SOCS 621
Prelude to Political Choice: American Politics and the 2008 Elections

Marc Eisner

The following books  are available at Broad Street Books and online book distributors:

1. Matt Bai, The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics. (Penguin Press, 2007) ISBN 1594201331

2. Morris P. Fiorina, Samuel J. Abrams, and Jeremy C. Pope, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, 2nd Edition. (Longman, 2005) 0321366069

3. Jonathan Rauch, Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working. (PublicAffairs, 1999) 1891620495

4. Ryan Sager, The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party. (Wiley, 2006) 0471793329

Most of the course readings will be documents from the Internet (e.g., policy papers from think tanks, campaign position papers. Given the fact that candidates and their positions come and go, the readings for the latter weeks will undoubtedly change.
Course Expectations
The seminar grade will have the following components:
Critical Essay 1 20%
Critical Essay 2 20%
Critical Essay 3 20%
Final Political Brief 30%
Participation 10%

The critical essays (approximately 5 pages in length) should critically analyze the readings for a given week. This is not designed to be a book report. Rather, you should quickly identify the major themes and arguments and then subject them to analysis.

The final essay, due on the last day of class will provide a chance for you to wear the hat of a political consultant offering advice to the candidate of your choice with respect to the kinds of issues that should be emphasized and the positions that might be adopted. The maximum length of this final paper is 10 pages. More details on this project will be distributed in class.

Participation is vital for a successful seminar. Each participant will be required to give a presentation of no more than 5 minutes on a week’s readings and provide members of the seminar with a one-page handout posing a set of questions for discussion. Regular attendance is also expected, although it is understood that work commitments and family obligations may, on occasion, take precedence over class.
Course Policies
All essays must be completed and submitted before the session in which the readings are discussed.

All work must be submitted as email attachments (Microsoft Word) rather than as hard copies to All work will be returned with comments via email.
Course Schedule
January 30 Course Introduction: A Primer on Elections American Style
February 6 American Politics in an Age of Transfer Seeking

Rauch, Government’s End, entire.

Peter G. Peterson, “Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.” Presentation to the Institute for International Economics, August 9, 2004.
February 13 Public Opinion: Beyond the Myth of Polarization
Fiorina, Abrams, and Pope, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America
February 20 The Fraying of the Republican Coalition

Sager, The Elephant in the Room (entire)

Brink Lindsey. “Liberaltarians.” Download
February 27 Democrats Resurgent?

Bai, The Argument (entire)

Waging the Culture War

Patrick J. Buchanan, “A Culture War for the Soul of America.” Download

“Is There A Culture War? A Dialogue on Values and American Public Life.” Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (2007) Download

“Pragmatic Americans Liberal and Conservative on Social Issues.” Pew Forum (August 3, 2006). Download

E. J. Dionne Jr., “A Culture War Treaty.” Washington Post (October 9, 2007). Download
The Candidates’ Positions

Rudy Giuliani, “Abortion” Video Download
Rudy Giuliani,”Marriage” Video Download
Mitt Romney, “Affirming America’s Culture Values.” Download
Ron Paul, “Pro-life Action Must Originate From Principle.” Download
John McCain, “Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life.” Download
Mike Huckabee, “Sanctity of Life.” Download and “Marriage.” Download
March 5 Poverty, Inequality, and Economic Policy

Council of Economic Advisors, Economic Report of the President, chapter 1. Download

Nicholas Eberstadt, “The Mismeasure of Poverty.” Policy Review, August/September 2006. Download

Jared Bernstein and Lawrence Mishel, “Economy's Gains Fail to Reach Most Workers' Paychecks.” EPI Briefing Paper #195 (September 3, 2007) Download

A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half. Report and Recommendations of the Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty (April 2007). Download
The Candidate’s Positions

Hillary Clinton, “Agenda for Working Families.” Download
Barack Obama, “Changing the Odds for Urban America.” Download
Mitt Romney, “Winning the Global Economic Competition.” Download
Rudy Giuliani, “Taxes and Economic Growth” Video Download
Ron Paul, “Taxes, Spending and Debt are the Real Issues.” Download
John McCain, “Government Spending, Lower Taxes, and Economic Prosperity.” Download
Mike Huckabee, “Taxes/Economy.” Download
March 26 Immigration Policy and Trade

Samuel P. Huntington, “The Hispanic Challenge.” Foreign Policy, March/April 2004. Download

