Campaign 2016

2-2016 Election Quake II: Five Lessons from Recent History

This essay first appeared in the Huffington Post, November 21, 2016,

The Trump Phenom and Republican sweep have roots that go even deeper than the inaccurate polls.  The recent past tells the story of the rising strength of sentiments that would lead to this election quake. 

An air of shock and awe still hovers around the election results.  Donald J. Trump declared war on the federal government, on big business, on military and foreign policy leaders, on words that work in campaigning, even on his fellow Republicans, and of course on Democrats.  Few expected these results, from respected polling professionals to Republicans themselves—even as that party benefitted in Congress and state houses.  Recent history shows that these surprises have been building for years.

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Campaign 2016

2016 Election Quake: Ten Expected Surprises

See all Ten Expected Surprises as published in History News Network, November 20, 2016. Now that may just be too many surprises at once!  Here below, you can take these surprises in chunks, 5 at a time….  See two essays:

1-Election Quake I: Five Expected Surprises in Cultural Trends and the Media

2-Election Quake II: Five Lessons from Recent History

Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2016

Halloween Night: Window to Fantasy

Fantasy ruled the night.

I’m not referring to election night, but to MegaHalloween on Minnesota Avenue in DeLand.  I met about 1000 festive and creepy characters, and there must have been at least that many more on the street, making it a carnival.  From my random sampling, as the social scientists say, I got a hint of the taste for fantasy among the outfits with people who graced my front yard.  And fantasy-fueled imagination also meant a lot of characters crossing over into all kinds of combinations.

People dress in outfits from the world around them, like the 4 Doctors including 1 Dr. Decay (how does this one stay in practice?), 1 Tacky Tourist, 6 Football Players and 5 Cheerleaders (including 1 Gothic Cheerleader), 5 Police Officers (one was “Buff”) but only 4 Robbers (1 had his “gun ready” and another was also a Nun!), and 1 Overweight Gen Xer.  They tap long spans of history such as with Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, a Renaissance Woman, Bob Marley, 4 Native American Indians, including 1 Pocahontas, and 2 Flappers; and the natural world with 4 Butterflies, 3 Foxes, including 1 with a sword and 1 downright “Foxy Fox,” 2 Cheetahs, 1 Bunny, and of course 2 Spiders. Continue reading

Campaign 2016

Constant Growth: The Elephant (and the Donkey) in the Living Room

Constant economic growth, constantly supported even when unhealthy, is the unquestioned goal of both major parties.  Few stop to ask about the ill effects of growth or the merits of maintaining good conditions when we get them (did we really get improvement when that store moved to the margins of town leaving a hulking building downtown?).  The unhealthy side effects of constant growth have become the elephant (and the donkey) in the living room–the unasked question for both Republicans and Democrats.

A shorter version of this essay was published as “An Economy That Grows Anger,” in the Huffington Post, September 24, 2016,

Scroll down to see a revised version of this essay, expanded with more economic data and historical examples, and published as  “Both Parties Back Economic Growth–But Are They Wrong?” in History News Network, October 2, 2016,

In this election, we’ve got a well-informed Democrat defending a crazy system and a crazy-sounding Republican brashly calling for undisclosed changes.  Consider the sources of the craziness—consider an economy that can’t stay healthy with constant growth.  In medicine, that’s called cancer…. Continue reading….

Campaign 2016

SATIRE: Trump, The Pop Musical; or, A Few Sugary Lyrics to Help Sell the Product

originally published at Huffington Post, July 16, 2016,

Now that Trump has triumphed with his nomination by the Republican Party, how can this businessman seize the public imagination on a broader scale?  Consider the marketing that has been central to making “Trump” a household name on TV and at hotels.  Consider music to sell the product.  Get ready, and sing it now: “Love, Love Me!  Love, Love Me!”… Continue reading

Back in the Classroom

Marketclysm at the Classroom Door

An earlier version published as “Should We Really Turn College Education Over to the Free Market?” History News Network (March 8, 2016),

Should We Really Turn College Education Over to the Free Market?

In an era when the number of words on Twitter in only two years will exceed the number of words ever published, academic scholars should pay heed to changes in writing and teaching swiftly taking place outside their offices and classrooms.  There are powerful forces calling for briefer expositions and for teaching to appeal to a market that expects and demands such brevity.  While paying attention to those calls, academics should remember that beyond appealing to their audiences, their deeper purpose is to inspire and provoke.  Read more… Continue reading

the United States of Distracted Attention

ADHD: Contesting the Human Normal

An earlier version published as “There’s a Way to Lower the Incidence of ADHD. We Should Try It.” History News Network (January 31, 2016),

With some cultural changes reducing the enormity of distractions, prevention can become a realistic part of the response to ADHD, and an upgrade on living for everyone else too. After all, prevention is easier and more effective than cure, and then we can reserve use of pharmaceutical remedies for severe cases. Continue reading

Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2015

Small Change Agents at MegaHalloween

…with two essays–a teacher-student pair…. Introducing Stetson Math Major and popular culture enthusiast, Chris Finkle

On Halloween night, everyone got their play on. It’s a time for looking at the world with a twist. And in DeLand, FL, costumed creatures of every stripe converged—well over 2,000 from many towns and many social backgrounds—straining the sidewalks and front lawns, and creating a pop culture peak into the contemporary imagination.

Consider the three sharks swimming up the sidewalks; Continue reading