For this week’s newsletter, I invited three of my colleagues from our politics desk—editors Nick Baumann, John Hendrickson, and Nora Kelly Lee—to share a little bit about what’s been on their minds, as well as a few of their favorite stories from the past week. As always, you can talk to us by replying directly to this newsletter, or by sending a note to our team here.
One month ago, former Vice President Joe Biden’s “Super Tuesday sweep” was perhaps the biggest story in the United States. Thanks to a surge of support from black voters in South Carolina—and despite Senator Bernie Sanders’s best efforts—Biden was ascendant.
Days later, the country started shutting down. Our colleagues had been warning about the novel coronavirus for weeks, but only in mid-March did American politics become all coronavirus, all the time. Many of the people who made Sanders and Biden the final two candidates in the Democratic race are the same people whose jobs are considered essential, and who must continue reporting to work during this pandemic. Now we’re seeing that poor people and people of color are disproportionately losing their lives to the virus.
The Atlantic’s politics team is focused on this convergence of story lines. In team meetings, we regularly return to a central theme: Who is America actually working for? Though we now meet mostly over Zoom, often with screaming toddlers in the background, we haven’t stopped trying to answer that question.
This week, we asked who would lead Sanders’s movement now that he has run his last race. Surely you’ve heard Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mentioned in that context. But Gavin Newsom? We looked at the chaos in Wisconsin as a warning sign for the November general election, given the ever-louder calls for expanded voting by mail. And our writers told you about what Easter is like in the midst of a pandemic, and even how to cut your own hair in quarantine.
In the week ahead, you can expect to hear from McKay Coppins about the history of the president’s response to the outbreak; from Adam Harris about what the virus is doing in places far from national-news cameras; and from Elaine Godfrey about the despair that comes when the candidate you were counting on to change your life … doesn’t.
These are tough times for many people, and we couldn’t do any of our work without your support. Thank you.
— Nick Baumann, John Hendrickson, and Nora Kelly Lee
1. Not Him, Them
By Edward-Isaac Dovere
Bernie Sanders will never be president. He won’t be Joe Biden’s pick for vice president. He’s not joining the Cabinet. He’s run his last race—he’ll be 82 when his current Senate term is up in 2024, and people close to him feel sure that will be it for him. Who will be on the ballot in 2024, trying to continue the movement he sparked?
2. What Easter Can Teach Us About Suffering
By Emma Green
This year, most people will spend the holiday alone, maybe tuning in to an online worship service or communicating with family members over Zoom. Many Christians will carry sorrow and worry, wondering about the health of their elderly neighbors or friends in big cities. But perhaps there’s theological insight to be gleaned from a painful Easter.
3. Wisconsin’s Warning for the November Election
By Russell Berman
How are people expected to vote if they’re not supposed to even leave their homes? What’s happening with voting by mail?
State officials have another several months to expand vote by mail before November, but don’t expect the additional lead time to change the Republican opposition.
4. How to Cut Your Own Hair
By Adam Harris
[On] day who-knows-how-many of social distancing, my hair was uneven, my shape-up had grown oblong, and I was feeling anxious—an unholy mix of cabin fever, exhaustion, and missing my parents. The anxiety is more frequent these days. After my daughters went to sleep, I stole away to the bathroom to give myself a haircut. I can’t control much right now, but at least I can tame my hair.
5. The Pandemic Will Cleave America in Two
By Joe Pinsker
Viruses aren’t picky. They tear through neighborhoods and nations, infecting whomever they can, and the new coronavirus is no exception: The pain of the present pandemic will be felt—is already being felt—by just about everyone in the United States and all over the world, in one way or another …
At the same time, there will be stark disparities in how certain segments of the American population experience this crisis.
You can find the rest of our COVID-19 coverage on our site.
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