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How Do We Fix It?

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From politics to the personal, we're about solutions. Our weekly podcast features two friends and longtime journalists. Join Richard Davies (ABC News) and Jim Meigs (Popular Mechanics) as they challenge authors, experts and provocateurs in a search for positive, practical ideas. Guests include Alan Dershowitz, a noted legal scholar and defender of civil liberties; Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" and Lenore Skenazy, founder of "Free Range Kids." Topics include politics, parenting, personal finance, human behavior and much more. "How Do We Fix It?" - a repair manual for the real world. Produced by DaviesContent

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410 Episodes
Liberalism is out of fashion. You might say that it's under siege. From the populist right to the progressive left, liberal touchtones of limited government, personal freedom, the rule of law, and a mixed economy have come in for harsh criticism.Liberalism is assailed by many critics, but it has not failed, argues Yale Political Science Professor Bryan Garsten. "A liberal society is unique in that it offers refuge from the very people it empowers" through "institutions and different political parties. This allows the rest of us to live undisturbed," he says. Supporters argue that this form of liberty most clearly elevates the liberal project. In addition to his research and teaching, Garsten has written recent op-eds for The New York Times. His books include “Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgement” and a collection of essays he edited about Rousseau and the Age of Enlightenment. This episode is published with assistance from The Journal of Democracy. We are grateful. The most recent print issue includes essays by five authors, who grapple with questions of liberalism's lasting relevance and its challenges for the future. Our interview features a lively discussion about the difference between liberal thought and other "isms" such as neoliberalism, libertarianism and progressivism. We learn more about the importance of community, the limits of individual freedom, and why liberal societies do not produce refugees— arguably another unique source of strength.Professor Garsten is also skeptical of some aspects of modern liberalism. "I think there's a certain language that liberals use, of science, rights and progress which sometimes has been hijacked to justify elite overreach in imposing a vision of the world onto many people of different views," he tells us. "I offer the language of refuge as an alternative way to get at what's morally admirable in liberal societies."Recommendation: Richard has just read the new book by journalist and TV commentator, Fareed Zakaria: "Age of Revolutions. Progress and Backlash From 1600 to the Present." Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
In much of the country local news has collapsed, threatening civic pride and a sense of community for countless towns and cities. This dramatic change has also deepened America's divides.As our guest, journalist and public policy researcher Anna Brugmann explains in this episode, "the internet disrupted the local journalism model". Newspaper advertising revenue fell 80% since 2000. Thousands of local and regional publications closed. Most surviving newsrooms faced drastic cutbacks. Coverage of all kinds of local events— from city hall, school board meetings and football games to local businesses and zoning decisions — disappeared.First, Craigslist displaced print-based classified ads. Then Google, Facebook and other online firms became the main source of consumer advertising. We discuss the impact on local journalism. In recent decades, the news we read and listen to has largely shifted from local reporting to often highly polarizing national opinion journalism.In the first of two episodes on the changing face of the news media, we look at the retreat of local journalism and discuss solutions. These include non-profit media and changes in for-profit business models. Today, many newspapers get more revenue from subscriptions and fundraising drives than from advertising. We ask: how sustainable are these initiatives?Anna Brugmann is policy director for the advocacy organization, Rebuild Local News. According to her group, since 2004, as the U.S. population has grown, the number of newsroom employees has dropped by 57%."By almost every metric by which you measure a healthy community and a healthy democracy, the trends are in the wrong direction when local news leaves," says Anna. "In the past twenty years more than two thousands newspapers have closed in The United States."Recommendation: Jim is listening to a lot of podcasts since he unplugged his TV and stopped watching broadcast and cable news. Among his current favorite podcasts is "The Reeducation With Eli Lake". The show "challenges the common narratives the mainstream media and others push". Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Diversity equity and inclusion: Sounds like a good thing in an incredibly diverse country such as ours, especially when teaching young people at American colleges and universities.But the DEI industry - or DEI Inc. — has arguably gone off the rails. There’s a big difference between the intentions behind a lot of diversity training and the results. We learn about the crucial difference between training and education, and hear the case against the Stop WOKE Act in Florida.History professors Amna Khalid and Jeff Snyder share their deep concerns about a growing industry. There is no reliable evidence that diversity, equity and inclusion training sessions at colleges, non-profits, and large corporations actually work. In many places, DEI could be making things worse, imposing an ideological litmus test and encouraging cynicism and dishonesty at places of learning.Amna specializes in modern South Asian history, the history of medicine and the global history of free expression. Growing up under a series of military dictatorships in Pakistan, she has a strong interest in issues relating to free speech.Jeff is also a Professor at Carleton: A historian of education, who studies questions of race, national identity and the purpose of public education in a diverse, democratic society. He’s the author of Making Black History: The Color Line, Culture and Race in the Age of Jim Crow.  Jeff and Amna released this YouTube video about DEI. They speak regularly together about academic freedom, free speech and campus politics at colleges and universities. They also write frequently on these issues for newspapers and magazines, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Republic and The Washington Post. Amna hosts a podcast and blog called “Banished,” which explores censorship controversies in the past and present. Recommendation: Richard has been watching "Nada" on Hulu, a gentle and funny TV series from Argentina about a food critic in Buenos Aires and his observations on life and eating. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
