North America

Dec 5, 2017

Yale Diary: on the nauseating carousel of US bipartisanship

The former presidential candidate won't stop apologising for his 1988 loss, but has a strikingly clear message for lawmakers, writes Yale fellow Emma Shortis.

The holiday season has well and truly arrived in American New England. This week, pumpkins rotting on doorsteps were replaced by Christmas wreaths and twinkly lights. On the day President Donald Trump had "been looking very much forward to" -- the traditional White House Christmas Tree lighting ceremony -- we took my daughter to a similar, only slightly smaller event on the New Haven central green. We met Santa, and went on an ancient carousel that spun a little too fast and felt a little too rickety.

From the Green, I raced back up the hill to campus, just in time to get back on a different carousel -- this one driven by 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Invited by the Yale Hellenic Studies Program to speak on "bipartisanship in today’s political climate", Dukakis spun from endearing and remarkable stories of how his mother, a Greek immigrant, managed to go to college, unchaperoned, in the 1920s; to southern Italian anarchists in the inter-war period; to the Korean War; to Charlottesville; to Nixon and Ted Kennedy and universal healthcare; up and down, round and round. What a ride.

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