Political Science professors Cal Jillson and Matthew Wilson comment on Greg Abbot latest book and political future

Star-Telegram

Originally Posted: May 21, 2016

Greg Abbott’s book, bus tour put him in the political fast lane

Gov. Greg Abbott’s bus tour is meant to take him places.

I mean, besides a Half Price Books near Westworth Village.

When Abbott’s Broken But Unbowed tour bus rolls into Fort Worth today, it will be hauling the governor’s political hopes but also his baggage.

Abbott, a 23-year elected official serving his first term as governor, is positioning himself for a possible national political campaign or appointment.

But even arriving by luxury motor coach, Abbott does not make as much noise as former TV sports anchor and radio entertainer Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a potential political rival.

If Abbott has hope for higher office, he must clearly command state government. But with a divisive Republican presidential campaign ahead, followed by the Legislature in January (bringing more daily Patrick press conferences), this is almost Abbott’s only time to rally attention.

“Abbott is as cautious as Patrick is aggressive,” said Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson, “so Abbott always keeps an eye on him to be sure Patrick does not get by him on the right.”

Abbott is building his national conservative profile with the book, a memoir of his recovery from a disabling 1984 accident and also an essay on constitutional government. READ MORE 

Dedman College experts comment on Democrats’ internal struggles on display in Nevada

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 19, 2016

Comments below were taken from an SMU news release. READ MORE

DON’T SWEAT NEVADA, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION SHOULD BE FINE
Matthew Wilson

MATTHEW WILSON: Associate professor of Political Science

The Democratic Party was shaken this week when the Nevada State Convention descended into chaos, sparked by disruptive Bernie Sanders supporters. The scenes of anger and reports of death threats prompted some to ask, . “Is the Democratic National Convention suddenly at greater risk of being a disaster than the Republican National Convention?”

“No,” says Wilson. “Because that’s a really high bar.”

“The Democrats have all long underestimated the level of dissatisfaction with their own establishment that exists within the ranks,” Wilson continued. “The real anti-establishment anger has been made obvious on the Republican side with Trump’s campaign, but there’s a lot of that with Sanders’ movement as well and some of that bubbled to the surface this week.”

Wilson predicts the Democrats will orchestrate a “reasonably” smooth convention this summer, but did say there are other causes for concern revealed by the hubub in Nevada.

“The thing we can lose sight of is that Hillary Clinton would be the least popular candidate that either party has ever nominated, which is obscured by the fact that Trump is even more unpopular,” Wilson says. “Clinton is not beloved by the Democratic Party. The big worry is disaffected Sanders supporters could stay home or gravitate toward Trump if he’s able to reach out to them with his populist message.”

And Wilson doesn’t expect Sanders to do anything to allay those fears anytime soon.

“Sanders thrives on the anti-establishment sentiment,” Wilson says. “He thrives on this sense the game is rigged and the party bosses are cheating him, and he doesn’t want to tamp that down. Clearly he doesn’t want violence, but he’s perfectly happy having a certain amount of righteous anger.”

As for the Democratic Party’s handling of the Sanders and the Nevada protests, Wilson thinks the party is doing just fine, with the caveat that maybe they should let Sanders have some of the delegates he’s fighting for since it won’t make up the difference in the end. But Wilson did caution that more acrimony could lie ahead.

“June 7 is the last day of primaries,” Wilson says. “It will be very interesting to see what Bernie Sanders says on June 8.”

PROVIDING HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE TO ‘YEAR OF THE OUTSIDER’ IN POLITICS

Jeffrey A. EngelJEFFREY ENGEL: Director of the SMU Center for Presidential History

It’s not uncommon for politicians running for the presidency to flash their outsider status and promise to, “Clean up Washington,” but normally they’re at least long-time, card-carrying members of the party they’re running to represent.

Not so this year, courtesy Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Engel says historians might have to look back 200 years to find a similar scenario.

“Ronald Reagan, in some ways, was an outsider and Jimmy Carter was, in some ways, an outsider, but you might have to look back 100 years ago to find a nominee like Trump who, if you had asked six years ago, would have been a member of the opposite party,” Engel says.

Despite the recent chaotic protests at the Democrats’ Nevada State Convention, Engel thinks the Democratic National Convention will still be more unified than the Republican National Convention this summer.

“Alliances are not made between friends,” Engel says. “Alliances are made in opposition to common enemies, and Sanders and the Democrats are a great example of this. Sanders has had some questions or political reasons to identify as an independent instead of a Democrat, but he sure as heck won’t identify as a Republican.”

Back in the Senate, Cruz could lay the foundation for 2020

Houston Chronicle

Originally Posted: May 18, 2016

By Kevin Diaz

WASHINGTON – There may be no Ted Cruz 2.0. Instead, all signs point to Cruz 2020.

The first clue came in a final pep talk to dispirited campaign staffers last week in Houston, where Cruz recalled Ronald Reagan’s first failed White House bid in 1976, a prelude to his victory in 1980.

“Reagan in 1976 came up short,” Cruz told them. “I suspect at that convention more than a few tears were shed. It’s going to be our task to go forward and continue fighting.” . . .

