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Muirhead on Partisanship

Government Professor Russ Muirhead, the College’s Robert Clements Associate Professor of Democracy and Politics, offered a thoughtful set of remarks to Bloomberg News the other day before the Republican candidates’ debate. As he opines in his classes, Muirhead believes that a President’s central obligation is to prod the two houses of Congress to rise above partisanship and govern together. He observes that Barack Obama, notwithstanding his postpartisan aspirations, has been unable to reconcile the rival partisan positions of the parties.

A Rhodes Scholar (Oxford 1990), Muirhead skied on the varsity team at Harvard, earning his undergraduate degree there in 1988 and his Ph. D. in 1997. He taught at Williams and Harvard, where he won the the Roselyn Abramson Teacher Award, and at the University of Texas at Austin, before coming to Hanover in 2009. He is the author of Just Work (Harvard University Press, 2004) and a forthcoming book, A Defense of Party Spirit (Harvard University Press), which explores the role of partisanship in a democracy.

This past summer Professor Muirhead taught a seminar on political speech : twelve bright sophomores — several of whom had already taken other courses with him — and one frisky alum. We read and listened to great political oration from the past three millennia, had a couple of wonderful class dinners chez moi, and debated pretty much everything. That’s what Dartmouth is all about.


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