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What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Race, Social Movements, and the 2016 Presidential Race

EVT 484
Nov 2
7:30 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center
Status: No Registration Required
It has been commonplace during this most surreal of presidential races to characterize the election cycle as singularly odd, without precedent, breaking all the rules, etc. But without denying the strangeness of the race, Doug McAdam will argue that 2016 represents only the most extreme embodiment of a process of political polarization and racial division that has been going on since the early- to mid-1960s. In the following quote from his recent book, Deeply Divided, (with Karina Kloos), McAdam identifies the two key processes that have produced these divisions.

“The striking escalation in partisan bloodletting and governmental dysfunction during the Obama years bear the clear imprint of . . . two central structuring forces: the continuing—indeed increasing—significance of race in American politics; and the dynamic interaction of, and tension between, movement and party as forms and logics of politics.”

Nothing has shaped this year’s race more than these same two forces. In characterizing Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” failing to repudiate David Duke’s endorsement, and proposing to bar Muslims from entering the country, Donald Trump represents the most extreme expression of the racially polarized politics that have characterized the Republican Party for the past half century. And in the Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns we saw movements challenging and pushing the two parties toward their ideological margins. Only Hillary Clinton’s candidacy was rooted in a traditional party-based election campaign. In short, for all the strangeness of this year’s race, it is far more continuous with the past, as McAdam will seek to demonstrate in his talk.

Doug McAdam, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology, Stanford

Doug McAdam is the author or co-author of eighteen books and ninety articles in the area of political sociology, with a special emphasis on race in the US, American politics, and the study of social movements. Among his best-known books are Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970; Freedom Summer; and Dynamics of Contention, which he wrote with Sid Tarrow and Charles Tilly. He is also the co-author of two recent books, Putting Social Movements in Their Place (with Hilary Boudet) and Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Post-War America (with Karina Kloos).
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