Democratic Citizenship in the United States: Measuring Democratic Support in the Trump Era (with Hannah June Kim)
The universal democratization thesis contends that democracy is emerging both as a universal value and the most preferred system of government. However, the election of Donald Trump has made scholars question the commitment of U.S. citizens to democracy. Our study finds two important limitations in the research on democratic support in the U.S. First, democracy measures remain abstract and contested, which prevents its clear and coherent operationalization. Second, the role of partisanship in this hyper-polarized environment is missing. Thus, the purpose of this study is to observe how much Americans support democracy and analyze the role of partisanship. Utilizing a unique measure of democratic citizenship from an original dataset that observes understanding of democracy, attachment to it, and willingness to defend it, this paper finds that Republicans have lower levels of democratic support than Democrats across cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions. Moreover, the results of an embedded survey experiment demonstrate that media censorship may be an attractive quality in a leader among Republicans. The findings suggest a troubling role that Trump’s attacks on central democratic institutions and anti-democratic rhetoric have played in weakening democratic norms, and the important role that partisanship plays in this process.
Tolerance at what cost? Assessing Public Support for Multiculturalism (with Sara Wallace Goodman)
Why do members of the public support multiculturalism, a public policy that promotes immigrant accommodation that may not affect majority members of society? Are they supporting an ideal, i.e., a vision of national cohesion, or are their preferences governed by perceived costs, like competition or pocketbook effects? This paper examines multicultural support in the United States to test how economic and social costs may reduce mass support for multiculturalism. We present data from an original survey in which we provide individuals with a vignette experiment: adopting bilingual education (testing multicultural support for immigrants). We present a series of manipulations to alter this scenario with both symbolic and economic costs, at both diffuse and concentrated settings. We find that specifying economic and symbolic costs—both diffuse and concentrated—significantly reduce support for multiculturalism, with substantial effect in the former scenarios. We conclude by considering the larger implication of multicultural costs, pointing toward the role of effective policy framing in the pursuit of inclusionary outcomes.