Trump and Sanders both deliberately undermine our Democratic system’s legitimacy

Few things are as lethal for the healthy conduct of democratic politics as a crisis of legitimacy. As far back as the Classical Era, Aristotle argued that a state’s legitimacy hinged on the stability created by distributive justice, which is to say, the equitable distribution of society’s material rewards according to individual merit. More recently, the German political philosopher Jurgen Habermas has identified what he calls a “legitimization crisis,” which occurs when the state structures legally endowed with administrative powers “do not succeed in maintaining the requisite level of mass loyalties” allowing them to exercise those powers.  Among the results, he argues, ...

Beneath our angry politics exists a corrosive insecurity

Even in this Alice In Wonderland electoral cycle, most analysts agree that the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are fueled by deep fissures of heretofore underestimated anger among voters in both parties. There’s less agreement on the sources of that rage. Some, but not all, Trumpites are expressing racial animosity; others a mixture of that old bigotry with a new version of anti-immigrant Nativism. Still others, are gripped with a generalized antagonism toward so-called elites—political, financial, academic and journalistic. Correlations of census data with Trump’s support show that the person most likely to vote for him is an unemployed ...

When it comes to the lesson of terrorism and fear, L.A. Times gets the example of Little Tokyo wrong

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In the moments that follow events like those in Brussels, or San Bernardino we look to our news media in the hopes of finding clarity and context—sobriety and a hard-headed humanity when the ugliest passions seethe through our politics. Sometimes we get what we need, but far too often what we find is soft-headed, ill-informed, harmful and just plain wrong. Take, for example a piece that appeared on the Los Angeles’ Times front page the day after the Brussels terror atrocities.  Matt Pearce, one of the paper’s national reporters and Sheldon Chad, a Canadian screenwriter and journalist reporting as a stringer ...

Sorry Ted Cruz, it is Obama’s Duty as President to Name a New Supreme Court Justice

In the great debate over civil rights and an independent judiciary that consumed the German Reichstag in October of 1877, the Catholic parliamentarian Ludwig Windthorst decisively broke with the Prussian Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, and his brand of conservatism: “‘Conservative' means to conserve the given, legitimate institutions in State and Church,” Windthorst said. “It does not mean to arm a government with omnipotence, with which it can modify those institutions at will. So long as you confuse conservatism with Polizeiwirtschaft (a police state) an alliance with you is certainly unthinkable." Nor does a genuine conservatism empower one party to remake all ...

Antonin Scalia’s Death: Obama Must Nominate a Replacement Despite GOP Rancor

The unexpected death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has brought into sharp focus the fact this election cycle will decide not only control of the White House, but also the high court and the U.S. Senate—in other words, all three of the coequal branches of government. Scalia was a giant of the conservative jurisprudence that has come to play such a decisive role in our national life. His opinions on free speech and due process may have as many admirers on the left as they do on the right. Even so, his particular theory of constitutional interpretation—textualism, in which ...