The Ezra Klein Show

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Subscribers: 5928
Reviews: 20


 Sep 17, 2020

SS
 Jul 25, 2020
Provides engaging, thoughtful, and profound examinations of ideas and issues affecting politics and government.


 Jul 23, 2020

Austin
 Mar 28, 2020
We love our milquetoast liberal boy, don't we folks?


 Feb 3, 2020

Description

Winner of the 2020 Webby and People's Voice awards for best interview podcast. Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Episode Date
RBG, minority rule, and our looming legitimacy crisis
4315
The passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just weeks before a presidential election, leaves us in dangerous waters. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which the election outcome is contested by one side and is ultimately determined by a Supreme Court with the deciding vote cast by Trump's recent appointee. Indeed, both Sen. Ted Cruz and President Donald Trump have named this scenario as driving their urgency to replace Ginsburg. At that point, a legitimacy crisis looms. Suzanne Mettler is the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University. Her work has focused on trust between citizens and their governments, but recently, she’s co-written, with Robert Lieberman, a book that is tailor-made for this moment: Four Threats: The Recurring Crisis of American Democracy. Its thesis is a dark one: America’s most dangerous political crises have been driven by four kinds of threat: Political polarization, democratic exclusion, economic inequality, and executive power. But this is the first time all four threats are present simultaneously.   “It may be tempting to think that we have weathered severe threats before and that the Constitution protected us,” they write. “But that would be a misreading of history, which instead reveals that democracy is indeed fragile, and that surviving threats to it is by no means guaranteed.”  We discuss where the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves us, what 2020 election scenarios we should be most worried about, what the tumultuous election of 1800 can teach us about today, how this moment could foster exactly the democratic reckoning this country needs, whether court packing and filibuster elimination will save American democracy or destroy it, when people know they’re benefiting from government programs and when they don’t, and more. Book recommendations: Good Enough for Government Work by Amy Lerman  Fragmented Democracy by Jamila Michener With Ballots and Bullets by Nathan Kalmoe  We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 24, 2020
David French and I debate polarization, secession, and the filibuster
5588
David French is a senior editor at the Dispatch, a columnist at Time, and one of the conservative commentators I read most closely. French and I have rather different politics — he's a Christian conservative from Tennessee and I’m a secular liberal from California — but his upcoming book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, tracks some of the same problems that I’ve been obsessing over for years: political polarization and the way it's cracking America apart.   But French goes further than I do: He fears not just governmental dysfunction and paralysis, but full-on secession and even civil war. He constructs two in-depth scenarios — one quite violent — by which America fractures into two separate red and blue nations following secession, and argues the only viable solution is a supercharged form of federalism in which both sides accept that in a nation this polarized, America can only hang together if it permits different regions to govern apart. But is that an answer to our problems, or simply a form of submission to them?   In important ways, French's solution is the opposite of the path I tend to favor, and the result is a constructive debate about the nature of group polarization, the possibility of secession, the importance of the filibuster, what we can learn from James Madison, the virtues and vices of democracy, and the feedback loops of governance. There are, of course, no perfect answers here. But perhaps we can discover the least-terrible solution on offer.  (One note: This conversation was recorded shortly before Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. But as you'll hear, much of what we talk about is unnervingly relevant to the kind of political crisis, and particularly the questions of minoritarian vs. majoritarian rule, that we're now facing.) Book recommendations: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay Dune by Frank Herbert  We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 21, 2020
The Matt Yglesias Show
5626
Matt Yglesias is a co-founder and senior correspondent at Vox, my co-host on The Weeds podcast, and my oldest friend in journalism. Matt’s college blog was an inspiration for my own, and since then we’ve worked together, podcasted together, and even started Vox together. I've learned an enormous amount from him, both when we agree and when we disagree. A lot has changed since Matt and I started blogging in the early 2000s — and we’ve changed, too. So we start this conversation by discussing how social media has altered American politics, why Matt went from a war hawk to near-pacifist on US foreign policy, what it’s like to go from attacking the establishment to being seen as part of the establishment, and the way the Obama administration disillusioned him.  But Matt has also recently written a new book, One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger. In it, he argues that the path to ensure American greatness and preeminence on the world stage is a combination of mass immigration, pro-family policy, and overhauling America’s housing and transportation systems. We discuss how to reconcile that vision with the reality of climate change, what a genuinely progressive pro-family agenda would look like, Donald Trump’s housing policy dog-whistling, why we should be allowing a lot more legal immigration, and much more. Book recommendations: Justice, Gender and the Family by Susan M. Okin Political Order and Political Decay by Francis Fukuyama A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 17, 2020
Race, policing, and the universal yearning for safety
3226
Our conversation over race and policing — like our conversations over virtually everything in America — is shot through with a crude individualism. Talking in terms of systems and contexts comes less naturally to us, but that means we often miss the true story. Phillip Atiba Goff is the co-founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity, as well as a professor of African-American studies and psychology at Yale University. At CPE, Goff sits atop the world’s largest collection of police behavioral data. So he has the evidence, and he knows what it tells us — and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t even attempt to measure. He knows what we can say with confidence about race and policing, and what we wish we knew, but simply don’t. He thinks in systems, in contexts, in uncertainty — in the bigger, harder picture.  That’s what this conversation is about. What do we know about racial bias in policing? At what levels does it operate? Where has it been measured, and what haven’t we even tried to measure? How much of policing is driven by crime rates? How do we think about the conditions that create crime in this analysis, and what do we miss when we ignore them? What do we know about the investments that actually make people safe? How do we balance the reality that police do reduce violent crime with the fury communities have at being over-policed, or victimized by police? How do we experiment with other models of safety carefully and systematically? There’s a lot in this one. This conversation could’ve gone for hours longer. But these are tough issues, and they deserve someone who understands both the micro-level data and the macro-level context. Goff does, and he shares that knowledge generously and clearly here. Book recommendations: Wounded in the House of a Friend by Sonia Sanchez Evicted by Matthew Desmond  Uneasy Peace by Patrick Sharkey No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 14, 2020
How to think about coronavirus risk in your life
4185
Coronavirus has turned life into an endless series of risk calculations. Can I take my child to see his grandparents, even if it means getting on a plane? Is it okay to begin seeing friends or dating? Should I attend religious services even if they are held inside? Do I have to wear a mask around my roommates? The profusion of these questions reflects public health failures, but we live in the wreckage of those failures. So how are we best to live? Julia Marcus is an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and a contributing writer for The Atlantic who has penned a brilliant series of essays about how to think about risk amidst this pandemic. Marcus’s starting point, which emerges from her previous work on HIV prevention, is that an all-or-nothing approach is blindly unrealistic: Everything is a trade-off. Shaming is a terrible public health strategy. And we can’t have a conversation about risks that ignores the reality of benefits, too.  In this conversation, Marcus offers a framework for making key life decisions while also managing coronavirus risk at the same time. We also discuss what the risk calculation for someone living in Germany or South Korea looks like, how the US government’s abdication of responsibility has shifted the burden of risk management onto individuals, the kinds of activities we tend to underestimate and overestimate the riskiness of, the principles that should guide us in the age of coronavirus, how long we can expect this pandemic to last, and much more. References: “Quarantine Fatigue Is Real”, Julia Marcus, The Atlantic “Americans Aren’t Getting the Advice They Need”, Julia Marcus, The Atlantic “Colleges Are Getting Ready to Blame Their Students”, Julia Marcus, The Atlantic Book recommendations: Momo by Michael Ende Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed  The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 10, 2020
Black Republicans, Donald Trump, and America's "George Floyd moment"
5314
The Republican Party began losing the Black vote around 1936. Since then, Republicans have commissioned reports, hired consultants, and spent huge sums of campaign dollars trying to win back Black voters. The project continues today: This year’s Republican National Convention presented a lineup of speakers far more diverse than the Republican Party itself, making the case for the “Party of Lincoln.” A third of African Americans, after all, self-identify as “conservative.” And yet, no Republican presidential candidates has won more than 15 percent of the Black vote since 1964 (and many receive well under 10).   Leah Wright Rigueur is a historian and public policy scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican, a remarkable study of the distinct ideologies woven through the Black conservative and Black Republican traditions. The book traces the history of why Black voters left the GOP and what the Republican Party has tried to do — and what it has refused to do — to win them back.   Rigueur has also spent the past decade teaching classes on racial protests, riots, and how they shaped American politics in the 20th century. We discuss the historical analogues for today’s protest movement, what’s different now than in 1968, the complex relationship between protesters and electoral politics, how these movements can lead to both lasting change and white backlash, and more. Book recommendations: Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State by Megan Ming Francis Don't Blame Us by Lily Geismer One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 07, 2020
Andrew Yang on UBI, coronavirus, and his next job in politics
5353
The last time Andrew Yang was on the podcast, he was just beginning his long shot campaign for the presidency. Now, he’s fresh off a speaking slot at the Democratic convention, and, as he reveals here, talking to Joe Biden’s about a very specific role in a Biden administration.  Which is all to say: A lot has changed for Andrew Yang in the past few years. And even more has changed in the world. So I asked Yang back on the show to talk through this new world, and his possible role in it. Among our topics: - Could a universal basic income be the way we rebuild a fairer economy post-coronavirus?  - What’s changed in AI, and its likely effect on the economy, over the past five years?  - What’s the one mistake Yang wishes the Democratic Party would stop making?  - What did he learn from the surprising success of his own campaign?  - What job is he talking to Joe Biden about taking if Democrats win in November?  - Democrats think of themselves as the party of government. So why don’t they care more about making government work?  - How can Democrats get away with endlessly claiming to support ideas they have no actual intention of passing? - Do progressives have an overly dystopic view of technology? - Is there a way to pull presidential campaigns out of value statements, and into real plans for governing? - The unusual power Joe Biden holds in American politics And much more. References: Vox's Kelsey Piper's piece on GPT-3 My previous podcast with Andrew Yang Book recommendations: Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee They Don't Represent Us by Lawrence Lessig  Humankind by Rutger Bregman This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey.  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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Present her/Searcher/Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 03, 2020
Why the hell did America invade Iraq?
