Religion, politics, and the political economy of care

by Angelia R. Wilson

At the time of writing, 30 states and DC now allow same-sex marriage. So, was this a good time to publish a book claiming American would never be ‘gay and lesbian friendly’? Yes, I still think so.

Why Europe is Lesbian and Gay Friendly (and why America never will be) (SUNY), reflects the intersection of values, welfare, feminist critiques of family policy and the in/exclusion of lesbians and gay men to address why Europe appears to be advancing more rapidly than the US on lesbian and gay policy issues. I consider the various answers offered in the current literature including the advancement of the ideology and language of human rights, the activity of the European Courts, windows of opportunity opened with growth of governance in the European Union and the professional activism of European based lobby groups. All of these are good answers to the question. As such they also testify to the fact that there is no one answer. There is no political ‘magic wand’ that could be transferred across European countries or to the US.

Why was Catholic Spain one of the first countries to grant same-sex marriage? In short, Spain has a very residual welfare state that was not coping with an aging population, a demographic shift of women joining the workforce and significant urbanization. The Catholic church nor the state were able to step in sufficiently to cover this emerging ‘gap in care’. Faced with such a crisis of care, it is not surprising that redefining the family to include same-sex couples became an economically attractive option for increasing the number of available carers. In the UK, Gordon Brown argued that allowing gay men and lesbians to become  foster parents would save the government money otherwise spent on state childcare provision. Various European governments argued that recognizing same-sex couples tied them together financially and therefore lessened the risk that the state would have to provide welfare.

What struck me about previous answers to the question was the lack of discussion of what feminist have labelled the political economy of care. To me, this was odd. It was odd because the policy progress for lesbians and gay men was often in areas of marriage, access to adoption and fostering, next of kin arrangements, immigration based on same-sex partnerships, access to fertility treatments, etc. Why Europe? explores this terrain by examining ‘families of nations’. I consider similarities and differences across countries, arguing that there is no one route to equality. The political economy of care – the complexity of care arrangements provided by the individual, family, religious groups and the state – differ substantially in each country and therefore had to be negotiated differently by lesbian and gay activists. Some were better prepared for this negotiation than others. Similarly, those with an investment in providing care – particularly religious groups – were differently equipped to challenge or welcome proposed changes.

I recently read a review of my book which expressed concerned that there was no clear answer to how Europe became more, in the words of feminist policy analysts such as Sarah Childs, ‘friendly’. That is true. There is no one answer. That is the point: each countries’ political economy of care is different. In all cases, various stakeholders sought to define the national values through care policies. In some cases, these values became somewhat easily rearticulated to be more inclusive. But in many, these fundamental values had been deeply written into the cannon of welfare that the fight for redefinition was an epic religious-laden battle. The political economy of care has been so intertwined with the investment of religious leaders – either as providers of care or as those empowered to define the family – that even nations appearing to be secular, such as Sweden, the battle over value redefinition was fought with religious discourse.

What does all this have to do with America? The extent of government commitment to welfare in many European countries is fundamentally different from the residual welfare promise in the US. With that historical commitment, and when faced with austerity and demographic change, some European states entertained the possibility of redefining the family to increase the pool of carers. Where religious voices where stronger, the process took longer. In the US, I argue, where conservative Christianity is politically powerful, where most religious organizations are financial investors and providers of care, where there is substantially less commitment to welfare, and where the parameters of care are often set by the state rather than the federal government, progress towards equality will take longer. The outcome, reflected in the current judicial route towards same-sex marriage, is a fragmented piecemeal battle over one or two issues. When one considers the more substantive commitment to ‘friendly policies’, it simply may never happen.

The last claim is supported by my more recent research on the American Christian Right. Having spent five years conducting participant observation at various Christian Right events, I can testify that any reports of its demise over the next fifty years, is sadly overstated. They will never concede defeat in the culture war. The courts may eventually allow/enforce same-sex marriage in all fifty states, but at least a third of those will resent such federal intervention and will probably never accept gay men and lesbians as equal citizens – a story all too familiar to African-Americans living in the South.

My argument in Why Europe is Lesbian and Gay Friendly is a cautionary tale about ignoring the importance of the political economy of care and the economic and ideological investment of religious communities in providing and defining its parameters. Twenty-five years ago I left my Texas Panhandle home and embarked on an academic career in the UK. Over that time, at least one lesson I learned growing up in parsonages across West Texas remains true across the borders of ‘the West’: never ignore the power of religion to define social values. This is particularly true, and oddly ignored, in the telling of LGBT advances in the political economy of care.

