I know that’s what you’re thinking. Why does the world need another one of these things? You’re all newslettered out. But actually, not to be grandiose, I’m hoping to make this newsletter something unlike anything else you’ve seen. The writing I’ve done that has been the most important to me (and hopefully to you) has been when I’ve seen things just a little bit differently. I’ve been writing about Republican and Fox News fuckery for the Daily Beast, and I’ve been writing about abortion and my emotional life during COVID for Vogue. The hope is this letter will successfully combine all these ingredients. Yes, this newsletter will have all the ingredients but no recipes.
But more than that, I want this newsletter to be both personal and political. In the 1970s, feminist Carol Hanisch wrote that “the personal is political.” Now, years later, we American women find ourselves back in the place we were before Roe v. Wade, in an America with a Constitution that still doesn’t give us equal rights.
Perhaps more important, you’re not going to have to wonder what my bias is. I’m not going to both-sides things; I’m not going to pretend that the insane things still happening in Trumpworld aren’t insane. This newsletter is just me, no filter or fealty.
America is still not safe from Trumpism. While Democrats continue to try to legislate with the slim margins in the House and the Senate, Republicans are working hard at trying to consolidate power. Numerous backers of Trump’s election lie are running for state secretary of state in the hopes of being able to influence the outcomes of future elections. Reuters reviewed public statements by all “15 declared Republican candidates for secretary of state in five battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada”—and found that 10 “have either declared that the 2020 election was stolen or called for their state’s results to be invalidated or further investigated.”
Trumpism is the biggest danger to democracy since the Civil War. MAGA media (One America News Network, Fox, Newsmax, Breitbart News) are winning the messaging wars. Just because Trump is on Elba (or Palm Beach) right now doesn’t mean he won’t come roaring back in 2024. I also worry about all of Trump’s mini-Trumps, his acolytes, from Ted Cruz to Marjorie Taylor Greene to Madison Cawthorn to Lauren Boebert. The lesson most of them have taken from Trumpism is that there is nothing to gain from honor, decency, or truth.
But Trump isn’t the only thing I worry about. I do think that the conservative Supreme Court will operate as “a dangerous cabal” even though Justice Alito is very offended by the accusation. The highest court in America has three justices who were installed by Donald Trump. It’s hard to see how a 6–3 Supreme Court doesn’t jeopardize everything.
And then there’s the stark contrast between the parties. How do you write about two parties when one of those parties has become antidemocratic? The difference between the two parties is beyond parody—one party is arguing with itself about free college and electric cars, and the other party is trying to consolidate power and make it harder for people to vote.
Most newsletters are either hopelessly right-leaning (you know who you are) or just serious straight news or earnest liberal policy proposals or serious intellectual reflections or terrifying Substack rants about cancel culture and owning the libs. My goal is to be my own thing, to write a newsletter that is in my voice and talks about the things I’m seeing in the world.
A little caveat: I come from the world of novels. My first novel, Normal Girl, a thin roman à clef, was published when I was 21 as a way to keep my parents from making me go back to college. I wrote other novels too. I cover politics now, but I like to think I’m still interested in the construction of language the way a novelist might be. I’m also not a D.C. insider. I don’t even live in D.C., but I probably should. I’m a New Yorker, so sometimes I might throw in a little New York stuff in the newsletter, because we have truly hilarious (and slightly disturbing) mayoral politics.
One thing I can absolutely promise you as a reader is that you won’t read my newsletter, which will sometimes include reporting and interviews, and wonder if I am trying to appear balanced or trying to overcompensate to appear nonpartisan. You will know what I believe and how I think. I spend a lot of time reading straight news trying to figure out if the person is actually a conservative or a liberal, or if they’re trying to overcompensate for their beliefs. One of the other things I think a lot about is what they are leaving out. If we've learned anything from five-plus years of Trump, it’s that the same story can be told numerous ways, highlighting different flavors of malfeasance.
So expect a lot of coverage of the MAGA media, the far right, the new Trumpy conservative courts, the war on women, a fair amount of media-on-media violence, and of course politics, legislation, and whatever else is making me completely nuts on any given day. Expect me in your inbox twice a week unless I get even more obsessive.
And no, there won’t be any recipes in this newsletter. I can barely boil water. Sometimes I’ll link to what I’m reading and/or watching. Right now, for example, I’m rewatching all of Veep with my 17-year-old son (@Woketeenageson) and my 13-year-old daughter. I’m also reading Scoundrel, by Sarah Weinman. Mostly I’m dealing with my mother’s memory issues and my eldest son getting his college application out so he can apply early. All three of my teenage children are trying to adjust back to in-person school, which is not without its bumps.
I’m also extremely open to feedback, so you can email me if you want more or less of something. Anyway, I hope you’ll subscribe, because my self-esteem is extremely fragile. I’m kidding, of course. No, I’m not kidding.