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Five Pieces Worth Reading

5 pieces worth reading

Following the good example of our colleagues at the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation, VTIPG will share five articles each week that we find timely, meaningful, and that address critical concerns related to the state of our democracy and civil society. We hope to offer pieces that illuminate the varied dimensions of our governance challenges and the status of social norms that sustain the possibility of addressing these issues successfully.

If you’d like to share an article - and we encourage all to do so - please send it to Billy Parvatam.

August 11: These articles focus on Virginia Tech studying solar farms, Ohioans overwhelmingly voting against 'Issue 1', the Federal Reserve trying to tame inflation, how Trump's prosecution could have terrible consequences, and right-wing criticism of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's early World Cup exit.

August 3: These pieces focus on former President Trump's 3rd indictment, how this summer's European heatwave could change future tourism, the recent trend of teachers of color leaving the profession, how western democracies have been built on the suffering of others, and how voting in the 2020 election could portend voting patterns in future elections.

July 28: These articles focus on how men and masculinity divides Democrats and Republicans, the effects of curfews on youth crimes in Roanoke and Lynchburg, whether Alabama will defy the Supreme Court's decision in Allen v. Milligan to draw a second Black-majority congressional district, the decline of public swimming pools in the U.S., and why urban areas are generally warmer than their rural counterparts.

July 21: These commentaries focused on on hatred in politics, Alzheimer's in southern Virginia, how a 2nd Trump term would damage America's standing in the world, active club groups on the rise, and the heat wave that Italy and most of Europe is experiencing.

July 10: These pieces focus on the role the Declaration of Independence played in the eventual abolition of slavery, the Supreme Court's decision to disallow President Biden's student debt forgiveness, July 3, 2023 was the hottest day ever recorded, several reasons to be encouraged about the state of U.S. democracy, and why the world could be at an inflection point of chaos. 


June 29: These articles focus on Moore v. Harper, the $23 million Virginia localities will receive this year to combat the opioid crisis, the ramifications for women one year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a recent report that found intelligence agencies downplayed threats in the days leading up to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and the recent Canadian wildfires.

June 22: These pieces focus on how Juneteenth is gaining acceptance around the country, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, the life and career of the late Daniel Ellsberg, the glacier melt in Asia's Hindu Kush Himalaya region, and a movement among consumer groups to urge government officials to investigate the algorithms that power ChatGPT.

June 15: These commentaries focus on how billions in COVID-19 relief aid has been stolen or wasted, why Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh voted to uphold the Voting Rights Act, the Inflation Reduction Act's investment into making farming more climate-friendly, the U.S.'s decision to rejoin UNESCO, and how increased flight turbulence is a result of climate change.

June 8: These pieces focus on the demographics of the nation's suburbs, President Biden's success with his bipartisan legislative achievements, how former Vice President Mike Pence has no consitituency in today's Republican Party, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's narrow path to the Republican Party presidential nomination, and independent-state-legislature theory.

June 1: These articles focus on the key provisions of the bipartisan debt ceiling deal, how the nominal GOP stance of lower taxes and limited government is just one of rhetoric, President Biden's record of repeatedly securing bipartisan legislation, the implications of Turkish President Recep Erdogan's re-eleciton for relations with the West, and the need for Congress to enact legislation to protect the Environmental Protection Agency.

May 25: These pieces focus on Florida Governor Ron Desantis's plan to defeat former President Donald Trump to win the 2024 GOP nomination, trends among young and religious unaffiliated individuals voting Democratic, how the US decision to provide F-16 fighter jets helps Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia, a potential political path that could prevent an unpredecented United States default, and how widespread poverty and social inequality in America has led to deep divisions.

May 18: These commentaries focus on how House Republicans' demand to cut spending for federal social safety net programs would affect millions of low-income Americans, the GOP's support of vigilantism against left-wing protestors, how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's immigrance stance is affecting the state's businesses, an alarming trend that fewer young Americans are knowledgeable about history and civics, and the recent pro-democracy party wins in Thailand's elections.

May 11: These pieces focus on Republicans putting our standard of living at risk by refusing to increase the debt ceiling, why former President Trump should still be vetted in the media despite the threat he presents to democracy, why former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's contention that states with  gun control legislation have more mass shootings is inaccurate and manipulative, a pending Supreme Court decision that could legalize assault weapons in all 50 states, and why the U.S. government needs to embark on a 'Manhattan Project' style endeavor to ensure artificial intellingence does not threaten human existence.