Angelia Wilson (University of Manchester) is currently researching the intersections of social conservatism, Christianity, feminist political theory and policies regulating sexuality. Her new book, Why Europe is Lesbian and Gay Friendly (and why America never will be) (SUNY, 2013), compares European and American differences in politics, welfare policies and social values which lead to divergent policies regulating the lives of lesbian and gay citizens. Her recent edited a collection, Situating Intersectionality (Palgrave, 2013), brings together international scholars employing an intersectional analysis of politics and policy outcomes. Her work has appeared in New Political Science, Politics & Religion, Politics & Gender, Contemporary Politics, Culture Health & Sexuality, Critical Social Policy, Sexualities and the American Review of Politics. She is co-editor of the journal Politics & Religion (Cambridge University Press).

Political scientists debate the Montana experiment

Following Melissa Michelson’s post over the weekend, here are a range of views about the Montana experiment, from defense to condemnation.

All links and posts at The New West reflect the opinions of the authors only; they do not represent the opinions of the Western Political Science Association as an organization.

Paul Gronke of Reed College on the study’s ethical shortcomings

Benjamin Lauderdale of LSE proposes a “thought experiment”

Chris Blattman of Columbia University explores the relationship between research and real-world outcomes.

Thomas Leeper defends the experiment

John Patty explains the tradeoffs and gains of social science research

Links from around the political science web

by Julia Azari

– Lots of new content at Mischiefs of Faction: Seth Masket on negative ads and the Colorado Governor’s race; John Patty writes about blaming the government for Ebola, Greg Koger shares some new data on partisanship and Congressional voting, and my own post on studying leadership and the presidency.

– At The Monkey Cage: analysis of the recent elections in Bulgaria by Petia Kostadinova and Maria Popova, controversial piece about non-citizens voting by Jesse Richman and David Earnest

– At The Upshot, Brendan Nyhan challenges the idea that Americans live in “partisan bubbles” when it comes to our media consumption.

– Advice for revising and resubmitting papers at Duck of Minerva (a couple of weeks old- but still very useful)

Messing with Montana: Get-out-the-Vote Experiment Raises Ethics Questions

by Melissa R. Michelson

Today, the Internet exploded with news about and reactions to a get-out-the-vote field experiment fielded by three political science professors that may have broken Montana state law and, at a minimum, called into question the ethics of conducting experiments that might impact election results. No stranger to such controversy myself—a postage experiment I conducted with some colleagues in November 2010 (Michelson et al 2012) raised the ire of one losing candidate and generated some unpleasant media coverage—I am sympathetic to the idea that the researchers meant no harm. But harm has indeed been done, to the experiments subfield and to the discipline more broadly, if not to the people of Montana.

First, let’s review the facts. Adam Bonica and Jonathan Rodden, Political Science professors and fellows at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, along with Dartmouth Political Scientist Kyle Dropp, obtained $250,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a matching $100,000 grant from Stanford University to conduct the experiment. According to Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin, the project was approved by the Dartmouth Institutional Review Board (IRB).

The experiment was conducted in three states, including Montana (100,000 mailers), New Hampshire (66,000 mailers) and California (143,000 mailers). The mailers sent to Montana voters, where the controversy is raging, included the state seal and information about the ideological placement (compared to President Barack Obama and former Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney) of candidates for two non-partisan elections to the Montana Supreme Court. The mailer was labeled “2014 Montana General Election Voter Information Guide.” The ideological placement of the judicial candidates is based on a methodology developed for Bonica’s dissertation research, using a large-scale database of campaign contributions. One of those judicial races, between incumbent Justice Mike Wheat and challenger Lawrence VanDyke, is hotly contested, and has seen significant outside spending.

Using the state seal without permission may have violated Montana election law, which states that it is a misdemeanor to “knowingly or purposely disseminate to any elector information about election procedures that is incorrect or misleading or gives the impression that the information has been officially disseminated by an election administrator.”

