State Capacity, Bureaucratic Politicization, and Corruption in the Brazilian State

Katherine Bersch, with Sergio Praca and Matthew M. Taylor, has published the following article in Governance.

Title: State Capacity, Bureaucratic Politicization, and Corruption in the Brazilian State

Abstract: Responding to recent articles in Governance highlighting the need for improved measurement of bureaucratic characteristics, this article describes efforts to map Brazil’s federal agencies on three dimensions—capacity, autonomy, and partisan dominance—derived from data on more than 326,000 civil servants. The article provides a “proof of concept” about the utility of agency-level measures of these variables, demonstrating how they relate to an output common to all agencies: corruption. The article provides a first step in the direction of building a comparative research program that offers objective evaluation of bureaucracies within nation-states, with the intent of better disentangling their impact on governance outcomes.

Anna Law: The Historical Amnesia of Contemporary Immigration Federalism Debates

Law, Anna O. “The Historical Amnesia of Contemporary Immigration Federalism Debates.” Polity 47.3, (July 2015): 302-19.

Abstract: This article explores competing interpretations of American federalism and immigration authority during the 18th century. I argue that the 1787 Constitution did not clearly place the authority to manage migration with the national government. In fact, the Constitution did not discuss entry and exit policy, including the power of deportation. The debates over the Alien and Sedition Acts illustrate the diversity of opinions about the proper balance of authority between the national and subnational governments with regard to migration policy. Debates over the potential expansion of national power were particularly heated in the antebellum period because migration policy and slave policy were inextricably linked. In the end, whatever guidance the Constitution provided on migration policy was tainted by the document’s endorsement of slavery.

Marc Hetherington: Why Washington Won’t Work

Hetherington: Why washington won't work

The University of Chicago Press is publishing Marc Hetherington’s book (Tom Rudolph co-author), “Why Washington Won’t Work: Polarization, Political Trust, and the Governing Crisis.”

From the press site: In Why Washington Won’t Work, Marc J. Hetherington and Thomas J. Rudolph argue that a contemporary crisis of trust—people whose party is out of power have almost no trust in a government run by the other side—has deadlocked Congress. On most issues, party leaders can convince their own party to support their positions. In order to pass legislation, however, they must also create consensus by persuading some portion of the opposing party to trust in their vision for the future. Without trust, consensus fails to develop and compromise does not occur. Up until recently, such trust could still usually be found among the opposition, but not anymore. Political trust, the authors show, is far from a stable characteristic. It’s actually highly variable and contingent on a variety of factors, including whether one’s party is in control, which part of the government one is dealing with, and which policies or events are most salient at the moment.

Seth McKee: Jigsaw Puzzle Politics in the Sunshine State

Jigsaw Puzzle Politics

Seth McKee published an edited volume, Jigsaw Puzzle Politics in the Sunshine State.

From the publisher’s site: Redrawing district lines is arguably the most polarizing of political activities in the United States today. As technological developments permit more and more sophisticated statistical analyses, those in charge of the process are more tempted to gerrymander districts for their own future benefit. At the same time, as this data is made available to the public, litigation and calls for transparency intensify.

As a bellwether state, Florida offers a unique and fascinating case study to assess the various effects of redistricting. The contributors to this volume examine the issue from the perspectives of both politicians and voters, exploring the process of redistricting in the wake of major reforms. They examine new and ongoing controversies by focusing on the massive 2012 boundary changes throughout the state–and the judicial review that continued to call into question their legality on the eve of the 2014 elections.

Peter Sanchez: Priest Under Fire: Padre David Rodriguez, the Catholic Church, and El Salvador’s Revolutionary Movement

Priest Under Fire

In December, Peter Sanchez publishes Priest Under Fire: Padre David Rodriguez, the Catholic Church, and El Salvador’s Revolutionary Movement

From the publisher’s site: David Rodriguez, or Padre David as he is known throughout El Salvador, is a diocesan priest who followed the Second Vatican Council’s doctrinal mandate to advocate for the poor and oppressed. Along with other progressive clergy committed to liberation theology, Padre David helped drive forward the country’s popular movement.

