A New Blogging Start

Written on December 22, 2014

I’ve tried maintaining a blog before, but haven’t always been the best at upkeep.1 Now that I have advanced a ways through my graduate studies, today seems like a good time to try again.

As you may have seen from my standalone webpage, I’m a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota. Broadly, I am someone who studies American political institutions. More specifically, most of the work I’ve done so far involves the United States Congress. With that in mind, I think that most of my contributions through this blog will come in the form of comments relating to “elite” national political actors such as members of Congress, Senators, perhaps Supreme Court Justices, and the President.

That said, I am also interested in the ways race and power intersect with political institutions and their members to create public policy and I think I can contribute on that set of subjects as well. Members of Congress do not exist in a political vacuum and instead, they come up with their political positions from any number of arenas. More directly, public policies are created by politicians with different and competing interests. This may seem obvious, but those interests aren’t always as obvious or clear as “Banker X gave MC Y 100,000 dollars and now MC Y does whatever Banker X wants.” A good illustration of this involves the Social Security occupation exclusion. When Congress was debating Social Security, Southern Democrats pushed for and received an exclusion of domestic and farm workers from receiving benefits (in addition to some other worker categories). They argued that it would be much to collect the payroll tax designed to pay for the program and also to actually deliver payments to the often seasonal and transient laborers. Were Southern Democrats trying to create a better run program? No. They were probably interested in excluding those workers because they were predominantly African American and it was a simple way to keep blacks out of a national program. The true talent of these Southern Democrats was to persuade others that their cause was good when in fact it was not — an example of interests not being clearly defined.

In addition to posting about politics from an academic standpoint, I might write about sports, Minnesota, or other things. Full disclosure and all that.