It’s America’s birthday! But what exactly does it mean to be an American? We explore theories of what it means to be an American – is it a kind of national identity, a commitment to particular ideas, a set of civic practices, or something else entirely?
What’s the deal with primaries? Why do they happen? Why do they matter? Do we really have to pay attention to them? Do I really have to vote twice this year? (Hint: Yes!) And what is the role of political parties in primaries? What should it be? Can a party really “meddle” in its own primaries? (Hint: No!)
What’s political about the census? Everything from the apportionment of representatives to the distribution of public resources to the construction of racial, ethnic, & civic identities. It’s a big deal, and recent changes are worth paying attention to.
We’re back (finally)! In our third installment of our long-gestating media discussion, we look at the professional norms of the political media and how understanding them can help us comprehend and critique the media.
The news media in America has a complicated relationship to partisan politics and political ideology. The mainstream news media continues to prize ideals of objectivity & neutrality, but countless outlets offer an explicitly partisan takes on the news. We should be worried? Is partisan media a problem for democracy, or is it fitting in a democracy with robust protections for freedom of the press? And what are news consumers to make of claims about bias in the ostensibly neutral news media? Is the ‘mainstream media’ really liberally biased? Or do other biases?such as those toward celebrity, scandal, and novelty?outweigh any ideological bias? And how does all of this connect with the business incentives of the media we discussed a couple of weeks ago?
Despite enjoying popular support, federal gun control legislation seems all but impossible. Is the NRA really bribing representatives? Not exactly, but they have an awful lot of influence, and we explore the politics of interest groups to understand why.
In the first of our series on how to think about the media, we explore the economics of the news business. Who owns the media? How does the profit motive explain much of what you see, hear, and read? And what–if anything–can we do about it?