In the 1970s, Padre David joined the largest guerilla organization in El Salvador, the FPL (Popular Liberation Forces). At first, he supported the FPL clandestinely, helping to organize Christian Base Communities, autonomous religious groups dedicated to spreading liberationist ideas and to giving the Salvadoran poor a clear understanding of why their lives were so difficult. By the end of the twelve-year civil war, he was head of the FPL’s finance committee. He traveled to the United States, Europe, and across Latin America raising funds for the movement and its resulting political party, the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front).

In Priest Under Fire, Peter Sánchez tells the story of how one priest joined a movement to help his people and his country. He provides much-needed insight into both the Salvadoran civil war and the Catholic Church-influenced grassroots political movements, showing that they continue to inform Latin America today.

Greg Michener: 3 Recent Publications

Michener, G. (2015). Assessing Freedom of Information in Latin America a Decade Later – Illuminating a Transparency Causal Mechanism. Latin American Politics & Society, 57(2).

Abstract: More than 100 freedom of information (FOI) laws have been enacted worldwide, nearly half within the last 10 years. Yet these cross-domain, lynchpin transparency measures have received little scholarly attention. This article assesses the 16 FOI measures adopted across Latin America. Is secrecy being surrendered in a region marked by legacies of opacity? Why are some laws fulfilling their de jure potential in practice while others are not? This article aims to achieve 3 general objectives. It analyzes the de jure and de facto strength of Latin American FOI regimes; it exposes critical data-based and methodological challenges in evaluating and comparing transparency laws; and it illustrates how a causal mechanism, driven by the interactive dynamics of legislative balances of power and cabinet compositions, has had a determinate influence in shaping the strength of FOI regimes from adoption to implementation and reform.

Michener, G. (2015). Policy Evaluation via Composite Indexes: Qualitative Lessons from International Transparency Policy Indexes. World Development, 74, 184–196.

Abstract: International transparency policy indexes (ITPIs) help determine billions in investment and aid, influence “authoritative” scholarship, and shape policy choices. Are ITPIs valid yardsticks of transparency, or do they encourage dissimulation? Most scholarship on index-based evaluations focuses on “concept indexes” (e.g., governance) from quantitative approaches. This paper presents qualitative insights about ITPIs in specific and “policy indexes” in general, analyzing three measurement-related pitfalls and proposing countermeasures. Most significantly, it shows how indexes presuppose substitutability while policies contain nonsubstitutable ‘necessary’ policy provisions. This dilemma of “ontological compatibility” means that policies can rank favorably on indexes notwithstanding the absence of lynchpin policy provisions.

Michener, G., & Worthy, B. (2015). The Information-Gathering Matrix: A Framework for Conceptualizing the Use of Freedom of Information Laws. Administration & Society, 0095399715590825.

Abstract: Scholarship on transparency and freedom of information (FOI) conveys an overwhelmingly “political” narrative. Most uses of FOI, however, are private and nonpolitical in nature. This article explores the gap between the literature and empirical reality by means of an “Information-Gathering Matrix,” a framework for conceptualizing the motivations, uses, and impacts associated with FOI. Following a broad literature review, case studies illustrate that while FOI uses may be multifarious and prima facie nonpolitical, at least three of the matrix’s four quadrants—from the public to the private and the political to the nonpolitical—frequently tend toward politicization.

Don Inbody – The Soldier Vote: War, Politics, and the Ballot in America

The Soldier Vote

In November, Don Inbody publishes The Soldier Vote: War, Politics, and the Ballot in America

The Soldier Vote tells the story of how American citizens in the armed forces gained the right to vote while away from home. Beginning with the American Revolution, through the Civil War, and World War II, the ability for deployed military personnel to cast a ballot in elections was difficult and often vociferously resisted by politicians of both political parties. Finally, during the Cold War, Congress managed to pass the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. That Act, along with further improvements in the early twenty-first century, began to make it easier for military personnel and American citizens living abroad to participate in elections at home. Using newly obtained data about the military voter, The Soldier Vote challenges some widely held views about the nature of the military vote and how service personnel vote.

Matt Buehler – Fellow Appointment and Publication

Matt Buehler has been appointed a Baker Fellow in Global Security at the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee.

In Mediterranean Politics, Buehler is publishing “Continuity through Co-optation: Rural Politics and Regime Resilience in Morocco and Mauritania.”

