Questions about legitimacy (stolen elections, fraud, voter suppression) have surrounded reactions to the recent election here in the U.S. What does it means to have a legitimate election and why do political scientists think this is such an important concept and value in a democratic system?
It's election time, America! You've certainly heard from the pundits and the campaigns, but what do political scientists think about midterm elections in general and this midterm election in particular? What should we expect? What is so important about midterms? And why should we (maybe) not call them "midterms" at all?
Our first ever live episode! In front of an audience of real live human beings, we discuss the idea of mandatory voting. What is compulsory voting? Do other countries require their citizens to vote? Should we do that? Plus: Q&A with the audience! Fun!
Instant Runoff Voting or Ranked-Choice Voting: What is it, who does it, and is it a good idea? We'll answer all your questions in our most recent trip to the political science reform corner.
Why does voter registration to be a hassle? Can reforms like Automatic Voter Registration or Same Day Voter Registration make it easier for folks to vote? Is there any downside to making it easier for folks to register to vote?
Vote By Mail: Is it a good idea? We take a trip to the Political Science Reform Corner to find out.
Everyone complains about corrupt politicians, but what does corruption really mean in democratic politics? What is the difference between the complicated, messy, and unsatisfying business of everyday politics, and truly problematic political corruption? Is it reasonable to expect moral virtue and total honesty from our elected leaders, or are our complaints somewhat naive?
It's America's birthday! But what exactly does it mean to be an American? We explore theories of what it means to be an American - is it a kind of national identity, a commitment to particular ideas, a set of civic practices, or something else entirely?
What's the deal with primaries? Why do they happen? Why do they matter? Do we really have to pay attention to them? Do I really have to vote twice this year? (Hint: Yes!) And what is the role of political parties in primaries? What should it be? Can a party really "meddle" in its own primaries? (Hint: No!)
What's political about the census? Everything from the apportionment of representatives to the distribution of public resources to the construction of racial, ethnic, & civic identities. It's a big deal, and recent changes are worth paying attention to.
We're back (finally)! In our third installment of our long-gestating media discussion, we look at the professional norms of the political media and how understanding them can help us comprehend and critique the media.
The news media in America has a complicated relationship to partisan politics and political ideology. The mainstream news media continues to prize ideals of objectivity & neutrality, but countless outlets offer an explicitly partisan takes on the news. We should be worried? Is partisan media a problem for democracy, or is it fitting in a democracy with robust protections for freedom of the press? And what are news consumers to make of claims about bias in the ostensibly neutral news media? Is the ‘mainstream media’ really liberally biased? Or do other biases—such as those toward celebrity, scandal, and novelty—outweigh any ideological bias? And how does all of this connect with the business incentives of the media we discussed a couple of weeks ago?
Despite enjoying popular support, federal gun control legislation seems all but impossible. Is the NRA really bribing representatives? Not exactly, but they have an awful lot of influence, and we explore the politics of interest groups to understand why.
In the first of our series on how to think about the media, we explore the economics of the news business. Who owns the media? How does the profit motive explain much of what you see, hear, and read? And what--if anything--can we do about it?
In light of FISA reauthorization earlier this year and the FISA-related accusations leveled against the FBI & the Obama Administration in the Nunes memo, it’s a good time to remind ourselves what exactly FISA is, where it came from, what Americans should and should not be worried about, and what it means that both parties in Congress and the President just decided to reauthorize it without much public discussion or controversy.