Natural (base) selection: The potential costs of a U.S. military base in the Galapagos

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Charmaine Willis, Andrew Stravers, and Carla Martinez Machain. Environmental activists were shocked to learn over the summer that the U.S. military will soon be deploying counternarcotics forces to an airfield on the island of San Cristóbal, in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. The Galápagos, known for inspiring Darwin’s theory of evolution, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The presence of military aircraft that come with significant pollution and noise concerns could threaten their fragile ecosystem, which is already strained by excessive tourism. Beyond the aircraft’s environmental impact, our research shows that such a Continue reading Natural (base) selection: The potential costs of a U.S. military base in the Galapagos

Development-Oriented Deployments in Latin America: Soft Power or Politicized Instrument?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Carla Martinez Machain, Michael E. Flynn, and Alissandra Stoyan . They are all faculty in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. Can the U.S. military be an effective soft power instrument? Unlike the more traditional instruments of hard power (military force, sanctions, etc), soft power involves using persuasion to shape the preferences of other actors so that they will do what you want them to out of their own will. Soft power tools are usually thought of as emphasizing diplomacy, culture, and education. This matters because while coercing or Continue reading Development-Oriented Deployments in Latin America: Soft Power or Politicized Instrument?

Politics and Peer Review in AMLO’s Mexico

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Alissandra Stoyan and Carla Martinez Machain. They are, respectively, an assistant and an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. On February 21st, Mexico’s Fondo de Cultura Económica (a not-for-profit publisher partially funded by the Mexican Government that is often referred to as “El Fondo”) disbanded the editorial team of the Economics peer-reviewed journal El Trimestre Económico.  The journal’s editorial team had been composed of researchers representing Mexico’s top research universities, including CIDE, ITAM, UNAM, and the Universidad Iberoamericana. As of writing, the journal’s editorial team page on Continue reading Politics and Peer Review in AMLO’s Mexico

A global analysis of how losing an election affects voter satisfaction with democracy

How easily do people turn against democracy? In a recent paper, we asked whether losing one election is enough to sour voters on the whole idea of democracy. We find that indeed it can be – if their democracy is relatively new. In addition to this difference between established and emerging democracies, we also find another important pattern: among the established democracies, the type of electoral system affects loser satisfaction, but in newer democracies, it matters much less. These two findings suggest that we need to considerably expand our understanding of “loser’s consent”.

Is Fracking A Purely Partisan Issue? At Least For Landowners, The Answer Is No

Since “fracking” — a drilling technique that extracts fuels from subterranean rocks by injecting liquid at high pressure — took off a decade ago, U.S. natural gas production has hit record levels and oil production has more than doubled. By some estimates, fracking has injected as much as US$3 trillion into the U.S. economy. But fracking also comes with many environmental dangers that can put peoples’ health at risk. Those concerns are leaving Americans divided about whether it’s good for the country, despite the economic boost. As with other hot-button issues, national opinion polls consistently point to an emphatic partisan conflict. However, Continue reading Is Fracking A Purely Partisan Issue? At Least For Landowners, The Answer Is No

The strategic use of restraint in internet arguments

Sometimes, I like to argue. I spent eight years engaged in competitive debate in high school and college and the activity prepared me for scholarly research in ways that my classes in both of those settings could not. Early on, in the early frontier days of the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was only natural for me to take my co-curricular skills and use them in earlier versions of social media—IRC, messaging services, public forums, listservs, and other budding spaces. Of course, conversations and heated debates online were a much different beast than academic debate (even when Continue reading The strategic use of restraint in internet arguments

On H.R. McMaster’s Tenure as National Security Adviser

Last week President Trump tweeted that his National Security Adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, would be leaving the administration and would be replaced by John Bolton. McMaster is Trump’s second National Security Adviser since taking office, replacing former Lieutenant General Michael Flynn after the latter’s departure. As I noted in a previous post on Rex Tillerson’s departure as Secretary of State, McMaster’s exit only furthers the narrative that the Trump administration is rife with conflict and chaos, as it comes on the heels of both Tillerson’s exit as Secretary of State, Gary Cohn’s exit as Director of the National Economic Continue reading On H.R. McMaster’s Tenure as National Security Adviser

On Rex Tillerson’s Tenure as Secretary of State

On Tuesday, President Trump issued a tweet announcing that Rex Tillerson would be replaced as Secretary of State by current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. That Tillerson would be replaced as Secretary was not exactly news—reports of the tense relationship between Tillerson and the President date back several months at this point. What was surprising was the exact timing and manner of the announcement, with Tillerson apparently learning of his own departure from said tweet. Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Continue reading On Rex Tillerson’s Tenure as Secretary of State

How Elite Polarization has Transformed the Electorate

It is no secret that American politics have become more vitriolic. The parties in Congress have moved farther apart from each other ideologically. They have also become more unified internally. Party elites are increasingly ideologically polarized. This increase in polarization has been well documented. What is less clear is how these changes have affected average Americans? Have American voters become more divided in response to increasingly polarized elites? If so, how? Michael Flynn and I attempt to answer these questions in our paper “From on High: The Effect of Elite Polarization on Mass Attitudes and Behaviors, 1972-2012”, which was published Continue reading How Elite Polarization has Transformed the Electorate

Elections Are Only The Tip Of The Iceberg: When Interest Groups And Direct Action Groups Are More Effective Than Political Parties

In every democratic country, languishing behind every proud parliament, there are groups who feel ignored by their national governments. They claim that an important issue (immigration, environmentalism, civil rights, self-determination) is being ignored by mainstream politicians, and they grow disaffected as a result. Some of these groups are targets of systematic oppression, whereas others – despite their relative privilege – simply find that politicians are not talking about their issue. But whilst the contexts and the issues may differ, these under-represented groups share at least one problem: they all find their concerns being ignored. Some groups have solved this problem, Continue reading Elections Are Only The Tip Of The Iceberg: When Interest Groups And Direct Action Groups Are More Effective Than Political Parties