• Essay

    What One New England Tree Can Tell Us About the Earth's Future

    By Studying a Single Massachusetts Oak, I Recorded How Climate Change Is Confusing Nature

    By Lynda V. Mapes

    Trees are up to more than we think. Belying their image as mute, unmoving, and solitary, trees are not just standing there. They move. Breathe. Communicate. Politically astute and nimbly networked, trees command a sophisticated ...

  • What It Means to Be American

    Why Everyone Loves Macaroni and Cheese

    Popularized by Thomas Jefferson, This Versatile Dish Fulfills America's Quest for the 'Cheapest Protein Possible'

    By Gordon Edgar

    Being a judge at a macaroni and cheese competition in San Francisco taught me a lot about American food. The competitors were mostly chefs, and the audience—the online tickets sold out in minutes—was ...

New at Zócalo

The Takeaway

Ordinary Virtues, Not Abstract Principles, Could Unite Our Divided World, Says Michael Ignatieff

The Zócalo Book Prize Winner Describes How Values Like Loyalty, Trust, and Forbearance Can Bind Individuals and Societies

By Sarah Rothbard

    The Eighth Annual Zócalo Book Prize Award Ceremony began in Tucson, Arizona, traveled from Los Angeles to Pretoria, South Africa, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and made stops in Hungary and Canada in a globe-trotting exploration of place, community, and the forces that connect us to one another.
    The ceremony, which took place at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown Los Angeles, began with Charles Jensen, winner of this year’s Zócalo Poetry Prize for the poem that best evokes a connection to place, reading his poem “Tucson,” about his former home in Arizona.
    Then, Zócalo Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Publisher Gregory Rodriguez presented the 2018 Zócalo Book Prize to Central European ...

Essay

Why Washington, D.C., Is the Most Undemocratic of Capitals

The City's Slaveholding Past, and Disenfranchised Present, Make Its Residents Dependents, Not Citizens

By Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove

    Every year about 20 million tourists come to Washington, D.C., to visit the marble monuments of American freedom and democracy. Few of them, however, realize that the 680,000 permanent residents of the nation’s capital must endure the cognitive dissonance of being U.S. citizens while suffering from the political tyranny that inspired our Revolution: taxation without representation.
    Created by constitutional fiat and controlled by Congress, the District of Columbia is the undemocratic capital of this democracy. Washingtonians have no representation in Congress, and the decisions of their municipal government are subject to congressional veto. Furthermore, the city’s lack of political power and basic self-determination has had a profound influence on its history, placing it at the mercy of the federal government and forcing the city’s residents into a frustrating role as dependents ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • You, Too, Can Be Austin Beutner (No Prior Experience Necessary)

    The Ex-Financier Has Run the L.A. Times, the L.A. Department of Water and Power, and Now L.A. Schools. All He Lacks Is Know-How.

        No Californian inspires me more than Austin Beutner.
        Haven’t heard of this Los Angeles investment banker? Your loss. Because following his example could ...

  • Here's Your California Democracy. Would You Like Fries With That?

    My Trip to a Wendy's in Colton Shows Why the Golden State Treats Law-Making Like Fast Food

        One recent Sunday night, I stopped by a Wendy’s in Colton, a gritty San Bernardino County logistics crossroads (pop. 52,000) best known as home to one of America’s oldest ...

  • Video Highlights

    Leni Riefenstahl and D.W. Griffith were cinematic geniuses who churned out racist propaganda. The Renaissance master Caravaggio was a murderous rogue. Then there’s the growing list of Hollywood auteurs and actors whose behavior has spawned lawsuits, police charges, and the #MeToo movement. ...