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The political Establishment may be battered and demoralized, deferential to the algorithms of the web and to the monosyllables of a gifted demagogue, but this is not the time to give up on America’s near-unique and stabilizing blend of democracy and elite responsibility. The country has endured far harsher times than the present without succumbing to rank demagoguery; it avoided the fascism that destroyed Europe; it has channeled extraordinary outpourings of democratic energy into constitutional order. It seems shocking to argue that we need elites in this democratic age — especially with vast inequalities of wealth and elite failures all around us. But we need them precisely to protect this precious democracy from its own destabilizing excesses.

Via Andrew Sullivan’s May 2, 2016 New York Magazine cover story Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.

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Those still backing the demagogue of the left, Bernie Sanders, might want to reflect that their critique of Clinton’s experience and expertise — and their facile conflation of that with corruption — is only playing into Trump’s hands. That it will fall to Clinton to temper her party’s ambitions will be uncomfortable to watch, since her willingness to compromise and equivocate is precisely what many Americans find so distrustful. And yet she may soon be all we have left to counter the threat. She needs to grasp the lethality of her foe, moderate the kind of identity politics that unwittingly empowers him, make an unapologetic case that experience and moderation are not vices, address much more directly the anxieties of the white working class—and Democrats must listen.

Via Andrew Sullivan’s May 2, 2016 New York Magazine cover story Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.

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This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living. This is a time when gay people can be married in 50 states, even as working-class families are hanging by a thread. It’s a period in which we have become far more aware of the historic injustices that still haunt African-Americans and yet we treat the desperate plight of today’s white working ­class as an afterthought. And so late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger that late-stage democracy has precious little ability to moderate or constrain — and has actually helped exacerbate.

Via Andrew Sullivan’s May 2, 2016 New York Magazine cover story Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.

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Via David Frum’s How to Build an Autocracy published in the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic:

What excites Trump is his approval rating, his wealth, his power. The day could come when those ends would be better served by jettisoning the institutional Republican Party in favor of an ad hoc populist coalition, joining nationalism to generous social spending—a mix that’s worked well for authoritarians in places like Poland. Who doubts Trump would do it? Not Paul Ryan. Not Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. For the first time since the administration of John Tyler in the 1840s, a majority in Congress must worry about their president defecting from them rather than the other way around.

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Via How Smartphones Are Killing Off the Fashion Show by Vanessa Friedman published by the New York Times on February 11, 2016:

For an industry that pretends to embrace change, fashion is notably resistant to alteration. The last time it happened was in 1999, when the New York shows moved from being the final stop on the fashion week merry-go-round to the first, after a decision by Helmut Lang to leapfrog his show to the front of the line. Since then, efforts to change the schedule, such as Yohji Yamamoto’s decision in 2002 to move to couture, left the designers as lone voices crying in the wind and were later abandoned, though perhaps this precedent is what has convinced the CFDA that it can lead the charge to change. Still, not every city’s fashion week is on board.

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Via David Frum’s How to Build an Autocracy published in the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic:

Outside the Islamic world, the 21st century is not an era of ideology. The grand utopian visions of the 19th century have passed out of fashion. The nightmare totalitarian projects of the 20th have been overthrown or have disintegrated, leaving behind only outdated remnants: North Korea, Cuba. What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao. Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites.

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Via David Frum’s How to Build an Autocracy published in the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic:

Civil unrest will not be a problem for the Trump presidency. It will be a resource. Trump will likely want not to repress it, but to publicize it—and the conservative entertainment-outrage complex will eagerly assist him. Immigration protesters marching with Mexican flags; Black Lives Matter demonstrators bearing antipolice slogans—these are the images of the opposition that Trump will wish his supporters to see. The more offensively the protesters behave, the more pleased Trump will be.

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Via How Smartphones Are Killing Off the Fashion Show by Vanessa Friedman published by the New York Times on February 11, 2016:

Though the Twitter-Instagram-Facebook-Snapchat nexus started as a golden promise, a way for brands to seize control of their own messaging and cut out the middlemen of retailers and critics and communicate directly to their customer, it has created a situation in which it is no longer acceptable to many women to wait six months for something they have just seen. Especially if they can get an acceptable simulacrum at a fast-fashion brand down the street, like Zara or H&M, which was able to spot the garment via pictures and measure its success via the number of “likes” it achieved.

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Via David Frum’s How to Build an Autocracy published in the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic:

Whatever else happens, Americans are not going to assemble in parade-ground formations, any more than they will crank a gramophone or dance the turkey trot. In a society where few people walk to work, why mobilize young men in matching shirts to command the streets? If you’re seeking to domineer and bully, you want your storm troopers to go online, where the more important traffic is. Demagogues need no longer stand erect for hours orating into a radio microphone. Tweet lies from a smartphone instead.

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The Atlantic, How to Build an Autocracy, David Frum