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Episodes

From soldier-statesman to the warrior ethos: Gen. Wesley Clark on the military and democracy

11/12/2018
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We observe Veterans Day this week, a time when people across the United States remember and thank those who have served in the military. While the military remains one of the most respected institutions in the U.S., it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Active duty service members represent less than one percent of the … Continue reading From soldier-statesman to the warrior ethos: Gen. Wesley Clark on the military and democracy →

Duration:00:39:40

Protecting democracy from foreign interference — recorded live at the National Press Club

11/5/2018
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With the midterms this week, all eyes are on the threat of election hacking and interference. Electoral integrity is important, but as you’ll hear in this week’s episode, the threats to American democracy go much deeper than that to the very basis of information and conversation. Laura Rosenberger has been one of the most important … Continue reading Protecting democracy from foreign interference — recorded live at the National Press Club →

Duration:00:32:36

Will Millennials disrupt democracy?

10/29/2018
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From cooking to shopping to getting around town, disruption is the name of the game for Millennials. Will they do the same thing to democracy? Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, are now largest generational group in the United States. There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether these 20 and 30-somethings … Continue reading Will Millennials disrupt democracy? →

Duration:00:37:43

David Frum on developing the habits of democracy

10/22/2018
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Around the McCourtney Institute, we like to say that we’re “partisans for democracy.” We can think of few people who better embody that notion today than David Frum. He was among the first people to talk about the Trump administration’s impact on democracy and remains one of the loudest voices defending democratic norms in the … Continue reading David Frum on developing the habits of democracy →

Duration:00:40:25

When states sue the federal government

10/15/2018
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It seems like every few weeks, we see headlines about states banding together to block actions taken by the federal government. You might even remember former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quipping that he goes to the office, sues the federal government, then goes home. How do those lawsuits take shape? How does a state … Continue reading When states sue the federal government →

Duration:00:29:49

How “if it bleeds, it leads” impacts democracy

10/8/2018
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The problems with the prison system in the U.S. have been well documented, but what’s not talked about nearly as often is how things got this way. Why does there seem to be such enthusiasm for putting people in jail? One answer might be the shift toward “risk management policing” that Frank Baumgartner described in … Continue reading How “if it bleeds, it leads” impacts democracy →

Duration:00:34:34

A story about democracy, told through 20 million traffic stops

10/1/2018
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The lights flash in your rearview mirror as the police car comes up behind you. A sinking feeling forms in the pit of your stomach as the officer approaches. Sound familiar? However, this is where the story can differ greatly depending on who you are and where you live. If you’re African-American or Latino, you … Continue reading A story about democracy, told through 20 million traffic stops →

Duration:00:31:39

Breaking the silence in Syria

9/24/2018
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We’ve talked before on this show about the importance of a free press, but this week’s episode brings a whole new meaning to the term. In 2014, Abdalaziz Alhamza and his friends started social media accounts to document the atrocities being committed by ISIS in their city of Raqqa. They called themselves Raqqa is Being … Continue reading Breaking the silence in Syria →

Duration:00:35:35

Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom

9/17/2018
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As a piece in The Atlantic recently noted, democracy is not natural. Becoming a democratic citizen involves a set of behaviors that need to be learned and practiced over time. One of the first places for that conditioning to happen is in the classroom. Beyond reading, writing, and STEM skills, students have an opportunity to engage in … Continue reading Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom →

Duration:00:33:54

Behind the scenes of the “Year of the Woman”

9/10/2018
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One of the biggest headlines to emerge heading into the 2018 midterms is the record number of female candidates in local, state, and national races. While it’s easy to point to this a post-Trump reaction, there’s much more that goes into persuading women to run and helping them raise the money and build the relationships … Continue reading Behind the scenes of the “Year of the Woman” →

Duration:00:26:45

The democrats in public sector unions (Labor Day rebroadcast)

9/3/2018
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This week, we are rebraodcasting our conversation about public sector unions from earlier this year with Paul Clark, director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State. Paul talks about how these unions exist at at all levels of government — from bureaucrats to bus drivers. Many could find higher wages in … Continue reading The democrats in public sector unions (Labor Day rebroadcast) →

Duration:00:32:08

Middle America, Part 2: Grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy

8/27/2018
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Last week, we heard from Salena Zito about the segments of middle America who supported Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama. This week, we talk with another Pittsburgh resident, Lara Putnam, about a different version of Middle America — the college-educated, middle-aged suburban women who have dusted off the organizing skills honed through decades … Continue reading Middle America, Part 2: Grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy →

Duration:00:34:48

Middle America, Part 1: Populism and the Trump Voter

8/20/2018
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In the effort to understand the people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, a style of reporting has emerged that Chris Hayes recently described as “Trump pastoral.” You might not know the phrase, but, but you’ve probably read a piece or two like this in the past few years: A reporter from a national … Continue reading Middle America, Part 1: Populism and the Trump Voter →

Duration:00:33:03

Facebook is not a democracy

8/13/2018
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We have access to more information now than at any other time in history, but we trust that information less than ever before. A Gallup survey recently found that 58 percent of respondents felt less informed because of today’s information abundance. As with a lot of things in life, too much of a good thing … Continue reading Facebook is not a democracy →

Duration:00:37:50

How will we remember Charlottesville?

8/6/2018
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This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the Unite The Right rally and counter protests in Charlottesville, Virginia that claimed the life of Heather Heyer and set off a firestorm around President Trump’s remarks about who was to blame for the violence. One year later, the Robert E. Lee statue at the center of the controversy … Continue reading How will we remember Charlottesville? →

Duration:00:29:35

A democracy summer reading list

7/9/2018
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Ah, summer. Time to kick back and relax with a good book or two. If you’ve been to a book store or the library lately, then you’ve probably seen at least a few books on democracy on the shelves. The 2016 presidential election spurred a lot of conversation about the current state of our democracy and … Continue reading A democracy summer reading list →

Duration:00:51:44

Bonus: A dose of optimism about the future of democracy

7/5/2018
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If you need a sense of hope about the future of democracy, you’ve come to the right place. Stephanie Keyaka, editor-in-chief of The Underground and one of the McCourtney Institute’s Nevins Fellows, is spending the summer interning for Zeke Cohen on the Baltimore City Council. She believes Baltimore is on the cusp of something big and is … Continue reading Bonus: A dose of optimism about the future of democracy →

Duration:00:12:40

The constitutional crisis episode

7/2/2018
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This is one we’ve been wanting to do since we started the podcast. The term constitutional crisis is frequently used but often misunderstood. Like democracy, it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it. If anyone can provide a definition, it’s Jud Mathews, an associate professor of law at Penn State. He … Continue reading The constitutional crisis episode →

Duration:00:24:18

Unpacking political polarization

6/25/2018
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Polarization is a term that’s thrown around among political pundits as one reason for the decline of American democracy — often without an explanation of what it really means. We’re even guilty of it on this show. To set the record straight, we talk with Boris Shor, an assistant professor at the University of Houston … Continue reading Unpacking political polarization →

Duration:00:31:24

What should voting look like in the 21st century?

6/18/2018
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Across the U.S., the process to register to vote and cast a ballot is different in every state. And we’re not just talking about minor details. The entire registration process and timeline can vary widely from one state, as do the regulations surrounding campaign finance and electoral maps. Pennsylvania tends to fall on the more … Continue reading What should voting look like in the 21st century? →

Duration:00:27:42