the youth vote in 2020

From CIRCLE’s latest release, based on voter files:

We estimate that 50% of young people, ages 18-29, voted in the 2020 presidential election, a remarkable 11-point increase from 2016 (39%) and likely one of the highest rates of youth electoral participation since the voting age was lowered to 18. …

However, as is the case in every election cycle, youth voter turnout rates varied widely across the country: New Jersey (67%), Minnesota (65%), Colorado (64%) and Maine (61%) had the highest statewide youth turnout rates, while South Dakota (32%), Oklahoma (34%), Arkansas (35%), and New Mexico (39%) had the lowest. ..

Numerous interconnected factors shape whether youth electoral participation is high or low. These include the competitiveness of elections, how much (or how little) campaigns and organizations reach out to young people, the state’s civic culture and civic education policies, the demographic composition of the youth population, and state voting laws … that can either facilitate voting or pose barriers for youth. ….

Understanding the effect of electoral policies on youth turnout is especially relevant at a time when the U.S. Congress is considering HR1: For the People Act of 2021. This bill would standardize some election laws across the country and nationally establish: automatic voter registration (AVR), online voter registration (OVR), same-day or Election-Day registration (SDR), early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, pre-registration, and requirements for voter registration programming in high schools. ….

We divided states into those with a majority of the electoral policies in HR1 and those with few of the policies, and we found that, on average, states with more of these policies had higher youth turnout. States with four or more of the HR1 policies had a combined youth turnout rate of 53%, compared to 43% turnout from states with less than four policies. It appears likely that a number of policies complement each other to create a system and culture of voting that is more conducive to youth participation, and the lack of them may have the opposite effect.

Session Applications are Now Open for NCDD’s Summer Learning Springboard!

NCDD is excited to announce the launch of session applications for our upcoming Summer Learning Springboard!

The Summer Learning Springboard is a virtual convening from the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). This convening will consist of a variety of skill building sessions and learning exchanges over the course of approximately one week in late July (exact dates TBD). Participants will register to attend specific sessions, with a variety of free and fee-based events.

Members of the NCDD community are invited to submit a proposal to lead a session. The application deadline is 11:59 PM on Friday, May 14th. The proposal form can be accessed at this link!

NCDD will review the proposals and make a selection based on the criteria we have set forth for this event:

  • The goals of the session align with NCDD’s goals for the exchange of skill building and learning exchanges.
  • The session is interactive and provides clear takeaways/outcomes for participants.
  • This session addresses a timely issue, topic, skill, or best practice.
  • The session has a clear target audience and has ties to the NCDD community (dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement).

If you have any questions about this application, please contact Courtney Breese at courtney [at]

We look forward to reviewing your applications and announcing the final lineup soon!

antisemitism on the right and left

In “Antisemitic Attitudes Across the Ideological Spectrum,” my colleague Eitan Hersh and Laura Royden show that antisemitism is much more common on the right than the left in the US today and is particularly common among young people on the far right.

Their study is complex and nuanced, and the authors acknowledge room for disagreement about whether certain survey items, especially those related to Israel, measure antisemitism. I will zero in on a few findings that I find especially interesting.

First, a pretty clear way to test a traditional aspect of antisemitism is to ask whether Jews have too much power. Rates of agreement with that claim rise dramatically as we move from the political left to right. Young adults (18-30) drive most of the antisemitism on the right, and young right-wingers are by far the most antisemitic group.

Importantly, the people who say that Jews have too much power are not thinking about (criticizing) Israel. The next two graphs show responses by the people on the left and the right who think that Jews have too much power. (The antisemitic group on the right is much larger, but these graphs show percentages within each group.) Tiny proportions on both sides cite Israel/Palestine alone. News and entertainment media, finance, and even agriculture are cited frequently as domains in which Jews are too powerful.

In one part of this complex study, respondents were asked whether Jews should be held accountable for actions by the state of Israel, but also whether Indians should be held accountable for India, and Catholics for the Vatican. The differences are very small. People who think that one group is responsible for the policies of a foreign entity think the same about the other groups as well. In all cases, this attitude becomes more prevalent as one moves from the left to the right. Interestingly, conservatives seem more committed to collective responsibility. (So much for libertarian individualism.)

