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Vox Conversations

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Vox Conversations brings you weekly discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light, including five years' worth of episodes hosted by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein.

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Recode’s Peter Kafka speaks with New York Times’s Tech columnist Kevin Roose about big tech’s power and responsibility - and whether it is going to have accountability. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
New York magazine's Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi spent the past four years covering the Trump White House. In this inaugural episode of Vox Conversations, Nuzzi talks to guest host Sam Sanders, host of NPR's It’s Been a Minute, about the perils of anonymous sourcing, some unexpected job hazards (self-loathing), and why Trump didn’t ultimately create, but instead activated, the crowd of insurgents that breached the Capitol last week. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How do you feel right now? Excited to listen to your favorite podcast? Anxious about the state of American politics? Annoyed by my use of rhetorical questions? These questions seem pretty straightforward. But as my guest today, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, points out there is a lot more to emotion than meets the mind. Barrett is a superstar in her field. She’s a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and has received various prestigious awards for her pioneering research on emotion. Her most recent book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain argues that emotions are not biologically hardwired into our brains but constructed by our minds. In other words, we don’t merely feel emotions — we actively create them. Barrett’s work has potentially radical implications. If we take her theory seriously, it follows that the ways we think about our daily emotional states, diagnose illnesses, interact with friends, raise our children, and experience reality all need some serious adjusting, if not complete rethinking. If you enjoyed this episode, you should check out: A mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan The cognitive cost of poverty (with Sendhil Mullainathan) Will Storr on why you are not yourself  A mind-bending, reality-warping conversation with John Higgs Book recommendations:  Naming the Mind by Kurt Danzinger  The Island of Knowledge by Marcelo Gleiser  The Accidental Species by Henry Gee Sense and Nonsense by Kevin L. Laland Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Recording engineer - Cynthia Gil Field engineer - Joseph Fridman The Ezra Klein Show is a production of the Vox Media Podcast Network Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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 Shapiro Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
After creating and running Parks and Recreation and writing for The Office, Michael Schur decided he wanted to create a sitcom about one of the most fundamental questions of human existence: What does it mean to be a good person? That’s how NBC's The Good Place was born. Soon into the show’s writing, Schur realized he was in way over his head. The question of human morality is one of the most complicated and hotly contested subjects of all time. He needed someone to help him out. So, he recruited Pamela Hieronymi, a professor at UCLA specializing in the subjects of moral responsibility, psychology, and free will, to join the show as a “consulting philosopher” — surely a first in sitcom history. I wanted to bring Shur and Hieronymi onto the show because The Good Place should not exist. Moral philosophy is traditionally the stuff of obscure academic journals and undergraduate seminars, not popular television. Yet, three-and-a-half seasons on, The Good Place is not only one of the funniest sitcoms on TV, it has popularized academic philosophy in an unprecedented fashion and put forward its own highly sophisticated moral vision. This is a conversation about how and why The Good Place exists and what it reflects about The Odd Place in which we actually live. Unlike a lot of conversations about moral philosophy, this one is a lot of fun.   References: Dylan Matthews' brilliant profile on The Good Place Dylan Matthews on why he donated his kidney Book recommendations: Michael Schur: Ordinary Vices by Judith N. Shklar The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré  Beloved by Toni Morrison Pamela Hieronymi: What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Michael Lewis needs little introduction. He’s the author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short, The Blind Side, The Fifth Risk. He’s the host of the new podcast “Against the Rules.” He’s a master at making seemingly boring topics — baseball statistics, government bureaucrats, collateralized debt obligations — riveting. So how does he do it? What I wanted to do in this conversation was understand Lewis’s process. How does he choose his topics? How does he find his characters? How does he get them to trust him? What is he looking for when he’s with them? What allows him to see the gleam in subjects that would strike others, on their face, as dull? Lewis more than delivered. There’s a master class in reporting — or just in getting to know people — tucked inside this conversation. As in the NK Jemisin episode, Lewis shows how he does his work in real time, using me and something I revealed as the example. Sometimes the conversations on this show are a delight. Sometimes they’re actually useful. This one is both. Book recommendations: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain A Collection of Essays by George Orwell The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It’s the rare podcast conversation where, as it’s happening, I’m making notes to go back and listen again so I can fully absorb what I heard. But this conversation with Tracy K. Smith was that kind of episode. Smith is the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, and a two-time poet laureate of the United States (2017-19). But I’ll be honest: She was an intimidating interview for me. I often find myself frustrated by poetry, yearning for it to simply tell me what it wants to say and feeling aggravated that I can’t seem to crack its code. Preparing for this conversation and (even more so) talking to Smith was a revelation. Poetry, she argues, is about expressing “the feelings that defy language.” The struggle is part of the point: You’re going where language stumbles, where literalism fails. Developing a comfort and ease in those spaces isn’t something we’re taught to do, but it’s something we need to do. And so, on one level, this conversation is simply about poetry: what it is, what it does, how to read it. But on another level, this conversation is also about the ideas and tensions that Smith uses poetry to capture: what it means to be a descendent of slaves, a human in love, a nation divided. Laced throughout our conversation are readings of poems from her most recent book, Wade in the Water, and discussions of some of the hardest questions in the American, and even human, canon. Hearing Smith read her erasure