And now, back to class
October 2, 2008 | 3:54 PMAmy Zegart
Readers may have noticed a dip in blog postings this week. The reason: with the start of fall quarter classes, this Category 5 election has come whirling onto campus.
The excitement is palpable: On Monday, my "Introduction to Public Policy" course was packed. Pens scribbled. Eyes were wide open. Students even sat in the front row. In this election of elections, where more people watched the convention speeches than the Oscars, reaching that inner political junkie in students has never been easier. It's making sense of the political world outside that has never been harder.
So I've decided to experiment a little.
We're doing some statistically dubious but instructive polling of our own. Why aren't younger voters proportionately represented in the election polling? "How many of you only have cell phones and no land lines?" I asked the class. About 125 of 134 hands shot up.
What are the political dynamics explaining House inaction on the bailout? Instead of lecturing, we pretended. My students played members of Congress. I played an angry constituent.
"Why won't you guys pass this bill?" I demanded. Some said that they were fiscal conservatives and philosophically opposed. Others said they were Republicans, but the president's historic low approval ratings had taken away his "juice." One said far more constituents opposed the plan, raising the issue of whether the House vote actually revealed responsive politics at work.
Another said the plan might not work – bringing to life the classic and powerful role that uncertainty plays in policy choices. And then, as if on cue, one student in the back raised his hand. "The ideal solution," he said," is for everyone else to vote yes so the bill passes, but for me to vote no, so I can avoid blame if it goes badly." I couldn't have explained electoral incentives and collective action problems better
Dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs and professor of political science.
Professor of education, law, political science and urban plannning.
Professor of urban planning, social welfare, and Asian American studies.
Professor of education and co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.
Professor of public policy.
Associate professor of public policy.
Associate professor of political science and director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics.
Assistant professor-in-residence of medicine.
Assistant professor of political science.
Assistant professor of communication studies.
Ph.D. candidate in political science.
Graduate student in political science.