American Corner Innsbruck

    Lecture by Professor Robert Schmuhl

    The Paralysis of American Politics and What It Might Mean for 2012

    May 23, 2011, 5.15 p.m., HS 3 (GeiWi building, ground floor)


    [download invitation - pdf]

    In continuation of the long-established friendship agreement between the University of Innsbruck and the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, the American Corner was proud to welcome the distinguished speaker Prof. Dr. Robert Schmuhl, inaugural Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

    In a capturing talk, Prof. Dr. Robert Schmuhl gave valuable insight into present U.S. politics, highlighting contemporary challenges and the need for sweeping reforms. Introducing us to the latest facts and figures, Prof. Schmuhl called attention to the increasing frustration among U.S. citizens. Growing feelings of anger and discontent have been triggered by the considerable rise of polarization and partisanship that have been dominating the political landscape in recent years. Even U.S. media have not been spared from an increasing ideological polarization and are now even reinforcing partisanship. “Problems mount and fester with no solution being in sight,” Prof. Schmuhl revealed. U.S. politics seem to be paralyzed, dysfunctional, and unable to address national and international issues. After a comprehensive overview of the present political situation, Prof. Schmuhl shared with us his thoughts on how American political life might develop in 2012, the year of the next United States presidential elections that will coincide with the United States Senate elections. Prof. Schmuhl’s sparkling speech was followed by an ample question and answer session.

    (Text: Martina Netzer and Christof Diem)


    In recent years, the rise of partisanship and polarization in U.S. politics results in a democratic system that’s increasingly considered to be dysfunctional and unable to address national and international problems. This examination of the contemporary political and governmental landscape in America will explain the origins of the current problems and the reasons why the Democratic and Republican parties have become more beholding to their more extreme members. What are the consequences of what’s called “base politics” and the possible implications for the 2012 Elections? Is reform possible, or will stalemate become a continuing feature of American political life?


    Robert Schmuhl
    Robert Schmuhl is the inaugural Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies and Journalism and Director of the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author or editor of eleven books, including The Responsibilities of Journalism, which has appeared in four foreign editions, his collection of essays, In So Many More Words: Arguments and Adventures, and Making Words Dance (both 2010). His journalism has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, and American Journalism Review. In 2009, Schmuhl served as the first John Hume Visiting Research Fellow at University College Dublin’s Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies. He has taught in Australia, Ireland, South Africa, and Great Britain. In 2010, he won the Frank O’Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award, the only Universitywide, student-selected honor given for teaching at Notre Dame.






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