Discourse in Democracy
Discourse in Democracy is a series of events designed to engage undergraduate students in political and philosophical debate about today’s most important issues. Discourse in Democracy provides opportunities for students to become more deeply involved in their Texas State community by offering lectures and seminars by keynote speakers, chances to collaborate with professors, other students, and prominent professionals in the field at the federal, state, and local levels. We will tackle issues that matter most to students, and you can be a part of the solution by participating in our lecture series. The Department of Political Science invites all students to join in the discussion as we work to understand and solve our country’s greatest challenges.
Recent Events in Discourse in Democracy
Dr. Michael Lind on "America's New Class War"
On Wednesday, November 17th, Discourse in Democracy and the Department of Political Science hosted Dr. Michael Lind for a lecture on “America’s New Class War.” Dr. Lind is a professor of practice at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and has authored many books including The Next American Nation (Free Press,1995), The American Way of Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life (Oxford University Press, 2006), and Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (Harper Collins, 2012). His lecture drew on his most recent book The New Class War: Saving Democracy From The Managerial Elite (Random House, 2020). Over 150 students and faculty attended the talk.
In his lecture, Dr. Lind contended that the modern left’s orientation of politics around issues of gender and race fails to account for the rise of a national neoliberal managerial class which cuts across racial boundaries. He used demographic data to show that college education is a better predictor of class privilege than race while acknowledging racial barriers to educational access. The dominance of this new class, he argued, threatens to effectively exclude the bulk of Americans from effective influence on the political process and to threaten democracy. Topics he touched on in the course of his lecture included the decline of both the middle and working classes and the decay of political parties, unions, and religious institutions. Dr. Lind characterized the rise of Donald Trump as a function of rebellion of the American working class against the American managerial elite, and gave prescriptions for forming a new base of working-class power in America. Attendees praised Lind’s “historical knowledge,” “insight,” and “engaging lecture style.”.
Mr. Juan Ortiz on Emergency Management
Discourse in Democracy, in partnership with the Common Experience Program and the university chapter of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), invited Mr. Juan Ortiz to speak to the university community. Although the presentation was originally scheduled for an hour, Mr. Ortiz spoke to the 50 attendees for 90 minutes. As the director of the City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Mr. Ortiz is a member of the Emergency Management Association of Texas, the International Association of Emergency Managers, ICMA, and the Local Government Hispanic Network. Though the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is one of the smallest departments for the City of Austin, it is the most visible office during an emergency.
Mr. Ortiz described the challenges he encountered in emergency management including reporting to multiple bosses. For instance, he stated that it is possible to report to the fire chief, assistant city manager, the mayor, and a county judge. The latter two individuals are the most important offices during a disaster. He contends that his civics and American government classes were the most important courses he took because it explains how government functions.
Questions from the audience were focused on Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.
Discourse in Democracy Holds Panel on Redistricting in Texas
On Thursday, October 21st, Discourse in Democracy and the Department of Political Science hosted a panel discussion entitled “Redistricting Texas.” The panel included the department’s very own Dr. Michael Faber of Texas State, who spoke about the history of redistricting and controversies surrounding it; Dr. Rebecca Theobald of the University of Colorado, who discussed the geographical considerations bearing on redistricting; Dr. Betsygail Rand of Texas Lutheran University, who explored the mathematical procedures employed in drawing and analyzing districting maps; and Dr. Mark P. Jones of Rice University, who examined the political situation surrounding the current redistricting effort and its potential effects on the future of Texas and U.S. politics. The event was moderated by Dr. T. Vance McMahon of the Political Science Department.
The event was concise, effectively conducting a thorough investigation of the topic in an hour and a half. One attendee noted that the event “was a timely and fascinating discussion,” staffed by “highly knowledgeable panelists” from “across the nation.”