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The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

Author: Vox

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Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Mark Zuckerberg intends to govern Facebook? What Barack Obama regrets in Obamacare? The dangers Yuval Harari sees in our future? What Michael Pollan learned on psychedelics? The lessons Bryan Stevenson learned freeing the wrongly convicted on death row? The way N.K. Jemisin imagines new worlds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.
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Tim Alberta’s new book American Carnage documents “the Republican Civil War”: a decade-plus struggle over whether the Republican Party would build itself around white identity politics or try to reach out to a changing America.Trump’s election settled the argument, and Alberta’s book tracks the way top Republicans processed that resolution — and submitted to their new reality — in real time. The profiles in courage are few and far between; the capitulations, however, are everywhere. Alberta takes us deep inside that process, and the quotes and stories he’s revealed already have top Republicans at each other’s throats.This is a conversation about what the Republican Party has become, why Donald Trump won the fight for the party’s soul so decisively, why so many conservative politicians abandoned their loathing of Trump to embrace the power he offered, and what comes next. Alberta brings the receipts, and if nothing else, it’s a helluva portrait of how principles are traded for power.Book recommendations:The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright War  by Sebastian Junger Moneyball by Michael Lewis *******************************************************Want to get in touch with the show? Send us a message at ezrakleinshow@vox.comThe Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.
It’s a good time to be a Republican. But it’s a bad time, George Will argues, to be a conservative. Hence his new, 700-page manifesto, The Conservative Sensibility, which tries to rescue conservatism from the perversions of the Trumpist GOP.Will’s conservatism is rooted in a deep mistrust of majority rule, and an almost religious veneration of the Founding Fathers, or at least a certain understanding of them. Remember, he writes, “the Constitution of the first consciously modern nation, the United States, protects the sovereignty of private individuals, not the sovereignty of a public collective, ‘the majority.’”Will is articulating a tendency that’s always been present on the right, but is becoming more central today: the belief that majority rule will be the death of the American experiment and that the conservative project is at odds with democracy. Will is more forthright than most on this point: He chides conservatives for blasting activist judges, for instance, arguing that the right needs a judiciary willing to make sweeping rulings to curb the power of the state.There’s a lot to discuss here. And discuss we do.Book recommendations:The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John JayFreedom: Virtue and the First Amendment by Walter Fred Berns *******************************************************The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.
Every time I do an episode on polarization, I get a few emails asking: What about deliberative democracy? Couldn’t that be an answer?Deliberative democracy, if you’re not familiar, refers to a broad set of approaches in which citizens get together, with or without their representatives, to deliberate on political questions. Not just vote, or donate money, but actually work through hard questions, in a structured process, together.Jane Mansbridge is the Charles F. Adams professor of political leadership and democratic values at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a past president of the American Political Science Association, and co-editor of the book, Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale. So she’s not just a pioneering theorist on deliberative democracy, she’s specifically studied the question where I’m most skeptical: Can it scale?Book recommendations:Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy by Michael A. NebloDemocracy When the People Are Thinking: Revitalizing Our Politics Through Public Deliberation by James S. FishkinInsecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign by Frances E. Lee
[A quick note about this episode - we have fixed an error that caused some listeners to hear overlapping audio in the first portion of the show. Thank you for your understanding, and we're sorry for the issue]In 2017, Rod Dreher published The Benedict Option, a book arguing that America has grown so hostile to Orthodox Christian practice and morals that believers need to retreat into sealed communities to wait out the cultural storm. It’s a window into a mindset that is increasingly powerful in politics but befuddling to those who don’t share its premise: How have so many white Christians come to feel like America’s most persecuted class?Dreher writes about the monastics, but he lives the engaged life. He’s a senior editor at the American Conservative, where he writes a popular blog confronting American politics and culture from an Orthodox Christian perspective. I asked him on the show to try to see the world through his eyes and better understand some of the debates splitting the country.How can a country so suffused in Christian culture seem so hostile to Christians? Why does the Christian right focus so much on sexuality rather than poverty, lust rather than greed? How can a religion built around such radical openness to strangers embrace Trump’s approach to borders and migrants? What is the line between protecting religious liberty and accepting widespread discrimination? And do blogs like Dreher’s, which trawl the culture for the stories meant to make Christians feel persecuted and appalled, just drive a deeper wedge into our politics?Dreher is thoughtful, eloquent, and open, and this is a conversation that left us both questioning some premises. A lot of the points we differ on can’t be settled by debate, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for understanding.Book recommendations:The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas MertonA Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy TooleLaurus by Eugene Vodolazkin
