Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Coronavirus in Maine: York, Oxford county enter danger zone

Maine and its northern New England neighbors, New Hampshire and Vermont, have been the three healthiest states for almost the entire pandemic to date, with relatively low prevalence, hospitalizations, and per capita deaths. But, owing in no small part to a defiant independent fundamentalist Baptist preacher and his followers, the disease is poised to spin out of control in interior York County. The Rumford area in Oxford county is also raising red flags.

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram I had a detailed update on these developments and the state of the pandemic in Maine as the cold weather season approaches. 

In the past week and a half I also reported on staff getting infected at Waterville's Inland Hospital, but fortunately that appears to be under control.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Speaking on UNION via the Boston Athenaeum, Sept. 23

It is my great pleasure to be returning to the Boston Athenaeum on this coming Wednesday, September 23, this time to speak on my new book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood. Owing to the pandemic, this will be a virtual event this time, but the good news is that that means it's free and open to the public, anywhere and everywhere.

The event starts at 6 pm but you do need to register by Tuesday at 5pm. For more information, consult their page for the event herensult their page for the event here. Note that registration is indeed open now (despite the reference to it "opening shortly"), just click the red "Register" button on the right side of the page.

Books are being sold, online, by the Harvard Book Store, where I was scheduled to have an event this summer, before the pandemic put an end to book tours.

I was recently interviewed in the Boston Globe about the themes in the book, an article you can read here.

I last spoke at the Athenaeum in 2016 on American Character: The Epic Battle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Speaking with NPR's "1A" about non-voters in the United States

Nearly 100 million eligible U.S. voters chose not to exercise the franchise. Why not? What can be done to change that? Who would they vote for if they participated? 

These are among the questions I explored for POLITICO earlier this year, when the Knight Foundation released the largest ever study of American non-voters. And yesterday I joined National Public Radio's "1A" program to discuss what I learned and why it matters.

You can hear the full show -- which is produced at WAMU in Washington, DC -- via this link. Guests include Emory University's Bernard Fraga and Kat Calvin of Spread the Vote.

Callers asked about Ranked Choice Voting and I mentioned a bit about the experience here in Maine, which adopted it for federal elections before the 2018 midterms. Here's another POLITICO story I wrote about that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Talking with the Boston Globe about UNION and the war for America's soul

It was a pleasure speaking with the Boston Globe's David Scharfenberg last week about the struggle over the soul of the United States between defining ourselves by our ideals and doing so by way of preferred bloodlines -- the topic of my new book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood.

The story lead the Ideas section of Sunday's Globe and can be found online here. I hope you'll check it out.

Last week I also spoke to the New Yorker's Robin Wright for this essay.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Talking with The New Yorker about the forces of U.S. disunity

Almost a decade ago I posited, in the epilogue of American Nations, that the United States is vulnerable to dissolution. We're an unwieldy federation of rival regional cultures, many of which disagree on the fundamentals: What does freedom mean? Are we committed to the civic national promises in the Declaration of Independence? What is the correct balance between church and state, between individual liberty and the common good? 

"Faced with a major crisis," I wrote, it was possible "the edition's leaders will betray their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the primary adhesive holding the union together. In the midst of, say, a deadly pandemic or the destruction of several cities by terrorists, a fearful public might condone the suspension of civil rights, the dissolution of Congress, or the incarceration of Supreme Court justices." Some "nations" might be happy with this situation, others opposed. Without the constitution, they break their bonds. Some readers thought this possibility sounded crazy in 2011, even as a long-term proposition. Not so many do now.

Today we enter a presidential election in the midst of a global pandemic with the central question before us being: do we want to live in that civic nationalist republic or in a white supremacist ethno-state? Do we want to live in a western democracy or in under an authoritarian regime? We've been asked this before -- it's the story told in my new book, Union -- and it's this suite of questions that are now being asked every day. 

That's what lead me to be a central source for this Robin Wright New Yorker essay, which posted yesterday, entitled "Is America a myth?" To survive, Wright concludes, America is going to have to move beyond myth.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Coronavirus in Maine: a remarkably successful summer imperiled by defiant pastor's wedding

Maine managed to host a summer tourist season without epidemiological incidents, something of a miracle in and of itself and testimony to the commitment of Mainers and visitors alike to keeping Covid-19 in check. 

But a non-compliant wedding presided over by a defiant independent Baptist pastor is threatening to undo that progress, especially in York County, where it has spared outbreaks and where, perhaps not coincidentally, there's an oubtreak at said pastor's church and bible school. Public health experts I spoke to for this story in this week's Maine Sunday Telegram worry they may not be able to get the coronavirus genie back in the bottle.

Also in Saturday's Portland Press Herald I had this update on Covid hospitalization trends here in Maine.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Speaking on UNION and the creation and future of U.S. nationhood, Sept. 7 via Jesup Memorial Library

On the evening of Labor Day, September 7, I'll be giving a virtual talk and answering questions about Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood and the central issues therein: the ongoing battle for the United States's soul between a white supremacist ethno-national vision for the country and a civic nationalist one centered on the ideals in the federation's founding statement, the Declaration of Independence.

The talk, originally intended to be in-person, is hosted by the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor, Maine in conjunction with the League of Women Voters - Downeast, Sherman's Bookstores, and Acadia Senior College and kicks off at 7pm. It's free and open to the public, but you do need to register here.

Signed copies of Union and some of my other books are available for online order, shipping, or pickup from Sherman's in Bar Harbor.

The following night, September 8, I'll be speaking about Maine's backstory (and The Lobster Coast) via the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, Maine. 

I speak again about Union, virtually and free to the public, via the Boston Athenaeum on September 23.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Speaking on Maine's past and Lobster Coast via the Schoodic Institute, Sept.8

On September 8 at 7pm Eastern, I'll be talking about the backstory of Maine on the occasion of its Bicentennial: a harrowing and little understood saga of war and betrayal, of clashing empires and ethnic cleansing, of civil war and colonial occupation by Massachusetts of what had been a separate province. These events shaped Mainers as a people and explain some of the culture’s most impressive virtues and most frustrating faults, as well as the still fraught relationship between this land’s real natives and the rest of us whose families came “from away” at some point in the past four hundred years.

These are issues discussed in my history of coastal Maine, The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier, as well as my Maine Sunday Telegram series this spring, "Colony."

The talk, via Zoom, is hosted by the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in Winter Harbor, Maine. It's free and open to the public, but you do need to register.