poem, “Declaration,” is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful moments I’ve had on the podcast. There is more to this conversation than I can capture here, but simply put: This isn’t one to miss. And that’s particularly true if, like me, you’re intimidated by poetry. References:  Smith’s lecture before the Library of Congress  Smith’s commencement speech at Wellesley College  Book recommendations:  Notes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith  Quilting by Lucille Clifton  Bodega by Su Hwang  Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As strange as it is to write, this is my last podcast here at Vox. In January, I'll be starting at the New York Times as a columnist on the opinion page, doing a reported column on policy and launching an interview podcast. Meanwhile, Vox will be building something new and better atop this show's DNA in this feed. In this episode, I wanted to reflect on the almost five years I’ve spent doing this show. This project has changed my work, and my life, in unexpected ways. So here are the four lessons this show has taught me and, of course, the three books that have influenced me, and that I'd recommend to the audience.  Thank you for everything, and you can reach me at ezrakleinshow@gmail.com. See you on the other side.  Book recommendations: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin Working by Studs Terkel Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This conversation with Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen in fall 2019 is one of my all-time favorites.    Allen directs Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She’s a political theorist, a philosopher, the principal investigator of the Democratic Knowledge Project, and the co-chair of a two-year bipartisan commission of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which just this year released “Our Common Purpose,” a report with more than 30 recommendations on how to reform American democracy. Her 2006 book Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education, which forms the basis for this conversation, is the most important exploration of what democracy demands from its citizens that I've ever read. I talk about democracy a lot on this show, but it’s her life’s work   I tried a bunch of different descriptions the first time this episode was released and they all failed the conversation. I had no better luck this time. I loved this one, and, at a moment when the future of democracy looks even darker than it did a year ago, I think you will too. Don’t make me cheapen it by describing it. Just download it. References: "Building a Good Jobs Economy" by Dani Rodrik and Charles Sabel Book recommendations: "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell "What America Would Be Like Without Blacks" by Ralph Ellison Men in Dark Times by Hannah Arendt Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On November 3, as the country fixated on the incoming presidential election results, voters in Oregon approved a seemingly innocuous ballot measure with revolutionary potential. Proposition 109, which passed with 56 percent of the vote (the same margin by which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the state), legalizes the use of psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, in supervised therapeutic settings.    Multiple studies have found that use of psilocybin in a medical context has the power to cure depression, addiction, and anxiety at rates that no existing drug or therapy can boast (although these results still need to be replicated with larger sample sizes before drawing definitive conclusions). Scores of renowned scholars, artists, and entrepreneurs talk about their use of psychedelic drugs as one of the most important experiences of their entire lives. The details of how the Oregon initiative will be implemented still need to be worked out, but the prospect of making these drugs widely available in a therapeutic context could have transformative impacts on American mental health care and, perhaps, on our culture writ large.    There isn’t anyone I’d rather discuss this new law and its implications with than Michael Pollan. Pollan is the author of dozens of landmark books, but his most recent, How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, is the best exploration of the transformative therapeutic potential of psychedelics to date.   My first conversation with Pollan in 2018 was one of my favorites of all time on the show, and this one didn’t disappoint either. We discuss how Pollan’s work inspired the Oregon ballot initiative, what Proposition 109 actually does and the challenges it will face, the lost history of psychedelics being used as a therapeutic tool in the 1950s, why the mental health profession in America is so excited about the revolutionary possibilities of psychedelic treatment, why the “noetic experience” induced by psychedelics has such incredible healing potential, whether widespread psychedelic use would create massive population-level changes in society, and much more. References: My first conversation with Pollan Recent Johns Hopkins study on psychedelics and depression "What the psychedelic drug ayahuasca showed me about my life" by Sean Illing Book recommendations: The Overstory by Richard Powers  The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Robert Sapolsky is a Stanford neuroscientist and primatologist. He’s the author of a slew of important books on human biology and behavior, including most recently Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. 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. It’s worth your time. Book Recommendations: The 21 Balloons by William Pene Dubois Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit by Melvin Konner Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It’s often said that Joe Biden has an instinct for finding the political center — that of his party, and that of the country. To understand how Biden has changed, and how he might govern, we need to understand how the ideological context of American politics is changing, and why.   Felicia Wong is the President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank that has done some of the best work on the way the ideological firmament of politics is shifting. Wong believes that the set of governing assumptions behind both conservative and progressive policymaking, what broadly gets called “neoliberalism,” is devolving. And she, and Roosevelt more broadly, have done some of the best work mapping the different worldviews and factions competing to take its place.  We discuss what neoliberalism was and wasn’t, how a focus on markets is giving way to a focus on power, the four main groups that make up “the new progressivism,” where Biden himself has affinities with the changing worldview, what he can (and can’t) do without congress, the case for and against student debt cancellation, how the new administration could wield its antitrust power, why Elizabeth Warren’s brand of economic thinking holds particular promise for a Biden administration, and more.  References: "What Is the Current Student Debt Situation?" by Matt Bruenig "The Emerging Worldview: How New Progressivism Is Moving Beyond Neoliberalism" by Felicia Wong Book recommendations: Suburban Warriors by Lisa McGirr From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner  State of Resistance by Manuel Pastor Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