In addition to a charge of violating that law, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch has filed a legal complaint charging that the mailers also violate three campaign laws: 1) A ban on “fraudulent contrivance” that could cause a person to vote a certain way; 2) A prohibition on the dissemination of information that gives incorrect or misleading election procedures; and 3) A requirement that a person or group engaging in political activity register with the state.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a strongly worded letter to the presidents of Stanford and Dartmouth on October 24 that began, “As I am sure you are now aware, Montanans recently received a misleading campaign flier in their mailboxes that sought to inject partisanship into non-partisan Montana Supreme Court elections.” Tester goes on to denounce the “so-called research project,” and adds, “Efforts to undermine elections in Montana – whether by fraud or merely by poorly-designed experiments – must not be tolerated.”

To me, this is more important than the possible violations of election and campaign law, which perhaps will result in the Bonica team paying some fines. The grouping together of fraud and experiments, and the interpretation of the mailers as an effort to undermine the Montana elections, illustrates the true price that is being paid in terms of public perceptions of political science experiments, if not the broader discipline.

Montanans are sensitive to outside groups coming to their state trying to influence elections. One of the top stories of the year in 2012 was the “dark money”—money whose sources and donors don’t have to be disclosed, thanks to Citizens United—that flooded the state with television ads and mailers. This followed scandals in the previous two election cycles, 2008 and 2010, of illegal coordination between funders and candidates by Western Tradition Partnership.

The sordid details of those previous dark-money scandals set the backdrop to Montanans’ outrage at the idea that an outside source was coming in to try to influence their election; the Bonica group blundered in not anticipating how that context might color reaction to their mailers.

Was the experiment ethical? The Bonica team chose to experiment with non-partisan Montana judicial races, as opposed to legislative races where ideology and partisanship often play a visible role, inserting partisanship (by placing the judicial candidates on a continuum with Obama and Romney) in a place where many think it does not belong. The tradition of a non-partisan, independent judiciary has deep roots in the West, stemming from the Progressive Era; regardless of whether or not laws were broken, the mailers blatantly violated that tradition. An interesting research question? Perhaps. But just because something is interesting doesn’t mean you should do the experiment.

Another ethics issue arises from the closeness of the election, and the possibility that the content of the mailers might have influenced the outcome. To maximize external validity, experimenters logically want to conduct their research in real elections. But should such experiments, particularly persuasion experiments, be conducted in contexts where they might determine outcomes? This is precisely the sort of experimentation that raises eyebrows about the ethics of doing work outside of laboratories or without informed consent. Dawn Teele claims in Field Experiments and Their Critics (2012: 119) that ethical field research requires that the research itself leave no trace.

Just last year, the Coburn Amendment struck a major blow to political science National Science Foundation grants. Political science was dismissed as wasteful and not in the national interest. Experiments that strike the public as unethical, possibly illegal, and deceptive, are harmful to our image as a discipline and will make it more difficult for future studies to obtain funding and IRB approval. Intentionally or not, these researchers are guilty of damaging the field.

Melissa R. Michelson is a professor of political science at Menlo College. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale University. Her publications Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth (Paradigm Publishers, 2014) and Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns (Yale University Press, 2012).

Observing and Learning from Politicians: Why Going Home is Needed Now More than Ever

by David C.W. Parker

In 2011, Montana’s lone Congressman, Republican Denny Rehberg announced that he would run for the Senate seat held by Democratic freshman Jon Tester. The race was one of the most competitive Senate contests during the 2102 cycle, with nearly every public poll conducted over the next 20 months showing the race tied statistically. After more than $50 million spent on television, radio, mail, and GOTV by the parties, candidates, and nearly 30 outside groups, Tester won reelection by less than four points.

I was fortunate to have a front row seat for the campaign. Both Congressman Rehberg and Senator Tester allowed me unprecedented access during the race and, after the campaign, to their staffs. I documented in my forthcoming book with CQ Press, Battle for the Big Sky: Representation and the Politics of Place in the Race for the U.S. Senate, the electoral consequences of the representational relationships both candidates had established with Montanans. Much like Richard Fenno’s pioneering work, I soaked and poked my way through the campaign while documenting the pre-political and early political careers of the candidates. Unsurprisingly, I conclude that campaigns can affect the outcome of elections.

As I reflect about the many lessons I learned on the campaign trail, one stands above the rest. As many of you watch competitive Senate races this cycle, you’ve probably heard that Democratic Senate candidates vote with Barack Obama a lot. Congressman Cory Gardner in Colorado, for example, tells Coloradoans that Senator Mark Udall votes with Barack Obama 99 percent of the time according to his 2013 CQ Presidential Support score. Here in Montana in 2012, ads sponsored by Rehberg, the Republican Party, and outside groups cited ad nauseam the claim that Senator Tester voted with Obama 95 percent of the time.