Liberals do seem to treat Catholicism a bit differently. They are somewhat more likely to hold Catholics accountable for the Church than they would Jews for Israel or Indians for India. Still, only 20% of liberals would do so, compared to 60% of conservatives.

NAEd Report on Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse

The National Academy of Education (NAEd) is releasing its report on Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse. I was on the Steering Committee along with eight wonderful colleagues, and many more scholars contributed to writing the document. You can attend a public forum to hear more about it on May 3, 2021, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Eastern Time. Register here.

I’d describe this report as a response to problems of polarization, incivility, motivated reasoning, propaganda, and strained democratic institutions, along with racial injustice and other social crises. It is a response from the learning sciences, with papers by specialists on learning, schooling, and human development. In contrast to the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap, this report is more about how to teach (rather than what to teach); and it addresses education broadly, not just the disciplines of history and civics, which are the focus of the Roadmap. I worked on both projects simultaneously and benefited from the two perspectives.

Aficionados of Civic Studies will recognize this definition from the NAEd report:


Early in its work, the National Academy of Education (NAEd) Committee on Civic Reasoning and Discourse agreed on a shared definition of civic reasoning and discourse to guide the development of this report. The central question guiding the formulation of this definition concerns “What should we do?” and the “we” includes anyone in a group or community, regardless of their citizenship status. To engage in civic reasoning, one needs to think through a public issue using rigorous inquiry skills and methods to weigh different points of view and examine available evidence. Civic discourse concerns how to communicate with one another around the challenges of public issues in order to enhance both individual and group understanding. It also involves enabling effective decision making aimed at finding consensus, compromise, or in some cases, confronting social injustices through dissent. Finally, engaging in civic discourse should be guided by respect for fundamental human rights

conservatism and identifying as white among Latinos

Latinos preferred Biden over Trump by 65%-32% according to the exit polls. There is some debate about that statistic, but it seems safe to say that Latinos tilt Democratic, yet somewhat less so than they did in the recent past.

We also know that people who consider their own whiteness important to their identity are more likely to support Trump. In the Tufts Equity study, whites who consider race important to their own identity favored Trump by 61.5%-31%, whereas Trump’s lead among other whites was just 5 points (47%-42%: less than a majority).

In this context, it seems significant that a majority of Hispanics identify as white, and a substantial proportion–one quarter in the 2012 American National Election Study (ANES)–say that being white is important to their identity.

I get that last statistic from Filindra and Kolbe 2020. These authors find that Latinos are more likely to identify as white if they have higher incomes, and less likely to identify as white if they have more education and if they report strong consciousness as Latinos. (Possibly, education increases social awareness.) Latinos are more likely to be Republicans and to support cuts in welfare if they identify as white.

These are not mere correlations but the results of models that control for numerous other variables. It is equally interesting that some variables do not seem to matter, e.g., religion, skin tone (albeit known for only some respondents), and whether one was born in the US or overseas. The degree of acculturation is related to views of welfare but not to other measures.

Filindra and Kolbe use 2012 ANES data, and I was interested in change since then. In a nutshell, I find no important shifts. My graphs below show rates of identifying as conservative and as liberal in the ANES since 2000. (Moderates are not shown, although they are the largest group.) Whites who are not Hispanic are the most conservative, and at a steady rate. However, they have also become the most likely to identify as liberal (at the expense of moderates). Hispanics who identify as white have been somewhat less conservative than other whites. And Hispanics who do not identify as white have not been statistically different from those who do.

Source: Filindra, Alexandra and Kolbe, Melanie, Are Latinos Becoming White? The Role of White Self-Categorization and White Identity in Shaping Contemporary Hispanic Political and Policy Preferences (May 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

what if climate change isn’t a tragedy of the commons?

Robinson Meyer’s Atlantic piece, “An Outdated Idea Is Still Shaping Climate Policy” led me to “Prisoners of the Wrong Dilemma: Why Distributive Conflict, Not Collective Action, Characterizes the Politics of Climate Change” by Michaël Aklin and Matto Mildenberger. I think the implications are profound.

Climate change looks like a tragedy of the commons. Most people stand to lose a great deal as the earth’s climate heats up. However, to prevent or mitigate that process, substantial numbers of individuals, companies, and countries would have pay or forego benefits. Each party will want the others to bear the burden and not make voluntary contributions by itself.

One classic solution to such dilemmas is a top-down rule that alters everyone’s incentives–in this case, a tax on carbon. However, the United Nations can’t tax anything. Each country’s carbon tax costs its own economy without (by itself) solving the climate crisis. Thus the tragedy reemerges at the international level and predicts that satisfactory carbon taxes will be hard to enact. Although 64% of Americans agree that “the U.S. should reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do,” the theory suggests that this belief is soft and not likely to support ambitious policies. I’ve even made a simple online game to simulate this problem in teaching.

However, evidence seems to be building for a different model. Some people gain tangibly and immediately from decarbonization. Consider firms that build solar panels, low-carbon farmers, individuals who teach environmental science in high school, environmental engineers, and even residents of cities that are powered by renewables and compete with cities that depend on coal.

If some gain while others lose, it is no longer a Tragedy of the Commons. It is regular game in which the winners obtain benefits and the losers bear costs. Aklin and Mildenberger call this a “distributive conflict.”

In a mixed economy, the winning is side is likely to be more numerous (with more votes) and richer (with more buying and investing power). The size and wealth of both sides may change over time.

A distributive conflict makes new solutions appear possible. Governments can borrow or tax and spend the revenue to expand the size and power of the coalition that favors decarbonization. They can also compensate the losing side for reasons of equity or to reduce opposition. The game is rivalrous but not strictly zero-sum; everyone can gain in important respects even if some pay more than others.

According to the Tragedy of the Commons model, spending money will not solve climate change. This model views both costs and benefits in a static way: each dollar reduces carbon by a certain amount. The results are not necessarily very impressive, and they face a limit. There is still a lot of carbon under the ground; it has market value; and subsidizing renewables does not make the carbon worthless. Thus it will be burned. Besides, governments will surely–and perhaps rightly–fail to use spending to minimize carbon emissions. Since they will also be interested in other goals (jobs, health, equity, or ensuring their own reelection) they will not buy as much carbon reduction as they could.

But the alternative model offers hope that spending may be dynamic. Dollars invested in renewables, a new power grid, R&D, an electric car for one’s family, and even environmental education build constituencies for decarbonization. As these constituencies grow, they will use their economic and political power to demand more decarbonization–including the harder solutions of taxes and regulations. In that case, subsidies have leverage.

See, for instance, Liu, Lixia, Yuchao Zhu, and Shubing Guo. “The evolutionary game analysis of multiple stakeholders in the low-carbon agricultural innovation diffusion.” Complexity 2020 (2020). See also: public event on Governing the Commons: 30 Years Later with discussion of policing and climate change; A Civic Green New Deal; a Green recovery; taxing and spending are more compatible with democratic values than regulation is. And see our Civic Green project.

One of the best guides on civic tech (and when not to build it) is finally out

As the saying goes: “if you think technology is the solution, you don’t understand the problem”. The same goes for technologies for civic or public service purposes. In fact, many argue that a common trait of good professionals working in the digital space is their capacity to, whenever necessary, politely convince their counterparts that their new “app” idea sucks. 

Over time, practitioners will develop their own intuition and tricks of the trade to assess what should be built or not, and if so, how. That knowledge is mostly shared within networks of practitioners, sometimes through a few humorous tips, such as: “If building a dashboard is the first thing a government official asks you, run for your life!”

But this kind of tacit knowledge remains mostly contained and fragmented across small groups, and it is rarely translated for the benefit of others in an accessible manner. And these others are often the ones who come up either with the ideas, the money to fund the ideas, or both. 

This is why I’m particularly happy to see that Luke Jordan’s most recent work is finally out: Don’t Build It: A Guide For Practitioners In Civic Tech / Tech For Development. Currently at the MIT GOV/LAB, Luke is a seasoned technologist, also known for being very straight-to-the point when the issue is technology. Luke’s knowledge and communication style is nicely reflected through the content of the guide: dense, direct and sometimes amusing, as in the excerpt below:  

Construct a monstrous building in the middle of nowhere and movies might be made about you; build a pointless app that no one uses and you will just need to cite a misleading metric in a donor report and no one will care. Conversely, construct a good building in a sensible place and no one will think it worthy of notice; build a not-terrible app that people use for longer than the launch press release circulates, and you will immediately be nominated to half a dozen “X under X” lists.

So, by far the best method is to adopt a simple principle: Don’t build it.

When someone says, “We should build some tech for that”, just say no. When an investor or donor says, “Why don’t you build some technology”, just say no. When you read another article or see another TEDx talk about someone pretending their app achieved something, while citing numbers that are both unverified and meaningless, and a voice inside says, “why don’t we also build technology”, just say no.

Does that mean that the rest of this guide is pointless? Hopefully so. But in reality, at some point some idea may gather such momentum or such force of conviction that the “do not build it” ethos will start to falter. At that point, ask these questions…

I will stop here. In short, this guide is a must-read for anybody designing, implementing, funding or just coming up with “disruptive” ideas on technologies for civic engagement and public service delivery.


Ps.: The teaser for the guide, is itself priceless:

an overview of civic education in the USA and Germany

In this video, I offer a very broad introduction to civic education in the USA–framing my remarks historically. Essentially, I trace a tradition of experiential, community-based civic learning that runs from de Tocqueville through Jane Addams to Dorothy Cotton and onward; and a tradition of studying civics in school that really takes off with Horace Mann. These two traditions intertwine, and John Dewey is an important bridge between them. I argue that neither is in very good condition today.

Then Bettina Heinrich, from the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Ludwigsburg, gives an overview of “politische Bildung” (political education or development) in the Federal Republic of Germany, focusing on the post-War period. We both note significant mutual influence between these two countries.

Another event will follow this one:

“Growing Up Across the Pond” (May 3, noon US Eastern Time) will be more about the general context for youth in Germany and the USA today. (You can register here.)

These are both open events, meant for anyone who is interested. They are also introductory events for people who might want to join The Transatlantic Exchange of Civic Educators (TECE), which “will bring together German and U.S.-American extracurricular civic learning professionals to unlock opportunities for mutual learning and reintroduce a transatlantic dimension to the field.”

a business/GOP rift?

Here is a sample of articles published within the past week alone: “The Right’s Anti-Business Turn“; “The GOP-Big Business Divorce Goes Deeper Than You Think“; “Republicans Will Regret Their Breakup With Big Business“; “Existential Threat-Or Politics as Usual,” and “Is the Business Community At Last Falling Out of Love With the Republican Party?

The situation is fluid and hard to interpret. Our predictions are inevitably influenced by our assumptions about how business generally relates to politics in the USA. In that spirit, I’ll disclose my own premises.

First, businesses influence government. There is no consensus among political scientists that campaign contributions and paid lobbying matter very much. It’s certainly not evident that companies can decide who wins elections. The main source of influence is what Charles E. Lindblom called the “privileged position of business.” The basic idea is that businesses create jobs in a capitalist economy; politicians want jobs to be created; therefore, politicians cater to business. Direct communications from corporations to politicians are effective mainly because they convey information that politicians are eager to hear. Although companies may exaggerate the costs of taxing and spending, politicians take their predictions seriously because they think their own interests are at stake. Compared to other politicians, liberal Democrats are more skeptical of business and more likely to want to hear from labor, but even most liberals listen hard when a company is deciding whether to move in or out of their own district. This dynamic is built into a mixed economy (or what Lindblom called, following Dahl, a “polyarchy”).

However, people see the world through ideological frames. We do not just behold the truth and maximize our self-interest (profits for firms; reelection for politicians). Instead, we use conceptual frameworks to interpret the world. A politician who believes in “free markets” is primed to assume that a tax increase will cost jobs even if it won’t. At the same time, a business that sees itself as a fair and inclusive workplace is primed to see xenophobic rhetoric as bad for the bottom line (even if it isn’t).

The dominant framework in corporate boardrooms is pro-market, pro-technology, meritocratic/elitist, cosmopolitan, and self-congratulatory about the business’s own fairness and inclusivity. This is partly because of the demographics of the corporate ranks: heavily “coastal” and international and highly educated. The most coveted employees and consumers–the ones with the most buying power–share those characteristics. Businesses observe politics through this lens.

At the same time, businesses do not particularly want to engage with politics. Government can be helpful, particularly if you want big government contracts. But it also presents risks. Politics is controversial, so involvement can hurt your reputation. The last thing you want is to be targeted by boycotts from several directions. Politicians can also extract rents. Businesses contribute to candidates not only to get benefits but also to stave off harms. A stable policy that is fairly expensive to business (such as a higher corporate tax rate) may actually be preferable to a rapidly changing and highly contested policy environment.