There are few conversations I’ve had on this show that are quite as relevant to our current political moment as this one with Princeton political scientist Frances Lee. Joe Biden will occupy the White House come January, but pending the results of two runoff Senate elections in Georgia, Democrats either won’t control the Senate at all or will face a 50-50 split. In either case, an important question looms large over the incoming administration: Will Republican senators negotiate with Biden in good faith? Lee’s work is an indispensable framework for thinking about that inquiry. In her most recent book, Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign, 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 in the past few decades that control of Congress began flipping back and forth every few years, that presidential elections became 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 writes, makes the daily compromises of bipartisan governance literally irrational. "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. Mayhew Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson Congress's Constitution: Legislative Authority and the Separation of Powers by Josh Chafetz Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future.  Best known for the Mars trilogy, Robinson is one of the greatest living science fiction writers. And in recent years, he's become the greatest writers of what people now call cli-fi — climate fiction. The name is a bit of a misnomer: Climate fiction is less fictitious speculation than an attempt to envision a near future that we are likely to inhabit. It’s an attempt to take our present — and thus the future we’re ensuring — more seriously than we currently do. Robinson’s new book does exactly that.  In The Ministry for the Future, Robinson imagines a world wracked by climate catastrophe. Some nations begin unilateral geoengineering. Eco-violence arises, as people begin to begin experience unchecked climate change as an act of war against them, and they respond in kind, using new technologies to hunt those they blame. Capitalism ruptures, changes, and is remade. Nations, and the relations between them, transform. Ultimately, humanity is successful, but it is a terrifying success — a success that involves making the kinds of choices that none of us want to even think about making.  This conversation with Robinson was fantastic. We discuss why the end of the world is easier to imagine than the end of capitalism; how changes to the biosphere will force humanity to rethink capitalism, borders, terrorism, and currency; the influence of eco-Marxism on Robinson’s thinking; how existing power relationships define the boundaries of what is considered violence; why science-fiction as a discipline is particularly suited to grapple with climate change; what a complete rethinking of the entire global economic system could look like; why Robinson thinks geoengineering needs to be on the table; the vastly underrated importance of the Paris Climate Agreement; and much more. References: "'There is no planet B': the best books to help us navigate the next 50 years" by Kim Stanley Robinson My conversation on geoengineering with Jane Flegal The Ezra Klein Show climate change series Book recommendations: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver  The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem  Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Happy Thanksgiving! We will be back next week with brand new episodes, but on a day when so many of us are thinking about love and relationships I wanted to share an episode that has changed the way I think about those topics in a profound way.  Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California Berkeley. She’s published more than 100 journal articles and half a dozen books, including most recently The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children. She runs a cognitive development and learning lab where she studies how young children come to understand the world around them, and she’s built on that research to do work in AI, to understand how adults form bonds with both children and each other, and to examine what creativity is and how we can nurture it in ourselves and — more importantly — each other. But this conversation isn’t just about kids -- it's about what it means to be human. What makes us feel love for each other. How we can best care for each other. How our minds really work in the formative, earliest days, and what we lose as we get older. The role community is meant to play in our lives. This episode has done more than just change the way I think. It’s changed how I live my life. I hope it can do the same for you. Book recommendations: A Treatise of Human Natureby David Hume Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll The works of Jean Piaget Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
At the holidays, I wanted to share some of my favorite episodes of the show with you (we’ll be back next week with brand new episodes). My conversation with Vivek Murthy tops that list, and it has particular force this Thanksgiving, when so many are alone on a day when connection means so much. As US surgeon general from 2014 to 2017, Murthy visited communities across the United States to talk about issues like addiction, obesity, and mental illness. But he found that what Americans wanted to talk to him about the most was loneliness. In a 2018 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 22 percent of all adults in the US — almost 60 million Americans — said they often or always felt lonely or socially isolated. Murthy went on to write Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, and was recently named one of the co-chairs of Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force. Those projects may sound different, but they connect: Coronavirus has made America’s loneliness crisis far worse. Social distancing, while necessary from a public health standpoint, has caused a collapse in social contact among family, friends, and entire communities. And the people most vulnerable to the virus — the elderly, the disabled, the ill — are also unusually likely to suffer from loneliness.  