Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
It's been a dozen days since the Federal Election Commission lost its quorum, and subsequently its ability to perform most of its duties in enforcing campaign finance law. With only three commissioners on the job, and four required to take any action, the fall's first regularly scheduled meeting was canceled Thursday.
President Trump and the Senate have the power to restore full functionality to the FEC with relative speed, but the partisanship that's deadlocked the agency for years is clogging the process even as the 2020 campaign heats up.
Democratic senators are proposing seating one new commissioner from each party, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which reports that the consensus choice for the Democratic spot is Shana Broussard, an FEC attorney who would be the first African-American commissioner in the FEC's 44-year history.
Barrett is the deputy director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the Stern School of Business and is an adjunct professor of law at New York University.
Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.
Fresh evidence of the nastiness and divisiveness of the 2020 presidential election emerges every day.
President Trump has let loose a storm of invective over Twitter about various African American public figures and about the conditions of life in America's inner cities. The president seems bent on exploiting a rural/urban divide and creating racial cleavage as a way to get re-elected.
In addition, he has questioned the patriotism of Democrats and alleged that they are trying to "destroy our country."
Democrats have responded by denouncing the president's racially tinged language and accusing the president and his supporters of being the ones destroying the country.
"Four years of Donald Trump," former Vice President Joe Biden claims, "would be an aberration in American history. Eight years will fundamentally change who we are as a nation." Biden, of course, is running for president.
Nasty, divisive elections are nothing new in the United States. As someone who teaches and writes about the importance of historical memory in American law and politics, I believe the 2020 election will rival the ugliest America has ever witnessed.
There are lessons that can be learned from examining this election's parallels with two previous presidential elections – 1860 and 1968 – both of which left America deeply divided.