• Essay

    A Short History of the Idea of ‘Main Street’ in America

    From Nathaniel Hawthorne to Disneyland, the Concept Has Represented Both the Experimental and the Conventional

    By Miles Orvell

    In the United States, Main Street has always been two things—a place and an idea. As both, Main Street has embodied the contradictions of the country itself.It is the self-consciousness of the idea of Main Street—from its origins …

  • Connecting California

    The Delicious Transparency of the Hamburgers

    If California Really Wants Open Government, a Northern German City Has a Model That Works

    By Joe Mathews

    California could use a concert hall like Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie.The signature structure of 21st century Germany sits atop an old pier above a dramatic bend in the Elbe River. Its creative design features performance space for the ...

New at Zócalo


Can American Jews Be White Nationalists?

White House Adviser Stephen Miller Is a Spokesman for Groups That Wouldn't Have Him as a Member

By James Kirchick

Stephen Miller and I have a few things in common.
    Both Jewish, we were raised upper-middle class in comfortable, liberal suburbia (he, Santa Monica; me, outside Boston). We both rebelled against the stifling, progressive conformity of our respective communities by embracing a contrarian, at times combative, conservative politics. The September 11 attacks played a major role in shaping our political outlooks, as did attending liberal universities. At Yale (me) and Duke (him), both of us wrote provocative newspaper columns that scandalized the campus and occasionally brought us national attention. Our work caught the eye of David Horowitz, the ur-leftist turned hardcore conservative.
    I offer this background by means of establishing my familiarity with the sort of milieu from which Stephen Miller—now the senior policy advisor to the President of the United States— originated. But there are important differences in our political maturation and trajectories. Miller’s conservative awakening began in high ...


Every October, on Martha's Vineyard, We Celebrate Cranberry Day

For as Long as Anyone Knows, the Wampanoag Have Connected to Their History Through the Fruit and the Bogs Where It Grows

By Beverly Wright

Many know the place I live, an island off the southern coast of Massachusetts, as Martha’s Vineyard, a vacation spot for celebrities including Presidents Clinton and Obama. But those of us in the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe know it as Noepe, our home for at least 13,000 years. Though the whole island used to be our traditional homelands, today, our homelands form the westernmost part of the island, centered on the Town of Aquinnah and including many cranberry bogs. It’s there—on the beach, near the bogs—that we celebrate, every second Tuesday of October, Cranberry Day.
    On Cranberry Day, we gather to eat, drink, and celebrate together. It’s a day for remembering and maintaining a way of life. The Aquinnah Wampanoag is a small tribe, ...

Connecting California/Joe Mathews

  • My Doubts About Single-Payer Just Show I'm Sick in the Head

    California's Newest Litmus Test Requires Support of Government Healthcare—or Else

    I’m so disappointed in myself.
        I really should be 100 percent supportive of the effort to establish a single-payer health system in California. Because all the best Californians are for it. ...

  • Could the "Edge City" of Santa Rosa Become a Center of California?

    A Budding Cannabis Industry, New Housing, and Better Transportation Are Expanding Its Clout

    Adjust your California maps: The little dot marking Santa Rosa needs to be a lot bigger.
        Dramatic changes in housing, aging, transportation, and criminal justice ...

  • Is California Too Exceptional to Be Part of the U.S.?

    We're a Progressive Check on Red-State Power—but We Unbalance the Constitutional System

    America is terribly polarized.
        And it’s all on account of California.
        The trouble is not merely that California itself is such a politically polarized place. Or that California contributes to the many causes of polarization: partisan media, ...

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