John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

TPM reader JH writes in from Asia…

I’m an American (from Colorado), but I split my time between Nepal (where my work is) and Thailand (where my husband lives and works). And both countries exhibit so many of the key challenges that the world is facing as this pandemic expands beyond the developed, and frankly high capacity, countries of China, East Asia, Europe, and the US.

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TPM reader MZ writes from Bratislava:

I am a US citizen but have lived in Slovakia for the past 7 years. I must begin by noting something about the perception of Slovakia (and former Eastern Bloc countries generally) by many “Western” Europeans and North Americans; this is relevant because the response to Covid-19 in Slovakia seems very different from the response west of here.

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Reader RS has a different perspective from AC — “ultimately, the party should be allowed to pick” who wins the nomination, he writes.

Here’s part of his email.

As far as I understand it, the Democratic Party has always required a majority vote at the Convention to nominate a candidate. If that doesn’t occur on the first ballot, pledged delegates are released and the deliberations continue. That reflects the desire to try, as best as possible, to get a consensus nominee.

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Readers have been writing in about the possibility that, by this summer, Democrats could be facing a contested convention — one in which Bernie Sanders is leading in delegates, but without enough to win the nomination outright.

Reader AC reflects on the angst that could result should the party step in and select another nominee.

I get that there are reasons to be worried about Bernie, but I think the worries about the other candidates, and especially a contested convention in which a Bernie clear lead doesn’t translate to a Bernie nomination, should be much more significant.

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The Atlantic published an article yesterday speaking to various Democrats about a primary campaign Bernie Sanders floated against Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Joe Biden referenced that would-be Sanders 2012 campaign in his post-debate comments last night. The senator ultimately didn’t run, and his aides say he was never serious about it.

But another episode in the article stood out.

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Welcome to 2020.

This decade already looks packed with new things: a new presidential election, a new Obamacare lawsuit before SCOTUS, a (likely) new impeachment trial, and, apparently, a new use for the 2001 AUMF.

Meanwhile, political historian Allan Lichtman took a look back for us at the 2010s. It was a decade, he writes, that “witnessed the gravest threats to the integrity of American democracy since the Civil War.” Read that piece here.

Next week, we’re looking ahead to a Senate impeachment trial, though the details of what that will look like still remain very much up in the air. The trial will likely launch us straight into the election: the Iowa caucuses are on Feb. 3, 2020, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11 and Super Tuesday on March 3. Between mid-January and the end of February, we’re also scheduled to have another four debates. And then there’s the combustable and still unfolding situation following Thursday’s U.S. assassination of Qasem Soleimani. Buckle up.

As always, thank you for your support.

Here’s what happened in Prime:


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Satirizing president Trump isn’t easy, and it’s no secret that American comedians have struggled to do it. We have an article in Cafe today by five writers — four of whom grew up in countries that had recent brushes with authoritarianism — about what the U.S. can learn from comedy abroad. Other countries have dealt with leaders like Trump, and the circumstances that lead to his rise, before, and satirists there have had to find ways to make lemons into lemonade. This Cafe piece looks at how they did it.