Reorienting Latino Representation Research in an Era of Democratic Reckoning

Reorienting Latino Representation Research in an Era of Democratic Reckoning

By Walter Clark Wilson, University of Texas at San Antonio

Of the many reckonings brought about by recent social and political upheavals, two that should concern political scientists include the needs to (1) recognize the extent to which our normative motivations may misdirect our assumptions; and (2) effectively address macro-level changes that are rewriting the rules by which actors play politics. I believe the consequence of these reckonings will be a recalibration of our expectations for representation and policy making. Probably the most important development in American politics during my lifetime has been the gradual capture of both political parties by a small group of fantastically wealthy business interests. We need only to observe the growing disconnect between bullishness on Wall Street and the lived economic experience of most Americans to appreciate the power and privilege of big business in contemporary America. Political scientists such as Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have been sounding the alarm about growing concentrations of wealth and power for at least a decade. However, much political science research still approaches analysis from a perspective that Hacker and Pierson (2010) term “politics as electoral spectacle.” The approach implies a popular set of assumptions that parties and politicians operate according to the median-voter model: American parties (and two-party systems in general) yield “big tent” platforms and all politics is local in the sense that legislators represent constituency preferences.

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