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The Myth of Capitalism

Many Americans envision capitalism as a driving ideal of our country, but some economists contend that a few digital monopolies have risen to restrict our nation’s capitalist ideals and act as gatekeepers to the free market. Economist author Jonathan Tepper and Business Development manager Denise Hearn took Town Hall’s stage to tackle issues of growing economic inequality. They presented perspectives from their book The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition, asserting...


Rob Reich and Jeff Raikes

Is philanthropy, by its very nature, a threat to today’s democracy? Some believe that such generosity is not the unassailable good we think it to be, and in its current form might even be undermining democratic values and set back aspirations of justice. Political science professor Rob Reich took Town Hall’s stage to cross-examine philanthropic practices of our age. He presented insight from his book Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better, decrying big...


Francis Fukuyama

In 2014, Francis Fukuyama wrote that American institutions were in decay, as the state was systematically captured by powerful interest groups. Two years later, political outsiders have risen to power by leaning on direct charismatic connections to “the people,” who are usually defined in narrow terms that offer an irresistible call to an in-group and exclude large parts of the population as a whole. Now Fukuyama arrived at Town Hall to lend us his perspective from his book Identity: The...


L.A. Kauffman

It feels powerful to march in a protest, but the enduring work that results from these demonstrations cannot often be seen in the moment. How and when does marching matter? Journalist and organizer L.A. Kauffman made her way to Town Hall to lend us her thirty years’ experience on the front lines of numerous protests and demonstrations. Sharing wisdom from her book How to Read A Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance, Kauffman dove into the history of America’s major demonstrations,...


Fly to the Assemblies!

Seattle has long been considered a center of progressive thought and action. But like any other growing city it has wrestled with familiar demons: racism, class struggles, economic opportunism, sexism, and more. Since the 2016 election, many progressive voices throughout the city have emerged with the goal of transforming Seattle into a central staging ground for resistance against the rise of restrictive and damaging policies in our nation. Amid such turbulent times, Town Hall joined...


Sayu Bhojwani with Sophia Jordán Wallace

America’s political leadership remains overwhelmingly white, male, moneyed, and Christian; even at the local and state levels, elected office is inaccessible to the people it aims to represent. But this trend is changing, says political scientist Sayu Bhojwani. She made her way to Town Hall’s stage to share accounts of the diverse and persevering range of new politicians from across the country who are challenging the status quo, winning against all odds, and leaving a path for others to...


C.J. Chivers with Patricia Murphy

More than 2.7 million Americans have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since September 11, 2001. Reporter C.J. Chivers has served as a correspondent for both of these conflicts from the start, and he brought that perspective to Town Hall to present a vivid recollection of the physical and emotional experience of war, collected in his book The Fighters. Chivers met onstage with interlocutor Patricia Murphy, longtime reporter at KUOW with a background in coverage of veterans’ affairs. Together,...


Elaine Weiss

In August 1920, the seven-decade battle for women’s suffrage was decided by a single state. Thirty-five states had ratified the Nineteenth Amendment while twelve had rejected or refused to vote. It all came down to Tennessee. Acclaimed journalist Elaine Weiss brought us a chronicle of this tumultuous climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history—the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. Weiss arrived at Town Hall with...


March For Our Lives

Since the tragedies at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the March For Our Lives movement has taken a stand against senseless gun violence. The Parkland students work together with young leaders of all backgrounds from across the country to hold politicians accountable and combat the normalization of gun violence. March For Our Lives brings Jammal Levy, Alex Wind, and David Hogg, all survivors of the Parkland shooting, to Town Hall’s stage to share Glimmer of Hope,...


Poverty and Prosperity in King County

Who really benefits from urban revival? From trendy coastal areas to the nation’s heartland, cities are seeing levels of growth beyond the wildest visions of only a few decades ago. For a look at the ramifications of this explosive growth for our own region, we convened a panel of city planning experts and representatives for our local government. First, urban practitioner Alan Mallach shared insight from his book The Divided City, spotlighting the effects of revival on major metropolitan...