Murthy’s explanation of how loneliness acts on the body is worth the time, all on its own — it’ll change how you see the relationship between social experience and physical health. But the broader message here is deeper: You are not alone in your loneliness. None of us are. And the best thing we can do for our own feeling of isolation is often to help someone else out of the very pit we’re in. Book recommendations: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Donald Trump has built his presidency on top of racial dog whistles, xenophobic rhetoric, and anti-immigrant policies. A core belief among liberals was that this strategy would help Trump with whites but almost certainly hurt him with Latinos, and people of color more broadly. Then the opposite happened: In 2020, Trump gained considerable support among voters of color, particularly Latinos, relative to the 2016 election. What happened? Ian Haney López is a legal scholar at UC Berkeley and the author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class. In 2017, he partnered with the leftist think tank Demos and various polling groups to better understand the effectiveness of racial dog whistles and how Democrats could combat them. The results were sobering, even to the experts who commissioned the polls. As Haney López documented in his 2019 book Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America, 60 percent of Latinos and 54 percent of African Americans have found Trumpian dog-whistle messages convincing, right in step with the 61 percent of whites who did. This conversation is about the complicated reality of racial politics in America. It’s about the fact that the electorate isn’t divided into racists and non-racists — most voters, including Trump supporters, toggle back and forth between racially reactionary and racially egalitarian views — and a more robust theory of how race operates in American politics that follows. And it’s about the kinds of race- and class-conscious messages that Haney López’s research suggests work best with voters of all backgrounds. Book recommendations: Racial Realignment:The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932–1965 by Eric Schickler The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú Born a Crime by Trevor Noah  Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I’ve been fascinated by the sharp change in how the tech platforms — particularly the big social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and to some degree, YouTube — are acting since the 2020 election. It’s become routine to see President Donald Trump’s posts tagged as misinformation or worse. Facebook is limiting the reach of hyper-viral stories it can’t verify, Twitter is trying to guard against becoming a dumping ground for foreign actors trying to launder stolen secrets, and conservatives are abandoning both platforms en masse, hoping to find more congenial terrain on newcomers like Parler.  So is Big Tech finally doing its job, and taking some responsibility for its role in our democracy? Are they overreaching, and becoming the biased censors so many feared? Are they simply so big that anything they do is in some way the wrong choice, and antitrust is the only solution? Casey Newton has spent the past decade covering Silicon Valley for The Verge, CNET, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Today, he writes Platformer, a daily blog and newsletter focused primarily on the relationship between the big tech platforms and democracy. He’s my go-to for questions like these, and so I went to him. We discuss:  The lessons the platforms learned the hard way in 2016  What Facebook and Twitter got right -- and wrong -- this election cycle The dissonance between Facebook and Twitter’s progressive employees and broader user base  The problem of trying to be neutral when both sides really aren’t the same Whether Facebook and Twitter handled the Hunter Biden New York Post story correctly Whether major tech platforms are biased against conservatives Why YouTube has been so much less aggressive than Facebook and Twitter on moderation The recent rise of Parler, the Twitter alternative that conservatives are flocking to by the hundreds of thousands  What Biden administration’s tech agenda could look like  The Section 230 provision at the heart of the debate over content moderation  How the big tech CEOs differ from each other ideologically  The problems that antitrust enforcement against tech platforms will solve -- and the problems it won’t solve  And much more Book recommendations: Facebook: The Inside Story by Steven Levy No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier Caste by Isabel Wilkerson  Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
If the past week — and past four years — have proven anything, it’s that we are not as different as we believed. No longer is the question, "Can it happen here?" It’s happening already. As this podcast goes to air, the current president of the United States is attempting what — if it occurred in any other country — we would call an anti-democratic coup. This coup attempt will probably not work. But the fact that it is being carried out farcically, erratically, ineffectively does not mean it is not happening, or that it will not have consequences. The most alarming aspect of all this is not Donald Trump’s anti-democratic antics; it’s the speed at which Republican elites have consolidated support around him. Some politicians, like Lindsey Graham, have wholeheartedly endorsed Trump's claims. On Monday, Graham said that Trump should not concede the election and that "Republicans win because of our ideas and we lose elections because [Democrats] cheat." Others — including Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, and Josh Hawley — have signaled solidarity with the president, while not quite endorsing his conspiracies. The message is clear: When faced with the choice of loyalty to Trump and the legitimacy of the democratic process, Republicans are more than willing to throw democracy under the bus. Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for the Atlantic, a senior fellow of international affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and most recently the author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. In it, Applebaum, once comfortable in center-right elite circles, grapples with why so many of her contemporaries across the globe — including right here in America — have abandoned liberal democracy in favor of strongman cults and autocratic regimes. We discuss:  How the media would be covering Trump’s actions — and the GOP’s enabling of him — if this were taking place in a foreign country  How the last four years have shattered the belief in the idea that America is uniquely resistant to the lure of authoritarianism Why most politicians under increasingly autocratic regimes choose to collaborate with the regime, and why a select few choose to dissent  The “apocalyptic pessimism” and “cultural despair” that undergirds the worldview of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters  How Lindsey Graham went from outspoken Trump critic to one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the US Senate  Why the Republican Party ultimately took the path of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, not John McCain and Mitt Romney Why what ultimately separates Never Trumpers from Trump enablers is a steadfast commitment to American democracy What we can expect to happen if and when a much more competent, capable demagogue emerges in Trump’s place Whether the Biden administration can lower the temperature of American politics from its fever pitch  The one thing that gives me a glimmer of hope about the Biden presidency    References: "Trump is attempting a coup in plain sight" by Ezra Klein, Vox "History Will Judge the Complicit" by Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic “Laura Ingraham’s Descent Into Despair” by Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic My EK Show conversation with Marilynne Robinson Book recommendations: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner  All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson  Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Joe Biden experience

