The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Department of Job Insecurity

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned and Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was ousted, within 24 hours. Plus: Kamala Harris takes her shot.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Monday, April 8.

Where’d Everybody Go?: The Department of Homeland Security has lost two of its top officials in just two days. Today, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was ousted, and on Sunday Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned, reportedly under pressure from Donald Trump. The child-separation policy enacted during Nielsen’s tenure shows that not even career bureaucrats can stop Trump from doing what he wants, writes David A. Graham. “Her tenure is the plainest example yet of the futility of trying to restrain Trump from inside—and the personal cost to those who try.”

An Escalation: Today, Trump announced that the United States has labeled Iran’s state security services a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” It’s an escalation of the administration’s stance against Iran, Kathy Gilsinan reports—and “it also potentially exposes U.S. troops to a different kind of risk: the possible need to coordinate with a group their government considers a terrorist organization.”

(Sasha Arutyunova)

2020 Watch: Senator Kamala Harris of California is one of the foremost contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. “She’s a black female prosecutor; we have a racist, misogynist, possibly criminal president. All of that caretaking of her political future—what was it for if not this?” writes Elizabeth Weil in a profile of Harris for The Atlantic’s May issue. And Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado isn’t letting a cancer diagnosis stop him from a presidential run. After a coffee-shop session in New Hampshire, he told Edward-Isaac Dovere that it’s made him even more set in his ambitions.

Justice More Swiftly: Around the country, thousands of rape kits have been stalled, some for as long as six years. Now at least 17 states have new laws on the books that will allow sexual-assault survivors to track their rape kits as they move through the criminal-justice system, Madeleine Carlisle reports. “Survivors are now given their kit’s tracking number, like one they might get with a FedEx or UPS package. They can log in to a portal that tracks their kit’s progress through the criminal-justice system.”

‘Irreparable Damage’: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently rolled back a 2015 policy—laid out shortly after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide—that labeled Mormons in same-sex marriages as apostates, and barred the baptism of their children. Under the new policy, those children can now be baptized. However, for many LGBTQ Mormons, the damage that the former policy inflicted on their relationship with their Church cannot be undone so easily, writes Emma Green.


The Baylor team celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Notre Dame 82–81 in the NCAA women’s college-basketball championship game in Tampa, Florida. (Mark LoMoglio / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

Is America Undergoing a Political Realignment? (George Packer)
“Realignments happen when a long-term social transformation, a crisis, and the right leader converge to change the landscape. In hindsight, they have an aura of historical inevitability, but they’re impossible to predict. [Franklin D.] Roosevelt didn’t run as the scourge of economic royalists; that came later.” → Read on.

Conspiracy Without the Theory (Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum)
“‘Rigged!’ is easy to communicate, and ‘just asking questions’ is easy to disown. Conspiracy without the theory is elastic. There is nowhere these conspiracists can’t go. If they are leading us somewhere—and we believe they are—it is toward disorientation and delegitimation.” → Read on.

Yes, It Matters That Pete Buttigieg Is Gay (Lucas Grindley)
“In my lifetime, it has been illegal for me to serve in the military, illegal for me to marry, illegal for me to adopt children, and even illegal for me to have sex. Society barred me from the first three; until 2003, the fourth meant risk of a fine or a prison sentence in some states. This discrimination did not just happen in a history book—it happened to me, and it happened to Buttigieg, too.” → Read on.

A Q&A With Europe’s Top Antitrust Regulator, Margrethe Vestager (Franklin Foer)
“I share your frustration. It’s great to have rights, but it’s even better to be able to exercise them. And a thing like ownership of data is a good thing, but I have no way to exercise my ownership.” → Read on.

A New Science of How to Argue—Constructively (Jesse Singal)
Singal makes the case for erisology, a new discipline to systematically study unsuccessful disagreement. → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Chicago’s Ankle Monitors Can Call and Record Kids Without Their Consent (Kira Lerner, CityLab; The Appeal)
Move Back to Your Dying Hometown. Unless You Can’t. (Lyz Lenz, Vox)
Can Bernie Sanders Finally Start Acting Like the One Thing He’s Never Been? (Jim Newell, Slate)
Jerry Nadler Was Born to Battle Trump (Norman J. Ornstein, The New Republic)

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