One of my clearest memories during the campaign was an exchange I had with Aaron Murphy, Tester’s communications director. Murphy claimed that the Presidential Support Score calculated by CQ was some “random number” calculated by some Washington insiders. I called Aaron to dispute this. It is not some “random number”, but a metric that is carefully calculated according to precise rules and it is widely employed by political scientists studying Congress. It has face validity and provides a good thumbnail sketch of how supportive members of Congress are (or not) of an administration. Aaron pushed back, saying that the number does not, by any means, tell the whole story of Tester’s record. In fact, Tester—as Montana’s Senator—had developed a solid record of independence that is not reflected by the 95 percent figure.

It turns out that Aaron was right. Not that the number is random, but that it is a flawed metric.

The presidential support score, as calculated, does not tell us as much as we might think about a representative’s relationship to a presidential administration. And, if I might be so bold, political scientists are doing a great disservice to the study of politics by oversimplifying the legislative process by repairing to mindless empirical reductionism. Make no mistake: I am not the naysaying baseball scout Grady Fuson from the movie “Moneyball.” Quantification has allowed political science to develop tremendous insight into the practice of politics. But, at the same time, quantification run amok has unnecessarily narrowed the research questions we ask, the research agendas we pursue, and creates a distance from politicians and politics that hinders the construction of new theory, new observation, and new metrics.

Consider the Presidential Support Score. It records the votes of members of Congress on issues on which the administration sees fit to take a stance publically. The score includes some votes that are essentially non-controversial—and this is particularly true in the case of the Senate, where many votes to appoint executive branch officials and judges receive widespread bipartisan support. As I note in Battle for the Big Sky, Tester’s rating of 95 percent drops to 85 percent once these noncontroversial votes are removed from the mix using a procedure established by Bond, Fleisher, and Northrup (1992).

But, more distressing, is the fixation political science has with this blunt measure of such a complex phenomenon. As political scientists, we accept as axiomatic that roll call voting only represents a portion of the jobs that members of Congress do and only a slice of position-taking type activities. David Mayhew (2000) cleverly reminds of this by developing a richer metric of the ways in which members of Congress engage in the public sphere. Mayhew canvasses the historical record for examples of the actions that members of Congress take that receive the attention of historians. Only half of the actions taken by members of Congress in the public sphere are position-taking on roll call votes. Emphasizing roll call votes—which are easily obtained and scaled—puts too many of our empirical eggs in one basket and biases our view of what legislators do.

To return to the presidential support score, there are a host of other ways that members of Congress can and do demonstrate their relationship to an administration. Take, just as one example, the communications members of Congress send to executive branch officials. Members of Congress often write to agencies before, during, and after the rule making process to protest certain administrative actions. In 2012, when the Department of Labor attempted to apply workplace safety rules to family farms, the Obama administration heard loud protests from Montana’s congressional delegation. Tester alone introduced legislation to stop the rules from going into effect, sent letters to the Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis protesting the rules, and took to the Senate floor to remonstrate against the Department of Labor’s regulations. None of these position-taking actions were represented by a roll call vote in opposition to the administration. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if this reflects 95 percent support of Barack Obama.

And even roll call votes themselves are increasingly misleading as omnibus legislation and resolutions dominate a gridlocked legislature. In mid-September, the House and Senate both approved an appropriations measure that would continue to fund government after October 1, 2014. That same resolution contained language and funds allowing the administration to train and aid Syrian rebels, “$88 million in additional funding to combat the Ebola epidemic, $64 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs and $6 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which helps low-income people obtain nutritious food” (Shabad and Cox 2014). The administration supported the bill, but did a vote for the funding of government signify support for the administration? Did it signify the desire merely to avoid a shut down? Did it signify support for the president’s request to authorize air strikes? Was it a vote to fight Ebola or help poor people in need of food? That vote carried multiple meanings, but it will probably be scored by CQ as supporting the administration even though a vote for it or against it could explained variously depending upon where one sits.