May 4: These pieces focus on why President Biden has refused to negotiate on the debt ceiling with Republicans, why the Federal Reserve should pause interest rates instead of implementing another hike, former President Trump's alpha male personality, conservative opposition to continuing to provide Ukraine military aid, and previewing King Charles III's coronation.

April 27: These pieces focus on President Biden's low approval ratings despite his legislative accomplishments, why he can win re-election in 2024, Tucker Carlson's firing from Fox News, The Covid Crisis Group's recent report on the U.S. governance response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the rapid decline in popular faith in the Supreme Court followng several high-profile controversial rulings. 

April 7: These commentaries focus on New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg's indictment of former President Donald Trump, why the indictment is a strong case with legal and historical precedent, Democrat Janet Protasiewicz's win in the Wisconsin Supreme Court Election, why '60 Minutes' should not have given Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene a platform, and recent McDonald's layoffs despite the strong labor market. 

March 30: These pieces all focus on the tragic mass shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, including why Americand continue to expose their children to gun violence, the likely effects of an assault weapons ban, why the cycle of gun violence is predictable and unlikely to change, how states have responded to mass shootings based on their prevailing political party affiliations, and why corporate America has fallen silent on gun regulation.  

March 23: These pieces focus on the factors that led to former President Trump's Electoral College victory in 2016, the politics of a potential Trump indictment, why the Biden administration should welcome China's proposed peace deal for Ukraine as a starting point for negotiations, why the news has become so negative, and one strategy for reforming American institutions to represent the majority more accurately.  

March 16: These pieces focus the future of America's largest cities in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, how the leadership of Vladamir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu has damaged their respective countries, how a 2018 federal law deregulating banking led to the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, President Biden's decision to allow oil drilling on some Alaskan public land, and Governor DeSantis's apparent strategy for a potential 2024 presidential bid. 

March 9: These commentaries focus on the Electoral College being the greatest threat to American democracy, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's desire to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, a GOP-lead Congressional effort to overturn criminal justice reforms passed by D.C., how Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's repressive media policies in Kashmir could soon be extended to the entire nation, and former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's decision to not seek the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. 

March 2: These pieces focus on President Biden's leadership during the Russia-Ukraine war, why that war will likely end in negotiations, the Biden Administration's student loan forgiveness, India ranked first in the world in internet shutdowns, and the decline of Humanities majors in the United States. 

February 23: These commentaries focus on how President Jimmy Carter's administration marked the end of a nearly 50-year era of democratic capitalism in the United States, President Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon and how it relates to former President Trump, why President Biden is not getting more credit for the economy, Senator John Fetterman's decision to seek treatment for clinical depression, and the parallels between George Washington's farewell address to Trump's actions while in office.

February 16: These pieces focus on Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders appealing to extreme right-wing voters in her Republican response to the State of the Union, the GOP's 40-year-long effort to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, how former governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is not an effective alternative to former President Trump, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's battles with the state government, and how far-right parties in Europe are preventing African immigrants from seeking refuge from climate change.

February 9: These pieces all focus on President Biden's State of the Union address. These commentaries discuss how his speech echoed some of the populist 2016 campaign themes of former President Trump, six main takeaways from the address, the principal economic points discussed, winners and losers, and how Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders's selection to deliver the Republican response is contradictory to some in the party's desire to move on from Trump.

February 3: These commentaries focus on the shifting character of the demographic base of the Democratic Party, foreign crises that will determine President Biden's legacy, the attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband inspired by years of inflammatory GOP rhetoric towards her, how the Biden administration should counteract Israel's anti-democratic actions, and the Maryland state legislative proposal to incentivize companies to move to a four-day week. 

January 26: These pieces focus on rural America as a base for the Republican Party, classified documents found in Former Vice President Mike Pence's home and how former President Donald Trump could exploit that, the passage of the Electoral Count Reform Act, Arizona Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego's decision to challenge Senator Krysten Sinema from the left, and a recent report that Africa has become less safe and democratic during the past decade.

January 19: These pieces focus on Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin ending state support for bringing a Ford battery plant to Pittsylvania County, how the Republican Party has become uninterested in following Constitutional norms, how China's population decline impacts its future economic growth, how today's social and political divisions are similar to those that MLK faced, and how Operation Warp Speed must be considered one of the great achievements in American history.

January 12: These pieces focus on why many Republicans disapprove of their party's congressional leadership, how America's gun culture leads to instances of deadly violence, how Ron DeSantis could shape the GOP's foreign policy orientation, how President Biden having classified documents in his personal office differs from Trump posessing them at Mar-a-Lago, and Biden not reversing all of the inhumane immigration policies of Trump.

