‘Democracy Contested?’ forum panel to meet online Oct. 29

As the frenzied 2020 presidential campaign reaches culmination, the nation’s media, political parties and courts brace for a possible contested outcome. But in the United States and around the world, heated national elections are nothing new.

David Bateman, associate professor of government in the College of Arts and Sciences, will moderate “Democracy Contested?” in an online Cornell community forum with three fellow faculty experts, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.

“This election is something that has many people on edge,” Bateman said. “But elections like this have happened before in American history and they’ve happened all around the world. We want offer a sense of what might happen and offer ideas about what to do.”

Joining Bateman on the panel will be:

  • Kenneth Roberts, the Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government, who teaches comparative and Latin American politics, with an emphasis on democracy and the challenges to it in different parts of the world. His research is focused on populism, social movements, party systems and crises of democratic representation;
  • Alexandra Cirone, assistant professor of government, the Himan Brown Faculty Fellow in the Department of Government and a faculty fellow at Cornell’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs in New York City. Cirone teaches Post-Truth Politics, an undergraduate class on fake news, and serves as an editor of Broadstreet, a blog on historical political economy; and
  • Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, associate professor of history. She studies political, legal, social and women’s history after World War II. She is currently writing a history of U.S. democracy since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which focuses on people assumed to be outside of politics: Those who abstained, those who were deterred and those who were officially barred from electoral participation. Her first book, “Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America,” chronicles efforts to enact tough welfare, drug and anti-crime laws, diminish the welfare state, inflate a burgeoning penal system and continue racialized civic hierarchies.

Bateman’s research focuses on Congress, American political development and voting rights. His book “Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy after Reconstruction” looks at the role of Southern members of Congress in shaping national policy from the end of Reconstruction until the New Deal. His second book, “Disenfranchising Democracy: Constructing a Mass Electorate in the United States, the United Kingdom and France,” compares the development of political rights across these countries.

“Each of the panelists will draw upon their expertise on comparative democracy and histories of voting in the United States to help us understand what’s at stake and how we’ve gotten to this point,” Bateman said. “This panel should provide tools for thinking about the election in an analytical way.”

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Abby Butler