Insiders and outsiders keep democracy alive: Whistleblowing, civil disobedience and discourse

From the Revolutionary War, to Rosa Parks and #MeToo, whistleblowing and civil disobedience are in America's DNA.

  • The first U.S. whistleblower protection law was passed unanimously in 1778 in response to the misconduct of Navy Commodore Esek Hopkins.
  • Whistleblowing and civil disobedience are tools of discourse that keep elites honest and protect democracy.
  • The difference? Whistleblowers are insiders who expose improper conduct to the authorities or to the press. Civil disobedience starts with outsiders whose actions slowly gain popular support, which then catalyzes change.
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What does it take to overthrow a dictator? Reflecting on this question in exile, Leon Trotsky wrote in History of the Russian Revolution (1930):

There is no doubt that the fate of every revolution at a certain point is decided by a break in the disposition of the army … Thus in the streets and squares, by the bridges, at the barrack gates, is waged a ceaseless struggle – now dramatic, now unnoticeable – but always a desperate struggle, for the heart of the soldier.
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No, Mr. Putin, liberalism is not dead

Когда рак на горе свистнет.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin recently stated that liberalism has "outlived its purpose."
  • Research suggests, however, that liberal ideals — among them, democracy, individual agency, and economic freedom — are not only on the rise but improve the wellbeing of people living in countries that support them.
  • Recent challenges to liberalism are serious but have not overpowered the liberal tradition.
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Bank loans at 'unimaginable' interest rates: How the Spanish press became corrupted

A new book from the former editor of El Mundo describes a culture of corruption in Spain's press. In exchange for favorable coverage of politicians and corporations, bribes.

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  • David Jiménez, former editor of El Mundo, recently published a book called El Director that describes the rampant corruption he saw while running the newspaper.
  • The corruption of Spanish press is symptomatic of a larger issue with corruption that is on-going in Spain.
  • Most recently, the People's Party was ousted from power after a massive corruption scandal, leading to the rise of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party. However, whether El Mundo can escape from the culture of corruption it experienced under the previous regime remains to be seen.
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What is the Halliburton loophole?

A loophole signed into law during the Bush administration has been fiendishly tough to close.

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  • In 2005, then-Vice President Dick Cheney was head of the Energy Task Force. This task force provided recommendations that informed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
  • One such recommendation that was later signed into law was to provide an exemption for hydraulic fracturing fluid (or fracking fluid) from being regulated by the EPA.
  • Cheney previously served as CEO of Halliburton, which just so happens to be the world's largest provider of fracking services.
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