Election day 2022

image: Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny Here we are in November 2022, and the House, Senate, governors, and state houses are all up for grabs. An appalling number of GOP candidates have continued to spread lies about voter fraud in 2020 and have refused to commit to accepting the results of today’s election. (Remember that Donald …

Constitution Day lecture 2022

Note: these are notes for a short talk I gave this month to students at my university on the topic of the importance of maintaining and defending our liberal constitutional democracy. Democracy at risk? Dan Little University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government session on the US Constitution October 20, 2022 Thanks for this opportunity. It is …

Sliding toward “semi-fascism”

President Biden's September 1 speech on the political threats posed to our democracy by the language and actions of far-right GOP leaders and elected officials was entirely on the mark. As scholars of the history of fascism have noted, many of the characteristics of fascism are indeed currently present in GOP language and goals. The …

Resisting authoritarian populism

The rise of an organized effort to create an authoritarian right-wing government in the United States is palpable. Unhinged Republican elected officials call for political violence and "civil war"; an ideological and Christian-nationalist Supreme Court moves forward unhesitatingly in attacking long-established and fundamental rights, including rights of reproductive freedom; Republican-controlled state houses enact ever-more restrictive …

A topology of political theories?

We sometimes think of political philosophies as falling on a spectrum from left to right. Bernie Sanders is on the left and Greg Abbott is on the right. Our mental map might perhaps look something like this: However, a moment's reflection shows that this scheme doesn't really work. There isn't a single dimension along which …

Factions, insurrections, and the Federalist Papers

Sometimes political philosophers think of the The Federalist Papers as fairly minor contributions to the history of political theory -- time-bound, parochial, and written by colonial bumpkins who couldn't really hold a candle to Locke or Hobbes. When addressed at all, they are often used simply as evidence about the "original intent" of various constitutional provisions in …

Inclusivity as a democratic goal

Many organizations express the goal of embracing diversity and inclusiveness. This is an admirable goal, but it is often only weakly pursued in practical terms. Efforts towards this end will be stronger in enhancing diversity and inclusiveness if we think carefully about what we have in mind when we think of that better future we …

Explaining GOP behavior

If only Chuck Tilly were still with us ... I'd give a lot to hear his interpretation of the behavior of GOP officials throughout large swaths of the country, in state governments and in Congress. But I'd like to hear from Cicero, Machiavelli, and Hannah Arendt as well. Perhaps only theorists who have witnessed the …

Conservative and progressive forms of democracy

An earlier post suggested that we cannot really address the issue of the stability of liberal democracy without considering issues of economic justice as well.  It is worth separating the features of a modern society into the "liberal democratic" cluster and the "social democratic" cluster for a reason that is familiar from Rawls (Justice as …

Social democracy, unbridled capitalism, and right-wing populism

An earlier post raised the question of popular support for -- satisfaction with -- the state of democracy in many democratic nations. It was noted that levels of satisfaction are low in many democracies -- US, UK, France, and Spain, for example (link). There I defined liberal democracy in these terms: a political system in …

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