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Friday, October 28, 2016


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'Black Jeopardy' Sketch Is Compelling Analysis, 'Slate' Correspondent Says

Heard on Morning Edition

Steve Inskeep talks to Jamelle Bouie of Slate, about the sketch on Saturday Night Live. He says it had more to say about race than a thousand tenderly crafted portraits of the white working class.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (As Johnny) This is "Black Jeopardy."
Those words began a recent "Saturday Night Live" skit which has captured more attention from political writers than many a political speech. On "Black Jeopardy," the host, Kenan Thompson, offers answers and questions you would supposedly only get right if you were clued in to black culture.
KENAN THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) Let's see our categories. We got...
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) ...Big Girls.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) I'm Gonna Pray On This.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) They Out Here Saying.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) And as always, White People.
INSKEEP: Yet, something happens in the skit after it's revealed that one of the three contestants is white, a blue collar guy in a Donald Trump make-America-great-again hat, played by Tom Hanks. Jamelle Bouie of Slate is one of many who wrote about this. And he's in our studios. Good morning, thanks for coming by.
JAMELLE BOUIE: Good morning, thank you for having me.
INSKEEP: OK. So let's listen to one of the exchanges involving Tom Hanks.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) They out here saying the new iPhone wants your thumbprint for your protection.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) Oh, OK then. Doug.
TOM HANKS: (As Doug) Well, what is - I don't think so. That's how they get you.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) Yes. Yes.
SASHEER ZAMATA: (As Keeley) I don't trust that.
LESLIE JONES: (As Shanice) Me, either.
HANKS: (As Doug) No, I read that goes straight to the government.
INSKEEP: So the African-American characters are saying, wait a minute. You're paranoid too.
BOUIE: (Laughter) Right. It's, you know, it's worth saying, right before this moment, they are very skeptical of Doug and whether or not he even belongs. But that answer and subsequent answers begins an interaction where the African-American characters - the two black contestants, Kenan Thompson and the audience, in a way - begins to see Doug as one of them, or at least someone who understands the world in similar ways as them.
INSKEEP: And why is that surprising?
BOUIE: I think it's surprising just as a viewer because when you see Doug's outfit or Tom Hanks' character, he's in this denim jacket. He is wearing the make-America-great-again hat.
INSKEEP: He's got the goatee.
BOUIE: Right, right. And you imagine that this is going to be a caricature and mainly poking fun at someone like Doug. But in fact, it is, I think, an attempt at building empathy, that Doug is blue-collar. African-American culture and especially the working culture of African-Americans is very much rooted in some kind of rural environment, as a lot of white-blue-collar culture is.
And both groups feel a kind of disenfranchisement, a kind of disempowerment that comes across how they understand the world. And so through this sketch - and it's very humorous and lighthearted - you begin to get inklings of that and evidence of that.
INSKEEP: You know, we had a conversation with President Obama in July. And he said something that I was reminded of when watching this skit. He was saying that historically in the South, you had African-Americans, and you had poor white people who were farmers, who were from similar economic backgrounds but kept apart by race. Is that the point of this skit here?
BOUIE: I think that is the point of this sketch, or at least one of the implications of the sketch up until the very end of the sketch. And so the last joke, the last - the last set-up is the Final Jeopardy! category, which is Lives That Matter.
INSKEEP: Let's listen to that. Let's listen to that last joke.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) Let's take a look at our Final Jeopardy! category - Lives That Matter.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) Well, it was good while it lasted, Doug.
HANKS: (As Doug) I know. I got a lot to say about this.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) Yeah, I'm sure you do.
THOMPSON: (As Darnell Hayes) When we come back...
INSKEEP: Everybody's looking at Doug. Everybody's looking at Doug to see if he wants to say which lives matter. He doesn't have anything to say at first.
BOUIE: Right, right. And I think the implication from Doug's answer or Doug's beginning of an answer - I have a lot of things to say about this - is that he isn't going to say what we as viewers know is the correct answer, Black Lives Matter. He might say, all lives matter or blue lives matter. Or he just might rant about the question in general. And I think that, that set-up and punchline recontextualizes the entire sketch. Before then, it is very much a sketch about common culture, about empathy.
But after that, it becomes a sketch about the chief obstacle, right? It becomes a sketch about the fact that black Americans have this core concern about their safety, about their status as equal citizens that is kind of overriding above all else. And if someone like Doug can't get behind it, then all that other common culture and common empathy sort of is irrelevant as far as politics goes. They can be friends. They can like each other. But they - if they're going to cooperate, they need to agree on this very core concern to black people.
INSKEEP: Is this sketch on "Saturday Night Live" saying something that a lot of political writing has not? There's been a lot of writing about Trump voters and other kinds of voters this year.
BOUIE: I think it is in sort of subtle ways. A lot of the writing on Trump voters this year has been very empathetic and very - you might even say sort of permissive about how voters are reacting. It sort of is - I wouldn't say it's denying them agency, but it kind of sidesteps the question of exactly who they are supporting and why - not why they are supporting, but the implications of their support. And it seems to suggest that there really aren't any consequences for other people from the support for Trump among some white working-class voters.
I think the sketch is push-back on that, which is that, yes, you know, if Trump voters are supporting a vision of America that does not have room for Black Lives Matter or for similar political movements - and that this is a real problem, that this is a real obstacle and that we shouldn't look past it just because people might really be suffering.
INSKEEP: OK. Well, Jamelle Bouie, thanks very much.
BOUIE: Thank you.
INSKEEP: He's chief political correspondent at Slate.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Psychedelics and Systems Change

Psychedelics and Systems Change

Prohibitionists are correct: The legalization of psychoactive drugs and psychedelics would indeed mean the end of society as we know it … and that’s a good thing.

By Charles Eisenstein, from MAPS Bulletin 
Summer 2016

“Mystical experiences often result in attitudes that threaten the authority not only of established churches, but also of secular society. Unafraid of death and deficient in worldly ambition, those who have undergone mystical experiences are impervious to threats and promises.”
Collage by Eugenia Loli/www.flickr.com/photos/eugenia_loli/

Many arguments for the legalization of cannabis and psychedelics draw on their relative harmlessness. Countering the rationale of prohibition, we can point out that compared to legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, psychedelics are extremely safe. Given statistics comparing the annual number of alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. (88,000) to the number of cannabis-related deaths (zero), the hysterical warnings of prohibitionists that legalization would destroy society as we know it seem ridiculous.

In fact, the prohibitionists are correct. The legalization of cannabis, LSD, MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and the other psychedelics would indeed mean the end of society as we know it. The threat that conservative political forces have identified is real. If these were just innocuous bourgeois playthings, “experiences” that one could consume on weekends to make life-as-usual a little more tolerable, then the guardians of the status quo would have little reason to prohibit them. They recognize, if only unconsciously, the revolutionary social and political potential these substances carry.

Psychedelics can bestow expanded consciousness, perceptions, and ways of being that are incompatible with those that undergird our society. Psychedelics have the power to subvert the alienation, competition, anthropocentrism, linear ordering of time and space, standardization of commodities and social roles, and reduction of reality to a collection of things that propel the world-destroying machine of modern civilization. They disrupt the defining mythology of our civilization, the Story of Separation.

The elements of the Story of Separation listed above also embed our economic system, which means that the spread of cannabis and psychedelics could have negative economic effects — that is, when we define economic benefit as the growth in monetized goods and services. They promise less consumption of goods and services, not more. The modern self, alienated from nature and community, has an endless craving to consume and possess, seeking to grow in compensation for the lost infinity of the interconnected, inter-existent, true self that psychedelics reveal.

Beware, then, of arguments that legalization is good for the economy. It won’t be, but it will accelerate a transition toward a different kind of economy. The psychedelic experience reveals its lineaments: less quantity and more quality, fewer “services” and more relationships, fewer “goods” and more beauty, less competition and more community, less accumulation and more sharing, less work and more play, less extraction and more healing. This is utterly at odds with the present economic system.

