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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Missouri Republicans adopt stricter House dress code — but just for women.

    I sent an email to my state rep (female, GOP, Cris Dinkins), saying something along the lines that I hoped she had her hijabs. She replied that I should do some research before commenting.

    Sarcasm, how does it work?


    It really is profoundly weird that the president who led a rebellion against the United States

    That would be Jeff Davis. 🙂

  2. Neil Hudelson says:


    As someone who has answered constituent mail before, I assure you they had no way of knowing you were being sarcastic. Far crazier things are received by them every day, and 99.9% of those are completely serious. Anyone dealing with the public’s complaints about political processes gets a pass for having a broken sarcasm meter.

  3. Kathy says:

    Celebrating the man who scored a victory for civil rights and the man who presided over the defeat of a treacherous confederacy, would seem to be the epitome of bothsiderism.

  4. drj says:

    I think you’re confusing Lee and Davis.

    Which, I guess, is a sort of a reveal of how much – both unconsciously and unjustly (obviously) – Lee has become the face of the Confederacy.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    Via WBHM: MLK Day is Monday. In Alabama and Mississippi, it’s also Robert E. Lee Day. It really is profoundly weird that the general who led a rebellion against the United States gets a holiday anywhere for any reason.

    I think you mean “the COLONEL who led a rebellion…” 😉

    He was certainly never a general in any military I recognize as valid.

  6. Jay L Gischer says:

    I have read a lot about Lee. I feel he is an important and valuable figure to study. I think his life’s history demonstrates just how easy it is for a decent, honorable, white man to make a really bad choice and end up being a tool of white supremacists. Which is how I understand what happened to Lee. He only really made one bad choice in his life’s career, and it was by no means a done deal. I think he entertained Winfield Scott’s offer of generalship seriously, but was looking for a way to not be the agent by which his sons were killed.

    I think it is quite easy for us white guys to make similar choices. I think many other white guys in the course of the Civil War made similar choices. Grant said of the men that surrendered to him at Appomattox Court House, “Never in history have better men served a worse cause”.

    When we shame those of the past, we are declaring, “I would never be that”. Sure. We face new situations, not old ones.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Yeah, I didn’t think of it in those terms. Thanx.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    Am I correctly understand the linked Harmeet Dhillon story?
    – She was Chair of the California State Republican Party is running for Chair of the RNC. On the strength of her success in turning CA red?
    – She’s Sikh, but she claims to be fully committed to Judeo-Christian values.
    – Some in the AL GOP Party have apparently expressed doubts at the depth of said commitment.
    – The AL GOP Party professes to be shocked at the allegation anyone in their Party might have expressed such doubts.

    Republicans is weird.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Lee is well worth studying as a general. One of the big name Brit historians said it seems like every century gets one outstanding general. Unfortunately for us, he said in the 20th century it was Vo Nguyen Giap. But he said the 19th century had two, Lee and Grant. And he rated Grant higher. Grant had a plan to end the war, while Lee did not. (In fairness, Jeff Davis and the clumsy Confederate command setup had a lot to do with that failure.) As a man, aside from his generalship, I don’t know. I’ve not been motivated to read much biography of Lee. But the myth is so pervasive I wonder how well the actual person can be separated from it.

    An aside. I’ve been seeing stuff about conservatives who believe the U. S. government is based on the Ten Commandments. Not should be, but actually is, as defined by the Founders. I’ve been wondering how they square,

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

    with Confederate statues.

    Another aside. Unless I’ve been exposed to a whole lot of fake news, many of these Founders who wrote the Ten Commandments into the Constitution were Freemasons, which at the time pretty much meant agnostic. I read some Rod Dreher at TAC some days ago. He wrote approvingly of a priest friend who specialized in exorcisms, exorcising demons from Freemasons. As I said above, Republicans is weird.

  10. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Lee’s human decency is seriously overstated and mostly a result of Lost Cause whitewashing. Google “The Myth of the Kindly General Lee” from The Atlantic for example.

    I’d argue he was over-rated as a general too. He built his reputation fighting incompetents and fighting on the defensive in a world that hadn’t caught up to what post-musket rifles and ranked cannon fire could do to attackers, and failed miserably both times he went on the offensive himself since he didn’t understand the new reality any better than the long line of Union generals he beat.

    Grant was no tactical genius either. But he did understand the strategic reality that a war of attrition would wear the South out.

  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    I’d argue he was over-rated as a general too.

    I forget where I saw it now, but there was an analysis I read a year or so ago that argued Lee’s biggest failing as an officer was a “complexity” addiction that resulted in him constantly breaking his forces into smaller groups and attempting to attack from multiple directions at once, but due to an inability to coordinate between the multiple sub-armies inevitably ended up letting the opposing force to direct their entire force at each piece of Lee’s forces one at a time.

  12. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I think his life’s history demonstrates just how easy it is for a decent, honorable, white man to make a really bad choice and end up being a tool of white supremacists.

    He owned slaves. He was a white supremacist. More importantly, if we are saying a guy who owned slaves (and beat them and split their families up) isn’t a white supremacist, we are not talking about Robert E. Lee. We’re talking about white people in the constant present trying to dodge whatever truths they need to dodge. That’s why the dumb statues went up and that’s why the Lost Cause exists. It was never about the difficult truths of Confederate generals. It is and was about the present’s bullshit.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Modulo Myself: Also he inherited slaves from his father in law that he was supposed to free and he didn’t. (or so I’ve read)

  14. Kari Q says:

    We don’t really know as much about Lee as we think we do. His descendants have refused to allow historians and researchers to access his papers. That does not speak well for what is in those papers.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    Grant was a better general and a better man. While Lee supported the blatant imperialism of the Mexican-American war, a war we fought to buy more land for slavery, Grant denounced the war. And Grant freed a slave he inherited, despite being quite poor. Lee was a sanctimonious hypocrite of a rich boy who threw away the lives of poor white southerners in order to maintain his own wealth and privilege.