Department of Government Theses and Dissertations

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    Territorial taxation system : a story of inequality and political process capture
    (2023-05-01) Barros, Pedro Moraya; Jensen, Nathan M. (Nathan Michael), 1975-
    Under territorial individual taxation domestic source income is taxable, while foreign source income is not. Therefore, it incentivizes residents to remove capital out of the country, e.g. investing in stocks, bonds, and real estate offshore. Moreover, individuals migrating to territorial taxation jurisdictions may even be better off leaving their capital abroad. Hence, why do several governments choose to only tax their residents on domestic source income and not on international income? In other words, which countries are more likely to embrace territorial taxation? I argue that countries with a high level of inequality are more likely to embrace territorial taxation. That happens because, in unequal societies, elites (i.e. the ones with enough capital to invest abroad) have more de facto power to influence policies that please them. To test my arguments, I use a cross-sectional analysis with 228 countries and territories, along with a case study from Bolivia.
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    The Socratic analysis of nobility and beauty : politics, wisdom, and the divine in Plato's Greater Hippias
    (2022-12-02) O'Toole, Daniel Frederick; Pangle, Thomas L.; Pangle, Lorraine S; Stauffer, Devin; Blitz, Mark
    This dissertation provides a comprehensive interpretation of the Greater Hippias, Plato’s dialogue on nobility and beauty. It helps shed light on a crucial dimension of Plato’s political philosophy, for according to him, nobility and beauty are among the most important yet contentious aspects of moral, political, and religious life. In the course of interpreting the Greater Hippias, the dissertation seeks to clarify how Plato understands the nature and character of nobility and beauty and the various ways in which they hold meaning and relevance for our individual and political lives. This requires tracing his analysis of what all is implied in the conventional conception of nobility and beauty and the natural basis of our attachment to it. The dissertation concludes, first of all, that the Greater Hippias shows that the kind of nobility that seems most impressive to us serves the common good and is rooted in what conventional and lawful political orders honor and praise most highly. Second, it shows how nobility and beauty promise to satisfy the soul’s longing for the transcendent and the divine. Third, it shows that nobility must ultimately be understood in terms of the good, and especially in terms of the beneficial and the pleasant, but that men resist understanding nobility in those terms. Hence the dissertation uncovers the core of the tension between the conventional understanding of nobility and a rational understanding of nobility—or between what seems noblest to us and what’s actually good for us.
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    The gatekeeping role of the Office of the Solicitor General at the certiorari stage
    (2022-05-02) Bird, Christine Catherine; Perry, H. W.; Theriault, Sean M., 1972-; Jones, Bryan; Evans, Rhonda
    The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is a key repeat player in the U.S. Supreme Court decision-making process. It maintains a storied co-dependent relationship with the Supreme Court and is the most successful litigant at the merits stage in appellate litigation. Yet, we understand very little about the OSG’s role in the policy making process at the agenda-setting stage. In this dissertation, I seek to add to the discussion of agenda setting and organizational influence in judicial policymaking. Instead of considering the appointed head of the Office, the Solicitor General, I dig deeper into how the full bureaucratic entity behaves in the context of a broader policy process. I present evidence that the OSG’s most consequential role is not at the merits stage, but as an organizational entity talented and empowered to gatekeep access to the Supreme Court. I employ a novel dataset I collected and coded of more than 2,500 certiorari-stage cases involving the Office of the Solicitor General between the 1999 and 2019 terms. I leverage a secondary text as data dataset from cert-stage briefs filed by the Office of the Solicitor General and its opponents. I show the Office of the Solicitor General is extraordinarily successful at keeping cases off of the Supreme Court’s docket. I show evidence of the OSG’s concerted efforts to convince the Supreme Court to deny access (and quickly) to its substantive docket when the request for review disrupts the government’s legal and policy goals. I show the Office of the Solicitor General, due to its high case load and its privileged position with the Supreme Court, develops a process to strategically prioritizes its effort in cert-cases with highly sophisticated opponents and/or in issue areas central to its institutional agenda. Ultimately, I demonstrate the Office of the Solicitor General manages its role as an institutional political entrepreneur by prioritizing a defensive legal strategy and works to gatekeep access to the Supreme Court’s agenda.