The present economic system compels and requires growth in order to function. Growth here means growth of goods and services exchanged for money; it means quantitative growth, growth in a measurable quantity. It is the external, collective correlate of the ever-expanding ego, the separate self. As we identify less with that self, conventional economic logic begins to break down. No longer does it make sense that we are fundamentally in competition with each other. No longer does it make sense for scarcity to be the foundational premise of economic life. No longer does it make sense that more for you should be less for me. No longer is security and control of resources the highest priority in making economic choices. Psychedelics thereby help reverse the centuries-old economic usurpation of human life, the mentality of the transaction that has encroached on human relations.

For the discrete and separate self in a universe of other, it is quite rational to treat everything outside oneself — animals, plants, water, minerals, and even other people — as instruments of one’s own utility. After all, if you are separate from me, then what happens to you need not affect me. What happens to the honeybees, to the frogs, to the coral reefs, to the rhinos and elephants, need not affect us. We just need to recruit sufficient energy and information to insulate ourselves from the blowback, to engineer new solutions to the problems caused by previous solutions. Nature becomes a collection of “resources,” and no longer a living intelligence. And that is just how our economy treats it.

Clearly, this strategy is a recipe for ecocide, blind to interdependency and ignorant of any intelligence in the workings of the world. Yet it pervades our systems of technology, industry, money, medicine, education, and politics. Psychedelics, then, promise to change all of these.

There is therefore something a little disingenuous in political arguments for legalization that seek to assure nervous politicians that nothing much will change besides savings on police, courts, and penitentiaries, and perhaps more effective psychiatric treatments. Come on folks, we all know better than that. Is any psychedelic activist devoting his or her precious time on earth to serve a slightly better version of the current regime of oppression and ecocide? For a long time, chastened by the counterreaction to the 60s awakening, we’ve hidden our hope and desire that “this could change everything” behind political delicacy and neutral academic language. The time for that is perhaps soon coming to an end. The risk of assurances like, “Don’t worry, no dramatic social changes will happen” is that we implicitly affirm that such social changes are to be avoided; that things as they are are acceptable.

The revolutionary potential of psychedelics lies first and foremost in their power to reveal the Story of Separation as nothing but that:, a story. When that happens, nothing built on that story makes sense any more. Yet there seems to be a problem translating that realization into systemic change. Fifty years after the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s, our systems of money, politics, imperialism, and ecological destruction seem more powerful than ever. The world that psychedelics vitiate trundles onward, despite declarations that they would change everything. Here’s Alan Watts, making a similar point to the one I’ve been making:

“Mystical experiences often result in attitudes that threaten the authority not only of established churches, but also of secular society. Unafraid of death and deficient in worldly ambition, those who have undergone mystical experiences are impervious to threats and promises….use of psychedelics in the United States by a literate bourgeoisie means that an important segment of the population is indifferent to society’s traditional rewards and sanctions.”

One can hardly read these words, written in 1968, without a twinge of cynicism. Superficially, at least, Watts’ proclamation seems to have been overly optimistic. Looking at the number of hippies who went on to become lawyers and accountants, it is clear that a mystical experience does not necessarily render one impervious to “society’s traditional rewards and sanctions.” The experience invites us out of the story-of-self and the story-of-the-world that we’d taken for reality itself, but there has been no firmly established new story to greet us. We emerge from the experience surrounded by the infrastructure of the old story. The apparatus of modernity shouts that story at us from every quarter. No wonder vivid mystical realizations gradually fade: into principles one must strive hard to remember and practice; into memories of another realm seemingly sundered from our own; finally into a formless ennui that mutes every ambition and punctuates every accomplishment with a question mark.

