Category Archives: Politics

Can Fact-checking Prevent Politicians from Lying?

Source: Chloe Lim, May 17, 2018

Journalists now regularly trumpet fact-checking as an important tool to hold politicians accountable for their public statements, but fact checking’s effect has only been assessed anecdotally and in experiments on politicians holding lower-level offices. Using a rigorous research design to estimate the effects of fact-checking on presidential candidates, this paper shows that a fact-checker deeming a statement false false causes a 9.5 percentage points reduction in the probability that the candidate repeats the claim. To eliminate alternative explanations that could confound this estimate, I use two types of difference-in-differences analyses, each using true-rated claims and “checkable but unchecked” claims, a placebo test using hypothetical fact-check dates, and a topic model to condition on the topic of the candidate’s statement. This paper contributes to the literature on how news media can hold politicians accountable, showing that when news organizations label a statement as inaccurate, they affect candidate behavior.

Could Originalism Save Public Sector Unions?

Source: Maddy Joseph, On Labor blog, June 7, 2018

Justice Gorsuch’s silence during the Janus oral argument generated considerable buzz. Wishful (yet tentative) commentators hoped the silence was a sign that the new Justice’s originalism would lead him to uphold Abood. To be sure, Justice Thomas, the Court’s other steadfast originalist, voted with the majority in Harris. And commentators have largely assumed that both Justices will vote with Janus here. But winning over either Justice Gorsuch or Justice Thomas could be Abood’s best hope for survival. ….

50 Years After 1968, Can the Young Change Politics? A Striking New Poll Says Yes

Source: Richard Eskow, OurFuture.org, June 5, 2018

Fifty years ago, in the dust and fire of global youth activism, everything seemed possible. The political world was a cloud filled with chaos and opportunity, pain and promise. The young were a powerful force, even a world-changing one.

Could they become that force again?

As many Millennials vote for the first time today in state primaries from New Jersey to Iowa and California, a new poll of their views offers some intriguing glimpses into the future.

The survey finds that most Millennials want “a strong government” to manage the economy, and that most millennial Democrats have a favorable view of socialism.

What do this poll, and the past, say about our political future? ….

…. A new survey from the University of Chicago’s GenForward project suggests that these voters could pull the Democratic Party, and American politics, sharply to the left. The survey of 1,750 respondents found that “Majorities of Millennials across race and ethnicity believe a strong government rather than a free market approach is needed to address today’s complex economic problems.” ….

Related:
Political Polarization and Trust among Millennials: A summary of key findings from the first-of-its-kind bimonthly survey of racially and ethnically diverse young adults 18-34
Source: Cathy J. Cohen, Matthew Fowler, Vladimir E. Medenica and Jon C. Rogowski, GenForward, May 2018

Naming Our Desire: How Do We Talk About Socialism in America?
Source: Mark Engler, Dissent, Fall 2017

The millennial embrace of socialism has allowed a new generation to draw inspiration from a long legacy of struggle.

Privilege on the Precipice: Perceived Racial Status Threats Lead White Americans to Oppose Welfare Programs

Source: Rachel Wetts, Robb Willer, Social Forces, Advance Access, Published: May 31 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Here, we integrate prior work to develop and test a theory of how perceived macro-level trends in racial standing shape whites’ views of welfare policy. We argue that when whites perceive threats to their relative advantage in the racial status hierarchy, their resentment of minorities increases. This increased resentment in turn leads whites to withdraw support for welfare programs when they perceive these programs to primarily benefit minorities. Analysis of American National Election Studies data and two survey-embedded experiments support this reasoning. In Study 1, we find that whites’ racial resentment increased beginning in 2008, the year of Barack Obama’s successful presidential candidacy and a major economic downturn, the latter a factor previously shown to amplify racial threat effects. At the same time, whites’ opposition to welfare increased relative to minorities’. In Study 2, we sought to better establish the causal effect of racial status threats. We found that experimentally presenting information suggesting that the white majority is rapidly declining increased whites’ opposition to welfare, and this effect was mediated by heightened racial resentment. Finally, in Study 3 we found that threatening whites’ sense of their economic advantage over minorities led whites to report greater opposition to welfare programs, but only if these programs were portrayed as primarily benefiting minorities, not if they were portrayed as benefiting whites. These findings suggest that whites’ perceptions that minorities’ standing is rising can produce periods of “welfare backlash” in which adoption of policies restricting or curtailing welfare programs is more likely.

