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Why Republicans Can't Change

As information about the Republican Party’s 2016 platform trickles out, people on the other side of aisle express dismay: the GOP is as hateful and oppressive as ever. Why haven’t they learned anything? When Republican candidate Mitt Romney lost the Presidential election 2012, party brass did, in fact, do some soul-searching, as detailed in their 2012 Growth and Opportunity Project book. They recognized that they have a difficult time reaching minority voters:

The "Real" American Left

Yesterday, an open letter on identity politics, to and from the Left was put up on Medium. From there, the #WeAreTheLeft hashtag was spawned. But none of this is as simple as it seems. The format of the letter is straightforward enough. A struggle is framed in terms of women–some trans, some queer, some of color–who have spoken up and faced vicious harassment and verbal abuse. The anecdotes are troubling and depressing.

Police Can't Do Everything

Policing in the US–specifically, police abuses and a resulting lack of accountability–has been a frequent topic of discussion over the past few years, with the Black Lives Matter movement at the forefront. The problems endemic to our policing institutions are myriad and will likely be difficult to correct. Start with the basics: what are police for? Most people would say the purpose of police is law enforcement–that is, to take the laws duly enacted by legislative bodies and carry out their execution.

Are We Too Hard on Bill Clinton?

Given that Hillary Clinton is running for President this year, and she and her husband have worked as a team throughout their careers, the Bill Clinton Presidency of the ‘90s is now being revisited, with particularly harsh critiques by today’s progressives. New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait–yes, that Jon Chait–says we’re being too hard on ol’ Bill. Kids today simply fail to understand just how tough it was to be a Democrat in the 1990s.

Nation States and Independence

Why does national independence matter? What does it even mean? Prior to the 18th century, nations as we understand them did not exist. Political borders existed, certainly, but these were drawn up by various monarchs and despots to delineate their territory. Individuals feeling affinity toward the political body under whose boundaries they lived was uncommon. Once that began to change, though–as modern ideas of nations and political participation took hold–individuals started identifying with nations.

Crisis in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico typically only makes news in the US when the topic of statehood comes up. But the island territory has been embroiled in an economic crisis for the past several years, which is now coming to a head. First, it’s helpful to be aware of Puerto Rico’s status relative to individual states in the US. It’s more than a difference in name and voting rights. Puerto Rico doesn’t have any representation in Congress, nor do its people get any electoral votes for President.

Beware Presidentialism

If you grew up in the United States and haven’t spent much time examining other countries, it might surprise you to learn that the US is fairly unique in having a presidential, rather than parliamentary, government. Such a system comes with some unique quirks and shortcomings, too. First, let’s distinguish just what presidential and parliamentary systems are. In a presidential system, the President leads an executive branch and serves as both head of state and head of government.

Failures of Liberalism

There is presently a rising tide of right-wing sentiment in Western countries. These aren’t happening in a vacuum–they represent what are, ultimately, failures of liberalism. Brexit, the Tea Party, Donald Trump, and right-wing movements throughout Europe are reflecting changing attitudes that threaten to upend the established order. It’s easy to dismiss right-wing reactionaries as ignorant, racist xenophobes. Often times, that’s exactly what they are. But when they become numerous enough, when they have enough support, it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re wrong.


In a historic move, the United Kingdom just voted to leave the European Union. Why did this happen and what does it all mean? Right up to the day of voting, it looked like the votes to remain in the EU would win out. Instead, the UK voted to exit the EU by a comfortable margin of 52-48. Certain consequences are unfolding quickly. Prime Minister David Cameron has already promised to leave office by October.

Taking Trolls Seriously

What’s the deal with Internet trolls, anyway? The New Republic offersan intriguing review of a new book entitled This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture, which does pretty much what it says. Folklorist Whitney Phillips plumbs the depths of troll culture and psychology and finds that, for people who consider themselves so novel and edgy, the truth of the matter is that their repertoire is altogether simplistic and well-worn: