Polarized: Partisanship, Social Movements, and the Transformation of American Democracy

Polarized: Partisanship, Social Movements, and the Transformation of American Democracy

Friday, October 30, 2020
2:00 p.m. (EST) | Register Here

Moderator: Tom Pepinsky, Government, Cornell University
Panelists: Julia Azari, Marquette University; Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Columbia University; Leah Wright Rigueur, Harvard University

Parties and movements have long provided a voice to U.S. citizens and connected them to the government, but these mediating roles are in flux. In their place is a more polarized “red” and “blue” America.

This panel will explore how social movements and changes in the two major political parties are affecting American democracy. Major changes have occurred in terms of who the parties represent and which social groups they mobilize, and important questions surround the impact of the Black Lives Matter protests on the 2020 elections. Other organizations, ranging from the Koch network to organized labor, evangelical churches, and gun groups, have also influenced the parties and played a role in reshaping party politics. Parties and movements have long provided voice to citizens and connected them to the government, but these mediating roles are in flux, and their transformation has important implications for American democracy. Participants include Julia Azari, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, and Leah Wright Rigueur, with moderator, Tom Pepinsky.

Some key changes we’ll discuss include:

  • Who the parties represent and which social groups they mobilize;
  • How organizations—ranging from the Koch network to organized labor, evangelical churches, and gun groups—have reshaped party politics;
  • How social movements, including Black Lives Matter, motivate and mobilize key groups of partisan voters—and likely impacts on the 2020 election.

The Democracy 20/20 Webinar series will bring together colleagues who can put contemporary events in historical and comparative perspective in order to promote deeper understanding of the challenges that these unsettling times pose for American democracy. The series will go beyond the day-to-day rush of events and convene conversations that will help us understand the broader context of our times and help advance the search for constructive answers to our society’s most urgent questions.


Visit APSA’s Democracy 2020 Project
Political science advances our understanding of issues at the core of the upcoming elections, including democratic institutions and norms, voting behavior, and civic engagement. APSA’s Democracy 2020 Project brings together APSA’s work around these issues and highlights election events, public scholarship, ungated journal articles, teaching resources, and engagement opportunities. For more events, research, and teaching resources around the 2020 election visit the APSA’s Democracy 2020 Project. Have an event that should be included in APSA’s Democracy 2020 Project? Share it with us by e-mailing centennial@apsanet.org.  

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