Unlike the “cultural populism” that costs them nothing, the GOP’s rich rulers can’t abide real share-the-wealth populism

I finished writing my book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History at the beginning of 2016, when the leaders of the Republican Party were still desperately trying to keep Donald Trump from winning their presidential nomination. At the end of 2016, when he was president-elect, I retitled my last chapter “As Fantasyland Goes, So Goes the Nation.” “During the first fifteen years of the twenty-first century,” I’d written before he was elected, “the GOP turned into the Fantasy Party, with a beleaguered reality-based wing. A far-right counterculture empowered its millions of followers and took over the American right…


How an article about genomic sequencing led to an afternoon playing around with AI branding tools

Dumbfounded, flabbergast, gobsmacked, mind-boggled: I’m betting you will be too if you read this New York Times Magazine story about the amazing new power and falling prices of genetic sequencing technology — how it enabled the creation of effective COVID vaccines in months instead of years, and how it’s probably about to revolutionize medicine. Yet another instance of sci-fi — in this case non-dystopian sci-fi! so far! — becoming indistinguishable from real life.

As a fiction writer, I was especially struck by the science-fictionesque nomenclature of the biotechnology companies in the Times piece and of their products: Illumina and Oxford…


I have seen the post-pandemic future: we all get superpowers, but they’re probably only temporary, so enjoy them while you can

It has been a month since I got the second dose. Now fully Monderna-ized, I’ve been itching to use my new superpower.

The other night, after 370-odd days (or 37-odd years; who knows for sure?) of eating every meal at home, all but a few of them exclusively with my wife, we and four vaccinated friends had a splendid dinner in a fabulous restaurant. We hugged and talked and talked and laughed and drank multiple bottles of red wine.

It feels as if I’ve just attended my first orgy.

That we were ushered into our own only semi-private space in…


The next step after Covid relief: relieving employers of health insurance costs — and allowing them to finally pay workers $15/hour

Allow me to explain.

The huge federal economic relief package that’s about to be enacted, thanks exclusively to Democrats, will give three-quarters of Americans a nice extra piece of the national economic pie, those $1,400 checks. Huzzah.

But just this once. What we need are some permanent changes in how we slice our economic pie for when we aren’t coping with pandemic emergencies. …


Talkin’ ‘bout my g-g-g-generation — and why we need to redraw the boundary lines

Photo: Rob DeMartin/Spotify

Has every American been getting promoted tweets in their feed every day, day after day, for the podcast conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen? Or do those ads just go to the 15 million or so of us Twitter users born in the mid-1950s, give or take a decade? I feel targeted.

The title put me off — Renegades: Born in the USA is such a total artifact of self-flattering, self-parodying boomerism. However, I like Springsteen and I really like Obama, so I listened to the first episode, and then the second, and just now the third. They’re… okay…


In 2008, the court’s watershed Second Amendment decision made right-wing militias’ fantasies seem real

Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/Washington Post/Getty Images

When I was a kid, more than twice as many Americans went hunting as they do now, and twice as many had guns. Now only one in four own a gun — but the average gun owner today doesn’t own a gun; they have several. In fact, just 3% of us own about half of America’s hundreds of millions of guns, an average of 17 apiece. And that’s because so many of those super-enthusiasts are in thrall to overheated and often delusional gun fantasies.

I’ve been thinking once again about our exceptional and suicidal gun culture. It wasn’t prompted by…


Just a few years ago, name-brand conservative thinkers were worrying about America’s shortage of righteous lunatics

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The storming of the Capitol, which we just rewatched as part of the evidence in the impeachment trial, was carried out by members of the cult led by Donald Trump — that is, the confederacy of cults (MAGA, QAnon, Proud Boys, Christian sects, etc.) that he assembled and leads. But cultish craziness on the right was enabled and encouraged for years by the respectable rational suit-and-tie elite fronting the Republican Party, who last week acquitted him and thus fundamentally excused the attack.

“If more and more of a political party’s members hold more and more extravagantly supernatural beliefs,” I wrote…


And how you can become one too—by not really trying, using your imagination, paying attention, and getting old

Photo: CreditDebitPro

The last few years, and the last few weeks—QAnon cultists entering Congress as both invaders and members, the GameStop madness—have made me feel prescient and even, occasionally, megalomaniacally, I must confess, prophetic.

In the beginning was Trump. The satirical magazine Spy, which I co-founded, covered him a lot. As part of our 1988 election coverage, we commissioned a poll asking “Who are you most disappointed isn’t running for president?” In addition to legitimate politicians, we offered Trump as a choice, and 4% picked him, about as many as picked Joe Biden. “In terms of level of education, the voters who…


Illustration: Lia Liao

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little science fiction. The acclaimed, best-selling writer Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland, Evil Geniuses, and Turn of the Century, has teamed up with Future Human to share a timely and resonant speculative tale of Arctic science, the great unknown — and Santa. Enjoy.

HE FOUND IT ALMOST PHYSICALLY PAINFUL TO LIE, which was unfortunate for someone who had spent most of his life as a spy.

Back when everything was proceeding according to plan, year after year after year, he had gotten a little sloppy, allowing bystanders to see the aircraft in flight, sometimes…

Kurt Andersen

Award-winning, bestselling author (Evil Geniuses, Fantasyland, True Believers, Heyday, Turn of the Century) and creator of media (Studio 360, Inside, SPY).

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