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 some explosive incident were to occur during Donald Trump’s presidency, could it provoke a similar mass round-up of Muslims, immigrants, or some other ethnic or religious group?

On Wednesday night, a standing-room-only crowd gathered to mull that possibility and other, sometimes dire scenarios, past and present, at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo in Los …

Why We All Need to Leave the Country After This Election

Traveling Abroad Would Help Politicians and Voters Fix America’s Troubled Democracy

Now that the election is over, are you leaving the country? If not, you ought to reconsider.

I’m not kidding. Yes, a handful of our fellow Californians—prominent citizens from Samuel L. …

Remembering 1876, the Year of the Inconclusive Vote

There Has Never Been Anything Like It Before or Since

We are told that this year’s presidential election is unprecedented in many ways. The American voters are faced with the choice between an unlikely candidate who has been repudiated …

The Rhetorical Power of Always Being at War

American Presidents Both Overstate Constant Threat and Understate the Human Cost as a Way to Ensure Faith in Government

An essential goal of American presidential rhetoric is to keep the public thinking the nation is constantly under threat, and thus reliably deferential to their ostensibly protective government.

You can …

Take It From a Poll Worker, the System Isn’t Rigged

The People Who Staff Voting Precincts Put Aside Their Opinions So That You Can Express Yours

Recently, Donald Trump issued a typically bombastic call for supporters to go to polling stations and watch for voter fraud, strongly suggesting that the only way he would lose the …

In Attacking Immigrants, Republicans Repeat a Century-Old Mistake

The GOP's Nativist Politics in the 1910s and ‘20s Made the Democratic Party Great Again

Much like today, the 1910s and 1920s were a time when the fear of immigrants convulsed American society.

At the time, the world was reeling from geopolitical instability and economic …