Open tabs, January 25


  • Apropos of the return of Donald Trump’s lie about voter fraud, Brian Fogerty and colleagues find that local media were complicit in placing voter fraud on the public agenda, despite no evidence of it occurring in any significant way. This was especially true in battleground states and states with new voter ID laws. This is a terrific example of why agenda-setting is important, and why “balanced,” “objective” reporting can still warp public opinion.
  • The New Haven, CT, metro area is the one with demographics most similar to those of the entire country today, according to a 538 analysis. Milwaukee, WI, ground zero for vote suppression and the rise of the new radical Right, is sixth-most similar. The list of those most similar today to the country’s demographics in the 1950s is a mix of the Rust Belt, the interior South, and Utah.
  • One of the issues that came up in organizing the local edition of the Women’s March was the explicit but softly enforced “ban” on naming Trump specifically on signs. Back in November, Jesse Singal wrote about why that was important: “The general advice I heard from researchers, over and over again, all fit in the same general category: Make the barrier to entry as low as possible; make the protests as inclusive as possible. Sometimes, this will involve moves that feel counterintuitive. For example, Rojas said that while the reason everyone will be gathering in D.C. is obviously Trump’s election, protest organizers should downplay the focus on Trump himself and make things more issue-oriented. ‘What I would recommend is instead of having an anti-Trump inaugural protest, try to break the protests up into issue-oriented marches,’ he said. ‘And I think they’re already doing that,’ he added, in the case of the Women’s March.” The just-announced Scientists’ March follows this pattern.
  • Jacob T. Levy’s December article, “The Defense of Liberty Can’t Do Without Identity Politics,” struck me as so overwhelmingly important that I could never figure out how to write about it. Then it sat open in my browser for a month and a half. Levy writes: “If you think—as I think any liberal who cares about liberty, whether classical, market, neo-, welfarist, Rawlsian, or whatever, must—that the combination of mass incarceration and aggressive policing amounts to a grave injustice, then you need to be able to think in race-conscious terms. What brought about this crisis? The war on drugs and police militarization, some readers will say. Okay, but what brought about the war on drugs and police militarization? The answer isn’t some simple intellectual mistake. The answer is deeply tied up in American racial politics.” That anyone who self-identifies as a liberal does not understand and acknowledge this is maddening.
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