Enablers

Remember when the grown-ups in congress were going to check the worst impulses of the president? That was the rationalization offered to reluctant Republicans by those trying to unify the party around a presidential candidate with authoritarian tendencies. Sure, he’s reckless and crazy, but Trump will be kept in line by the adults in the legislative branch. In fact, there have been … Read More

Incompetence

Donald Trump is right about one thing: the 100-day standard used to evaluate presidential performance is ridiculous, an artifact of the landmark accomplishments of FDR’s first months when a national crisis and congressional supermajorities made possible a torrent of policy advances the likes of which we are unlikely to see again. But like it or not, those evaluations are coming … Read More

Accountability

Democracy dies without accountability. The democratic system is built on our ability to know what our representatives are doing and kick officials out of office as a corrective to poor performance. This is how the mechanism is supposed to work: Candidates tell us what they want to do if they are elected. They give us honest information about their platforms which we use to decide how to vote. In office, … Read More

The Obamacare Trap

After seven years of making Obamacare repeal their number one objective, Republicans have fallen into a trap of their own creation and revealed to the country that they are not prepared to be a governing party. This afternoon, they abandoned their repeal measure when they couldn’t assemble a winning House coalition despite the unanimous desire in their caucus to uproot President Obama’s signature … Read More

Governing Is Hard

Donald Trump recently discovered that reforming health care is complicated. And, wouldn’t you know, governing is complicated too, as Trump’s party began to recognize this week during its flailing first attempt to put legislative language to its longstanding promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Under ideal circumstances, making dramatic changes to a policy that deeply affects every American requires exceptional political skill, … Read More

Compassion

Donald Trump’s ticket to staying in power requires dividing the country into cultural, ethnic, racial, gender and religious groups and inciting conflict among them. The fate of the resistance movement requires bringing these groups together in common cause against someone whose values are antithetical to fundamental elements of American political culture. To succeed, the resistance needs to do more than … Read More

Fault Lines

Donald Trump held a press conference on Thursday in which his familiar brand of narcissism clashed dramatically with the familiar setting of the East Room. In a rambling diatribe against reporters that lasted well over an hour, Trump displayed the same talent for channeling grievance that propelled him to the Republican nomination. He claimed credit for unspecified accomplishments, denied his White House is in … Read More

The Core Political Problem

Pretend for a moment you’re a Republican member of congress representing a district drawn to maximize the influence of base Republican voters. You don’t worry much about losing to a Democrat in the next general election, because your district was carefully gerrymandered to protect you from a general election challenge. But that same gerrymander boosted the influence of Republican primary … Read More

Back Soon

So I’ve heard some things have happened since the last time I posted . . . The process of revising two books—the longer being a 450,000 word government textbook—has taken more time than I anticipated, but both projects are coming to a close and I will be back shortly with some thoughts on the chaos around us and where we … Read More

Happy New Year

As the unexpected turns of 2016 give way to the unpredictability of 2017, I’d like to take a moment and send my wishes for a healthy and fulfilling year ahead. I haven’t posted much in the last month and most likely won’t write much in the next few weeks as I face January deadlines for two manuscripts. The sixth edition of my … Read More

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