Why does this happen? One might cite a psychospiritual explanation: that we are flown to a place that eventually we must reach on foot; that we need to experience the territory in between, and thereby rework the habits and heal the wounds that maintain the inertia of who-we-were. Yes, but there is an equally important outer explanation that, we shall see, mirrors the inner: No experience can magically extricate anyone from the matrix of institutions that scaffold our society. We come back from the trip into the same economic system, the same physical surroundings, the same social pressures as before. The Story of Separation has enormous inertia. Its forms surround us and pull us relentlessly toward conformity, however unreal and unworthy of our wholehearted participation they may seem.

In other words, a mystical experience may invite you to quit your job, but even those who have the courage to do it usually face the reality that our economy does not reward the modes of creativity that draw them. I know I am generalizing here, but no one can deny that generally speaking, there is more money to be made by destroying wetlands to build ports than in striving to protect them; more money marketing product than rebuilding community. Leaving the old, there is not usually a “new story” to greet us with ready-made positions, livelihood, and social identity.

Yet Alan Watts was not wrong. It is just that in the psychedelic moment of the 1960s, we underestimated the robustness of the edifice of civilization and could not foresee the trajectory of the transition process. Perhaps there are mystical experiences that immediately and irrevocably change ones life and disintegrate its structures. More often though, the experience goes underground, working us from the inside, hollowing out the psychic infrastructure of the old normal. Its forms remain for a time, but they become more and more fragile.

The same hollowing out is happening on the collective level, as the attitudes that informed prohibition seem increasingly archaic. Listening to politicians, one gets the sense that a great majority of them personally disagree with the drug war, but must espouse the opposite opinion in public for fear of being devoured by the media and other politicians — who themselves privately oppose the drug war too but join in the feeding frenzy so as not to become victims themselves. Not a happy commentary on human nature, but we can take solace from the implication that the ideological core of drug prohibition is decaying. The outward structures of prohibition are a rapidly thinning shell.
And it’s not just the drug war. Our leaders seem to lack the deep, unquestioning faith in the project of civilization and all its accompanying narratives that was nearly universal a generation or two ago. The tropes of that era seem archaic today: the onward march of science, bringing democracy to the world, the conquest of nature, better living through chemistry, the wonders of atomic energy, higher, faster, better, new and improved. Even the boisterous flag-waving of the political right seems more an identity statement than an abiding patriotism. Without real conviction, no wonder politics has become largely a matter of image, spin, optics, and messaging.

Our leaders no longer believe their own ideology, if they have one. Their public statements and private convictions are irredeemably opposed; everyone is trapped in a drama in which few believe. That is another reason why the end of prohibition portends a much bigger shift: it is an admission that the emperor has no clothes. Because what political truism was more unquestionable than “drugs are bad”? The bugbear called “drugs” is now admitted to be a valid form of medicine, psychotherapeutic research, and even recreation. What other unmentionables will be next? After all, public confidence in the fairness and soundness of the economic system, political system, educational system, health care system, global police state, and so on is no less shaky than support for the War on Drugs.

Even as the psychic core of the old world hollows out (thanks in part to psychedelics), the external structures that hold us in that world are crumbling too. A mere generation ago, the pursuit of the “worldly ambitions” that Watts refers to reliably delivered at least the semblance of power, security, and control to the bulk of the world’s privileged. No longer. Today, even those who jump through all the hoops still have no guarantee of a place at the ever-shrinking table of normalcy. Play by all the rules, and still the institutions of marriage, healthcare, education, law, and economy fail us. The infrastructure of the old story that pulls us back from the world that psychedelics reveal as possible is losing its grip. As the hollowing-out from the inside meets the disintegration on the outside, cracks appear in the shell of our world. The impending ascendency of cannabis and psychedelics to legitimacy is one of them, and it will widen the others.

Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently and Reprinted from (Spring 2016), a publication of theMultidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Ultimate Double Standard: Washington Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — Until Hillary Clinton


Washington Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — Until Hillary Clinton

Glenn Greenwald

Image result for Hillary Images

SECRECY IS A VIRTUAL religion in Washington. Those who violate its dogma have been punished in the harshest and most excessive manner — at least when they possess little political power or influence. As has beenwidely noted, the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined. Secrecy in D.C. is so revered that even the most banal documents are reflexively marked classified, making their disclosure or mishandling a felony. As former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden said back in 2000, “Everything’s secret. I mean, I got an email saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’ It carried a top-secret NSA classification marking.”
People who leak to media outlets for the selfless purpose of informing the public — Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden — face decades in prison. Those who leak for more ignoble and self-serving ends — such as enabling hagiography (Leon PanettaDavid Petraeus) or ingratiating oneself to one’s mistress (Petraeus) — face career destruction, though they are usually spared if they are sufficiently Important-in-D.C. For low-level, powerless Nobodies-in-D.C., even the mere mishandling of classified information — without any intent to leak but merely to, say, work from home — has resulted in criminal prosecution, career destruction, and the permanent loss of security clearance.
This extreme, unforgiving, unreasonable, excessive posture toward classified information came to an instant halt in Washington today — just in time to save Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. FBI Director James Comey, an Obama appointee who served in the Bush DOJ, held a press conference earlier this afternoon in which he condemned Clinton on the ground that she and her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” including top-secret material.
Comey also detailed that her key public statements defending her conduct— i.e., that she never sent classified information over her personal email account and had turned over all “work-related” emails to the State Department — were utterly false; insisted “that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position … should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation”; and argued that she endangered national security because of the possibility “that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.” Comey also noted that others who have done what Clinton did “are often subject to security or administrative sanctions” — such as demotion, career harm, or loss of security clearance.
Despite all of these highly incriminating findings, Comey explained, the FBI is recommending to the Justice Department that Clinton not be charged with any crime. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” To justify this claim, Comey cited “the context of a person’s actions” and her “intent.” In other words, there is evidence that she did exactly what the criminal law prohibits, but it was more negligent and careless than malicious and deliberate.
Looked at in isolation, I have no particular objection to this decision. In fact, I agree with it: I don’t think what Clinton did rose to the level of criminality, and if I were in the Justice Department, I would not want to see her prosecuted for it. I do think there was malignant intent: Using a personal email account and installing a home server always seemed to be designed, at least in part, to control her communications and hide them from FOIA and similar disclosure obligations. As the New York Times noted in May about a highly incriminating report from the State Department’s own Auditor General: “Emails disclosed in the report made it clear that she worried that personal emails could be publicly released under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Moreover, Comey expressly found that — contrary to her repeated statements  — “the FBI also discovered several thousand work-related emails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014.” The Inspector General’s report similarly, in the words of the NYT, “undermined some of Mrs. Clinton’s previous statements defending her use of the server.” Still, charging someone with a felony requires more than lying or unethical motives; it should require a clear intent to break the law along with substantial intended harm, none of which is sufficiently present here.
But this case does not exist in isolation. It exists in a political climate where secrecy is regarded as the highest end, where people have their lives destroyed for the most trivial — or, worse, the most well-intentioned — violations of secrecy laws, even in the absence of any evidence of harm or malignant intent. And these are injustices that Hillary Clinton and most of her stalwart Democratic followers have never once opposed — but rather enthusiastically cheered. In 2011, Army Private Chelsea Manning was charged with multiple felonies and faced decades in prison for leaking documents that she firmly believed the public had the right to see; unlike the documents Clinton recklessly mishandled, none of those was top secret. Nonetheless, this is what then-Secretary Clinton said in justifying her prosecution:
I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.
Comey’s announcement also takes place in a society that imprisons more of its citizens than any other in the world by far, for more trivial offenses than any Western nation — overwhelmingly when they are poor or otherwise marginalized due to their race or ethnicity. The sort of leniency and mercy and prosecutorial restraint Comey extended today to Hillary Clinton is simply unavailable for most Americans.
What happened here is glaringly obvious. It is the tawdry byproduct of a criminal justice mentality in which — as I documented in my 2011 bookWith Liberty and Justice for Some — those who wield the greatest political and economic power are virtually exempt from the rule of law even when they commit the most egregious crimes, while only those who are powerless and marginalized are harshly punished, often for the most trivial transgressions.
Had someone who was obscure and unimportant and powerless done what Hillary Clinton did — recklessly and secretly install a shoddy home server and work with top-secret information on it, then outright lie to the public about it when they were caught — they would have been criminally charged long ago, with little fuss or objection. But Hillary Clinton is the opposite of unimportant. She’s the multimillionaire former first lady, senator from New York, and secretary of state, supported by virtually the entire political, financial, and media establishment to be the next president, arguably the only person standing between Donald Trump and the White House.
Like the Wall Street tycoons whose systemic fraud triggered the 2008 global financial crisis, and like the military and political officials who instituted a worldwide regime of torture, Hillary Clinton is too important to be treated the same as everyone else under the law. “Felony charges appear to be reserved for people of the lowest ranks. Everyone else who does it either doesn’t get charged or gets charged with a misdemeanor,” Virginia defense attorney Edward MacMahon told Politico last year about secrecy prosecutions. Washington defense attorney Abbe Lowell has similarly denounced the “profound double standard” governing how the Obama DOJ prosecutes secrecy cases: “Lower-level employees are prosecuted … because they are easy targets and lack the resources and political connections to fight back.”
The fact that Clinton is who she is: that is undoubtedly what caused the FBI to accord her the massive benefit of the doubt when assessing her motives. Her identity, rather than her conduct, was clearly a major factor in his finding nothing that was — in the words of Comey — “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”
But a system that accords treatment based on who someone is, rather than what they’ve done, is the opposite of one conducted under the rule of law. It is, instead, one of systemic privilege. As Thomas Jefferson put it in a 1784 letter to George Washington, the ultimate foundation of any constitutional order is “the denial of every preeminence.” Hillary Clinton has long been the beneficiary of this systemic privilege in so many ways, and today, she received her biggest gift from it yet.
The Obama-appointed FBI director gave a press conference showing that she recklessly handled top-secret information, engaged in conduct prohibited by law, and lied about it repeatedly to the public. But she won’t be prosecuted or imprisoned for any of that, so Democrats are celebrating. But if there is to be anything positive that can come from this lowly affair, perhaps Democrats might start demanding the same reasonable leniency and prosecutorial restraint for everyone else who isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Brexit Raises a New Issue For Hillary Clinton: The Democracy Deficit


