Only Nicholas Can Go to China

croppedpeking-university-outside-by-lakeIt's no longer true that only Nixon can go to China—Nick Winter toured the country at the request of the U.S. State Department to tell the story of the 2016 Presidential Election as part of their Public Affairs Programming. That phrase refers to Richard Nixon as the first U.S. president to go to the Republic of China in almost 100 years. Nixon's reputation as a staunch anti-Communist meant he could visit without being perceived as soft on Communism by his critics. Professor Winter did not need that armor—he went there to freely answer the many Trump and Clinton questions from Chinese students and faculty, diplomats, and embassy staff. He hit five cities in two weeks.

His first stop, Beijing, included three schools and the U.S. Embassy (see his adventure map to the side). Beijing is viewed as the center of the universe in China, a place where much of the important political and creative work of the country is being done. He spoke at the World Economics and Politics—Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, School of Government—Peking University, Renming University, and the U.S. Embassy in the Beijing America Center.

Peking University was his first time using a translator which added some additional administrative duty (reading his Powerpoint slides for example). Translation was consecutive, after each phrase, as opposed to simultaneous (visualize the earpieces in the delegates at the U.N.).

In Beijing the Embassy media team interviewed him for a short video on What Does Politics Mean to Me?, and for some other short insights on political topics. Sign up for our newsletter for notification when the videos are posted. Winter was interviewed by a mob of journalists after his talk (see sidebar for coverage). 

Following Beijing he went to Chengdu, a small city of 14.3 million people, speaking twice at the U.S. Consulate General, first co-hosting a movie night (By the People) followed with a second night watching the third presidential debate. In Chendu he also conducted a discussion group  at the Jiansu Tea House, and spoke at Yanjiyou Bookstore in the Raffles Center. He was reminded that despite the prevalence of capitalism, which we equate with democracy, the country is still governed by an authoritarian regime—an armed soldier followed him into a convenience store and requested he delete photos he had taken of a white building with a red star on top.

On to Nanjing (pop. 8.2 million) he spoke at the School of Foreign Languages—Southeast University, twice at the School of Government—Nanjing University, and at the Johns-Hopkins Center. The Johns Hopskins Center is a co-venture with Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies to support internationalization in higher education.

In Shenyang (pop. 6.3 million), provincial capital and largest city of Liaoning Province he spoke at the Lazy Bee Café, an English-Corner gathering and informal discussion, a dinner talk with American Consulate Staff, to students and faculty at Liaoning Academy of Social Science (LASS) and Northeast University, and the U.S. Consulate General.

He concluded with Changchun (pop. 7.6 million), the capital and largest city of Jilin Province, located in the northeast of China, with a lunch discussion with Chinese Fulbright Alumni, and at the School of Humanities and Arts—Northeast Normal University.

New Class: Political Economy of the Information Economy, PLCP 4500

Ever wonder how Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the even more popular MySpace;) make money? Take this course and you will find out how, along with how that affects the way the US and world economy works.

How do global and national politics change as the main source of corporate profitability changes from control over production processes to control over intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the political process of regulation? This course explores the consequences of this shift in firms’ strategy and structure (industrial organization) for global regulation, globalization of production and the global and national distribution of income. Students will be expected to cross a 50 foot pit of flaming oil on a slack wire and battle two lions at the other end in lieu of a paper.

At the end of the course you will understand why your iPhone is so costly and how it actually works, along with the business model for social media companies.

Political Theory Returns to UVA under Balfour’s Editorship

Laurie BalfourProfessor Lawrie Balfour has been asked to become the next editor of the journal Political Theory in 2017. This is not the first time that the Politics Department has been home to the flagship journal: Stephen K. White served as editor from 2000-2006. Conscious of this legacy and of the high standard set by White and other previous editors, Balfour envisions her role as a steward and as an innovator. She believes that she has a responsibility to sustain the journal’s preeminence as a place for reflection on and arguments about political problems and concepts. And her vision of a new PT: to ensure a capacity to solicit and publish work by scholars who inquire into the conditions of collective life but who may not believe that their approaches are represented in its pages or in the field of political theory as conventionally defined.

She notes that Political Theory strives to be an ecumenical journal. It represents a broad cross-section of scholarship in the field, which means that to succeed as an editor you have to have to have an openness to different kinds of questions and texts, and different ways of making an argument. And the success of the journal is closely dependent on all articles being meticulously researched and well written.