News coverage of Super Tuesday and other party primaries focused mainly on base voters— Democrats and Republicans. But most Americans are actually on the political sidelines or somewhere in the middle. Many have a mix of conservative and liberal views.This episode is about them. Our guest is Shannon Watson, the Founder and Executive Director of Majority in the Middle. Her Minnesota-based non-profit group works to give voters and elected officials a place to gather outside the extremes. "We try to elevate the people who are demonstrating the behavior we want to see", Shannon tells us. "When it's only the rabble-rousers who get the coverage then there is an incentive to be one of them." Majority in the Middle also promotes structural changes in governing that will remove barriers to cooperation across the political aisle. While the two parties have a stranglehold on many aspects of elections and governance, record numbers of Americans no longer register as Republican or Democrat. They prefer the label "independent". At the same time, the right and left have changed. Among pro-Trump conservatives, we see a decline in support for free trade and military spending to help traditional allies. The former president has also resisted calls to limit spending on Medicare and social security.Younger Democrats are much less likely to support Israel. The rise of identity politics has also pushed the party to the left.While we've always had partisan division the level of vitriol can obscure the fact that Americans are much more closely aligned on issues such as gun rights, abortion, and immigration than we are led to believe."Not all Democrats agree with all Democrats, and not all Republicans agree with all Republicans," says Shannon Watson.Our podcast conversation mentions the Political Typology Quiz, conducted by Pew Research Center. Polling of more than 10,000 U.S. adults showed that while partisan polarization remains a dominant fact of political life, "the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions – and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one."You can take the Typology Quiz here and see your personal views fit in with nine broad categories of left and right. Recommendation: Jim enjoyed reading "The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder", by David Grann. Our co-host has had a long fascination with survival and exploration stories. He calls this non-fiction book "a ripping read and a fascinating story." Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Only four-in-ten Americans say they have a lot of trust in the news media. That's a big problem for our democracy, especially in this volatile presidential election year. While journalists are supposed to tell the truth and get the story right, just 35% of right-of-center voters have some trust in what they see on the news.Democrats and independents are much more likely to trust journalists, but Americans of almost all shades of opinion are skeptical of the journalists, not only questioning the quality of their work but the intentions behind it.Our guest is Joy Mayer, Director of the non-profit group, Trusting News, which has partnered with many local newsrooms around the country to help journalists earn consumers' trust.While many reporters, writers and editors are reluctant to discuss their politics, most journalists have liberal or progressive views. "I think it's something we need to talk about more openly," Joy tells us.In this episode, we look at bias, transparency, and constructive steps that the newsrooms can take to improve their reputation with a broad cross-section of Americans.We first recorded our interview with Joy in the late summer of 2021. Since then polling shows that the gulf between many journalists and their readers, listeners, and viewers is as wide as ever.Americans of all political views are switching off the news. Audiences are shrinking for local TV stations, most newspapers and public radio, even as they release podcasts, email newsletters and other newer forms of content. Polling by Pew Research found that more than half of journalists surveyed say every side does not always deserve equal coverage in the news. But three-quarters of the public say journalists should always strive to give all sides equal coverage.Recommendation: Richard has just finished watching the first two seasons of "Dark Winds", a TV thriller and crime drama set on a Navajo Indian reservation in the southwest. Almost all of the actors and crew are native americans. Richard says: "This series is beautiful, exciting and compelling. The acting is first rate The scenery alone is reason enough to watch it." Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
