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August 30, 2007

Achen and Bartels on the Democratical Republick

We examine how the notion of popular sovereignty has animated the evolution of American political institutions. We argue that the triumph of democratic rhetoric at the Founding has left Americans with just one remedy in times of governmental failure, namely that reform should move toward greater democratization. More “democratic” institutions have generally emerged (1) when existing institutions have been strained by economic or political crises, (2) when powerful elites have discerned an immediate political advantage in “reform,” and (3) when new institutions could be established with only modest popular involvement. Initially, reform meant extending the franchise and reducing the role of political parties. With time, it has come to mean greater reliance on plebiscitary elements in government. The result has been a gradual ratcheting-up of democratic expectations, and attendant discontents. We illustrate this process in the evolution of the direct primary and the establishment of initiative and referendum procedures in the Progressive Era. We also explore a notable case of resistance to direct democracy: the repeated failure of Minnesota voters to approve a constitutional amendment establishing a statewide initiative and referendum process.

Chris Achen and Larry Bartels (2007), “Tumbling Down into a Democratical Republick,” unpublished paper. Available here.

Gelman and Cai on whether Democrats should move to the left

Abstract: Could John Kerry have gained votes in the recent Presidential election by more clearly distinguishing himself from George Bush on economic policy? At first thought, the logic of political preferences would suggest not: the Republicans are to the right of most Americans on economic policy, and so in a one-dimensional space with party positions measured with no error, the optimal strategy for the Democrats would be to stand infinitesimally to the left of the Republicans. The median voter theorem suggests that each party should keep its policy positions just barely distinguishable from the opposition.

In a multidimensional setting, however, or when voters vary in their perceptions of the parties’ positions, a party can benefit from putting some daylight between itself and the other party on an issue where it has a public-opinion advantage (such as economic policy for the Democrats). We set up a plausible theoretical model in which the Democrats could achieve a net gain in votes by moving to the left on economic policy, given the parties’ positions on a range of issue dimensions. We then evaluate this model based on survey data on voters’ perceptions of their own positions and those of the candidates in 2004. Under our model, it turns out to be optimal for the Democrats to move slightly to the right but staying clearly to the left of the Republicans’ current position on economic issues.

Andrew Gelman and Cexun Jeffrey Cai (2006), “Should the Democrats Move to the Left on Economic Policy?,” unpublished paper. Available here.

August 28, 2007

Hathaway on states' human rights commitments

Abstract: This article examines states’ decisions to commit to human rights treaties. It argues that the effect of a treaty on a state - and hence the state’s willingness to commit to it - is largely determined by the domestic enforcement of the treaty and the treaty’s collateral consequences. These broad claims give rise to several specific predictions. For example, states with less democratic institutions will be no less likely to commit to human rights treaties if they have poor human rights records, because there is little prospect that the treaties will be enforced. Conversely, states with more democratic institutions will be less likely to commit to human rights treaties if they have poor human rights records - precisely because the treaties are likely to lead to changes in behavior. These predictions are tested by examining the practices of more than 160 countries over several decades.

Oona Hathaway (2007), “Why Do Countries Commit to Human Rights Treaties?,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 51:588-621. Available here.

Fowler, Baker and Dawe on genes and political participation

Abstract: The decision to vote has puzzled scholars for decades. Theoretical models predict little or no participation in large population elections and empirical models have typically explained only a relatively small portion of individual-level variance in turnout behavior. However, these models have not considered the influence of genetic variation on voting. Matching public voter turnout records in Los Angeles to a twin registry, we study the heritability of political behavior in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The results show that the decision to vote is significantly influenced by genetic factors. We also replicate these results with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and show that they extend to a broad class of acts of political participation. Our findings suggest that humans exhibit genetic variation in their tendency to participate in political activities and, more importantly, that biological evolution may play an important role in the development of mechanisms that help humans overcome social dilemmas.

James H. Fowler, Laura Baker, and Christopher T. Dawes (2007), “The Genetic Basis of Political Participation.” Unpublished paper. Available here.

Grose-Oppenheimer redux

The Grose-Oppenheimer paper on the electoral consequences of Iraq war casualties that I linked to last week is forthcoming in a revised version in Legislative Studies Quarterly. The revised version is available here.

August 27, 2007

Levy on papers at APSA

Jacob Levy on changing norms over paper distribution at APSA:

It seems to me that the switch from the Panel Paper Room to PROceedings online has resulted in a very dramatic reduction in the number of papers being circulated. It seems to me that there was a genuine strong norm in favor of bringing papers to the PPR in the old days— it was stated as a rule, and while some papers were too drafty to be circulated and some senior people didn’t bother, most papers were in there.

Now as I browse through the (terrible) PROceedings site … it seems to me that the modal number of papers per panel that are actually uploaded is zero. It also seems to me that this wasn’t true in the first few years after the switch— that is, the norm stuck for a little while but is now close to dead.

Explanations? Is it the terrible site, the worry about putting drafts online, some combination? Or am I hallucinating that there’s a phenomenon here at all?