Outside political analysts say the Senate provides the perfect foil for a national political figure bent on highlighting Washington dysfunction.

“The Senate allows you to stay in the spotlight, even if your day-to-day life is very frustrating,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

At the same time, Jillson is bearish on Cruz’s prospects of enacting meaningful tax reforms, a project that largely has eluded far more experienced lawmakers with good relationships in Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Republican Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Moving legislation in the famously chummy Senate often depends on playing nice with colleagues – not something for which Cruz is known. “Judging from his first day back, he’s not going to make many changes in his personal style or demeanor, which almost guarantees he’ll get next to almost nothing done,” Jillson said. READ MORE

Celebrating Dedman College Faculty Books

  • View a slideshow of the event photos here.
  • For more information on Dedman College faculty books, click here.

May Commencement Weekend

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Congratulations to all the Dedman College graduates. Looking for the latest schedule of events? Read More 

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Trump sure to exploit Clinton scandals that Sanders ignored

Washington Times

Originally Posted: May 5, 2016

Hillary Clinton so far has been able to skate through the Democratic presidential primary without having to truly confront what ultimately may be her biggest hurdles to the White House: numerous scandals and controversies that have taken a back seat in her tooth-and-nail fight with Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Mr. Sanders decided early in the race to virtually ignore his opponent’s still-unfolding State Department email scandal, foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and other politically treacherous issues that could spell trouble for the former first lady as she heads toward a November showdown with the Republican nominee. READ MORE

Dedman College’s Matthew Wilson and Jeffrey Engel featured in “Third Rail” series

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 9, 2016

SMU “Third Rail” series to take on the topics that others won’t

First debate is May 9

DALLAS (SMU) – Tapping into frustration over political and personal incivility, and the inability to work toward middle ground on contentious topics, SMU’s Center for Presidential History and the Cary Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility are launching The Third Rail Series Monday evening, May 9, to analyze and discuss deliberately touchy issues.

Free and open to the public, the first program will feature SMU scholars Maria Dixon Hall, Matthew Wilson and Jeffrey Engel discussing the unusual anger and extremism revealed in the current presidential campaign. Engel will moderate a debate between Hall and Wilson on the topic, “The 2016 presidential campaign has revealed unusual anger and extremism: Should political discourse be less sensitive to identity politics?”

By definition, a voter is embracing identity politics if any single interest – such as race, gender, or position on a particular social issue – decides their support for or opposition to a candidate regardless of the candidate’s views on other topics.

The “Third Rail” discussion will begin at 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall, preceded by a light coffee service at 6:30 p.m. Parking will be available and free passes will be emailed to registered guests before the event. Seating is limited, and not guaranteed. Register online.

Maria Dixon Hall, associate professor of corporate communication and public affairs, will argue for sensitivity to identity politics in political discourse; Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science will argue for less sensitivity, and Engel, who is director of the Center for Presidential History at SMU, will guide the discussion and encourage audience participation.

“America faces profoundly difficult issues,” Engel said. “Race, inequality, guns, injustice and war only begin to start the list. But what is most troubling of late is our inability as a nation to discuss problems that plague us without resorting to angry rhetoric or retreating to silence when we would like to say more.

“SMU’s new Third Rail Series is designed to break the silence,” Engel said. “We intend to support our university and our city in discussing the topics others won’t, addressing the issues we’ve become too frightened to debate, using the direct language many have become too fearful to employ.”

In each “Third Rail” session, two members of the SMU faculty will discuss one of the toughest issues of our day, and also engage with the audience, “in a thoughtful and respectful manner befitting a great University,” Engel added.

READ MORE

SMU’s May 14 Commencement celebrates academic achievement

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 3, 2016

SMU will celebrate the academic accomplishments of more than 2,500 students at its 101st annual Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in Moody Coliseum.

Guests are urged to arrive early as seating in the coliseum is limited to four guests per student. Additional seating will be available for a simulcast of the event at Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, Crum Auditorium and McFarlin Auditorium. The ceremony also will be broadcast outside Moody Coliseum on Bolin Plaza, and there will be a live webcast of the ceremony at http://www.smu.edu/live.

READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Assessing the Cruz-Kasich strategy against Trump

CBS 11

Originally Posted:  April 25, 2016

Political Science Professor Cal Jillson comments on the announcement that Republican White House rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich have reached a deal to avoid competing against each other in some upcoming state primaries in hopes of blocking front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party’s presidential nomination. WATCH

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Leading Lady: Jenny Torres, Interim President of SMU’s Multicultural Greek Council

HC at SMU

Originally Posted: April 23, 2016

SMU is proud to be home to world changers, and it all starts with the moment a student decides to become a leader. We are proud here at Her Campus to present SMU’s Leading Ladies, taking charge and making a difference in the community.

This week, we got to know senior Jenny Torres, a human rights and public policy student who is also the interim president of the Multicultural Greek Council. Recently, she was honored with two Hilltop Excellence Awards: the Emme V. Baine Legacy and A. Kenneth Pye Outstanding Greek Leader Awards. Receiving two honors in one night is fitting for a woman who seems to do everything at once. READ MORE