4862
In 2003, America invaded Iraq. The war cost trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and destabilized the both the US and the Middle East. And for what? Iraq had no WMDs. Even if they had, they posed no threat to us. Why did we do it? What do we need to learn from it? That’s the question Robert Draper has spent years trying to answer. In 2007, Draper wrote Dead Certain, a study of the Bush administration with access to the President himself. But there was a hole at the center of that book, and Draper knew it: He still didn't quite understand what had led Bush to invade Iraq. And so he set out to fill the hole. Draper’s To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America is based on interviews with more than 300 people involved in the run-up to the Iraq War, and the stories they tell offer the clearest, most damning, most useful account of that decision to date.  There’s a reason I wanted to have this conversation right now. The Iraq War isn’t just past. It’s present. It’s part of how George W. Bush’s Republican Party fell to Donald Trump. It’s a study in the ways a president led by conviction and dismissive of expertise can warp the federal government (sound familiar?). It’s a reminder that belief can be as dangerous as cynicism. It's a lesson in the way that, when information is uncertain, assumptions rule all. And for all the differences between Bush and Trump personally, closely studying the Iraq War reveals a key continuity between them, and a reason Republican administrations keep leading to catastrophe.  Book recommendations: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner The False Cause by Adam H. Domby Young Heroes of the Soviet Union by Alex Halberstadt 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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 31, 2020
How to decarbonize America — and create 25 million jobs
4257
Saul Griffith knows the US energy system better than just about anyone on this planet. He’s an inventor, a MacArthur genius fellow, and the founder and CEO of Otherlab where his team was contracted by the Department of Energy to track and visualize the entirety of America’s energy flows. I had Griffith on the show last year for our climate series to lay out what it would look like for America to decarbonize. It was an awesome episode, but it was just a start.    Last month, Griffith formed an organization called Rewiring America and released an e-book of the same name that details the path to effectively decarbonize the US economy by 2035 without forcing Americans to sacrifice their current lifestyles and without having to invent any new technology. Just as importantly — and this is why it fits our mobilization series — Griffith worked with economists to come up with an estimate of how many new jobs this kind of mobilization could create: 25 million over the next five years, they found. More than that: They looked at what kinds of jobs these would be and where they’d be created.    Griffith’s plan is just about the boldest I’ve seen — and there are real questions about whether our political system is up for the task. But those are, crucially, political questions; part of answering them is showing that they can be answered and that they can be answered in ways that make working Americans better off rather than worse. We are in the midst of an unprecedented triple crisis: A public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a climate crisis each unlike anything we’ve ever faced. If there is a time to be bold, this is it. References: Rewiring America's Jobs Report Study on animal agriculture and emissions Dave Robert's Vox explainer on the "Rewiring America" plan My previous conversation with Saul Griffith You can check the Ezra Klein Show's climate change series here. Book recommendations Debt: A 5,000 Year History by David Graeber This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild 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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 27, 2020
Isabel Wilkerson wants to change how we understand race in America
5922
Isabel Wilkerson is an intimidating guest. She’s a former New York Times reporter, Pulitzer Prize recipient, Guggenheim fellow, and hands-down one of the best writers of our time. Her 2010 book The Warmth of Other Suns, a beautiful narrative history of the Great Migration, was a landmark achievement, and remains one of the all-time most recommended books on this show.    Wilkerson worked for years on her new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which grapples with a question that has become all the more relevant in recent months: What does America look like when the myths we tell ourselves about who we are, who we’ve been, and what we’ve created fall away? How should we understand the way the racial hierarchies of our past still shape our present?   Caste is a book built around a big theory: that America is a caste system and that, to understand it, we need to drop our sense of exceptionalism and analyze ourselves the way we analyze caste systems in other countries. But it is also a book built around dozens — hundreds — of smaller stories. Wilkerson’s genius as a writer is her ability to connect the macro and the micro, to tell you the big story of what happened but to make that story matter by slinking it to the lives of those who survived it. That is, to me, her unique contribution: What in the hands of another writer would feel like an abstraction attains, in her work, the vividness and emotional power of lived experience.    This is a big conversation, and it’s not always an easy one. But it is one you will not forget. References: My conversation with David Williams on why Covid-19 is so deadly for Black America Book recommendations: Annihilation of Caste by B.R. Ambedkar Deep South by Allison Davis and Burleigh Gardner  The Heart of Man by Eric Fromm 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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 24, 2020
What it would take to end child poverty in America
3239
In 2019, about one in six children in America — 12 million kids nationwide — lived in poverty. That’s a rate about two or three times higher than in peer countries. And that was before the worst economic and public health crisis in modern history.    The scale of child poverty in America is a disgrace, not only because of the suffering it creates and the potential it drains from our society, but because it’s easily avoidable. Child poverty is not an inevitability; it’s a policy choice. And we’ve been making the wrong choice for far too long.    So for the second episode of our economic remobilization series, I wanted to focus on a simple set of questions: What if we started taking our moral responsibility to America’s kids seriously? What would that world look like? How would we get there?    Congress member Barbara Lee is the chair of the Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity — and she’s someone who raised two kids, as a single mom on public assistance. In 2015, Lee and her colleague Lucille Roybal-Allard commissioned a landmark report from the National Academy of Sciences to better understand child poverty in America and what we could do to reduce it. Released last year, the report lays out a series of concrete policy proposals that would cut child poverty in half while paying for themselves 10 times over in social benefits.   In this conversation, Lee and I discuss the psychological impact that poverty has on kids, why investing in children is one of the best investments a society can make, what other countries do right on this front that we can learn from, what it would take to end child poverty as we know it, and much more — including why Lee, a hero to many progressives, was an early backer of now-VP nominee Kamala Harris. This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild Book recommendations: The End of White Politics by Zerlina Maxwell Say It Louder! by Tiffany Cross  Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson  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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Jack-of-all-audio-trades - Jeff Geld Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 20, 2020
Hannah Gadsby on comedy, free speech, and living with autism
5610
Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby became a global star with her Netflix special Nanette. It’s a remarkable piece of work, and it does what great art is supposed to do: Give you a sense, however fleeting, of what it is like to live inside another human’s experience. Gadsby’s new special, Douglas, takes that a step further: It explores her autism diagnosis and gives you a sense of what it is like to experience the world through another person’s mind.  The first half of my episode with Gadsby is about her experience moving through the world as a neurodiverse person. Gadsby didn't receive her autism diagnosis until she was almost 40 years old, after decades of struggling to navigate systems, institutions, and norms that weren't built for people like her. Her story of how she got to comedy — and how close she was to simply falling off the map — is searing, and it helped me see some of the capabilities and social conventions I take for granted in a new light. As in her shows, Gadsby, here, renders an experience few of us have had emotionally legible. It’s a powerful conversation. Then, we turn to the topics of free speech, safety, and cancel culture. For years, comedy has been undergoing many of the very same debates that have recently become front and center in the journalism world, and Gadsby has done some of the most powerful thinking I've heard on these issues. We discuss what it means for people in power to take responsibility for their speech, how to navigate the complex relationship between creator and audience members, why Twitter is a “bullying pulpit,” the role of recording technology, and the new skills those of us privileged with a platform are going to need to develop. This is one of those conversations I’ve been thinking about since I had it. Don’t miss it. Book (and painting) recommendations: Saint Sebastian as a Woman by Louise Bourgeois The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben  The New Tsar by Steven Lee Myers 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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Jack-of-all-audio-trades - Jeff Geld Researcher/Learner of all things - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 17, 2020
What would Keynes do?
6258
The novel coronavirus — and America’s disastrously inept response — has shuttered the economy, leaving factories quiet, businesses closed, workers unable to do their jobs. Pulling out of this hole will require an economic effort unlike anything in recent history. We don’t just need a bit of stimulus. We will need a remobilization. But towards what end? This is the first episode in a four-part series exploring how to rebuild the economy after COVID. Future episodes will look at a Green New Deal, a children-centric economy, and a universal basic income. But I wanted to start at the beginning. What can the government do? What is the economy for? Why should we trust politicians, rather than markets, to allocate resources on this scale? Zach Carter is a senior reporter at HuffPost and the author of a new book, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes. The book, which has widely been hailed as one of the year’s best, is a remarkable biography animated by a question many of us have forgotten Keynes asked: What values should guide an economy? What are the higher purposes economic policy should serve? Carter and I discuss: What Keynes would advise the US government to do if he were alive today How good domestic economic management can reduce the risk of global war Whether economics should be about maximizing consumer preferences or pursuing a social purpose The limits of democracy The role advertising plays in economic preferences Why the gold standard was — and is — a terrible idea Why Democratic politicians are stuck in the 1990s when it comes to their thinking on budget deficits Modern Monetary Theory (and its discontents) And much more. Book recommendations: The Globaists by Quinn Slobodian The Deluge by Adam Tooze  Nova by Samuel R. Delany John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics by Richard Parker  This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild (https://bit.ly/3iBcVoW) 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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio fanatic - Jeff Geld Researcher- Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 13, 2020
A devastating indictment of the Republican Party
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For 30 years, Stuart Stevens was one of the most influential operatives in Republican politics. He was Mitt Romney’s top strategist in 2012, served in key roles on both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, and worked on dozens of congressional and gubernatorial campaigns — building one of the best winning records in politics. Then Stevens watched his party throw its support behind a man who stood against everything he believed in, or thought he believed in.  Most dissidents from Trumpism take a familiar line: They didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left them. But for Stevens, Trump forced a more fundamental rethinking: The problem, he believes, is not that the GOP became something it wasn’t; it’s that many of those within it — including him — failed to see what it actually was. In his new book, It Was All a Lie, he delivers a searing indictment of the party he helped build and his role in it.  This is a conversation about the Republican Party’s past, present, and future. We discuss the differences between the Democratic and Republican coalitions, whether party elites could have prevented Trump’s rise, the power the GOP base holds, the relationship between tax cuts for the rich and white identity politics for the poor, where the party can and can’t go after Trump, the GOP operatives trying to put Kanye West on the 2020 ballot, how Stevens played the race card in his first campaigns, why Romney lost while Trump won, and much more. Book recommendations: The memoirs of Franz von Papen Black Cross by Greg Iles  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) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio fanatic - Jeff Geld Researcher- Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 10, 2020
How inequality and white identity politics feed each other
