2016 election: the "great filter"?

This week I did a quick “out and back” trip to San Diego for 30 hours at the Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting. It would have been nice to spend a few extra days (or even hours) out there, but the chance to attend a few discussions and reconnect with friends was nice. Most importantly, 10+ hours of flights finally gave me time to put a dent in my reading list! I had a list of 35 or so articles (down to 18 now) that have built up in the past year and I have not had time to read. God-willing, expect to see some older content pop up in my weekly links as I work through that.

Yet another way Trump will screw the GOP for years to come
But first up, a link from this week! After the 2012 election, the GOP post-mortem heavily focused on the need to be more inclusive, moderate, and close the data gap with the Democrats. Trump’s been burning the first two legs of that stool for over a year now, and finally set fire to the last one this week. He intends to continue his campaign as he has, and not embrace a heavy digital/data strategy. That may work fine for him, but the data collected during the national campaigns every four years becomes incredibly useful during local campaigns in the interim. Trump’s damage to the party will linger far beyond this fall.

The Porngate scandal
Despite living in Pennsylvania and seeing news about “Porngate” spread all over the local newspapers, I’ve managed to detach myself from it. I never really brought myself to care: either than people were sharing dirty emails, or that the whole thing backfired and brought down the Attorney General. This feature does not make me any more invested in the ongoing drama, but it is terrific insight into the little dramas and turf wars that fuel American politics.

Did the pivot to Asia work?
Hillary Clinton’s effort to rebalance American foreign policy toward Asia was spot-on. That’s where our future is (a fate Europe has largely brought upon itself due to stagnant economies and declining will to power in the world), and we need to be focused on asserting ourselves diplomatically, economically, and militarily. FiveThirtyEight looked at the areas that have made progress, but also many of the places that have retarded since her departure from the State Department. The hate being showered toward free trade (and the TPP, specifically) during the campaigns indicate even the current efforts are precarious. We need to get serious about how we discuss policy during the election, and realize that both candidates are shaping what our allies are doing now, and whether they’ll be ours (or China’s) by the time someone new is in office.

China, Russia and Iran: the three-front war we’re fighting
Our next president will inherit a world that is more complex and fraught with conflict than any since the first George Bush. The brief period of post-Cold War American hegemony has ended, and the world is returning to a more familiar competition of great powers. Iran in the Middle East, Russia in Europe, and China in Asia represent three clear, traditional, sovereign threats to American power that have not appeared since the USSR. These threats are a combination of timing (China) and the poor management of the current administration (Iran and China), but each represent a clear challenge to America in their respective regions, and a chance to curtail American global influence. 

The Fermi Paradox
Earlier this week, I tweeted a link to a long article on artificial intelligence from Wait, But Why? I originally ended up on the site when discussing the Fermi Paradox with Kira. This explainer is a pretty awesome way of thinking about why we appear to be alone in the universe. None of the options are particularly appealing, but I agree with the sentiment that continued silence is comfort. On the other hand, maybe the breakdown of discourse we're seeing this election season is the great filter itself, and we're about to implode before we can expand to the stars.