By: Philosophy 24/7
Some countries like Hungary, Turkey, and Poland have greatly eroded their democratic institutions in recent years.
Others like the US, India, Israel, and South Africa, are following similar strategies.
Democracy’s success in the late 20th century set the stage for some of the problems it’s now facing. As the only game in town, those who are interested in eroding it have to come from within, often pitching themselves as the only ones who can save it. They’re attacking some of the institutions that keep democracy in check, such as the courts, the opposition party, and the free media.
A lot of the limitations on autocratic takeover are unwritten rules that can be taken advantage of to seize authority without actually breaking any laws. It’s very difficult to write laws for everything into a constitutional document, but the more a government relies on these unwritten rules to keep power in check, the more vulnerable they are.
Some things liberal democracies can do to weaken the risk of autocratic takeover:
- Preferential Voting (Ranked Voting) to empower the centrists and weaken the radicals of each party
- Revive the discourse on opposition rights and reduce any winner take all situations.
- Campaign finance reform.
- Empowering and entrenching the fourth branch institutions, things like anti corruption bodies, electoral commissions. Non partisan offices that seek to protect democracy.
Opinion Piece: Our Culture of Contempt
Written By: Arthur C. Brooks
We make an assumption that our ideology is based in benevolence and love and our opponents is based in hate and evil.
Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible, and also increases anxiety, depression, and sadness. It also stimulates stress hormones in the contemptuous person.
Large majorities of Americans will privately say they’re tired of how divided we are and that compromise is important.
Disagreement is not contempt. We need to disagree, but disagree better.
When you find yourself hating something, someone is making money or winning elections off of your contempt. Unless a leader is actually teaching you something you didn’t know or expanding your worldview, you are being used.
Make a commitment to never treat others with contempt. Contempt makes persuasion impossible – no one has ever been hated into agreement.
To address this, we need to se contempt as an opportunity, not a threat. When treated with contempt, respond with warmheartedness and good humor.
In 1879 a court case involving Chief Standing Bull of the Ponca tribe came before a Federal court that demanded an answer to the question: Are Native Americans considered people by the U.S. Constitution.
In 1878, despite having two separate treaties with the U.S. Senate, the Ponca tribe were forcibly removed off their land by the U.S. Government. As a result of the sickness and starvation conditions, Chief Standing Bull’s only son died that winter. Before he died, his father promised him he would bury him in their traditional ceremonial burial grounds.
Chief Standing Bull and about 30 other members of the Ponca Tribe went on a three month journey to bury his son. They were detained by the U.S. Army 2 days short of their goal.
General George Crook took the Native Americans under guard but doubted the morality of his orders and informed several news stations and lawyers of the situation.
Chief Standing Bull filed for a writ of habeas corpus.
This was the first civil trial for a Native American in U.S. History.
During the trial, Chief Standing Bull was quotes as saying, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”
Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that “an Indian is a person” within the meaning of habeas corpus, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. He concluded “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race.”
Podcast: The Space Race | Starting Gun
By: American History Tellers
Werner Von Braun was a key part of the Nazi V-2 Rocket Program. Near the end of WW2 he and his team were deliberately captured by the Americans and settled in Huntsville Alabama to prevent their knowledge from going to the Soviets.
The thought was that rockets combined with atomic weapons would give the host nation an insurmountable lead in the years to come.
Von Braun’s potential degree of involvement with pretty horrific war crimes under Nazi rule was ignored and deliberately glossed over. Supposedly he just wanted to build rockets to get to space.
Because of his German background he wasn’t fully trusted by American politicians and military figures.
This led to his projects not being allowed to put a satellite into orbit, and allowed the Soviets to take the lead with Sputnik. This created a huge fear in America about ceding space to the Soviets.
Podcast: The incredible shrinking city
For decades, Memphis annexed wealthy suburbs around the city as a way to increase their tax revenue.
After studying the effects of this, they found that these suburbs required more public money than they were generating, essentially being subsidized by the poorer neighborhoods in the center of the city.
Memphis is now undergoing an effort to de-annex some of these suburbs.
Podcast: The Age of Jackson – Manifest Destiny
By: American History Tellers
After the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the United States considered the territories of Texas and California up for grabs even though they were considered by the Mexican government as part of Mexico.
American settlers began settling both territories.
The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt to ban slavery in the newly acquired lands from the war with Mexico, although it’s intent wasn’t for moral reasons, but to ensure that poor whites wouldn’t compete with slavery for jobs and opportunities.
Part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Act which required Northerners to report and assist with the tracking down of escaped slaves, which further solidified anti slavery sentiment.
During the European revolutions of 1848 there were groups that supported the existing governments rather than side with the liberal revolutions.
The presidential election of 1848 is considered the first modern election where all states electors voted on the same day. It also saw three main political parties, including the Free Soil party which was founded on the eradication of slavery but also split the Democratic party vote.
There seem to be quite a bit of parallels between the arguments made for the wars and subsequent annexation of Texas/California by the United States and the arguments made for the wars and annexation of Crimea/Ukraine by the Russian Federation in 2014. Both seem to be making the statement of “Citizens of our country who live in the territory claimed by a different country want to be a part of our country, and we’re just honoring their wishes and protecting them from threats from the other country”
Podcast: Denmark’s paternity leave problem
Denmark has a child leave policy where the family is given one year of paid leave to split any way they want between the mother and father. While many companies there will offer fairly generous policies of several months, after that the government will subsidize pay at a percentage of normal pay.
They’re finding that the mothers take a majority of this time. There seem to be two main reasons for this: cultural and economic.
Culturally it’s viewed as a woman’s job to raise a child and care for the house – men don’t want to ask their bosses for leave or have to deal with their coworkers ridicule. The act of getting their partner pregnant causes them to have to bake a failure cake for their coworkers as a indication they have made a mistake.
Economically men make more income than women, so it makes sense for the women to use the leave policy.
However, this perpetuates the cycle that women are going to be taking a lot of leave for child care and men aren’t, which significantly contributes to the gender pay gap. Employers are less likely to want to hire women in their 20s and 30s assuming they’re going to take at least two years off on leave.
Iceland has addressed this problem by making a policy of obligatory 4 months of leave for each parent. The hope is that this reduces the hiring/pay discrimination against potential mothers by treating both genders equally with the obligation of child care and leave.