“Our Depraved Political Stagnation”: The Exceptionalism of Current American Politics

The title of this course comes from an op-ed by Charles Blow (March, 2021) referring to Congressional inaction after one week with two more mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, but Blow’s phrase might apply to almost all national politics in the USA. Are we still an exceptional “democratic republic”? If not, is it our “antisocialism,” or “apartheid,” or even “fascism” that makes us exceptional? 

A rather pessimistic outlook? Possibly. But as the writer Ward Just quipped, “One of the joys of being a pessimist is that you’re rarely disappointed.”

We shall follow current politics in the USA with the help of a smorgasbord of daily news sources listed by Google News online. Special focus will also come from Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter and from the National Review’s “Morning Jolt” column by conservative columnist Jim Geraghty.

Note: No specific books or other class materials will be required beyond the online sources mentioned above. This class will not be recorded.


Group Leader: ED QUATTLEBAUM
Meets on: Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/6/2021
Sessions: 4
Class Size: 16
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 1.5 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Edwin G. Quattlebaum taught history and social science at Phillips Academy, Andover, for nearly forty years. His previous courses for Beacon Hill Seminars included “Nuclear Power & Weapons: Proliferation & Responses,” “The Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution,” “Beacon Hill Neighbor: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes,” and, most recently, “A Second Civil War in the USA? Alarming Polarization 2020/1860.”