August 15, 2008

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, was featured today on a Voice of America (VOA) news segment on the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Washington-based VOA correspondent William Eagle reports:

Thanks to the Internet and other advanced technologies, the conventions have also gained an international audience.

 J. Peter Pham is the director of international and public affairs at James Madison University near Washington, DC. He’s also a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy.

 Pham says the conventions give foreign audiences a chance to see the American model of democracy, where parties are built around grassroots debates over principles and issues. He says in contrast, in many developing countries parties are built around a strong personality or wealthy elites.

 “ The convention is unique,” he says, “in that the party structures are unique: they [allow for] the open involvement of most people. In the US you can vote in (party primaries) without giving a dime to the party. [But] In other countries, membership in a party means paying dues. So a limited set of people are involved.”

 To read a transcript of or to listen to an audio stream from the entire VOA segment, click here.