How Much Can Californians Expect Of Our Leaders In Crisis? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Much Can Americans Expect Of Our Leaders In Crisis?

The United States is beset by crises—from the pandemic to climate change, and from policing to our toxic politics. And no American place has more experience with crisis than California, and no American politicians have dealt with more disasters than its politicians. What can we reasonably expect from our leaders when crisis strikes? What lessons do previous crises—giant recessions, earthquakes, …

What Do We Do Now? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What Do We Do Now?

“What do we do now?” asks Robert Redford at the end of The Candidate, the 1972 political satire that ends in an election upset—and existential despair. After a presidential election defined by an international pandemic and rampant misinformation and a post-election period that seems destined to be marked by bitterness and conflict, America must ask itself the same plaintive question. …

Are American States Better at Protecting Human Rights Than the U.S. Government? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Are American States Better at Protecting Human Rights Than the U.S. Government?

The conventional American narrative since the civil rights era has been that states tend to violate our rights, and the federal government intervenes to protect people. But much of American history runs the other way, offering numerous examples of states acting to protect the rights of their people—notably Indigenous peoples, African Americans escaping slavery, and undocumented immigrants—from federal authorities. What’s …

When Will Californians Start Spending Again? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When Will Californians Start Spending Again?

California isn’t just the world’s fifth largest economy—it’s also a global capital of consumer culture. And now its culture, and the everyday habits of its people, are being profoundly disrupted by the pandemic and its associated economic collapse. A sudden, sharp decline in consumer satisfaction has laid open the profound fragility of the California economy. How is COVID-19 changing the …

Can Space Exploration Save Humanity? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Space Exploration Save Humanity?

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 proclaimed that celestial objects are “the province of all mankind.” But so far, space travel has been a costly and exclusive province (fewer than 600 people have been in orbit). Today’s headlines about space are dominated by billionaires who dream of escaping their Earth-bound lives or providing new tourist thrills. And the biggest space …

Has Hysteria Conquered America? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Has Hysteria Conquered America?

The United States—once revered for its political stability—now seems gripped by political mania. American discourse, particularly around government and elections, is full of conspiracy theories, paranoia, xenophobia, and overheated denunciations. Such hysteria might be the product of more recent economic dislocation, failed wars, the digital revolution, or divisive elected officials. But perhaps it has deeper roots in America’s imperial history, …