To prepare for her new role, Balfour asked: “What elisions haunt the table of contents?” Not just, “what’s missing?,” but what voices are missing through habit, neglect, or inattention? She is looking at the lines of inquiry, but also listening to the silences, while also appreciating the importance of longstanding commitments and canonical texts. She aspires to compose issues that will entice a broad readership to look forward to the journal’s appearance every two months. What will make readers want to open the journal, and what will make them read it from cover to cover?

Balfour has followed Political Theory for decades. Look at her book shelves, lined with twenty years’ worth. She says she has been involved with the Political Theory longer than any other publication; it was the journal that published her first article. Because the journal is led by a single editor, Balfour will be responsible for the publication process from start to finish. But she is fortunate to share the workload with a terrific team. At UVA, assistant editors Brittany Leach and Andrew Gates, both graduate students in the Department of Politics, assist with the manuscript review and production processes. Melvin Rogers, a former colleague, now at UCLA, will serve as review editor; and Lori Marso (Union College) and Jill Frank (Cornell) will be the consulting editors. Together the review and consulting editors offer expertise in areas that include: Ancient political thought, American political thought, politics and film, republicanism, pragmatism, analytical political philosophy, African American political thought, history of political thought, and feminist theory.

Political Theory publishes work in many forms: original manuscripts, critical exchanges, symposia, book reviews, review essays. The UVA team will work on reviewing manuscripts as they come in, sending them out for review, and putting together the issues. “Having the journal at UVA is  remarkable boon for our graduate program,” Balfour observed. She hopes to involve many grad students over the course of her term to give them an opportunity to see the academic publication process from the inside. She also plans to organize symposia at UVA that will give potential authors a chance to workshop their essays and share exciting new work in political thought with the Politics department and the broader College community.

Balfour is delighted to be working with Rogers again and confident in his broad-minded approach to a diverse and changing field. While the review editor selects books to review and invites the reviewers, Balfour and Rogers plan to work closely to develop the review section. Their priorities include featuring the work of up-and-coming scholars and thinking creatively about books and reviewers in related field whose work should have the attention of political theorists.

Balfour’s consulting editors will handle any submissions from the home institution of UVA. More importantly, she says, “We want to think together. I trust both of their judgments and know that they will be proactive about getting work from folks who might not think to submit to PT but who are doing related work in other departments and fields.”  Balfour has begun to meet with Marso and Frank to generate ideas for special issues and features that will pose familiar questions in new ways or reorient their colleagues’ understanding of the political landscape.  She asks: “Can we organize editions around fields such as Indigenous political thought, that manifest themselves differently in different regions of the globe? How do theories travel from one regional or temporal context to another? What lessons can political theorists learn through engagement with canonical texts and thinkers in other fields?”

Great questions. She answers them with enthusiasm.

“My work has generally focused on race and gender, and on literary figures as political thinkers. I am especially interested in the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality have become central to the analysis of political questions. I’d also like the journal to be creative about approaching central topics—for example, injustice, citizenship, democracy, war, freedom—through different kinds of methods. Being mindful that debates about the contours of political theory are lively—and sometimes fiercely contested—means that we need to be fair and broad.”

Encouraging submissions from young scholars, established scholars, and scholars who work outside the traditional boundaries of the field is part bridge building, part wall demolition. Balfour notes that it’s crucial that Political Theory fulfill its international mandate, pushing beyond the American academy and the European academy, to engage scholars from what is called the Global South. Above all, she hopes to make connections with people who are raising interesting questions about “what kind of work and whose work counts as political theory.”

Balfour’s first issue of Political Theory will be published April 2017. You can find it here.

Twitterverse Debate Visualizations

David Leblang (Department of Politics Chair) and Paul Freedman (Associate Chair) working with Hope McIntyre and Yifeng Song, of the Data Science Institute at the University of Virginia developed the following three visualization tools to analyze Twitter activity. Initially the tools will be used to analyze tweets during presidential debates on Monday, September 26, 2016, Sunday, October 9, 2016, Wednesday, October 19, 2016, and the vice presidential debate on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. Coverage will continue following the election on Tuesday, November 8.

We recommend using the most current browser available. Older browsers and operating systems may not have complete emoji font sets and older browsers don't support emojis at all.