Published on

The Brexit Raises a New Issue For Hillary Clinton: The Democracy Deficit

Focusing on immigration and trade fails to grasp the larger challenge posed by populist insurgencies worldwide.

What the UK's stunning decision to exit the European Union says about US politics should be read in terms of the larger question of democracy, not just immigration and trade. (Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

How the (not so) United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union affects US politics is now a hot topic.

Some suggest that the “Brexit” is a sign that an anti-immigration voter backlash is coming to the US. Others, like CNN pundit Van Jones, go so far as to suggest that the UK proved Donald Trump could win.

Attempting to calm potential panic, Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisers told The New York Times there is little to fear from the Brexit campaign’s success, assuring supporters that the political circumstances of the two countries are “very different.” The advisers claim no need to alter communications strategy on topics such as immigration and trade — two of the central topics in the UK referendum campaign.

Clinton’s advisers are correct on the details but seem to be missing the bigger picture.
It’s true that in the US, immigration, for all the passion it arouses, is viewed far more favorably than in the UK. Recent polls show a majority of Americans have a favorable view of immigrants and 43 percent of US voters want less immigration. This is drastically different than the 78 percent of UK voters who wanted limits on the number of people moving to the UK from the EU.

There is another, larger and less-discussed lesson from the Brexit to which Clinton’s staff would be wise to pay attention: the democratic deficit.
Clinton must take rising xenophobia seriously, but immigration-related fear cannot alone make Trump president.

While it’s an open question whether Clinton’s economic platform will appeal to displaced workers (many of whom feel they were displaced by trade policies championed by her husband), there is another, larger and less-discussed lesson from the Brexit to which Clinton’s staff would be wise to pay attention: the “democratic deficit.”

