The Seeds of the Imagination: Colin Kaepernick’s Gift

This week in North Philly Notes, we repost a September 27 article from The Con by Grant Farred, author of Long Distance Love, about the NFL’s “Take a Knee” controversy.

In his response to his friend Fredric Jameson’s essay “American Utopia,” Slavoj Žižek makes a case for what is all too often lost in the uproar and turmoil caused by a historical event. What is forgotten, Žižek argues, are those “seeds of the imagination” that first created the conditions that made the event possible; the “seeds of the imagination” are overwhelmed by the event and, without the deliberate act of retrieval, lost to history. Žižek has no timetable, but one suspects that he has a longer view in mind than Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee on the 1 September, 2016. It was in a National Football League (NFL) game for the San Francisco 49ers against the-then San Diego Chargers.

Still, there is a resonance about Žižek’s concept in a moment when there is large-scale support for the decision by NFL players, coaches, owners and an assortment of commentators in response to Donald Trump’s condemnation of the “SOB” players who, following Kaepernick’s example, have kept up the tradition of taking a knee. The bi-racial Kaepernick, adopted by a white family in Wisconsin, took his decision because of police violence and mistreatment of other minorities in the United States. This was not a nation, Kaepernick declared, whose flag or anthem he could honour, this was not a nation to which he could pledge allegiance. Kaepernick was, in this regard, following Jackie Robinson, who had, decades earlier, taken the same stand. As, Robinson said, a “black man” signified very differently to him than it did to white Americans. Unlike Robinson, who made this statement after his career had ended, Kaepernick has paid, like Muhammad Ali, a professional price. Since the end of last season, in a league full of mediocre quarterbacks (and even worse backups), Kaepernick has been out of a job.

However, what Kaepernick brought to the fore was politics. The politics of race, police brutality and the unequal treatment of minorities. In the aftermath of the Huntsville rally where Trump criticised the “sons of bitches” footballers for taking the knee, in this weekend’s NFL games, there was an outpouring of condemnation.

Players, from the usually reliable (Seattle Seahawks’s Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett; Marshawn Lynch, once of Seattle, now of the Oakland Raiders; and so on) to the unexpected (Tom Brady, [New England] Patriot in more senses than one, a Trump supporter to boot; the Dallas Cowboys, albeit taking a knee before the national anthem); coaches, from the admirable (Pete Carroll, Seahawks) to the shocking (Rex Ryan, for whom Huntsville was a Damascus experience); owners, well, other than the Steelers’ Rooney family everyone was a surprise. Shahid Kahn (Jaguars), the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft (like his quarterback Brady a Trump man), Jerry Jones (who participated in the premature knee-taking) to the owners of the Philadelphia Eagles . . . It would seems that the New York Jets’ Woody Johnson, a rather fervent Trump underwriter, is out in the cold by himself. It promises to be a lonely place for Woody. But at least he’ll have the company of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins, who only represent the whitest sport in America. He’ll have to do without the likes of National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors), who want no part of Trump and his White House. Then there’s Robin Lopez of the Chicago Bulls, whose tweet suggests that he expects Trump to be indicted.

What has been lost sight of, in the nigh universal locking-of-arms, taking-of-knees, and expressions of public outrage by commentators from the normally ebullient Chris Collinsworth to the articulate Bob Costas, from the savvy of CNN’s Bakari Sellers to the erudition of MSNBC’s Brian Williams, is how the entire conversation is being overwhelmed by the discourse of respectability, responsibility and, of course, patriotism. The case has made based entirely on the players’ First Amendment right: the right to free speech; their right to protest animated, of course, by the anger fuelled by Trump’s incendiary call to “fire” the “SOBs”.

The players, almost every commentator announces, are patriotic. They have “great respect” for the American flag. Under no circumstances must their protest be understood as a slap in the face of the military. The players are apparently united in their respect for the nation’s armed services, for the police force and all other state institutions whose members work to keep the country safe.

