Course Description

470.616 - Political Ideas, Strategy, and Policy Implementation

It is easy, in this age of reactive 24-hour news, to believe that ideas no longer matter in politics. But ideas are the currency of politics, and are central to both campaigning and governing. What candidates stand for matters, and the best policy is the best politics. This class will discuss the critical role ideas play in our American political system. It will examine how ideas define candidates and governments, shape political strategies, and form campaign communications. But, most importantly, it will discuss how campaigning on ideas leads to successful governing. While compromise and negotiation are often derided as weaknesses in today's political system, we will examine how these techniques have been used to implement policy ideas and further political strategy. From the practical perspective of the instructor's own legislative and political experience, the class will take up case studies involving the interplay between politics and ideas in recent history in areas such as budget reform, national security, tax reform, crime prevention, trade, and poverty. Through these case studies, we will look at how and why policy ideas succeeded or failed through the lens of elections, political communications, and their positive impact on the public.