Can it happen here?

Milgram’s research also suggests that the party will not be able to reform itself. Having purged dissenters and shrunk to a culturally and racially monolithic core, there is simply no force capable of resisting its present dynamics. The party will break and re-organize, or be replaced. How long this will take is anyone’s guess, but the process can be expected to spread instability all across our system.

Trump Whisperers

Politics in a democracy hinges on an openness to understanding, the quest for empathy. As the Trump Whisperers are demonstrating, that quest can go wrong, especially when both understanding and empathy are stunted by cultural distance. Our drive to find common ground can end up legitimizing or even romanticizing toxic ideologies. All values are not equal. Some values deserve to be aggressively marginalized. Some values should inspire more anger than sympathy.

Everybody, calm down

The most depressing message from this election is not that Trump might win. He won’t. What’s truly frightening is that very few Republicans are peeling away from their 2012 voting patterns. The most abhorrent political figure to rise in from our political system, perhaps ever, will inspire a decline in internal Republican support of only about 3-4 percentage points. That tells a terrible story about the weakness of conscience in the face of group pressure. It is a reminder that “it can’t happen here” is a myth.

TV news as a civic rot

TV news is the political equivalent of toxic industrial waste. No context, no depth, just minute-by-minute breathless panic, veering from one subject to the next like a dog in a field full of rabbits. It is making people crazy.

For the people who lie to my father

What were the odds that my father, in his half an hour a day of free time over the past forty years, would ever successfully escape the cultural tractor beam created by these professional crooks? Those odds were low enough that thousands of people could build careers on them, stripping my father and millions of other people of their political power just as blatantly as if they had robbed them on the street. My father had little chance against this machine.

When SNL does something important

There was a subtle and powerful message behind the gag lines in a Saturday Night Live skit this week. Kenan Thompson has a recurring bit called “Black Jeopardy.” This week, the gameshow parody featured Tom Hanks playing a Trump supporter.

Senate races in 2018

With this year’s Presidential race more or less over, you may be asking – what’s next? Races for Governor in 2017 in Virginia and New Jersey should get some attention, along with the US Senate race in Virginia. But let’s look just a little farther out, to the 2018 Senate …

The fog over the Congressional races

How many traditional Republican voters will split their votes between a Trump alternative and the Republicans farther down the ballot? How many of them will just stay home? It looks like we are seeing an unprecedented surge in turnout among Democratic constituencies. Are we going to get an outcome more like ’06 and ’08? Will this surge be large enough to threaten Republicans who hold strong leads in the polls, like McCain and Rubio?