Author: Jacob Nierenberg

Jacob Nierenberg ’17 M.A. ’18 is a contributing editor and the second of two Jacobs who write for The Stanford Sphere. In his time at Stanford University, he was also a staff writer for The Stanford Daily, writing for the student groups and arts & life beats. His byline has appeared in Consequence of Sound, The Columbian, The Seattle Times, and others. The only thing he talks about more than politics is music, and he rarely leaves the house without a pair of headphones.

This Is How They Win

“FAIR and balanced.” This, infamously, was Fox News’s slogan until June 2017, but if you put aside the obvious jokes about Fox’s conservative bias, “fair and balanced” sums up what journalism, ideally, should be. The concept of journalistic objectivity—that the facts of a story should be presented fairly and impartially—is among the first things taught in any introductory journalism class. It’s been the cardinal rule of journalism for about a century, which has been enough time for conservatives to figure out how to outsmart it.

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Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. II

This is second part of a two-part essay on “epistocracy,” defined by political philosopher and Georgetown University professor Jason Brennan as a system where the most politically-informed citizens have the most voting power. You can read the first part here.

There’s a lot of evidence that the United States isn’t nearly as democratic as it likes to think it is. Continue reading “Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. II”

Against Epistocracy: Why ‘Rule of the Informed’ Will Not Fix Democracy, Pt. I

Western democracies haven’t had the best track record as of late. The United Kingdom shot itself in the foot by voting to withdraw from the European Union in 2016, which would’ve gone down as the year’s most egregious self-inflicted wound if the United States hadn’t outdone them three months later with the election of Donald Trump. Alternative für Deutschland, Front national and Partij voor de Vrijheid—right-wing populist parties, all of them—are as popular as they’ve ever been in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The global resurgence of far-right politics is profoundly disturbing, and it suggests that resentment, if not rage, is starting to appeal more to voters than reason. If these movements continue to gain ground, it might mean that democracy’s best days are behind it.

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Antifa is not the Alt-Left

It’s no coincidence that the term “alt-left” seemed to come out of the national ether around the same time that anti-fascist movements—“antifa” for short—were growing in prominence. Members of antifa groups have made appearances at demonstrations since Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, but it wasn’t until the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last August that they started to be referred to as alt-left. Three days after the rally—in which a man with white supremacist ties drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman—Trump reasserted his belief that there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. When pressed to comment on the alt-right’s role, Trump responded, “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

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