This conversation with Yale psychologist and MacArthur genius Jennifer Richeson first appeared a year ago, and it’s one of my favorites. But I wanted to repost it now for two reasons.First, it’s as a necessary companion to Monday’s conversation with Robert Jones over changing religious dynamics. Richeson focuses on racial demographic change, and in particular, how the perception of losing demographic power pushes people’s politics in a sharply conservative direction. I don’t think it’s possible to understand our politics in this moment without understanding this research.Second, it’s July Fourth, and this conversation makes me feel patriotic. America has its problems, but it’s to our great and enduring credit that we are at least trying to navigate a transition to being a true multiethnic liberal democracy. Other countries have collapsed into violence and civil war over far less.It’s easy to look back on history and think that the great political challenges belonged to past generations and we’re merely drafting off their achievements. But it’s not true. We’re navigating an unprecedented political transition in our own time. If we make good on its promise — on this country’s promise — we’ll deserve our place in the history books, too.Recommended books: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America by Christopher S. Parker and Matt A. Barreto The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics by Ryan Enos
About seven in 10 American seniors are white Christians. Among young adults, fewer than three in 10 are. During the span of the Obama administration, America went from a majority white Christian nation to one where white Christians are a minority. That’s an earthquake, and we’re living in the aftershocks.This is a story that Robert Jones, the head of the Public Religion Research Institute, tells in his book The End of White Christian America. Much of Donald Trump’s support is driven by a sense of religious loss, not just racial or national loss. Many of the debates playing out on the American right — particularly the Sohrab Ahmari-David French fight — reflect the belief that these are end times for a certain strain of American Christians, unless emergency measures are undertaken.This is not, to put it lightly, a perspective that’s treated sympathetically on the left. What could carry more privilege than being a white Christian? But that’s why, if you want to understand American politics right now, it’s important to try to see the other side of this one. I’m going to be exploring this more on the show in the weeks to come, but I wanted to start with Jones, who knows the data here better than anyone. This is part of the deep context of American politics right now. Seeing it clearly makes a lot of our fights more legible.If you liked this episode, you may also like: “David French on the Great, White Culture War” and Jennifer Richeson on “The most important idea for understanding politics in 2018.”Book recommendations:Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement by Carolyn Renée DupontOur Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America by James Fallows and Deborah FallowsOut of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promiseby Eboo Patel  
“Liberalism is as distinct a tradition as exists in political history, but it suffers from being a practice before it is an ideology, a temperament and a tone and a way of managing the world more than a fixed set of beliefs.”That’s from Adam Gopnik’s new book A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism. It is, by turns, a bracing, charming, insightful, irksome defense of the most successful political movement of our age. Liberalism is so successful, in fact, that its achievements are taken for granted while its shortcomings throb through our politics.What caught my eye about Gopnik’s book is his argument that liberalism is a temperament more than an ideology, an approach more than a prescription. As I read his argument, it felt to me that he had identified something essential and often missed in discussions of agendas and plans. But he was also developing a definition of little use in settling the core debates of our age, a liberalism that could be seen as too flexible to mean anything in particular.And so, as liberals do, we argued it out. This conversation has something to thrill and frustrate every listener. In that way, it’s like liberalism itself.Book recommendations:Life of Johnson  by James BoswellThe Open Society and Its Enemiesby Karl R. PopperNo Other Book: Selected Essays by Randall Jarrell
If you’re a Parks and Rec fan, you’ll remember Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness. Right there at the base sits “Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”It’s a joke, but not really. Few want to justify the existence of poverty, but when they do, that's how they do it. People in poverty just aren’t smart enough, or hard-working enough, or they’re not making good enough decisions. There’s a moral void in that logic to begin with — but it also gets the reality largely backward. “The poor do have lower effective capacity than those who are well off,” write Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir in their book Scarcity. "This is not because they are less capable, but rather because part of their mind is captured by scarcity.” They show, across continents and contexts, that the more economic pressure you place on people, the worse their cognitive performance becomes. Mullainathan is a genius. A literal, MacArthur-certified genius. He’s an economist at the Chicago Booth School of Business who has published foundational work on a truly dizzying array of topics, but his most important research is around what scarcity does to the brain. This is work with radical implications for how we think about inequality and social policy. One thing I appreciated about Mullainathan in this conversation is that he doesn’t shy away from that.This is one of those conversations I wanted to have because the ideas are so important and persuasive. I didn’t expect Mullainathan to be such a delight to talk to. But since he was, we also discussed the economics of our AI-soaked future, the power of rigid rules, the reason conversation is so much better in person, why cigarette taxes make smokers happier, what Star Trek got wrong, and how he’s managed to do so much important work in such a vast array of disciplines. We could’ve gone for three more hours, easily. If you liked this episode, you should also check out the Robert Sapolsky and Mehrsa Baradaran podcasts. Book recommendations:One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven JohnsonMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Failing towards Utopia

