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Weekend Reads 8/4/18

A system under strain: Is US democracy showing real cracks?

On the national level, toxic tribalism has made the mere act of governing incredibly difficult. If the phrase that used to rule Capitol Hill was “go along to get along,” now it might be “tit-for-tat.” For voters, partisanship has become mixed with racial and religious identity, increasing animosity toward the other side. Big money pours into politics, further complicating the situation, while partisan media means shared truths are no longer a baseline.

The Alt-Right is Taking Over Renaissance Fairs

The significant overlap between Nazi fans and European history fans has led to a phenomenon medieval scholar Paul Sturtevant calls “Schrödinger’s Medievalism”: “a piece of medieval culture found in the wild that you know has been appropriated as a symbol by right-wing nationalists or racists ... You can’t tell which is it until you get more information—and sometimes doing so is impossible. So, sometimes you are left in the uncomfortable position of having to treat it as both benign and hostile at the same time.”

Is Hillsdale College Gaining the World and Losing Its Soul?

Pence began his remarks lamenting to the assembled graduates that it sometimes seems “that we live in an age of grim relativism,” then adding, “This class has seen the power of unchanging truth to change lives.” He praised the education that they had received. “We live in an age when too many disregard the wisdom of the past,” he said, but “you’ve been grounded in the teachings and traditions that are our greatest inheritance as Americans.”

Actually, Republicans Do Believe in Climate Change

Why is it so important to people whether climate policies are proposed by their own party or the opposing one? An interesting suggestion from our research is that Democrats and Republicans are swayed by partisanship because they think their fellow Democrats or fellow Republicans are even more swayed by partisanship — and they don’t want to break ranks.

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