Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He is also a professorial lecturer and Executive in Residence in the School of Public Affairs at American University, where he has also taught in the School of Communication. In 2016, he was honored with the University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as manager of NPR's Washington desk from 1999 to 2014, the desk's reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

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People once wished each other well on Independence Day by saying: "Have a glorious Fourth!"

A bit antique, perhaps, in the best of times, but a phrase you still heard. Until now.

Can you imagine well-wishers offering that sentiment this weekend, without a trace of irony or a wistful look?

Not likely, not in the summer of 2020, the summer of resurgent COVID-19 cases, of restaurants and beaches that had reopened only to close again – of workers recently returned to work who have been laid off again.

One of the oldest traditions in American politics is "running against Washington," which has been a common campaign theme since the city was first created as the capital and the home of the federal government.

In fact, candidates for president and Congress have found running against Washington one of the surest ways to get there. Some do it to stay there, too.

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Even before President Trump went to court in an attempt to block publication of John Bolton's memoir, millions were waiting to hear what the former national security adviser had to say about Trump and the Ukraine affair that got him impeached.

After reading Bolton's The Room Where It Happened, few can wonder why the president wanted to stop it. While Bolton's report arrives too late to affect impeachment, it surely bolsters the case against Trump that was presented in the Senate trial.

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In 2020, things happen that never happened before. And right now, they seem to be happening all at once.

Atop a global pandemic and resulting recession, May and June have given us another dimension of head-spinning events. Following two weeks of widespread street protests after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, a change of attitude seems to have swept through the national culture like a sudden wind.

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Of course, when President Trump called in the National Guard in the streets of Washington, D.C., he told governors in a conference call they must be dominating. NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving joins us now. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

What will official Washington do in the wake of the protests and destructive violence that scarred city after city in recent days, including the capital itself?

Unrest does not stop on command. If there is a pause in the mayhem, it does not mean that the rage has been spent or the wounds have healed.

Any effort to restore confidence in each other will be complicated by the nation's preexisting conditions of pandemic and recession — not to mention the persistent condition of racism in American life and law enforcement. Fires flare up again if not extinguished at the source.

Americans are suddenly consumed with multiple crises. Even before the outbreak of social unrest following yet another African American's death in police custody, the ravages of COVID-19 and economic free fall had disrupted the national life.

All of which means conditions are ripe for President Trump to assume more power and move closer to the status of autocratic ruler, says New Yorker writer Masha Gessen in a new book Surviving Autocracy.

Two new polls out this week indicate a majority of Americans fear a "second wave" of COVID-19 cases in the near future, which may be washing away the chances for traditional presidential nominating conventions this year.

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Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET

Presidents have been asked all manner of questions about their behavior, but no one had ever asked whether the president should wear a mask. Until now.

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