The outlook is not all dim for political science and the study of representation. Justin Grimmer’s (2013, 2014) recent work shows how the tools of textual analysis can illuminate how members of Congress chose to communicate and connect with constituents. Greg Koger’s (2010) wonderful book on the filibuster emphasizes sequence, context, and timing whilst taking aim squarely at the wrongheaded assumption of single-peaked preferences. Neither follow politicians around, but both demonstrate both a complex understanding of politics combined with sophisticated quantitative analyses.

But we don’t have to rely upon Stata and R alone to make insights into the political process. Spending time with politicians reminds us that representation and legislating are complex concepts difficult to nail down precisely with just one or two measures. The more exposure we get as political scientists to how politicians do their jobs, the more we see and the better the theories we develop. As I write in the final chapter of my book, political scientists just don’t “do” Fenno anymore. That’s a shame because Richard Fenno’s soaking and poking did not exhaust the sights for political science to take in. There is still much to see and learn. We ought to start doing it—on the campaign trail, in Washington, and through the use of congressional archives where we can observe the second face of power. The end result makes our research more accessible, more relevant, and ultimately, theoretically richer.

Dr. Parker is an associate professor of political science at Montana State University. He is the author of The Power of Money in Congressional Campaigns, 1880-2006 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press), as well as articles on the consequences of divided government and how members of Congress build reputations with their constituents. His article, “Making a Good Impression: Resource Allocations, Home Styles, and Washington Work,” won the 2010 Alan Rosenthal Award from the American Political Science Association. His co-edited volume on archival research methodology, Doing Archival Work in Political Science, was published by Cambria press.


The New Wild West: Colorado and Legalized Recreational Marijuana

by Courtenay W. Daum

Imagine a world where parents legally unwind with a joint instead of a glass of wine after a long day , weddings have marijuana bars to complement bars serving alcoholic beverages, and treats such as candy and cookies are forbidden to children not because of high sugar content but because they are laced with THC. You need not look far because this is the new state of affairs in Colorado which became the first state to legalize and launch recreational marijuana in 2014.

In Colorado, citizens may use the initiative process—petitions are circulated and if enough valid signatures are obtained the question is put to the voters of the state—to place policy and revenue issues on the ballot as an exercise in direct democracy. In November 2012, a majority of Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 on “Use and Regulation of Marijuana” and legalized the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana as well as industrial hemp within the state. Shortly thereafter, Governor John Hickenlooper convened a taskforce to draft regulations for the implementation and regulation of recreational marijuana sales and consumption, and on January 1, 2014 the first recreational stores opened to adults age 21 and older. While Amendment 64 decriminalized private possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by adults 21 years and older across the state, local governments retain discretion on allowing retail establishments within their borders as well as the authority to implement time, place, and manner restrictions resulting in variation across the state.

Despite the numerous regulations and revenue laws passed by the state in advance of the 2014 launch, new issues have presented themselves in the past nine months and additional government regulations have been devised in response to unforeseen developments. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges associated with legalized recreational marijuana is securing the large amounts of cash coming into retail establishments. Due to the fact that federal laws criminalize marijuana, retailers in Colorado are struggling to find safe outlets for their revenue because banks subject to federal laws are unwilling to accept their money out of fear that they will be charged with violating federal laws including the RICO Act and prohibitions on money laundering and aiding suspicious and illegal activities. This has led to some bizarre developments including retailers laundering their money in Febreeze to remove the smell of marijuana in order to deposit the cash in their bank accounts. In response to these banking challenges, Colorado passed a law in June authorizing the establishment of marijuana banking cooperatives but the viability of this option is limited because the U.S. Federal Reserve is unlikely to sanction these entities. In a recent Forbes article, a leading marijuana retailer in Colorado was asked where the company keeps its money and he responded “We actually have strong banking relationships…[but w]e don’t talk about them. Asking someone about their banking is like asking them what they wear to bed at night. It’s an intensely personal question, even within the industry.” This evasive response reflects the complicated relationship among banks, the federal government and the marijuana industry. It is clear that some banks are allowing marijuana businesses to operate accounts but these relationships are incredibly covert given the risks. Yet, the lack of viable banking options creates practical and logistical problems for business owners as well as government efforts to regulate and tax marijuana sales not to mention the safety concerns associated with a multi-million dollar primarily cash industry that has limited access to financial institutions.

