Yascha Mounk is used to being the most pessimistic person in the room. Mr. Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard, has spent the past few years challenging one of the bedrock assumptions of Western politics: that once a country becomes a liberal democracy, it will stay that way.
His research suggests something quite different: that liberal democracies around the world may be at serious risk of decline.
Mr. Mounk’s interest in the topic began rather unusually. In 2014, he published a book, “Stranger in My Own Country.” It started as a memoir of his experiences growing up as a Jew in Germany, but became a broader investigation of how contemporary European nations were struggling to construct new, multicultural national identities.
He concluded that the effort was not going very well. A populist backlash was rising. But was that just a new kind of politics, or a symptom of something deeper? To answer that question, Mr. Mounk teamed up with Roberto Stefan Foa, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia. They have since gathered and crunched data on the strength of liberal democracies.
Their conclusion, to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Democracy, is that democracies are not as secure as people may think. Right now, Mr. Mounk said in an interview, “the warning signs are flashing red.”
"The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction," Coler says.
He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.
"What that turned into was a state representative in the House in Colorado proposing actual legislation to prevent people from using their food stamps to buy marijuana based on something that had just never happened," Coler says
During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. "It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they're about to get served," Coler says. "It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election."
Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.
At state-level, the presidential election maps for 2004 and 2016 aren't that different: just add Colorado and New Mexico to the Democratic column, and Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the Republican camp. To oversimplify: the West Coast and the Northeast remain solidly blue, the rest in between is mainly red.
Yet, by drilling down to voter preference on county level, these two 'maritime' maps present a very different view - and in doing so, generate the map meme that captures the country's mood at this point in time. At that level, Trump won 85% (3,000,000 sq. mi) of the land area, leaving only 15% (530,000 sq. mi) of U.S. territory for Clinton. Despite the massive size advantage, Trumpistan is much less populated: home to only 46% of Americans (148 million), vs. 54% (174 million) in Clintonesia, which consists in large part of urban areas.
Showing the two sides each as separate island nations captures the sense of alienation and distance between both. The existence of the other is negated, submerged, reduced to lapping waves. On the Trumpistan map, pro-Hillary counties coalesce into nothing more than bodies of water: Las Vegas Harbor, the Santa Fe Sea, Des Moines Pond, the New York Narrows and the D.C. Delta. A similar nomenclature on the Clintonesia map shows the Wyoming Shallows, the High Plains Sea and the Great Bays (bye bye, Michigan). Not so much rival territory as another realm. Democratic islands in a conservative sea include Albuquerque Island, the Montana Archipelago and Isla Grande, in the south of Texas.
a nice version of the maps here although some of the underlying data has changed as Clinton's lead over Trump in the popular vote has increased to over two million votes.
Rachel Maddow on the extreme views of Vice President-elect Mike Pence
Religions vary on LGBT tolerance. Public acceptance has seen dramatic increases in the past decade, but some very conservative religions have taken harsher views. They fight LGBT rights at local and national levels and have tightened rhetoric against their own believers. The culture I am from is Mormon - one of those conservative anti-LGBT forces. While some in the church have been working to soften its hard-line position, the official position radically hardened about a year ago. Sometimes art and music are better paths for expression. Heather set official anti-gay speech fragments to "Creep" by Scala and Kolacny Brothers.