Free Speech Rights: Public Employees v. Football Players

Source: Sharon Block, Maddy Joseph, On Labor blog, May 30, 2018

“[S]peech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.” Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443, 452 (2011) (citation omitted).

Nearly every brief filed in Janus v. AFSCME advocating for the Supreme Court to invalidate as unconstitutional union fair share dues, including the Petitioner and Trump Administration’s briefs, centers this quotation and sentiment. These briefs argue that the essence of democracy hangs on the right and ability of citizens to freely express their own individual political beliefs in the marketplace of ideas. Their deepest concern is that required fair share dues compel public sector workers to subsidize political speech. The government’s brief deems this a “severe burden” on workers’ constitutional rights.

While we don’t share the view that the effect of fair share dues is to compel speech, we don’t disagree that free speech is essential to democracy and that employer coercion of worker speech is detrimental to democracy. (Indeed, a new book by Alexander Hertl-Fernandez of Columbia University argues that this is a growing problem in the American workplace.) That’s one reason why we’re troubled by the NFL’s new policy punishing taking a knee during the national anthem. As Ben recently argued in Vox, the NFL policy raises serious free speech concerns and should violate the First Amendment. President Trump and Vice President Pence actively encouraged adoption of the ban on anthem protests; NFL owners have even stated that the ban was “initiated” by the President’s interventions. The ban is exactly the kind of coercion and subsidization of political speech that Janus supporters should be howling about. Yet, as several OnLabor readers have pointed out (here and here), Janus supporters have been curiously silent about the free speech rights of NFL players. This silence raises the question of how strongly and under what circumstances Janus supporters believe their own argument…..

What It Takes For Democrats to Persuade a Republican Voter

Source: Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly, May 28, 2018

…. We constantly see research suggesting that a lot of people who vote Republican actually agree with Democratic policy proposals. The conclusions drawn by those findings usually point to poor messaging from Democrats, not enough respect shown for “real Americans” in the heartland, or the lack of truly “populist” policy proposals. I believe that Chelsea’s horror at finding out that she aligned more closely with Hillary Clinton points to a different reason. It’s the one David Roberts identified.

Everything rural and suburban whites (R&SW) know or hear about Democrats or liberals, they get through a media filter. That mostly means Fox News (et al). And Fox is in the business of crafting a ludicrous, bug-eyed, cartoon-evil caricature of liberals. THAT is what R&SW hear from/about Dems. And it’s not just right-wing media. “Mainstream” media like CNN etc. have adopted pretty much the same caricature. They know that “arrogant liberal mocks salt-of-the-earth diner guy” stories are catchy. They sell. They pop. Everybody knows the caricature already…

My point: if the media wants to reinforce a narrative of snooty coastal libs looking down their noses at heartland rubes — and it *very, very much wants to* — there’s no stopping it. There’s no way for every single lib to speak so carefully that nothing can be distorted. And, conversely, it hardly matters at all what Dems decide they want to communicate to S&RW. They can craft empathetic messages until they’re blue in the face — THEY DON’T CONTROL WHAT THOSE PEOPLE HEAR. (Sorry for yelling.)

….

Related:
The Poisoning of American Discourse By Right-Wing Media
Source: Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly, May 25, 2018

Is this the new normal we have to get used to?

A New Strategy for Democrats in the Old South
Source: Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly, May 23, 2018

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams is the first African American woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the country’s history.

Attending Protests Isn’t the Only Way to Be An Activist

Source: Amnesty International USA, Teen Vogue – Civil Discourse 101, May 29, 2018

Teen Vogue’s Civil Discourse 101 features Amnesty International USA staff members, who answer questions from young activists as part of its #Right2Protest series. ….

…. Protesting is only one tactic in the toolbox of direct action, and direct action is only one (albeit large) part of efforts to achieve social justice. There are many other ways to be involved and enact meaningful change that don’t include participating in a protest. ….