My feeling is that it’s a combination of the unfriendliness of the site, and a Schelling-type death spiral - as people note that fewer people are putting the papers up online, they themselves are less likely to, prompting others to be less likely in turn etc etc.

Woodford on globalization and monetary control

Abstract: It has recently become popular to argue that globalization has had or will soon have dramatic consequences for the nature of the monetary transmission mechanism, and it is sometimes suggested that this could threaten the ability of national central banks to control inflation within their borders, at least in the absence of coordination of policy with other central banks. In this paper, I consider three possible mechanisms through which it might be feared that globalization can undermine the ability of monetary policy to control inflation: by making liquidity premia a function of “global liquidity” rather than the supply of liquidity by a national central bank alone; by making real interest rates dependent on the global balance between saving and investment rather than the balance in one country alone; or by making inflationary pressure a function of “global slack” rather than a domestic output gap alone. These three fears relate to potential changes in the form of the three structural equations of a basic model of the monetary transmission mechanism: the LM equation, the IS equation, and the AS equation respectively. I review the consequences of global integration of financial markets, final goods markets, and factor markets for the form of each of these parts of the monetary transmission mechanism, and find that globalization, even of a much more thorough sort than has yet occurred, is unlikely to weaken the ability of national central banks to control the dynamics of inflation.

Michael Woodford (2007), “Globalization and Monetary Control,” unpublished paper. Available here ($5 or NBER access required).

Trounstine on modern-day machine politics

Abstract: For all intents and purposes political machines are a thing of the past in American cities. Yet certain characteristics of machines are familiar components of the modern political landscape – among others a lack of transparency in governing, patronage, favors and contracts awarded in exchange for campaign contributions. While scholars have noted the persistence of these practices, there has been little exploration of the modern version of one of the most pervasive machine characteristics – winning reelection. Is there a corollary to political machines in today’s city politics? Can politicians rely on machine style strategies to increase the probability that they will maintain power? In this paper I use case study and quantitative analysis to investigate the factors that increase the local incumbency advantage. I find that even controlling for demographics, economic stability, and factors that increase the attractiveness of holding office incumbents are more likely to seek reelection and to win in low-information elections with large municipal workforces.

Jessica Trounstine (2007), “Modern Machines: Patronage, Information, and Incumbency in Local Politics.” Unpublished paper. Available here.

August 24, 2007

Hayward on blog regulation

Abstract: This essay examines how U.S., Germany, and EU cases have treated the regulation of political commentary on the Internet. As political blogging grows in popularity, the reach of these sites, and their influence in political campaigns, may make them a target for regulation by rivals and incumbents, both at home and abroad. Since ordinarily any URL can be reached from anywhere with Internet access, conflicting domestic rules about what can be said (and who can say it) present potential for conflicting rules on blogging.

In brief, U.S. law protects blogging content, but may impose restrictions on the source of political commentary by barring certain funding sources. German law imposes stricter limits on the content of blogging, but does not regulate financial sources to the same degree. European court rulings may offer greater protection than domestic German law, but seem inconsistent and thus add uncertainty and ambiguity to the situation. In the end, bloggers may avoid legal entanglement because they enjoy public sympathy and support, but better still would be an international agreement to spare blogging from prosecution.

Allison Hayward (2007), “Regulation of Blog Campaign Advocacy on the Internet: Comparing U.S., German and EU Approaches,” unpublished paper.

Fowler, Johnson, Spriggs, Jeon and Wahlbeck on network analysis of Supreme Court opinions

Abstract: We construct the complete network of 28,951 majority opinions written by the U.S. Supreme Court and the cases they cite from 1792 to 2005. We illustrate some basic properties of this network and then describe a method for creating importance scores using the data to identify the most important Court precedents at any point in time. This method yields dynamic rankings that can be used to predict the future citation behavior of state courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court, and these rankings outperform several commonly used alternative measures of case importance.

James H. Fowler, Timothy R. Johnson, James F. Spriggs, Sangick Jeon, and Paul J.Wahlbeck (2007) “Network Analysis and the Law: Measuring the Legal Importance of Supreme Court Precedents” Political Analysis 15: 324-346. Available here.

August 22, 2007

Lyall on indiscriminate violence and insurgency

Abstract: Does a state’s use of indiscriminate violence incite insurgent attacks? Nearly all existing theories and empirical studies conclude that such actions only fuel insurgencies by facilitating insurgent mobilization. This proposition is tested using a natural experiment that draws on random artillery strikes by Russian forces in Chechnya (2000-05) to estimate the impact of indiscriminate violence on subsequent insurgent violence. A difference-in-difference (DD) estimation method is adopted in which shelled villages are matched with similar non-repressed settlements over identical time periods to estimate treatment effects. The findings are counterintuitive. Shelled villages and their home districts (raiony) exhibit less post-treatment violence than control groups. In addition, commonly-cited “triggers”for insurgent retaliation, including the lethality and duration of indiscriminate violence, are either insignificant or negatively correlated with insurgent attack propensity.

