Suggestions to Make the Internet Better for Democracy

How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire by Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomeratsev in the Atlantic is an article about the way the current nature of the internet, in general, and social media, specifically, are harmful, or even hostile, to democracy. The authors also recommend several specific suggestions to change this. The writers seem optimistic that their suggestion could actually significantly improve the internet, making it a more viable for democracy, if their recommendations are adopted (which is another matter).

I do believe improvements can be made to at least reduce the toxicity and dysfunction of the information and discussion space produced by the internet. But I do have some critiques of their recommendations.

I’ll go over these soon, but for now I recommend others to read this article.

What Are the Red Lines Trump Must Not Cross for Trump Supporters?

Where is the red line(s) that Donald Trump could not cross? The line(s) that if Trump crosses would lead to congressional Republicans, GOP leadership, and Trump supporters abandoning their support for Trump, and even strongly opposing him? The line that if Trump crosses would warrant the end of a presidency, either through intense public backlash or impeachment and removal? Do any of these lines exist?

Since none of the congressional Republicans, GOP party leaders, or prominent pundits have called for an end to Trump’s presidency, we can conclude the following are NOT red lines for these Trump supporters:

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Are Democrats and Republicans Largely the Same? Or, Is One Party Worse Than the Other?

In these last four years, the GOP has shown me to be much worse than the Democrats. I never questioned their patriotism, commitment to the rule of law and Constitution prior to 2016. I believed that many had real convictions in conservative principles. Right now, besides power, I think they only care about tax cuts (and I think that’s related to their power as well).

But I’m not comfortable viewing the parties this way, as this is the way partisans think. Their perception of the other side is often a distortion, seeing them in the worst possible light. How do I know I’m not doing that now? I don’t think I can fully know.

That’s where this thread comes in. I’d like to gather evidence to support or refute my current perception. I welcome others to provide examples/evidence.

I will close with another basis for my perception. While both sides often portray the other side in the worst possible light, the last four years seem to have supported Democrats’ depictions of Republicans, rather than the other way around. For example, some Democrats have accused Republicans of being racist. I never thought this prior to 2016, but now this accusation isn’t easy to dismiss. Republicans characterized Democrats as socialists and/or communists, but Joe Biden was the Democratic nominee. (To be fair, the support for Sanders is not insignificant.) There’s more that could be said, and I hope this claim I’m making can be further scrutinized.

What Are the Top Ways Managers Screw Up?

See this thread and add your responses:

Here are some comments and questions:

  • Reading the comments makes me wonder about the number of people that can actually be good managers. It seems like workplaces are teeming with bad managers. A part of me feels like many people could be competent, but not great, managers–if they developed the appropriate skillset. But many of these would have some flaws that would prevent them from being truly excellent. Maybe the pool of great managers is really, really small.
  • Another possibility is that many workplaces either don’t value good management or don’t properly develop good managers. In either situation, employees with the potential to be good managers never realize this. By the way, failure to value or develop good management is often a function of a good management. That is, the quality of management at the top can have a huge impact of the quality of management in the layers below them. This is one reason good management is so critical!
  • In government, if the incentives for excellent work is minimal, this will likely create an workplace that will lack good management. The disincentives for good managements will be too high and the incentives will be too low.
  • I almost feel like if one works under a manager that is not awful, one should be grateful. It’s the most one can reasonably expect, which is a sad statement.

The Failure to Prosecute People Who Committed Crimes is a Part of Our Criminal Justice System

A thread from a UNC law professor goes over that. The thread started in response to a headline that said the FBI and DOJ were considering not charging all the rioters at Capitol on January 6. Some people naturally reacted with outrage to that, and Prof. Byrne Hessick wrote a threat in response:

I completely understand why people are angry about this. But the truth is that the criminal justice system routinely fails to prosecute people who are obviously guilty of crimes. It’s at the very core of modern criminal justice enforcement. It’s a serious problem that most Americans don’t know this. But we routinely fail to prosecute people who have obviously committed crimes. We just don’t have the capacity to pursue all of those cases. Part of the problem is that we’ve made too many things illegal. Another problem is that we’ve refused sufficiently fund the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges we’d need for full enforcement. But we also don’t have the cultural commitment to full enforcement. This isn’t just a question of partisan politics. And it isn’t just about race either. We’ve literally built a system predicated on partial enforcement of the criminal laws. In sum, if you’re angry about this, I understand. But that anger probably means you need to pay more attention to the criminal justice system generally, and not just when a bunch of losers storm the Capitol. A big hello to everyone in my mentions who are here to tell me that *they* know how prosecutors use their discretion to prosecute only certain groups of defendants. Please share your dataset with those of us who actually studprosecutors’ decisionmaking. We’d love to see it!

I wanted to chime in and say that this resonates with me, based on my work experiences. I think what she’s saying applies to many, if not most situations, that involve the enforcement of rules–specifically, situations where pursuing every infraction and meting out the appropriate consequences is not practical. Workplaces and schools are some examples.

What are the implications of this? And is there an alternate system that would prosecute every infraction, and would that be desirable? What are these systems? I’ll try to answer that in the rest of this post (in the comments section).

What Should the Biden Administration, Congress, and State AGs Do About Trump Now?

Trump’s absence (or minimal references to him) on twitter and the news has been wonderful. (I’m sorry if these words and this post ruins this moment.) But there is a really serious question about how the Biden DOJ, Congress, and State AGs should proceed–specifically, with regard to convicting Trump of impeachment charges and investigating and prosecuting him for federal and state crimes. (Note: I’m starting a separate thread instead of including this in the Biden Administration threat because I didn’t want to mess that one up with this topic.)

This op-ed by George Conway lays out the potential state and federal crimes. I highly recommend reading this article, as it provides a good overview of these potential crimes, and the costs and benefits with pursuing or forgoing prosecution. It’s important that Americans understand the number and seriousness of potential crimes and misdeeds. These are not trivial issues. Here are some general points that I think are important:

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Biden Administration: Foreign Policy

A thread to discuss foreign policy under the Biden Administration.

Here’s something to start. This is good news to my ears.