Whatever happened to the “seeds” of Kaepernick’s “imagination?” Have we already forgotten that Kaepernick, like Ali once did (before his conservatism got the better of him), like Robinson and John Carlos and Tommie Smith, understood, correctly, that the problem is precisely the American nation as it is constituted. To be sure, both Carroll and Costas gave voice to this. And, each in their own way, began from the political premise that racism and institutionalised inequality are ingrained in the nation’s fabric; discrimination of African-Americans, Latinos and other minorities is the very stuff of America – you know, like apple pie.

What is more, the dominant line of defence has been, the NFL players “care” about their “communities” and work very hard to contribute to it. These “communities” are never specified, but one presumes that it has to do with kids, and, almost certainly, with kids in under-resourced neighbourhoods.

But . . .  But . . . None of this matters. None of it.

In fact, the only way in which the First Amendment means anything, has any political purchase, is if it begins from the ground that the players, like every other resident of this country, have rights that are in no way contingent. That is, they are free do as they choose – protest, take a knee, stand with their hand over their heart, raise a clenched first – regardless of whether they are “responsible” citizens given to doing good deeds in their assorted “communities.”

What the discourse of “caring” achieves is to imbricate, relentlessly and repeatedly, the players’ right to protest, their right to give voice to their anger, whether it be against police brutality or against Trump’s racist bullhorn (very much in the spirit of Alabama’s own “Bull” Connor), in the discourse of respectability. Because the players, and the NFL, by extension, are responsible stewards of their “communities,” they are then implicitly immunized against the charge of disloyalty to the nation. Their commitment to their “communities” is the surest sign of their investment in America and its values; because they have “great respect” for cops and “deeply appreciate the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform” the act of taking a knee on a Sunday afternoon must not be mistaken for a lack of “patriotism.”

Why ever not? Isn’t the very fundament of the rights enshrined in the First Amendment precisely the right to offend? To give offense, again and again? To disrespect the flag, turn your back on the singing of the national anthem or to pour scorn upon American “values?”

In the rush to support or defend the players’ right to protest, what that right means has been reduced to a publicity relations campaign overwhelmed by the discourses of respectability and responsibility. The logic of this defence proceeds from the ground that the players are “worthy” of their rights; they are “upstanding members” of their “communities” who care —  a point with which I am fully sympathetic — about disproportionate police brutality against blacks and the structural inequality that remains a persistent feature of American life.

It does not matter if they are “upstanding” citizens or not. (No one makes the same demands of the owners, those who, like Johnson and Jones and Kraft, remained silent when Trump berated Mexicans as “murderers and rapists,” or advocated predatory sexual behaviour against women, or mocked a specially-abled reporter or . . .). The right to the First Amendment, if it is to have any political salience, must be apprehended as unconditional, something like sovereign. The moment in which support for the players is made to rest upon their socio-political “worthiness,” the discourse of respectability and responsibility veers unthinkingly into political paternalism. Only the “worthy” can give voice to their frustration or anger. Girding this argument is an unreflective and, within the context of the US, historic racism.

Respectability and responsibility (the NFL has its share of miscreants and unsavoury characters, from Lawrence Taylor to Ray Rice to . . .) is installed as the litmus test. There must be no contingency, no dependency upon others burnishing the players’ grievance and anger with their, to mix metaphors, their seal of ethical approval.

There is no need for the players to “nuance” (a term Costas favoured on Monday as he made his way on the talk show circuit) their protest. In fact, they have every right to make, if they so wish, public their disdain for the military or, contrary to what the Steelers so spectacularly failed to do, call one another out, team mate to team mate. Why should one team mate not be divided from another on matters of politics? Why should a league of which, at least, some 70% are black men, not let the mainly white crowds know that they disapprove, in the strongest possible terms, of their – the crowds, as was shown on Sunday and Monday evening – voting tendencies? Why ever not? Why not reiterate the division between black performance (labour, albeit a labour of love, as it is for many) and white consumption? In a moment of historic racial division, it can be argued that the first right is that of enunciating racial difference and the continuing deleterious effect of American racism. From police brutality to the failing Chicago Public School system (ask Chance the Rapper about that) to the intense racial animus that Trump has traded on.

It may very well not, this insistence on the right to unfettered right, to the absolute right to express that right, be the most efficient PR strategy. But, then again, there has never been a protest movement that began by first seeking approval. Or, allowed the fear of sanction to immobilise it. The Montgomery bus boycott, the March to Selma, Ali’s willingness to sacrifice his career because, as he said when he refused induction into the US Army, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong, they never called me Nigger,” owes much to its willingness to offend, to take issue, publicly, with the status quo.