The Emoji Analysis tracks tweets which have emojis attached to the message and are directed to particular candidates using the @ sign (e.g. @HillaryClinton and  @realDonaldTrump for the presidential debates, and @timkaine and @mike_pense for the vice-presidential debate). Tweets tagged with the @ symbol are a way for the sender to direct their message to the candidate; these tweets are received by the candidate (though not necessarily read).

There are over 900,000 different emojis, though many of these could just be considered variations by brand (Apple iPhones and computers, Google Android devices, Windows devices, and other, as well as emoji versions customized by the user), with slightly different images.

(Updated 10-24-16, includes final debate data)

The Hashtag Visualization allows the user to click on graph traces to reveal hashtag phrases (e.g. #imwithher, #makeamericagreatagain). These tweets are also directed to the candidate using the @ symbol. Hashtags allow the Twitter user to categorize a tweet, revealing or explaining intent. Hashtags are useful for responses to events (in this case the presidential debates, but also for other events such as earthquakes and celebrity meltdowns). Hashtags frequently are used sarcastically.

(Updated 10-24-16, includes final debate data)

The Directed Tweets by Volume shows the number of Tweets directed to a candidate over the duration of a day. Count is reset at midnight.

(Updated 10-24-16, includes final debate data)

This graph shows the growth in Twitter followers by candidate during the debate, by minute. It shows that Clinton saw significantly greater growth in followership than Trump: During the course of the debate she gained almost 58,000 new Twitter followers, while Trump added less than 36,000. Importantly, Clinton's advantage continued even after the debate, while pundits and commentators discussed the relative performance of the two candidates, and the picture of a Clinton "win" began to solidify. By 11PM (10:51), Clinton had added almost 71,000 followers in total, while Trump gained only 42,000 new followers.
It is important to note, however, that as the candidates headed into the debates, Trump enjoyed a huge advantage in Twitter followers, with 11.7 million, versus fewer than 8.9 million for Clinton. By the end of the evening, although Trump was still ahead by more than 2.7 million followers, Clinton's s had narrowed the gap every so slightly.

13 Politics Alums Pressing the Levers of Power

The 2016 Life After Politics event was held on Friday the 28th—thirteen department alums revealed their secrets to successful careers and the rocky roads they took to get there. The annual event includes a panel of five alums drawn from the myriad paths a degree in politics can take you—law (Stuart Pape – Head of FDA Practice, Polsinelli PC), the House (Kyle Matous – Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative Pete Sessions), the Senate (Ethan Thrasher – Legislative Correspondent, Senator Mark Warner), strategic communications (Vicki Ballagh – Director, The Incite Agency), NGOs and non-profits (Langdon Greenhalgh – Director & Co-Founder, Global Emergency Group).

The panel session was followed by Flash Mentoring, a rapid-fire Q&A about jobs, protocol, procedure, and networking  between alums and students. In addition to the panelists, other active alum mentors included Haley Anderson – Speech-Language Pathologist, Margaret Brennan – CBS News Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Mary Kate Cary – Speechwriter, Columnist, and Documentarian, Jennifer Clarke – Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Cameron Kilberg – Partner, Rubin & Rudman, David Mrazik – Managing Partner at Hamburger Law Firm & Managing Director at MarketCounsel, Gabriel Noronha – Staff Assistant, US Senate, Peter Page – Founder and President, SageWater, Inc.

The job titles and names of employers only partially indicate what happens post-graduation. Rich careers are forged over time and the mentor participants tell stories, both touching and hilarious, illustrating the different paths.

Langdon GreenhalghDuring his third year Langdon Greenhalgh had an internship at the Horizon Institute in Charlottesville, after graduation it turned into a job. A year later the Executive Director decided to move on and at (only!) 22 years old, Greenhalgh took his place. Shortly he moved to Washington to work at the international policy arm of the Red Cross. He enjoyed policy, but wanted to be on the front lines in providing humanitarian assistance. The organization was starting an International Response Team which he joined. He found himself flying in helicopters over mudslides in Venezuala, earthquakes in El Salvador and India, and conducting tsunami response in Indonesia. After several years he felt he had hit the ceiling at the Red Cross. He became a serial entrepreneur in the humanitarian aid world. He started his current business in 2008, the Global Emergency Group, and he is in the process of starting a related non-profit organization.

