I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cruz Drops Out

Hi all,

I know our class has come to a close, but I thought you might be interested in this article. In the wake of many discussions about Donald Trump, it seems that he will be the Republican nominee. I find this is a sad development for the 2016 election. Amidst a political climate that purports to discourage polarization and extremism, the electorate seems to be accepting bigotry and misinformation. That said, I am not sure Ted Cruz's remaining in the election would have made anything better. Sorry for the somber post-class post! Good luck on all finals!


Monday, May 2, 2016

Congress, History and Courage

Congress and Progressive Reforms

16th Amendment
17th Amendment


Inherent limitations of Congress:
  • Except in simulation, legislation is slow. (And swift action is not necessarily smart action.)
  • In a body resting on geographic representation, parochialism is inevitable. (And it is often legitimate.)
  • A multi-member, bicameral institution will have a hard time planning.  (And planning is overrated.)


JFK on the complexity of courage:
  • The pressure to "go along" -- but we "should not be too hasty in condemning all compromise as bad morals."
  • The pressure to seek reelection -- but lawmakers "who go down to defeat in a vain defense of a single principle will not be on hand to fight for that or any other principle in the future."
  • The pressure to serve interest groups -- but "they are the articulate few whose views cannot be ignored and who constitute the greater part of our contacts with the public at large, whose opinions we cannot know..."
On January 12, 1991, House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) and Republican Leader Bob Michel (R-IL) spoke about the impending Gulf War. Click for video of their remarks, so you can see what grownups look like:


Sophie pointed to this item at Five Thirty Eight by Craig Fehrman:
In the 21st century, Indiana has started to shift in some small ways. It now boasts more residents who were born outside of the state than Ohio or Michigan does. (Indiana also scores better than them on some measures of racism.) More striking, though, are the ways in which Indiana has stayed the same. Among its Old Northwestern peers, Indiana ranks last in median family income. It ranks last in the percentage of residents who’ve completed a bachelor’s degree. It ranks first in the share of the population that is white Evangelical Protestant and in the share of residents who identify as conservative. On these and a host of other measures — percentage of homes without broadband internet, rate of teen pregnancy, rate of divorce — you’ll often see Indiana finishing closer to Kentucky or Tennessee than to Ohio or Wisconsin. In other words, you’ll see 200 years of history making its presence known.
A lot of those factors correlate with support for Trump. (Another way to say this is that Thomas Lincoln would have probably voted for The Donald.) The Hoosier State has lots of manufacturing — the most in the country, by some measures — and that seems good for Trump, too. Yet the Evangelical presence could be promising for Cruz (with the caveat that Indiana scores lower on church attendance). And then there’s Cruz’s deal with Kasich, though it’s somewhat muddled by the preferences of the state’s delegates(and by Kasich’s own statements).
For all of these reasons, Indiana remains a tough primary to call. But the toughest factor is the state’s own essential strangeness. What do I think, as a native son? I think Trump will do better here than most pundits predict. But I also think those pundits should spend less time talking about Trump and more time trying to understand our complicated, diverse, historically messy (and yet ultimately endearing) 50 states.