Failing towards Utopia

2019-06-2100:20:111

Nice Try! is a new podcast from Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network that explores stories of people who have tried to design a better world, and what happens when those designs don't go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place. Enjoy this special conversation between Ezra and Avery and an excerpt from the recent episode Oneida: Utopia, LLC, and subscribe to Nice Try! for free in your favorite podcast app.
The debate over polarized media can make the two ecosystems sound equivalent. One is left, the other right, but otherwise they’re the same. That couldn’t be more wrong. They’re structured differently, they work differently, they value different things, they’re built atop different aesthetics. And behind all these differences is something we don’t talk about enough: their audiences, and what those audiences demand.Danna Young is an associate professor of communications at the University of Delaware and author of the forthcoming Irony and Outrage, a fascinating study of the differing aesthetics of the left and right media universes, and how those differences are rooted in the psychological composition of their audiences. This is tricky stuff to talk about, but it’s necessary for understanding why political media looks the way it does today.Book recommendations:Constructing the Political Spectacle by Murray EdelmanThe Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility by Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah SobierajMessengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics by Nicole HemmerIrony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States by Danna Young (pre-order)
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Comments (37)

Justin M.J. Harris

such a good episode very easy to connect the points he was making to what's going on today

Jul 19th
Reply

Rita Moore

Justin M.J. Harris 😂you may right

Jul 19th
Reply

Vedant Mhatre

She sounds like Nancy Pelosi

Jul 17th
Reply

Nicolas Brylle

Talk about being a snowflake hahaha. And the hypocrisy...

Jul 9th
Reply

Andrew Leoni

its interesting to hear ezra work on his promos

Jul 8th
Reply

Elliott Wallace

This character is a piece of work.

Jul 8th
Reply

Gene

The decline of Christian America is not necessarily an inevitable trend. People are abandoning Christianity because the religion, at the hight of its political power, failed terrifically at addressing society's basic human needs. Instead, Christianity was hijacked by right wing conservatism and weaponised as a crutch for its political goal. While the country shift towards left of centre, Christianity still has a place in progressive politics. It requires leaders within these religious institutions to stop "conserving" and start "progressing."

Jul 8th
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Sharon McKinnon

too bad the mixing is off, sounds like it would have been interesting

Jul 8th
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Eric Hove

This recording got messed up somehow.

Jul 8th
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Eu

Eric Hove the mixing is fucked

Jul 8th
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Nathaniel Stigen

Does the Vox walkout change the way you look at Vox?

Jun 28th
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Tom Garundazoo

it's a common thing but I think it's dumb to reinforce this idea of left and right as these clear unambiguous concepts that can be used continuously without any dissection. it creates a narrow minded unconcious dogmatic paradigm of the possibilities of the world. If you're going to use 'left' and 'right' like in this show I think you should explain how you see the terms. You can be an advocate for free market reforms and concerned about the environment. You can be an authoritarian socialist. You can be concerned about climate change but not care about species extinction, sure people tend to group think/be tribal. but I would have thought a show like this would be about not reinforcing unthinking group think

Jun 23rd
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Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings

Ezra is the worst kind of bad faith political pundit. He is a full blown feminized SJW, and his articles are full of inaccuracies (most likely in the form of intentional lies, but perhaps he is just sloppy when it comes to fact checking). I try to give all viewpoints a chance but I would rather listen to someone who is open-minded. Ezra seems to be the same old tired extremist calling everyone that disagrees with him a racist, sexist, homeophobic Nazi. I am open to suggestions for other podcasters on the left to give a chance however, feel free to share, all I ask is that they be open minded and willing to listen, and have discussions in good faith.

Jun 5th
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Steve Sinkula

What's up Will. Really great to hear your perspective.

Jun 1st
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snsɐuɐ ƃuǝɥɔ

Hi Ezra!!! I am GREAT AT DOING RESEARCHING ON WEIRD/OBSCURE AND AMAZINGLY INTERESTING THINGS Please please contact me :) I worked for www.violetteeditions.com in London where I was an editorial assistant and did this sort of work. I am half Colombian and half Taiwanese: I speak french engoish and spanish and I am THE MOST curious person people who have met me, have ever met! Please contact me chengssna@gmail.com Kind regards, Susana Cheng

May 29th
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Mariana Cml

Great! Love her

May 27th
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Dodo Moon

bad

May 20th
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RICARDO ANDRADE

Dodo Moon hi!

May 20th
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Jesse Hoffner ☭

Brian Stetler? Really?

May 16th
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RDubs

Honestly? I played this podcast just to have something in the background while cleaning house. Instead, I found myself putting down the dust mop so I could rewind or grabbing a pen to write down an interesting reference or some idea worth exploring. I was really blown away by how fascinating this interview became. The range of topics explored, the ideas exchanged and the eloquence with which David Brooks talks about his personal journey left me feeling not only enriched but also inspired. Another great episode; thank you Ezra!

May 7th
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Granny InSanDiego

So basically Ezra you think the Dems are fucked no matter what. Why am I listening to you?

Apr 30th
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Granny InSanDiego

Nervino Karas They understand the real people not the plutocrats who pay you to troll.

May 16th
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Nervino Karas

Granny InSanDiego They're "fucked" because they refuse to understand the people.

May 16th
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Granny InSanDiego

Krugman cannot explain his ideas. He depresses me.

Apr 29th
Reply

Tenman X

Hmm... Justice and fairness will follow when the Left learn to soothe the socio-cultural anxieties of the white overclass. Such sophistry, Professor Kaufmann! Bye, Felicia!

Apr 18th
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