Finally, it is much easier to advocate a narrow policy, particularly one that has low public salience, than to try to steer the whole ship of state.

As a result, most businesses probably prefer outcomes in this order:

  1. A particular politician of any party and persuasion who champions their highly specific interests–a given tax break, an import permit, etc.
  2. Traditional Republicans who instinctively favor business interests, focus on economics, and don’t court controversy.
  3. Moderate Democrats, who are practically tied with #2.
  4. Quite liberal Democrats, as long as they are forced to compromise. If Sen. Sanders could write the tax code, that would be expensive for corporate America. If he has a seat at the table, it’s OK.
  5. Trump. He’s a loose cannon. He’s protectionist. Business doesn’t like his explicit stances on race and immigration; and he may hurt traditional Republicans against Democrats. For instance, with a different Republican president on the ballot in 2020, the GOP would probably control the White House and at least one house of Congress. right now Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez would be in the minority party now, rather than the majority. This means that Trump presents, overall, a bigger problem for business than Bernie does.

If this ranking is correct, then the relationship between business and the GOP is fraught; however, corporations’ calculations are complicated, and they will surely hedge their bets.

[VIDEO]: YOU Should Join my ‘Philosophy of Education’ (EPE525/640) Course Next Fall!

Snag a seat!

Graduate students and advanced undergraduates at the University of Kentucky, watch this VIDEO (4m29s) about why you should take my EPE 525 / 640 course in the fall of of this year on the Philosophy of Education. The EPE 525 course is the undergraduate version of the EPE 640 class, which is for graduate students, and both meet at the same time and in the same room.

Why study the Philosophy of Education?

Photo with students at the University of Mississippi.a) Educators and leaders are expected to have a meaningful grasp of their own philosophies of education;

b) All research is rooted in frameworks of ideas that support and contextualize our work and thought, and that can clarify and help us to focus or be conflicted and confuse us if not carefully considered;

c) Everyone working in educational administration contributes to a system that functions with respect to or in conflict with underlying philosophical ideas. That calls for appreciating and always keeping in mind what we ought to be doing in education.

What you’ll get out of it / create:

Eric Thomas Weber, author of "Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South" speaks at Sturgis Hall October 19, 2015. Photo Credit: Jacob Slaton

Photo Credit: Jacob Slaton

1) A short “teaching statement,” “Statement on Educational Philosophy,” or related document commonly requested in academic job applications, as well as for administrative positions that often involve teaching courses or otherwise supporting them;

2) A book review for possible publication (optional route for students’ presentation);

3) A conference-length paper ready for submission to professional calls for papers;

John Dewey, standing.

John Dewey, concerned that you’re not yet signed up for the course.

4) A full-length research paper suitable for submission to journals and that could support your other projects;5) An op-ed-length version of the research paper for possible submission to newspapers or educational periodicals (optional);

6) Credits that can contribute to the Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning.

When & Where?

Screen capture of Luke Schlake's opinion essay. It’ll be on Mondays from 4-6:30pm in Dickey Hall rm 127. If you’re interested in enrolling in this course virtually, through Zoom, reach out to let me know:


Former Students’ Success

From the Fall of 2020, 5 students, including one undergraduate, had their papers accepted for presentation at the 2021 Southeastern Philosophy of Education Society conference. Two more students have had their book reviews accepted for publication in the journal Essays in Philosophy. One published his op-ed in the Kentucky Kernel. All wrote fascinating statements on teaching philosophy.


Maria Richie, Andrew Nelson, and Dr. Eric Thomas Weber at the 2019 Midwest Educational Research Association conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.In Fall 2019, 3 of 6 grad students in my EPE 640 class submitted their papers to conferences and had them accepted for presentation. They included: Joseph Barry and Josh Smith presented their papers at the 2020 Southeastern Philosophy of Education Society conference at the University of Georgia in February 2020. Also, Samer Jan had his paper accepted for presentation at the 2020 conference of the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World. Josh Smith also will be publishing his book review of Teaching In the Now by Jeff Frank in Columbia University’s Teachers College Record. The photo on right features Weber with two students from his Spring 2019 Ethics and Educational Decision Making course, Andrew Nelson and Maria Richie, whose papers from that class were accepted for presentation at the 2019 Midwest Educational Research Association conference


Questions? Email me at You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, &

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