Abstract: Morocco and Mauritania’s regimes differ radically in their political structures and contemporary histories, yet they employed several similar strategies to secure survival during the Arab uprisings. Besides limited repression, constitutional reforms and palliative concessions, both regimes also used a distinct strategy of co-optation to aid authoritarian resilience. Targeting rural politicians with weak party affiliations for co-optation, regimes used it to build and reinforce loyalist political parties in the late 2000s. Once the uprisings began, both regimes deployed these loyalist parties to undertake counter-revolutionary activities to contain and counterbalance the power of youth and Islamist movements.

Danny Hayes: JOP and Perspectives

Two new articles by Danny Hayes:

Hayes, Danny, and Jennifer L. Lawless. 2015. “As Local News Goes, So Goes Citizen Engagement: Media, Knowledge, and Participation in U.S. House Elections.” Journal of Politics 77(2): 447-462.

Hayes, Danny, and Jennifer L. Lawless. 2015. “A Non-Gendered Lens? Media, Voters, and Female Candidates in Contemporary Congressional Elections.” Perspectives on Politics 13(1): 95-118.

Manuel Balan: Surviving Corruption in Brazil

Manuel Balan’s article, “Surviving Corruption in Brazil: Lula’s and Dilma’s Success Despite Corruption Allegations, and Its Consequences,” was published in the Journal of Politics in Latin America.

Abstract: This article analyzes the continued popular support for Lula and Dilma in the face of multiple corruption allegations throughout their respective presidencies. What explains their ability to survive corruption? And what are the implications of this – at first sight – lack of electoral punishment for Brazilian democracy? In searching for answers to these questions, this article looks at four mechanisms that help explain the continued popularity of politicians amid allegations of corruption: the use of clientelism as payoffs, informational failures, the relevance of other issues, and rouba mas faz. By analyzing Lula’s and Dilma’s terms in office and their inopportune links to corruption, this article argues that the shifting strategies used to deal with corruption allegations effectively shifted the reputational costs of corruption away from individual political leaders and toward the Workers’ Party and the political system as a whole. This finding emphasizes the mid- to long-term consequences of corruption scandals on political parties and democratic institutions, while also shedding light on the paradoxical relationship between corruption as a voting valence issue and continuing electoral support for politicians allegedly involved in corruption.

Don Inbody: Publication and Symposium

Don Inbody published an article, “Voting by Overseas Citizens and Military Personnel,” in the Election Law Journal (Volume 14, Number 1). The article was a result of his testimony before the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in June 2013.

Don sponsored a symposium at Texas State University entitled “Challenges to Democracy.” Panelists included fellow Longhorns Terri Givens, Ayesha Ray, and Laura Seay.

Curt Nichols: Forthcoming Articles

“Reagan Reorders the Political Regime: A Historical-Institutional Approach to Analysis,” Presidential Studies Quarterly. (December 2015).

“Congressional Attacks on the Supreme Court: A Mechanism to Maintain, Build, and Consolidate,” with Dave Bridge, Law and Social Inquiry. (December 2015).

“Public Opinion and the Military: A Multivariate Exploration of Attitudes in Texas,” Political and Military Sociology: An Annual Review. (November 2015).

“Executive Behavior and the Influence of Religious Factors: Evidence from Gubernatorial State of the State Addresses, 2000-2013,” Politics, Groups, and Identities. (October 2015).

David Williams: The General Will

Earlier this year, Cambridge released David Williams’ edited book, The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept.

The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept

Cambridge description:

Although it originated in theological debates, the general will ultimately became one of the most celebrated and denigrated concepts emerging from early modern political thought. Jean-Jacques Rousseau made it the central element of his political theory, and it took on a life of its own during the French Revolution, before being subjected to generations of embrace or opprobrium. James Farr and David Lay Williams have collected for the first time a set of essays that track the evolving history of the general will from its origins to recent times. The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept discusses the general will’s theological, political, formal, and substantive dimensions with a careful eye toward the concept’s virtues and limitations as understood by its expositors and critics, among them Arnauld, Pascal, Malebranche, Leibniz, Locke, Spinoza, Montesquieu, Kant, Constant, Tocqueville, Adam Smith, and John Rawls.

Hunter and Sugiyama: Transforming Subjects into Citizens

Wendy Hunter and Natasha Borges Sugiyama have a new article in the current issue of Perspectives on Politics.

