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Government Summary

Friday, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
“Media Circus: Impact of News Coverage on the 2016 Presidential Campaign”

Dr. Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, MA

Saturday, 7:30 – 8:45 a.m.
“Can The ‘Second Fiddle’ Play Louder Than the First? An Assessment of the Powers of Lieutenant Governors”
Dr. Brandon Rottinghaus, Professor of Political Science, University of Houston

Saturday, 9:00 – 10:15 a.m.
“Darwin versus Democracy: The Politics of Evolution”
Dr. David Prindle, Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin


Friday, February 24th, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

“Media Circus: Impact of News Coverage on the 2016 Presidential Campaign”

As seen through the lens of news media, the 2016 presidential election resembled a circus. The spotlight was on Donald Trump, standing in the center of the ring, performing never-before-seen acts. Hillary circled him, juggling her emails. Bernie Sanders stood impatiently outside the ring, drawing the attention of the restless members of the crowd. What is it about journalism that led reporters to cover the campaign in the way that they did? What impact did it have on the candidates’ chances of winning? What are some of the longer-term implications for the media, and American democracy generally? I’ll seek to answer those questions in the context of my two-year study of daily television and newspaper coverage of the 2016 election.

Dr. Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, MA

Dr. Thomas E. Patterson, Harvard UniversityThomas E. Patterson is Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. His books include Informing the News, Out of Order (which received the American Political Science Association’s Graber Award as the best book of the decade in political communication), and The Unseeing Eye (named by the American Association for Public Opinion Research as one of the 50 most influential books on public opinion in the past half century). He is also the author of an introductory American government text, We the People, now in its 12th edition. His research has been funded by the Ford, Markle, Smith-Richardson, Pew, Knight, Carnegie, and National Science foundations. Patterson received his PhD from the University of Minnesota, which he attended after returning from Vietnam, where he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces.


Saturday, February 25th, 7:30 – 8:45 a.m.

“Can The ‘Second Fiddle’ Play Louder Than the First? An Assessment of the Powers of Lieutenant Governors”

Lieutenant governors have been taking on increasingly important roles in state government, yet they are often viewed as second fiddles in state politics. The reality is considerably different – lieutenant governors in many states have significant executive control of state agencies, considerable input into the appointment process, and wide ranging legislative powers. This is especially true in Texas. For this talk, I create a new index of the powers of state lieutenant governors, cataloguing the method of selection and the scope of powers. We can use this index to compare the powers, function, and authority of state lieutenant governors. This analysis will also help us explain the reach (or limitations) of executive power, how executives have significant input into legislative production, and the role of party and electoral politics in shaping state policy.

Dr. Brandon Rottinghaus, Professor of Political Science, University of Houston

brandon-rottinghausBrandon Rottinghaus, a native of Dallas, Texas, holds a PhD in political science from Northwestern University and is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston. His teaching and research interests center on Texas politics, public opinion, and executive and legislative relations. He is the author of several books, dozens of academic journals, and editor and contributor to multiple edited volumes. Most recently he is author of the book Inside Texas Politics (Oxford University Press). He has provided commentary on national and Texas politics in hundreds of media outlets. He is the co-host of Political Perspectives, a digital series on Houston Public Media and the creator and weekly contributor to Monday Morning Politics on Houston’s Fox 26.


Saturday, February 25th, 9:00 – 10:15 a.m.

“Darwin versus Democracy: The Politics of Evolution”

Americans, or at least educated, socially-aware Americans, tend to place a high value on both science and democracy. Yet, in the policy arena dealing with the question of what is to be taught in public-school biology classes, these two values are in conflict. There is no scientific doubt that the theory of evolution, which has its origins in Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species in 1859, is the best explanation for the millions of organisms in the natural world, including humans. Yet, by a large majority, Americans would prefer that the religious doctrine of creationism be taught either instead of, or alongside of, evolutionary biology. In this presentation I discuss and analyze the problem of this contradiction between science and democracy, and suggest a possible way to resolve it.

Dr. David Prindle, Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin

David PrindleDavid Prindle received his PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He has been a member of the faculty of the Government Department at UT Austin since 1976. He is the author of six scholarly books and numerous textbooks on American and Texas politics. His two most recent scholarly books are Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution (Prometheus, 2009) and The Politics of Evolution (Routledge, 2015). He has won five teaching awards at UT.

 

Government Section Chair:
Theron Waddell, Galveston College