Because of the rush to respectability, because of the visceral impulse to submit to the discourse of patriotism (the first refuge of scoundrels, as I’ve argued elsewhere), Kaepernick’s gift is in danger of being trampled upon. It might serve the NFL players better if they resisted the urge to clothe themselves in the cloak of respectability, if they eschewed the trappings of responsibility.

If, instead, they embraced fully the “seeds” of Kaepernick’s “imagination.” Kaepernick sowed, through his willingness to articulate the politics that informed his act of kneeling, in his stated opposition to the racism that has repeatedly allowed police officers who have ended the lives of black citizens (a point Sellers made on CNN) to be summarily ended without any palpable justice, a seed uncompromised by the desire for respectability. Kaepernick acted as a political “bad boy.”

If that “seed” is lost, if his “imagination” is not properly understood and honoured, if the “seed of his imagination” does not grow into a politics rather than a placatory course of action, then, as Žižek reminds us, there will have been, no matter the amount of ink spilled on this issue, no matter the hours spent trolling the internet or sitting glued to the TV/computer screen offer their opinions on it, fidelity to Kaepernick’s “seed,” to the possibilities a now unemployed quarterback opened up when he first took that knee, in that game more than a year ago against the Chargers.

The only proper way to honour Kaepernick is to recognise the promise of the political “seed” he germinated and then to exceed it. As the Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett senior put it, his NFL-playing sons, Michael and Martellus (tight end for the Green Bay Packers), will continue to protest. Out of one “seed,” potentially another. And so on, and so on. The Seahawks defensive end appears ready to add the force of his political “imagination” to the “seed” Kaepernick planted in San Diego. Who said that defensive ends are the scourge of quarterbacks? Not in this case, one dares hope.

ABOUT GRANT FARRED

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Remembering 9/11

On the 16th anniversary of September 11th, we offer a quartet of Temple University Press titles that put the 9/11 tragedy in context.

American Dunkirk_smAmerican Dunkirk: The Waterborne Evacuation of Manhattan on 9/11, by James Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf; 

When the terrorist attacks struck New York City on September 11, 2001, boat operators and waterfront workers quickly realized that they had the skills, the equipment, and the opportunity to take definite, immediate action in responding to the most significant destructive event in the United States in decades. For many of them, they were “doing what needed to be done.”

American Dunkirk shows how people, many of whom were volunteers, mobilized rescue efforts in various improvised and spontaneous ways on that fateful date. Disaster experts James Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf examine the efforts through fieldwork and interviews with many of the participants to understand the evacuation and its larger implications for the entire practice of disaster management.

The authors ultimately explore how people—as individuals, groups, and formal organizations—pull together to respond to and recover from startling, destructive events. American Dunkirk asks, What can these people and lessons teach us about not only surviving but thriving in the face of calamity?

History and September 11th edited by Joanne Meyerowitz; The contributors to this landmark collection set the attacks on the United States in historical perspective. They reject the simplistic notion of an age-old “clash of civilizations” and instead examine the particular histories of American nationalism, anti-Americanism, U.S. foreign policy, and Islamic fundamentalism among other topics. With renewed attention to Americans’ sense of national identity, they focus on the United States in relation to the rest of the world. A collection of recent and historical documents—speeches, articles, and book excerpts—supplement the essays. Taken together, the essays and sources in this volume comment on the dangers of seeing the events of September 11 as splitting the nation’s history into “before” and “after.” They argue eloquently that no useful understanding of the present is possible without an unobstructed view of the past.

Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11 by Lori Peek; As the nation tried to absorb the shock of the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans were caught up in an unprecedented wave of backlash violence. Public discussion revealed that widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islam persisted, despite the striking diversity of the Muslim community.
Letting the voices of 140 ordinary Muslim American men and women describe their experiences, Lori Peek’s path-breaking, award-winning book, Behind the Backlash presents moving accounts of prejudice and exclusion. Muslims speak of being subjected to harassment before the attacks, and recount the discrimination they encountered afterwards. Peek also explains the struggles of young Muslim adults to solidify their community and define their identity during a time of national crisis.