Department chair, David Leblang, has been known to sigh when mentioning law school as an option after graduation. But for many grads, the path naturally leads to this, and has so for years. Stuart Pape chose it (Govt 73, UVA Law 74) and went to work for the Chief Counsel's Office in the FDA for five years. He says government work is a very rewarding path—work/life balance, opportunity for rapid advancement, and salary equity for women and men.

Stuart PapeAlso, you don't have to be a lawyer to have a great career working for an Executive Branch agency. Great jobs in policy, as policy analysts, and in legislative affairs, with greater responsibility and intellectual stimulation much earlier in your career. He became the Senior Food Lawyer within three years of getting his law degree. Pape's professional career has been at the interception of FDA law and policy, and he attributes the policy work to his undergraduate degree from the department.

Kyle Matous and Ethan Thrasher are in what might be the closest thing to politics. Matous works in Representative Pete Sessions office (R-TX) and Thrasher works in Senator Warner's office (D-VA).

Kyle MatousLike Pape, Matous also took the law school approach. He is now Chief of Staff for Representative Pete Sessions. As a Republican this year, he has more than his fair share of questions about the election. He gingerly answered some and gingerly avoided others. His caution in answering is, no doubt, a result of working with a high visibility politician in the public eye.

When he arrived at UVA he knew he wanted to go into politics. But due to circumstances beyond his control (9/11) he only had three years to complete his studies at UVA. In his third year he had an internship with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and hated it! "They put us in the back room of some office building and just dumped mail on the table and we sorted it. We just put it in piles for eight weeks."

He worked at a Charlottesville start-up for a couple of years then entered law school at Pepperdine. He spent time as an attorney in human rights law in Uganda, working multi-billion dollar arbitration cases at WilmerHale, and on the Kelo case at the Institute for Justice in Arlington, but none of these areas were what he wanted to devote himself to.

So he returned to the place he said he'd never go again, the Hill. He started as a Staff Assistant for the House Rules Committee. He knew his boss would be leaving shortly, but he had to do something, so he took the risk of staying. Pete Sessions became the head of the Rules Committee in 2013 and in an unusual move kept Matous around. He quickly became a Policy Assistant, then a Special Assistant for a few months, somehow skipped ahead a few steps and became the Policy Director of the Rules Committee. After two years on the committee Representative Sessions brought him on as Chief of Staff. Age 31.

Ethan ThrasherUnlike Matous, Ethan Thrasher loved his internship. During his second year at UVA he got an internship at the Center for Politics where he fell in love with politics. Among other rewards, the internship provided him with the opportunity to work on the Kennedy Half Century book, and to adopt the Center's bi-partisan spin which let's him look at both sides.

His colleagues at the Center encouraged him to go for an internship on the Hill. He joined Senator Warner's office during his third year and happily found they allowed him to prepare briefings and memos—and to make him feel like he's part of the team. After graduation his thoughts were, "Consulting, all other types of jobs? Forget that, I'm going back to the Hill." For his first job out of school he returned to Warner's office and worked in scheduling and working the phones (a highlight he says, "You hear a lot of political conversations, you normally wouldn't hear...the stories!"). He was fortunate to have a job open up on the legislative side and now works on banking, housing, and transportation policy for the Senator.

He's back to writing memos and briefings, preparing the Senator for meetings, daily events, and travel. 

Vicki BallaghVicki Ballagh got her dream internship between her 3rd and 4th years at Meet The Press. "Fantastic, interesting people." But she realized, "I want to be the person with the answers, the people on the other side."

After graduating she started at Bully Pulpit Interactive doing media ad buying. She says, "I was a human Excel spreadsheet, targeting voters for political campaigns and corporate campaigns." Not exactly what she was looking for. She still wanted to be the person answering the questions.

Right time, right place. Two former Obama staffers were just coming off duties for the administration—Robert Gibbs (Director of Communications and later Press Secretary) and Ben LaBolt (National Press Secretary for President Obama’s re-election campaign) opened the Incite Agency which answers the strategic demands of campaigns needing a digital edge. Ballagh's experience in media, production, and politics led her to the agency; a colleague passed her resume to the agency who hired her.

Please join us next year for Life After Politics (sign up here to receive announcements and other Department of Politics news). We will have a new set of panelists and mentors covering the realm of politics and sharing what next.