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    Shooting blanks and missing the mark : policy responses to the gun violence epidemic
    (2022-12-02) Cassella, Christopher Paul; Epp, Derek A.; Jones, Bryan D.
    Mass shootings and gun violence have become an all too common phenomenon in modern American life. But despite a rise in shootings across the United States, there have not been significant changes to gun policy. Across disciplines, scholars have studied gun violence, but their traditional theories fall short of explaining this significant policy deficit. In this paper, I offer a new theory to study gun policy that centers on state capacity and institutional constraint. Using data on gun violence, gun policy movements, and public laws, I propose that the best predictors of gun policy movement through state legislatures are previous policy decisions and fixed state political factors, not the severity of the gun violence problem. As an exploratory study, I perform a preliminary analysis on gun policy and gun violence data between 2017 and 2019. I demonstrate that gun violence incidents alone cannot explain state movements on gun policies and that other variables must be accounted for in these models to understand what drives policy change. This study has important implications for the study of gun policy, representation, and the policy process.
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    Origins and consequences of corruption scandals : evidence from Mexico
    (2023-01-02) Petersen Cortes, German; Gerring, John, 1962-; Brinks, Daniel M.; Wlezien, Christopher; Ward, Peter M.
    This dissertation looks at the political origins and consequences of corruption scandals. On the origins side, the dissertation argues that first turnovers after long periods of dominant-party rule open opportunities for corruption scandals to take place. In turn, scandals contribute to an increase in perceptions of corruption, which explains at least part of the increase in these perceptions during early democratization periods. On the consequences side, the work examines the impacts of corruption scandals on interpersonal trust and electoral outcomes. The dissertation uses quantitative methods and relies on subnational time-series cross-sectional data from Mexico, specifically the 32 Mexican states from the first presidential turnover in 2000 until 2018. The dissertation consists of three papers. The first paper explores the impact of early democratization on corruption scandals and of corruption scandals on perceptions of corruption. The work finds that first turnovers, typical of early democratization stages, increase the number of corruption scandals, which in turn increase perceptions of corruption. Therefore, while the literature has generally assumed that perceptions of corruption increase in periods of early democratization due to an increase in actual acts of corruption, this work transcends assumptions and presents evidence that one mechanism –though not necessarily the only mechanism– connecting early democratization to perceptions of corruption is the incidence of corruption scandals. The second paper examines the consequences of corruption scandals on interpersonal trust. This work finds that corruption scandals create an effect that harms interpersonal trust. More specifically, corruption scandals bring about a decrease in trust in coworkers/classmates and friends. In contrast, trust in neighbors and family/relatives is not harmed by corruption scandals. Interestingly, under certain circumstances trust in family/relatives is even strengthened by scandals, possibly due to a substitution effect after the loss of trust in other relationships. The last paper focuses on electoral accountability after corruption scandals. The literature’s consensus is that scandals damage the incumbent party’s electoral performance, but only mildly. However, the literature has not asked about the damage that corruption scandals might do to the established parties’ electoral performance. This paper argues that corruption scandals, besides harming the incumbent party’s electoral performance, damage the established parties. Additionally, contrary to the literature’s argument that corruption scandals depress turnout, the paper finds that, under certain conditions, corruption scandals might motivate turnout.
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    The lure of leadership : lessons from Plutarch on the nature of an exceptional statesman
    (2022-05-02) Davis, Emily Anne; Pangle, Lorraine Smith; Stauffer, Devin
    In this paper, I show that Julius Caesar’s character, appeal, and motivations (as seen in Plutarch’s Life) were much more complex than most scholars believe. It is true that Plutarch’s Caesar felt an irresistible ambition for power and that he often drew on his strategic brilliance to serve his own political interests. Yet power for power’s sake was far from enough for him. Plutarch demonstrates, in fact, that Caesar’s drive to become an absolute ruler stemmed not only from his longings for power and glory, but also from his desire to distribute benefits and justice to his subjects and to deserve the honor and gratitude they gave him in return. Caesar’s overweening confidence in his ability to establish new, just orders was hugely attractive to the Roman people, who felt unfairly oppressed by the existing laws. Though Plutarch indicates that Caesar’s self-assessment was unsupported by serious examination of questions regarding justice, he also suggests that Caesar’s (and his people’s) deep concern for justice played a key role in his rise to the throne.
