A no-joke case for disengaging from politics

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In today’s edition:

Political ignorance, social bliss?

It’s a pretty risky proposition to read anything online on the first day of April. So you can’t be blamed for skipping to the bottom of a piece questioning the value of an engaged, informed, politically confident citizenry to see whether a “gotcha!” awaits.

But Jason Willick’s column mulling the virtues of a more disengaged average voter is no April Fools’ Day prank. Examining new research, he writes that “the optimal relationship between politics and good citizenship might be due for an update.”

The data show that the more confident people are in their understanding of the issues facing the country and their own qualifications to participate in the political process, the fewer warm fuzzies they have for members of the opposite party — surprise! It stands to reason, Jason writes, that if we all knew and cared a bit less, we might get along better.

This feels … antidemocratic. No?

Jason anticipates that quibble — and writes that it depends on what you think democracy is for. If democracy is about turning the will of the voters into policy, then sure.

But “if democracy is a mechanism for ensuring social stability in societies with a wide range of views,” well — let the people second-guess!

Enough about the disengaged; let’s check in on the disillusioned.

Heather Long’s column is about the under-40 crowd’s “harsh introduction to capitalism” and the inexorable anxiety over their economic footing. Millennials got the Great Recession, then a sluggish recovery, then the pandemic, all while Social Security dried up and pensions headed for extinction.

Alas, when Heather suggested a fix to the disenchantment — “treat workers better” — at a conference of business executives looking for answers, she might as well have been telling her own joke. Execs rushed to explain how good things are.

Heather has her eye on one improvement in particular that would boost the outlook of workers: securing their retirement.

Chaser: Jen Rubin writes that Supreme Court Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas are behaving fine after all. Okay, ha, that one really is a joke — but you might do a double take at Jen’s actually sincere appraisal of Amy Coney Barrett’s “surprising independence.”

From the op-ed by gender equality scholars Melanne Verveer, Karima Bennoune and Lina Tori Jan ruling the Taliban’s policy “gender apartheid.” Their working-women stat is accompanied by galling data on girls’ education, female leadership, gender-based violence and women’s health care: An Afghan woman dies in childbirth every two hours.

The dire status and de jure subjugation of women in Afghanistan are on a par with other countries’ past policies of racial apartheid, Verveer, Bennoune and Tori Jan write, which necessitates international recognition of a gender-based version, first generally and then specifically applied here.

This wouldn’t be just a rhetorical charge, they explain; international law makes ending any instance of apartheid an international obligation. Thus, the “apartheid framework could fend off any further slide” of international normalization of the Taliban, they write, and meaningfully protect women along the way.

Chaser: Only a fearless peacemaker in the mold of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat of the 1970s can end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Max Boot writes.

Less politics

Have a Beyoncé fan in your life? Cartoonist Edith Pritchett has just the right gift guide for helping them commemorate the release last week of Bey’s country album, “Cowboy Carter.”

If $9,000 for a few head of cattle is outside your price range, however, take comfort knowing that the album itself is a present — a welcome-back-to-country gift for Black Americans, Brian Broome writes.

Brian recalls the cardinal musical rule of his childhood: “Anything sung by a White person was White people’s music. Anything sung by Black people was Black people’s music.” He also recalls some furtive jam-outs to Duran Duran.

“Cowboy Carter” is Beyoncé’s permission slip to appreciate songs across racial lines, Brian writes. But what are those lines, anyway? And haven’t they long been much more permeable than playground rules would have you believe?

Smartest, fastest

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

Slim music silo

Until Bey makes everything

Bigger in Texas

Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. See you tomorrow!

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