Ron Haskins, “Immigration: Wages, Education And Mobility.” The Brookings Institution/ Economic Mobility Project, July 2007. Download

Douglas S. Massey, “Backfire at the Border: Why Enforcement without Legalization Cannot Stop Illegal Immigration.” CATO Trade Policy Analysis, June 13, 2005 No. 29. Download

James R. Edwards, Jr., “Keeping Extremists Out: The History of Ideological Exclusion, and the Need for Its Revival.” Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder, Septmber 2005. Download

The Candidates’ Positions

Hillary Clinton, “Reforming Our Immigration System.” Download
Mike Huckabee, “Immigration.” Download
John McCain, “Border Security and Immigration Reform.” Download
Barack Obama, “Immigration and the Border.” Download
Ron Paul, “Border Security and Immigration Reform.” Download
Mitt Romney, “Immigration.” Download
April 2 The Entitlement Crisis: Social Security

David M. Walker, “Long-Term Budget Outlook: Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today.” Testimony before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate (January 11, 2007). Download

Chad Stone and Robert Greenstein, “What the 2007 Trustees’ Report Shows About Social Security.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (April 24, 2007). Download

Will Wilkinson, “Noble Lies, Liberal Purposes, and Personal Retirement Accounts.” Cato Social Security Choice Paper no. 34 (June 28, 2005). Download
The Candidates’s Positions

Hillary Clinton, “Retirement Security,” Download
Barack Obama, “Plan to Strengthen Retirement Security.” Download
Ron Paul, “Social Security.” Download
April 9 The Entitlement Crisis: Health Care

Elise Gould, “The Erosion of Employment-Based Insurance: More Working Families Left Uninsured.” EPI Briefing Paper #203 (November 1, 2007) Download

William A. Galston, “Reviving the Social Contract: Economic Strategies to Promote Health Insurance & Long-Term Care.” Brookings Institution, Opportunity 08. Download

Tom Miller, "Improving Access to Healthcare without Comprehensive Health Coverage Insurance: Incentives, Competition, Choice and Priorities," in Covering America: Real Remedies for the Uninsured. (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2002). Download
The Candidate’s Positions

Hillary Clinton, “American Health Choices Plan.” Download
Barack Obama, “Plan for a Healthy America.” Download
Mitt Romney, “Health Care.” Download
Ron Paul, “Diagnosing Our Health Care Woes.” Download
John McCain, “Health Care Plan for Competition and Affordability.” Download
Mike Huckabee, “Health Care.” Download
April 16 Global Climate Change

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers. Download

Todd Stern and William Antholis, “A Changing Climate: The Road Ahead for the United States.” Washington Quarterly, 31:1 (Winter 2007-08) pp. 175–188. Download

Patrick J. Michaels, “Is the Sky Really Falling? A Review of Recent Global Warming Scare Stories.” Cato Policy Analysis no. 576 (August 23, 2006). Download
The Candidates’ Positions

Hillary Clinton, “Powering America’s Future: New Energy, New Jobs.” Download
Barack Obama, “Promoting a Healthy Environment.” Download
Mitt Romney, “National Energy Policy.” Download
Ron Paul, “Environment.” Download
John McCain, “Stewards of Our Nation’s Rich Natural Heritage.” Download
Mike Huckabee, “Energy Policy.” Download
April 23 The War on Terror and the War in Iraq

Frederick W. Kagan, No Middle Way: The Challenge of Exit Strategies from Iraq. A Report of the Iraq Planning Group at The American Enterprise Institute. (Washington, DC: AEI, 2007) Download

Ted Galen Carpenter, “Escaping the Trap: Why the United States Must Leave Iraq.” Cato Policy Analysis no. 588 (February 14, 2007). Download

Brian Katulis, Lawrence J. Korb, and Peter Juul, Strategic Reset: Reclaiming Control of U.S. Security in the Middle East. (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2007). Download


The Candidates’ Positions

Hillary Clinton, “Ending the War in Iraq.” Download
Rudy Giuliani, “Rudy on Iraq.” Video Download
Mike Huckabee, “National Security: Iraq.” Download
Barack Obama, “Turning The Page In Iraq.” Download
John McCain, “Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” Download
Ron Paul, “The Price of Delaying the Inevitable in Iraq.” Download
Mitt Romney, “Defeating the Jihadists.” Download
April 30 Course Conclusion