Jason Lyall (2007), “Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks? Evidence from a Natural Experiment,” unpublished paper. Available here.

Unipolarity and Democracy

Jack Snyder, Robert Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon are presenting a new version of their paper on unipolarity at APSA that’s of considerable interest in its own right, but that also sheds some light on the recent debate between Dan Drezner and Glenn Greenwald.

The paper tries to answer the question of why America invaded Iraq and, more broadly, what the invasion of Iraq says about America’s strategic position, foreign policy choices and public opinion over foreign policy. Snyder, Shapiro and Bloch-Elkon (henceforth S,S,B-E for convenience) argue that one needs to understand both international and domestic factors in order to answer this question. Unipolarity - the US’s unchallenged position as the most powerful state in the international system - explains why the US could consider engaging in imperial policies. But there were many other possible choices available to the US. Powerful states like the US can choose to engage with the world pragmatically, to adopt a principled foreign policy of humanitarian assistance that eschews imperialism or perhaps to engage in limited liability politics, embarking on moralistic politics abroad, but abandoning it when the costs rise. For S,S, B-E, the point is that the international policies of very powerful states aren’t as constrained by systemic or other pressures as those of less powerful ones. So what explains the Bush administration’s turn to an “imperial ideology that portrays the world as a place where ubiquitous threats must be countered by decisive, preventive action”?

S,S, B-E argue that the answer lies both in September 11 and in the domestic politics of polarization. September 11 ruled out a strategy of indifference to the outside world - it is unsurprising that the US attacked Afghanistan in response. But it didn’t ineluctably lead either to the invasion of Iraq or to the framing of international politics that supported the invasion. To explain that, S,S, B-E argue, we need to look at the way in which national security strategy became an electoral ‘wedge issue’ for the Bush administration. S,S, B-E claim that the Republican party needs wedge issues in order to counter their electoral disadvantage on economic issues; they refer to work by Larry Bartels which suggests that their traditional wedge (abortion) has had decreasing electoral payoffs since 1996. Thus, “[e]mpire became the new wedge issue, picking up where social issues left off.” It allowed Republicans to keep conservative voters happy, while peeling off some potential Democratic voters. Democratic politicians tried to counter this by “me-too” politics on national security and terrorism - but weren’t able to counter the Republican advantage. In short:

Unipolarity opened a space for interpretation that tempted a highly ideological foreign policy cohort to seize on international terrorism as a wedge issue to transform the balance of power in both the international system and American party politics. This cohort had its hands on the levers of power on September 11, 2001, as a result of three decades of partisan ideological polarization on domestic issues. Their instinctive response to the terrorist attack was grounded in ideological sincerity but also in routine practices of wedge issue politics. From conviction and from tactical habit, successful Republican politicians had learned that polarizing on non-economic issues is a political necessity in a country where most voters want costly welfare-state policies that are at odds with the upper-income tax cuts that are the bread and butter of the Republicans’ central constituency.

Unipolarity thus makes over-reaching belligerence more feasible than it would otherwise be:

Under unipolarity, the immediate, self-evident costs and risks of war are more likely to seem manageable, especially for a hegemonic power like the U.S. that commands more military capacity than the rest of the world combined. This does not necessarily make the use of force cheap or wise, but it means that the costs and risks of the use of force are comparatively indirect, long-term, and thus highly subject to interpretation. This interpretive leeway may open the door to domestic political impulses that lead the hegemon to overreach its capabilities.

However, if the hegemonic power is a democracy, imperial overreach can only be sustained in the short term - as the costs become more evident, the government is likely to lose political support. S,S,B-E provide survey evidence documenting the loss in support for the Iraq war, except among the small core of true believers. It’s clear from their argument that Iraq only worked as a wedge issue in the short term.

This explanation gives, it seems, some succour to both Glenn and Dan. For Glenn, it offers some scholarly support (a) for the notion that recent US behavior should be understood as a form of imperialism, and (b) that imperialism isn’t an inevitable expression of national interest. For Dan, it offers some support for the claims that military preponderance is not ipso facto imperialism, and that current imperialist tendencies are likely to be limited over the longer term by democratic politics.

At least among the majority of Democratic and Independent voters, democratic checks on reckless policy are working more or less as the “democratic marketplace of ideas” theory expects. After the 2008 election, America’s interlude of imperial ideology may seem more a passing reaction to September 11 than a reflection of a longer-lasting trend under unipolarity.

However, this cautiously optimistic conclusion comes with a proviso. While S,S,B-E’s arguments suggest that imperial overreach will be corrected in democratic systems, there is no necessary reason that successful imperial wars of aggression will be, and some reason to suspect that they won’t (S,S,B-E note in passing that the Bush administration might be in much better political shape had the Iraq adventure somehow succeeded).

