My thoughts these past few weeks have been occupied with the US political process, as the democrats and then the republicans hold their respective conventions. I always wonder how people outside of the US perceive our political system – what do you make of the posturing and posing that American candidates exhibit (some more than others)? Can you see through it to the real issues?

An enterprising political science graduate student should collect anecdotes from democrats and republicans about campaign and convention events and do a VTA analysis. This may tell us – when it comes to voting, will big issues like war and the environment guide votes, or will voters more influenced by a candidate’s gender, ethnicity, or stance on gay marriage? (or do we already know the answer to that question?)

Actually, my best takes on the conventions come from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart “fake news” coverage. He managed to mock the Democratic National Convention pretty thoroughly and will no doubt do the same to the Republican National Convention this week. (You can probably figure out which side of the debate I’m on once you know I live in the SF Bay Area, got my PhD at UC Berkeley, and teach at a campus whose history includes a 1960’s student/faculty strike…)

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