What is the point of a good education? Do we need it to learn a narrow set of skills ro help us get ahead in the workplace, or should knowledge and learning to be used over a lifetime to acquire wisdom that enables us to think more deeply about our place in the world?This question has profound resonance at a time of angry divides over American politics and moral confusion at elite American universities. The President of Harvard, Claudine Gay, resigned after months of campus unrest and controversy. In December, Gay and two other university presidents faced widespread criticism for their testimony at Congressional hearings about antisemitism on their campuses.In this episode, we hear from an university educator who makes the case for liberal education that gives students the tools needed to have a deeper sense of purpose. Roosevelt Montás is the author of "Rescuing Socrates: How The Great Books Changed My Life And Why They Matter For a New Generation".He believes that the ideas and writings of Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare, Ghandi and many others aren't just for a few privileged students. They're for everybody, and that encountering these thinkers as a poor immigrant teenager changed his life.Montás is senior lecturer in American Studies and English at Columbia University, and director of the Center for American Studies Freedom and Citizenship Program, which introduces low-income high school students to primary texts in moral and political thought, as well as seminars in American Studies including “Freedom and Citizenship in the United States.” From 2008 to 2018, he was director of Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum."There is a prevailing cultural attitude that liberal education— the study of literature and philosophy — is appropriate only to the elite," Roosevelt tells us. "That is a really pernicious idea." He argues that the students who benefit the most from the foundational wisdom in the "great books" come from poor and marginalized backgrounds.Recommendation: Richard watched and greatly enjoyed the Anglo-Japanese Netflix TV series, "Giri / Haji", — duty/shame in Japanese— a thriller about a Tokyo detective scouring the London underworld to find his allegedly deceased brother. The series was filmed in Tokyo and London.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
From the economy and prospects for a Biden vs Trump rematch to the future for global energy and artificial intelligence, Richard and Jim make their forecasts for 2024. And we re-visit our predictions from exactly a year ago and report on precisely how we did. "It's sort of like weather forecasters and opinion pollsters going back and owning up to their mistakes," says Richard. "I mean, who often do we see that!"Once again, Meigs and Davies make their best guesses about what's to come this year. Will Donald Trump maintain his slim lead in the polls over President Biden? Is there a much higher risk than most experts expect for energy supplies during the winter months? How big are the chances for a wider war in the Middle East?Fresh off his A+ forecast on the 2023 economy, when Richard out-forecasted the overwhelming majority of experts, we'll get more predictions about this year. Don't make any more investments without hearing this episode!Jim, who writes with perception and foresight about nuclear power and our frayed power grid, will share his updated insights on the year to come for energy, and attempts to cut carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere. We also hear about the migration crisis on the Southern border, the long frustrating retreat of COVID, and the grim outlook for the war in Ukraine. As usual, both hosts share some surprising opinions and air a few lively disagreements.Read Jim's new article in City Journal, "Where Now For Nuclear Power".Listen to our sister show "Let's Find Common Ground". Here's their latest episode with Christian Science Monitor Editor, Mark Sappenfield. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
We continue our discussion with Yascha Mounk, one of the leading public intellectuals of our time. The subject is a hugely influential ideology that attempts to put racial, sexual and gender identity at the center of our social, cultural and political life. The "identity synthesis", Mounk argues, denies that members of different groups can truly understand one another and this stifles public discourse.In this podcast episode, we learn why an obsession with identity undermines social justice, fuels culture wars, and boosts hateful hardliners on the right and left— from Donald Trump to protesters who support Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israeli civilians. We also hear how to politely but firmly push back against those who have become ensnared in "The Identity Trap," the name of Yascha Mounk's new book."Categories like race and gender and sexual orientation help to explain what's going on in the world, but they're not the only categories that help to explain it," Mounk tells us. "There's also social class, religion and patriotism as well as individual actions, attributes and aspirations.""The Identity Trap" has been called "the most ambitious and comprehensive account to date of the origins, consequences and limitations" of "wokeness". In our last episode, Yascha Mounk explained how postmodernism, postcolonialism and critical race theory gained currency on many college campuses by 2020. Today, a simplified version of these ideas exerts a strong influence in business, government and media. In this episode, Mounk urges listeners to claim the moral high ground. "Don’t apologize about arguing against a worldview that emphasizes identity to the exclusion of other factors". Recognize we have genuine disagreements but argue for convictions that you believe will result in a better world. People are open to persuasion, he says.Mounk mentions two of the most effective critics of the identity ideology were once very drawn to it: Maurice Mitchell of the Working Families Party and interfaith organizer, Eboo Patel.Recommendation: Richard has just read "The Speech", by Gary Younge, who writes for the Guardian and The Nation. His book is the story behind Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful "I have a Dream" speech delivered to a vast audience in 1963. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Having skewered right-wing populism and its demagogues in his two previous best-selling books, politics professor, writer, and podcaster Yasha Mounk turns now to the threat posed to liberalism from those progressives who champion "woke" identity politics. We discuss his latest, "The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power In Our Time."This episode— the first of two with Yasha Mounk — looks at the complex roots of a highly influential ideology based on personal identity— specifically race, gender and sexual orientation. These are said to determine a person's power, role in society, and how they see themselves. Mounk explains how the identity synthesis, which has become widely accepted in many universities, nonprofits and large corporations, had its origins in several intellectual traditions, including post-colonialism, postmodernism and critical race theory.Our interview mentions ideas and concepts raised by Michel Foucault, Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Krenshaw, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and others. We learn how these thinkers sharply criticized modern liberalism and the civil rights movement of the Sixties and beyond.Yascha Mounk is a German-born American who teaches international affairs at Johns Hopkins University. His writing appears in The Atlantic and other publications. He is also founder and editor-in-chief of the Substack publication "Persuasion", and hosts the podcast, "The Good Fight".Mounk's new book has won widespread critical praise. The Washington Post said that "Mounk has told the story of the Great Awokening better than any other writer who has attempted to make sense of it."Recommendation: Jim is reading "UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here— and Out There: by Garrett Graff. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Yes, it's our 400th episode. But instead of looking back over the past eight-and-a-half years of our podcasts, we consider the future: How collective optimism or pessimism can have a huge impact on the economy, risk taking, and the acceptance of new technologies that spark growth and innovation.Our guest is scholar and journalist James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, author of "The Conservative Futurist: How To Create the Sci-Fi World We Were Promised."In this episode he argues that in the decades after World War Two and during the space race, America was the world's dream factory. TV and movies helped to turn imagination into reality, from curing polio to landing on the Moon to creating the internet. In those years we were confident that more wonders lay just over the horizon: clean and infinite energy, a cure for cancer, computers and robots as humanity’s great helpers. But as we moved into the late 20th century, we grew cautious, even cynical, about what the future held and our ability to shape it. James Pethokoukis says that this year— 2023— marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Great Downshift in technological progress and economic growth, followed by decades of economic stagnation, downsized dreams, and a popular culture fixated on catastrophe."If you cannot imagine or have someone present a plausible imagining of a better tomorrow, why should we take any risks today?", Jim tells us. "There will be failures. Failure is part of taking a risk. It's part of a capitalist economy, and if you're not seeing failures, you're not taking large enough risks or a big enough swing at the plate"In our interview examine the impact of popular entertainment and its impact on our collective ambitions: "I think it influences how we think about the future, and that influences the decisions we make right now in the present."We discuss the current debate over artificial intelligence, and how future breakthroughs might be held back: "If all we can imagine is AI taking all our jobs, only enriching a slice of the population or somehow killing us, why would we want to do anything?"Among public policy decisions James Pethokoukis endorses are a dramatic increase in government spending on research and development as well as sharp cuts in red tape and severe environmental restrictions that prevent the construction of new transmission lines and other building blocks for clean technology projects. This is a wide-ranging conversation.In the interview we mention the controversial best-selling book, "The Population Bomb" co-authored by Paul and Anne Erlich, and the work of Persian author, futurist, and philosopher Fereidoun M. Esfandiary.Recommendation: Richard recommends a daily or weekly spiritual practice that could include prayer, meditation or yoga. He believes that a regular discipline that involves giving gratitude and thinking of the inner self can improve mental well-being. "We are often unkind to each other because we are unforgiving of ourselves and ungrateful for the world we have been born into," Richard days. "It’s no accident that a decline in church attendance in America has something to do with the rise in incivility." Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Affective polarization in America – the gap between voters' positive feelings about their own political party or "side" and negative feelings toward the opposing party – has sharply increased during the past two decades.We speak with two leaders in local government and a nationwide students group about effective ways to bridge divides. Erica Manuel is CEO and Executive Director at the Institute for Local Government in Roseville, California. She has over 20 years of experience helping public, private and nonprofit organizations implement innovative policies to provide strong leadership, advance climate resilience, support economic development, engage communities, and drive positive change.Manu Meel is CEO of BridgeUSA, a student-led nonprofit organization that creates spaces at colleges and high schools for open discussion among students about political issues. BridgeUSA began in 2016 at the universities of Notre Dame, CU-Boulder and UC Berkeley in response to growing polarization on campus.  Erica and Manu were interviewed by our co-host Richard Davies at the 2023 Braver Angels Convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Both of them played leading roles at the cross-partisan gathering of Democrats, Republicans and independent citizens. Braver Angels is part of the growing movement of bridging organizations, who are finding new ways to push back against rigid and dehumanizing political divides. Many young people on college campuses are "just scared to say what's on their minds, and walking on eggshells," Manu tells us. He blames "the loudest voices" for silencing open discussion. "This is not a problem of the majority," he says. "It is a problem of the loudest voices imposing their closed-mindedness on an exhausted majority."Both Erica and Manu insist they're hopeful that the crisis of polarization can be successfully overcome. "I'm hopeful because not a single person I've talked to has said why on earth would you do that? Why on earth would you talk to someone on the other side? Why on earth would you want to treat someone like a human being with dignity?" Erica tells Richard.Recommendation: Jim recommends Commentary Magazine, a monthly publication of conservative "non-Trumpy" opinion. He writes its tech commentary and is a frequent guest on Commentary's daily podcast.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