What’s even more interesting to me are S,S,B-E’s arguments about what this means for US politics over the longer term. They suggest that even while the Iraq war hasn’t been a successful wedge issue, it has helped to increase polarization, albeit a form of polarization that is arguably highly unfavourable for Republicans over the longer term. They discuss how public opinion among Bush supporters is increasingly out of touch with empirical reality, and cite to a public opinion scholar who argues that “this echoes Leon Festinger’s research on the psychology of ‘cognitive dissonance’ in millenarian sects that believed more strongly in the impending end of the world after their prophecies had failed.” S,S,B-E suggest that it is likely on the balance of the evidence that elite driven ideology is leading Republicans to become “so ideological in their view of foreign affairs that they are impervious to information.” Among other interesting little public opinion factlets, they note that “[a]stonishingly, the percentage of conservatives who saw global warming as a critical threat dropped from 38 percent in 1998 to 22 percent in 2004, while a majority of liberals still perceived this as a critical threat.” Thus, as John Quiggin and others have suggested, we’re seeing a form of ideological coccooning occurring that is certainly unpleasant and problematic for democratic politics, but that also (although S,S,B-E don’t argue in exactly these terms) means that the crazies are much less likely to exert meaningful political influence than they were in 2001-2004.

[cross-posted at Crooked Timber ]

August 21, 2007

Josep Colomer on the Americanization of European Political Science

Josep Colomer:

the very creation of the European Consortium for Political Research was to a significant extent an American enterprise. As the story is told by Jean Blondel, one of the founding fathers of the ECPR, the idea to promote a model of “Americanized” political science in Europe was conceived as a synonymous for “modernization”. This was in contrast to the Parisian model at the Institute d’Etudes Politiques, better known as Sciences-Po, “which does not actively deserve its name since it is concerned only to a limited extent with what is conventionally regarded as political science in most parts of the world”. It was Blondel (born French but at the time at Essex, UK), together with Rudolf Wildenmann (at Manheim, Germany), Hans Daalder (at Leiden, the Netherlands), and Stein Rokkan (at Bergen, Norway), who undertook the initiative. “It was in New York city, in the magnificent glass Ford Foundation building, that the European Consortium was born, in the late spring of 1970”. Again in Blondel’s words, “only Americans, with their funds, but also with their skills in research management, could bring together a ‘representative’ body of European political scientists”.

More here.

Scheve and Stasavage on partisanship and inequality

Abstract: It has been widely suggested by political scientists that institutions like centralized wage bargaining and factors like government partisanship are correlated with differences in income inequality between advanced industrial countries. There is empirical evidence for the period since 1970 to support each of these propositions. We make use of new data on top income shares to examine the effects of partisanship and wage bargaining over a much longer time period, nearly the entire twentieth century. Our empirical results provide little support for the idea that either of these two factors is correlated with income inequality over this period. We then show that a closer look at the introduction of centralized wage bargaining in individual countries during the 1930s and 1940s reveals that in countries that moved to centralize wage bargaining, income inequality was already trending downward well before the institutional change, and the move to centralized bargaining did not alter this trend. Our results suggest that there were alternative institutional paths to reduced income inequality during most of the twentieth century. This raises the possibility that commonly shared economic and political events, such as world wars and economic crises, may ultimately be more important for understanding the evolution of income inequality than are the institutional or partisan characteristics commonly thought to be decisive.

Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage (2007), “Institutions, Partisanship, and Inequality in the Long Run,” unpublished paper. Available here.

Fowler and Kam on Altruism and Political Participation

Abstract: Scholars have recently extended the traditional calculus of participation model by adding a term for benefits to others. We advance this work by distinguishing theoretically a concern for others in general (altruism) from a concern for others in certain groups (social identification). We posit that both concerns generate increased benefits from participation. To test these theories, we use allocations in dictator games towards an unidentified anonymous recipient and two recipients identified only as a registered Democrat or a registered Republican. These allocations permit a distinction between altruism and social identification. The results show that both altruism and social identification significantly increase political participation. The results also demonstrate the usefulness of incorporating benefits that stem from sources beyond material self-interest into rational choice models of participation.

James H. Fowler and Cindy D. Kam (2007), “Beyond the Self: Social Identity, Altruism, and Political Participation,” Journal of Politics 69:811-825. Available here.

Acemoglu et al. on the spurious correlation between wealth and democracy

This paper revisits and critically re-evaluates the widely-accepted modernization hypothesis which claims that per capita income causes the creation and the consolidation of democracy. We argue that existing studies find support for this hypothesis because they fail to control for the presence of omitted variables. There are many underlying historical factors that affect both the level of income per capita and the likelihood of democracy in a country, and failing to control for these factors may introduce a spurious relationship between income and democracy. We show that controlling for these historical factors by including fixed country effects removes the correlation between income and democracy, as well as the correlation between income and the likelihood of transitions to and from democratic regimes. We argue that this evidence is consistent with another well-established approach in political science, which emphasizes how events during critical historical junctures can lead to divergent political-economic development paths, some leading to prosperity and democracy, others to relative poverty and non-democracy. We present evidence in favor of this interpretation by documenting that the fixed effects we estimate in the post-war sample are strongly associated with historical variables that have previously been used to explain diverging development paths within the former colonial world.

Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, James A Robinson and Pierre Yared (2007), “Reevaluating the Modernization Hypothesis,” unpublished paper, available here. Via Dani Rodrik.

August 18, 2007

Cho and Fowler on Small World Networks in Congress

Abstract: We examine the social network structure of Congress from 1973-2004. We treat two Members of Congress as directly linked if they have cosponsored a bill together. We then construct explicit networks for each year using data from all forms of legislation, including resolutions, public and private bills, and amendments. We show that Congress exemplifies the characteristics of a “small world” network and that the varying small world properties during this time period are strongly related to the number of important bills passed.

Wendy K. Tam Cho and James H. Fowler (2007), “Legislative Success in a Small World: Social Network Analysis and the Dynamics of Congressional Legislation,” unpublished paper. Available here.

August 16, 2007

Grose and Oppenheimer on Iraq and the 2006 elections

Abstract: Was the partisan swing in the 2006 U.S. House elections distributed evenly across congressional districts? We argue and show that the partisan swing, measured as the increase in the Democratic vote share from 2004 to 2006, was not constant across districts. We find that the underlying partisanship of the district, the presence of scandal, the presence of a quality challenger, and the incumbency status of the seat all predicted variations in the Democratic swing percentage. We also test competing theoretical expectations regarding legislative representation and find that the Iraq war had a differential impact across districts based on the party of the legislator, whether legislators voted for the war, and based on the number of Iraq war casualties in the district. Republican members of Congress who served during the Congress authorizing the war in Iraq and who voted for the war had larger Democratic swings in their districts than those who did not. We also find that, among Republicans, for about every two Iraq war casualties among soldiers with hometowns in the congressional district, the Democratic swing increased by about one percentage point. Democrats, in contrast, faced no electoral reward or punishment contingent upon their votes on the Iraq war or based on the number of Iraq war casualties in their districts.

Christian Grose and Bruce Oppenheimer (2007), “The Iraq War, Partisanship, and Candidate Attributes: Explaining Variation in Partisan Swing in the 2006 U.S. House Elections,” unpublished paper. Available here.

Fordham on Democrats, Republicans and Cold War Spending

Abstract: The domestic politics of American military spending during the Cold War confronts scholars with an important but often overlooked puzzle: the two major parties appear to have switched positions on the issue. During the early Cold War era, Democrats were generally supportive of increased military spending while Republicans were critical. After the mid-1960s, Democrats increasingly tended to oppose larger military budgets, while Republicans more often favored them. This paper presents evidence about the process through which this change took place. It identifies several developments in the domestic and international environment that may have contributed to this party switch, and evaluates preliminary evidence about each of them.

Benjamin O. Fordham (2007), “The Evolution of Republican and Democratic Positions on Cold War Military Spending: A Historical Puzzle,” Social Science History forthcoming. Available here.

Chong and Druckman on Framing and Public Opinion

Abstract: What is the effect of democratic competition on the power of elites to frame public opinion? We address this issue first by defining the range of competitive contexts that might surround any debate over a policy issue. We then offer a theory that predicts how audiences, messages, and competitive environments interact to influence the magnitude of framing effects. These hypotheses are tested using experimental data gathered on the opinions of adults and college students toward two policy issues – the management of urban growth, and the right of an extremist group to conduct a rally. Our results indicate that framing effects depend more heavily on the qualities of frames than on their frequency of dissemination, and that competition alters but does not eliminate the influence of framing. We conclude by discussing the implications of these results for the study of public opinion and democratic political debate.

Dennis Chong and James M. Druckman (2008), “The Influence of Democratic Competition on Public Opinion,” American Political Science Review, forthcoming. Available here.

August 15, 2007

Fordham on Economic Interests and Support for Global Activism

Abstract: This research note evaluates the effect of economic interests on public support for American global activism. Those who were relatively well-positioned to benefit from the American-supported postwar international order should be more likely to support it. An analysis of American National Election Study data on support for isolationism between 1956 and 2000 supports this line of argument. Individual self-interest is probably the most important pathway through which the international economy has influenced public opinion. However, the aggregate effects of exports and imports on respondents’ home states have also made a difference. The effects of economic interests are substantively large and fairly consistent over time.

Benjamin O. Fordham (2007), “Economic Interests and Public Support for American Global Activism,” forthcoming, International Organization. Available here.

