Steve Erickson

Steve Erickson has contributed to The New York Times, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Los Angeles. He teaches at CalArts, and his new novel is These Dreams of You (Europa Editions).

Recent Articles

Staring into the Void of Mitt Romney

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
One of the things we’ll learn this presidential election is whether the Republican Party can survive itself. As we’ve seen in the ten days since Governor Mitt Romney picked Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, and most acutely in the last 72 hours since the fiasco involving Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin broke, the party is reaching what may be the most critical moment of its quarter-century-long identity crisis. In the way that Franklin Roosevelt did for Democrats during the 1930s, by sheer force of personality and eloquence Ronald Reagan in the 1980s resolved tensions that had riven the party for years. He could incarnate the party so fully as to invite and absolve fellow travelers who might be suspiciously less than true believers. After Reagan, no one else could do this; even as what now constitutes the conservative wing of the party invokes Reagan’s name with a sobriety that borders on the biblical, that wing has moved considerably to the...

The GOP's Kamikaze Candidate

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
I spent most of July in the upper Midwest and was reminded that not everyone in America passes the summer fixated on politics. They go to the beach, catch fish, grill burgers, eat ice cream, try to stay cool, see The Dark Knight Rises without recognizing it as the fascist tract that shrewder observers from Rolling Stone do. In the Bear Lake Tavern where I would have dinner not far from Lake Michigan, the TV over the bar is set to the Olympics before being turned to CNN or Fox or occasionally NBC (but not MSNBC). I got a dose of the promiscuous political advertising that’s rarely glimpsed in New York or California but saturates the electorally competitive territories that stud the Atlantic seaboard just south of D.C., the Southwest just shy of the Rocky Mountains, and the stretch of Rust Belt states from Pennsylvania and Ohio to as far west as Iowa and as far north as Minnesota. At the moment Michigan politics is dominated by a more local matter: a peculiar episode involving...

A Tragedy Made in the USA

Finding meaning in national tragedy is always difficult, but what do we do when we peer into the abyss and see ourselves?

(Flickr/Alan Cleaver)
This past Friday was one of those strange and sad days in the life of a country when a number of things don’t so much converge as share the commonality of the moment and thereby exist within the shadows of each other. The massacre that greeted the release of the year’s most-awaited movie just a few midnights ago in a tiny Colorado town took place at cross-coordinates social, cultural, and political by virtue of timing and the parameters of the occasion, if nothing else; though the more terrible the toll in such circumstances, the more natural it is to draw conclusions, learn lessons or arrive at resolutions, the only thing straightforward about any of it is the horror. The most immediate responses, having to do with gun laws and the movie itself, were predictable, understandable in varying degrees and not altogether to the point. If those of us who believe in sensible restrictions on the constitutional right to bear arms are being honest, we have to acknowledge that the...

Didn't See It Coming?

Surely by now you’ve figured out that you shouldn’t be listening to any of us, haven’t you? One of the more nitwitted arguments of Marxist-Leninists—back when there were such people—was that history is a science and human behavior is as predictable as chemical interaction, rendering sociological results inevitable,; and if few of us in what passes for the commentariat these days would put matters in such a way, we still tend to view politics as a series of patterns determined by previous patterns, which are defined by ideology and demographics. Intangibles, X factors, monkey wrenches in the machinery—or, in other words, human beings acting like human beings—get lost in the accounting, and sometimes the result is a conventional wisdom that not only proves wrong but also didn’t make sense in the first place. To argue that this election is about demographics suggests major blocs congenitally programmed to support one candidate or another:...

Romney, 2012's Trojan Horse

(Flickr / mac9001)
Mitt Romney is running as the Trojan Horse candidate of 2012, the big empty gift to America who will be wheeled into the gates of Election Night only for the bottom to pop out the next morning and whatever lurks inside to reveal itself. Watching his small disaster of an interview on Face the Nation this past weekend, we can only conclude he believes he will win the presidency by answering and offering nothing in the most calculatedly vacuous campaign since Richard Nixon’s in 1968. The difference is that in 1968 the American public knew Nixon all too well and, compared with the specifics of Nixon that people had understood for years, a vague Nixon was considered a step in the right direction. The more vague he got, the more people talked about a “New Nixon,” and whatever the New Nixon might possibly be could only be better than the old one. Raging among flackdom and the commentariat is an argument as to whether the election will be a referendum on Barack Obama’s...