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Jedediah Purdy
Jedediah Purdy's writing includes a trilogy of books on American politics and culture, most recently A Tolerable Anarchy. He is Professor of Law at Duke Law School, where he teaches constitutional and environmental law, among other topics. He lives in Carrboro, North Carolina."

Entries by Jedediah Purdy

Jim Webb, Donald Trump, and the Tragedy of American Whiteness

(212) Comments | Posted March 5, 2016 | 10:34 AM

I found it weirdly poignant when, late this last week, former Virginia Democratic senator Jim Webb said that he could imagine voting for Donald Trump, but not for Hillary Clinton. Maybe Webb, who lasted about 10 minutes in the primary with a resenting-affirmative-action populist deal, and used to...

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4 Reasons Sanders Can Win the General

(575) Comments | Posted February 9, 2016 | 6:22 PM

The New Hampshire primaries, which Bernie Sanders is winning by seventeen points at the time of writing, are the first test of the Clinton campaign's signature attack on Sanders: that he can't win the general election, so a vote for him is a vote for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump....

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Dismissing Sanders: Democratic Condescension and the Mythic Political Grown-up

(395) Comments | Posted February 6, 2016 | 10:23 AM

The Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party is in the awkward position of asserting two incompatible claims. First, elite bankers deserve respect and deference -- and probably most of their income -- because they uniquely understand how to design transactions that turn money into more money. Second, when those...

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Donald Trump's Brutal Charm

(66) Comments | Posted January 27, 2016 | 7:38 AM

Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he will not participate in the next Republican presidential debate stems from dispute over host Fox News's choice of moderator: Trump and Megyn Kelly have clashed before, and he wanted Fox to remove her. But even if Trump lost this negotiation, the decision to sit...

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Sanders and the Theory of Change: Radical Politics for Grown-Ups

(588) Comments | Posted January 22, 2016 | 8:51 PM

Paul Krugman has joined the self-appointed political grownups closing ranks around Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. In a piece titled "How Change Happens," the liberal economist and New York Times columnist insists, "The question Sanders supporters should ask is, When has their theory of change ever worked?"


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Palin's Song: Her Speech Endorsing Trump, Compressed Into Short Poems

(31) Comments | Posted January 19, 2016 | 11:01 PM


Mr. Trump, you're right.

This is going to be so much fun.


You rock-n-rollers. And holy rollers!

All of you who work so hard.

You full-time moms.

You with the hands that rock the cradle.

You all make the world go round,...

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Bernie Is Not the New Barry -- And That's a Good Thing

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2016 | 4:37 PM

Bernie Sanders' surge in recent national polls, and hints he might win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, have brought inevitable comparisons to an insurgent candidate whose enthusiastic young supporters took Hillary Clinton by surprise eight years ago. But Barack Obama's 2008 campaign...

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Trump's Monstrous Call

(45) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 5:45 PM

Donald J. Trump has called for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States "until we figure out what's going on." A spokesperson, confirming this, explained that Trump's reason was "death."

Quick responses were technical (Would this be unconstitutional? Yes.) and tactical. (Trump has slipped behind Ted Cruz in...

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Climate Apocalypse and/or Democracy

(79) Comments | Posted September 13, 2015 | 9:50 PM

In the last week, a group of scientists and a prominent historian each predicted a climate apocalypse. The scientists, led by Ricarda Winkelmann of Germany's Potsdam University, issued a paper finding that, if humans burn the rest of the world's estimated fossil fuel reserves -- which might take...

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The Amazon Economy

(100) Comments | Posted August 17, 2015 | 8:20 AM

A recent New York Times piece describes as Lord of the Flies for engineers and managers. Relentless culling, hyper-critical supervision, and channels for informing on allegedly slacking co-workers create an artificial State of Nature, where many employees careers are brutish and short. The article tells the stories...

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Sandra Bland, Citizen

(0) Comments | Posted July 26, 2015 | 12:30 PM

Sandra Bland's "mistake" was to act like a first-class citizen of a free country. She was punished for that by the side of the road in Texas, and now she is dead.

When she was pulled over in Prairie View she didn't make nice, act surprised and apologetic,...

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The Pope and I (Are Having a Complicated Weekend)

(20) Comments | Posted June 21, 2015 | 3:13 PM

I spent a day reading Pope Francis's encyclical on climate, the environment, and human responsibility, Laudato Si, while watching my liberal Internet explode with enthusiasm and conservative recoil. After sleeping on it, I did the Very Protestant Thing of listing my agreements and disagreements. I suspect I'm not the only...

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Tenure, Fairness, and Fear(lessness)

(47) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 9:02 AM

Tenure is supposed to make people bold, but this summer it seems to be making them shy.

Wisconsin's move to strip tenure protection for state university professors from its statutes (and put it in the hands of the university's appointed political overseers) has stirred a muted and ambivalent...

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The TPP Is a Test of Democracy

(40) Comments | Posted May 23, 2015 | 7:54 PM

Democracy is the problem with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiation. It's the problem for TPP supporters because the trade deal has been secret so far -- known to the public only through leaks and rumors -- and because the Fast Track authorization that the Obama Administration wants would box...

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Socialism or Barbarism? Syriza, Economics, and Democracy

(44) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 12:50 PM

With the Syriza-led government locked in no-blink negotiations with Greece's creditors, especially Germany, it might be time to revive an old slogan of the left: Rosa Luxemburg's "socialism or barbarism." Restated for the 21st century, "socialism" simply means that a people's judgments about its own economic life -- the kind...

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Eternal Childhood of the Spotless Mind: Speech Codes in the Neoliberal University

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 9:35 AM

Every morning, on my way to teach at Duke, I pass a display of civility marketing. Poster-sized pictures of students, done in that art-photo-meets-advertising style, inform me that "We Don't Say ... faggot, man up, 'What are you?'" -- that we are sensitive here to the subtle, complex ways of...

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Thoughts from Chapel Hill: Violence as a Way of Life

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 12:43 PM

I live on the outskirts of Chapel Hill (across the tracks, literally). It's been a heartbreaking time for everyone here, a frightening time for many Muslims (and those who might "look Muslim") in the region, and also a time of stirring, heartfelt solidarity and shared mourning. At a vigil at...

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The Dangers of Clarity: Don't Let Terrorism Define Us

(18) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 9:03 AM

France is at war, Prime Minster Manuel Valls declared after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, against terrorism and radical Islamism. Millions of people marched in Paris and elsewhere two days later to affirm the values Valls's war is meant to defend: liberty and solidarity. These are stirring responses to terrible acts....

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I Understand Nothing

(11) Comments | Posted January 10, 2015 | 12:44 PM

I have felt ill and exhausted since first reading about the murders at Charlie Hebdo. The illness comes, partly, a sense of the pressure to form an opinion. The killers have forced themselves on the world's attention. Like the scriptural passages in a liturgical calendar, their monstrous acts have become...

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Thanksgiving #Ferguson

(16) Comments | Posted November 26, 2014 | 6:01 AM

This is a strange year, even an awful one, to celebrate Thanksgiving. A grand jury's refusal to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson has crystallized ugly truths. Many Americans feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods, not despite law enforcement but because of it. In some places, the police seem,...

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