by Chera LaForge
Photo Source: Wikipedia
It’s been a big week for the United States Congress. On Thursday, they hosted Pope Francis in a joint session, an event possible only because of the long-time efforts of Speaker of the House, John Boehner. On Friday, Boehner announced his resignation from his leadership position and congressional seat in a closed door meeting of the Republican caucus. Boehner’s resignation ends an interesting and tumultuous period for the Republican leadership. In 2014, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) lost his Virginia primary race to an unknown economics professor and Tea Party candidate, Dave Brat, the first sitting majority leader to lose his position. And while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would eventually win handily in both races, he faced an expensive primary battle from the right and a highly qualified Democratic challenger in the general election. The electoral challenges leadership has faced in the past two years mirror the increasing difficulty of managing the increasingly conservative Republican rank and file.
by Aaron Shapiro
The run up to the 2016 election has been full of surprises, and the persistence of Bernie Sanders’ popularity has certainly been one of them. The steady rise of support for the self-described independent socialist continues to chip away at the Hillary Clinton leviathan. Making sense of Sanders’ run remains difficult. What historical analogy is there– if any– for his candidacy; and what impact might it have on the Democratic Party?
When Sanders began talk of running, his forceful leftism seemed to relegate him as a marginal protest candidate. Yet ambivalence toward Clinton within the party base and a dearth of alternatives quickly upped his profile. Still, it is tempting to shrug him off, given the failures of past insurgent-reformers, who also made an appearance around this time in the presidential campaign cycle. These are candidates like fellow Vermonter Howard Dean, Bill Bradley, and Gary Hart, who catch fire early, threatening the “establishment” choice, only to eventually fade away. As sure as their rise, narrow appeal and often weak organization dooms them long before the convention. Indeed it’s easy to assume that Sanders, with his New England pedigree, and white middle-class base, will also endure this fate.
by Julia Azari*
As I contemplate how to write up a conference where thousands of blazer-clad political scientists carrying $6 cups of coffee stepped over homeless drug addicts in order to attend a conference called Diversities Reconsidered, it occurs to me that I could probably just end the post there.**