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Conservative parties operating in modern democracies face a dilemma: How does a party that represents the interests of moneyed elites win mass support? The dilemma sharpens as inequality widens — the more the haves have, the more have-nots there are who want to tax them. In their new book, Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality, political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that three paths are possible: Moderate on economics, activate social divisions, or undermine democracy itself. The Republican Party, they hold, has chosen a mix of two and three. “To advance an unpopular plutocratic agenda, Republicans have escalated white backlash — and, increasingly, undermined democracy,” they write. On some level, it’s obvious that the GOP is a coalition between wealthy donors who want tax cuts and regulatory favors, and downscale whites who fear demographic change and want Trump to build that wall. But how does that coalition work? What happens when one side gains too much power? If the donor class was somehow raptured out of politics, would the result be a Republican Party that trafficked less in social division, or more? And has the threat of strongman rule distracted us from the growing reality of minoritarian rule? In this conversation, we discuss how inequality has remade the Republican Party, the complex relationship between white identity politics and plutocratic economics, what to make of the growing crop of GOP leaders who want to abandon tax cuts for the rich and recenter the party around ethnonationalism, how much power Republican voters have over their party, and much more. Paul Pierson's book recommendations: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo Evicted by Matthew Desmond The Social Limits to Growth by Fred Hirsch Jacob Hacker's book recommendations: Tocqueville's Discovery of America by Leo Damrosch The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro The Internationalists by Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher in chief - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 06, 2020
Best of: Jia Tolentino on what happens when life is an endless performance
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The introduction to Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, hit me hard. In her investigation of how American politics and culture had collapsed into “an unbearable supernova of perpetually escalating conflict,” she became obsessed with five intersecting problems: “First, how the internet is built to distend our sense of identity; second, how it encourages us to overvalue our opinions; third, how it maximizes our sense of opposition; fourth, how it cheapens our understanding of solidarity; and, finally, how it destroys our sense of scale." Yeah, me too. My conversation with Tolentino was one of my favorites of last year -- and it has become all the more relevant in the midst of a pandemic that has collapsed most human communication into Zoom calls, Twitter feeds, and Instagram stories. This is a conversation about what happens when technology combines with the most powerful forces of human psychology to transform the nature of human interaction itself. It’s about how we construct and express our core sense of self, and what that’s doing to who we really are. References: The art of attention (with Jenny Odell) Book Recommendations: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher in chief - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 03, 2020
Dadding out with Mike Birbiglia
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Mike Birbiglia is one of my favorite comedians. He’s behind the specials. “Thank God for Jokes” and “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” the movies “Sleepwalk With Me” and “Don’t Think Twice,” and now the book The New One. t is on a subject close to my heart: Fatherhood. Birbiglia didn’t intend to be a father. He didn’t want to be a father. But he became one. And it was hard — on him, on his wife, on his marriage. The New One is a memoir of that time — funny, but brutally honest, and touching on some of the hardest truths of parenthood. It’s the kind of book that you can’t quite believes anyone would write. I mean, who would admit that? Or that? And did you read the part where…? So this is a conversation with a very funny person about some very tender subjects. Something Birbiglia and I both found becoming fathers is that there’s a lot less discussion of the emotional and relational dimensions of fatherhood than you might think. Our experiences were different. But these are topics that should be discussed more, whether you’re a parent or not. Book recommendations: Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb Feel Free by Zadie Smith Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher in chief - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 30, 2020
A rabbi explains how to make sense of suffering
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In this special crossover episode of Vox's Future Perfect series, The Way Through, Co-host Sean Illing talks to David Wolpe, senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, about God and how to make sense of suffering in human life. Relevant resources:  Making Loss Matter : Creating Meaning in Difficult Times by Rabbi David Wolpe Religion without God: Alain de Botton on "atheism 2.0." by Sean Iling Featuring: David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe), senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles Host: Sean Illing (@Seanilling), senior interviews writer, Vox More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. 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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 27, 2020
The crisis in the news
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There’s been a lot of discussion lately — including on this show — of the problems facing national news. Cries of fake news, illiberalism in the administration, fractured audiences, the cancel culture debate, shaky business models, and more. But the truest crisis in news isn’t in national news. It’s in local news.  American newspapers cut 45 percent of newsroom staff between 2008 and 2017. From 2004 to 2015, the U.S. newspaper industry lost over 1,800 print outlets to closures and mergers. And it’s only gotten worse since then. This is truest crisis in American news media: That so many places are losing the institutions that gather the news, that bind the community together, that hold public officials accountable ands bring public concerns visibility. Vast swaths of the country are now news deserts — and it’s happening at the same time that the average news consumer feels like they’re drowning in more information than ever before. Margaret Sullivan was the award-winning chief editor of the Buffalo News, then the public editor of the New York Times, and now the media columnist for the Washington Post. She’s also the author of Ghosting The News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of Democracy. This is a conversation about the economic, technological, and political forces that led to the devastation of local news; what happens to communities in the absence of health local news institutions; and, just as importantly, what we can do to save and revitalize local journalism. Book recommendations: Democracy’s Detectives by James T. Hamilton Still Here by Alexandra Jacobs  Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir by Joyce Johnson Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld Researcher in chief - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 23, 2020
Bryan Stevenson on how America can heal
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What would it take for America to heal? To be the country it claims to be? This is the question that animates Bryan Stevenson’s career. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a clinical professor at the New York University School of Law, a MacArthur genius, and the author of the remarkable book Just Mercy — which was recently turned into a feature film, where Stevenson was played by Michael B. Jordan.  I admire Stevenson tremendously. He has lived a life dedicated to justice. Justice for individuals — some of whom he has rescued from death row — and justice for the society he lives in. He’s one of the fairly few people I’ve found with vision for how America could find justice on the far shore of our own history. That vision is particularly needed now and so I asked him to return to the show to share it. To my delight, he agreed. This conversation is about truth and reconciliation in America — and about whether truth would actually lead to reconciliation in America. It’s about what the process of reckoning with our past sins and present wounds would look and feel and sound like. It’s about what we can learn from countries like Germany and South Africa, that have walked further down this path than we have. And it’s about the country and community that could lie on the other side of that confrontation.  Book recommendations: The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B Du Bois  The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson  From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin Evelyn Higginbotham  The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky Gilead by Marilyne Robinson  Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 20, 2020
What a post-Trump Republican Party might look like
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Five years ago, Oren Cass sat at the center of the Republican Party. Cass is a former management consultant who served as the domestic policy director for the Mitt Romney campaign and then as a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. But then he launched an insurgency.  Today, Cass is the founder and executive director of American Compass, a new think tank created to challenge the right-wing economic orthodoxy. Cass thinks conservatism has lost its way, becoming obsessed with low tax rates and a quasi-religious veneration of markets. What conservatives need, he thinks, are clear social goals that can structure a radically new economic agenda: a vision that puts families first, eschews economic growth as the be-all-end-all of policymaking, and recognizes the inescapability of government intervention in the economy. Trump is likely — though not certain — to lose in 2020. And then, Cass thinks, Republicans will face a choice: to return to a “pre-Trump” consensus, or to build a “post-Trump future” — one that, he hopes, will prevent more Trump-like politicians from rising.  In this conversation, Cass and I discuss how current economic indicators fail, the relationship between economics and culture, why Cass believes production — not consumption — should be the central focus of public policy, the problems with how our society assigns status to different professions, the role that power plays in determining market outcomes, the conservative case against market fundamentalism, why Cass supports labor unions and industrial policy but not a job guarantee or publicly funded childcare, what the future of the Republican Party after Donald Trump looks like, whether Cass’s policies are big enough to solve the problems he identifies, and more. References: The Once and Future Worker by Oren Cass "Removing the Blinders from Economic Policy" by Oren Cass Book recommendations: The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom  The Value of Everything by Mariana Mazzucato  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy  Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 16, 2020
Free speech, safety, and ‘the letter’
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Last week, Harper’s published an open letter arguing that “the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” The letter had a long list of signatories, and triggered an instant controversy, not so much for what it said as a text as for how it was being used as a political document. This is a hot debate on both sides because it traces the issue most central not just to journalists’ hearts, but to our jobs: Can we speak the truth, as best we understand it? And who, even, is “we”? I believe in the free exchange of information and ideas. I’ve committed my life to it. But I also worry those values are sometimes deployed as political positioning rather than democratic practice. The term "free speech" is often used here, but we're not dealing with laws regulating speech. We're dealing with media platforms that make editorial decisions as a matter of course. No one has the right to a New York Times op-ed column, or a warm reception on social media. But fear of losing your job, or your status, can chill speech — as, of course, can fear of physical or legislative harm. As such, I've come to think the core of this debate isn't freedom, but safety. The word has become polarizing, but the yearning for it is ubiquitous. To speak freely, you must feel safe, or at least safe enough. That’s what the letter’s signatories are asking for. That’s also what its critics are asking for. Yascha Mounk is a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University, a columnist at the Atlantic, the host of the Good Fight podcast, and now the founder of a new journal, Persuasion, dedicated to pushing back on the illiberalism he sees infecting the discourse. Yascha and I agree on most issues, and I think hold similar values, but often find ourselves arguing over this topic. So I asked him on the show to see if we could figure out why. We discuss liberalism and illiberalism, what to do with speech that restricts others from speaking, the component parts of what gets called “cancel culture,” whether the zone of debate has widened or narrowed over the past 20 years, the differing cultures of Twitter and Reddit, The NYT's Tom Cotton controversy, whether safety and free speech are truly in tension, what the word “unsafe” means to people who have daily reason to fear for their freedom and futures, and much more.  Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 13, 2020
The frightening fragility of America's political institutions
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Masha Gessen grew up in the Soviet Union and spent two decades covering the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, before being driven from the country by policies targeting LGBT people. Watching Donald Trump win in 2016, Gessen felt like she had seen this movie before. Within forty-eight hours of Trump’s victory, Gessen’s essay “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” had gone viral, including lessons that in hindsight read as prophetic: Believe the autocrat. Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Institutions will not save you. Now, Gessen is back with a new book, Surviving Autocracy, that is a collection of ideas they have been building over the course of the Trump presidency. We discuss the inherent fragility of American political institutions, Donald Trump’s autocratic aesthetic, how the language of liberal democracy paradoxically undermines genuine liberal democracy, what lessons Gessen learned from covering the rise of Vladamir Putin, why Gessen believes the US is currently in the first stage of the three part descent to autocracy, whether George W. Bush was a more damaging president than Donald Trump, the counterintuitive roots of Trumpian post-truthism, and much more. Book recommendation: The Post-Communist Mafia State by Balint Magyar Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer/ Audio Master Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 09, 2020
Can artificial intelligence be emotionally intelligent?
