This dissertation explores how partisan polarization among the political elites (the President and key Members of Congress) impacts national security decision-making. The research examines the relationship over time beginning at the start of the Cold War through 2014. In doing so, the research tests several hypotheses to determine the nature of the relationship and what the implications might be for future U.S. national security policy-making. There are three different approaches used in the research centered on the same theory of partisan polarization. The first approach examines changes in the level of polarization and defense budgets each year. The second explores the impact of partisan polarization on the outcome of key roll-call votes on national security legislation. Lastly, the third approach studies the changes in polarization relative to the Presidents' decision to use force. Poole and Rosenthal (1984) argue that political polarization has increased among the political elite since the 1960s and the Republicans and Democrats continue to move further apart ideologically (Gray et al. 2015). I argue that the combined effect of polarization and a growing ideological divide between the two major political parties puts our collective national security at risk. Using analytical regression time series models and a qualitative analysis, the findings suggests that rising partisan polarization presents a clear and present threat to our national security.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Policy, Society, and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Funderburke, Joseph, "National Security and Political Polarization" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6432.