The Joe Biden experience

2020-11-0701:10:2918

Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States. And — counting the votes of people, not just land — it won’t be close. If current trends hold, Biden will see a larger popular vote margin than Hillary Clinton in 2016, Barack Obama in 2012, or George W. Bush in 2004.  Commentary over the past few days has focused on the man he beat, and the incompetent coup being attempted in plain sight. But I want to focus on Biden, who is one of the more misunderstood figures in American politics — including, at times, by me.  Biden has been in national politics for almost five decades. And so, people tend to understand the era of Joe Biden they encountered first — the centrist Senate dealmaker, or the overconfident foreign policy hand, or the meme-able vice president, or the grieving, grave father. But Biden, more so than most politicians, changes. And it’s how he changes, and why, that’s key to understanding his campaign, and his likely presidency.  Evan Osnos is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, a sharp biography of the next president. Osnos and I discuss:  The mystery of Joe Biden’s first political campaign Why the Joe Biden who entered the Senate in 1980 is such a radically different person than the Joe Biden who ran for president in 2020  What the Senate taught Biden Biden’s ideological flexibility, and the theory of politics that drives it The differences between Biden’s three presidential campaigns -- and what they reveal about how he’s grown The way Biden views disagreement, and why that’s so central to his understanding of politics  How Biden’s relationship with Barack Obama changed his approach to governance The similarities — and differences — between how Obama and Biden think about politics  Why Biden is “the perfect weathervane for where the center of the Democratic party is.”  Biden’s relationship with Mitch McConnell How Biden thinks about foreign policy Why Biden has become more skeptical about the use of American military might in the last decade  And much more. Book recommendations: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman The Field of Blood by Joanne B. Freeman The Ideas That Made America by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen  Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (201)

Philly Burbs

Why is everyone forgetting to mention GOOGLE? The social media platforms followed Google's models. All they have to do is change analytics. Right now we only see & read people we agree with. Originally, we saw both.