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When we talk about AI, we’re often talking about a very particular, narrow form of intelligence — the sort of analytical competence that can win you games of GO or solve complex math equations. That type of intelligence is important, but it’s incomplete. Human affairs don’t operate on reason and logic alone. They sometimes don't operate on reason and logic at all. In 1995, computer scientist Rosalind Picard wrote a paper and subsequent book making the case that the fields of computer science and AI should take emotion seriously, and providing a framework for how machines could come to understand, express and monitor emotion. That project launched the field of “Affective Computing” and today Picard is the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT, and a leading inventor and entrepreneur in affective computing.  In this conversation, Picard and I discuss the importance of emotional cognition to human decision-making, how emotion-tracking technology is being used to help disadvantaged populations (but could also be used to bring about dystopian results), how affective computing deals with the subjective expressions of human emotions, what studying affective computing taught her about interacting with other humans, why Picard believes the goal of AI technology should be to “empower the weak”and “reduce inequality,” and much more. Book recommendations: The Bible (stick around for the reasoning behind this one) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer/ Jack-of-all-audio-trades Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 06, 2020
Danielle Allen on the radicalism of the American revolution — and its lessons for today
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My first conversation with Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen in fall 2019 was one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t expect to have Allen on again so soon, but her work is unusually relevant to our current moment. She’s written an entire book about the deeper argument of the Declaration of Independence and the way our superficial reading and folk history of the document obscures its radicalism. (It’ll make you look at July Fourth in a whole new way). Her most recent book, Cuz, is a searing indictment of the American criminal justice system, driven by watching her cousin go through it and motivated by the murder that ended his life. Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which Allen directs, has released the most comprehensive, operational road map for mobilizing and reopening the US economy amidst the Covid-19 crisis. And to top it all off, a two-year bipartisan commission of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which Allen co-chaired, recently released a report with more than 30 recommendations on how to reform American democracy — and they’re very, very good. This is a wide-ranging conversation for a wide-ranging moment. Allen and I discuss what “all men are created equal” really means, why the myth of Thomas Jefferson’s sole authorship of the Declaration of Independence muddies its message, the role of police brutality in the American revolution, democracy reforms such as ranked-choice voting, DC statehood, mandatory voting, how to deal with a Republican Party that opposes expanding democracy, the case for prison abolition, the various pandemic response paths before us, the failure of political leadership in this moment, and much more. References: My first conversation with Danielle Allen Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center's Covid-19 work Book recommendations: To Shape a New World by Brandon Terry and Tommie Shelby  Solitary by Alfred Woodfox  The Torture Letters by Laurence Ralph Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer/ Jack-of-all-audio-trades Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 02, 2020
Land of the Giants: The Netflix Effect
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Land of the Giants is a podcast from our friends at Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network that examines the most powerful tech companies of our time.   The second season is called The Netflix Effect, and it’s hosted by Recode editors Rani Molla and Peter Kafka.   The Netflix Effect explores how a company that began as a small DVD-by-mail service ultimately upended Hollywood and completely changed the way we watch TV.   It’s a fascinating look at what really goes on behind the scenes at Netflix, one of the few companies that’s actually growing during the pandemic, and how they’re continuing to transform entertainment for you and me.     New episodes are released every Tuesday morning.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 01, 2020
Nicholas Carr on deep reading and digital thinking
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In 1964, the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote his opus Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In it, he writes, “In the long run, a medium's content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act." Or, put more simply: "Media work their magic, or their mischief, on the nervous system itself." This idea — that the media technologies we rely on reshape us on a fundamental, cognitive level — sits at the center of Nicholas Carr's 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. A world defined by oral traditions is more social, unstructured, and multi-sensory; a world defined by the written written word is more individualistic, disciplined, and hyper-visual. A world defined by texting, scrolling and social feedback is addicted to stimulus, constantly forming and affirming expressions of identity, accustomed to waves of information. Back in 2010, Carr argued that the internet was changing how we thought, and not necessarily for the better. “"My brain, I realized, wasn't just drifting,” he wrote. “It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the same way the net fed it — and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became.” His book was a finalist for the Pulitzer that year, but dismissed by many, including me. Ten years on, I regret that dismissal. Reading it now, it is outrageously prescient, offering a framework and language for ideas and experiences I’ve been struggling to define for a decade.  Carr saw where we were going, and now I wanted to ask him where we are. In this conversation, Carr and I discuss how speaking, reading, and now the Internet have each changed our brains in different ways, why "paying attention" doesn't come naturally to us, why we’re still reading Marshall McLuhan, how human memory actually works, why having your phone in sight makes you less creative, what separates "deep reading” from simply reading, why deep reading is getting harder, why building connections is more important than absorbing information, the benefits to collapsing the world into a connected digital community, and much more. The point of this conversation is not that the internet is bad, nor that it is good. It’s that it is changing us, just as every medium before it has. We need to see those changes clearly in order to take control of them ourselves.  Book recommendations: The Control Revolution by James R. Beniger The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld Research Czar - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 29, 2020
Your questions, answered
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Believe it or not, we’re already halfway through 2020. What a great year so far, huh? Just a delight. That means it’s time for an AMA. Among the questions you asked: If Joe Biden is elected president, what should his administration's first legislative priority be?  What were the best critiques of Why We’re Polarized?  How much of today's political conflict comes down to the Boomer/Millennial divide? What’s your reading process? What does preparation for EK Show episodes look like? If you were only intellectually accountable to beauty and not truth, what religion would you choose?  What’s your favorite non-Vox podcast? What’s your biggest takeaway from year 1 of being a dad? East coast or west coast?  What are the episodes that you have the most fun doing?  What’s an important identity of yours that doesn’t usually come out on the show?  Roge Karma joins me for this one. References: "In praise of polarization" by Ezra Klein "Imagining the nonviolent state" by Ezra Klein Ezra's book recommendations: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Beyond Ideology by Francis Lee What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer  Most fun EK Shows: I build a world with fantasy master N.K. Jemisin The art of attention, with Jenny Odell Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Researcher/Guest host - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 25, 2020
Which country has the world's best healthcare system?
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I got my start as a blogger. But more specifically, I got my start as a health policy blogger. My first piece of writing I remember people really carting about, and being proud of myself, was a series called “The Health of Nations,” in which I checked out books from college library, downloaded international reports, and profiled the world’s leading health systems. It was crude stuff, but it taught me a lot. The way we do health care isn’t the only way to do health care, It’ not the best way. Or the second best, Or the third. Ezekiel Emanuel is a bioethicist, oncologist, and co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Health Transformation Institute. He was a top health policy advisor in the Obama administration, he’s a senior fellow at the Center for American progress, he makes his own artisanal chocolate, and he’s got a new book — Which Country Has the World’s Best Healthcare? — where he goes into more detail than I ever did, or could, to profile other health systems and rank them against our own. So, yes, this is a conversation about which country has the world’s best health system. But it’s also about how innovation in health care actually works, whether there’s any evidence private insurers add actual value, whether health care is the best investment to make in improving health (spoiler: no), how do you improve a health system when half of the political system will fight like hell against those improvements, and much more. Emanuel has also been doing a lot of work on coronavirus policy, and so we spend some time there, discussing the question that’ tormenting me now: Are we simply giving up that fight? And is there even a politically viable option to giving up, given how much time the government has wasted and how exhausted the public is? Book recommendations: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editer/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 22, 2020
The transformative power of restorative justice
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The criminal justice system asks three questions: What law was broken? Who broke it? And what should the punishment be? Upon that edifice — and channeled through old bigotries and fears — we have built the largest system of human incarceration on earth. America accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its imprisoned population.  Restorative justice asks different questions: Who was harmed? What do they need? And whose obligation is it to meet those needs? It is a radically different model, with profoundly different results both for victims and perpetrators. Studies show restorative justice programs leave survivors more satisfied, cut recidivism rates, and cost less. If we’re thinking about rebuilding the criminal justice program, restorative justice should be central to that conversation.  sujatha baliga is the director of the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice. She won a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2019. She’s a survivor of abuse herself. Her work points toward a new paradigm for criminal justice: one focused on repairing breaches, not exacting retribution. And it carries lessons for how our politics might function, how our society could heal some of its oldest wounds, and how we live our own precious lives.  References: "Imagining the nonviolent state" by Ezra Klein Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm by Kazu Haga Book recommendations: For the Benefit of All Beings by the Dalai Lama  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher extraordinaire - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 18, 2020
Ross Douthat and I debate American decadence
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In his new book, The Decadent Society, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat diagnoses America’s core problems as decadence: “a situation in which repetition is more the norm than innovation; in which sclerosis afflicts public institution and private enterprises alike; in which intellectual life seems to go in circles; in which new developments in science, new exploratory projects, underdeliver compared with what people recently expected.” Douthat argues that there is a kind of ideological exhaustion, a spiritual malaise, at the center of the American project. We are a victim of our own successes, undone by our own achievements, and unable to break free from our oldest debates. But is he right? Ross and I cover a lot of ground in this conversation. We discuss why conservative Catholics talk so much more about sex than poverty, the dangers of the expansionary impulse, whether psychedelic culture is an antidote to decadence, the importance of utopian ambition, the moral foundations of effective altruism, the problem with contemporary science fiction, whether political liberalism is dependent on Christian metaphysics, why America can’t build, whether war is necessary for existential meaning, how the New York Times op-ed page has changed over the past decade, and much more. Book recommendations: From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun The Illusion of the End by Jean Baudrillard The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood The Children of Men by PD James Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 15, 2020
A serious conversation about UFOs
5394
You may have been following — I hope you are following — the New York Times's recent UFO reporting. Videos that the Navy confirms are real show pilots seeing and marveling over craft they can't explain. And as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, those videos “only scratch the surface” of the Pentagon's UFO research. UFOs are one of those topics that it’s hard to take seriously because they’re covered in kitsch and conspiracy. But there are those who take them seriously, which means approaching the question with humility. The history, frequency, and consistency of these events point toward something that merits study. But the explanations we force onto them — from religious visitations to aliens — confuse us further. We’re working backward from beliefs we already have, not forward from phenomena we don’t understand.  Diana Walsh Pasulka is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. In 2019, she published a fascinating book called American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, in which she embeds in the world of UFO research and tries to understand it using the tools of religious scholarship. The results are revelatory in terms of theory but also in terms of the things she sees, learns, and is forced to confront. Sometimes it's healthy — and, to be honest, fun — to train our attention on what we can't explain, not just what we can. In this episode, we do just that. Book recommendations: Passport to Magonia by Jacques Vallee Authors of the Impossible by Jeffrey J. Kripal UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record by Leslie Kean Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 11, 2020
A former prosecutor's case for prison abolition
3992
In 2017, Paul Butler published the book Chokehold: Policing Black Men. For Butler the chokehold is much more than a barbaric police tactic; it is also a powerful powerful metaphor for understanding how racial oppression functions in the US criminal justice system.  Butler describes a chokehold as “a process of coercing submission that is self-reinforcing. A chokehold justifies additional pressure on the body because a body does not come into compliance, but a body cannot come into compliance because of the vice grip that is on it.” That, he says, is the black experience in the United States.  Butler knows that experience all too well. He began his legal career as a criminal prosecutor, a job that he describes in this conversation as “basically just locking up black men.” Then, the tables turned and Butler found himself falsely accused of a misdemeanor assault. "After that experience I didn’t want to be a prosecutor any more," he writes. "I don’t think every cop lies in court but I know for sure that one did."  That experience put Butler on a journey very different than the one he began. Butler, now a Georgetown Law professor, has come to believe that the criminal justice system is not merely broken and in need of repair; rather, it is working exactly as it was designed, and thus needs to be completely reimagined. Book recommendations: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison Sula by Toni Morrison Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Editor - Jackson Bierfeldt Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 08, 2020
