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(ROMAN SAMBORSKYI / SHUTTERSTOCK / THE ATLANTIC)
For this final issue of the Politics Daily, I asked some colleagues to share with me the political stories from the past year that most stood out to them.
For me, Russell Berman’s story on one of the defining concerns of the Democratic 2020 campaign—electability—forever changed how I talk about politics with friends and family. And Peter Nicholas’s story on the isolation of Donald Trump helped me understand the president’s mentality more than any other story about the Trump administration written in the past year.
Without further ado, here’s what others recommended, just in time for your weekend reflection.
National security editor
This Adam Serwer story is a searing and unapologetic look at deeply troubling moments in America’s history. It gave voice to a thought that has been with me for the last few years I’ve been living in the U.S.: “Rather, the source of greatest danger has been those who would choose white purity over a diverse democracy.”
This cover story by Vann R. Newkirk II about how government policy has allowed whites to steal farmland from black families across the South is a perfect combination of beautiful, textured writing and deep reporting that illuminates how a profound historical wrong lingers painfully in the present day.
Not all socialists are Brooklyn hipsters. Last year, in the blissful Before Times, Elaine Godfrey wrote this revealing piece about a cadre of socialists in central Iowa. They’re not just a bunch of Bernie superfans.
John Hendrickson’s exploration of Joe Biden’s stutter, and his own, was an article so novel in its conception and so powerfully rendered in its execution that it doesn’t just stay with you long after you’ve read it but also changes the way you think about the subject and the world around you.
Kathy Gilsinan’s interview with a general who once commanded 20,000 troops in Afghanistan gives life to the people keeping the country running behind the scenes during the pandemic. It should help all of us think about service in a different way.
Remember North Korea? The country still has nukes. Uri Friedman points out that Trump has a real diplomatic legacy to his name: He has normalized meeting with the world’s most notorious dictator, Kim Jong Un.
(ALEXANDRA ROSE HOWLAND)
I don’t often read about religion; I tend to feel intimidated by the unfamiliar rules and rituals and the unapproachable way some of the stories are written. But it was impossible not to get sucked in to Emma Green’s story about vulnerable Iraqi Christians in the time of ISIS.
The biggest political question of the past four years has been, How on earth did we get here? This story reconstructs the origins of the partisan food fights we see today—and makes a convincing case that Newt Gingrich should be banned from public zoos.
The group Future Now was inspired by Trump, but its lone goal was not to defeat him. This story from Russell Berman is a fascinating examination of a progressive group obsessed with flipping state legislatures.
Peter Nicholas’s and Elaina Plott’s pitch-perfect profile of the former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney illustrated not just the quirky man in the role, but the revolving-door nature of the job, as a whole, in the Trump era.
(JEREMY RAFF / THE ATLANTIC)
Nora Kelly Lee:
At the height of the family-separations crisis, Jeremy Raff interviewed a young pediatrician evaluating sick babies and children inside a Border Patrol warehouse. What she found—respiratory infection, malnutrition, signs of psychological trauma—was devastating, and Jeremy relayed her story with empathy and poignancy.
White House reporter
Not only did my colleague Isaac Dovere scoop the nation with his report that our now presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was entering the race, he delivered the news about Biden in an eloquent and memorable fashion.
McKay Coppins brilliantly documented Mitt Romney’s evolution into the Republican Party’s new moral conscience. This story also launched a hunt for the senator’s secret Twitter account—and was a signaler of Romney’s historic impeachment vote earlier this year.
This piece by our analyst Ron Brownstein about how red and blue America are experiencing different pandemics perfectly nails large political patterns within our new COVID-19 reality. Nothing says “the more things change, the more they stay the same” to me than a partisan pandemic.
Today’s newsletter was brought to you by The Atlantic’s national security and politics teams. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.
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