Abuse of Power: How Cold War Surveillance and Secrecy Policy Shaped the Response to 9/11 by Athan Theoharis; Theoharis, long a respected authority on surveillance and secrecy, shows that the events that occurred 11 years ago are still felt everyday by Americans in the sense of government security. Passionately argued, this timely book speaks to the costs and consequences of still-secret post-9/11 surveillance programs and counterintelligence failures. Ultimately, Abuse of Power makes the case that the abusive surveillance policies of the Cold War years were repeated in the government’s responses to the September 11 attacks.

A view of Public History in the light of recent events in Charlottesville

This week in North Philly Notes, in response to the Charlottesville Syllabus, which details books and articles about confederate statues and other related issues, we showcase our public history title, Presenting the Past.

In recent years, history has been increasingly popularized through television docudramas, history museums, paperback historical novels, grassroots community history projects, and other public representations of historical knowledge. This collection of lively and accessible essays is the first examination of the rapidly growing field called “public history.” Based in part on articles written for the Radical History Review, these eighteen original essays take a sometimes irreverent look at how history is presented to the public in such diverse settings as children’s books, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Statue of Liberty.

presenting the pastPresenting the Past is organized into three areas which consider the role of mass media (“Packaging the Past”), the affects of applied history (“Professionalizing the Past”) and the importance of grassroots efforts to shape historical consciousness (“Politicizing the Past”). The first section examines the large-scale production and dissemination of popular history by mass culture. The contributors criticize many of these Hollywood and Madison Avenue productions that promote historical amnesia or affirm dominant values and institutions.

In “Professionalizing the Past,” the authors show how non-university based professional historians have also affected popular historical consciousness through their work in museums, historic preservation, corporations, and government agencies. Finally, the book considers what has been labeled “people’s history”—oral history projects, slide shows, films, and local exhibits—and assesses its attempts to reach such diverse constituents as workers, ethnic groups, women, and gays.

Of essential interest to students of history, Presenting the Past also explains to the general reader how Americans have come to view themselves, their ancestors, and their heritage through the influence of mass media, popular culture, and “public history.”

What Temple University Press staff wants to give and read this holiday season

This week in North Philly Notes, the staff at Temple University Press suggest the Temple University Press books they would give along with some non-Temple University Press titles they hope to read this holiday season. 

Mary Rose Muccie, Director

audacity-of-hoop_smGive: As a recent Press tweet suggested, I’d give Alexander Wolff’s The Audacity of Hoop to those on my list who’ve been in a funk since November 8.

Read:  A review of Maria Semple’s new book, Today Will Be Different, pointed me to an earlier book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and I’ve had it on my list ever since. I love smart, witty, satirical contemporary novels and this looks to be just that.


Karen Baker, Financial Manager
building-drexel_032816_smGive:
 Boathouse Row  by Dotty Brown and Building Drexel, edited by Richardson Dilworth and Scott Gabriel Knowles, as both of these books are beautiful. Since all of my family are born and raised in Philadelphia, they will make great gifts for them.

Read: A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans. This book was just brought to my attention because it is about to be made into a movie, and it looks like a fun read.

 

 

Aaron Javsicas, Editor-in-Chief

boathouse-row_smGive: Boathouse Row, by Dottie Brown. We at Temple University Press have done our part to make holiday gift giving a little easier on Philadelphians this year. Dottie is a terrific writer who is passionate about rowing, the book is gorgeous, and it’s the first full exploration of this fascinating and unique Philadelphia institution. Giving Boathouse Row is practically a required act of Philadelphia civic pride.

Read: American Amnesia, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. These authors argue we have apparently forgotten how a “mixed economy” — with a substantial role for public intervention as well as for free markets — was crucial to achieving American prosperity in the twentieth century. It’s hard to know where we’re headed these days, but with seemingly everything up for grabs this looks like the sort of fundamental civics lesson we could all use.

Sara Cohen, Editor

Ghostly Encounters_smGive: I’ll be giving folks copies of Dennis and Michele Waskul’s Ghostly Encounters.  It’s fascinating, readable, and (at least as far as I’m concerned) nothing says “holiday season” like ghosts.

