In a campaign season when civil discourse seems headed to another record low, rhetorical excess has just been given a little extra boost.
For three decades Tennessee has made it a minor crime to put knowingly false statements about a candidate in oppositional campaign literature — one of the more explicit restrictions on political speech in the nation's law books. But last week a state judge said it was a bridge way too far over the First Amendment.
A prominent democracy reform group, Tennesseans for Sensible Election Laws, sued and won the right to declare in print something hyperbolic in the extreme: That a Republican state legislator is "literally Hitler," the Nazi fuhrer who died in Germany three-quarters of a century ago.
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President Trump took his crusade against voting by mail to a whole new level Thursday, suggesting for the first time that "delay" of the election is the best way to prevent his re-election from being stolen from him.
The idea was either castigated, dismissed as impossible or disregarded as a silly trial balloon diversion by senior members of Congress from both parties as well as legal scholars.
But it nonetheless intensified the president's efforts to sow doubt about the reliability of the November result — which, if he ends up contesting and refusing to concede defeat, could produce a constitutional crisis posing an unprecedented challenge to democracy.
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For anyone who has attended events featuring the key players in democracy reform groups, your eyes and ears tell you what a new diversity study documents: They're mostly old, white and left-leaning.
But the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of about 100 groups promoting healthy self-governance, says that actually conducting the study was important so that fix-the-system groups can know precisely where they stand and chart a more diverse path forward.
Beyond the findings, Bridge Alliance leaders announced two initiatives on Monday to help groups expand their diversity — one focused on professional development and the other on boosting pay.