Discussing Party Differences

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If I could find something comparable from a pro-Republican perspective, I’d love to use this (and it) in class as a provocative way to discuss differences between the parties and between party elite vs. ordinary mass public party identifiers. I think it’s important to point out that, even if (big if) this is a somewhat accurate account of Republican activists and elite, it doesn’t mean ordinary Republican voters see things this way. The fact that a lot of Republican voters would object to this portrayal is a good way to discuss the difference between the ideological elite and the relatively non-ideological mass public.

Link to US Civitas Facebook Thread

Article: Libertarianism’s Historical Blindspot

This is an interesting criticism of American libertarianism, written by a libertarian, regarding its historical blind spot (at best) about the unfree condition of African Americans (both during and after the time of legal slavery). I think a lot of what Levy writes here is useful to keep in mind when teaching American government, particularly when covering concepts such as limited government, federalism, ideology, civil liberties, and civil rights.

Black Liberty Matters‘-Niskanen Center

Link to US Civitas Facebook Discussion Thread


Article: Understanding voter behavior: The Case of Evangelical Trump Voters

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This would be great for critically discussing public opinion, the notion that support for “theocracy” is outside the mainstream of American politics, and also the notion that ideological disagreement — understood in liberal vs. conservative terms — is a major cause of political conflict in American politics.

Despite porn stars and Playboy models, white evangelicals aren’t rejecting Trump. This is why.’-Washington Post

Link to US Civitas Facebook Discussion Thread

Article discussing intra-party conflict and the motivations of office-seekers

There’s a lot in here to draw from for American Gov classes. Here are just two. (1) The accurate description of political parties as non-homogeneous coalitions of conflicting interests and ideologies. And (2) his reflections on the motives that drove him into politics, and how they have changed over time. He said it started as something of a “sport” for him and then became more about personal “ambition,” but now he sees politics as “a way to make fundamental choices for the country.” This fits well with the discussion in Ch. 3 of American Way of Government and Politics about (a) the different kinds of motives that drive different people into politics and (b) the discussion of whether there is such things as a genuine “politics of principle” or whether cynics are correct that there isn’t.

A GOP strategist abandons his party and calls for the election of Democrats‘- Washington Post

Link to US Civitas Facebook Discussion Thread

Thread exemplifying the distinction between violent and non-violent politics/ideologies in the Alt-Right vs. Antifa context

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This would be great for discussing ideologies and the idea that politics (in my modified-Crickian sense) consists of a set of free nonviolent activities (and that this commitment to freedom and nonviolence sets its apart from other forms of power struggle). Both ideas converge in this discussion of the “alt-right” and “antifa” movements in this thread. On the two-dimensional ideological spectrum that I introduce in Ch. 3, both movements would be low on the vertical axis because they both are authoritarian. But they are literally violently opposed to one another on the left vs. right axis because one seeks to create a white male ethno-state while the other seeks to stop them (because they envision a deeply egalitarian multicultural society).

Link to discussion thread authored by Political Scientist David Neiwert

Link to US Civitas Facebook post

What does “Politics” mean?

I have long been fascinated (and sometimes amused) by the different definitions given by political scientists, political theorists, political leaders and other commentators of the word “politics” (or “the political”). I have decided to start compiling these definitions here. For now, they will be in no particular order, but I may eventually try to bring a little method to the madness (and maybe even take a stab at offering my own definition). And in a few cases, I will list quotes about politics and/or politicians if I think they say something relevant about the meaning of politics (or if they are too funny not to list).

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