D.D. Guttenplan

Who are the new progressive leaders emerging to lead the post-Trump return of democracy in America? National political correspondent and award-winning author D.D. Guttenplan stepped up to introduce Town Hall audiences to the next wave of successful activists who are changing the course of American history. With insight from his book The Next Republic: The Rise of a New Radical Majority he shed light on the struggles faced by American democracy in recent years. Guttenplan highlighted key...


Chris Hedges

How do we keep ourselves from losing faith in our country? Pulitzer Prize­-winning reporter Chris Hedges took Town Hall’s stage for a provocative examination of America in crisis—in the form of his book America: The Farewell Tour. America, says Hedges, is convulsed by an array of pathologies that have arisen out of a profound malaise of hopelessness. These have resulted in an epidemic of diseases of despair and a civil society that has ceased to function. Hedges asserted that the opioid...


Arne Duncan with Joy Resmovits

Politicians and teachers alike have often spoken out on the need for widespread reform of our nation’s education system. Former Secretary of Education under President Obama Arne Duncan arrived at Town Hall with insight from his book How Schools Work to offer perspective on the failures in our school systems—and what we can do to fix them. Duncan met with Joy Resmovits, Seattle Times education writer and editor. Together they discussed critical deficiencies in the structure of our nation’s...


Juan Williams

Donald Trump has been criticized for his history of unsympathetic, ambiguous, and openly racist remarks. They may have reached fever pitch after he failed to condemn white supremacy in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, but perhaps no remark of Trump’s is more telling than his campaign pitch to Black Americans: “What the hell do you have to lose?” Bestselling author, political analyst, and civil rights expert Juan Williams took Town Hall’s stage to offer his take on just what Black...


Jose Antonio Vargas with Ijeoma Oluo

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who has been called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” tackles one of the defining issues of our time. He took Town Hall’s stage to share his explosive and deeply personal memoir Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen. Vargas was joined by Seattle-based feminist writer and activist Ijeoma Oluo. Together they discussed Vargas’ tale, focusing not on the politics of immigration but on the sense of homelessness, the...


Shane Bauer

In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. There was no meaningful background check, and he used his real name despite his notoriety as an award-winning investigative journalist. Four months later he had seen enough, and in short order he left to write an exposé that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Bauer joined us with excerpts...


Steve Phillips with Kiran Ahuja

Obama’s presidency awakened the U.S. to new lines being drawn in voting demographics and the fundamental changes taking place in our population. Some political analysts see the explosive population growth of people of color in America as the foundation for a new progressive majority. Political expert Steve Phillips joined us to illuminate the ways progressives can properly capture this moment in history. He argued that, now more than ever, hope for a more progressive political future lies...


Teaching for Black Lives

Local educators and activists feel that Black students’ minds and bodies are under attack. That’s why they created Teaching for Black Lives, a handbook for creating the sweeping reform of our education system and equitable teaching strategies for Black students. The editors of this collection joined us on Town Hall’s stage to read excerpts and call us to action to dismantle stereotypes and the school-to-prison pipeline. They called for educators everywhere to engage Black students in...


Anand Giridharadas

What do we do when our society’s economic elite become more interested in celebrating their own magnanimity than bringing about real change? Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas took Town Hall’s stage to present perspectives from his latest book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. He decries the modern gilded age where the rich and powerful have rebranded themselves as saviors of the poor—constantly seeking to do more good, but never less harm. He...


Justin Driver with Lisa Manheim

Bitter controversy consistently surrounds our nation’s judicial decisions concerning the constitutional rights of students in public schools. The Supreme Court has weighed in on numerous cultural anxieties that divide American society—from racial segregation to unauthorized immigration, from antiwar protests to compulsory flag salutes, from economic inequality to teacher-led prayer. With insight from his book The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the...