Research explains when political financing works — and when it doesn’t
By Ragnhild Muriaas and WSU political science professors Amy G. Mazur and Season Hoard
Early voting is opening in Virginia and Democrats are determined to retain control of the legislature. In the first state elections since President Biden took office and Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, 50 of 97 Democratic nominees are women.
Many female nominees are backed by seed money from political organizations dedicated to fight for more diversity in elected office. Such programs have helped female candidates winning seats before. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), before she became a member of Congress, was recruited by Justice Democrats, an organization that offered her training, a platform and some campaign funding.
But that’s unusual. In the United States and across the globe, political power is heavily skewed toward the rich. Structural barriers make it almost impossible for women from working-class backgrounds — like Ocasio-Cortez — to win public office.
Washington State College was a collection of a dozen buildings on a hillside in Pullman, home to less than 900 students. But for one night in 1913, the campus was buzzing with activity.
Booker T. Washington, an innovator in education, was in town. What was then known as College Hall or College Auditorium and later renamed Bryan Hall was packed to the brim, with folks outside clamoring to get in.
In a building not far from where Washington addressed the Pullman crowds more than a century ago, James Bledsoe is working toward a doctorate in educational leadership. A career development coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences, Bledsoe has researched WSU’s history extensively, and said WSC had some unique connections to the African American community.
From the morality of science and the banality of pandemic lockdown to struggles with money, police, queerness and being the only girl in the band—the diverse topics of songs composed by Washington State University students reflect a wide range of social concerns and music created to address them.
Demonstrating the knowledge and skills they gained in music instructor Gabe Condon’s Songwriting II course this spring, 11 emerging songwriters will present a virtual showcase of their original, recorded compositions at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., April 21, on the WSU School of Music’s YouTube channel.
For their capstone project, the students wrote songs focused on topics of protest and social commentary, one of several thematic areas they studied in the semester-long course.
“Given many recent, consequential events and social unrest—including COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the election of a new U.S. president—it seemed appropriate for students to examine the historical context of protest music and how it relates to modern social movements and modern songwriting,” Condon said.
The Washington State University School of Music will present the online concert “A Virtual Celebration of Jazz” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20.
The Jazz Big Band will present the premiere of “RBG,” a tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, composed by recent WSU master’s graduate Alison Poteracke, and “Conspiracy Theory” by Greg Yasinitsky, WSU coordinator of Jazz Studies, along with other works by students and faculty.
In this episode of the Re: Building Democracy series, we head over the pass again to central and eastern Washington to hear more about the ways Washingtonians are bridging civic, class, and cultural divides.