Monday, December 9, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Michael Dorn, 61.

Good stuff:

1. Interesting point (and interesting data) about democracy and constitutions, from Xavier Marquez.

2. As regulars know, I'm quick to think the worst of Newt Gingrich, so I have to pay attention when Ta-Nehisi Coates approves of something he does.

3. Joshua Tucker reminds us to be cautious of "great man" theories.

4. While Stephen Benedict Tyson reminds us that sometimes, individual characteristics and choices matter. Both are right!

5. Want ACA stats? Kaiser has them.

6. Is there really going to be a permanent doc fix? Sarah Kliff reports.

7. And a great quote on parties from the 19th century, via Seth Masket.


  1. Until the 20th century, in the United States the word "democracy" was closely associated with the Democratic Party. In fact, the party was often called "the Democracy." For more on this, see the history of the word by linguist Geoff Nunberg, who brings an interesting quote from William Jennings Bryan:

    "I recognize... how much fidelity it requires to plead for Democracy in New England. Here in New England a man may be a Democrat with much credit. I am glad your committee called from the South a representative of Southern Democracy."

    To modern ears, remarks like this almost sound like the Democrats were puffing themselves up and implicitly attacking their opponents--sort of like the term "pro-life" today. ("We support democracy, the Republicans dictatorship....") But back then, the word "democracy" didn't suggest something universally accepted in the political mainstream, the way it does now. It was more akin to how we use words like conservative or progressive. In fact, as Nunberg notes, it had strong connotations of egalitarianism.

    1. Yes. If you click through the links within the Marquez post, you'll see that he's quite aware of these issues, although for whatever reason he stuck to a coding scheme that included only democracy, not republic.

  2. Pessimists, including me,were wrong about South Africa.

    I don't think I've ever heard anyone admit to being too optimistic about 'majority rule' in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia.


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