David Lake on International Trusteeship and Civil Wars

Abstract: The current model of state-building implicitly rests on a formal-legal conception of legitimacy in which law or institutions confer authority on officials, who then employ that authority to create a social order. But a formal-legal approach, however well suited to established states governed by a rule of law, is inappropriate in the anarchy of a failed state. Key to successful state-building, I argue, is restoring the legitimacy of the state’s monopoly of violence. I develop an alternative, relational conception of legitimacy drawn from social contract theories of the state in which authority derives from a mutually-beneficial contract in which the ruler provides a social order of benefit to the ruled, and the ruled in turn comply with the extractions (e.g., taxes) and constraints on their behavior (e.g., law) that are necessary to the production of that order. The contract becomes self-enforcing – or legitimate – when individuals and groups become “vested” in that social order by undertaking investments specific to the particular contract. This implies that providing security, protecting property rights, and adjudicating disputes within society should be the first step in any state-building process. International trustees can facilitate indigenous state-building efforts by helping establish a social order and creating expectations that the order will endure into the future. By creating expectations of stability, the trustee can encourage specific investments and the vesting of interests in the social order. This paper proceeds in five principal sections. The first examines the concepts of state failure and state-building, arguing for a new focus on rebuilding state legitimacy. Section II probes and criticizes the intellectual foundations of the current model and practice of state-building. I then develop an alternative analytic foundation and model that rests of a relational conception of authority in Section III. I develop the role of international trustees in the state-building process and examine further the tensions identified above in Section IV. The final section examines the case of Somalia.

David A. Lake (2007), “Building Legitimate States After Civil Wars: Order, Authority, and International Trusteeship,” unpublished paper. Available here.

The Forum

Berkeley Electronic Press’s The Forum has a new issue available online. Like some other BEP journals, it aims to build links between political science research and more general public debates. It’s available for free after a mildly annoying registration process. This issue’s articles include:

Jeffrey Kraus on Bloomberg’s ascendancy in New York.

Robert G. Boatright on 527s and interest group theory.

Peter Haas on global environmental governance.

Political Science on SSRN

Via Jacob Levy, SSRN has now created a political science network (this has been in the works for a few months). This has both advantages and disadvantages - it means that political science papers will be more widely available than before, but through a clunky and often bug-ridden interface, provided by a for-profit company whose interests aren’t always going to coincide with those of political scientists. I’d have liked to have seen political scientists build on the ArXiv model instead - it seems much more robust and easily expandable as Web 2.0 goodness becomes more widely disseminated among political scientists. Instead, we had politicalscience.org, which doesn’t seem to my knowledge to have had any very measurable impact on the field (in large part, I suspect because of its dreadful interface, which doesn’t even offer stable permalinks).

August 09, 2007

Pateman to British Academy

Via Jacob Levy, Carol Pateman has been elected to the British Academy.

August 08, 2007

Levy on Federalism and Liberalism

Abstract: Federalism, when it has not been ignored altogether in normative political theory, has typically been analyzed in terms that fail to match the institution as it exists in the world. Federations are made up of provinces that are too few, too large, too rigid, too constitutionally entrenched, and too tied to ethnocultural identity to match theories based on competitive federalism, Tiebout sorting, democratic self-government, or subsidiarity. A relatively neglected tradition in liberal thought, based on a separation of loyalties and identifiable in Montesquieu, Publius, Constant, Tocqueville, and Acton, however, holds more promise. If the purpose of federalism is to compensate for worrisome tendencies toward centralization, then it is desirable that the provinces large enough to have political power be stable and entrenched and be able to engender loyalty from their citizens, such as the loyalty felt to ethnoculturally specific provinces. Separation of loyalty theories and the bulwark theories of which they are a subset match up with federalism as it exists in the world.

Jacob T. Levy (2007), “Federalism, Liberalism, and the Separation of Loyalties,” American Political Science Review 101:459-477. Available here.

Callan on Love and Patriotism

Patriotism requires love of country. We all know that. Yet we do not usually consider patriotism seriously in relation to love, which is how I propose to consider it. In so doing, I try to throw some light on the question of patriotism’s moral status. I begin by sketching some claims about what is worthy of love, what might count as a reason to love, and what it is to love well or badly. These provide the basis for a contrast I draw between morally innocent and idolatrous love, which in turn yields a distinction between an innocent patriotism and its idolatrous mutations. But the moral innocence of one kind of patriotism does not mean that anyone has an obligation to be patriotic or that patriotism counts as a virtue. I reject the view that patriotism is obligatory by examining the contrast between patriotic love and the love between parents and children, where an obligation to love has been traditionally and plausibly imputed. To identify the conditions under which patriotism might count as a virtue, I turn to the conception of moral learning defended in Part III of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. …

The case I make for the moral value of patriotism under some nonideal conditions is entirely consistent with the following reasonable surmise: whatever benefits come from honorable patriotism are outweighed by the harm done by its idolatrous counterparts, to say nothing of the consequences of still baser passions that masquerade as patriotism. If humanity could make a bargain with God to make patriotism disappear, so that all its harms evaporated along with its benefits, maybe we should take the deal. But no such bargain is on offer. We live in the midst of societies in which patriotism remains a potent force in many people’s lives. When their patriotism is implicated in tribal hatreds and delusions of national grandeur, we wish that it would simply go away. Yet the object of our wish will often be a worse outcome, and it will certainly in general be a less feasible option than enticing their patriotism in a morally better direction. After all, being told to give up what you love is a harder message for anyone to heed than being told that you should love it better. Unfortunately, blanket indictments of patriotism that refuse to make moral distinctions within the indicted category merely obscure the range of practical responses that are necessary to foster the good it enables and mitigate the evil it promotes.

