Category Archives: Politics

Status threat, not economic hardship, explains the 2016 presidential vote

Source: Diana C. Mutz (PNAS), published ahead of print April 23, 2018

From the abstract:
This study evaluates evidence pertaining to popular narratives explaining the American public’s support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election. First, using unique representative probability samples of the American public, tracking the same individuals from 2012 to 2016, I examine the “left behind” thesis (that is, the theory that those who lost jobs or experienced stagnant wages due to the loss of manufacturing jobs punished the incumbent party for their economic misfortunes). Second, I consider the possibility that status threat felt by the dwindling proportion of traditionally high-status Americans (i.e., whites, Christians, and men) as well as by those who perceive America’s global dominance as threatened combined to increase support for the candidate who emphasized reestablishing status hierarchies of the past. Results do not support an interpretation of the election based on pocketbook economic concerns. Instead, the shorter relative distance of people’s own views from the Republican candidate on trade and China corresponded to greater mass support for Trump in 2016 relative to Mitt Romney in 2012. Candidate preferences in 2016 reflected increasing anxiety among high-status groups rather than complaints about past treatment among low-status groups. Both growing domestic racial diversity and globalization contributed to a sense that white Americans are under siege by these engines of change.

Significance:
Support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election was widely attributed to citizens who were “left behind” economically. These claims were based on the strong cross-sectional relationship between Trump support and lacking a college education. Using a representative panel from 2012 to 2016, I find that change in financial wellbeing had little impact on candidate preference. Instead, changing preferences were related to changes in the party’s positions on issues related to American global dominance and the rise of a majority–minority America: issues that threaten white Americans’ sense of dominant group status. Results highlight the importance of looking beyond theories emphasizing changes in issue salience to better understand the meaning of election outcomes when public preferences and candidates’ positions are changing.

How Janus Could Spill into the Private Sector Without Radically Redefining the State Action Doctrine

Source: Boyd Garriott, On Labor blog, April 19, 2018

This term, the Supreme Court will decide Janus, where it will determine the future of agency shop agreements in public sector unions. Despite being a public-sector union case, Justice Ginsburg raised a question on many people’s minds at oral argument: “what happens in the private sector?” Her question may prove prescient, considering that five justices in Harris v. Quinn’s dicta questioned an older line of cases upholding private sector agency fee arrangements. Contrary to others who have spoken on this issue, I believe that a holding striking down public sector agency shop agreements in Janus could spill into the private sector without doing much violence to the state action doctrine….

Company Men: The 200-year legal struggle that led to Citizens United and gave corporations the rights of people

Source: Kim Phillips-Fein, New Republic, Vol. 249, no. 4, April 2018

More than 100 years ago, at the height of the last Gilded Age, Congress passed its first law prohibiting corporations from spending money to influence election campaigns. From the start, the wealthy chafed against this limit, and some sought to test it in court. Alcohol manufacturers—terrified of high taxes and Prohibition—might not have seemed the ideal candidates to take on this fight. But they were nonetheless the first to challenge the law, contributing cash to candidates in state and federal races and then arguing that any effort to keep money out of politics was no less than an unconstitutional limitation on free speech.

At that time, state and federal courts rejected these arguments out of hand. To the Michigan Supreme Court, for example, it was self-evident that a local brewery had no “right to participate” in elections. The company, wrote the chief justice in a 1914 decision, was created not to engage in politics, but “for the purpose of manufacturing beer.” In a different case involving the Brewers Association, a federal court ruled that corporations “are not citizens of the United States,” and that as far as the franchise went, they must “at all times be held subservient to the government and the citizenship of which it is composed.”

Yet the beermakers finally had their day in 2010, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United. In a reversal of last century’s common sense, the Court found that corporations did have free speech rights after all and that campaign finance laws placed an intolerable restriction on those rights….

Institute of Politics Spring 2018 Youth Poll

Source: Harvard Kennedy School, Institute of Politics, Spring 2018

Spring 2018 marks the 35th National Youth Poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School examining the political opinions and civic engagement of young Americans ages 18 to 29. Since its conception by two Harvard undergraduate students in 2000, the Harvard Public Opinion Project has provided the most comprehensive look at the political opinions, voting trends, and views on public service held by young Americans. Beginning on April 10th, 2018 and continuing through the month of April, the IOP will release results from specific portions of the poll.

A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the Kennedy School of Government, finds that nearly two-thirds (64%) of young Americans have more fear than hope about the future of democracy in America.  

For the first time, the Harvard Public Opinion Project asked a series of questions about how responsible 18- to 29-year-olds believed different groups were for the existing problems in American politics and society today. Politicians were viewed as very or somewhat responsible by at least 7-in-10 young Americans, regardless of political affiliation. Money in politics and the media were mentioned by at least 6-in-10 Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

– Young Democrats under 30 blamed politicians (77% responsible), Donald Trump (77% responsible), money in politics (75% responsible), structural racism (69% responsible) and lack of access to higher education (66% responsible) as the most significant factors responsible for the state of politics and society today.

– The top five factors Republicans believe are responsible are: the media (72%), politicians (70% responsible), political correctness (64% responsible), money in politics (63% responsible), with other Americans (45%), a distant fifth.

Today’s youth reject capitalism, but what do they want to replace it?

Source: Joseph Blasi, Douglas L. Kruse, The Conversation, April 4, 2018

Today’s youth are increasingly unhappy with the way their elders are running the world.

Their ire was most recently expressed when thousands of teenagers and others across the country marched on March 24 demanding more gun control, a little over a month after more than a dozen of their peers were shot and killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

But there’s growing evidence that today’s young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29 or so, are strongly dissatisfied with other fundamental aspects of our political and economic system. Specifically, growing numbers are rejecting capitalism.

This led us – a sociologist and an economist – to wonder how would young people redesign the economic system if they could. The answer, based on recent surveys, should make any status-quo politician seriously rethink their economic policies.

Public Unions Under First Amendment Fire

Source: Tabatha Abu El-Haj, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-W-01, February 28, 2018

From the abstract:
Unions today are under First Amendment fire, with the compelled speech doctrine as the weapon of choice. Conservative interests are waging a legal war against agreements that include “fair-share service fees,” under which public-sector unions are permitted to charge non-union members to pay their share of the costs of collective bargaining. Espousing libertarian theories of free speech doctrine, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and its allies maintain that fair-share service fees, at least in the context of public-sector unions, constitute a form of political speech, and that laws mandating their payment by non-union members violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against compelled speech. The Supreme Court is poised to accept this position, having granted certiorari in Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Council 31, a case that threatens to overrule the Court’s longstanding acceptance of the constitutionality of fair-share service fees.

Notwithstanding the superficial appeal of the compelled speech argument, this Article argues that pro-union interests have plenty of cover within the First Amendment’s freedom of association doctrine. Viewing Janus and its ilk through an associational lens demonstrates the fallacies that lie behind doubts concerning the constitutionality of such agreements. Although it is doubtful that the Supreme Court will reaffirm the constitutionality of fair-share service fees this term, it is important to air such arguments in order to head off potentially even more significant First Amendment attacks on unionism that are currently underway and to articulate a theory of the First Amendment that remains consistent with the basic New Deal compromise that leaves matters regarding labor policy to our legislatures, where they belong.