Category Archives: US politics

A thousand years of grievance? Here???

When I write about speeches that get people really riled up – as part of our research team’s ongoing study of genocide – one of my favorite examples is Slobodan Milošević’s Gazimestan speech. About a million Serbs showed up to … Continue reading

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The WWE model of American politics

Way back in the day, my Grandpa Ben was a big fan of Portland Wrestling. A quiet man otherwise, he’d cheer on Dutch Savage and boo Bull Ramos. I was maybe 10, and I didn’t see the appeal. Looking back, … Continue reading

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Fairness and the “R” word

Last week I shared my concern that efforts to hold the United States accountable for what our society has done to handicap some population groups could lead to some very negative side-effects. That is, our discussions of collective responsibility could … Continue reading

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One freedom may be the biggest threat to democracy

Today I want to talk about a perverse incentive that some Americans may have for preferring a more authoritarian government – it can give them a certain type of freedom that we don’t have in a democracy, the freedom to … Continue reading

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Whose Law? Whose Order?

The shocking, yet not at all surprising, events in the U.S. Capitol this week revitalized a question I’ve been asking myself lately: How do we reconcile a president’s repeated call for “law and order” with his obvious delight in sheer, … Continue reading

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The “Nixon-to-China” theory of change

For my friends who’d rather have had Bernie for president… don’t lose hope. Here’s why I think the Biden presidency may be just what we need. In the early 1970s, mainland China was still recovering from the Cultural Revolution, a … Continue reading

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America’s Irony Problem

Irony can be a lot of fun.  And it’s everywhere, from the most scathing sarcasm to the gentle wit of Kermit the Frog. We love to laugh at satire and parody.  The “mockumentary” has become a popular film genre – … Continue reading

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In a League of her own

A few weeks ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced a “small quarantine accomplishment”: She’s made it to rank Silver III in League of Legends. Predictably, the lively congresswoman’s tweet met with a scornful backlash – she should give back her salary or … Continue reading

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More Slogan Science: Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

In my last blog post, I took a close look at Trump’s campaign messaging, both for 2016 and 2020. Now it’s Joe Biden’s turn. What stories-about-us is he using to support his campaign and energize the voting public? Before we … Continue reading

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The Science of Slogans, with Donald J. Trump

In 2016, Donald Trump masterfully wielded campaign slogans from at least four different emotional “genres,” each telling or implying a different story about who we are and where we’re headed. Can he repeat this performance in 2020? Will a sizeable … Continue reading

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