The Republicans’ Rules Dilemma

By Boris Heersink


In recent days the Republican Party has seen major conflict regarding the rules governing the 2016 presidential nomination race.

Frustrated with Ted Cruz’s success in sweeping delegates selected at local and state party meetings, Donald Trump has called the delegate selection process “rigged.” Although Trump and the RNC have clashed several times since last summer, his recent criticism is more severe, threatening the party with a “rough July” at the convention.

Meanwhile, Bruce Ash, the chairman of the RNC’s rules committee, has accused GOP leaders of improperly impeding changes in the party’s rules. Ash wants to create a rule to limit the candidates delegates can vote for at the convention to just Trump and Cruz. Other party leaders – including RNC chairman Reince Priebus – are trying to prevent such a change.

The RNC finds itself in an impossible position: if it changes the convention rules, the party limits itself to two candidates who seem unlikely to do well in the general election. On the other hand, if it maintains the rules as is, it keeps open the option of selecting another presidential nominee by ignoring the voices of millions of Republicans who voted in the primaries and caucuses.

This conflict is unique in its severity, and the extent to which party leaders are fighting it out in public. But it also illuminates the complexity of the current process through which political parties select their presidential candidates – pinpointing not only the importance of the primaries, but also of the complicated subsequent phase of delegate selection and convention management. Continue reading

Approaches to Transgender Politics and Inequality in Political Science

By Zein Murib

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North Carolina’s HB2, which was recently signed into law, criminalizes transgender and gender nonconforming people for using restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identities. The rapid passage of the bill in just 24-hours that didn’t allow for public comment or debate, as well as the claim that HB2 legislates discrimination against people who are trans and gender nonconforming, has drawn widespread scrutiny from across North Carolina and the U.S. An unlikely chorus of voices have come together to call for repeal, including interest groups, activists, governors, mayors, universities, and big business as well as an informal cultural ban that has resulted in Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr cancelling upcoming performances in North Carolina.

Although most of the media attention has been directed to North Carolina, legislation such as HB2 is not singular. Similar “bathroom bills” have been introduced or debated in a growing list of states that include Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, all of which seek to specify in varying ways that – in the language of North Carolina’s HB2 – people can only use facilities corresponding to their “biological sex as on a person’s birth certificate.”

I have written elsewhere about the implications of these bills for people who are transgender and gender nonconforming. Here, I address two different questions: What are these “bathroom bills” and how can we, as political scientists, use these contemporary political developments to teach about transgender politics and inequality in our courses?

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