Are you considering studying at the JFKI next semester but you’re not yet sure which subjects to choose?
Maybe this article by the U.S. blogger/journalist Ezra Klein will help you make up your mind. Klein argues that as U.S. politics have become more complex and dysfunctional over the past years, the once coveted “inside view” by members of Congress, their aides, and the journalists covering this beat no longer seems sufficient to reach an understanding of the political process. Klein writes:
“Washington is listening to political scientists, in large part because it’s stopped trusting itself.”
He further explains that at a time when the power of individual politicians seems to be starkly declining, political parties and structural mechanisms are gaining importance and correctly observes that, ”political scientists traffic in structural explanations for American politics.”
Partly out of good old self-interest but also because I deeply believe that Klein’s analysis is spot on, I cannot recommend his article highly enough. (By the way: it is this exact mixture of material factors and the power of ideas which our subject seeks to explain.)
Now is perhaps a more important time than ever to consider learning the craft of political science.
Klein’s article seems to have sparked some debate over the past week, centered around the core issue of “elites” and “experts” versus what might be referred to as the actual politics of politics. This too, says something about the current state of political science, journalism, and politics and how the three might relate to one another. This debate, unlike many other “pundit wars,” is well worth following.
- Read Thomas Frank’s rousing response and counter-points to Klein here.
- Commentary about the debate by NY Magazine, with the charming title question “Have Nerds Betrayed the Left?“
- An article featured via the economist, which argues that both Klein and Frank might be right.
- And, finally, Ezra Klein’s own rebuttal.