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

The Atlantic has an article out today speaking to various Democrats about a primary campaign Bernie Sanders floated against Barack Obama in the 2012 election. The senator ultimately didn’t run, and his aides say he was never serious about it.

But another episode in the article stood out.

Read More →

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:


Read More →

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.

It’s time to dole out our annual Golden Dukes, recognizing the biggest political disasters of the year. And what a year it has been.

We’re introducing a new feature for 2019: TPM members can vote for which of the nominees they’d like to see win.

Cast your ballot here.

Hello TPM members,

This week we saw the House Judiciary Committee receive the impeachment baton from the House Intelligence Committee, and we got a video of world leaders of various ideological stripes giggling together about Trump at a cocktail party.

Next week impeachment hearings resume, and the Department of Justice’s inspector general will release his report on the origins of the investigation in Trump’s 2016 campaign. Watch for leaks this weekend.

Also: we’re getting ready to hand out the Golden Dukes. Give us your nominees!

Here’s what happened in Prime.

Read More →

The end of the year is just around the corner, and it’s time to look back and contemplate what was. Get ready for the annual TPM Golden Dukes: the awards celebrating the year’s political disasters of all stripes.

Read More →

Another twelve person debate didn’t afford any one candidate much time to shine. But here is some of what stood out to us about each one.

Joe Biden seemed to get off to a weirdly shaky start when asked about Trump’s Ukraine and China-related attacks against his son, Hunter — especially given that he is innocent and that the question was one that the moderators were definitely going to ask. He picked up speed as the debate went on. In the last half hour, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Biden rehashed some of their differences on health care.
Elizabeth Warren did well, again. She spoke cogently about her support for a wealth tax, and the problems with Amazon’s near-monopoly on online shopping. She also resisted, smartly, when Kamala Harris pushed her to call on Twitter to ban Trump’s account.
Bernie Sanders was back, post-heart attack, a fact for which the audience gave him a long round of applause. He felt a bit subdued, but made his points clearly. As the debate wrapped up, news broke of a coup: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will endorse Sanders.
Pete Buttigieg, a Rhodes scholar and former McKinsey consultant, seemed to be angling to distinguish himself as the anti-elite, man of the people on stage, citing his midwestern upbringing. He stood out for his strong stance in favor of court packing.
Kamala Harris made a curious decision in choosing to challenge Warren to call on Twitter to suspend Trump’s account, part of a larger discussion about checking the influence of big tech. It seemed to miss the point of the conversation — holding big tech accountable means kicking Trump off Twitter? — and Warren did not take the bait.
Beto O’Rourke shone, as in previous debates, when talking about his strong stance on gun laws. He also ended up on the defensive when Buttigieg seemed to take offense at O’Rourke’s gun comments.
Andrew Yang felt more combative this time, and his performance was free of the raffle-type gimmick that he kicked off with in September. Yang continues to advance a strong diagnosis of the U.S.’s domestic problems — which makes it weird that he continues to pivot, on each topic, to championing a one-size-fits all solution: a universal basic income.
Cory Booker hit a note, twice, that always feels a bit bizarre — that Democrats should be careful not to debate too hard during a debate. Still, he came off as perhaps the most positive candidate on stage, a unique identity during a gloomy time for the party. He also told a powerful story about a neighbor who was fatally shot. Those charged anecdotes can be tricky to navigate.
Amy Klobucher’s performance tonight was even and seemed to be her strongest so far. Her framing of the need to confront big tech as a “pro-competition” issue — something both parties once advocated for — was effective.
Tom Steyer didn’t get a lot of time during his first night on stage, and his performance got dinged a bit for his stiff delivery. He tried to present himself as a successful businessman, and thus a compelling candidate to go up against Trump, who he expects to tout the strong economy. He also was the source of some of the only lines on climate change tonight.
Julián Castro also didn’t get much time tonight, but made a strong point that police violence is gun violence, invoking Atatiana Jefferson of Fort Worth, Texas, who was killed last week by a police officer while in her own home.
Tulsi Gabbard made the interesting play of going after first Warren and then fellow veteran Pete Buttigieg on Syria, asking them to condemn wars fought to achieve “regime change.” No one ended up committing to anything specifically, but it provided a jumping off point for a series of Democrats to speak to the damage Trump’s recent withdrawal from Syria, and the subsequent massacre of the Kurds, has done to the U.S.’s international trustworthiness.

We’ll be watching along with you tonight as twelve Democratic presidential contenders take the stage, and TPM’s New York team will be liveblogging our reactions. (Pretty sure the DC office is busy with the Nationals game.)

Follow along here.