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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.
198 Episodes
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Andrew Sullivan and I work out our differences
I’ve been arguing with Andrew Sullivan online for almost 15 years now. It’s one of my oldest and most rewarding hobbies. In the past, I’ve always felt we understood each other, even in periods of sharp disagreement. Lately, that’s changed.Sullivan and I have both been writing about identity politics and demographic change, though from quite different perspectives. Our arguments of late have felt more like we’re talking past each other, or about each other, than to each other. We decided to do this podcast to talk it out, and trace where our differences really cut, and where they can be bridged. This is a conversation about political movements, American religiosity, and identity. It’s about whether the illiberalism of today is really worse than the illiberalism of yesteryear, and whether the critiques of the campus left accurately describe anyone who holds real power. It’s about how much demographic change a society can absorb, and at what pace that change should occur. It’s about what conservatism is versus what it says it is. A lot of what I try to do on this show is dig beneath the daily fights over whatever is in the news to the differences in worldview that power our disagreements. I think this conversation was unusually successful in doing that. Some background links, if you want to dig into the articles we're discussing:America's new religionsAmerica, land of brutal binariesThe political tribalism of Andrew SullivanDemocrats can't keep dodging immigration as a real issue
The core contradiction of American politics
The Republican and Democratic parties are not the same. I’ll say it again: The Republican and Democratic parties are not the same.I don’t just mean they believe different things. I mean they’re composed in different ways, they argue from different premises, they’re structured in different ways. We treat them as mirror images of each other — the left and right hands of American politics — but they’re not. And the ways in which they’re different make it hard for them to understand each other, and hard for American politics to function.Political scientists Matt Grossmann and Dan Hopkins literally wrote the book on how the parties are different. In Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, they argue that the differences between the parties stem from a central and longstanding split in the country’s political personality: We are a country of philosophical conservatives, and policy liberals. We want a small government that does more of everything.I asked Grossmann on the show to walk me through the ways the parties are different, and how those differences explain everything from the GOP’s repeated shutdowns to asymmetric polarization to the rise of Fox News. This is a conversation about the fundamental structure of America’s parties, public opinion, and media institutions. It’s worth the time.Book Recommendations:Racial Realignment: The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932-1965by Eric SchicklerBefore the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensusby Rick PerlsteinLaw and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960's by Michael W. Flamm
The world according to Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader needs no introduction. But if your knowledge of Nader mostly consists of his 2000 campaign for the presidency, his career does demand some context. Nader is one of America’s truly great policy entrepreneurs, and arguably one of its great ideologists. The consumer safety movement he founded and led has saved, literally, millions of lives. His idea of what it means to be a public citizen is deeply rooted in American traditions, but largely, and lamentably, lost today in national American politics.And Nader is still active. Writing books. Writing columns. Releasing podcasts. He’s never stopped. He has led, and continues to lead, one of the most fascinating lives in American political history.In this conversation, we talk about everything from his theories of the media to his approach to political change to how he hired and advised “Nader’s Raiders.” We discuss Howard Schultz’s third-party presidential campaign, whether America is a better country than it was 50 years ago, the differences he sees between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and which parts of life he believes should be de-commercialized. I’ve long wanted to interview Nader, to ask him about the parts of his career, and of his philosophy, that I knew less about. It was a pleasure to get the chance.Book Recommendations:The CEO Pay Machine: How it Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven CliffordThe Fifth Risk by Michael LewisImpeaching the President: Past, Present, and Future by Alan HirschSkin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas TalebThe Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
This conversation will change how you understand misogyny
Misogyny has long been understood as something men feel, not something women experience. That, says philosopher Kate Manne, is a mistake. In her book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, Manne defines misogyny as “as primarily a property of social environments,” one that not only doesn’t need hatred of women to function, but actually calms hatred of women when it is functioning.Politics is thick right now with arguments over misogyny, patriarchy, and gender roles. These arguments are powering media controversies, political candidacies, and ideological movements. Manne’s framework makes so much more sense of this moment than the definitions and explanations most of us have been given. This is one of those conversations that will let you see the world through a new lens.In part because her framework touches on so much, this is a conversation that covers an unusual amount of ground. We talk about misogyny and patriarchy, of course, but also anxiety, Jordan Peterson, the role of shame in politics, my recent meditation retreat, Sweden, the social roles that grind down men, and a piece of satire in McSweeney’s that might just be the key to understanding the 2016 and 2020 elections. Enjoy!Information about Peltason Lecture at UC IrvineBook Recommendations:Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah ArendtObedience to Authority: An Experimental View by Stanley Milgram Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Ending the age of animal cruelty, with Bruce Friedrich
You often hear that eating animals is natural. And it is. But not the way we do it.The industrial animal agriculture system is a technological marvel. It relies on engineering broiler chickens that grow almost seven times as quickly as they would naturally, and that could never survive in the wild. It relies on pumping a majority of all the antibiotics used in the United States into farm animals to stop the die-offs that overcrowding would otherwise cause. A list like this could go on endlessly, but the point is simple: Industrial animal agriculture is not a natural food system. It is a triumph of engineering.But though we live in a moment when technology has made animal cruelty possible on a scale never imagined in human history, we also live in a moment when technology may be about to make animal cruelty unnecessary. And nothing changes a society’s values as quickly as innovations that make a new moral system easy and cheap to adopt. And that’s what this podcast is about.Bruce Friedrich is the head of the Good Food Institute, which invests, connects, advises, and advocates for the plant and cell-based meat industries. That work puts him at the hot center of one of the most exciting and important technological stories of our age: the possible replacement of a cruel, environmentally unsustainable form of food production with a system that’s better for the planet, better for animals, and better for our health.I talk a lot about animal suffering issues on this podcast, and I do so because they’re important. We’re causing a lot of suffering right now. But I don’t believe that it’ll be a change in morality or ideology that transforms our system. I think it’ll be a change in technology, and Friedrich knows better than just about anyone else alive how fast that technology is becoming a reality. In a rare change of pace for the Ezra Klein Show, this conversation will leave you, dare I say it, optimistic.Book Recommendations:Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World by Paul ShapiroEating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Robert Sapolsky on the toxic intersection of poverty and stress
Robert Sapolsky is a Stanford neuroscientist and primatologist. He’s the author of a slew of important books on human biology and behavior. But it’s an older book he wrote that forms the basis for this conversation. In Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Sapolsky works through how a stress response that evolved for fast, fight-or-flight situations on the savannah continuously wears on our bodies and brains in modern life. But stress isn’t just an individual phenomenon. It’s also a social force, applied brutally and unequally across our society. “If you want to see an example of chronic stress, study poverty,” Sapolsky says.I often say on the show that politics and policy need to begin with a realistic model of human nature. This is a show about that level of the policy conversation: It’s about how poverty and stress exist in a doom loop together, each amplifying the other’s effects on the brain and body, deepening their harms.And this is a conversation of intense relevance to how we make social policy. Much of the fight in Washington, and in the states, is about whether the best way to get people out of poverty is to make it harder to access help, to make sure the government doesn’t become, in Paul Ryan’s memorable phrase, “a hammock.” Understanding how the stress of poverty acts on people’s minds, how it saps their will and harms their cognitive function and hurts their children, exposes how cruel and wrongheaded that view really is.Sapolsky and I also discuss whether free will is a myth, why he believes the prison system is incompatible with modern neuroscience, how studying monkeys in times of social change helps makes sense of the current moment in American politics, and much more. This one’s worth your time.Book Recommendations:The 21 Balloons by William Pene DuboisChaos: Making a New Science by James GleickThe Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit by Melvin Konner
Frances Lee on why bipartisanship is irrational
There aren’t too many people with an idea that will actually change how you think about American politics. But Frances Lee is one of them. In her new book, Insecure Majorities, Lee makes a point that sounds strange when you hear it, but changes everything once you understand it.For most of American history, American politics has been under one-party rule. For decades, that party was the Republican Party. Then, for decades more, it was the Democratic Party. It’s only been in the past few decades that control of Congress has begun flipping back every few years, that presidential elections have become routinely decided by a few percentage points, that both parties are always this close to gaining or losing the majority.That kind of close competition, Lee shows, makes the daily compromises of bipartisan governance literally irrational. And politicians know it. Lee’s got the receipts."Confrontation fits our strategy,” Dick Cheney once said. "Polarization often has very beneficial results. If everything is handled through compromise and conciliation, if there are no real issues dividing us from the Democrats, why should the country change and make us the majority?”Why indeed? This is a conversation about that question, about how the system we have incentivizes a politics of confrontation we don’t seem to want and makes steady, stable governance a thing of the past.Book Recommendations:The Imprint of Congress by David R. MayhewFear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira KatznelsonCongress's Constitution: Legislative Authority and the Separation of Powers by Josh Chafetz
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Comments (6)

