The Implications of a Lizard Election

12 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2016

Date Written: September 15, 2016


This paper is based on a presentation delivered as part of Constitution Day lectures at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. The paper draws on the author’s experience as political scientist and lecturer at law as applied to the 2016 election campaign.

The remarks are divided into four parts: First, they address the issue of whether the 2016 election is likely to be seen as a realignment election; Second, they consider the particularly vile nature of the 2016 campaign, followed next by a discussion of the campaign's celebrity aspect, where both candidates enjoyed near 100% name recognition before even announcing their candidacies. Finally, the paper introduces the thesis that 2016 is a lizard election, which appeals to and exploits the body politics’ basest survival instincts. A lizard election threatens the rational basis for constitutional structures related to voting and governing with potentially severe implications for democratic politics and governing.

Keywords: insider-outsider, presidential campaign, campaign branding, realignment election, polarization, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, celebrity campaign, marketing, lizard brain, appeal to the amygdala, factions

Suggested Citation

Koulish, Robert, The Implications of a Lizard Election (September 15, 2016). 76 Maryland Law Review Endnotes 24 (2016), U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-38, Available at SSRN:

Robert Koulish (Contact Author)

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3175 (Phone)

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