The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Alexander Theodoridis, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is quoted in an opinion piece titled “The Fear That is Shaping American Politics,” arguing that the current polarization in politics has led to weaponizing the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Theodoridis says, “The prospect of the filibuster thwarting efforts to reduce democratic backsliding amounts to the use of a minoritarian legislative tactic to enable a minoritarian electoral strategy.” (New York Times, 4/7/21)

Ray La Raja, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is quoted in a column about how a recently proposed provision in voting rights legislation risks favoring candidates from either party who hold polarizing views, thereby widening ideological divisions. The provision, proposed by Congressional Democrats, offers an incentive for candidates to opt-in to public financing.  La Raja’s research has shown that small-dollar donors tend to be wealthier, better educated, and more partisan than average Americans. “They are as ideological, if not more so on several issues, than large donors,” he says. (Bloomberg, 4/7/20)

Charli Carpenter, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, has written an opinion column calling on the U.S. government to end counterterrorism programs and nation-building efforts abroad. “The U.S. military has been asked to take on tasks to which it is ill-suited, affecting mission readiness for its primary role: winning wars,” she writes. “The solution, however, is not to water down the laws of war as they pertain to counterterrorism operations or to diminish the role of civilian agencies in peace building. Instead, the U.S. military should get out of the counterterrorism and nation-building business and stick to the battlefield where it belongs.” (World Politics Review, 3/26/21)

Legal Studies Visiting Scholar Tania DoCarmo publishes along other colleagues an article titled: “Personal Storytelling In Professionalized Social Movements”. 

Peter M. Haas presented a recent paper on the UN and global climate change governance to the University of California Berkeley. He summarizes the various ongoing efforts to address multiple aspects of global warming, and focuses on the need for mobilizing more climate finance to accelerate the global energy transition away from fossil fuels. 

Alexander Theodoridis, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is quoted in an opinion piece in The New York Times asking if the political center in America is disappearing. He says, “If policy were the central focus of voter preferences, there very well could be support for a centrist movement. Public opinion data tell us that, policy-by-policy, there is a density of voters with center-left preferences, [but] our politics, as currently structured, is not primarily about policy positions. The zero-sum, identity and affect-based partisan polarization that dominates American politics today mixes with our institutions to make it difficult for a centrist movement to get off the ground.” (The New York Times, 3/24/21)

Sheldon Goldman, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is quoted in an opinion piece in Bloomberg Law about President Biden’s upcoming judicial nominations.  Goldman says that Democrats in the U.S. Senate have to act fast to approve Biden’s judicial nominees while they still hold a slim majority. (Bloomberg Law, 3/23/21)

Maju Varghese has been named director of the White House Military Office, overseeing a department that provides military support to the White House for on-site events and travel, such as when the president travels aboard Air Force One or spends time at the presidential retreat, Camp David. Varghese, a UMass Amherst alumnus who majored in political science and economics, is among a trio of Long Island natives profiled by Newsday, following their appointment to positions in the Biden administration. (Newsday, 3/22/21)

Rebecca Hamlin, Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science at UMass Amherst, comments in an article about Republicans in Congress who are criticizing President Biden’s response to the recent increase in people trying to cross the southern border into the United States. Hamlin says the Trump administration “created one of the most dangerous, poor-quality, unsanitary, crowded refugee camps in the world,” and that criticisms of what Biden has done since taking office are “nakedly partisan” and designed to motivate the Republican base. (Al Jazeera, 3/15/21; mentioned in Press News Agency)

A new UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll of Massachusetts residents finds that support for Governor Charlie Baker has eroded as he considers running for a third term, dropping from a high of 78% in August 2020 to 52% most recently. “To no one’s surprise, Baker’s approval ratings have dipped and this is true across all demographic and political groups in the state,” says Tatishe Nteta, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst and Director of the UMass Poll.