Read:  I’ll be reading Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl and Tom McCarthy’s Remainderthe latter of which I received as an early holiday gift from a good friend.

 

 

 

Ryan Mulligan, Editor

will-big-league-baseball-survive_smGive: Will Big League Baseball Survive? The World Series this year brought in so many viewers and gave them such a sublime show at just the moment that football looks like it might be losing a shade of its luster. Will baseball fandom remain arcane to casual audiences? Is a breakthrough imminent, possible, or even necessary? Lincoln Mitchell sees the path forward. His book is perfect for the baseball evangelists I know.

Read: Colson Whitehead’s NBA-winning (no – we’re not talking about sports anymore) Underground Railroad and Zadie Smith’s new Swing Time (read her speech on hope and history ) in fiction and I’m curious about Michael Lewis’s take on Kahneman and Tversky in The Undoing Project.


Nikki Miller, Rights and Contracts Manager

Give: Dotty Brown’s Boathouse Row, which takes you through the history of rowing with beautiful pictures along the Schuylkill.  It offers a relaxing balance of history and storytelling which makes it a perfect read for the holiday season.
Read: The holidays give me an excuse to lay by the fire and reread my favorite book: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.


Joan Vidal, Senior Production Editor

suicide-squeeze_smGive: Suicide Squeeze: Taylor Hooton, Rob Garibaldi, and the Fight against Teenage Steroid Abuse, by William C. Kashatus. This important story of the tragic steroids-related suicides of two up-and-coming student-athletes is an essential addition to the continuing education on the widespread problem of steroid abuse among young people.

Read: I hope to receive The Boys from Eighth and Carpenter, by Tom Mendicino, a novel about two brothers who grow up in 1960s South Philadelphia and then go their separate ways: one staying and taking over their father’s barbershop and the other moving away and becoming a high-society lawyer. When life goes awry, they reveal the strength of the bond between them.


Kate Nichols,  Art Manager
Give: I would give George Lipstiz’s How Racism Takes Place.
 
Read: I have already given myself Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (through a donation to WXPN).

Dave Wilson, Senior Production Editor

City in a Park_smGive: I thoroughly enjoyed working on and reading City in a Park: A History of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System by Lynn Miller and Jim McClelland. The authors recount a fascinating story of the birth of the park system, and I found myself wanting to visit the many places and houses so vividly depicted by the authors. The accompanying talks the authors gave made me more aware of one of the world’s greatest park systems, one that I didn’t fully appreciate until I had read this book.

 

 

Ann-Marie Anderson, Marketing Director

possessive_investment_rev_ed_smGive: I’d like to give a few of my friends copies of The Possessive Investment of Whiteness, by George Lipsitz, a book that illustrates the injustices suffered by and the advantages of white supremacy.

Read: I’m trying to catch up on my reading, so from the 2015 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books list, I just bought Loving Day by Mat Johnson to read over the holiday break.  Peace and love to all this holiday season!

 

 

 

Emma Pilker, Editorial Assistant

framing-the-audience_smGive: Framing the Audience by Isadora Anderson Helfgott, to my art history colleagues. Anyone interested in the social history of art will appreciate Helfgott’s analysis of pivotal 20th century movements that shaped today’s art world.

Read: I have been putting off reading Fox Girl by Nora Okja Keller because of the heavy themes, but the end of the year is the perfect time to commit to some historical reflection and cultural

 


Gary Kramer, Publicity Manager

consuming-catastrophe_smGive: Considering how 2016 was, Timothy Recuber’s Consuming Catastrophe: Mass Culture in America’s Decade of Disaster an appropriate gift. Recuber looks at how the media covered four crises–the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings and the 2008 financial crisis–and how our concern for the suffering of others help soothe our own emotional turmoil.

south-philadelphia

Read: I just started read Michael Chabon’s Moonglow, which actually acknowledges a Temple University Press book–Murray Dubin’s South Philadelphiaas source material for the depiction of South Philadelphia in the book. This video of Chabon, made during his Free Library of Philadelphia appearance on December 8 opens with him talking about how Dubin’s South Philadelphia influenced his “autobiographical novel.”

