Political Science

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    The Abrams Playbook: Georgia as a Model for a New Strategy in Democratic Politics
    (2023) Schiffer, Rachel; McGovern, Stephen J., 1959-
    Throughout the country there is a divide between two schools of thought when it comes to Democratic political strategy. Should Democrats try to persuade moderate and Independent voters who feel alienated by the ultra right-wing turn of the Republican Party? Or should they focus on providing a boldly progressive message catered to their base, a more diverse group including younger voters of color who have not consistently turned out to vote? This thesis offers Georgia as a case study to evaluate the latter strategy, examining Stacey Abrams’s revolutionary messaging and mobilization strategies in her 2018 gubernatorial campaign. I argue that her unapologetic embrace of the party’s left wing and focus on historically disengaged voters led to a level of success and turnout unlike anything the state had seen in decades. A further examination into her second run for governor in 2022 shows that 2018 was not a fluke, but rather it was her changes in these strategies between the two races that caused her to lose the second time. The Abrams playbook offers a promising new model for Democrats nationwide.
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    The Republican Party has been Hijacked by the Alt-Right: Exploring the Ways in Which White Nationalist Ideology Has Infiltrated the Mainstream
    (2023) Stephens, Andrew; Borowiak, Craig Thomas, 1971-
    My thesis aims to provide new analysis on the Alt-Right and the normalization of White nationalism in American politics and culture. This is necessary because the existing scholarship on the subject underestimates the Alt-Right’s power and influence. There are many reasons for this, but the overarching issue is that scholars are methodologically flawed in their measurements of “influence.” This is the case both from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. The key finding of the thesis is that Alt-Right influencers and their allies are central to the spread of the Alt-Right and White nationalism in general. They are integral to deciding their movement’s strategies and messaging. In fact, they often have a long history of doing so, predating the AltRight. This indicates that these influencers have been setting the groundwork for a mainstream White nationalist resurgence, which has been coming to fruition. It is also evident that the Alt-Right is making significant progress toward normalizing its rhetoric in mainstream politics. American metapolitics are beginning to be shaped by the movement’s influencers and its allies. Numerous content creators, political pundits, and pseudo-scholars who espouse ideas that are friendly to the Alt-Right have gained substantial followings on various platforms. This shows that their fringe ideologies are gaining mainstream traction. Additionally, the Republican Party seems even to have absorbed the Alt-Right. Even beyond the Trump administration, there is evidence that mainstream conservatism is moving further and further right. This means that the Alt-Right is either close to achieving or has achieved its goals.
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    The Environmental Protection Agency in Court: Evaluating Judicial Change in EPA Lawsuits
    (2023) Riley, Colin; Borowiak, Craig Thomas, 1971-
    Judges are essential to American democracy, but there is a lack of literature on how and why judges change over time. In this thesis, I ask: Do the decisions of judges in environmental cases change throughout their tenures, and if so, why? To answer this, I examine judicial rulings from two conservative judges on lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency, finding that even these conservative judges display pro-environmental change in their rulings, whether the ruling be for or against the EPA. A major factor in this change is the change the EPA experiences under each new presidential administration.
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    Politics of Sport: When Soccer Ultras Take Action
    (2023) Rentrup, Meinhardt; Mendelsohn, Barak, 1971-
    Soccer ultras are passionate fans who establish organized groups, known as ultras, to support their team. By organizing themselves, these groups put on impressive spectacles at matches using banners, flares, clothing, chants, songs, and many other visual and auditory features. The central goal of ultra fans is to create an atmosphere in the stadium that pushes their team to victory while simultaneously intimidating and distracting the opponent. Although ultras are formed as social groups to support their team, some have also started to foray into politics. Focusing on the political aspects of ultras, this study on ultras adds another element to the broader literature about the relationship between sports and politics. Specifically, it asks: why do some ultra groups turn to political activity and what determines variation in the type of activity? The thesis identifies five hypotheses to answer this question, with each explanation depending on one of the following independent factors: existing social cleavages, the politicization of an opposing group, intragroup conflict, a soccer club’s political identification, or an existing state political conflict. The study also identifies three different types and three different targets of political action. The three different targets of political action by ultras are no direct target, an opposing fan base or ultra group, and the state. The three levels of action are adopting a political ideology, taking nonviolent political action, and taking violent political action. The method of analysis is done through a qualitative set of select case studies based on the different mechanisms of political action, allowing the thesis to probe at which hypothesis triggers a certain type of political action. The three cases used in the empirical analysis are the Ultras Sankt Pauli in Germany, the Rome derby between AS Roma and SS Lazio in Italy, and the Arab Spring ultra movement in Egypt. Existing social cleavages or existing political conflict were the best explanations for different types of political action in the three case studies, but these cases only begin to probe at the complex world of political action by ultras. More case studies would be needed in order to refute different hypotheses entirely, or time determine a clear link between the type of action taken and an explanation. However, this study provides an initial structure to studying ultras and politics.