Category Archives: Politics

The Paradox of Community Power: Cultural Processes and Elite Authority in Participatory Governance

Source: Jeremy R. Levine, Social Forces, Vol. 95 no. 3, March 2017
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From the abstract:
From town halls to public forums, disadvantaged neighborhoods appear more “participatory” than ever. Yet increased participation has not necessarily resulted in increased influence. This article, drawing on a four-year ethnographic study of redevelopment politics in Boston, presents an explanation for the decoupling of participation from the promise of democratic decision-making. I find that poor urban residents gain the appearance of power and status by invoking and policing membership in “the community”—a boundary sometimes, though not always, implicitly defined by race. But this appearance of power is largely an illusion. In public meetings, government officials can reinforce their authority and disempower residents by exploiting the fact that the boundary demarcating “the community” lacks a standardized definition. When officials laud “the community” as an abstract ideal rather than a specific group of people, they reduce “the community process” to a bureaucratic procedure. Residents appear empowered, while officials retain ultimate decision-making authority. I use the tools of cultural sociology to make sense of these findings and conclude with implications for the study of participatory governance and urban inequality.

The Role of Constituency, Party, and Industry in Pennsylvania’s Act 13

Source: Bradford H. Bishop, Mark R. Dudley, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, OnlineFirst, First Published December 1, 2016
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From the abstract:
While a large body of research exists regarding the role of industry money on roll-call voting in the U.S. Congress, there is surprisingly little scholarship pertaining to industry influence on state politics. This study fills this void in an analysis of campaign donations and voting during passage of Act 13 in Pennsylvania during 2011 and 2012. After collecting information about natural gas production in state legislative districts, we estimate a series of multivariate models aimed at uncovering whether campaign donations contributed to a more favorable policy outcome for industry. Our findings indicate that campaign donations played a small but systematic role in consideration of the controversial legislation, which represented one of the first and most important state-level regulatory reforms for the hydraulic fracturing industry.

Fight Trump. Work From Home.

Source: Tasneem Rajamar, Mother Jones, April 2017

Remote jobs are great for work-life balance—and democracy. ….. By 2020, Dell hopes that half its workforce will be doing at least some remote work. A report released by the company in June 2016 found that thanks to telecommuting, 35,000 US employees each saved the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon dioxide on average every year—even when you consider the extra energy required for heat and lights in a home office….. What’s more, a group of researchers found that for low-income people, the longer their commute is, the less likely they are to vote. And another study shows that no other daily activity brings out as many negative emotions as the morning commute—not dealing with the kids, cleaning the dishes, or even being at work. When you’re already stressed out and annoyed, finding the energy to engage politically is just that much harder…..
Related:
The Sustainability Benefits of the Connected Workplace
Source: John Pflueger, Sarah Gibson, Christian Normand, Dell, June 2016

The “Daily Grind” – Work, Commuting, and Their Impact on Political Participation
Source: Benjamin J. Newman, Joshua Johnson, Patrick L. Lown, American Politics Research, Vol 42, Issue 1, 2014
(subscription required)

Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being
Source: Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 20, Number 1, Winter 2006

Introduction: A close look at Judge Neil Gorsuch’s jurisprudence

Source: Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog, March 3, 2017

There will never be another Antonin Scalia. When he died on February 13, 2016, the brilliant and pugnacious jurist left behind a legacy that included almost singlehandedly bringing originalism – the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted according to what it meant when it was adopted – to the forefront of legal debate, both at the Supreme Court and more broadly. Accepting the nomination to fill the vacancy left by Scalia’s death, Judge Neil Gorsuch spoke for many when he called Scalia “a lion of the law.”

Like Scalia, Gorsuch describes himself as an originalist: In a 2016 speech at Case Western Reserve University, he told his audience that judges should interpret the Constitution and the law “by focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be.” But, if he is indeed confirmed, what effect will Gorsuch have on specific areas of the law? Last fall we hosted a symposium in which 25 different authors took closer looks at the effect that a hypothetical conservative or liberal nominee to replace Scalia might have on high-profile issues like reproductive rights, the First Amendment and class actions.

With confirmation hearings for Gorsuch scheduled to begin on March 20, we are no longer operating in the abstract. In his ten years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Gorsuch has still not weighed on all of the topics that we covered in last year’s symposium – including, for example, affirmative action, abortion and gun rights. But there is still plenty to learn about his jurisprudence and views on other topics, and how those views might compare with Scalia’s. Today we will kick off a series of posts by blog staffers and lawyers from the law firm of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., that will examine those views in greater depth and, we hope, provide a better sense of how Gorsuch might change the court, if at all.

The D.C. Think Tank Behind Donald Trump

Source: Alex Shephard, New Republic, February 22, 2017

How the Heritage Foundation is shaping the president’s playbook. …. The Heritage-Trump alliance is one of the more improbable developments in an election season that was full of them. A year ago, Heritage’s political arm dismissed Trump as a distraction, with no track record of allegiance to conservative causes. Today the group’s fingerprints are on virtually every policy Trump advocates, from his economic agenda to his Supreme Court nominees. According to Politico, Heritage employees acted as a “shadow transition team,” vetting potential Trump staffers to make sure the administration is well stocked with conservative appointees. …..

How ‘voter fraud’ crusades undermine voting rights

Source: Jesse Rhodes, The Conversation, February 1, 2017

….Put bluntly, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud by impersonation in the United States. “Impersonation” is what we call the deliberate misrepresentation of identity by individuals in order to manipulate election outcomes.

Research suggests allegations of voter fraud and the calls for stringent election rules are motivated by the desire to suppress voting by citizens of color.

Because stringent election rules suppress minority voting, Trump’s call for an attack on nonexistent voter fraud should be met with serious concern by all Americans. The last thing the United States needs is more measures that make it harder to vote. ….