Figuring out where to house mountains of data collected by the National Security Agency is the thorniest challenge the United States faces in curtailing its massive surveillance, officials said Sunday. In a long-awaited speech designed to quell a furor…
America is facing four distinct threats to democracy as the country prepares for the 2022 midterm elections, according to a new analysis in Vox.
"Leading Democrats, many academics, liberal commentators, and left-leaning activists agree: American democracy is in grave peril. It’s besieged on all sides, the threats culminating so far in Donald Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election from Joe Biden. More tumult likely lies ahead," Andrew Prokop wrote. "Too often, though, all this tends to be conflated and treated as similarly urgent in what has become a thinkpiece-industrial complex about democracy’s peril, and by a liberal establishment mostly concerned with offering reasons to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans. These threats may well have a common root, but they are distinct problems that would have separate solutions."
Prokop wrote that the "most dangerous scenario" may be efforts at direct election theft like Trump's "big lie" inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"In this line of thinking, the many other issues liberals care about — voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, the Senate’s rural skew, Trump’s election in the first place — pale in importance when compared to the attempted theft of 2020. Institutional biases or voter suppression might affect election outcomes on the margin. But election theft is about throwing out the results entirely," he explained.
One week after Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) sided with Republicans to preserve the filibuster, minority rule is the second threat Prokop identified.
"Yet many Democrats, activists, and academics aren’t just worried about elections being outright stolen. They’re also concerned that Republicans could consistently win elections while lacking a majority of overall votes nationwide," he wrote. "This, they argue, is an affront to the core democratic principle that a majority should prevail, and to the idea that some people’s votes shouldn’t be worth more than others."
Voter suppression was identified as the third threat to democracy.
"This effort accelerated in 2021 with a set of new laws in GOP-controlled states. Some toughened voter ID requirements, some are reduced the time in which mail ballots can be requested, some limited drop boxes, some made it easier to 'purge' voter rolls. Republicans claim they’re simply rolling back pandemic expansions or trying to combat possible fraud, but occasionally a Republican admits these measures are aimed at helping their party win," he wrote. "Biden and others have compared these laws to the old Jim Crow laws of the South."
Irresponsibility by Republicans in the era of Trump was the fourth threat to democracy.
"Finally, some liberals would define the threat to democracy in even more worrying terms. It wouldn’t just be a stolen election, or a Republican win without a majority of votes — any Republican victory at all is a threat, because of what the GOP might use its powers to do next time around," he wrote. "Trump’s actions, and the willingness of so much of the GOP to excuse or accommodate them, indeed go a long way toward making the case that the GOP may well not respect future election results if it’s in power."
Read the full analysis.
For years, experts have noted the rise of the "Exvangelical" movement, in which young Christians are fleeing evangelical churches as the denominations take a hard right turn and push a strident political agenda, even endorsing former President Donald Trump — which is contributing to the decline of membership in organized religion in the United States.
But that could just be the beginning. On Tuesday, writing for The Guardian, University of Connecticut associate sociology professor Ruth Brownstein identified how the takeover of the Religious Right has reshaped the people who still identify as religious, including liberals.
"In a 2002 article, sociologists Michael Hout and Claude S Fischer argued that a significant trend in American religion – the skyrocketing number of people disaffiliating from religion – could be partly explained as a political backlash against the religious right," wrote Brownstein. "While pathbreaking, this research has been relatively narrow in its focus. This is because it has typically started with the puzzle of the rising 'nones' and worked backward in search of a cause, landing on backlash against the religious right. I wondered what would happen if we flipped this question around, and started with the rise of the religious right and public concerns about its radicalism. We could then consider the varied ways that backlash against it has manifested, including but not limited to the rise of the 'nones'."
"It can be found in rising numbers of people who identity as 'spiritual but not religious'," wrote Brownstein. "Similarly, those who associate with the religious left do not discredit religion in general, but promote what they view as a more pluralistic form of public religious expression ... Finally, new research finds that people who are both religious and politically liberal are intentionally distancing themselves from the religious right by depoliticizing their public religious expression – a development worthy of much more attention."
And the Religious Right is also purging itself of the unfaithful, noted Brownstein — with evangelical conservative officials opposed to Trump, like Peter Wehner, very much on the outside, and nonreligious conservatives adopting the identifier "evangelical" to signal their loyalty to Trump rather than to God.
"Backlash against the religious right has had ripple effects far more widespread than previously recognized," concluded Brownstein. "These dynamics are effectively reshaping American religion and politics, and show no signs of stopping."
You can read more here.
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained why it is "very significant" Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was granted permission to impanel a special grand jury to investigate Donald Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the election in Georgia.
Bharara, who was fired by Trump as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was interviewed on Tuesday by CNN's Brianna Keilar and John Berman.
"I want your take about Georgia right now, a special grand jury to investigate [Trump] on possible criminal activity there," Berman said. "What specific legal jeopardy do you think he's in?"
"Well, he's in criminal legal jeopardy," Bharara replied.
"I would say that we have been down this road before, where particular prosecutors or enforcement agencies open up investigations of people up to and including the president and we all follow it and we think it means sometimes more than it means. This is very significant, it is very focused, a specific request has been made to investigate criminally the conduct of the president of the United States in connection with the election in Georgia."
"But, we're not going to see anything immediately," he continued. "This special grand jury, first of all, won't begin its work for some weeks, if not months. The especially grand jury itself under Georgia law is not in the position to offer an indictment, it can only write a report and make a recommendation for an indictment from a regular grand jury. So it will be a two-step process. It will probably take many months, so it will be a while before we see any fruits of their efforts."
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