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Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Permanent Campaign

Frances Lee, Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland

Friday October 26, 2012
12:00 p.m.
Wolstein Medical Research Building
2103 Cornell Road
Cleveland, OH 44106

The Center for Policy Studies Invites Students and Colleagues to a Special Event To Honor the Memory of Alexander P. Lamis

Our colleague, Associate Professor Alexander P. Lamis, passed away on February 9. To honor and remember him, we have organized a special edition of the “Friday Lunch” on October 26, 2012.

In 1989 Alec organized the Friday Public Affairs Lunch discussions, which have become a tradition during Fall and Spring semesters. ( He was also a proud Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, and his greatest interest was in the changing political cleavages – often called “realignments” – that define the party system both nationally and in the states. He studied the party divisions and their effects on political institutions nationally, in Ohio, and especially in his native South.

Much of the discussion of party alignments in the past claimed either that one party was dominant (such as the Republicans after 1896, or Democrats after 1932) or that voters were becoming less aligned with either party (supposedly in the 1970s). But the current party cleavage is different. Voters and interest groups are not “dealigned” at all. Most are closely tied to one or the other party. But the cleavages are quite severe – the parties have very different policy positions – and the balance is very close. That greatly raises the stakes in each election, and so may add to the tone of extremism and “winner take all” refusal to compromise that many believe characterizes Congress today.

We therefore are very glad to welcome Alec’s and the department’s onetime colleague, Frances Lee, Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, for a talk and discussion on “Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Permanent Campaign.” Professor Lee is one of the leading scholars of parties in Congress, a fellow-alum of Vanderbilt and a personal friend of Alec from her time in this department. So she is both a leading expert who would be a great visitor to campus in her own right, and a very appropriate person to honor our late colleague by discussing the field about which he cared so much.

This special Friday Lunch will begin at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, October 26, and will be held in the auditorium of the Wolstein Medical Research building, 2103 Cornell Road. Some students and colleagues will remember Alec, and then Professor Lee will give her talk. Alec loved Mama Jo’s pies, so we will have pies as well as pizza.

Please contact Alyson Szlamas ( or call the department (216-368-2424) with any questions about the event. We look forward to welcoming colleagues old and new.

More About Our Guest

Frances E. Lee joined the faculty of the University of Maryland in the Fall of 2004. She teaches courses in American government, the public policy process, legislative politics, and political institutions. She is also Director of the Government & Politics Honors Program.

Her research interests focus on American governing institutions, especially the U.S. Congress. She is author of Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and coauthor of Sizing Up The Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation (University of Chicago Press 1999). She is also coauthor of a comprehensive textbook on the U.S. Congress, Congress and Its Members (CQ Press). Her research has also appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and Legislative Studies Quarterly. Her work has received national recognition, including the American Political Science Association’s E. E. Schattschneider Award for the best dissertation in American Politics in 1997, the APSA’s Richard F. Fenno Award for the best book on legislative politics in 2009, and the D. B. Hardeman Award presented by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award for the best book on a congressional topic in 1999.

Dr. Lee recently discussed her latest book, “Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles, and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate,” on C-SPAN’s BookTV.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 1997. She was a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution from 1997-98. From 1998-2003 she taught in the political science department at Case Western Reserve University. In 2002-2003, she worked on Capitol Hill as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.

View Professor Lee’s CV