Another major issue and one that may have taken retailers and the government by surprise relates to the regulation and consumption of edible marijuana products. Due to the fact that edibles often take the form of baked goods and candies there have been numerous reports of children (and house pets) consuming the products unaware that these foods are laced with THC resulting in emergency room visits. Adults have struggled with edibles as well because when an individual eats or drinks marijuana products the onset of the drug is often delayed whereas smoking marijuana results in an immediate high. As a result of these differences, many individuals purchasing edibles consume an entire cookie or candy bar without realizing that one item contains multiple doses of THC. The results of edible overdoses may be catastrophic as exemplified by the death of a young man who leapt from the roof of a building in downtown Denver after consuming an entire marijuana cookie that contained approximately 6.5 servings of THC. In a now infamous editorial, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd described her own experience overdosing on a marijuana candy bar on a visit to Denver as follows, “I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer, he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy.”

In response to the myriad problems resulting from the consumption of edibles, Colorado issued new regulations governing serving sizes and labeling requirements that will take effect in February 2015. In the meantime, distributors are taking steps to address these issues including producing “rookie” versions of edible products and beverages that contain minimal amounts of THC to ensure that individuals consuming an entire cookie, piece of chocolate or beverage will not become totally inebriated. In addition, many marijuana stores distribute guidelines on edible consumption and the industry has launched a public service campaign that spreads the motto “Low and Slow” encouraging individuals to begin with a low dosage (5 milligrams) and not rush to take another dose until they feel the effects of the prior dose.

Other issues include the challenges associated with prosecuting individuals charged with driving while high, public consumption of marijuana, weed tourism, and the movement of marijuana from Colorado to neighboring states where it is prohibited consistent with state and federal laws. In addition, the people of Colorado remain divided about the legal recreational marijuana industry. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Governor this election cycle have stated that they oppose recreational marijuana but according to a recent poll, fifty-five percent of Coloradans support it. Given that Amendment 64 was a popular initiative and passed directly by the voters, the only way to overturn the law within the state is to return the issue to the voters and ask a majority of them to repeal it. There are two ways to place a repeal question on the ballot in Colorado: 1) citizens’ initiative via petition and 2) a 2/3 vote of the state legislature. Of the two, the first is likely to be a more viable option because Colorado only requires approximately 86,000 valid signatures—a number equal to five percent of the votes cast in the previous election for Secretary of States—to get an initiative on the ballot. Yet, given continued popular support for legalized recreational marijuana it does not appear likely that a majority of voters would favor repealing Amendment 64 at this time. That being said, popular support for legal marijuana is moot if the federal government begins to enforce national prohibitions on marijuana in the state. While the Obama Administration has taken a hands-off approach to the situation in Colorado it remains to be seen if future executives will follow suit or if they will take legal action to force Colorado into compliance with federal law by challenging Amendment 64 in the federal courts. In the meantime, it is likely that the Colorado state government will continue to adapt existing regulations and create new ones in response to unforeseen developments, and the people of Colorado will continue to adjust to our new reality where discussions about the pros and cons of flowers versus edibles versus concentrates are overheard while waiting at the checkout line at the supermarket.

Courtenay W. Daum received her Ph.D. from Georgetown University and is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University. Her research interests include organized interest mobilization and litigation in the courts, feminist legal theory, and gender and politics. Recent publications include: State of Change: Colorado Politics in the Twenty-first Century and “At the Intersection of Social Media and Rape Culture: How Facebook, Texting and Other Personal Communications Challenge the “Real” Rape Myth in the Criminal Justice System” (forthcoming in the Journal of Law, Technology & Policy). At CSU, Professor Daum teaches a variety of classes including American Constitutional Law and U.S. Civil Rights and Liberties.

Re-introducing The New West, the Official Blog of the WPSA

Welcome to our corner of the web! We have some changes to announce. Starting this week, you can expect to see new content here at The New West on a regular basis. We’ll have posts with links to articles and blog posts of interest to WPSA members and some original content from WPSA Information Technology Task Forcers Meredith Conroy of California State University-San Bernardino and Julia Azari of Marquette University. Best of all, we’ll be featuring guest posts each week from political scientists working on topics of interest to WPSA members. Our blog will feature both scholarly commentary on current events as well as pieces about new and recently published scholarship. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact Julia at julia [dot] azari [at] marquette [dot] edu. And if you have a recently published academic article that you would like us to feature, please contact Meredith at mconroy [at] csusb [dot] edu.