About Cal Jillson

American Dream

About Cal Jillson

Cal JillsonCal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, is frequently called upon by reporters for his astute observations of state and national politics. Reporters love him for the time he takes with them, the ideas he offers -- which often lead to more stories -- and the way he takes complex issues and puts them into easy-to-understand historical frameworks, expressed by a seasoned writer and speaker. Both The Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News have profiled him as one of Texas’ top political experts.

As a scholar of American politics, Cal shares his knowledge of how government and politics work, in particular the development of American institutions and ideas and how they continue to shape national debates. He earned a doctorate in government and politics in 1979 from the University of Maryland and has been teaching about American politics since 1976. Since moving to Texas in the mid-1990s, he has charted the Republican Party’s rise to power and assessed the prospects of a return to competitiveness of the Democratic Party. He has written extensively on U.S. and Texas. On the international side, Cal is a former member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is adept at interpreting U.S. political personalities and events for foreign audiences. From 1996 to 2001, he was chair of the SMU Political Science Department and directed the Tower Center for Political Studies, which examines domestic politics and national security issues.

In addition to his classic book, Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries, Jillson is the author of two popular government texts. American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change (Routledge, 2015) is now in its ninth edition (2017), and Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State (Routledge, 2015) is currently in its sixth edition (2017). His other books include Congressional Dynamics (Stanford University Press, 1994), New Perspectives on American Politics (Congressional Quarterly Press, 1994) and The Dynamics of American Politics (Westview Press, 1994). All deal with the origins of American legislatures and with the health and performance of contemporary American political institutions.

His most recent book, The American Dream in History, Politics, and Fiction, has just appeared from the University Press of Kansas.

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