It's easy to look at the impacts of rigid polarization and blame our leaders and political parties, the media, or the education system. In this episode, we hear an argument that the first thing all of us should do is focus on what we can control: ourselves. We discuss how to learn to live with others despite deep divisions. All democracies need protests and debates to flourish. But we also need to respect ourselves and acknowledge the dignity of others.Alexandra Hudson is the author of the new book, "The Soul of Civility", and an adjunct professor in philanthropy at Indiana University. She argues that civility is a key solution for polarization and a breakdown in social order. In her writing she examines how civility—a respect for the humanity of others—transcends political disagreements. Civility, she writes, is not a technique, but a disposition: "a way of seeing others as beings endowed with dignity and inherently valuable."The divided state of the world "is a timeless problem. It's an intractable problem, but there's no policy solutions or simple cure," Lexi tells us. "It requires constant vigilance on behalf of each of us. That's humbling."We learn about the crucial difference between outward politeness, polish or poise, and civility which requires constant internal work and the application of true character. We individually have the power to improve and change, Lexi says. Her book looks at arguments for civility from the ancient times until the present day.Recommendation: Richard recently read "The Spinning Heart" by the Irish writer Donal Ryan. This short, powerful novel set in a small town in Ireland in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. People are left without work, with routine and meaning in their lives. Each short chapter is from the vantage point of a different speaker who has been wounded — by the economy as well as by their parents, their lovers, by life. The book is funny and poignant. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Destructive conflict aims to destroy the other side. But constructive conflict can be a force for good.In this episode we learn how good conflict helps move people beyond polarization, slogans, and angry tweets to a place where they can connect and grow— even as they strongly disagree. Hélène Biandudi Hofer says that when we have the vocabulary and basic skills to investigate conflict with curiosity, it can change everything.Journalists Hélène Biandudi Hofer and Amanda Ripley co-founded Good Conflict, which works with news organizations, non-profits, elected officials, educators, religious leaders, and others to lean into conflict in a constructive, productive way. Hélène developed and managed the Solutions Journalism Network’s Complicating the Narratives project. She trained more than a thousand journalists across 125 newsrooms throughout the world."I believe story is the most underutilized and under-appreciated thing to help people understand those we disagree with and who are vastly different from ourselves," she tells us. In this podcast, we hear about the specific tools, skills and vocabulary Hélène uses to help people respond to disagreements without sliding into contempt.Co-hosts and Richard come to this subject from very different places. While Richard says he "sometimes falls into a trap of trying to avoid conflict and ignoring that it's a needed part of life." Jim responds: "I like a good argument. I think it's healthy and kind of exciting sometimes to have a difference of opinion, especially with a good friend."This episode and others about polarization are funded in part by a grant from Solutions Journalism Network. Richard is one of this year's Complicating The Narratives Fellows.This week's recommendation: Jim is an enthusiastic listener to the podcast, "The Rest Is History", hosted by historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Almost everyone has an opinion about the impact of social media on political polarization. Most of us believe that Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube and other sites have made our civic life more angry and divided. But how much of this is true? Are consumers as much to blame as the platforms themselves?15 years ago, in the very early days of social media, many Americans had a much more positive view of this new technology. It was bringing friends and families together, opening up new sources of information, and that was viewed as a good thing.We discuss the surprising findings of research into social media and polarization with Professor Chris Bail, founder of the Polarization Lab at Duke University. He’s the author of the 2021 book, “Breaking The Social Media Prism.” Bail studies political tribalism, extremism, and social psychology using data from social media and research from computational social science.This show was recorded during a week of chaos on Capitol Hill, right after the historic ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz who led the push to remove McCarthy, is one of a new generation of performative politicians, known more for their huge social media followings than their ability to get things done.Both Democrat and Republican hardliners are among those who have used Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to push politics to the extremes. Compromise is considered a dirty word by these politicians. Working out the complex, time-consuming details of legislation is hardly the stuff of clicks or headlines.In this episode we complicate the current social media narrative, learning more about algorithms, and user responses to them. This show is part of our podcast series on polarization, funded in part with a generous grant from Solutions Journalism Network. This non-profit group is about to celebrate its 10-year-anniversary.Recommendation: Richard enjoyed going to the movies recently and seeing "Past Lives", the latest film by Korean-Canadian- American playwright, Celine Song. Richard also gives a thumbs up to "The Morning Show" on Apple TV. Both feature the work of actress Greta Lee. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Have you ever been asked by a political opponent to describe what's wrong or weak about your own side's arguments? That's what Richard and Jim do here. This episode could have been ripped from a Braver Angels training seminar, but to our knowledge, no other podcast has tried this before.Liberal-leaning Richard takes on three hot topics, picked by Jim, where the left is wrong. Jim does the same thing for his side, discussing three examples picked by Richard.The ground rules are simple: No "your-side-ism". When describing the failings of their own side neither host was allowed to criticize their opponents. If they do, a loud bell rings. Listen to find out how many times the darn thing goes off!The six topics are: - Liberals try to do too much and as a result their policies backfire. - Conservatives fail to challenge populism, Donald Trump, and stand up for democracy. - The left hugely underestimates the cost of their spending programs. - The right ignores the huge increase in public debt. - Liberals are too quick to decide that anyone who disagrees with them is not only misinformed but evil. - Too many Conservatives deny the reality of climate change.One big failure in American politics is that neither side understands the other. Both Democratic and Republican voters have major misconceptions about what supporters of the other party actually believe. This weakens the arguments of both, and has a dire impact on public policy making and the quality of debates.Issues discussed by Richard and Jim include homelessness in California, recent changes in the Republican Party, the alarming rise in government deficits and debt, and the changing nature of the conservative debate over climate.Among articles mentioned in this podcast are Jim's writing about The New Green Right and Against The Wind about problems with wind energy and coverage about homelessness in The Atlantic and New York Times.Recommendation: Richard read the new book by Richard Haass: "The Bill of Obligations— The Ten Habits of Good Citizens".This podcast is the third episode of our series on American polarization funded in part with a grant from Solutions Journalism Network. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Why is American politics so dysfunctional? Is it because we are too polarized or too fragmented? Throughout this fall we will be exploring different aspects of polarization— arguably the most important threat to both effective governance and a stable democracy. This episode includes an edited recording of a lively conversation from the podcast, "Politics In Question", between Rick Pildes, Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law, and political scientist Lee Drutman, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation.Lee has been a guest on several previous episodes of "How Do We Fix It?". Author of the book, "Breaking the Two Party Doomloop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America", Lee is known as an advocate for proportional representation with ranked-choice voting, arguing that it would reduce political polarization and minimize the risks of democratic backsliding. Rick is skeptical of this analysis, and argues that "the most pervasive and perhaps deepest challenge facing virtually all Western democracies today is the political fragmentation of democratic politics." He has written widely about this topic. Thank you to our friends at "Politics In Question", who have given us permission to share their interview. Both "Politics In Question" and "How Do We Fix It?" are members of The Democracy Group, a network that shares political podcasts about democracy, civic engagement and civil discourse.This episode is part of a fall series made with support and funding from Solutions Journalism Network — a non-profit training and advocacy organization. SJN trains journalists to focus on what the news misses most often: How people are trying to solve problems and what we can learn from their successes and failures. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Toxic polarization is "the problem that eats all other problems... It's the sludge at the base of everything else," our guest Mónica Guzmán tells us. In this really useful repeat episode from 2022, we learn how to fight back against the confusion and heartbreak of living with rigid divides.This show is a curtain raiser for a series we are doing this fall with funding from Solutions Journalism Network. We will be examining threats to our society from polarization and recent efforts to build a national movement to bridge divides.Monica is a bridge builder and author of the highly-praised book "I Never Thought Of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times". She serves as a Senior Fellow for Public Practice at the national depolarization organization, Braver Angels.This interview contains surprises. One of them, says Monica, is that "the anger and the rage that we see out there that defines our division doesn't actually exist that much on the one-to-one level,"She argues that the best tool we can use to have successful conversations with those we disagree with is our own curiosity. We also learn about Monica's personal story as the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who strongly supported Donald Trump. We hear how Mónica discovered ways to overcome divisions that hurt our relationships and society.In this episode, Monica discusses how we can put our natural sense of wonder to work, finding the answers needed to work with people,rather than score points against them. Bridging the gap involves asking questions that help you get across the difficult divides that are causing so much pain in our families and communities.We also learn about the work and practice of Braver Angels and its current campaign, "Rise For America." Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Why aren’t Democrats doing much better in elections for Congress and also in state races? We explore several reasons. One is that Democrats have been losing the support of many black, white and hispanic working class voters. We heard a forceful argument about that in "How Do We Fix It?" episode #389 with Ruy Teixeira.In this show we expand the argument and look at another group of voters often ignored by Democratic party leaders— Christians and especially Catholics who are among the largest group of swing voters. This is a shared podcast with "Talkin' Politics and Religion Without Killin' Each Other". Their show and ours are members of the Democracy Group podcast network, Our guest is Lanae Erickson, Senior Vice President at Third Way, a center-left think tank that champions pragmatic liberal ideas. She spoke earlier this year with Talkin' Politics and Religion's host, Corey Nathan. Thank you, Corey, for giving us permission to share an edited version of a rich and thoughtful conversation. We hear from Lanae about why she's a pragmatic progressive. She argues that the only way America can make lasting progress on major issues is to include different sides in a debate. We learn why so many elected officials and activists treat public policy as an all or nothing proposition. "I would say we should try to get what we could done, and then do it again, do it again and do it again, instead of holding out and making the perfect the enemy of the good," she told Corey Nathan.As Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics at Third Way, Lanae tackles hot-button issues like immigration, abortion, religious liberty, education and guns. Previously, Lanae served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Her commentary has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Politico and PBS NewsHour. Lanae is also principal second violinist in Washington DC's Capital City Symphony. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Globalization, technology, devastating impacts from the foreclosure crisis and the opioid addiction have wreaked havoc on communities left behind by the modern economy. Some of these discarded places are rural. Others are cities or suburbs. Some vote blue, others red. Some are the most diverse communities in America, while others are nearly all white, all Latino, or all Black. In this episode we visit four cities and towns with deep poverty and gutted public services— where entire communities are struggling to hold on.Our guest is Michelle Wilde Anderson, a professor of property, local government and environmental justice at Stanford Law School. Her recent book is "The Fight to Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America"."We have given up on many of these places", Michelle tells us. She describes discarded America as "giant parts of many states that have not found their foothold in the 21st century economy." Discarded America is "a term that describes active decision making."Her book describes the fallout from decades of cuts to local government amidst rising segregation by income and race. She reports on efforts to revive four communities— Stockton California, Lawrence Massachusetts, Josephine County Oregon, and Detroit.The focus is on local activists, community leaders, elected officials and others who have poured their heart and soul into fighting for the places where they live. In these places and others some of the most basic aspects of local government services have been dismantled.This podcast was first published last year and is a companion piece to "How Do We Fix It?" episode #390— "For the Love of Cities" with Peter Kageyama.In this episode we learn about brave and innovative efforts to cope with years of falling tax receipts in many communities that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, and decades of economic decline as jobs and entire industries moved offshore or to other parts of the country.As always with our podcast, there is also a focus on solutions, as we discuss examples of civic pride and rebuilding.Michelle Wilde Anderson book Review: "Building Back Better— One Community at a Time (New York Times).Recommendation: Richard watched the FX drama series, "The Old Man", starring Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, Amy Brenneman and Alia Shawkat. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Why do we connect emotionally with some places and not others? Why does that matter? What does loving the place you live in have to do with healing the partisan divide? We explore these questions and hear about solutions from author, researcher and speaker Peter Kageyama.This shared episode is an edited version of a podcast released earlier this year by "Village Squarecast". Our show includes extracts from a speech delivered at a special meeting of The Village Square in Tallahassee, Florida.Peter Kageyama is the author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places, the follow up, Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places and his latest, The Emotional Infrastructure of Places. He loves cities and is the former President of Creative Tampa Bay, a grassroots community change organization and the co-founder of the Creative Cities Summit, an interdisciplinary conference that brings citizens and practitioners together around the big idea of ‘the city.’"The mutual love affair between people and their place is one of the most powerful influences in our lives, yet rarely thought of in terms of a relationship," says Peter. "As cities begin thinking of themselves as engaged in a relationship with their citizens, and citizens begin to consider their emotional connections with their places, we open up new possibilities in community, social and economic development by including the most powerful of motivators—the human heart—in our toolkit of city-making." In this episode we learn about the importance of "high touch" local entrepreneurs and local innovators who send "love notes" to the places where they live.Peter shares creative initiatives and speaks of the work of local innovators and public artists. Examples mentioned here include the transformation of Times Square's public space in New York City, The Bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago, and the Grand Rapids Lip Dub.A warm thankyou to Liz Joyner, President and CEO of The Village Square for giving us permission to share this episode. Village Square is a non-profit organization based in Tallahassee, Florida. It "builds community in our hometown across the ideological, racial, ethnic and religious divisions that have deepened so dramatically in our nation and that have prevented us from addressing the challenges we face together. Hometowns with strong and deep relationships are communities that thrive." Learn more here. "How Do We Fix It?" and "Village Squarecast" are proud members of The Democracy Group podcast network of shows covering democracy, civic engagement and civil discourse. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Comments (7)


