The New York Times
The oath of citizenship moved me more than I had expected. For a moment, I choked up and found it difficult to get the words out. But then my voice took on a new resolve: proud and determined, I swore to “defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
Figures of Division
The New Yorker
On the night of 22 May 2018, fourteen year old Susanna Feldmann was raped and murdered by an Iraqi refugee near the German city of Wiesbaden. In the months after her death, she became the focus of an intense campaign to exploit her death for political purposes. This “letter from Germany” reports on the country’s political divisions in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis.
In early March of 2020, the “novel coronavirus,” as it was then called, was already racing around the world. But politicians were still invoking that the public stay calm, declaring that masks are ineffective, and opposing the cancelation of mass events like music concerts. This viral piece was one of the first to argue for the urgent need of significant social distancing measures.
While driving his work truck on a summer night in June 2020, Emmanuel Cafferty, a Hispanic electrician, let his hand dangle from the window. A passing motorist wrongly accused him of flashing a white supremacist symbol. Less than a week later, Cafferty was fired. This was no aberration: Across America, people are getting fired for trivial or imagined offenses. It’s time to stop firing the innocent.
When life-saving vaccines against Covid-19 were still very sparse, nearly every country put the elderly, who are much more susceptible to the disease, first in line. But even though its own data showed that this would lead to a significantly higher death toll, the CDC recommended against this course of action because older Americans are over-proportionally white. This kind of shocking error of moral judgment erodes much-needed trust in institutions.
The Wall Street Journal
Democrats and Republicans barely agree on anything. And yet, one set of very ambitious predictions about the future is widely shared in the United States. The country will be “majority minority” by about 2045. And this will give Democrats a “rising demographic majority.” Both ideas are not only wrong; they are dangerous. It is time to recognize that demography is not destiny, and to refuse to divide the country into whites and “people of color.”
When philosophers or public intellectuals defend any form of national sentiment, they usually invoke a civic or constitutional patriotism. But this cannot describe why most people, who simply do not care that much about politics, love their country. It is time to recognize a second facet to inclusive patriotism: an appreciation for the dynamic, forward-looking and deeply diverse culture of contemporary democracies from France to the United States.
America Is Not a Democracy
An enormous amount of money flows into American politics. Many legislators have little in common with their constituents. Meanwhile, some of the most important decisions are now taken by courts, central banks or independent agencies. Like many other ostensible democracies around the world, the United States have long been in danger of turning into a system of "undemocratic liberalism."
The New York Times
The New Yorker
Nationalism remains today what it has been for the past two centuries: one of the most powerful and potentially destructive political ideals. Instead of leaving this enormous reservoir of political energy to authoritarians and demagogues, liberals should seek to channel it in a productive direction by reclaiming it as their own.
"All politics," a famous piece of political folk wisdom holds, "is local." But in the United States, at least, politics has become increasingly national over the past decades: Party programs barely differ from state to state, and most voters in local or state elections decide based on national loyalties. The rise has been a massive rise of partisanship. Can our political system withstand that change?
Yes, American Democracy Could Break Down
Americans tend to think of checks and balances, or the rule of law, as entities that are somehow outside the political process—and can step in to save the day when normal politics fails in some significant way. In times when conflicts are minor, and the attachment to liberal norms runs deep, there is something to this. But that is no longer the world we live in. At this point, the Constitution cannot save us from our politics. On the contrary, we need to fix the deep political crisis of our time—a crisis that is likely to persist well beyond the Trump candidacy—to save the Constitution.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Just as economists failed to predict the Great Recession, so political scientists failed to predict a series of momentous political upsets. The most obvious is the dizzying rise of Donald Trump. But the story is bigger than that: In recent years, political scientists have overestimated the forces of stability time and again, failing to foresee Brexit, the chaos wrought in the Philippines by Rodrigo Duterte, and the serious threat posed to Polish democracy by its populist government, among other developments. How could this have happened?
Thankful to be alive, Ranim, Ali, Maya, and Amr were taken to Kos, where they applied for permission to continue to Athens. They purchased a tent in which to spend the week they expected to wait for the necessary papers, and huddled together for their first night in the European Union. Some evenings, as soon as Ranim closed her eyes, the nightmares began. She dreamed of Syria, of death and destruction, of Bashar al-Assad’s helicopters dropping bombs on her family. Once, startled awake, she realized that the helicopters were real.
The Week Democracy Died
There are years, decades even, in which history slows to a crawl. Then there are weeks that are so eventful that they seem to mark the dissolution of a world order that had once seemed solid and to foretell the rise of one as yet unknowable.
What We Do Now
The unspeakable has happened: Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States. The commander in chief, the most powerful man on earth, the supposed leader of the free world is now a man who holds liberal democracy in contempt.
The New York Times
A true New Yorker, E.B. White suggested, is one who has come to the city “in quest of something.” It is because New York is defined as much by its newcomers as by its natives that I hope to spend my life here. My identity is no longer that of a Jew or a German. It is that of a seeker who has found; that of a stranger who has come to be at home; that of, simply and immeasurably, a New Yorker.
To avoid the serious damage that populists could inflict on democracy, political establishments on both sides of the Atlantic must find a way to channel populist passions for good. To do so, they need to give voice to the justified grievances that fuel populism while convincing voters that the simple solutions offered up by the populists are bound to fail.
Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
If we are to reestablish the foundations for the broad-based prosperity on which democracy’s stability has always depended, it’s all the more urgent that we overcome a single-minded focus on personal responsibility that has narrowed what kinds of policy ideas we take seriously, and what kinds of economic institutions we can envisage. It is time to rethink the meaning—and indeed the promise—of responsibility.
Signs of Deconsolidation
Journal of Democracy
American citizens are not just dissatisfied with the performance of particular governments; they are increasingly critical of liberal democracy itself. Among young Americans polled in 2011, for example, a record high of 24 percent stated that democracy is a “bad” or “very bad” way of running the country—a sharp increase both from prior polls and compared to older respondents. Meanwhile, the proportion of Americans expressing approval for “army rule” has risen from 1 in 16 in 1995 to 1 in 6 in the most recent survey.