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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Is Trump Planning to Skip the Presidential Debates?

Several times during the Republican National Convention, I found myself in the midst of conversations—with journalists, delegates, and others—about whether or not Donald Trump would bother to participate in the presidential debates this fall.

Forecasting Trump’s decisions is impossible, but if the Republican nominee decides he wants to skip at least one debate, he started laying the groundwork this weekend. Late Friday night, he tweeted an accusation that Democrat Hillary Clinton was trying to rig the debate schedule:

He repeated that thrust during an interview on ABC’s This Week. “Well, I'll tell you what I don't like. It's against two NFL games, I got a letter from the NFL saying, this is ridiculous, why are the debates—because the NFL doesn't want to go against the debates,” he said.

Trump was lying on both counts. There’s no evidence of Clinton tampering with debate dates, and as CNN’s Brian Stelter pointed out to Trump spokesman Jason Miller, the...

The Battle Between Clinton and Trump is a Modern Morality Play

It’s a cliche of US elections that candidates appeal to more extreme flanks of their bases to win their parties’ primaries and then hastily sand down the edges of their positions to please the center’s undecided voters. Yet, like so much else in 2016, the received wisdom has been flung out the window.

Pundits were surprised by the progressive, populist-tinged vim of Hillary Clinton’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination on Thursday. Just as many—Quartz included—were astonished by Donald Trump’s refusal to moderate his authoritarian tone at the Republican convention address a week earlier. It was perhaps their single-biggest chance of the election to make their messages expansive enough to win over undecided moderates. Neither seemed to care.

Hunkered down in their ideological corners, Clinton and Trump could have been talking about two wholly different countries.

And in a way, they were. Their convention themes described visions of the American moral order that light up the brains of different types of voters, appealing to discrete layers of the US electorate. Both candidates went for intensity over breadth. However, of the two, Trump exhibited a much deeper and more strategic understanding of human nature, as he...

Hillary Clinton Has Taught Us That 'Likability' is a Terrible Way to Choose Presidents

“Likability” is a mishmash of recycled Victorian gender norms that keeps women out of power. In the realm of politics, it devastates. Just ask Hillary Clinton:

Is Hillary ‘Likable Enough’?

Hillary Clinton Has a Likability Problem

Is Hillary Clinton Likable Enough to Beat Donald Trump?

These eye-roll-inducing headlines account for just a smattering of the digital detritus that litters our daily news diet. Likability is an inherently subjective, often sexist metric for professional ability. And yet, Hillary’s “likability” has preoccupied not only the great minds of media but also the masterminds of the Democratic National Convention. Indeed, the goal of the 2016 DNC, according to a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal, was to “Make Hillary Likeable Again” [sic]. (Perhaps, in order to fully intimate the idiocy of Donald Trump, the misspelling is intentional?) Indeed, in a column for the Los Angeles Times, Doyle McManus writes that Hillary’s biggest challenge is “mak[ing] herself seem likable enough for Americans to want her in their living rooms.”

Yawn. How many ways can you peel a banana? Well, if the banana’s name is Hillary Clinton, an infinite number.

More importantly, given the history of the exclusion...

Hillary Clinton, As Defined by 12 Years of Google Searches

Hillary Clinton’s Twitter bio is mildly provocative, but only if you can appreciate the cultural baggage that comes with it.

The presidential candidate describes herself as a “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.”

In a culture that prizes political power and encourages people to compartmentalize different aspects of their identities, it’s perhaps unexpected to see “Secretary of State” as No. 7 on the list. (Then again maybe not: Women who are mothers are often expected to define themselves first in domestic terms, regardless of their professional accomplishments. Recall the 2013 obituary for Yvonne Brill in The New York Times, which described her as a mom who left work to raise her children and the maker of a “mean beef stroganoff,” and—in the next paragraph—“also a brilliant rocket scientist.”)

Motherhood isn’t necessarily a status that ambitious women are taught to trumpet in the professional world. While men get a pay bump for being fathers,women’s pay drops with each additional child.

Clinton, in particular, has had a difficult time as a wife and mother in the public eye. In 1992, she set off a firestorm...

Why ‘Woman’ Isn’t Hillary Clinton’s Trump Card

At a recent rally on Roosevelt Island in New York City, Hillary Clinton remarked that she wanted the United States to be a place “where a father can tell his daughter yes, you can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States.”

According to some polls, parents can already tell their daughters that people will vote for a female president, and gender should not factor into Secretary Clinton’s candidacy for the highest office in this country. While America has not ever had a woman president, polls have documented that the majority of Americans have been ready to vote for a woman for president for several decades.

That wasn’t always the case. In 1937, 17 years after women obtained the vote, only 33 percent of those polled responded positively to George Gallup’s question: “If your party nominated a woman for president, would you vote for her if she were qualified for the job?”

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, support gradually grew, crossing 50 percent near the end of the 1960s. The population that openly disagreed with such a statement fell into single digits by 1999. In 2012, 95 percent of the public said they...

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