Tag Archives: Political Science

The Electoral College

There are no tests, you can’t get a degree, it has no campus. It’s not even a virtual place!

The Electoral College was established by the framers of the Constitution as the process by which the United States would elect its President and Vice President. The name came later; only electors are mentioned in the Constitution.

The decennial census sets the number of electors each state gets, out of a fixed total of 538. This is one reason why conducting the census has been so contentious this year. The states then choose their electors, and those processes vary.

Image Source: USA.gov

The Electoral College process was devised as a compromise between factions at the Constitutional Congress. The number of electors equals the total of the Senate and House of Representatives; plus three electors for the District of Columbia. The Electoral College was divisive from its inception – Thomas Jefferson called it a blot on the Constitution – and remains so nearly 250 years later. It is the reason that a president can be elected while losing the popular vote. This has happened four times, in 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.

American History Online has explainers, historical documents, images, news articles, and more on the Electoral College. Another resource for understanding and analyzing this institution is CQ Press Library.

The National Archives has developed a website with all manner of information about the Electoral College process. (By law, the Archivist of the United States is responsible for collating all the state electors’ votes, and after inspection by the Office of the Federal Register, submitting them to Congress.) You will find links to the relevant sections of the Constitution, to historical background information, the state processes for choosing electors, FAQs, and more.

Even though you are not directly voting for the President, your vote is crucial. Voting is happening now in Indiana; here’s how to do it and here is where to do it.

New book on the Hong Kong protests

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Hong Kong in the Shadow of China: Living with the Leviathan

By Richard C. Bush

Call Number: JQ1539.5.A91 B87 2016

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“Hong Kong in the Shadow of China tells the story of why the “Umbrella Movement” failed to bring Hong Kong a more democratic system … the Umbrella Movement, so called because of the umbrellas protesters carried for protection against ran and pepper spray, … only punctuated a protracted debate over how to vest leaders with more legitimacy, while preserving social stability … [protests] became the background before which members of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, the business community, politicians of every stripe, and political activists held fraught discussions on electing Hong Kong’s chief executive through universal suffrage and on whether China should control the process. Because there was too little trust among these political forces, a significant opportunity for progress was missed … Richard Bush takes us inside the debates and demonstrations and then pulls back to critically explore what Hong Kong and China must do to ensure both economic competitiveness and good governance and how these developments affect United States policy” (publisher).

Richard Bush has gathered recent survey data and other primary sources that will remain relevant to the ongoing debates about Hong Kong. The book includes extensive notes and an index. Bush is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center on East Asia Policy Studies. He worked for nineteen years in the U.S. government on Asia policy issues, including Hong Kong.

Off the Charts!

We have acquired two new publications on statistics. Both are of general interest and applicable across our curriculum.

SpiegelhalterStatistics

The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

By David Spiegelhalter

Call Number: QA 276.12 .S665 2019

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As the title makes clear, this book is an invitation to better data literacy. Sir David manages to make complex ideas simple and fun, by choosing real-world applications of statistics with a sense of humor. He covers the whole process of posing problems, collecting data, and doing analysis. Aimed at students, this is also a “best of” teaching examples collection. (Readers can find more Spiegelhalter on the BBC podcast More or Less.)

Anyone who teaches about data, or does experiments, will find this book illuminating. So will anyone trying to make sense of all the political polling in the news. If you are struggling with a statistical concept, try reading what he has to say about it.

The many illustrations and charts are clear, though in grayscale; and the hardcover format will preserve the library’s copy despite the U.S. publisher’s decision to print the book on cheap paper.

Atlas2016Elections

Atlas of the 2016 Elections

Edited by Robert. H. Watrel, Ryan Weichelt, Fiona M. Davidson, John Heppen, Erin H. Fouberg, J. Clark Archer, Richard L. Morrill, Fred M. Shelley, and Kenneth C. Martis.

Call Number: G 1201 .F9 A8 2018

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The 2016 US presidential election was historic for many reasons – the first woman heading a major party ticket, fractious party conventions, allegations of foreign interference, the less-probable result. This book is the latest in an acclaimed series examining presidential elections, and draws on that past data. It is a useful reference work for history, political science, sociology, and argumentative essays.

Scholars from across disciplines including data science, geography, political science, and sociology have contributed analyses. Many are established regional demographic specialists.

In brief narratives and at-a-glance maps, they present insightful perspectives on the 2016 election, from the usual demographic polling and voting patterns, to campaign contributions, “religiosity,” and concurrent Twitter trends. They consider political currents both at the hyperlocal level (such as minimum wage and marijuana referenda) and international level (such as anxiety about wages, free trade, and immigration) that everywhere cut across party lines.

