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

Aid in space: Regional conflict and US aid allocation

This post is based on the article “Before the dominos fall: Regional conflict, donor interests, and US foreign aid“, forthcoming at Conflict Management and Peace Science. From the initial uprisings in 2011 through the present, the civil conflict in Syria has been one of the most complex and pressing international crises in recent memory. The United Nations estimates there are 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, with recent reports indicating that over 5 million people have fled Syria, with another 6.3 million internally displaced people. Ultimately much of the media coverage of the conflict has focused largely on 1) violence within Continue reading Aid in space: Regional conflict and US aid allocation

The Trump Administration’s Ban on Transgender Soldiers

On Wednesday, July 26, the President Trump issued the following series of tweets announcing a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military: After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017 ….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017 ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Continue reading The Trump Administration’s Ban on Transgender Soldiers

The 2018 Budget Proposal: Less State, More Defense

News outlets have been reviewing the Trump administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018. The proposal makes deep cuts to several federal agencies and spending categories, while also increasing funding to a select few agencies. The article linked above discusses the budget breakdown in greater depth, comparing different programs and agencies to see where the cuts fall. Notably, some programs and agencies associated with foreign policymaking receive deep cuts. Here’s a quick breakdown of the Post’s report concerning some of the key agencies and programs that deal with foreign affairs. The State Department, USAID, and various international programs housed within Treasury receive Continue reading The 2018 Budget Proposal: Less State, More Defense

On Michael Flynn’s Tenure as National Security Advisor

News broke late last night that President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor (NSA), retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, resigned his position amidst mounting concerns that he had improper and possibly illegal exchanges with Russia’s ambassador, and concerns that he was possibly compromised and vulnerable to blackmail. I’m not going to wade into these weightier issues. Flynn’s appointment to be President Trump’s NSA has long been controversial for a number of reasons, and I doubt that we’ve heard the last of this particular case as investigations into his relations with Russian officials appear to be ongoing. Instead, I was curious as to Continue reading On Michael Flynn’s Tenure as National Security Advisor

Ways To Make Your Voice Heard After An Election

Since the surprising results of the US presidential election, a lot of websites and blogs have asked how ordinary citizens should react. What is the best way to allocate your participation, if you want to have an actual impact? One of my favourite examples was here, but other examples were here, here, and here. So – what does political science say is the best way to get involved?