Title: “Transforming Subjects into Citizens: Insights from Brazil’s Bolsa Familia”

Lula Bolsa Speech

Lula speaks to Bolsa Familia recipients. Photo by Agencia Brasil.

Abstract: Welfare programs distribute benefits to citizens. Perhaps even more importantly, by conveying powerful messages about how the state views poor people, welfare programs shape people’s views about themselves as subjects or citizens. Theoretical debates on how public policies can enhance democratic citizenship inspire our study of Brazil’s Bolsa Família (Family Grant). Has this conditional cash transfer program, which forms a major point of contact between the state and millions of poor Brazilians, elevated feelings of social inclusion and agency? A prominent perspective in the welfare-state literature would not expect a positive outcome given the strict means testing and behavioral requirements entailed. Yet our focus group research with Bolsa Família recipients suggests that the program does foster a sense of belonging and efficacy. Policy design and government discourse matter. This innovative welfare program yields rich insights on alternative paths to citizenship development for middle- and low-income countries in the third wave of democracy.

Curt Nichols: Recent Publications

Curt NIchols’ recent publications include:

“Modern Reconstructive Presidential Leadership: Reordering Institutions in a Constrained Environment,” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Politics in Contemporary Society. 2014 (2).

“Court-Curbing via Attempt to Amend the Constitution: An Update of Congressional Attacks on the Supreme Court from 1955–1984,” with David Bridge and Adam Carrington, Justice System Journal.  2014 (4) — online since May.  (This little paper is currently the second most viewed article since JSJ started tracking online views.)

Dennis Hickey: Taiwan and East China Sea Tension

Dennis Hickey’s new article, “Taiwan and the Rising Tensions in the East China Sea:  A Mouse that Roared,” was published in ASIAN SURVEY, (Volume 54, Number 3, May/June 2014, pp.492-514).  As it happens, he published his first ever article in Asian Survey in 1986 – when he was a graduate student in the UT Department of Government.

Tulis and Mellow on the Anti-Federal Appropriation

Jeffrey Tulis and Nicole Mellow recently published “The Anti-Federal Appropriation” in American Political Thought.

Abstract: The Anti-Federalists lost the battle to defeat the Constitution but won back through interpretation what they lost in constitutional construction. To counter Anti-Federalists’ accurate depictions of the proposed constitution as one that would radically alter the existing regime, The Federalist adopted a rhetorical structure that facilitated an opposing political tradition layered over the constitutive logic of the Constitution. Our analysis of the developmental logic embedded in founding political thought, the rhetoric used to defend that political logic, and the subsequent appropriation of Federalist rhetoric by the losers of this debate illustrates the mutual dependence of American political development and political thought.

Paul DeHart Edited Volume and Other Publications

Paul DeHart has a new edited volume (with Carson Holloway) published by Northern Illinois University Press: Reason, Revelation, and the Civic Order: Political Philosophy and the Claims of Faith. DeHart also wrote one of the chapters, “Political Philosophy after the Fall of Classical, Epistemic Foundationalism.”

DeHart’s “Leviathan Leashed: The Incoherence of Absolute Sovereign Power,” recently appeared as the lead article in Critical Review (25.1, 2013: 1-37). He was also invited to write an essay on “Leviathan” for The New Catholic Encyclopedia’s Ethics and Philosophy supplement (The New Catholic Encyclopedia Supplement 2012-2013: Ethics and Philosophy, ed. Robert L. Fastiggi. 4 volumes. Detroit: Gale, 2013. 888-890.)

Neal Allen Receives Congressional Research Grant

Neal Allen was recently awarded a Congressional Research Grant from the Everett Dirksen Center for the Study of Congressional Leadership, as well as a Research Grant from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Allen’s recent publications include:

“Living, Dead and Undead: Nullification Past and Present,” American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, Fall 2012, with James H. Read.

“Scandal and the Politics of Race: From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Barack Obama and Beyond,” in Scandal!: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Consequences, Outcomes, and Significance of Political Scandals, 2013, Bloomsbury Press.

“Paralleling History: Scandal and the Lessons of the 2012 Election,” in Scandal!: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Consequences, Outcomes, and Significance of Political Scandals, 2013, Bloomsbury Press.