January 5: These pieces focus on Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's inability to secure the Speakership, the long-term ramifications the GOP chaos could have on the ability to address the nation's debt ceiling, the factors likely to determine the course of U.S. democracy in 2023, President Biden needing to do more to combat climate change, and outlining the case for continued U.S. government aid towards Ukraine.

April 25 These pieces focus on the Republican Party’s continuing disinterest in governance and its potential ramifications for the health of U.S. democracy.

May 3 These pieces focus on inflation's effect on budgets, comparisions between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Hungarian government, Elon Musks's reported acquisition of Twitter, Emmanuel Macron's reelection as French President, and if American democracy is currently failing.

May 9 These pieces focus on the impact of the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, the danger of gaslighting COVID-19, and the role of higher education and unions in protecting democracy.

May 16 These pieces focus on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court following its leaked draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, the importance of secretary of state elections in November, failures of autocratic governments across the globe, Presiden Biden's rhetoric to frame the Russia-Ukraine war as a struggle for democracy, and the European Union's legislation to control Big Tech.

May 23 These pieces focus on the Republican party's embrace of 'stop the steal', a growing lack of confidence in the inevitability of social progress in the United States, the failure of the U.S. government to sucessfully combat domestic terrorism, Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano's desire to embrace Donald Trump's 'stop the steal lie', and the ongoing persecution of Muslims in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. 

May 27 These pieces focus on the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, specific reforms that could solve America's problem of gun violence, the failure of our government to properly respond, the impact of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's GOP primary win on the state of our democracy, and how redistricting has led to Congress's inability to address America's most pressing needs. 

June 10 These pieces focus on the importance of the upcoming U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol televised hearings to fully repudiate the Big Lie, the executive and legislative branch's role in the decline of democracy, the failure of democratic institutions to pass legislation supported by the majority of the American people, growing job insecurity, and a fear to raise children in today's challenging times.

June 21 These pieces focus on Democratic Party officals concerns about a potential President Biden 2024 reelection campaign, a poll that shows that a majority of Democrats and Republicans believe American democracy will cease to exist in the future, how the Constitution has been a barrier of equality for Black Americans, a GOP-led comission in New Mexico has refused to certify the results of a June primary, and an opinion piece that argues how Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department should consider a criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump. 

June 28 These pieces focus on the impact of the Supreme Court's decision to officially overturn Roe v. Wade on both women and U.S. democracy, the lessons The United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has learned from televised hearings of the past, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's opinion on the state of U.S. democracy, and what authoritarian leaders like Xi Jimping and Vladamir do not understand about the benefits of democracy despite how messy it can be.  

July 7 These pieces focus on the tragic mass shooting in Highland Park, IL on Independence Day, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's billion dollar goal to improve racial equity on the road, the GOP and Supreme Court's role in limiting the United States's ability to address climate change, the Black community's views on abortion rights restrictions, and small state bias in the U.S.

July 19 These pieces focus on a new poll that shows most Democrats not wanting President Biden to run in 2024, how British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resignation can be a lesson for Republicans, the G.O.P's lack of support for the Child Tax Credit and other pro-family policies despite promoting themselves as the pro-life party, questioning whether the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is really saving democracy, and whether or not voting by itself can preserve democracy.

July 28 These pieces focus on allies of Former President Trump's plans for a second administration should he win in 2024, the need to prosecute him for crimes he has committed, how the institutional rules of the Senate are blocking progress, how Emmett Till's tragic murder is still an unhealed wound in our nation, and a report detailing the already large gap between executive and average worker compensation.

August 4 These pieces focus on Kansas voters' decision to protect reproductive rights, a growing disconnect between citizens and a share of their legislators over certain issues, President Biden's political benefit from the passage of the CHIPS and Inflation Reduction Acts, how America's democracy is slipping in the eyes of the leaders of some African Nations, and a profile of the life of basketball hall of famer Bill Russell.

August 11 These pieces focus on Former President Trump's relationship with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, how the Republican Party continues to debase itself in defending Trump following the FBI raid at his Mar-a-Lago home, how this focus could hurt the Party in the Midterms, analyzing all aspects of the pending Inflation Reduction Act, and how some G.O.P. operatives are fighting against Trump allies and election deniers in their own Party.

August 18 These pieces focus on how President Biden's achievements have often been overshadowed by former President Trump's post-presidency antics, what Representative Liz Cheney's defeat in the Wyoming GOP primary means long-term for the Republican Party and state politics, how Trump's brazen lies and cynicism are undermining democracy, the American system of government incorporating undemocratic features, and the fact that many incarcerated people have no money despite working long hours in prison sentences in order to purchase many of life's necessary services. 

