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Checks and Balance

Author: The Economist

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The global view on democracy in America from The Economist.


Every Friday Economist correspondents John Prideaux, Charlotte Howard and Jon Fasman explore one theme shaping American politics in a momentous election year. 


Joined by colleagues reporting from across the US and the rest of the world, they dig deep into history, culture, and, of course, economics. 


Together they provide a unique perspective on the 2020 elections and the road to power in America. And answer questions you didn’t know you had, like: What connects an Oval Office portrait to the assassination of Iran’s top general? How did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan shape Iowa’s rural/urban divide? Who was the last Socialist to run for president?

30 Episodes
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The Economist's election forecast shows Joe Biden heading for a landslide victory. But August is not November. President Trump has recently shifted focus back to the coronavirus in an attempt to rescue his reelection bid and Republicans have outpaced Democrats in swing-state voter registration. How can fortunes change during a campaign? We ask Stuart Stevens, chief strategist of several Republican campaigns, author and political consultant, and Matt Bennett, Democratic presidential adviser and executive vice-president at Third Way a centrist think-tank. Host John Prideaux, The Economist's US editor, with Jon Fasman, Washington correspondent, and Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Twice recently an eruption in middle America has shocked the world. Four years ago voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were decisive in putting Donald Trump in the White House. Two months ago, George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis prompted debate on racism everywhere.  In a special episode on the Midwest, the region’s role in the 2020 election and America’s future, we hear from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, her predecessor Rahm Emmanuel, and get the latest from the Economist election forecast. Charlotte Howard, The Economist's New York bureau chief, hosts with Washington correspondent Jon Fasman and Midwest correspondent Adam Roberts.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Plans to abolish the Minneapolis police department after the death of George Floyd are running into opposition, as Jon Fasman reports from the city. Meanwhile, President Trump has promised a surge of federal law enforcement beyond Portland. City commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty says people there will continue to protest the presence of unidentified armed officers. Might this turn into a law-and-order election? John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The United States is home to the world’s most renowned disease-fighting agency, the CDC. Americans might have expected its scientists to coordinate a testing programme, public health messaging and supplies to keep the pandemic under control. That hasn’t happened. America faces a secondary surge of coronavirus cases not seen anywhere else in the world. Can America beat covid-19? This episode includes excerpts from CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield’s interview with the Economist Asks podcast. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Congress must decide whether to extend federal aid for the unemployed beyond July. Ten million more Americans are out of work than in February, but evidence has emerged of falling poverty levels due to the stimulus. Could the coronavirus change the politics of poverty? John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
President Trump is celebrating July 4th with four revered forerunners at Mount Rushmore. Anti-racist protests have brought down dozens of smaller monuments in the past month. The president says the left wants to “vandalise our history.” But Americans have never felt less proud of their national identity, according to Gallup. What is the political impact of this national soul-searching?  John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Impartiality in political journalism is under scrutiny as never before. President Trump took a trademark pop at the “fakers” when he resumed his campaign rallies in Tulsa. Meanwhile the White House has begun decapitating state-funded global news agencies like Voice of America. Can fair-minded reporting survive hyper-partisan politics? John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
America is in the midst of its worst civil-military crisis for a generation. President Trump’s call to use military force to quell protests caused alarm up and down the chain of command. What is the place of the military in political life? We speak to Shashank Joshi, The Economist’s defence editor, and Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher, an Iraq veteran. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Forecasters put Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning at 70 percent or more on the eve of the election in 2016. She was also the favourite to carry key states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Donald Trump won on the night. This week The Economist data team launches its 2020 presidential election forecast. How useful are models at a time when politics can seem so out of control? We speak to Elliott Morris, data journalist for The Economist, and pollster Cornell Belcher. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
America is engulfed in its most widespread, sustained unrest since the late 1960s. It was sparked by an act of police brutality caught on camera. In the days since, Americans have seen police forces look more like an invading army than public servants sworn to protect their fellow citizens. Who will the politics of police versus protestors favour in 2020? We speak to Janeé Harteau, a former Minneapolis police chief, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Mitch Colvin, Mayor of Fayetteville, North Carolina. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman.  For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: economist.com/2020electionpod  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
