David J. Sousa

Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics and Government, University of Puget Sound

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About David

Sousa studies U.S. political institutions and public policy, with an emphasis on environmental policy. His environmental policy work focuses on the ways that the efforts of environmentalists have transformed the polity and how, despite legislative gridlock, vigorous opposition from the right, and a rightward drift in American politics generally, environmentalists have continued to use all of the vantage points created by the legislative victories of the 1960s and 1970s to force a “green drift” – a slow, halting, and hotly contested drift of policy in directions favored by environmentalists. His current research focuses on environmentalists’ uses of the Endangered Species Act to force established interests to accommodate the politics of environmental concern. Sousa has served as Associate Director for Policy for the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board, where he focused on challenges to diversity in higher education after the ending of affirmative action in Washington state, providing in-state tuition to undocumented graduates of Washington high schools, and accountability in higher education.


Beyond Gridlock in American Environmental Policy

  • Christopher McGrory Klyza


"Shaky Ground: The Mining Law of 1872," Pacific Northwest Political Science Association, 2013.
Explores the ways that the golden era environmental laws have become powerful levers complicating the so-called “right to mine” on federal lands established in the still-in-force Mining Law of 1872.
American Environmental Policy: Beyond Gridlock (with Christopher McGrory Klyza) (MIT Press, 2013).
Argues that despite congressional gridlock on environmental policy since 1990, policymaking has flourished on other pathways: appropriations and budget politics, executive politics, judicial politics, states, and collaboration.
"Beyond Gridlock: Green Drift in American Environmental Policymaking" (with Christopher McGrory Klyza). Political Science Quarterly 125 (2010): 443-463.
Challenges arguments about the failures of the modern environmental movement and the “death of environmentalism,” as well as arguments about a broader right turn in the polity, showing that in many policy areas environmentalists hold the high ground and that policy has been marked by a slow and contentious “green drift,” with policy moving in directions favored by greens.
"‘No Balance in the Equities’: Union Power in the Making and Unmaking of the Campaign Finance Regime" Studies in American Political Development 13 (1999): 374-401.
Argues that the campaign finance regime that emerged in the 1970s was rooted in pluralistic assumptions and premised on the capacity of unions to balance corporate power in a system in which private contributions would dominate. The erosion of union strength collapses the basic premises of that regime.