The democratic deficit — or unrepresentative aspects of political institutions — has long plagued the European Union. It leads many to call the institution “technocratic,” “elitist” and “unaccountable.”

In the case of the EU, the democratic deficit stems from elections limited to only one branch of the institution, perceived lack of transparency and overly complex governing structures.

Millions across Europe claim EU institutions do not sufficiently represent their will. This sentiment is particularly strong in the UK, where a recent report showed that 74 percent of UK citizens do not feel their voices are heard by the EU.

Perceived powerlessness in the face of a multinational institution inevitably leads to resentment and estrangement. Such institutional alienation likely served as a base off which other feelings, like anti-immigration and economic resentment, mobilized in the Brexit vote.

The democratic deficit is hardly an isolated phenomenon. The US suffers from it, too.
US voters increasingly feel their voices are not heard in the political process. 
2015 New York Times/CBS poll showed the supermajority of voters believe the wealthy have disproportional influence in American politics. This feeling is not misplaced; the vast majority of voters are indeed politically powerless.

Resentment resulting from this deficit is also apparent in the US. The 2016 insurgent campaigns of Trump and Bernie Sanders have proven democratic alienation is enough to disrupt and potentially fracture existing US political-party arrangements.

Both Sanders and Trump attracted disaffected voters by attacking the US political system as one bought by special interests. Trump attacked his GOP primary opponents for courting Koch money and touted his self-financed campaign as evidence that he could not be bought. Sanders accepted only small campaign contributions and decried corporate influence in elections.

Voters are angry and rightfully so. And despite claims by her advisers that everything is fine, Clinton has not yet done enough to address these concerns.
While her policy platform on democracy reform is strong — virtually identical to that of Sanders — she has failed to make the democratic deficit and her plan to fix it central to her campaign.

To avoid a Brexit-like backlash, Clinton must work significantly harder to convince the American people she stands with them, not above them. And she must reinvigorate the belief in collective and personal agency to shape the country’s future.

This means taking seriously the American public’s feelings of alienation and powerlessness — particularly concerning the wealthy buying political influence. Toward this end, she should continue to embrace reforms like publicly financed elections to present a concrete and realizable route to political empowerment.

Fortunately for Clinton, she is well-positioned to be a champion on this issue.
First, the Democratic Party finally seems to be warming to the idea of campaign-finance reform. All three of the party’s major candidates for president had strong, comprehensive plans to address the democracy deficit.

Second, Sanders proved focusing on money in politics mobilizes and expands the Democratic base. This alone should serve as enough of an incentive for the Clinton campaign.

Third, Clinton can afford to irk Wall Street: Her unprecedented fundraising advantage over Trump would be a sufficient buffer to counter any financial retribution. Moreover, as former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson underscored over the weekend, there are strong signals that Wall Street would prefer stability under Clinton than the unpredictability of Trump.
The burden of cleaning up the democratic mess — one created by generations of men — falls upon the nation’s first female presidential nominee.
Lastly, Trump is quickly losing his claim as a reformer. To date, he has not endorsed meaningful policy to fix the democratic deficit — making his claim as a reformer fallible. Trump also has started to court large donations for the general election — completely destroying the moral high ground he claimed for not taking corporate donations during the nomination fight. That opens the door for Clinton to use the democracy deficit effectively in the upcoming debates.

In some respects, it may not be fair that the burden of cleaning up the democratic mess — one created by generations of men — falls upon the nation’s first female presidential nominee. Nevertheless, it’s gradually becoming clear the timing and circumstances may make it Clinton’s job.

The Brexit serves as a reminder, though: Should Clinton fully embrace fixing democracy, she must be ready to make good on any promises she makes. If not, the crisis of institutional legitimacy and potential for backlash will only grow larger — just as it did in the UK.

Adam Eichen is a member of the Democracy Matters Board of Directors and a Maguire Fellow at the French research institute Sciences Po, doing research on comparative campaign finance policy. He served as the deputy communications director for Democracy Spring.