Disqualified: 12 Forgotten Trump Absurdities

The speed and spin of the news cycle makes it difficult to grasp the true absurdity of much that Trump and his administration does. Many commentators think this is intentional: as long as we are constantly off balance, egregious mind-breaking absurdities start to feel normal. Eventually people give up trying to track down facts and… Continue reading Disqualified: 12 Forgotten Trump Absurdities

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Trump and Pence’s Shared View on Women

During the 1990’s Clinton administration, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton reached out to Rev. Billy Graham to arrange a private luncheon meeting. Graham, an influential evangelical minister who routinely met with U.S. Presidents and other world leaders, turned her down. Graham wasn’t worried about the political optics of meeting with a liberal like Hillary. Graham routinely… Continue reading Trump and Pence’s Shared View on Women

Do We Want Our Predictions to Fail?

A version of this article first appeared on Quartz. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, in the section on propaganda, Hannah Arendt discusses a concept she calls “infallible prediction”: The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error. The assumption of infallibility, moreover, is based… Continue reading Do We Want Our Predictions to Fail?

How to Apologize for a Lie

Most of us agree that lying is, at least generally speaking, morally wrong.  We all have our reasons.  Some of us think that lying is not conducive to human well-being.  Others of us think that, when we lie, we are using people merely to serve our own ends.  And still others of us say it… Continue reading How to Apologize for a Lie

The Myth of “Economic Anxiety”

Pundits have developed a repertoire of cliches surrounding Trump voters, in large part motivated by the desire not to stereotype them as racist ignorant hicks. Before recoiling from such weighty generalizations, it is worth noting how terms like ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’ work. Two people can hold many diverging views and yet both be accurately described… Continue reading The Myth of “Economic Anxiety”

A New Report on the Banality of Evil

A version of this article first appeared on Quartz   The people Donald Trump has in mind as ‘true Americans’ are suffering from a collective normalcy bias. We are constantly told to keep faith in the decency of the American people (at least a sufficiently large number of them) while simultaneously we ponder how we,… Continue reading A New Report on the Banality of Evil

A Political Science Primer for Understanding Bad Types of Government

In these unprecedented times a variety of weighty and scary political science terms are swirling around the internet: totalitarianism, authoritarianism, autocracy, despotism, tyranny, and fascism. Only recently has it become important for everyone to know what they mean. What exactly is an autocracy? And what is the difference between totalitarianism and authoritarianism? Or between despotism… Continue reading A Political Science Primer for Understanding Bad Types of Government