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Monday, March 25, 2013

Political Science Lobbying

Previous posts have discussed a successful Senate move to de-fund some political science research, and the unsuccessful effort to rally political scientists against it.  Inside Higher Ed reports:
Many critics point to the success that they see for other research areas in fending off attacks. Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver, wrote: "Go after physics or history, and beloved scholars like Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Doris Kearns Goodwin will take to the airwaves and make you look bad, explaining how under-funding scientific exploration or failing to understand our past weakens our country. Who rushes to the defense of political science? Notably, a large chunk of former political science majors are now lawyers and politicians — not exactly up there with nuns and baby seals in terms of likability. There’s really not much downside to attacking us."
While some focus on recruiting prominent allies, others say it is time for political scientists to turn to politics. In 2012, after a failed attempt to cut off federal funding of political science, the National Capital Area Political Science Association sent a letter to the APSA's leaders calling for the association to add to its own government relations staff and to increase its lobbying.
One problem for political scientists is that Republicans control the House and maintain considerable power as a Senate minority.  Most GOP politicians think that political scientists are biased against them.  Although  scholars in the discipline usually try to be fair-minded in their work, it is easy to see how this belief could arise. Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans in the discipline. Moreover, some prominent works in political science do indeed cross the line separating tough analysis from partisan advocacy.