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Raymond La Raja, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, has written an opinion column warning of the consequences of recent actions by reform groups Act on Mass and the Mass Fiscal Alliance.  The reformers’ push to make the Massachusetts General Court more transparent may backfire, he says. “While it is not popular to say, unbridled transparency can damage our most representative institutions. Don’t just take it from me. There is a long record of concern, including by Ben Franklin and James Madison, backed up by abundant research to demonstrate the pitfalls of ‘sunshine’ in the legislative branch,” La Raja writes. (CommonWealth, 2/6/21; Politico, 2/8/21)

Raymond La Raja, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is quoted in a piece in The National Interest that looks at whether the Republican Party is still the party of Donald Trump. “Republicans in Congress are still calibrating the potential blowback for criticizing Trump. I think many dislike the constraints imposed on them by Trumpian populism. They may even believe Trump committed impeachable offenses. But they face a fiery Trumpian base in their next primary,” La Raja said. “You are seeing them retreat to the Trump fold after hearing loudly and aggressively from Trump’s base in their home states.” (The National Interest, 1/28/21)

Paul Musgrave, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst,  uses game theory to explain why most Senate Republicans won’t vote to convict twice-impeached former President Donald Trump, which would ban him from ever again holding federal office. Comparing the Senators’ choice to the game theory scenario known as the “Stag Hunt,” Musgrave writes, “Even though they would all be better off as a group by disqualifying Trump, each of them is best off voting to acquit and letting the others bear the costs of voting to convict.”

Commenting in an article about the effect of CEOs spurning former President Trump and his allies, Ray La Raja, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, says “The deplatforming is the most effective anti-Trump action that corporations have taken, but it may backfire. It’s a risk for these organizations to do that because it really calls attention to how much power they have.”


Professor Charli Carpenter is featured this week in the 50th Anniversary issue of Foreign Policy. Her article, "When US Foreign Policy Went Wrong," analyses the worst foreign policy ideas of the past 50 years and offers an analytical blueprint for evaluating foreign policy. Citing numerous political science studies including those of UMass Political Science professors Paul Musgrave and Meredith Loken, she argues that "perhaps the very worst U.S. foreign-policy idea of the past 50 years has been the abandonment of the myriad good ideas America once fought for—and the institutions that promote them." In a live webinar @ Foreign Policy magazine with Dan Drezner this week on the future of foreign policy, Carpenter also provided views on the events at the Capitol on January 6. "It's right to be unsettled, this was a sacred civic temple being invaded, but I think what we saw was also very heartening: bipartisan repudiation of this behavior instantly, electoral votes were counted, instigators were sanctioned including the President. I would argue our institutions are surprisingly resilient and we may be witnessing the birth pangs of a more perfect union that many of us aspire to."

Justin Gross and Alexander Theodoridis, Political Science faculty members at UMass Amherst, are among the local experts giving opinions on what to expect during the January 20  inaugural address by President-elect Joe Biden. Gross says Biden’s inaugural address should be an opportunity to call on Congress to pass various democratic reforms. Theodoridis says Biden “will certainly seek to claim a mandate and will hint at key policy priorities. The primary objective of this speech is to heal a nation deeply divided.” (Daily Hampshire Gazette, 1/19/21; News Office assistance)

Alexander Theodoridis, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, with co-authors, writes that the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building underscores the bipartisan effect of dehumanizing language.  They say, “Dehumanization is more than just disagreement or incivility, it is the express denial of humanity (for example, calling Kamala Harris a ‘monster’ or using the term ‘DemoRATS’) and is associated with a host of consequences, including acceptance of violence against its targets.” They cite an Oct. 2020 UMass Poll that found that 85 percent of partisans rated those in their party as “more evolved” than those in the opposing party.  (NBC News, 1/17/21; WWLP, 1/19/20)

The Ethnography Collective @ UMASS Amherst invites you to join its first spring 2021 event, WTF?! Graduate Student Edition: "Stuck and Unstuck on Doing Fieldwork during Covid-19" on Feb 17 at 5-6:30 pm (EST). Each panelist plans to speak for 10 minutes about how their research has been impacted by the pandemic (challenges they have faced or unexpected possibilities they have discovered). And then they will share either a piece of practical advice or a lingering question they have about ethnographic research during the pandemic. For the last half an hour, we'll open it up to a collective Q&A and discussion. Here's our registration link.

Paul Collins (Professor of  Legal Studies and Political Science), Raymond La Raja (Professor of Political Science) and Amel Ahmed (Associate Professor of Political Science), of UMass Amherst are each quoted in coverage exploring the constitutional possibilities of removing President Donald Trump from office following the violent storming of the Capitol by his followers on January 6.

A commentary by Adam Eichen, first year graduate student of Political Science at UMass Amherst and Executive Director of Equal Citizens, was recently published in Talking Points Memo (TPM). Eichen’s piece posits that gerrymandering created the vacuum needed to inspire Trump supporters to storm the capitol on January 6. (Talking Point, 01/12/2021)