MSU’s Shoup urges Americans to ‘love each other’, nation at Constitution Day conference

Contact person: Carl Smith

Brian Shoup, professor and head of the Mississippi State Department of Political Science and Public Administration, details the factors that led to the recent decline in trust in governance during his Constitution Day lecture at the Colvard Student Union Fowlkes Auditorium. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—At a time of divisive culture wars, distrust of government, and political uncertainty, Brian Shoup, professor and head of the Mississippi State Department of Political Science and Public Administration, said that Americans can do two things to ensure the continuity of the republic: love each other and love your country.

Shoup’s advice came on Monday [Sept. 19] Lamar Conerly Conference of the Forum on Governance “What is a Republic? during which the university celebrated Constitution Day, the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 – 12 years after the infamous ‘gunshot heard around the world’ began the American Revolutionary War and 11 years after the Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence.

In his lecture, Shoup noted the decline in public support and trust in democratic governance around the world, highlighted by a 2020-21 AmericasBarometer survey in which only 63% of respondents indicated support for democracy. in the face of the rise of authoritarian populist rulers in Hungary, India. , Turkey, the Philippines and other countries.

Many factors, from income inequality to abandonment issues resulting from years of population migration from rural environments to dense urban centers, have led to the erosion of trust in American governance, Shoup said. , but perhaps the most influential is affective polarization. These divisions based on internal feelings and ideology, as opposed to specific issues, have placed Americans in different camps where many “don’t like who [they] vote for but hate who [they] vote against,” he said, just to defeat the perceived existential threat posed by the opposition. This shift to extremes has made political discourse more difficult, he said, even though many Americans don’t have wildly different views on many issues.

“When people think that participatory politics actively hurts them — and if they believe that the free-market principles that we generally attach to our forms of constitutional republics actively hurt them — they won’t support them,” Shoup said. “It turns out that when you ask people who claim to be from opposing ideological camps about their attitudes on many issues, they actually don’t disagree that much.”

Cultures with thriving democratic republics, Shoup said, have strong civic virtues in which individuals recognize their obligations to society, healthy rhetorical cultures open to debate and discussion, loyalty to truth, and citizens who follow. the spirit of the law instead of looking for loopholes in the game. the system to their advantage or to the detriment of others.

Shoup asked attendees to respect and reflect on American government institutions in light of Constitution Day.

“The history of the United States has not always been entirely fair, free, or just, but I hope we can see ourselves as an ambitious society that is committed to making universal and equitably respected those very precious freedoms that we have been given. In doing so, we have something very beautiful and I think it’s a remarkable experience,” he said. “In order for us to support the work as experimenters, we have to ensure that it achieves these fruitful objectives.”

Sponsored by MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the PSPA Department, and the Lamar Conerly Governance Forum, Shoup’s presentation was part of MSU’s Conerly Governance Lecture Series. The lecture series is made possible with major support from Conerly, an accounting/pre-law graduate of MSU in 1971 and longtime partner of the law firm Destin, Florida, Conerly, Bowman and Dykes LLP. He is both a past president of the MSU National Alumni Association and a past member of the College of Business Alumni.

To learn more about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences and the PSPA department, visit and www.pspa.msstate.edurespectively.

MSU is the main university in Mississippi, available online at

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