Racialized Anti-Statism and the Failure of the American State

How well do we understand the political moment in which we find ourselves in the wake of the Trump presidency? The United States has long failed to keep up with its democratic peers on a wide range of social outcomes but the struggle to keep a pandemic at bay, coupled with increases in social violence and new uprisings over state violence have exposed the failures of the American state in a stark manner. While research on political attitudes continues to offer crucial insights into what Americans want from government and how race, class, and gender are formative dimensions of public opinion, we know considerably less about how these attitudes intersect with the highly fragmented and decentralized nature of U.S. political institutions. In this essay, I offer a framework for understanding our current moment through the lens of racialized anti-statism and state failure. I focus on the intersection of two reinforcing and overlapping features of the U.S. political system: the highly fragmented, veto-laden structure of American politics and the persistence of anti-egalitarian movements. By situating our analysis at this intersection, we observe the convergence of racial and economic power in an anti-statist alliance that undermines American state-building, even when large majorities of Americans favor it.

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License CC BY
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/rep.2020.41
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 170 - Race and Gender