America has passed a grim milestone: 100,000 deaths from covid-19. Many Americans think the country has been hit uniquely hard and that the president’s bungled response is to blame. That view is not borne out by international comparisons. But, as all 50 states reopen with the virus still prevalent, Americans are right to be nervous. How will America’s efforts to recover impact the presidential race? John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. US policy correspondent Idrees Kahloon and Henry Curr, our economics editor, also join. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Taiwanese firm TSMC plans to build a new fab, or computer chip factory, in Arizona. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the $12bn investment a boost for American “economic independence” amid China’s creeping dominance in tech. A geopolitical tug-of-war is being fought over nanoscopic wafers of silicon. What do microchips tell us about what’s happening to globalisation? And, as the coronavirus stokes anti-China sentiment, will trade barriers remain no matter who wins November’s election? John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Asia technology correspondent Hal Hodson and Soumaya Keynes, trade editor, also join. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
A row over the president’s tax returns has arrived in the Supreme Court. Donald Trump is challenging subpoenas that seek to disclose his finances. The court’s power over the presidency is being tested while the justices face the frustrations of remote working. How might the Supreme Court affect the election? John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Steven Mazie, the Economist’s Supreme Court correspondent, and legal historian Mary Ziegler also join. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Amid the lockdown some American students have filed lawsuits to get refunds on their tuition fees. Shifting classes online has rekindled concerns about the high cost of college education. Last year an FBI investigation exposed wealthy parents paying to cheat elite university admissions. The perception that university is no longer a driver of social mobility - but the opposite - fuels the political divide. How true is that? In this episode US policy correspondent Idrees Kahloon reports on a scheme that helps poor students complete college, we unpick the complicated history of American meritocracy, and hear from the frontline of the admissions process. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The pandemic has been grim for admirers of America's preeminence. The country that rallied allies to defend democracy and lead the world in scientific endeavour has been hit hardest by the coronavirus. China has sent medical supplies to American states, while the president brainstorms unlikely cures on live TV. Is America ceding global leadership? Maybe. One certainty is that fretting over the demise of the Republic is a longstanding American tradition.  In this episode we trace the origins of declinism in modern American politics and hear from someone who spent years preparing for societal breakdown, only for those plans themselves to unravel. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
"We can corral the coronavirus," Gov. Greg Abbott said, announcing his plan to reopen the Texas economy. Floridians have returned to the beaches and other Southern states are starting to relax restrictions on restaurants, gyms and hair salons. But public support for maintaining the lockdown remains strong. Can America reopen while keeping covid-19 at bay? In this episode we hear how Wisconsinites view the lockdown and a Bronx medic tells us what it’s like on the frontline. We also find out where ending social distancing might be most risky. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
President Trump scored a big diplomatic win by pushing the main oil producing countries to agree to cut output. A price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, combined with the slump in demand caused by the coronavirus, had halved oil prices. Trump said the deal would save thousands of American energy jobs. But pushing for higher oil prices in an election year is a ploy more common in Caracas or Moscow than Washington DC. Has Donald Trump made America an energy superpower? How reliable is his bet on oil as an electoral strategy? In this episode we assess Trump’s deal, trace the origins of America’s obsession with energy independence, and debate whether fossil fuels or climate consciousness will win more votes.  John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
How do you hold a vote in the middle of a pandemic? Statewide elections in Wisconsin this week showed how hard it is to manage the logistics of democracy during a lockdown. A partisan fight over changes to the way votes are cast went all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile the most expensive campaigns in history have had to rip up their plans and start again online.  In this episode we talk to election officials in Wisconsin, hear how electoral campaigns unfolded during the 1918 flu, and figure out what the current pandemic means for this year’s presidential race. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
President Trump changed tone and course this week, extending federal guidelines on social distancing to the end of April. New York is now the epicentre of the global pandemic. Yet large parts of the US remain relatively unaffected by covid-19. Public opinion supports tough measures to contain the virus for now. But how sustainable are strict curbs on personal freedom in a country founded on individual liberty? The Economist’s healthcare correspondent Slavea Chankova explains the epidemiological models behind the lockdown, we tell the story of history’s most notorious asymptomatic carrier, and Senator Cory Booker reflects on political division in national crises. John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
President Trump worries a sustained lockdown may do more damage than the covid-19 pandemic itself. More Americans have been laid off in the past week than ever before. He wants the country back open for business by Easter. Meanwhile Congress has approved nearly two trillion dollars to avert a prolonged slump. But is it enough? Chicago restaurant workers tell us what happens when an entire sector shuts down. Idrees Kahloon, US policy correspondent, assesses the rescue package. Economics columnist Ryan Avent looks back into history to find out what is missing from the current bailout plan.  John Prideaux, The Economist’s US editor, hosts with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief, and Washington correspondent Jon Fasman. Read The Economist’s full coverage of the coronavirus. For access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe: www.economist.com/pod2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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