Charting the public’s engagement with disaster media

This week in North Philly Notes, Timothy Recuber, author of Consuming Catastrophe, writes about our media-induced empathy for disaster victims, and the problems associated with empathetic hedonism.

From October 4th to October 10th, Hurricane Matthew trudged up the Atlantic coast from Cuba to North Carolina. It killed hundreds in Haiti and caused billions of dollars in damages in the United States. And for several days, it monopolized our attention, elbowing its way into public consciousness alongside the US presidential elections, as news networks provided live coverage in the States while citizen journalists sent shaky, handheld camera footage from locations throughout the Caribbean. In the storm’s immediate aftermath, harrowing tales of rescues mixed together with heart-wrenching stories of loss and earnest appeals to charitable giving on our televisions and computers. Then we began the process of forgetting. Presidential election coverage returned to its absurd heights. War crimes in Yemen took center stage among the foreign news reports. And life for all of us distant spectators of mass-mediated disaster returned to normal.

While this pattern of public engagement with disasters is not surprising, it deserves scrutiny. What does it mean to understand the suffering of others in these ways? How does the increasingly intense and intimate coverage of catastrophes encourage certain kinds of reactions, and discourage others? What sorts of narratives win out when we understand disasters and loss through the succession of powerful yet fleeting mass-mediated experiences, where one disaster and then then next appear and disappear before our eyes? And how are new media technologies altering or reinforcing these patterns?

consuming-catastrophe_smThese were the questions I set out to answer in Consuming Catastrophe: Mass Culture in America’s Decade of Disaster. I focused on a particularly tumultuous time period in recent American history: the first decade of the twenty first century. From the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, the financial crisis in 2008, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, America was rocked by some of the largest disasters in the country’s history. Yet despite very significant differences in the duration, cost, and amount of lives lost due to these disasters, each followed a fairly similar path through mass-media and public consciousness. Using close reading and discourse analysis of news transcripts, documentary films, reality television programs, and digital archives, I was able to trace out some of the larger cultural norms that emerged during this period.

Chief among these norms is the obligation to show empathy to those directly affected by disasters. In the book, I develop the concept of empathetic hedonism as a way to understand the media-induced pleasure in attempting to imagine what others are feeling, even if those feelings are painful. We are, I argue, increasingly asked to empathize with a whole host of suffering others today. And this certainly can be a good thing. But that empathy often comes at a cost. It is easily focused on individuals and their personal problems, but hard to direct towards structural issues. It is intense but short lived, such that the long aftermath of rebuilding is often ignored. And it works best with spectacular, acute disasters—like hurricanes—rather than long, slow, diffuse disasters—like global climate change, even though the latter has more damaging consequences than anything else. Thus we need to think critically about where and how our attention and emotion is being directed during and after disasters. And as I suggest in Consuming Catastrophe, we need to focus on the less spectacular work of creating a more just society all of the time, not just when disaster strikes.

Temple University Press is having a Back-to-School SALE!

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Books to read in conjunction with the DNC

This week in North Philly Notes, in honor of the DNC, we showcase titles that relate to campaigns and elections.

2326_regNavigating Gendered Terrain: Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns by Kelly Dittmar

From the presidential level down, men and women who run for political office confront different electoral realities. Here Kelly Dittmar investigates not only how gender influences the campaign strategy and behavior of candidates today but also how candidates’ strategic and tactical decisions can influence the gendered nature of campaign institutions. Navigating Gendered Terrain addresses how gender is used to shape the way campaigns are waged by influencing insider perceptions of and decisions about effective campaign messages, images, and tactics within party and political contexts.

2119_regRude Democracy:  Civility and Incivility in American Politics by Susan Herbst

Democracy is, by its very nature, often rude. But there are limits to how uncivil we should be. In this timely and important book, Susan Herbst explores how we discuss public policy, how we treat each other as we do, and how we can create a more civil national culture. Herbst contends that Americans must recognize the bad habits and trends we have developed, use new media for more effective debate, and develop a tougher and more strategic political skin. Rude Democracy outlines a plan for moving forward to create a more civil climate for American politics.