Natalie Schreiber

All discussions on M4A that don't include specifically that: while taxes may be raised, 1)there will be no more out of pocket deductibles, 2)there are no more co-pays, 3)no more in-network vs out of network bs red tape, & 4)there's a general peace of mind that comes with not having your medical coverage tied to a specific job, is an incomplete discussion and often down right misleading.

Feb 7th
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fajar ahmad setiawan

Wow. Your book recommendations are exceptionally old and perhaps, outdated. It doesn't mean these books are useless, it's just becoming niche literature now when there are many more innovative and revolutionary thinkers like Zizek and Dawkins.

Feb 7th
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Jim Lane

these conversation keep going back to Will Store's ideas on the self and individualism

Feb 4th
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Natalie Schreiber

I agree with everything except the Hillary Clinton bit. While I am willing to acknowledge the truth of misogyny directed at her to a point, it is also extremely important to recognize that from a principaled policy standpoint, her ideology is neoliberal and she is a corporatist. period. That is why I voted for the other woman in the race Jill Stein. So, misogyny does not explain the whole picture. Clinton represents the new aristocracy that modern day patriots oppose. Kamala Harris will have the same problem in 2020. That's why I currently support Marianne Williamson 2020.

Feb 2nd
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Howard H

https://youtu.be/KSl24zyuJAQ

Jan 30th
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Jamie Dunn

"the two argued that African-Americans are, for a combination of genetic and environmental reasons, intrinsically and immutably less intelligent than white Americans" Just listened to the original podcast, and then this podcast, the description of the original (above) appears as misleading as many of the points in the discussion that follows. I disagree with points made by both sides here, but Ezra Klein appears to be deliberately evasive or dishonest, I can't figure out which as it seems out of character for him.

Jan 29th
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