Why Ta-Nehisi Coates is hopeful
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The first question I asked Ta-Nehisi Coates, in this episode, was broad: What does he see right now, as he looks out at the country? “I can't believe I'm gonna say this,” he replied, “but I see hope. I see progress right now.” Coates is the author of the National Book Award-winner Between the World and Me and The Water Dancer, among others. We discuss how this moment differs from 1968, the tension between “law” and “order,” the contested legacy of MLK, Trump's view of the presidency, police abolition, why we need to renegotiate the idea of “the public,” how the consensus on criminal justice has shifted, what Joe Biden represents, the proper role of the state, the poetry Coates recommends, and much more.  But there’s one thread of this conversation, in particular, that I haven’t been able to put down: There is now, as there always is amidst protests, a loud call for the protesters to follow the principles of nonviolence. And that call, as Coates says, comes from people who neither practice nor heed nonviolence in their own lives. But what if we turned that conversation around: What would it mean to build the state around principles of nonviolence, rather than reserving that exacting standard for those harmed by the state? Book recommendations: Punishment and Inequality in America by Bruce Western Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration by Devah Pager The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forche Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Editor - Jackson Bierfeldt Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 04, 2020
Are humans fundamentally good? (with Rutger Bregman)
5990
Dutch historian and De Correspondent writer Rutger Bregman got famous for the lashings he gave Tucker Carlson and the assembled plutocrats of Davos. But his work is far more utopian than polemical. The conversation we had on this show almost a year ago on his previous book Utopia for Realists is still one of my favorites. Bregman's new book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, is even more ambitious: it's an effort to establish that human beings, human nature, is kinder, friendlier, more decent, than we are given credit for. And that a new world could be built atop that understanding. I'm not convinced by everything in this book, to be honest. But that tension makes this conversation unusually generative. We discuss the deeply social, egalitarian lives of hunter-gatherers, whether the advent of human civilization was a huge mistake, and how our views toward religious faith have changed radically since our early 20s; and we debate whether humans have a nature at all, the implications of the Holocaust, whether we can build a society without CEOs, politicians, and bureaucrats, and more By the end, I'm still not sure I believe there is one human nature. But, I do think that if we believed Bregman's view of our nature, rather than, say, Donald Trump's view of our nature, maybe we could build something much more beautiful. Book recommendations: Affluence without Abundance by James Suzman Behind the Shock Machine by Gina Perry The Lost Boys by Gina Perry How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) by Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 01, 2020
From politician to priest
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I first met Cyrus Habib at a conference a few years ago. You don't forget him. He's a Rhodes scholar. Iranian-America. As lieutenant governor of Washington state, he was the youngest Democrat elected to statewide office in the country. And he's blind. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read a piece in the New York Times that I didn't expect: Habib, who had a clear shot to be the next governor of Washington, is leaving politics to become a Jesuit. He is going to take a vow of obedience, of poverty, of chastity. He is going to give up his phone for years. And most fascinating of all, he doesn’t think of it as an act of sacrifice. “I don’t see it as a shrinking of my world,” he told the Times. "I see it as a shrinking of my self.” That is not something you read every day. So I asked Habib if he would come on the podcast and talk to me about this decision. The result is a remarkable conversation about Habib’s intertwining faith and political journeys, what you can and can’t achieve through political service, whether religion is the modern counterculture, how the forces of meritocracy and achievement ensnare even their winners, what it means to lead a life of joy, whether freedom comes through choice or constraint, the Jesuit theory of social change, whether a decision like this is selfish or selfless, and so much more. This conversation takes a bit of a winding path. But where it goes is really, really worth it. Book recommendations: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon Laudato Si' by Pope Francis Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 28, 2020
Robert Frank's radical idea
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I’ve known Cornell economist Robert Frank for almost 15 years. And for as long as I’ve known him, Frank has been trying to convince his fellow economists of an idea that’s simple to state, but radical in its implications: social pressure is a fundamental economic force. We are not rational, individual economic agents; we are social animals trying to mimic, and best each other — oftentimes without even knowing it. The failure of the economics profession to see this is, in Frank's view, a crime against public policy. Frank’s new book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work, came out shortly before coronavirus reshaped daily life. But it is, for that very reason, extraordinarily timed: it’s an effort to show that the economics of social contagion could reshape the world, solving our hardest problems — from climate change to income inequality — and offering new ways to think about the power we have as individuals. Absent coronavirus, its argument might’ve seemed abstract, optimistic. But now we've seen it happen. We are watching a version of Frank’s thesis play out right now, in real time. In the wake of coronavirus, social pressure has driven perhaps the single fastest behavioral transformation in human history. It is the example and pressure we face from each other that has made social distancing so effective, so fast. And if social pressure can do that — what else can it do? What Frank offers here is a theory of how public policy can shape peer pressure for good and for bad. Some of the ideas in this podcast — "expenditure cascades," "positional goods" — are hard to unsee once you see them. Others — like his proposal to rebuild the tax system around a progressive consumption tax meant to curb the intra-wealthy competitions that drive inequality — would radically reshape vast swaths of the tax code. Book recommendations: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling "How to solve climate change and make life more awesome" with Saul Griffith (podcast) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 25, 2020
Why “essential” workers are treated as disposable
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Grocery store clerks. Fast food cashiers. Hospice care workers. Bus drivers. Farm workers. Along with doctors and nurses, these are the people who are putting their own lives at risk to keep our society functioning day in and out amid the worst crisis of our lifetimes. We call them heroes, we label them “essential,” and we clap for their brave efforts -- even though none of them signed up for this monumental task, and many of them lack basic healthcare, paid sick leave, a living wage, cultural respect and dignified working conditions.  How did things get this way? Why did we end up with an economy that treats our most essential workers as disposable? And what does an alternative future of work look like?  Mary Kay Henry is the president of the Service Employees International Union, a 2 million person organization that represents a huge segment of America’s essential workers. If you ask a traditional economist why essential workers are paid so little, they’ll talk about marginal productivity and returns to education; ask Kay Henry and she’ll talk about something very different: power. Book recommendations: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams The Dowry by Lorraine Paolucci Macchello Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 21, 2020
"The world’s scariest economist” on coronavirus, innovation, and purpose
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The Times of London called Mariana Mazzucato “the world’s scariest economist.” Quartz describes her as “on a mission to save capitalism from itself.” Wired says she has “a plan to fix capitalism,” and warns that “it’s time we all listened. ”Mazuccato is an economist at University College London and Founder and Director of UCL's Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She’s the author of The Entrepreneurial State and The Value of Everything — two books that, together, critique some of the most fundamental economic assumptions of our time, and try and chart a different path forward. This is a moment that demands critique. The workers who are being called “essential” now were treated as disposable before — paid low wages, offered little respect. The difference between states with innovative, capable public sectors and states where government agencies have been dismissed and defunded is on terrible display.  The debates Mazzucato has been trying to open for years are now unavoidable. So let’s have them. Book recommendations: Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar  The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 18, 2020
A mind-bending conversation about quantum mechanics and parallel worlds
4940
While you read these words, the universe is splitting into countless copies. New realities, all with a version of you, exactly like you are now, but journeying off into their own branch of the multiverse. Maybe. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at CalTech, the host of the Mindscape podcast, and author of, among other books, Something Deeply Hidden, which blew my mind a bit. He is also a believer in, and defender of, the “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which has to be one of the five most fun things in the world to think about. Science! This is a conversation where I get to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Ask a real quantum physicist all of my questions about quantum physics. And then ask again, when I don’t understand the answer, which I usually don’t. And then again, when I sort of understand, but there’s still a part tripping me up. Carroll is wonderfully patient and beautifully clear, and the result is a conversation I haven’t stopped telling friends about since I had it. This world sucks right now. Let’s think about some other ones. References: The Biggest Ideas in the Universe! YouTube series Book recommendations: How Physics Makes Us Free by J. T. Ismael How the Universe Got Its Spots by Janna Levin The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 14, 2020
Why the coronavirus is so deadly for black America
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In Michigan, African Americans represent 14 percent of the population, 33 percent of infections, and 40 percent of deaths. In Mississippi they represent 38 percent of the population, 56 percent of infections, and 66 percent of deaths. In Georgia they represent 16 percent of the population, 31 percent of infections, and just over 50 percent of deaths. The list goes on and on: Across the board, African Americans are more likely to be infected by Covid-19 and far more likely to die from it. This doesn’t reflect a property of the virus. It reflects a property of our society. Understanding why the coronavirus is brutalizing black America means understanding the health inequalities that predate it. For the last 25 years, David R. Williams, a professor of public health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has been studying those inequalities. He was named one of the top 10 most-cited social scientists in the world from 1995 to 2005, and Reuters ranked him as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2014. At the center of Williams’s work is an attempt to grapple with some of the most difficult and sensitive questions in public: Why do black Americans have higher rates of chronic illness, disease, and mortality than white Americans? Why do those disparities remain even when you control for variables like income and education? Consider this: The life expectancy gap between a white high school dropout and a black high school dropout? 3½ years. Between a white college graduate and a black college graduate? 4.2 years. In this conversation, Williams doesn’t just give the clearest account I’ve heard of the coronavirus’s unequal toll. He also gives the clearest account of how America’s institutional and social structures have led to the most profound and consequential inequality of all. References: "Are Ghettos Good or Bad" by David Cutler and Edward Glaeser David Williams's Ted Talk on racism and health Book recommendations: American Apartheid by Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton The Highest Stage of White Supremacy by John Whitson Cell The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 11, 2020
Jenny Odell on nature, art, and burnout in quarantine
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One of my favorite episodes of this show was my conversation with Jenny Odell, just under a year ago. Odell, a visual artist, writer, and Stanford lecturer, had just released her book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy and we had a fascinating conversation about the importance of maintenance work, the problem with ceaseless productivity, the forces vying for our attention, the comforts of nature, and so much more.  A lot has changed since then. Odell’s book became a sensation: it captured a cultural moment, made it onto Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2019 list and became, for many, a touchstone. And then, a global pandemic hit, radically altering the world in ways that made the core themes of Odell’s work more prescient, and more difficult. What happens when, instead of choosing to “do nothing,” doing nothing is forced upon you? What happens when all you have access to is nature? What happens when the work of maintenance becomes not just essential, but also dangerous? So I asked Odell back, for a very different conversation in a very different time. This isn’t a conversation, really, about fixing the world right now. It’s about living in it, and what that feels like. It’s about the role of art in this moment, why we undervalue the most important work in our society, how to have collective sympathy in a moment of fractured suffering, where to find beauty right now, the tensions of productivity, the melting of time, our reckoning with interdependence, and much more.  And, at the end, Odell offers literally my favorite book recommendation ever on this show. And no, it’s not for my book.  Book recommendations: Give People Money by Annie Lowrey Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil What It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley References: My previous conversation with Jenny Odell on the art of attention "The Myth of Self-Reliance" by Jenny Odell, The Paris Review "I tried to write an essay about productivity in quarantine. It took me a month to do it." by Constance Grady, Vox The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 07, 2020
An unusually honest conversation about wielding political power
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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is the co-chair of the 95-member House Progressive Caucus. That means, in the aftermath of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, she leads the most influential bloc of progressive power in the federal government. And one thing that separates Jayapal from other elected officials: She’s actually willing to talk about it. I know some of you skip over episodes with politicians because they’re interviews, not conversations. This one is a conversation, and it’s broadly about two things. First, how do we prevent a Great Depression? In particular, Jayapal has a bill — the Paycheck Guarantee Act — that would replace payroll up to incomes of $100,000 for businesses slammed by Covid-19. And if it sounds wishful to you, recalibrate: It’s been endorsed by Nobel prize-winning economists, a former Federal Reserve chair, and more. And there’s even Republican support for the broad idea.  Second, how does the left wield power? Are Democrats getting rolled by Republicans on stimulus? Why doesn’t the House Progressive Caucus act more like the Freedom Caucus? What leverage do Democrats or progressives have, and why don’t they seem willing to use it in the way Republicans do? I wasn’t sure if Jayapal would actually answer my questions here — most politicians don’t — but she did, and the result is an unusually frank discussion about how the left does, and doesn’t, wield power in Congress. Book recommendations: The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Douglas Carlton Abrams The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen  The Rumi Collection by Kabir Helminski Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 04, 2020
What should the media learn from coronavirus?