2101_regRace Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns by Charlton D. McIlwain and Stephen M. Caliendo

In our evolving American political culture, whites and blacks continue to respond very differently to race-based messages and the candidates who use them. Race Appeal examines the use and influence such appeals have on voters in elections for federal office in which one candidate is a member of a minority group. Charlton McIlwain and Stephen Caliendo use various analysis methods to examine candidates who play the race card in political advertisements. They offer a compelling analysis of the construction of verbal and visual racial appeals and how the news media covers campaigns involving candidates of color.

1875_regThe Racial Logic of Politics: Asian Americans and Party Competition by Thomas P. Kim

Thomas Kim shows how racism is embedded in America’s two-party political system by examining the institutional barriers that Asian Americans face in the electoral and legislative processes. According to Kim, political party leaders recognize that Asian Americans are tagged with “ethnic markers” that label them as immutably “foreign,” and as such, parties cannot afford to be too closely associated with (racialized) Asian Americans, demonstrating how the political logic of two-party competition actually works against Asian American political interests.

1922_regCampaign Advertising and American Democracy by Michael M. Franz, Paul B. Freedman, Kenneth M. Goldstein and Travis N. Ridout

It has been estimated that more than three million political ads were televised leading up to the elections of 2004. More than $800,000,000 was spent on TV ads in the race for the White House alone and Presidential candidates, along with their party and interest group allies, broadcast over a million ads—more than twice the number aired before the 2000 elections. What were the consequences of this barrage of advertising? Were viewers turned off by political advertising to the extent that it dissuaded them from voting, as some critics suggest? Did they feel more connected to political issues and the political system or were they alienated? These are the questions this book answers, based on a unique, robust, and extensive database dedicated to political advertising.

1921_regChoices and Changes:  Interest Groups in the Electoral Process by Michael M. Franz

Choices and Changes is the most comprehensive examination to date of the impact of interest groups on recent American electoral politics. Richly informed, theoretically and empirically, it is the first book to explain the emergence of aggressive interest group electioneering tactics in the mid-1990s—including “soft money” contributions, issue ads, and “527s” (IRS-classified political organizations). The book substantially advances our understanding of the significance of interest groups in U.S. politics.

2156_reg

Public Financing in American Elections, edited by Costas Panagopoulos

Reformers argue that public financing of campaigns will help rescue American democracy from the corruptive influence of money in elections. Public Financing in American Elections evaluates this claim in an effort to remove the guesswork from the discussion about public finance. Featuring some of the most senior scholars in political science and electoral studies, this book provides an up-to-date treatment of research and thinking about public campaign finance reforms. Exploring proposals at the local, state, and federal levels, the contributors provide a comprehensive overview of public financing initiatives in the United States and an examination of their impact. Also included are focused analyses of various existing public programs.

1891_regMandates, Parties, and Votes: How Elections Shape the Future by James H. Fowler and Oleg Smirnov

Most research on two-party elections has considered the outcome as a single, dichotomous event: either one or the other party wins. In this groundbreaking book, James Fowler and Oleg Smirnov investigate not just who wins, but by how much, and they marshal compelling evidence that mandates—in the form of margin of victory—matter. Using theoretical models, computer simulation, carefully designed experiments, and empirical data, the authors show that after an election the policy positions of both parties move in the direction preferred by the winning party—and they move even more if the victory is large. In addition, Fowler and Smirnov not only show that the divergence between the policy positions of the parties is greatest when the previous election was close, but also that policy positions are further influenced by electoral volatility and ideological polarization.

And forthcoming in September….

2407_regThe Gendered Executive: A Comparative Analysis of Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Chief Executives edited by Janet M. Martin and MaryAnne Borrelli

Excluded from the ranks of elite executive decision-makers for generations, women are now exercising power as chiefs of government and chiefs of state. As of April 2016, 112 women in 73 countries have served as presidents or prime ministers.  The Gendered Executive is a critical examination of national executives, focusing on matters of identity, representation, and power. The editors and contributors to this volume address the impact of female executives through political mobilization and participation, policy- and decision-making, and institutional change. Other topics include party nomination processes, the intersectionality of race and gender, and women-centered U.S. foreign policy in southern Africa. In addition, case studies from Chile, India, Portugal, and the United States are presented, as are cross-national comparisons of women leaders in Latin America.

 

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