The 2018 Budget Proposal: Less State, More Defense

Federal outlays by agency and select program area, 1962–2015.

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

Is America in Decline?

There are a lot of political pundits and observers that are amazed by the success of the Trump campaign. I am not one of them. The reason why I am not surprised is the subtext that is defining the 2016 campaign. There is a very real perception that the U.S. is a county in decline. The Trump campaign has embraced this perception head on, and I argue performing well because of it. The campaign slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again” does not leave any doubt about the country’s perceived trajectory. Ben Carson, among others, has successfully channeled this narrative too, Continue reading Is America in Decline?

Handicapping the Republican Party’s Odds in the 2016 Presidential Race

Mitt Romney was a good presidential candidate; he ran a good campaign in the 2012 election.  He had the necessary experience.  He stayed on message, performed well in the debates, and by most accounts, appeared presidential.   Romney also had the benefit of not flying into a strong economic headwind; the state of the economy certainly did not provide Barack Obama with an insurmountable advantage (although, the economic fundamentals were perceived by some as far more dire than the actually were).  Yet, Romney lost in spite of his attractive qualities and Obama’s potential vulnerabilities.  The election was not even especially close.  Obama Continue reading Handicapping the Republican Party’s Odds in the 2016 Presidential Race

Competitive Equilibrium in American Presidential Politics

In the wake of the 2012 victory by Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, many within the Republican Party were deeply troubled by the election returns. Republican challenger Mitt Romney faired poorly among ethnic and racial minorities, to the point where Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus equated the party’s performance among Latinos (Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote) to “a clear two-by-four to the head in the 2012 election.” While this level of support among ethnic minorities has been relatively typical for previous Republican presidential candidates (including winning candidates), the fact that has Republican elites worried is that whites—the Continue reading Competitive Equilibrium in American Presidential Politics

The Spatial and Demographic Determinants of Racial Threat

Does familiarity with members of out-groups breed contempt or acceptance?  The relationship between the geographic distribution of ethnic and racial minorities and white attitudes has been the subject of considerable academic debate since V.O. Key’s 1949 landmark Southern Politics.  In Southern Politics, Key advanced the claim that white racial conservatism was the strongest in places with large African American populations.  Key noted that white turnout in support of the segregationist Democratic Party and the Jim Crow apartheid system was strongest in places where African Americans constituted a large proportion of the population and thus presented a potential political and cultural Continue reading The Spatial and Demographic Determinants of Racial Threat