Doug Amy

Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship

Political scientists are exhausting themselves these days addressing criticisms of the government.  There is so much to criticize that it is hard to keep up.

Doug Amy is different.  He has been devoting his time to reminding us that government is good, which seems heretical, obvious, and profoundly wise all at the same time. Doug’s latest book, Government is Good, demonstrates how immensely useful government is, if we would only stop to think about it.  If you read nothing else of his, read his account of the role government plays in just a single day of our lives.

Of course, Doug is no Pollyanna.  He has an exquisite awareness of how government could be made better, and frequently explains how. He also reminds us that conservative politicians have been wrong to insist, as they have since Watergate, that government is the problem, not the solution, and that lower taxes would actually solve our problems.

With this book, Doug also acknowledges the revolutionary impact of the Internet.  Most of us are happy to publish our scribblings to an academic press with no advertising budget, which more or less dooms them to be read, if at all, by four friends and a dog.  So Doug began his latest book as a website, which has been visited by hundreds of thousands of readers. After testing his ideas with the multitudes, Doug then compiled them into a book for people with longer attention spans. Publishing on the web has also made timely revisions possible, and has solved the Curse of Half-Eaten Sandwiches – timely books that go stale while the authors wait for academic presses to get around to printing them.

Doug’s writing is not just timely; it endures, as the American Political Science Association recognized in 2011 when it gave him the George H. Hallett Award for Real Choices, New Voices, a lucid account of how proportional representation could improve American elections. The award specifically honored him for making an enduring contribution to the field of electoral politics.

Doug doesn’t just write for professors.  He is an active citizen who tests his ideas beyond our college gates, in newspapers, magazines, and litigation. Virtually all of his scholarship has also enriched his courses in American politics, public policy making, poverty, elections, and environmental studies, thereby disproving those who claim that it is not possible to write and teach at the same time.

For all these reasons and more, we are pleased to present Douglas Amy with the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.