@22:19: The admonition that journalists should be not just descriptive but also prescriptive strikes me as childish and ill considered. Of course, it's rare that these hosts come across as more than naive twits performing a concern for solutions.

Oct 18th

René Slegh

Last episode before this one was about nuance. They talk about pre assumptions being made by panic with a disease... isn't this whole Corona the same thing? What nuance is there in this episode talking about only how to talk to people that don't believe in the vaccine? BTW it isn't a vaccine yet it's still an experimental one. The pre assumptions made from the government's based on numbers are really bad. The PTR tests for example are really unreliable testers. The numbers of people infected can depend on how much testing was done and anyone dying from flu like symptoms gets the label Covid dead. I could go on a while. What about the human body? Do we suddenly understand the human auto immune system totally that you know enough what your doing? The new method has been tried and tested d for like 30 years yes but researchers had a lot of issues and now suddenly it works. However it is not tested what happens in the long run. Again I could go on. There is a debate possible here but I hea

Sep 6th


Idiots. You're comparing US NOMINAL corporate tax rates to other countries' EFFECTIVE corporate tax rates.

Aug 13th


Vacuous interview.

Jun 29th


The hosts are pointless. They pose a disconnected sequence of banal questions that lead nowhere, least of all to follow-ups.

Jun 8th


A flippant discussion that flitted from one useless, drive-by misconstrual to the next.

Jun 8th

Midnight Rambler

four years of slurs and smears impeachment s etc. LoL Trump's the problem

May 21st
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