Eamonn Callan (2006), “Love, Idolatry and Patriotism,” Social Theory and Practice 32:525-546.

Way and Levitsky on Differences in Post-Communist Outcomes

Abstract: An important source of the post-Communist divide between a relatively democratic Central and Southeastern Europe on one side and a highly autocratic former Soviet Union on the other is the different character of the international environments in the two regions. Post-Communist countries differ along two key dimensions of the post–cold war international environment: Western leverage, or governments’ vulnerability to external pressure;
and linkage to the West, or the density of a country’s economic, political, organizational, social, and communication ties to the European Union and the United States. High linkage and leverage in Central and Southeastern Europe generated intense international democratizing pressures, contributing to democratization even under unfavorable domestic conditions. By contrast, weaker linkage and leverage in the former Soviet Union has produced a much more permissive international environment. As a result, democratization has failed in the absence of a strong domestic push.

Lucan A. Way and Steven Levitsky (2007), “Linkage, Leverage and the Post-Communist Divide,” East European Politics and Society 27: 48-66. Available here.

Lynch on Blogging the New Arab Public

A few years ago, … Arab blogs could easily be written off as a fad, fueled by the novelty of some outspoken female Saudi bloggers and the prominence of some English-language Iraqi blogs in the American political blogosphere. There are still plenty of reasons to believe that blogs will never live up to their hype. … Blogs reach only a fraction of the audience of Al Jazeera or even of tedious state-dominated newspapers. Where bloggers have been politically influential, such as Egypt and Bahrain, repressive regimes have been able to crack down on them. From this perspective, it is highly unlikely that blogging will induce wide political change in the Middle East. While a healthy skepticism is wise, it would be wrong to conclude that blogging has no role in Arab politics. Arab political blogging is changing and becoming more politically relevant. Bloggers have had a discernible impact in a wide range of Arab countries, including their role in the Kefaya movement in Egypt …, political protests in Bahrain …, the turbulent post-Al Hariri period in Lebanon…, anti-corruption campaigns in Libya … and the 2006 Kuwaiti elections. While political opportunities usually come first—around elections, national scandals, or contentious elite debates, for instance—blogs can be catalysts for previously unlikely political mobilization.

Marc Lynch (2007), “Blogging the New Arab Public,” Arab Media and Society February 2007. Available here. NB - this is being reposted because the first time that I posted it, I neglected to include the hyperlink.

August 07, 2007

Why France has VAT and America Doesn't

(Crossposted from Crooked Timber)

Bruce Bartlett is advocating the introduction of Value Added Tax to America. This is a perennial proposal on the right, but it doesn’t appear to ever gain much political traction. The obvious reason why is that VAT is unpopular because it’s a regressive tax (the more people earn, the less they pay). However, this doesn’t explain why European countries which one would expect to be more attracted to progressive taxation systems have VAT, often at quite high levels.

Former CT guest blogger (and current GWU colleague and friend of mine) Kimberly Morgan has written a nice historical paper (Word file here )with Monica Prasad looking at how the US came “to have a tax code that is on many levels more hostile to capital accumulation than its peers” while France “which in some opinions has “never really been won over to capitalism” ” found itself relying on taxes that hit workers and consumers unusually hard. Simplifying drastically, she and Prasad argue that it can be explained by timing. Industrial capitalism arrived in the US before a real national state came into being, while the state preceded capitalism in France. The weak state in the US, and the willingness of business to ride roughshod over consumers, “led to an intense public interest in disciplining capital, which underpinned a movement toward income taxation that would punish capital and the wealthy.” In France, in contrast, well-founded fears of state intrusion led French citizens to fear direct taxation, and tax advocates to work against “fiscal inquisition” and the further expansion of the state into private life. This left French left-wingers ambivalent about the virtues of income taxes, so that a state crippled by war expenses had to turn to a sales tax to raise money. If this is right (and they provide a lot of historical evidence), some of the verities of left and right about France and the US should be turned on their head (this is one of the reasons why it’s a fun paper, for values of fun that include ‘detailed historical institutionalist arguments about causation.’)

