The American Spring

February 5, 2017
It is only the third week of the Trump Administration, but we have witnessed an almost unprecedented wave of protests against the new administration. These protests started literally on the day after the inauguration, with one of the largest rallies ever recorded, spanning the whole globe, the "Women's March" which started in Washington DC but spread to most major cities in the U.S. and many cities across the globe (a reported 3-4 million marching across the U.S.).  

The protests continued in the second week of Trump administration after the ban on travel was announced by refugees and non-citizens, with nearly spontaneous protests occurring at airports across the U.S. and at the White House.

I am thinking that we should call this the "AMERICAN SPRING." Why?

In the 2010-12 period a series of protests spread across Arab countries, demonstrations that were often "organic" and large led by the "people", very democratic.  They demanded change from the regime, which they said were following oppressive practices. Sometimes these demonstrations even led to the overthrow of governments (in Tunisia, Egypt).  These protests became called the "Arab Spring".  What connected these demonstrations were the democratic nature of them but also how "social media" also often if not usually fed these protests.

This is why I am thinking the "American Spring" may be a good name for what is happening in the U.S. right now. I have seen the protests fed by social media -- messages sent from person to another on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  The protests are in almost all cases nonviolent and very democratic, in the sense that the crowds include many types of people from many movements.  Since we are in the third week of the Trump administration the protests don't seem to letting up at all yet.  As we move from the winter to the spring, where will the "American Spring" end?


 

Too Close to Call

June 5, 2016

One of my (many) pet peeves about political reporting in election years is how the media reports polling data.

A few years ago reporters were trained to report not just the point estimates from a poll (that is, say that Clinton leads Sanders 49% to 47%) but the so-called "margin of error (MOE)" (+-3%) and that if the margin between the candidates is less than the MOE, it is "too close to call".  That's good.

However, the press often makes the mistake of saying this also means it's a "dead heat"...
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Electoral Math

May 22, 2016

One of the common mistakes people seem to make around now, in every Presidential election year, is to become fixated on nationwide popular vote polls.

The problem is that these are rather meaningless in telling us much at all about who will win the election.  That is because we elect a President using the ELECTORAL COLLEGE, not by popular vote.  Why this simple fact seems to be lost on the media is beyond me.  I can understand more why the public is confused by this we do such a poor job of te...
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Delegate math

May 22, 2016

The backers of Bernie Sanders make a big deal of complaining about the "Superdelegates," claiming that the process is "unfair."  More on that later.

But consider this. What if the Democrats had NO Superdelegates?  Let's just assume for discussion the nomination was based not on choosing 4,763 delegates but 4,051 "pledged delegates" (chosen by the process of primaries and caucuses).

So far, here is how the numbers break out for the two candidates on pledged delegates:

Clinton:   1,769 (54%)
Sander...
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What Explains the Trump Phenomenon?

May 13, 2016

Like almost everyone, I have been trying to figure out how it was possible that a person who has never held public office before, and who may not actually be a Republican, could be on the verge of gaining the Republican nomination.   Many conservatives cannot figure this out, especially given that he holds views that are diametrically opposed to most Republican orthodoxy.

There is no doubt that Trump has gained a large number of votes, over 10 million, which at this point are the second most e...

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Don't know nothing about history...

September 15, 2015
Apparently Americans really don't know much about history (guess that is obvious!)

More surprising, apparently the press doesn't know it either, or so-called "political pundits."

If they knew history they would know we have seen the likes of Donald Trump before: that is, a politician who uses over-the-top rhetoric designed to appeal to the prejudices of the masses, their fears and rile them up.

Examples abound, such as Huey Long, Father Coughlin, Franics Townsend, Jospeh McCarthy.  All of these ...
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Understanding political numbers

September 15, 2015
As I watch the 2016 election roll out, and again watch (with my usual disappointment) the pundits talk about the election, I am amazed that people seem to lack a simple understanding of electoral math.

Let's start with a simple story now dominating everyone's attention.  Donald Trump's so-called "surge."  

Well to understand that, remember two important things: if the polls are right he has about 30% support of REPUBLICANS and has a big lead (mean a plurality) over the other 15 candidates in th...
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From Birmingham to Charleston: Maybe we can prove the terrorist's theory wrong

June 20, 2015
Like most others, I have profoundly moved, saddened, angered by the senseless murder of nine people in a Church by the young thug, who espoused racist views and felt this action might somehow lead to a "new civil war."

I have thought a lot lately about the horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, when four little girls lost their lives and others were injured.  The parallel between that attack on a Church and this one, purposely taking the lives of the most fai...
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Baltimore and the New Civil Rights Movement: Learning the Lessons of Ferguson

May 1, 2015

Today marks another milestone in what we here in St. Louis have been calling the “new Civil Rights Movement.”  Here, for those of us who lived through the tumultuous events surrounding the tragic death of Michael Brown, we feel that this event last summer sparked a new, urgent emphasis on the underlying issues brought up by that tragic event, and everything that followed.

The Baltimore City Attorney’s decision today to charge all six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, afte...


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A holiday wish for St. Louis and beyond

December 25, 2014

These past few months have been difficult ones for the St. Louis region. On Christmas morning I find myself reflecting on that, as well as the gifts I personally have, but also my thoughts and prayers for the future for our region.

While there are indeed many people in the St. Louis region who have been hurting these past few months -- from the victims of the violence, to law enforcement officials, to concerned citizens -- that very visible pain and suffering can often mask the real story.

Perh...
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About Me


Timothy McBride Timothy D. McBride, Ph.D. is a Professor at the Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis. Here you can find musings on health policy and other issues. Opinions are mine and not those of my employer. Contact: mcbridetd@gmail.com