Jennifer Raymond Dresden, Ph.D.
It turns out that yesterday was not the busiest air travel day of the year in the United States. Neither is Sunday. (I know, I’m shocked too.) Statistics don’t help you much, though, if you’re currently stuck in an airport, sandwiched between your fellow disgruntled passengers in an overcrowded waiting area, or on a train or bus just trying to get to a loved one’s home for Turkey Day.
Never fear, though, we here at the Democracy & Governance Program have got you covered. While you’re in the air, on the rails, or on the road (assuming you’re not doing the driving), here are a few of the best democracy & governance reads from around the web the last few weeks.
-First up, for those of you in our international audience who may not be clear on what today’s Thanksgiving holiday is or how it came about, the good folks over at Newsweek have a helpful primer. How Americans celebrate has changed over the years too, as this report from NPR outlines. Among the stranger of American political traditions, the holiday now includes a presidential pardon for a turkey. And while most Americans gather around a less-fortunate turkey (or tofurkey) and stuffing, we are otherwise united only in our inability to agree about what else is necessary at the Thanksgiving table.
-Worried that Thanksgiving dinner conversation will degrade into an argument about how democracy isn’t working and our institutions have all gone down the tubes? Here’s some interactive advice for steering the conversation in a more constructive direction. At the very least, you can at least take comfort that you’re not alone. Check out this recent report from Georgetown University’s Baker Center, that finds that less than half of Americans are satisfied with how democracy is working in the United States. And lest you think the United States is alone in this, the Latinobarómetro survey released its latest report last week, finding that only 24% of Latin Americans are satisfied with democracy in their country, the lowest level in the survey’s two decades of polling.
-The New York Times’ report on Facebook executives’ handling of other governments’ efforts to sway American voters and other issues of privacy and transparency is damning. It’s also worth reading in full.
-It’s just over a year since Robert Mugabe was pushed out of power in Zimbabwe. The country is still far from qualifying as a democracy. Mwita Chacha and Jonathan Powell explain why over at The Monkey Cage. (If you want a refresher on what actually happened last year, check out our own Lexi Merrick Boiro’s analysis here at D&S Online.)
-On foreignpolicy.com earlier this month, Kate Cronin-Furman argued that the United States’ recent history of rewarding “progress” on human rights in Myanmar and Sri Lanka set the bar far too low. The piece has been making the rounds and prompts much-needed reflection on walking the tightrope between incentivizing reform and having realistic expectations.
-How can corrupt and struggling democratic governments be moved to address the glaring levels of violence in their countries? An interview with Rachel Kleinfeld explores the answers provided in her new book.
Good luck with your travels, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at the DG program. May your turkey be perfectly roasted, your dinner conversation civil, and your salad not made with romaine.
Jennifer Dresden, PhD, is Associate Director of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University.