A reader and good friend reminded me recently that I wrote my thesis on the idea of Power Transitions in geopolitics. If you are a super-nerd of geopolitics or international relations it is just the thing for you right after you finish the latest Harry Potter spin-off.
They reminded me of it because he believes it's precisely what we're seeing in the United States that is leading to such strife. Let's expand on that idea.
I live in Boston, so I get to hear a lot of concerns about Trump as president.
Every president gets flak, often unfair or hyperbolic, from people in the political opposition.
But there's something unique about opposition to Trump that I haven't heard said about Bush, McCain, Romney, or Rubio/Kasich/Cruz: there is a strong strain of opinion that Trump is fundamentally unfit to be president.
When Mike Pence gets brought up as an alternative, a very important litmus test occurs.
What better way to discredit something than to call it "fake news?" What better way to subtly deride your political opposition by bemoaning the "post-truth world" that we now live in?
It seems difficult to argue against the idea that fake news plays a larger role in our society today than it did 10 or 20 years ago. But there's a risk to thinking that we are in some unique moment in history, or having false nostalgia for some time back in the day when everything was trustworthy and you didn't have to be a discerning reader.
The good news: fake news may come in historical cycles that ebb and flow. That’s also the bad news.
Here at ReConsider we like to harp on the idea that behind the mass of negativity and hyperpartisanship that dominates American politics, there are mostly shared values.
In Wedged we demonstrated this agreement in case studies. We showed that on even divisive issues such as guns, abortion, and taxes, most people will agree on core values most of the time. We posited that this agreement on values probably extended to other issues.
Conservative media may tell you that colleges are not only wasteful and out of touch, but are brainwashing kids into liberalism. Liberal media may tell you that conservatives have contempt for education and expertise.
Is there a growing partisan gap in how people feel about college?
Many folks on both sides of the political spectrum will tell you that the reason their political opposition doesn't agree with them is a lack of education. This can go as far as groaning about uneducated (typically either poor rural or poor urban) hordes voting en masse after being fooled. Education, therefore, is the fix for the crippling political divide we have. If people are educated, they'll agree on the facts, and we'll be able to move forward.
While Jones' victory does have major implications for US politics, much of the media makes a mistake by taking the result of a slim margin and extrapolating it as a bellwether for the entire state or nation.
For all their differences, national socialism and communism have one essential similarity: they both justify mass murder by promising utopia. Their versions of utopia differ, but they are believed to be attainable, not theoretical. First, though, society must pass through a period of chaos, anarchy and mass violence. This transition period - the struggle - is endured since what comes after is expected to be a revolutionary better world. But the need to endure a time of extreme violence is not a small part of either philosophy - it is a core aspect of both. A better world can be had. But first there must be killing.
A pretty amazing new study from Pew Research shows that the parties are fragile coalitions, full of very deep disagreement. This fragility means many very interesting things could happen in the future... and that your stereotypes of each party may not make sense.
We've already talked at great length about political polarization in the US: why it's bad, where it comes from. It's a pretty bleak landscape to be honest. Culturally this is hard to change. Calling for civility won't work, because the incentives are wrong. But we've talked about ways to fix these incentives. They are structural changes.
Luckily, they're starting to happen. Let's take a look at Missouri.
Did you hear that the US declared war on North Korea? If you've been reading a lot of major news outlets, you'd have every reason to believe so. However the real story--with all the context--paints a very different picture.
I've heard a few discussions that used the Overton Window as a theoretical tool to support certain ways of behaving politically. But do people really understand the Overton Window well enough to wield it wisely?
Political animosity in the US is probably at an all-time high. This isn't news.
Sadly, what is newsworthy is the fact that people are not only politicizing the hurricane, but discouraging helping the victims of it for political reasons. Harvey is something for which we should put our political differences aside, if only for a moment.
rump is a big fan of calling various news networks "fake news," especially when they report something about him he doesn't like, such as poll numbers. Having a president so antagonistic against the media is certainly new in American politics, even though yellow journalism has been a thing for years, and Republicans coined the term "liberal media" years ago.
A lot of people feel pretty strongly about their political opinions. Often we feel like they are quite set in stone; based on some very deep values that won't change much.
A lot of people also feel like their opinions are based on well-thought-out logic and reasoning, from gathering evidence.
However, there's substantial evidence to suggest that when another tribe's opinions solidify on an issue, our tribe runs away--and we join them. Our opinions on important issues are often fluid and fickle, changing with political wind more than sound thinking.
I got to meet Pat Caddell, who has worked in presidential offices and campaigns since the Carter Administration. He has done a combination of personal interviews, polling, and soul-searching to get a sense of why Trump won the election when, in his words, Trump had no real strategy, few solid positions, and very little in the way of a campaign at all.
The Alt-Right remains probably the least-understood political phenomenon on the United States right now. There is very little consensus about what they stand for, who is in it besides a few celebrities and internet trolls, how many they are, and how powerful they are.
I decided to do some research. I even spent time running around chat boards like Reddit and 4Chan, and reading Breitbart. Fair warning, I have no conclusive answers--but that, in itself, is a finding, suggesting that anyone who is telling you they know that the Alt-Right is such-and-such is probably full of it.