Unsurprising is Significant: Thoughts on 2017 Election Cycle

After the elections on Tuesday, there have been two primary strains of reaction: exuberant sigh of relief from Democrats/rising panic for Republicans, or, like FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, the elections were somewhat unremarkable since the results were expected given an unpopular Republican president and that the elections were taking place in places that usually vote Democrat.…

The Trump administration and defining down the acceptable

There is a sociological concept, succinctly described in a 1993 essay for the American Scholar by Daniel Patrick Moynihan entitled “Defining Deviancy Down,” that the level of perceived crime, or anything considered unacceptable, is constant over time, regardless of whether the true level of crime increases or decreases. In other words, a society of saints…

The Trump video in context: Why nothing should change

By now most people have read about and/or watched the disturbing video of Trump bragging about his ability to force himself on women (I wonder how long the Washington Post had that one tucked away…).  New shock waves about how someone so crass and so lacking integrity could get so close to our highest office.…

The Conundrum of Hegemony

The question of the United States’ role in the world, particularly with international institutions, has emerged as a common theme in this electoral cycle.  And while this theme is a common discussion, this time is particularly unique because it highlights the intrinsic tensions between a hegemonic power exercising its influence and contributing to its own…