F702 Winter 2019 Politics and Policy
Wednesdays, 9:40–11:05, Jan. 23–Feb. 13
Instructor: Helen R. Desfosses
Fairfax Lord of Life
We live in a time of growing cynicism about politics, and about our nation’s ability to surmount partisan polarization to thrive as a 21st-century democracy. This fast-paced course will first look at the neutral realities of politics and policy: that policy is what government does and does not do with its scarce resources, while politics is the process by which these choices are made. Exposure to, and consideration of, a daily news source will be invaluable in this course, allowing us to look at gripping case studies taken from daily events. In week two, drawing on an in-class discussion of any edition of the short paperback or ebook by Chris Matthews, Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told by One Who Knows the Game, we will discuss which political skills, actors, and arenas are invaluable and how they can be mastered. Week three will find us analyzing whether the built-in institutional fragmentation and frequent paralysis of the American political system can be bridged again through bipartisan cooperation and inspiring leadership, or whether constitutional change is necessary. Finally, we will debate traditional methods of citizen impact, the promise and perils of the ever-changing social media, as well as the lessons of the 2018 midterm elections for the 2020 presidential campaign.
Dr. Helen R. Desfosses has taught many OLLI courses on contemporary politics. She bases her courses on her PhD in political science, her many years of research and teaching, as well as the lessons learned through her years of media commentary, campaigning, and serving in elected political office.