 

 

New Books on International Security

9780190854829

Intelligence: The Secret World of Spies, an Anthology, Fifth edition

Edited by Loch K. Johnson and James J. Wirtz

Call number: JK 468 .I6 I467 2019

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This book will be of interest for history, political science, and security studies. “A diverse, comprehensive, and highly accessible set of thirty-three readings by leading experts in the field. […] features coverage of many topics including methods of intelligence collection, intelligence analysis, the danger of intelligence politicization, relationships between intelligence officers and the policymakers they serve, covert action, counterintelligence, accountability and civil liberties, and the global struggle against ISIS. New articles focus on a range of important historical and current topics in intelligence, including the President’s Daily Brief, Social Media intelligence (“SOCMINT”), drone warfare, and the implications of Edward Snowden’s controversial intelligence leaks.” — Publisher

9780199390038

The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia

By Andrei Lankov

Call number: DS 935.774 .L36 2015

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Useful for historical research as well as political science and security studies, this paperback edition of the acclaimed 2013 book is fully updated and revised. It is a history of North Korea, but the topical organization and extensive index make it easy for readers to drill right down to specific information. The author draws on sources ranging from international intelligence to personal interviews. “A native of the former Soviet Union … [Lankov] lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. […] Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state. After providing an accessible history of the nation, he turns his focus to what North Korea is, what its leadership thinks, and how its people cope with living in such an oppressive and poor place. He argues that North Korea is not irrational, and nothing shows this better than its continuing survival against all odds.” — Publisher

Secret Lives: What Your Teachers Never Told You

Read this series to discover the secrets behind some of the world’s best-known people, including authors, artists, politicians, and more!

 

Titles included:

The Smear

How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote

5114jqvksfl-_sx328_bo1204203200_By Sharyl Attkisson
Call Number: PN4888.C6 A85 2017
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Behind most major political stories there is an agenda: To destroy an idea or the people advancing it. Maybe you watched someone on the news report that Donald Trump is a racist misogynist, read that Hillary Clinton used a body double, or heard that Bernie Sanders cheated in the primary. Regardless of accuracy, the themes get repeated until they become accepted by many as the truth. It’s called “the smear.” Sophisticated operatives work behind the scenes to establish narratives, manipulate journalists, and shape the images you see every day. Nothing is by accident. Now investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson takes you behind the scenes of the modern smear machine, exploring how operatives from corporations and both sides of the political aisle have manipulated a complicit mainstream media to make disinformation, rumor, and dirty tricks defining traits of our democracy. Pulling back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research, she reveals how those in power create well-funded, organized attack campaigns to take down their enemies and influence your opinions, offering an examination of the think tanks, super PACS, LLCs, and nonprofits that have become the hidden backers of some of the biggest smears in American politics. And she doesn’t just tell stories — she names names, sharing her account of how smears take shape and who their perpetrators are — from Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal to liberal political operative David Brock, who, along with his expansive Media Matters for America empire, has been rewriting the rules of the smear game for decades while raking in millions of dollars in generous compensation. In addition, Attkisson reveals transactional journalism and exposes scandalous emails behind the smear industrial complex, showing how Campaign 2016 became the exclamation point on the thirty-year evolution of the smear machine. Dissecting the most divisive, partisan election in American history, she explores how both sides used every smear tactic as a political weapon, culminating in Donald Trump’s hard-fought victory, even as his detractors have continued their smears against him into the Oval Office. What emerges is an assault on the mainstream media’s willingness to sacrifice ethics for clicks, and the cynical politicians and high-paid consultants who exploit this reality. A critical discussion for this perilous moment, The Smear is a look at how the black market serving professional propagandists really works.

Unbelievable

My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History

9780062684929By Katy Tur
Call Number: E911 .T87 2017
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Katy Tur lived out of a suitcase for a year and a half, following Trump around the country, powered by packets of peanut butter and kept clean with dry shampoo. She visited forty states with the candidate, made more than 3,800 live television reports, and tried to endure a gazillion loops of Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ — a Trump rally playlist staple. From day 1 to day 500, Tur documented Trump’s inconsistencies, fact-checked his falsities, and called him out on his lies. In return, Trump repeatedly singled Tur out. He tried to charm her, intimidate her, and shame her. At one point, he got a crowd so riled up against Tur, Secret Service agents had to walk her to her car. Through all the long nights, wild scoops, naked chauvinism, dodgy staffers, and fevered debates, no one had a better view than Tur. This is her darkly comic and often scary story of how America sent a former reality show host to the White House. It’s also the story of what it was like for Tur to be there as it happened, inside a no-rules world where reporters were spat on, demeaned, and discredited. Tur was a foreign correspondent who came home to her most foreign story of all. Unbelievable is for anyone who still wakes up and wonders, Is this real life?

The Education Invasion

How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids

9781594038815__39887-1483735035-220-290By Joy Pullman
Call Number: LB3060.83 .P85 2017
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In 2009, a conglomerate of unelected, self-appointed officials met behind closed doors to create a set of rules that would outline what children must learn in every grade in core K-12 classes. In 2010, the Obama administration required states to use these rules for curriculum and tests to have a chance at extra federal money during the Great Recession. Three years later, most Americans told pollsters they had no idea what common Core was. Their children were beginning to find out, however. Pullmann tugs on a thread that leads to a big tangle of history, politics, and intrigue that together help explain why small children must sit and cry over math homework while their parents look on helplessly. Early test results suggest Common Core means American kids will learn less. Why, then, did we do it? Who made out like bandits while kids and self-governance suffered? And how can Americans ensure their children won’t be served the same rewarmed brain hash they have rejected time and time again?

The Arab Spring / Margaret Haerens and Lynn M. Zott, book editors

Call number: JQ1850.A91 A75 2013



This volume explores the topic of the Arab Spring, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began in late 2010, by presenting varied expert opinions that examine many of the different aspects that surround this issue. The viewpoints are selected from a wide range of highly respected and often hard-to-find sources and publications. Allows the reader to attain the higher-level critical thinking and reading skills that are essential in a culture of diverse and contradictory opinions. (From Google Books)