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Nationalism and the future of higher education

John Douglass, senior research fellow, Center for Studies in Higher Education | November 20, 2017

(These remarks were delivered at the opening of a Nov. 16-17 conference observing the 60th anniversary of UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, held in partnership with University World News, and exploring the influence of nationalism on major national universities around the world.) With varying levels of intensity, university are extensions of the … Continue reading »

Explaining Orthodox Jews’ growing support for the Trump presidency

David Henkin, professor of history | November 9, 2017

(This is cross-posted from the site, Public Books, where it appeared as the 24th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.) Exit polls conducted during the 2016 election yielded a fact about the political allegiances of American Jews that … Continue reading »

Wealthy investors to win bigly with Republicans’ proposed tax plan

Gabriel Zucman, Assistant professor of economics |

By Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez This blog is cross-posted from the Berkeley Opportunity Lab and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. The tax plan released by Republicans in Congress and praised by President Trump is a remarkable document in many ways, but most notably in that it achieves just the opposite of its stated goal. Presented … Continue reading »

Taxpayers, indirect subsidies and influencing America’s gun lobby

Brian DeLay, Associate professor of history | October 10, 2017

After Stephen Paddock opened fire on Las Vegas concertgoers on Oct. 1, many people responded with calls for more gun control to help prevent mass shootings and the routine violence ravaging U.S. neighborhoods. But besides a rare consensus on restricting the availability of so-called bump stocks, which Paddock used to enable his dozen semi-automatic rifles to fire like machine guns, it’s unclear if anything meaningful will … Continue reading »

It’s the German economy, stupid! Economic inequality, not immigration, explains far right rise in Germany

Beverly Crawford, Professor emerita, Political Science and International and Area Studies | September 27, 2017

The surprise showing of the far-right nationalist party, Alternativ fuer Deutschland (AfD) in Sunday’s German election has struck fear in the hearts of many analysts. Is Germany’s liberal democracy and society simply a thin veneer covering the monster of virulent nationalism that has long been crouching in the dark, waiting for its chance to attack? … Continue reading »

Using explanatory journalism to fight polarization and dysfunction

Thomas Mann, resident scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies | March 4, 2016

In the present-day world of media and politics, we live (as the saying goes) in the best of times and the worst of times. A motivated consumer of information on politics and policy — the ideal citizen in a representative democracy — has access to an unprecedented number of sources of excellent journalism in a … Continue reading »

Donald Trump and friendly fascism reconsidered

Charles Henry, professor emeritus, African American studies | August 7, 2015

Donald Trump’s entrance into the presidential sweepstakes and substantial lead in the polls reminds me of the warnings issued 35 years ago in Bertram Gross’s widely read Friendly Fascism. Gross was concerned that the ever-closer integration of Big Business and Big Government could well lead to a new, kinder, gentler form of fascism — a fascism that … Continue reading »

Polarization, policymaking, & public service: A review of Barney Frank’s memoir

Thomas Mann, resident scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies | April 21, 2015

It is not obvious that the memoir of a recently-retired, sixteen-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives is a promising candidate for a book review on government reform.  Vivid narrative, compelling personal stories, passionate advocacy, and lacerating wit may make for a great read.  And Barney Frank’s Frank: A Life in Politics From the … Continue reading »

Unaccountability is bad for public health and democracy

Bruce Newsome, Lecturer in International Relations | March 31, 2015

The British Parliament’s Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has reported that the authorities for investigating healthcare failures in Britain are too numerous and unaccountable. I am pleased that at least one committee has criticized the structure of British healthcare, but the PASC airily follows all previous inquiries by recommending a lot of cultural change, and … Continue reading »

When a polling place is someone’s garage, is a ‘redesign’ realistic?

Karin Mac Donald, director, Election Administration Research Center | October 31, 2014

I read with interest a recent opinion piece for WIRED magazine titled “America’s polling places desperately need a redesign.” In it, author Ted Selker — an inventor, design consultant and member of the Accessible Voting Team at UC Berkeley — describes the physical limitations of many polling places across the country (where everything from wheelchair … Continue reading »

Pollworker 101: How a few crazy hats can make our democracy stronger

Karin Mac Donald, director, Election Administration Research Center | October 29, 2014

It’s election season in California, which means that the state’s 58 county Registrar of Voters offices are buzzing with activities – everything from designing, printing and mailing ballots to finalizing voter-registration rolls and ordering precinct supplies. Each task that staff in these offices perform factors into an election’s success, and there’s little-to-no room for error: … Continue reading »

Cyberphysical democracy: online platforms and offline action

Camille Crittenden, Deputy Director, CITRIS | May 15, 2014

“The more digital the world becomes, the more appetite people have for real things.” (Alan Rusbriger of  The Guardian, in a  NY Times Magazine interview, March 7, 2014) New platforms for civic engagement are leveraging the power of the Internet to bring constituents’ opinions to the doorstep of the politicians who represent them. The field … Continue reading »

The perils of rail transit and democracy

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | March 24, 2014

Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect result, from Obamacare to budget … Continue reading »

The filibuster and the environment

Dan Farber, professor of law | November 25, 2013

In the short run, limiting the filibuster will strengthen the hands of environmental regulators. What about the long run effects? The filibuster arguably served a useful function when it allowed the minority to block action in extraordinary cases where its views were especially intense.  It became no longer tolerable when it became a routine barrier … Continue reading »

Leave election integrity to chance

Philip Stark, professor of statistics | July 17, 2013

How do we know whether the reported winners of an election really won? There’s no perfect way to count votes. To paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant and Richard M. Nixon, “Mistakes will be made.” Voters don’t always follow instructions. Voting systems can be mis-programmed, as they were last year in Palm Beach, Florida. Ballots can be … Continue reading »

The two centers of unaccountable power in America, and their consequences

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | June 17, 2013

There are two great centers of unaccountable power in the American political-economic system today — places where decisions that significantly affect large numbers of Americans are made in secret, and are unchecked either by effective democratic oversight or by market competition. One goes by the name of the “intelligence community” and its epicenter is the … Continue reading »