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    Socrates’s and the Eleatic stranger’s defenses of philosophy
    (2022-05-05) Myers, Ian G.; Pangle, Thomas L.; Pangle, Lorraine Smith
    Only in his Statesman does Plato present a philosopher of the caliber of the Eleatic Stranger giving a non-Socratic teaching on politics and political philosophy with the mature Socrates in the audience. The Stranger and Socrates, as I aim to show here, share a basic agreement about the purpose of political inquiry: inquiry into politics and human nature is according to both thinkers necessary for a defense of philosophy as a whole. In the following, I argue that the Stranger, like Socrates, turned to political theorizing to respond to the anti-rationalist challenge posed by the claims of the great poet-teachers of Greece, Homer and Hesiod, whose poems, by asserting either that irrational, omnipotent divinity exists or that the universe came into being without a cause, deny the existence of necessary causes. I argue as well that although they understand this challenge in a similar way, Socrates and the Stranger focus on different puzzles of political and ethical life, and that those different focuses lead to different approaches to defending rationalism. Socrates, on my reading, thinks that a critical analysis of our opinions about virtue and happiness is the decisive ingredient in a response to the theological challenge, while the stranger thinks that a critical analysis of law as such is the decisive ingredient in such a response.
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    Pleasure and political philosophy in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
    (2022-05-05) Jiang, Jonathan; Stauffer, Devin, 1970-; Pangle, Lorraine Smith
    This thesis analyzes Aristotle’s treatment of pleasure in book seven of the Nicomachean Ethics. The thesis argues that Aristotle’s identification of contemplative activity with a certain kind of pleasure fulfills a key part of his project to articulate a vision of happiness that is unified and harmonious and, accordingly, that Aristotle’s reflections on pleasure help illuminate his claim that the philosopher is the architect of the end of human life. The thesis suggests further that Aristotle implicitly qualifies this vision of happiness by indicating the internal tensions of the philosophic life.
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    Partisanship as a motivation for incivility against women in politics
    (2021-12-03) White, Benjamin Tracy; Albertson, Bethany
    Politicians who use social media often experience incivility from the public. Anecdotal evidence and recent scholarship find that female politicians are particularly likely to experience incivility online. Although women are no longer a rarity in politics, traditional gender norms still portray politics as a masculine domain. In breaking these norms, women in politics experience incivility, online abuse, and other forms of psychological or symbolic violence. However, we do not yet understand how partisanship shapes female politicians’ experiences with incivility on social media. Partisanship is a strong social identity, encouraging affective polarization and outright hostility against those from the opposing party. Recent work suggests that extreme politicians are more likely to experience incivility, but I expect that the effect of partisan extremity on incivility is stronger for women. Women in politics experience a variety of sanctions as they break traditional gender norms, but gender scholars argue that these sanctions are more likely when individuals can justify their behavior. In an age of partisan hostility, partisanship may allow individuals to justify incivility against female politicians across the aisle. I examine approximately 660,000 tweets sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2019, and in October 2020 during the height of the presidential election campaign. Contrary to expectations, extreme female members are no more likely to experience incivility compared to moderate female members, and partisanship generally does not increase the risk of experiencing incivility. These null results persist even when considering data from two different points in time (during the 2020 campaign and a year prior), and despite operationalizing incivility in three different ways. Null results notwithstanding, this study offers an informative first look at how partisanship affects member’s experiences with incivility
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    Visions of Allah : the competing political theologies of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah
    (2021-12-02) Prowant, Max; Barany, Zoltan D.
    What follows is an attempt to better understand not just the political ideologies of prominent jihadist groups, but the wide-ranging theologies which inform political and militant action. My central argument and contribution to the study of jihadist organizations is that how they conceive of God is a major factor in explaining their strategies, tactics, and end goals. To demonstrate this, I compare the theological-political thought of two radically different jihadist ideologues: Ayman al-Zawahiri (1951-present) and Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah (1935-2010). This Master’s Thesis illuminates how these men understand the nature or phenomenon of God and his relationship with man. Flowing from their approach to God, it shows how their theologies inform two central aspects of the political ideologies: the proper function and place for jihad and the jihadist, and the role and function of the state. The thesis concludes with some telling real-world examples of how their theological-political ideologies are played out in the operations of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah