David Campbell presented 2 lectures as a part of the advanced training course “New Methods and Perspectives in Social Sciences”.
On October 12,13, David Campbell presented 2 lectures as a part of the advanced training course “New Methods and Perspectives in Social Sciences”.
David Campbell, the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame and the chairperson of the political science department, the author of many essays, reviews and books on these subjects, including “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” which he co-authored with Robert Putnam and which has won two awards, and “Why We Vote: How Schools and Communities Shape Our Civic Life,” gave 2 open lectures at School of Public Policy as a part of the advanced training course “New Methods and Perspectives in Social Sciences”. First lecture was titled «Presidential Elections in the United States: Everything You Wanted to Know about How Americans Elect Their President but Were Afraid to Ask». Professor Campbell talked about the way the political scientists study American politics and American elections. He underlined that the American presidential election is enormously complex. There are 2 steps in winning the presidency in the USA, and both of them include campaigns but they are very different. The first step is to win the nomination of the party (Democratic or Republican) and the second is to win the general election. To win the nomination of a party, a candidate must receive the most voters at the party’s national convention. States choose their delegates in different ways: primaries or caucuses. There are 2 types of primary elections: Closed, when the candidate has to register as either a Republican or Democrat; or open, when voters don’t have to register with a party. But some states also select their delegates by caucus, a meeting of party supporters. It is very important that the people who participate in the caucus don t necessarily represent the vast majority of Americans and during the nomination campaign you have to appeal to supporters of your own party. The challenge, however, is when you are in general election you have to appeal to voters who are in the middle. The main idea of the «median voter theorem», is that candidates can't stray far from the center if they want to win the general election. Professor Campbell showed some slides that illustrated the great difference between the convention delegates and voting public.
The second lecture entitled «Religion in American Politics and Society: How Religion Both Divides and Unites Americans» was devoted to the place of religion in American politics. Professor Campbell argued that one cannot understand the USA without understanding the role of religion within the American society. And certainly you cannot understand American policy without understanding how religion factors into political process. He noted that the American constitution does forbid what is called the establishment of religion and there is no state church in the USA. Also Professor Campbell focused on 3 statements that people from other countries might see rather puzzling and unusual. First is that American are religiously devout, second is that America as a country is religiously diverse and the third is that America is religiously tolerant. The professor showed a chart that compares Americans to people of wide ride of other nations on a common measure of how religious people are. It turned out that Americans by this measure are tiny more religious than people from Iran. And, in general, in comparison with the other advanced industrialized nations, Americans are more religious. People in America belong to many different religions, but none of these religions has the majority of the population. The third claim that Americans are religiously tolerant was proved by the fact that many people answered positively on the question, whether you believe that someone who is not of your own religion can go to heaven.
The role of religion in America was increasing and decreasing all the time. In 1950 there was the beginning of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, Americans were firming themselves as religious people in contrast to USSR, but in in 1960 there was a sharp decline in the level of religiosity. After that period there was «the first aftershock», when Evangelical Christians were growing in a number and became more prominent. Now we live in a period of sharp decline of the American perception of the religion. Professor Campbell explained the rise of non-religion in USA as a reaction to the mixture of the religion and politics. As in the US today people who are highly religious are much more likely to vote for the Republican Party. People do have a negative reaction to the mix of the religion and politics if they themselves are not politically conservative.
In conclusion Professor Campbell showed how religion unites America; most of the people in America believe that religious diversity is good for the future development of the USA. Furthermore most Americans have neighbors, family members and spouses of a different religion and of course if you have many friend of another faith you become warmer to people of that faith, and in general you become more tolerant.