Northwestern Events Calendar


Global Theory Workshop | Realism and Responsible Parties

When: Monday, May 2, 2022
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Central

Where: Scott Hall, Room 201, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student

Contact: Stephen Monteiro   (847) 491-7451

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Global Theory Workshop as they host Dr. Emilee Chapman from Stanford University.

Abstract: This paper reconstructs and critiques the most prominent “realist” argument for what I call the Responsible Party Institutional Model (RPIM). The two key features of this model are: 1) two- party competition for full control of government, and 2) centralized, hierarchical party organizations centered on the party in public office. Proponents of RPIM have argued that this set of institutions sharpens electoral incentives to serve broad public interests. By contrast, they argue that institutions that curtail or disperse the power of party elites are counterproductive and ultimately disempower the average citizen. However, the main argument for RPIM rests on a pair of contingent assumptions, and the democratic credentials of RPIM are not robust to failures of these assumptions. RPIM also fares poorly when evaluated against the additional realist considerations of feasibility and stability. All told, RPIM’s prospects for success are not promising. If there is a case to be made for RPIM, I argue it will either need to be a different sort of realist argument (i.e. that RPIM avoids the very worst outcomes), or a non-realist argument, which defends the superiority of its underlying conception of democracy. Neither argument is straightforward, but both are more promising than the most common argument in the literature.

Emilee Chapman is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford. Her current research project examines the distinctive value of voting in contemporary democratic practice, and its significance for electoral reform and the ethics of participation.

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