Jan 18th
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Chrissie Knowles Morris

Really enjoyed it, I love Ezra too but this has maintained the nice conversational style and I enjoyed the host and the guest so, good stuff really 😊

Jan 18th
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Paulo Lavigne

Ezra is a great host, but you know what? Sam Sanders is even better! Sam sounds calmer and doesn't talk like a machine gun, as Ezra does. Lol. Besides, he gives the guest more airtime.

Jan 17th
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James Loar

@06:07. .... or Latinos saw through the false left / media narrative and voted the issues that were important to them. It seems easier to see why their vote shifted if you stop prefixing everything as racist, it seems a big group ust didn't believe you.

Dec 21st
Reply

Juned Shaikh

wonderful and enlightening conversation. "learned helplessness" is very easily identifiable in super destitutes around us.

Dec 12th
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Tom Rooney

This is the kind of opinion journalism that's turning me into a conservative. Why can't we wait for the legal process to play out? Why do we fulminate before the election is certified? Democrats 2016: Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election! Democrats 2020: How dare you question the integrity of the election!

Nov 12th
Reply (1)

dp

its right wing media, radio, tv and social media sowing misinformation and bile.

Nov 12th
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Yasmine C

F* that guy. F all pollsters.

Nov 7th
Reply

Sasha Anne Lyn

I think tou have to know that most of the rest of the planet is shocked that still so many Americans voted for that man, that party; it is unfathomable.

Nov 5th
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LINDSEY GRAFF

Nate Silver says the word "right" far far far too much. Otherwise I really enjoyed the episode 🙂

Nov 1st
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zac wallace

I don't think she understands evolution. I was also surprised to hear her step into an appeal to ignorance. Pathetic.

Oct 31st
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dp

these are predominantly wish lists and fun mental exercises, but have zero chance of being implemented in a polarized political climate. The only real workable solution is to limit terms of Justices to 10 years, and, legislate mandatory retirement age of all Federal Employees, including Judges, Senators and Congresspeople at 75. Courts would have more turnover but for both parties, and would produce more people into the system, who bring more current experiences. 85 year olds almost all have cognitive declines and should not continue to serve as decision makers in a multigenerational, multi cultural, rapidly changing, society.

Oct 25th
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Sean Everett

1:07:42 in case my point wasn't clear what I'm trying to suggest is that if vox, like thousands of other professional organizations, hires a cleaning service that employs minorities to do the actual cleaning (not talking about the office staff), then isn't Klein and every other staffer at such an organization complicit in reinforcing or contributing to an oppression-influinced baseline that leads to these kinds of assumptions that are seen as micro-aggressions?

Oct 19th
Reply

Sean Everett

1:06:48 I'm curious if vox employs a cleaning service for their offices, and (assuming they do) what the racial makeup of that cleaning service is on terms of who is actually doing the weekly cleaning. let's further assume minorities do the actual cleaning. in which case someone would be reasonable in assuming the cleaning staff would be minority. what do we do about this? surely reality (the fact that "the help" is most often minority) and not racism is primarily the reason for such assumptions. if you change the reality you remove the basis for assumption. but how do you change it? quotas for cleaning companies?

Oct 19th
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Constance Moylan

this interview was outstanding- the discussion on time & on wasting loneliness were insightful & thought provoking.

Oct 19th
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Carola Clark

That woman is truly frightening. i don't have anything more to say

Oct 18th
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Sean Everett

Scornful comments aside, it is super refreshing to see to people with vastly different viewpoints have a productive and respectful conversation.

Oct 17th
Reply

Mark Saltiel

MR says evolutionary theory is deterministic. Surely it is not at all deterministic. One could never work out in advance how species would change. Folks often talk about evolution using language that suggests a species studies a problem and then decides how it will change to fit the situation. The idea behind natural selection is actually almost completely opposite to that. EK thinks MR is very humble but what is humble about demanding evolutionary theorists answer the question of complexity properly. I have never come across a theological account of complexity that is not absolutely reductive to "that's the way God made it".

Oct 16th
Reply

Jeff B

there are not nerves in the beak.

Oct 3rd
Reply

Nicolas Brylle

please Matt, the voice.... excruciating. Also the reason why the Weeds is not listenable.

Oct 2nd
Reply
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