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The coronavirus is “a nightmare scenario” for media, wrote New York Times columnist Charlie Warzel. “It is stealthy, resilient and confounding to experts. It moves far faster than scientists can study it. What seems to be true today may be wrong tomorrow.” Warzel is right. We’ve talked a lot in recent years about fake news. But combatting information we know is false is a straightforward problem compared to covering a story where we don’t know what’s true, and where yesterday’s expert consensus becomes tomorrow’s derided falsehoods. In these cases, the normal tools of journalism begin to fail, and trust is easily lost. There’s been a lot of criticism of what the media missed in the run-up to coronavirus. Some of it has been unfair. But some of it demands attention, reflection, and change. There’s also a lot the media got right, and those successes need to be celebrated and learned from. The questions raised here are hard, and go to one of the trickiest issues in journalism: how does a profession that prides itself on reporting truth cover the world probabilistically? What do we do when we simply can't know what's true, and when some of what we think we know might become untrue? Warzel covers the way technology, information, and media interact with and change each other. He’s one of the people I turn to first when I’m churning over these questions, which is…not infrequent. And so what you’re going to hear in this podcast is a bit different than the normal fare: this is less an interview-with-an-expert, and more the kind of conversation that I — and others in the media — am having a lot of right now, and that I think we at least need to try and have in public.  References: What went wrong with the media’s coronavirus coverage? by Peter Kafka, Recode What we pretend to know about the coronavirus could kill us, by Charlie Warzel, NYT Book recommendations: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener If you enjoyed this episode, check out: Is the media amplifying Trump's racism? (with Whitney Phillips) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 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. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 30, 2020
Bill Gates’s vision for life beyond coronavirus
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In 2015, I asked Bill Gates a simple question: What are you most afraid of?  He replied by telling me about the death chart of the 20th century. There’s the spike for World War I. The spike for World War II. But between them sat a spike as big as World War II. That, he said, was the Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 65 million people. Gates’s greatest fear was a flu like that, ripping through our hyperglobalized world.  Gates saw this coming, and he tried to warn the world. But the virus came, and we weren’t ready. Now, we all live in his nightmare.  Gates has reoriented his foundation and committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the world’s fight against coronavirus. He recently published a long essay detailing what we know and don’t know about the disease, and what we need to invent and deploy to safely return to normalcy. I spoke with Gates to explore those questions, plus a few more. What does it feel like to be at the center of so many coronavirus conspiracy theories? What happens if we reopen too soon? Why are different cities seeing such different outcomes? Do rich and poor countries need different responses? What are the true chances of a vaccine in 18 months? But above all, I wanted to ask him the inverse of the question I asked him in 2015: what does he hope for? What is his vision for life after coronavirus? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 27, 2020
An epic conversation with Madeline Miller
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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to introduce a conversation on this show as fun. But this one was. I needed it. Maybe you do, too. Madeline Miller has written some of my favorite novels of the past few years. Her books — the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles and the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Circe, soon to be an HBO series — are brilliant reimaginings of some of the most revered texts in the Western canon. Miller’s also a trained classicist, a Shakespeare director, a Latin teacher, and a Greek mythology obsessive.  This is a conversation about story and myth, about how our conceptions of godliness and human nature have changed, about the difficulty of translation and the resonance of superheroes. We debate whether Achilles is the worst and agree that anyone who loves language should read Sandra Boynton. Miller reveals how to train yourself to write a beautiful sentence and how to steel yourself to tell the stories you burn to see but that the canon has wiped out. And we discuss what character from the Greek canon most resembles President Donald Trump. This one was a tonic for me. Hopefully, it will be for you, too. Book recommendations:  The Odyssey by Homer (translated by Emily Wilson) Mythos by Stephen Fry Heroes by Stephen Fry  If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson Mythology by Edith Hamilton  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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 23, 2020
The loneliness pandemic/Betraying “essential workers”
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We have something a bit different today. Two episodes from our extraordinary colleagues at Today, Explained, both of them close to my heart.  The first is an episode that I worked with them on, and appear in: The Loneliness Pandemic. It’s about the social consequences of social distancing, and the toll that isolation and loneliness takes on our health. It's about how the people most vulnerable to isolation are being told to quarantine, and what that will do to their lives. And it's about what the rest of us can do to help. The second is simply one of the best, most important podcast episodes I’ve heard in ages: It’s about how we’re treating the same workers we call “essential” as disposable, endangering them and their families, and calling them heroes even as we refuse to give them raises. And it's about the possibility — and historical precedent — for labor action in this moment, to make sure essential workers are treated as essential. Do not miss it. And if you’re lucky enough to be working from home, think about what you can do to stand in solidarity with those making your safety possible.  You can, and should, subscribe to "Today, Explained," wherever you get your podcasts.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 20, 2020
Why Bernie Sanders lost and how progressives can still win
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The Democratic presidential primary is over. Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee heading into the fall. And this week, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed their former competitor. On the left, the question is: What went wrong? How did Sanders lose to Biden? Why didn’t Warren catch fire? But too few of these postmortems have had sufficient data to build out their theories. And too many of them explain away strategic and tactical failures as media or establishment conspiracies. Sean McElwee has a different perspective. McElwee is the co-founder and executive director of Data for Progress, an organization that utilizes cutting-edge polling and data-analysis techniques to support progressive causes. His aim is to fashion an agenda that is both progressive and popular. But he also sits atop mountains of data that let him test hypotheses with a lot more rigor than most armchair pundits. As a result, McElwee has a fascinating, heterodox view of the 2020 primary, the Sanders and Warren campaigns, and what it will take for progressives to build power. We discuss the critical mistakes both major progressive candidates made, which progressive ideas are most popular with the American people, how the left’s theory of class politics interferes with its most obvious path to electoral victory, why maximalist policy agendas fail even when they look like they’re succeeding, what good (and bad) Overton Window politics look like, how progressives can shape Biden’s presidency, and much, much more. References: How Joe Biden won over Bernie Sanders — and the Democratic Party by Ezra Klein Book Recommendations: Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics by Maya Sen Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 16, 2020
Scott Gottlieb on how, and when, to end social distancing
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When will social distancing end? When will life return to “normal”? And what will it take to get there?  Scott Gottlieb is a physician and public health expert who served as Donald Trump’s first FDA commissioner, where he was the rare Trump appointee to win plaudits from both the left and the right. Now he’s a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where he’s emerged as a leading voice on the coronavirus response.  Gottlieb is one of the lead authors of a comprehensive roadmap for what it would take to end social distancing and reopen the American economy. The report divides coronavirus response into four distinct phases (we are currently in phase one, which requires the strictest social distancing measures) and documents key “triggers” that states need to meet if they want to advance to a phase with less intense social distancing and a somewhat normal economy. It’s exactly what we need right now: a specific proposal for what comes next that we can actually analyze and debate.  Two themes drive this conversation. First, what are the challenges to simply getting out of lockdown? Why don’t we have enough tests yet? What’s stopping us from making more? And second, what does the world look like out of lockdown but before we get to a vaccine? What’s being imagined here isn’t a return to normal, either socially or economically, but a kind of limbo that it’s not clear we have the political will to sustain and that has few answers for the most vulnerable among us.  For more on this topic, I looked at not just the AEI plan but three others for this piece. I thought immersing myself in the plans to reopen the economy would be some comfort. Boy, was I wrong.  Resources: "I’ve read the plans to reopen the economy. They’re scary." by Ezra Klein, Vox The Weeds - How does this end? Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 13, 2020
Toby Ord on existential risk, Donald Trump, and thinking in probabilities
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Oxford philosopher Toby Ord spent the early part of his career spearheading the effective altruism movement, founding Giving What We Can, and focusing his attention primarily on issue areas like global public health and extreme poverty. Ord’s new book The Precipice is about something entirely different: the biggest existential risks to the future of humanity. In it, he predicts that humanity has approximately a 1 in 6 chance of going completely extinct by the end of the 21st century. Wait! Stay with me! The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that tail risk is real. We always knew a zoological respiratory virus could become a global pandemic. But, collectively, we didn’t want to think about it, and so we didn’t. The result is the reality we live in now.  But for all the current moment’s horror, there are worse risks than coronavirus out there. One silver lining of the current crisis might be that it gets us to take them seriously, and avert them before they become unstoppable. That’s what Ord’s book is about, and it is, in a strange way, a comfort.  This, then, is a conversation about the risks that threaten humanity’s future, and what we can do about them. It’s a conversation about thinking in probabilities, about the ethics of taking future human lives seriously, about how we weigh the risks we don’t yet understand. And it’s a conversation, too, about something I’ve been dwelling on watching President Trump choose to ratchet up tensions with China amidst a pandemic: Is Trump himself an existential risk, or at least an existential risk factor? Book recommendations: Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit Doing Good Better by William MacAskill Maps of Time by David Christian and William H. McNeill Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 09, 2020
Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too
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In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to release a plan for combatting coronavirus. In March, she released a second plan. Days later, with the scale of economic damage increasing, she released a third. Warren’s proposals track the spread of the virus: from a problem happening elsewhere and demanding a surge in global health resources to a pandemic happening here, demanding not just a public health response, but an all-out effort to save the US economy. Warren’s penchant for planning stands in particular stark contrast to this administration, which still has not released a clear coronavirus plan. There is no document you can download, no web site you can visit, that details our national strategy to slow the disease and rebuild the economy.  So I asked Warren to return to the show to explain what the plan should be, given the cold reality we face. We discussed what, specifically, the federal government should do; the roots of the testing debacle; her idea for mobilizing the economy around building affordable housing; why she thinks that this is exactly the right time to cancel student loan debt; why America spends so much money preparing for war and so little defending itself against pandemics and climate change; whether she thinks the Democratic primary focused on the wrong issues; and how this crisis is making a grim mockery of Ronald Reagan’s old saw about “the scariest words in the English language.” Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 06, 2020
What social solidarity demands of us in a pandemic
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There is no doubt that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But the efficacy of social distancing (or really any other public health measure) relies on something much deeper and harder to measure: social solidarity.  “Solidarity,” writes Eric Klinenberg, “motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school. It compels us to let a ship of stranded people dock in our safe harbors, to knock on our older neighbor’s door.” Klinenberg, a sociologist by trade, is the director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His first book, Heat Wave, found that social connection was, at times, literally the difference between life and death during Chicago's 1995 heat wave. Since then, he’s spent his career studying trends in American social life, from the rise of adults living alone to the importance of “social infrastructure” in holding together our civic bonds.  This conversation is about what happens when a country mired in a mythos of individualism collides with a pandemic that demands social solidarity and collective sacrifice. It’s about preventing an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation from overwhelming the most vulnerable among us. We discuss the underlying social trends that predated coronavirus, what kind of leadership it takes to actually bring people together, the irony of asking young people and essential workers to sacrifice for the rest of us, whether there’s an opportunity to build a different kind of society in the aftermath of Covid-19, and much more. References  Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg  Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg  “We Need Social Solidarity, Not Just Social Distancing” by Eric Klinenberg “Marriage has become a trophy” by Andrew Cherlin  Book recommendations:  Infections and Inequalities by Paul Farmer  Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild  A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit  The Division of Labor in Society by Emile Dukheim  Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 02, 2020
Coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to their worst point since Mao
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The COVID-19 pandemic is a grim reminder that the worst really can happen. Tail risk is real risk. Political leaders fumble, miscalculate, and bluster into avoidable disaster. And even as we try to deal with this catastrophe, the seeds of another are sprouting. The US-China relationship will define geopolitics in the 21st century. If we collapse into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism, the results could be hellish. And we are, right now, collapsing into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism.  The Trump administration, and key congressional Republicans, are calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus,” and trying to gin up tensions to distract from their domestic failures. Chinese government officials, beset by their own domestic problems, are claiming the US military brought the virus to China. The US-China relationship was in a bad way six months ago, but this is a new level of threat. Evan Osnos covers the US-China relationship for the New Yorker, and is author of the National Book Award winner, The Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China. In this conversation, we discuss the past, present and future of the US-China relationship. What are the chances of armed conflict? What might deescalation look like? And we know what the US wants — what, in truth, does China want? Book recommendations: Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China by Alec Ash The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom by John Pomfret Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 30, 2020
Is the cure worse than the disease?
