It's election year in the United States and it promises to be an entertaining and exciting one. One thing is for sure, on Inauguration Day (Jan 20, 2017) a new president will move into the White House. The era of Obama will be history. But the question, who will succeed him, remains, at least for now, open. Hillary Clinton's supposedly easy way to the Democratic nomination has met surprisingly strong resistance from her party's left and the campaign of Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, the field of candidates is wide and mirrors the ongoing „civil war“ between the party's established conservative and the even-more-conservative-Tea-Party-wing. And there is Donald Trump, a man of its own, but nonetheless a symbol of the state of political culture in the United States.
In our seminar, we will not only explore the current state of the campaigns, political culture, and politics of the United States – and thus try to figure out, why Trump is possible - but also dive deep into the historical and ideological background of the two dominant political parties of the United States.
The seminar will cover three main areas of interests:
The political system of the United States: We will focus especially on the development of the political parties and their role in the political system. Additionally, we will have a look on basics, such as law making, the role of the president, and polarization.
Ideology of the political parties: The main part of the seminar will deal with the ideological background of Republicans and Democrats respectively. We will explore the ideological history of both parties and then focus on its modern day formation. By reading important conservative and liberal authors, we will discover the basic tenets of conservatism and liberalism, their differences, as well as their respective inner frictions.
Politics and ideology: Closely related, we'll have a look on how ideology translates into politics, for example, we will explore how electoral strategies are shaped by ideology. Furthermore, we will have a look on how recent Presidents (Reagan, Bush Jr., and Obama) have defined and used their respective ideology.
Overall learning objective: After the seminar, you will be able to differentiate not only between conservatism and liberalism but also between the various strands of conservatism and liberalism respectively. Additionally, you will have gained valuable insights into the inner workings of the political system of the United States. This knowledge will empower you to analyze current US politics. As the seminar language will be English, you will also improve your ability to debate complex issues in the lingua franca of political science. Furthermore, you will improve yours skills of formulating, presenting, and debating complex topics of political science.