DellaVigna and Kaplan on Media Bias

is media bias necessarily a problem? The effect of media bias depends on how the audience processes the information broadcast by the media. If the audience is aware of the media bias and filters it from the information, distortions in media reporting are unlikely to have large effects on voter beliefs (Bray and Kreps, 1987). In this rational world, media bias does not persuade voters. Other theories hold that, instead, media bias persuades voters. This may occur because voters do not sufficiently account for bias in the media (De Marzo, Vayanos, and Zwiebel 2003). This, in turn, may be a direct effect of the framing of news (Lakoff, 1987). Ultimately, understanding the impact of media bias on voter beliefs and preferences is an empirical task. In this chapter, we first review some of the papers that have provided a measure of this impact. Most of these papers indicate a large impact of the media. However, some of the findings can also be explained by self-selection of voters into preferred media. For example, right-wing voters are more likely to expose themselves to right-wing media, giving an impression that the right-wing media persuades them. Other studies provide evidence of an impact on self-reported voting, or stated voting in a laboratory experiment, as opposed to voting in actual elections. In the rest of the paper, we summarize the result of a natural experiment that addresses the question of the impact of media bias on political preferences. We draw on DellaVigna and Kaplan (2007) which examines the timing of the entry of Fox News in local cable markets, and considers the impact on voting. Relative to DellaVigna and Kaplan (2007), we present new results on turnout for US Senate elections, as well as a more general analysis of persuasion rates.

Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan (2007), “The Political Impact of Media Bias.” Available here.

Via Brendan Nyhan

DellaVigna and Kaplan on The Fox News Effect

Abstract: Does media bias affect voting? We analyze the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of U. S. towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic, conditional on a set of controls. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gained 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns that broadcast Fox News. Fox News also affected voter turnout and the Republican vote share in the Senate. Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 28 percent of its viewers to vote Republican, depending on the audience measure. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for nonrational voters subject to persuasion

Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan (2007), “The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 122:1187-1234. Available here (sub required). Earlier version available here. Via Brendan Nyhan.
Via “Brendan

August 04, 2007

Fabio Rojas on Political Science and Sociology

Fabio Rojas posts on the differences between sociology and political science.

Up until 1975 or so, political science and sociology were in similar boats, but only political science adopted mathematical modeling as a core research method in the last 30 years. Sure, there are pockets of mathematical soc folks, but now major chunks of political science have been recast in formal models, like theories of political conflict and competition (game theory), policy formation (Euclidean policy space models), legislative politics (more game theory), etc. And all serious researchers are expected to know these theories. There has been no equivalent transformation of sociology. Why the divergence?

More here.

Gelman on Zorn and Gill

Andrew Gelman comments on the Zorn and Gill paper on the designated hitter rule.

My first thought is: this is amusing but why is it in a top political science journal? But, reading the article, I realize that it indeed has more general implications. In particular, if we can make the assumption that causality only goes in one direction here—that a change in the view on the designated hitter will not affect one’s political preferences—then this is a clean study, a way of estimating the coherence of political ideology into non-political areas.

More here.

August 03, 2007

Carpenter on children born of wartime rape as an international 'non-issue'

Today, child soldiering has become the most prominent issue on a laundry list decried by a transnational network of activists and organizations working in the issue domain of children and armed conflict. However, the network around children and armed conflict (CaAC) does not lobby for all categories of children affected by war: until very recently the particular needs of girls and HIV-AIDS orphans were invisible on this agenda, and issues still absent from the laundry list include children born as a result of wartime rape; children in military families, and children indoctrinated by the war toy and entertainment industries in industrialized societies. Why do activists in leading transnational organizations adopt certain issues or populations of concern but not others? … In short, how do lead actors or “gatekeepers” within transnational issue spheres select causes from the endless pool of possible options? … With a team of graduate student coders, I attempted such an analysis by examining human rights advocates’ discourse about an issue that has not emerged on the transnational child rights agenda (children born of wartime rape). … my findings point to the potential importance of inter-network politics in constraining issue adoption even in such seemingly “easy” cases.

Charli Carpenter (2007), “Studying Issue (Non)-Adoption in Transnational Advocacy Networks,” International Organization 61:643-667. Available here.

Snyder et al. on the politics of unipolarity

Why did America invade Iraq? The glib answer is “because it could.” … But this explanation begs the important questions. Disproportionate power allows greater freedom of action, but it is consistent with a broad spectrum of policies, ranging from messianic attempts to impose a new world order to smug insulation from the world’s quagmires. How this freedom is used depends on how threats and opportunities are interpreted through the prism of ideology and domestic politics. In this sense, unipolarity was a permissive cause of the Bush Administration’s preventive war doctrine and its application in Iraq. … During the twentieth century, whether under multi-, bi- or unipolarity, America enjoyed the luxury of disproportionate power and geographical buffering, which allowed—even required—ideology to define America’s strategically underdetermined world role. This ideology was normally liberalism, sometimes that of the disengaged “city on a hill,” sometimes that of the crusading reformer.Writing in the wake of the Vietnam War, Stephen Krasner worried that the more powerful the United States would become, the more this ideological leeway would express itself as imperialism … What changed in 2001 was not just the terrorist attack, but also the ideological and political environment that made the most of it. … Three decades of increasing partisan ideological polarization on domestic issues culminated in the Bush Administration’s extending it into the realm of foreign policy. … Three decades of increasing partisan ideological polarization on domestic issues culminated in the Bush Administration’s extending it into the realm of foreign policy.

Jack Snyder, Robert Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon (2006), “Free Hand Abroad: Divide and Rule at Home,” unpublished paper. Available here. Via Andrew Gelman.