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"We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself!" That was President Donald Trump, this week, explaining why he was thinking about lifting coronavirus guidelines earlier than public-health experts recommended. The "cure," in this case, is social distancing, and the mass economic stoppage it forces. The problem, of course, is COVID-19, and the millions of deaths it could cause. This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously. Slowing coronavirus will impose real costs, and immense suffering, on society. Are those costs worth it? This is the most important public policy question right now. And if the discussion isn't had well, then it will be had, as we're already seeing, poorly, and dangerously. I wanted to take up this question from two different angles. The first dimension is economic: Are we actually facing a choice between lives and economic growth? If we ceased social distancing, could we sustain a normal economy amidst a raging virus? Jason Furman, professor of the practice of economic policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and President Obama's former chief economist, joins me for that discussion. But the economy isn't everything. What is a moral framework we can us when faced with this kind of question? So, in the second half of this show, I talk to Dr. Ruth Faden, the founder of the Berman Institute for Bioethics at Johns Hopkins. And then, at the end, I offer some thoughts on my own on the frightening moment we're living through, and the kind of political and social leadership it demands. Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 26, 2020
An economic crisis like we’ve never seen
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“What is happening,” writes Annie Lowrey, “is a shock to the American economy more sudden and severe than anyone alive has ever experienced.”   It’s also different from what anyone alive has ever experienced. For many of us, the Great Recession is the closest analogue — but it’s not analogous at all. There, the economy’s potential was unchanged, but financial markets were in crisis. Here, we are purposefully freezing economic activity in order to slow a public health crisis. Early data suggests the economic crisis is going to far exceed any single week or quarter of the financial crisis. Multiple economists have told me that the nearest analogy to what we’re going through is the economy during World War II. I have a secret advantage when trying to understand moments of economic upheaval. I’m married to Annie Lowrey. I can give you the bio — staff writer at the Atlantic, author of Give People Money (which is proving particularly prophetic and influential right now) — but suffice to say she’s one of the clearest and most brilliant economic thinkers I know. Her viral piece on the affordability crisis is crucial for understanding what the economy really looked like before Covid-19, and she’s been doing some of the best work on the way Covid-19 will worsen the economic problems we had and create a slew of new ones. But this isn’t just a conversation about crisis. It’s also a conversation about how to respond. I wouldn’t call it hopeful — we’re not there yet. But constructive. References: "The Great Affordability Crisis Breaking America" by Annie Lowrey If you enjoyed this episode, check out: "Fix recessions by giving people money," The Weeds Book recommendations: Severance by Ling Ma Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham Crashed by Adam Tooze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 23, 2020
"The virus is more patient than people are"
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Ron Klain served as the chief of staff to vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden. In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped him to lead the administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He successfully oversaw a hellishly complex effort preparing domestically for an outbreak and surging health resources onto another continent to contain the disease.  But Klain is quick to say that the coronavirus is a harder challenge even than Ebola. The economy is in free fall. Entire cities have been told to shelter in place. And there’s no telling how long any of this will last. In this conversation, Klain answers my questions about the disease and how to respond to it, as well as questions many of you submitted. We discuss: How to change the virus’s reproduction and fatality rates Why you need to work backward from health system capacity What it means to “flatten the curve” Why social distancing will be with us for a long time to come The difference between “social distancing” and “self-quarantine” What the Trump administration needed to do earlier, and what they still can do now The testing debacle The economic policy necessary to make social distancing possible Why we need to remember not everyone can work at home What it would take to surge health care capacity in the US — and how fast we could potentially do it  The strengths and weaknesses of America’s particular health care system in responding to a pandemic like this one Whether the coronavirus is showing authoritarian systems perform better than liberal(ish) democracies What Joe Biden is like in a crisis  And much more. I’ve been covering the coronavirus nonstop, and this is one of the clearest, most useful conversations I’ve had. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the clarity of Klain’s analysis will help.  Also: We want to know what kinds of coronavirus conversations you want to hear right now. Email us at ezrakleinshow@vox.com with suggestions for guests, or just angles. This is going to be a hard time, and we want this podcast to be as much a help as possible. Book recommendations: Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by Michael Osterholm The Great Influenza by John Barry Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful. 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) Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 19, 2020
A master class in organizing
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The Bernie Sanders campaign is an organizing tour-de-force relative to the Joe Biden campaign; yet the latter has won primary after primary — with even higher turnouts than 2016. So does organizing even work? And, if so, what went wrong? Jane McAlevey has organized hundreds of thousands of workers on the frontlines of America’s labor movement. She is also a Senior Policy Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center and the author of three books on organizing, including, most recently, A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy. McAlevey doesn’t pull her punches. She thinks the left builds political power all wrong. She thinks people are constantly mistaking “mobilizing” for “organizing,” and that social media has taught a generation of young activists the worst possible lessons. She thinks organized labor’s push for “card check” was a mistake, but that there really is a viable path back to a strong labor movement. And since McAlevey is, above all, a teacher and an organizer, she offers what amounts to a master class in organizing — one relevant not just to building political power, but to building anything. To McAlevey, organizing, at its core, is about something very simple, and very close to the heart of this show: how do you talk to people who may not agree with you such that you can truly hear them, and they can truly hear you? This conversation ran long, but it ran long because it was damn good. References: No Shortcuts by Jane McAlevey Raising Expectations and Raising Hell by Jane McAlevey Book recommendations: Democracy May Not Exist But We'll Miss it When its Gone by Astra Taylor I've Got the Light of Freedom Charles M. Payne On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder 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 Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 16, 2020
Weeds 2020: The coronavirus election
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Ezra and Matt on dueling pandemic response plans from Sanders and Biden, and Trump's oval office address. Resources: President Trump's oval office address Joe Biden's coronavirus address Bernie Sanders' coronavirus address Hosts: Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox Ezra Klein (@ezraklein), Editor-at-large, Vox About Vox Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Follow Us: Vox.com Facebook group: The Weeds Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 14, 2020
Dan Pfeiffer on Joe Biden, beating Trump, and saving democracy
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Before becoming the co-host of Pod Save America, Dan Pfeiffer spent most of his adult life in Democratic Party politics, which included serving as White House communications director for President Barack Obama. But in his new book Un-Trumping America, the former operative levels some sharp criticism toward the party he came of political age in.  Contrary to the rhetoric of the leading Democratic presidential candidate, Pfeiffer doesn’t think of Donald Trump as the source of our current social and political ills, and he doesn’t believe that beating Trump will bring about a return to “normalcy.” For Pfeiffer, Trump is a symptom of much deeper forces in our politics — forces that will continue to proliferate unless Democrats get serious about, among other things, genuine structural reform. Among the things we discuss:  - Pfeiffer’s view that Donald Trump is the favorite in 2020 - Why the core divide in the Democratic Party isn’t progressive vs. moderate - The flaws in both Sanders and Biden’s theories of institutional change  - The way Obama looms over the Democratic primary — perhaps even more than Trump does  - The case for, and against, filibuster reform - Pfeiffer’s biggest regret from inside the Obama administration - What working with Joe Biden is like - Why the Obama White House didn’t rally around Biden in 2016 - The damage the political consultant class does to Democrats - What the left got wrong about the Democratic Party - Why Democrats need to prioritize democracy itself References: Ezra's profile of Joe Biden Book recommendations: Nixonland by Rick Perlstein The Known World by Edward P. Jones No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin 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) The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 12, 2020
Are you a "political hobbyist?" If so, you're the problem.
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Obsessively following the daily political news feels like an act of politics, or at least an act of civics. But what if, for many of us, it’s a replacement for politics — and one that’s actually hurting the country? That is the argument made by Tufts University political scientist Eitan Hersh. In his incisive new book Politics is for Power, Hersh draws a sharp distinction between what he calls “political hobbyism” — following politics as a kind of entertainment and expression of self-identity — and the actual work of politics. His data shows that a lot of people who believe they are doing politics are passively following it, and the way they’re following it has played a key role in making the political system worse. But this isn’t just a critique. Hersh’s argument builds to an alternative way of engaging in politics: as a form of service to our institutions and communities. And that alternative approach leads to some dramatically different ideas about how to marry an interest in politics with a commitment to building a better world. It also speaks to some of what we lost in rejecting the political machines and transactional politics of yesteryear — a personal obsession of mine, and a more important hinge point in American political history than I think we realize. We are, as you may have noticed, deep into election season, and that’s when it’s easiest to mistake the drama of national politics for the doing of actual politics. So there’s no better time for this conversation. Book recommendations: Hobbies by Steven Gelber Concrete Demands Rhonda E. WIlliams Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz 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) The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 09, 2020
What would a Sanders or Biden presidency look like?
