EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

How the Sanders Agenda Can Move Forward in a Hillary Presidency

Everyday political discourse commonly reduces the significance of elections to individual personalities: one candidate wins, another candidate loses. In legislative elections, this way of assessing an election is perfectly legitimate.

Matters are more complicated, however, when considering executive branch elections, whether at the mayor, governor or presidential level. The executive branch itself is a large army of people: administrators, program managers, analysts, researchers and all the other people who do the everyday work of government, and who turn broad policy priorities into concrete action steps.  …

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EssaysEventsFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Pre-Coup, Coup and the Media Intellectuals in Turkey

There are many unknowns about the July 15th coup d’état attempt in Turkey. Putschists, instead of taking down the leadership or shutting down communication, ineffectually closed off some roads, attacked government buildings including the Parliament, and killed many innocent civilians without clear operational objectives. The level of confusion and disorder among soldiers was mind boggling. It is hard to believe that these putschists were part of the “one of the most powerful NATO armies.” The sloppiness of this military operation raises a lot of questions; who gave the orders? What was the network diagram of this operation? Did they have a plan B? What was going to happen if the coup was successful? Who are the political collaborators? Even after two weeks, none of this is evident. …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Are EU Exit Referenda Good for Democracy?

Referenda are important instruments of democratic politics. They have been used since the late eighteenth century in various circumstances of political life, most often in relation to constitutional change or issues of self-determination. In contemporary democratic societies, there is pressure to submit contested political questions to popular vote, in order to reduce tensions between popular will and governance. Even democratic governments which are not constitutionally obliged to do so now feel compelled to consult the people directly. 

Brexit, the UK’s referendum on whether to stay in the EU, reflects this tendency. It is not the first referendum on EU matters. And yet, there is novelty here: the people were deciding directly whether to leave an organization of democratic states, …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

At DNC Obama Reaffirmed Central Vision: Why it Matters for Democratic Politics Today

One of the things that Barack Obama delivered in his speech at the Democratic National Convention, which has to rank among his truly great speeches, was a powerful restatement of his central orienting vision of political community and democratic citizenship, which he first presented during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007-2008. After all the trials and tribulations of his presidency, it’s clear that he still remains committed to that vision, like it or not. In fact, anyone who follows Obama’s speech closely and compares it with some key speeches he gave in 2008 will notice that he went out of his way to emphasize some of the continuities. …

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The OJ Simpson Verdict, Jury Nullification and Black Lives Matter: The Power to Acquit

The nation is, once again, caught up in the OJ Simpson trial because of two riveting series that revisit the case. The FX mini-series, American Crime Story, and the ESPN documentary, OJ: Made in America, provide their audiences with a level of detail and sociological interpretation that can only be achieved 20 years after the trial. …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

No-Rule: Thinking about Obama v. Trump Through Hannah Arendt and C.L.R. James

Barack Obama delivered a rousing speech at the recent Democratic National Committee Convention in support of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Presidency. At the crescendo of the address, Obama exhorted: “We’re not a fragile people. We’re not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled.” Let’s think through this understanding of ruling for political leadership.

Obama argues that Donald Trump, Clinton’s primary opponent for the nation’s highest elected office, embraces an elite conception of leadership grounded in a sovereign leader ruling over a mass. Trump is not only mendacious according to Obama; …

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