Emily Ekins joined the Reason Foundation in April as its first director of polling. Her debut project was a survey designed to find out how Americans feel about issues that don’t always fit within the typical two-party spectrum. You can read about the results on page 42. The idea behind the poll, Ekins says, was to “structure survey questions such that they provided respondents with the realistic, practical tradeoffs that policy makers actually face.” Ekins, who previously worked on analyses of the Tea Party movement for the Cato Institute, is finishing work on a doctoral degree in political science at the University of California in Los Angeles. She will be conducting Reason polls each quarter.
In “Bollywood vs. Jihad” (page 58), Reason Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Shikha Dalmia extols the liberalizing influence of India’s big-budget movie industry on the Muslim world. It’s an influence she has felt herself. Dalmia, an Indian expatriate, grew up on Bollywood. “I’ve been watching it as far back as I can remember,” she says, noting that it was a frequent focus of extended family gatherings. These days, Dalmia says she prefers “more independent, small-budget productions—off-Bollywood stuff.” But she still tries to catch a Bollywood extravaganza every few months. In a globalized marketplace, she says, it’s “a quick and dirty way of keeping in touch with the latest trends on everything.”
John Payne’s “Temptations of Empire” (page 63) responds to advocates of American imperialism with a look at two recent histories that illustrate the inherent instability of empires. Payne taught high school social studies for a year before taking his current job as a research assistant with the Show-Me Institute, a Missouri think tank. His teaching included “a great deal of world history,” which he says gave him insight into how hard it could be to talk about American imperialism. “My students were generally well aware of America’s military might,” he says, “but most of them would be loath to call America an empire.”