The American Election Season of 2012: the Circus is in Town


Professor Howard Schweber, 2011 Fulbright Flinders Uni Distinguished Chair in American Political Sc.

Start Date

31st May 2012 6:00pm

End Date

31st May 2012 7:30pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

E:; P: 6226 2521

Click here to access an audio recording of this lecture


"The American Election Season of 2012: the Circus is in Town"

American politics provide some of the best spectator sport in the world. In this year's election the Democratic side of things is fairly staid by virtue of the presence of an incumbent running for re-election, although even the Democratic primaries have yielded a few surprises. Meanwhile, the Republicans have done their part and more to provide a fascinating, illuminating, and sometimes highly entertaining show. To refer to the process as a circus seems inevitable when we are talking about a political party whose emblem is an elephant, but in this case the term seems apt. Every circus needs ringmasters, high wire walkers, animal trainers and clowns...From the horse race of delegate counts to polling data to the strategies and the personalities, a review of the American election season in progress. What happens next? The suspense is terrible…


to be delivered by

Professor Howard Schweber
2011 Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair in American Political Science

"The way people conceive of their government as representative speaks volumes about the way people conceive of themselves as democratic citizens and the working understandings of democracy that inform popular understandings of governmental legitimacy."

Howard Schweber, a Professor with the Department of Political Science and Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the inaugural Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair. The Australian Distinguished Chair in American Political Science was established in 2005, and is hosted in 2011-2015 by Flinders University.

Through his Fulbright, Professor Schweber will spend five months at Flinders University examining the ways in which foundational concepts of representative government have shaped the development of Australian constitutional and political culture.

Professor Schweber's past research has focused on the conceptual underpinnings of American constitutionalism, and liberal democracy in general, and he has written books on the subject.

"There is a considerable body of work that compares different constitutional ideas across political cultures; my hope is to further that comparative understanding by drawing connections to differences in underlying conceptions of a basic democratic concept," Professor Schweber said.

Professor Schweber said that Australia provides an exceptionally interesting case for comparative treatment because of its history of maintaining a constitutional system rooted in a combination of elements of British and American systems.

Professor Schweber is eager to take advantage of the archival resources, attitudinal information, and collaborative efforts that being in Australia will make possible. At the end of his project he plans to produce published work analysing the answers to these inquiries in comparative perspective.

Howard Schweber has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, a JD from the University of Washington, an MS in History from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Government from Cornell University. His forthcoming book is his fourth (others are studies of American legal history and the First Amendment). He will be accompanied in Australia by his wife and daughter, while another son will remain in the United States to pursue graduate studies.

The prestigious Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and the U.S. Government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it operates between the U.S. and 155 countries. In Australia, the scholarships are funded by the Australian and U.S. Governments and corporate partners and administered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission in Canberra.

Howard is one of 18 talented Americans to be recognised as a Fulbright Scholar to Australia in 2011. Applications for Fulbright Australian Scholarships for 2012 are open, visit


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