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Lecture | Studium Generale

Towards the 2016 presidential elections: the current crisis in American politics

Wednesday 5 October 2016
Anna van Buerenplein
Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG The Hague

How to campaign in America, how to influence the electorate and why is populism thriving in America?
Apparently the 2016 presidential elections in the United States signal a crisis in American politics. Groups of voters are being excluded from the voting process. Business interests exert an inordinate amount of influence on the outcome of the elections. The Republican Party, one of the mainstays of the political system, proved unable to control its presidential candidate selection and is threatening to fall apart. Partly because of these developments populist forces are on the rise. In contrast to what many commentators argue, however, the rise of populism does not simply contribute to the crisis. Populism has always been part of American politics, and its fear that American democracy is continually in danger of an elitist take-over can serve as a corrective in the current situation. Despite its occasionally extreme statements and paranoid tendencies, populism sustains the American political system. American democracy cannot exist without the distrust that populism exhibits.

Dr. Eduard van de Bilt is Assistant Professor in American History at Leiden University. He is currently working on the role of distrust in politics. His area of specialization is American intellectual and political history.

Dr. Brandon Zicha is Assistant Professor of Policy Science at Leiden University Center. One of his research and teaching interest focusses on how information is processed by social and political institutions and used to make collective decisions in modern societies.

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