Category: Democracy in America

The Cure for Climate Catastrophe

WE’RE all going to die and no one is doing anything about it. The response from our political leaders in the face of impending climate catastrophe has amounted to little more than cursory acknowledgement. Never mind the deniers—the 2018 midterm elections ended up running a large fraction of the true climate deniers in Congress out of office as part of an overall shift towards Democratic control of the House. It’s the rest of the political system we have to worry about. Even the politicians who believe in anthropogenic climate change have not made it a priority—they put out gravely-worded statements on the latest UN report, joked about the President’s misreadings of it, and went back to their signature issues. Climate change, if left unopposed, will transform the totality of life on earth. And no one really seems to care.

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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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Data to the People: to Challenge Google, Nationalize Bing

Every Google search leaves you on the losing end of a simple, painless transaction. Unless you’re the tape-over-the-webcam type, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your place in the twenty-first century barter economy, but the billionaire playboy who runs your search engine isn’t the President of a charity. In exchange for your quiet acquiescence, you get access to the largest store of knowledge in human history: fully searchable, at a price unknown, under the all-seeing eyes of Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

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