Daily Clips: January 13th, 2016

Obama calls for an end to gerrymandering in the State of the Union: 

First, Obama said, “We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around.” The president has condemned gerrymandering before — for instance, in his January 2015 interview with Vox — but many political scientists think his emphasis on it as a key cause of polarization is a bit misplaced. And, ironically, a well-executed gerrymander of the Illinois state Senate was a key step in Obama’s rise to political prominence, as Ryan Lizza chronicled in a 2008 New Yorker article.

Nikki Haley’s message to America: For those of you that didn’t tune in, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley offered the GOP response to President Obama’s address. Her message was on point and savvy. She disavowed Trumpian anger and didn’t solely put blame on Democrats for the state of politics in America:

There is more than enough blame to go around. We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.

It was an incredibly good speech (even though I disagreed with her solutions) and one that should launch her into VP talk.

The age of protest: Thomas Friedman’s latest column is a thing of beauty. He argues that in the 21st century distance between individuals and injustice has shrunk. He quotes Dov Seidman to illustrate this point:

“People everywhere seem to be morally aroused,” said Seidman. “The philosopher David Hume argued that ‘the moral imagination diminishes with distance.’ It would follow that the opposite is also true: As distance decreases, the moral imagination increases. Now that we have no distance — it’s like we’re all in a crowded theater, making everything personal — we are experiencing the aspirations, hopes, frustrations, plights of others in direct and visceral ways.”

That resonates with me. As a guy who spends most of his day caught up in the web of social media, every little injustice feels so personal, so important. It can overwhelm. There are many days I go home and feel exhausted with the state of the world. This feeling has led to what Friedman calls “the age of protest” and he warns us that although this is a good thing, we also must be self-aware about it:

But when moral arousal manifests as moral outrage, [Seidman] added, “it can either inspire or repress a serious conversation or the truth.” There is surely a connection between the explosion of political correctness on college campuses — including Yale students demanding the resignation of an administrator whose wife defended free speech norms that might make some students uncomfortable — and the ovations Donald Trump is getting for being crudely politically incorrect.

Nick Cassella

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