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Excellent piece by Yuval Levin from Commentary Magazine on the threat President Trump will pose to institutions, pluralism and – in the end – the American way of life. Full text Donald Trump’s insurgent takeover of the Republican Party and his victory in the 2016 election together constitute the culmination of a series of institutional breakdowns across American society that have been under way for decades. Trump channeled the electorate’s deep frustrations with… Read More

American populism according to Niall Ferguson. In this recent talk he explains what is needed for ‘peak populism’ to get hold of America, as we see happening now. The context is set by four ingredients: 1) a surge in immigration 2) rising inequality 3) the perception of corruption 4) a financial crisis. Add a fifth ingredient, a demagogue, and the recipe starts to work. Trump, as phenomenon, is not unprecedented. Ferguson takes… Read More

Donald J. Trump has been elected President of the United States and will succeed Barack Obama early 2017. The campaign between the two flawed candidates was ugly, negative and intense. The outcome is nothing short of stunning. And has unveiled a divided America. In the coming days a million explanations, analyses and comments will flood the media and the internet. Please make sure to watch Jonathan Haidt explain the challenges America – and… Read More

Reading this interview with J.D. Vance is one of the best ways to better understand the motives of Trump’s electorate. Vance is the eloquent and reasonable voice of conservative America. Here’s the full transcript of the interview: Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People – The American Conservative By Rod Dreher On July 22, 2016  I wrote last week about the new nonfiction book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis [1] by J.D. Vance, the Yale… Read More

Understanding Trump by George Lakoff A lot has  being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have… Read More

Strong and insightful American Interest article by Jonathan Haidt on how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between nationalism and globalism. What on earth is going on in the Western democracies? From the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and an assortment of right-wing parties across Europe through the June 23 Brexit vote, many on the Left have the sense that something dangerous and ugly is spreading: right-wing… Read More

We keep cultivating this mythical image of a strong leader. It’s time for some nuance. A good start would be to make way for women. Men tend to think that they are smarter than women – and this confidence takes them to the top. Yet this hubris says nothing about their real talent for leadership – and is actually responsible for their inevitable fall. Read the whole article “Why do so  many… Read More

We dangerously underestimate the risk of populism in this ultra-democratic era. American democracy is in danger of extinction. In an erudite New York Magazine article, Andrew Sullivan  links Plato’s warning on late-stage democracy, the problematic role of our emotional mass media, the economic stagnation of the American middle class, identity politics, fascism, and people’s preference for oversimplified solutions to our complex problems – into a vigorous appeal to do anything possible to… Read More

Obama’s foreign policy is widely criticized for being dangerously reluctant (drawing unimpressive red lines for instance) and too timid (America shouldn’t be leading ‘from behind’). In this Atlantic article the president speaks at length about his decisions and doesn’t shy away from sharing his doubts. We get a front row seat at many important moments over the last 7 years. I wish more presidents were as reflective on their policy as Obama…. Read More

The Rolling Stone long-read that caused quite some online stir, arguing that the the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show, in which Donald Trump makes the winning point that the regular guy has been screwed by a conspiracy of incestuous elites. The author,  Matt Taibbi, ends his piece with what a cri de coeur: “King Trump. Brace yourselves, America. It’s really happening.”  

Pretty lousy actually, as this short World Economic Forum article about our past attempts illustrates. To me, the historic examples also demonstrate that we tend to think in incremental changes (rolling house, flying postman) – we’re just not wired to imagine the unknown.  

Sarah Palin is back: whatever you may think of her, she gives a fascinating endorsement speech. Enjoy.  

This unique 75-year long Harvard research followed more than 700 men from teenager to old age, with one simple goal; to understand what makes them happy and healthy.The short answer is: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Three lessons can be drawn: 1) social connections ensure a longer life, healthier life. 2) it’s not the number, but the quality of close relationships that matter 3) good relationships protect our brain; memories… Read More

What is to become of Europe, now that it is in the midst of a perfect storm of several crises: recovering from a deep recession, coping with an unprecedented number of asylum seekers and refugees, not being able to protect its borders, terrorist attacks and – as a result – declining trust of its citizens? In this Foreign Affairs article Oxford Professor Woods argues that the most likely prospect is a more… Read More

Sometimes it seems all innovation is disruptive and all start-ups will change our lives, but as this HBR article explains the term is often wrongly used and can be misleading. And – spoiler alert – Uber doesn’t fit the label.

Interesting Politico piece arguing we don’t really care about the truth, the reason why so many politicians get away with lies. We are inclined to believe them unless we have a previous reason not to believe them. It’s all about cognitive dissonance. Related, some insight on whether the Republican party will survive the Donald.