a few of which I'd actually dined at without realizing they were Filipino: Hood Famous Bakeshop, which should have been obvious due to the purple yam (ube) cheesecake, and the Knee High Stocking Co. on Capitol Hill. The latter is a prohibition-themed speakeasy bar that is less overtly Filipino. He also visits Archipelago, which has created their own style of "Pacific Northwest Progressive Filipino-American Cuisine." They most notably serve a gourmet meal on top of sardine cans as a tribute to the Filipino cannery workers who have been immigrating to Puget Sound for more than 100 years.

The episode also tackles the mystery of why Seattle doesn't have more Filipino restaurants: in the Filipino community, being good at cooking is extremely common. Because so many Filipinos cook, they don’t eat out as much. Much of the best food on the show is enjoyed inside people’s houses. At the end of our interview, Samuelsson told me that he liked everywhere he ate in Seattle, but eating a potluck with a local Filipino family “was one of my best experiences from the entire series.”

No Passport Required's second season starts tonight at 9 pm.

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rocketo
22 hours ago
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Stream Kaytranada’s New Album BUBBA

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It's been almost four years since Kaytranada released his debut album, 99.9%, though he's spent that time releasing plenty of one-offs and collaborations to hold his fans over. But this past Monday, the Haiti-born and Montreal-based producer sprung a little surprise on us by announcing that his sophomore album, BUBBA, would be out … More »
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rocketo
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If You Thought the Cookies in December’s Bon Appétit Looked Fabulous, Meet the Man Behind Them

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The proudly gay, Mexican American chef brings his whole self to the cutting board—gorgeous nails and all.

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rocketo
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my dude
seattle, wa
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Watchmen Creator Alan Moore Explains Why He's Voting Today For the First Time in 40 Years

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Alan Moore, the legendary creator of graphic novels like Watchmen and V For Vendetta, hasn’t voted in 40 years. But he’s voting in Britain’s general election today for the Labour Party. Why? According to a new video, Moore says that he’s not sure the UK would ever have a meaningful vote again if the Conservatives got…

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rocketo
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“The wretched world we’re living in at present was not an unlucky war of fate; it was an economic and political decision made without consulting the enormous human population that it would most drastically affect. If we would have it otherwise, if we’d prefer a fixture that we can call home, then we must stop supporting — even passively — this ravenous, insatiable conservative agenda before it devours us with our kids as a dessert.”
seattle, wa
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The Age of Instagram Face

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Jia Tolentino writes about how social media, FaceTune, and plastic surgery created a single, cyborgian look, known as Instagram Face, among celebrities during the past decade.
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rocketo
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seattle, wa
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