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Mischiefs of Faction, now on Vox


We are the Mischiefs of Faction, a political science blog devoted to American politics, especially parties and partisanship. The blog was founded in 2012 and has since grown to include Julia Azari, Greg Koger, Jonathan Ladd, Seth Masket, Hans Noel, John Patty, Richard Skinner, and Jennifer Nicoll Victor.

In the beginning, the goal was, in the words of our inaugural post, "advancing and debating our knowledge of political parties." Our name comes from Federalist Paper No. 10, in which James Madison warned about the dangers of selfish political groups but conceded their inevitability in a free nation. While Madison had never seen a modern political party, many today take his warning as an indictment of our political parties: bickering, polarized Democrats and Republicans that might seem to be ruining democracy.

This view — that parties and partisanship are the problem, and politics works best when they can be tempered — pervades media depictions of politics. Political scientists often take a different view. Democracy doesn't just happen; it takes a lot of work to set the policy agenda, communicate about the issues, and get voters to the polls. Parties do a great deal of that work. The late political scientist E.E. Schattschneider put it best: "Modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties."

While our focus is on parties and partisanship, because this topic is so essential to democracy, writing about it can lead us into almost all areas of politics. We share a special interest in understanding how the modern US system works in this era of relatively polarized politics. We like evidence, and strive to connect political science research to current events in the real world. We like debate, and among the eight of us you'll find some very different perspectives about how politics works and how to study it. We like the very smart community of editors and writers at Vox, and are thrilled to be joining it. And most of all, we like our readers, and we can't wait to start sharing our ideas with you.