Op-eds of the week: Pelosi’s legacy, nativism and ‘Spirited’
The midterms were a win for free and fair elections. Nativists are still coming for democracy.
Advocates for the “great replacement theory,” which theorizes that Democrats are trying to flood the country with immigrants in order to cement control, have merged with foes of democracy, writes Elizabeth Yates, who researches antisemitism for Human Rights First.
They mix voter suppression and the denial of the 2020 election outcome with rhetoric that portrays migrants as physical, cultural, political, and racial threats—joining antisemitism and white supremacy to the broader far-right, anti-democratic movement. It has inspired deadly terrorist attacks against Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim, and other minority communities in the U.S. and around the globe.
A ‘Spirited’ approach to healing division
This month, as usual, will offer movies and TV specials geared toward boosting holiday cheer. But “Spirited,” starring Ryan Reynols and Will Ferrell, takes that positivity a step further, writes syndicated columnist Lynn Schmidt. It’s a must-watch for those seeking to reduce partisanship and limit the impact of conflict profiteers.
This movie does a remarkable job of providing some life lessons, which, beyond helping each one of us personally, can help our society in combating the cycle of polarization that we seem stuck in. It highlights that division sells and we need to think about who is profiting from the ensuing disconnection.
Additional reading: How does bridging divides support pro-democracy efforts?, by The Fulcrum’s Debilyn Molineaux
Speaker Pelosi has prepared a generation of young women to take the torch
As speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi made history. She was the first woman to hold that office and, until Kamala Harris became vice president, she was the highest ranking woman in the nation. She ushered through transformative legislation. But she also inspired more women to follow her lead, according to Ignite CEO Sara Guillermo, and knew when to allow them to step forward.
It means a lot, too, that Pelosi spoke about it being time for "a new generation to lead." The 2022 election was a “youth wave,” with near-historic numbers of young people turning out to vote. Young people turned out at their highest rates in states with razor-thin margins. Gen Z and millennials are on their way to becoming part of the largest voting bloc. They care about reproductive justice, mental health, student loans and more. Candidates who want to win need to speak to the issues young voters are passionate about. It is reassuring to see Pelosi recognizing that a new generation is ready to carry the torch.
Additional reading: What Does The Speaker of the House Do? Here’s What Nancy Pelosi’s Successor Will Have for a Job.
Say no to censorship! Renew civic space.
We as a nation are guilty of civic negligence, writes Jacob Goodwin, a sixth grade social studies teacher and the 2021 New Hampshire History Teacher of the Year. He believes that the threat of extremist violence, book bans and restrictions on the teaching of history are, together, steering us into a state of civic decay. The solution can be found among our teachers.
Civic trust starts with supporting public education, not shouting it down. Across the board, educators want to provide students with a rich understanding of the past, where we can challenge and support each other through honest inquiry. As professionals, we understand that as the times change so too we must change; we want to keep up to date with practices and the latest scholarship in our field. For this reason, teachers are working to share more complete accounts of the past. We seek inclusive and accurate histories, not one-sided accounts. It is discussing the challenges and the triumphs of the past that a new generation imagines the possible.