The 1918 Flu Pandemic That Revolutionized Public Health

Mass Death Changed How We Think About Illness, and Government's Role in Treating It

Nearly 100 years ago, in 1918, the world experienced the greatest tidal wave of death since the Black Death, possibly in the whole of human history. We call that tidal wave the Spanish flu, and many things changed in the wake of it. One of the most profound revolutions took place in the domain of public health.

The world was a very different place in the first decades of the 20th century. Notably, there was no real joined-up thinking when it came to healthcare. Throughout the industrialized world, most doctors either …

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Pledging Allegiance to Our Different—and Shared—Ideals of Citizenship

Even in Times of Bitter Partisanship, Americans Can Unite Around Common Beliefs and Goals

Citizenship in the United States is distinguished by how many different and contradictory abilities and actions it requires of citizens, said panelists at a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be …

Reports of U.S. Democracy’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Recent Protests Show That Americans Want More Government, Just Not This Government

Does Trump’s election and its aftermath mean that the U.S. government is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy? In order to address that question, we need to understand how citizens determine …

When the President’s Best and Brightest Were Also the Richest

The Practice of Tapping the Moneyed Elite Began with WWI—and Was Surprisingly Scandal-Free

From our earliest days we Americans have embraced leaders from among the ranks of the nation’s moneyed elite. Voters set the tone when they chose George Washington, the wealthiest …

Could a “Trigger Moment” Imperil Civil Liberties?

Surveillance, Government Secrecy, and an Unpredictable Political Landscape Raise Difficult Questions

In December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor was the “trigger moment” that eventually led the U.S. government to herd tens of thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps. If …