Dr. Amy Fried Publishes "At War With Government."

John M. Nickerson Professor of Political Science Amy Fried is on sabbatical in 2021-2022. During this time, she is discussing her newest book and working on several projects.

After publishing two books on the history and politics of public opinion on her own, Prof. Fried’s latest book, “At War With Government” (2021, Columbia University Press) is with a long-time research collaborator, Prof. Douglas B. Harris of Loyola University Maryland. Fried and Harris analyze the increase of political distrust in the United States and find that this trend is not merely an inadvertent consequence or byproduct of events that lead citizens to be distrustful. Instead, they argue that American conservatives have strategically and disproportionately employed political distrust to try to win elections, as part of waging policy battles, to shift power from institutions they control to ones they don’t, and to act as a glue to maintain and develop their political organizations and coalition. Skepticism toward political leaders is an important democratic virtue, as it encourages citizens to make elected officials responsive and to hold them accountable. Moreover, at least some distrust of government is a long-term element of American political culture. However, weaponizing political distrust has had baleful effects when used to delegitimize elections and fundamental governmental functions.

“At War With Government” has been reviewed by the New Yorker and the Washington Monthly. Fried and her co-author have spoken about their work in various venues, such as on podcasts, the radio and television, political science conferences, and book groups. They have published columns drawing from and applying the book’s research in the Washington Post and The Conversation. If you have a group that would be interested in hearing more about “At War With Government,” please contact Prof. Fried at amyfried@maine.edu.

During Fried’s sabbatical, she has been working on several other projects. One is a chapter about Maine in a book about presidential swing states. The other involves developing an edited volume about New England politics. She looks forward to teaching an on-line course on American public opinion this summer and returning to North Stevens Hall in Fall 2022.