Understanding the Democratic Crisis

Flagpole with fluttering and tattered Unites States flag against a bright blue sky

Tuesday, May 10, 2022
3:00-4:30 p.m. PT


WWU Campus
Academic West Room #210



Check out this video to watch the Understanding the Democratic Crisis.

Gordon Sandison Memorial Lecture

Featuring Professor Jake Grumbach
University of Washington Department of Political Science

Brought to you by:
WWU Political Science Department
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
WWU Alumni Association

In recent years, scholars and observers have grown increasingly concerned about the fate of American democracy. But while much of the attention has been focused on Washington, D.C., the U.S. has a decentralized form of federalism that administers democratic institutions at the state level. In this talk, Professor Grumbach will show how we have to look to the state level to understand the current crisis of American democracy. State governments have been central to battles over democracy throughout American history. Yet unlike earlier periods, today it is national conflicts over race, labor, and democracy that are playing out through the subnational institutions of state governments. Professor Grumbach concludes with lessons that social science research teaches us about how to reinvigorate American democracy.

The Gordon Sandison Memorial Lecture is an annual event of the Political Science Department, held in conjunction with the Political Science Association student conference with generous support from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Jake Brumbach

Jake Grumbach


Assistant Professor Jake Grumbach of the University of Washington Political Science Department will be the featured speaker in 2022. Professor Grumbach received his PhD in Political Science from UC Berkeley in 2018; he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton. His research and teaching interests center on democratic institutions (including, but not limited to, voting rules) across states and the intersection of labor politics and racial attitudes. He has developed a State Democracy Index to measure the health of democratic institutions across all 50 states and was a moderator for the recent webinar: Voting Rights Under Attack, sponsored by the Washington Institute for the Study of Inequality and Race. Professor Grumbach’s work has appeared in the Boston Review and The Hill; he has been cited in the Economist and the New York Times. He is currently working on a book project, based on his award-winning dissertation, that investigates the causes and consequences of the nationalization of state politics since the 1970s. He will speak about “the state of American democracy, and the importance of thinking about organizations (like the labor movement) and institutions (like federalism, which gives a lot of power to state governments).”


Questions and Accommodations

Erica Steele is the coordinator for this event. Feel free to email steelee@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for the virtual event.

For the in-person event, advance notice for disability accommodations and special needs is greatly appreciated. Please indicate your special needs on the registration form.