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democracy

According to Adam Gopnik, not since the early 20th century has liberalism and liberals been under such relentless attack from both right and left. The crisis of democracy in our era has produced a crisis of faith in liberal institutions and even worse, in liberal thought. His new book, "A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism" is a manifesto rooted in the lives of people who invented and extended the liberal tradition.

Adam Gopnik is a staff writer at the New Yorker. He has written for the magazine since 1986. He is the author of numerous best selling books, including "Paris to the Moon." "A Thousand Small Sanities" is now out in paperback. 

David Litt entered the White House in 2011 and left in 2016 as a special assistant to the president and senior presidential speechwriter. He will tell us about his new book: "Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think."

Litt says the democracy you live in today is different—completely different—from the democracy you were born into. You probably don't realize just how radically your republic has been altered during your lifetime. Yet more than any policy issue, political trend, or even Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the peril America faces today.

Seth Abramson is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, legal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is the author of eleven books and editor of five anthologies.

Abramson's latest book is "Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy." It is published by St. Martin's Press.

"Hope and History" is a memoir and a call-to-action for the renewal of faith in democracy and America.

US Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel presents his most important public speeches and writings, compiled and presented over eight decades of adventure and public service, woven together with anecdotes of his colorful life as a second-generation American, a soldier, a lawyer, a political activist, and a diplomat.

Why has American politics fallen into such a state of horrible dysfunction? Can it ever be fixed? These are the questions that motivate Michael Tomasky’s deeply original examination into the origins of our hopelessly polarized nation.

Michael Tomasky is a columnist for the Daily Beast, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and the editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.

His new book is "If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How it Might Be Saved."

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 in "People Like Us: The New Wave of Candidates Knocking at Democracy’s Door," political scientist Sayu Bhojwani shares the stories of a diverse and persevering range of local and state politicians from across the country who are challenging the status quo, winning against all odds, and leaving a path for others to follow in their wake.

How Democracies Die

Jan 23, 2019

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt are Professors of Government at Harvard University. Levitsky’s research focuses on Latin America and the developing world. He is the author of "Competitive Authoritarianism" and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. Ziblatt studies Europe from the nineteenth century to the present. He is the author, most recently, of "Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy."

Their book, "How Democracies Die," is now available in paperback. For the book, they drew on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, to show how democracies die and how ours can be saved.

Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science and director of the MacMillan Center at Yale University, with Frances McCall Rosenbluth (Damon Wells Professor of Political Science at Yale University), he's written the book "Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy from Itself."

In recent decades, democracies across the world have adopted measures to increase popular involvement in political decisions. Parties have turned to primaries and local caucuses to select candidates; ballot initiatives and referenda allow citizens to enact laws directly; many places now use proportional representation, encouraging smaller, more specific parties rather than two dominant ones.Yet voters keep getting angrier.There is a steady erosion of trust in politicians, parties, and democratic institutions, culminating most recently in major populist victories in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Frances Rosenbluth and Ian Shapiro argue that devolving power to the grass roots is part of the problem. Shapiro joins us.

Lawrence O’Donnell has been a student of American politics for most of his life. A former senior advisor to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, chief of staff of two Senate committees, an Emmy Award-winning executive producer and writer for “The West Wing,” and now host of his own MSNBC show “The Last Word,” O’Donnell has a coveted front row seat to American democracy in action.

While recent elections, still fresh in all our memories, produced many crazy headlines and tumultuous debates, “Playing With Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics” vividly recreates an even darker, more chaotic time in our nation’s history, in which one election was literally a “matter of life and death - nothing less.”

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm.

Those who championed globalization once promised a world of winners, one in which free trade would lift all the world's boats, and extremes of left and right would give way to universally embraced liberal values. The past few years have shattered this fantasy, as those who've paid the price for globalism's gains have turned to populist and nationalist politicians to express fury at the political, media, and corporate elites they blame for their losses.

In his new book, "Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism," Bremmer writes that globalism creates plenty of both winners and losers, and those who've missed out want to set things right.

Joseph Califano, Jr. spent thirty years in Washington at the top of the Pentagon, on the White House staff as chief domestic advisor to the President, and in the Cabinet. He worked as an attorney for The Washington Post during Watergate and has represented clients as varied as the Black Panthers and Coca Cola.

His new book, “Our Damaged Democracy: We the People Must Act,” is a primer on the three branches of government that reveals the political, cultural, constitutional, technological, and institutional changes that he believes render our government completely dysfunctional. He says there is an urgent need to fix our democracy before it’s too late.

In The Once and Future Liberal, Mark Lilla offers an impassioned, tough-minded, and stinging look at the failure of American liberalism over the past two generations. Although there have been Democrats in the White House, and some notable policy achievements, for nearly 40 years the vision that Ronald Reagan offered—small government, lower taxes, and self-reliant individualism—has remained the country’s dominant political ideology. And the Democratic Party has offered no convincing competing vision in response.