August 25 These pieces focus on former President Trump's continuing impact on the decline of American democracy, race as a central issue of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack hearings, mass surveillance on citizens as a potential threat to democracy, Dr. Anthony Fauci's legacy in light of his upcoming retirement, and how India's democracy is in decline due to the authoritarian politics and policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

September 1 These pieces focus on how a potential re-election for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could mean for a future presidential bid and American democracy long-term, President Biden's successful August, the legacy of the last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, the arguments for and against President Biden's decision to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loans for select higher education students, and why a Harvard economist now supports targeted student loan forgiveness.

September 12 These pieces focus on complicity from Christian Evangelicals towards former President Donald Trump, how Jackson, Mississippi ran out of water, Republican Party state legislatures impact on Trump's rise, how the unveiling of the Obamas' official White House portraits is no longer a bipartisan ceremony, and how the Covid pandemic impacted two decades of progress in math and reading for America's school children.

September 22 These pieces focus on Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's decision to campaign for election deniers within the GOP, Republican Governors Abbot and DeSantis's ploy to send innocent migrants to locations in the northeast, Democrats letting Republicans off the hook by postponing a vote to codify same-sex and interracial marriage until after the midterm election, why longtime journalist Dan Rather continues to speak out forcefully on the danger that former President Donald Trump poses to United States governance and democracy, and examining the popularity and impact of Queen Elizabeth II and the long-term questions her passing poses for the United Kingdom. 

September 29 These pieces focus on former President Donald Trump and GOP voters embrace of conspiracy theories and how that impacts the midterm elections and beyond, Congresswoman Liz Cheney's forthright criticisms of Trump, Democratic Party voters believing the state of the democracy is the most important issue on the ballot this November, The United States losing sight of its traditional humanitarian commitments especially in the wake of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's decision to use asylum applicants as a political gambit, and how conservatives tied social-emotional learning to critical race theory as part of a series of orchestrated attacks on educators.

October 20 These pieces focus on Senator Catherine Cortez Masto's reelection campaign in Nevada, how the U.S. political culture has long evidenced a strand of authoritarianism, the GOP shift from traditional figures such as Congresswoman Liz Cheney and towards extremists such as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Democrats not doing enough to make democracy a central issue in the midterm election, and Christian Livermore describing growing up in poverty and the lingering effects the experience has on her identity. For the first time, we also share a podcast former President Barack Obama participated in to discuss the state of the country as the elections approach. 

October 27 These pieces focus on the radicalization of rural voters, economists stating that Republican policies will not reduce inflation, the critical gubernatorial and senatorial races in Pennsylvania, Democrats needing to tie democracy and the economy together as midterm campaign issues, and how the peaceful transition of power in the United Kingdom shows governance in democracies is far superior than that of autocracies.

November 3 These pieces focus on the upcoming midterm elections. They discuss today's "swing voters" who are not interested in politics and their importance in the election, President Obama's comments that Democrats protecting reproductive and same-sex marriage rights serves as the Party's best closing message, state election ballot measures that could impact the conduct of the 2024 national elections, Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter and it's impact on the spread of disinformation, and analyzing the potential outcomes of the elections on President Biden's legislative agenda. 

November 10 These pieces focus on the aftermath of the midterm elections, although votes are still being counted. They discuss Democrats enjoying a much better than expected showing, Ron DeSantis as the GOP frontunner in 2024, the challenges that leaders of both parties will have to address when the new Congress convenes in January, possible warning signs for President Biden as he ponders a potential 2024 reelection bid, and the historic character of Governor-elect Wes Moore's victory in Maryland.

November 17 These pieces focus on former President Trump being politically finished despite announcing a 2024 run for the White House, a former administration official declaring he will not support Trump in 2024, President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent meeting, systematic racial bias in home appraisals found in a recent national study, and the groundbreaking efforts of the Freedom House Ambulance Service. 

December 15: These pieces focus on the Respect for Marriage Act, the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, Senator Kyrsten Sinema's decision to switch her party affiliation from Democratic to Independent, the number of election deniers still in Congress, and the many reasons why there are not enough teachers in America. 

December 22: These pieces focus on the state of democracies around the world, the Jan. 6 committee's decision to refer former President Trump for criminal prosecution, the continued vacancy of the U.S. Ambassadorship to India, former Speaker John Boehner's role in the radicalization of the Republican Party, and the U.S.'s decision to ban TikTok from government devices.