My dissertation, "Demagoguery and American Constitutionalism," proposes a framework for identifying and evaluating uses of demagogic rhetoric by American constitutional office holders.
Demagoguery is usually understood as politically destabilizing and undesirable, yet most people will concede that rhetorical tactics traditionally associated with demagoguery (like appeals to the passions and prejudices of one’s audience) are politically legitimate in special instances and when executed in a responsible way. My dissertation proposes an evaluative framework for distinguishing the few instances where demagogic rhetorical tactics are justifiable from the overwhelming majority in which they are not.
I define demagoguery as cognitively closed political rhetoric justified on the basis of an alleged public grievance. Looking to the basic principles of American constitutional democracy, I argue that demagogic tactics are defensible to the extent that they are self-consciously integrated into a broader political strategy, a strategy that is based on a diagnosis of political dysfunction and a rationale for change that are themselves derived from a plausible, contestable conception of the common good. At the other end of this spectrum is demagogic rhetoric lacking evidence of a plausible rationale, which I call thoroughgoing demagoguery.
I apply my framework to seven case studies from the three branches of American national government.
Teaching, Funding, and Expertise
My scholarly training is in public law, American politics, and political theory. My coursework has included Constitutional law and theory, separation of powers, the presidency, judicial politics, normative political theory, and the history of political thought.
My teaching experience includes two university classes--an intro to American government lecture course and an upper level seminar on constitutional design--as well as several discussion sections. I have been a TA for nearly a dozen courses in constitutional law, American politics, and political theory.
I have received multiple grants and fellowships, including:
UT Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship
UT College of Liberal Arts Summer Fellowship
Jack Miller Center Summer Fellowship
University of Konstanz Research Grant
Charles Koch Foundation Dissertation Grant
UT Recurring Recruitment Fellowship
UT Center for European Studies Teaching Fellowship
Jefferson Center for Core Texts and Ideas Scholarship
Clements Center Graduate Fellowship
Hertog Political Studies Fellowship
I hold a BA in Philosophy (2015) from St. John's College and an MA in Government (2017) from the University of Texas at Austin. I am proficient in Ancient Greek.