Mark Lilla is a political scientist, journalist and professor of humanities at Columbia University. His newest book is The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

Marvin Kalb Discusses Current State Of Democracy

Sep 27, 2017

Marvin Kalb joins us to discuss a variety of topics, including the current state of democracy, the president and who he would like to talk to if he were moderating Meet the Press today. 

Marvin Kalb is currently a nonresident senior fellow with the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, and senior advisor at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Kalb’s distinguished journalism career encompasses 30 years of award-winning reporting for CBS and NBC News as Chief Diplomatic Correspondent, Moscow bureau chief and anchor of Meet the Press

Corey Dolgon is professor of sociology and director of community-based learning at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He is the author of three other books, including the award-winning The End of the Hamptons: Scenes from the Class Struggle in America’s Paradise.

His new book, Kill It to Save It, lays bare the hypocrisy of contemporary US political discourse, documenting the historical and theoretical trajectory of capitalism’s triumph over democracy.

Nancy MacLean is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry and Freedom is Not Enough She is the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did.

Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains names its true architect: Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan — and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority.

Stephen Gottlieb: Preserving Republican Government

Feb 2, 2016

Americans began to think about preserving and protecting their form of government even before the Constitution was signed.

  In his new book - Unfit for Democracy – WAMC Commentator and Albany Law Professor Stephen Gottlieb takes a critical look at the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts, asserting that the interpretation of constitutional law should be applied with a focus on preserving the system of government put in place by our founding fathers.

He joins us this morning to discuss Unfit for Democracy and preview his hour-long conversation tomorrow at Albany Law School with Alan Chartock beginning at 1PM at the Law School’s Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom. That sit-down will be aired at a later date here on WAMC and will take place in front of a live audience and is open to the public.

Prof. Gottlieb, Albany Law School's Jay and Ruth Caplan Distinguished Professor of Law, is the author of Morality Imposed: The Rehnquist Court and the State of Liberty in America he is also an expert on the Supreme Court, constitutional theory and election campaign law.

  Forty years ago, a majority of Americans were highly engaged in issues of war and peace. Whether to go to war or keep out of conflicts was a vital question at the heart of the country’s vibrant, if fractious, democracy. But American political consciousness has drifted. In the last decade, America has gone to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, while pursuing a new kind of warfare in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan. National security issues have increasingly faded from the political agenda, due in part to the growth of government secrecy.

Journalist and lawyer Scott Horton shows how secrecy has changed the way America functions in his book, Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare.

Capitalism v. Democracy

Sep 15, 2014

  In the new book, Capitalism v. Democracy, law professor Timothy Kuhner looks to offer the keys to understanding why corporations are now citizens, money is political speech, limits on corporate spending are a form of censorship, democracy is a free market, and political equality and democratic integrity are unconstitutional constraints on money in politics.

Kuhner says Supreme Court opinions have dictated these conditions in the name of the Constitution and he explores the reasons behind these opinions, reveals that they form a blueprint for free market democracy, and demonstrates that this design corrupts both politics and markets.

Timothy Kuhner is Associate Professor at Georgia State University College of Law and we welcome him to The Roundtable this morning.

  This week in our Ideas Matter segment - we’ll learn about Mass Humanities’ Traveling Humanities Seminar to Ghana.

In 1957 Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve political independence and according to World Bank figures, Ghana is experiencing one of the fastest rates of economic growth in the world. While these credentials inspire enthusiasm both in and about the country, in the face of inefficient financial management by successive governments, high budget deficits, an electoral system in need of reform, high unemployment, and low education results per investment, the critics are questioning if free and fair elections alone defines Ghana as a democracy. The Mass Humanities Traveling Humanities Seminar looks at Ghana's emerging democracy.

    This morning we spotlight Massachusetts Humanities and discuss their Tenth Annual Fall Symposium entitled, E Pluribus Paralysis: Can We Make Our Democracy Work?

David Tebaldi is Executive Director at MASS Humanities and Alexander Keyssar is Professor of History and Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard University.

  Today, August 6th is the anniversary of the 1965 signing of the Voting Rights Act. Historian Gary May’s newest book is Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy. In it, he traces the history of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 from its creation during the heyday of the civil rights era to the challenges its historic provisions face. Recent developments have plunged the VRA—and the newest efforts to decimate it—back into the headlines.

    Journalist, Joshua Kurlantzick, joins us to talk about his book, Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government.

Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home is a new book that chronicles the ways in which ordinary people have mobilized to find local solutions to local problems. It invites us to bring the advantages of "slow" to our community decision-making.

In his new book, American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000 , acclaimed historian Joshua Freeman has created a portrait of a nation both galvanized by change and driven by conflict.