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Super Tuesday winnowed the 2020 Democratic primary race down to two candidates: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. So how would their presidencies actually differ? Who would staff their administrations? How would they handle Congress? How would they handle key foreign policy decisions? What are their likely points of failure? How would they change the Democratic Party? I asked my friend, colleague, and Weeds co-host Matt Yglesias to join me for this conversation, and it was a good one. We’ve both covered Biden and Sanders for a long time, but come away with somewhat different impressions of each. The points where we differ here were, for me, even more helpful than the points where we agreed. I'll be interested, as always, to hear your thoughts: ezrakleinshow@vox.com. References: Matt Yglesias' case for Bernie Sanders Ezra's piece on what Bernie needs to learn from Biden New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 05, 2020
Rebecca Solnit on Harvey Weinstein, feminism, and social change
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Rebecca Solnit is one of the great activist-essayists of our age. Her books and writing cover a vast amount of human existence, but a common thread in her work — and a focus of her upcoming memoir, Recollections of My Nonexistence — is what it means to be voiceless, ignored, and treated as a unreliable witness to the events of your own life.  “We always say nobody knows, and that means that everyone who knows was nobody,” Solnit says. “Everyone who was nobody knew about Harvey Weinstein.” This conversation is, in part, about what it means to be a nobody and what we’d learn if we listened to the voices on the margins of society. But it goes wide from there, covering the psychic toll of sexual violence, the Weinstein ruling, how visual art infuses Solnit’s journalism, the changing cultural role of San Francisco, what climate change will do to social relations, the different narratives of violence that men and women grow up with, and much more. A quick warning: We spoke just after the Weinstein ruling, and we discuss sexual violence both in terms of specific cases and larger cultural questions. It’s an important conversation, and Solnit’s thinking here is essential and humane, but listeners should be prepared for it. Book recommendations: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado There There by Tommy Orange New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 02, 2020
Weeds 2020: The Bernie electability debate
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Welcome to Weeds 2020! Every other Saturday Ezra and Matt will be exploring a wide range of topics related to the 2020 race.  Since the Nevada caucuses, Bernie Sanders has become the clear frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary, spurring lots of debate over whether he could win in the general election. We discuss where the electability conversation often goes off-the-rails, why discussing electability in 2020 is so different than 1964 or 1972, the case for and against Bernie’s electability prospects, and the strongest attacks that Trump could make against Sanders and Joe Biden.  Then, we discuss Ezra’s favorite topic of all time: the filibuster. Ezra gives a brief history of this weird procedural tool, and we discuss why so many current Senators are against eliminating it. Resources: "Bernie Sanders can unify Democrats and beat Trump in 2020" by Matthew Yglesias, Vox "The case for Elizabeth Warren" by Ezra Klein, Vox "How the filibuster broke the US Senate" by Alvin Chang, Vox "Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity" by Jonathan Chait, Intelligencer "The Sixty Trillion Dollar Man" by Ronald brownstein, Atlantic "The Day One Agenda" by David Dayen, American Prospect Hosts: Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox Ezra Klein (@ezraklein), Editor-at-large, Vox About Vox Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Follow Us: Vox.com Facebook group: The Weeds Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 29, 2020
Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry
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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 is that kind of episode. Tracy K. 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  New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 27, 2020
Barbara Ehrenreich on UBI, class conflict, and collective joy
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In the late 90s Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover as a waitress to discover how people with minimum wage full-time jobs were making ends meet. It turned out, they weren’t. Ehrenreich’s book Nickled and Dimed revealed just how dire the economic conditions of everyday working people were at a time when the economy was supposedly booming. It was a wake up call for many Americans at the time, including me who picked up the book as a curious college student.  Since then Ehrenreich, a journalist by trade, has written on a vast range of topics from the precarity of middle-class existence to the psychological and sociological roots of collective joy to human mortality to her own attempt, as an atheist, to grapple with mystical experiences. Needless to say, this is a widely ranging conversation. References: Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich Nicked and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich Fear of Falling by Barbara Ehrenreich Had I Known by Barbara Ehrenreich New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 24, 2020
What Donald Trump got right about white America
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Hello! I’m Jane Coaston, filling in for Ezra. My guest today is Tim Carney, a commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.  In the wake of the 2016 election, Carney began traveling across the country and poring through county-level data in an attempt to understand the forces that led to Donald Trump’s victory. The culprit, he argues, is not racism or economic anxiety, it's the breakdown of social institutions. In his new book Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse, Carney posits that for centuries religious (and other private) institutions formed a much-needed social glue that kept communities together. That social glue, however, has decayed in recent decades, creating a void of despair, alienation, and frustration in so-called “Middle America." Donald Trump did not offer a compelling way to solve these problems, but he was the only candidate willing to name them — and in 2016 that was enough. In this conversation, we discuss Carney's thesis at length, but we also talk about why white evangelicals love Trump so much, how communities of color have responded differently to institutional loss than white communities, the appeal of Bernie Sanders, how Trump's reelection strategy will differ from his 2016 campaign, and much more. I hope this conversation is as interesting for you to listen to as it was for me to have. Book recommendations: Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America by Chris Arnade My Father Left Me Ireland by Michael Brendan Dougherty  The Bible New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 20, 2020
Ta-Nehisi Coates on my “cold, atheist book”
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This one was a pleasure. Ta-Nehisi Coates joined me in Brooklyn for part of the “Why We’re Polarized” tour. His description of the book may be my favorite yet. It is, he says, “a cold, atheist book.” We talk about what that means, and from there, go into some of the harder questions raised not so much by the book, but by American history itself. Then Coates asked me a question I never expected to hear from him: Is there anything I could say to leave him with some hope? Don’t miss this one. New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 17, 2020
If God is dead, then … socialism?
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Hello! I’m Sean Illing, Vox’s interviews writer filling in for Ezra while he’s on book tour. My guest today is Martin Hägglund, a philosopher at Yale and the author of This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, which I consider to be one of the most ambitious and important books in the last several years. We begin by discussing what it means to live a free and purposeful life without regret or illusion. For Hägglund, this life is all we have. There is no heaven, no afterlife, no eternal beyond. We live and we die and that means that the most important question any of us can possibly ask is, “What should we do with our time?”  We end by talking about the limits of capitalism, namely why it doesn’t really allow us to own our time in the way we ought to. And thus why, for Hägglund, democratic socialism is the only political project that takes the human condition seriously.  This is an unusual conversation, but, I have to say, I loved it. I appreciate and admire Hägglund’s willingness to tackle the biggest questions any us can ever ask, and I think by the end of it you will, too. Book recommendations: Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the other animals by Christine Korsgaard On the Soul (De Anima) by Aristotle  Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F Hegel  Follow Sean Illing at Vox or on Twitter @seanilling New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Guest host - Sean Illing Producer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 13, 2020
Tim Urban on humanity’s wild future
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 I’ve been a fan of Tim Urban and his site Wait But Why for a long time. Urban uses whimsical illustrations, infographics, and friendly, nontechnical language to explain everything from AI to space exploration to the Fermi Paradox.  Urban's most recent project is an explainer series called “The Story of Us." It began as an attempt to understand what is going on in American politics today, and quickly turned into a deep exploration into humanity's past: how we evolved, the history of civilization, and the way our psychologies have come to interact with the world around us.  My initial theory of this conversation was that Urban’s work has interesting points of convergence and divergence with my book. But once we got to talking, something more interesting emerged: Based on his reading of human history, psychology, and technological advancement, Urban has come to believe we are at an existential fork-in-the-road as a species. A hundred years from now, Urban thinks, our species will either advance so significantly that we will no longer be recognizable as human beings, or we will so lose control of our progress that the human story will end in a destructive apocalypse. I’m less convinced, but open to the idea that I’m wrong. So this, then, isn’t just a conversation about politics and polarization in the present. It’s more fully a conversation about whether the politics of the present are distracting us from the forces that are, even as we speak, deciding our future. References:  Dave Robert’s piece on Tim Urban’s aversion to politics  My conversation with Andrew Yang Book recommendations:  A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich  The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu  Atomic Habits by James Clear New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Producer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 10, 2020
Jill Lepore on what I get wrong
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Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones. This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world? But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, why (and whether) my book is devoid of individual or institutional “villains,” and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account, in addition to the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more. This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them. New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule! Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Producer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 06, 2020
Is Tom Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics?
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Tom Steyer has worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. He made his billions running a hedge fund for decades before moving into progressive activism on causes like democratization, climate change, and impeaching Donald Trump. Now, he is running for president of the United States.  Steyer’s primary message on the campaign trial is that we need to get money, lobbyists and corporate influence out of politics. At the same time, he is the living embodiment of much of what he thinks is broken about our system. He used his wealth as a shortcut onto the presidential debate stage and, in doing so, essentially wrote the playbook for any future billionaire who decides they want a shot at winning the highest office in the land.  So, is Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics -- or is he himself part of the problem? That question is a lot bigger than Steyer himself. It is about the kinds of people we think will best represent the interests of non-billionaires. It is about the sort of influence we think wealth should have in our society. It is about whether, in our current political moment, we want to trust the arsonists to put out the fires they helped create. I’ll let you decide the answer. Book recommendations: The Holy Bible War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide. My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Engineer - Cynthia Gil Producer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 03, 2020
Why We're Polarized, with Jamelle Bouie (live!)
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 The Why We’re Polarized book tour kicked off this week with a wonderful event at Sixth and I in Washington, DC. My conversation partner for this one was New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie. Our interview was great, and then the audience questions were so good we had to keep them in as well. We discuss:   • Why things were far worse in the “golden age” of the 1950s and ’60s than they are today • Why the key question isn’t so much “why are we polarized?” as “why weren’t we polarized?” • Why “moderate” Republicans end up losing to conservatives • Why demographic change is the core cleavage of American politics today • How polarization makes bipartisanship irrational and political dysfunction the norm • Why Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are not the causes of polarization but rather the most clear manifestations of it • That more information doesn’t rescue politics • Why America today is not functionally a democracy (and why I hate when people claim it is a “republic” to justify our current system) • Why the most underrated divide in American politics is not that between left and right but between the informed and the uninformed • Why we can’t reverse polarization and instead need to reform our political system so that it can function amid polarization Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details. My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 30, 2020
Antisemitism now, antisemitism then
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“The bad days are back” wrote Batya Ungar-Sargon in the Forward in December, “Orthodox Jews are living through a new age of pogroms. This week, as we celebrated the Festival of Lights, there were no fewer than 10 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area alone.”  Antisemitism is occasionally called “the oldest hatred.” It thrums across continents and eras, finding new targets for old prejudices. But where, exactly, does it come from? Why is it such a hardy weed? And why does this era feel so thick with it?  Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, is the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now. We discuss the earliest forms, tropes, and rationales for antisemitism, and the cultural reasons for their persistence. Lipstadt explains the way right- and left-wing antisemitism differ, and examines the charges of antisemitism levied against some modern politicians, like Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. We talk about antisemitism in the age of social media and rising party polarization. And we talk about the convergence and divergence of antisemitism and anti-Zionism: what distinguishes a legitimate critique of Israel from an antisemitic slur towards it? This episode airs on National Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a reminder that the very worst days lie in living memory, in an age more similar our own than we like to admit.  References:  “Why No One Can Talk About The Attacks Against Orthodox Jews” by Batya Ungar-Sargon Book recommendations:  If This is Man by Primo Levi  Still Alive by Ruth Kluger  The Unwanted by Michael Dobbs My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineer- Cynthia Gil Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 27, 2020
Book excerpt: A better theory of identity politics
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This is a podcast episode literally years in the making. It’s an excerpt — the first anywhere — from my book Why We’re Polarized. A core argument of the book is that identity is the central driver of political polarization. But to see how it works, we need a better theory of how identities form, what happens when they activate, and where they fit into our conflicts. We’ve been taught to only see identity politics in others. We need to see it in ourselves. If you’re a longtime listener, this excerpt — like the broader book — will tie a lot of threads on this show together. If you’re a new listener, it’ll give you, I hope, a clearer way to understand a powerful driver of our politics and our lives.  Why We’re Polarized comes out on January 28. You can order it, both in text and audiobook forms, at WhyWerePolarized.com. Find the audio book on Audible.com Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 23, 2020
The war on Muslims (with Mehdi Hasan)
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With “reeducation" camps in China, religious disenfranchisement in India, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, street violence in Sri Lanka, mass shootings in New Zealand, the flourishing of far-right parties across Europe, and the mainstreaming of Islamophobia in America, there’s been a global surge in anti-Muslim bigotry — often supported by the full power and might of the state. It’s one of the most frightening and undercovered political stories of our time. Mehdi Hasan is a senior writer for the Intercept, the host of the Deconstructed podcast, and the anchor of Al Jazeera’s Up Front. He’s done some of the best reporting on anti-Muslim prejudice and persecutions worldwide, covering everything from Narendra Modi’s rise in India to the treatment of Uighurs in China to the role that social media plays in amplifying anti-Muslim sentiment. We discuss all of that in this conversation, but we also try to answer some deeper questions: Why Muslims? Why now? What is the ideology that drives and justifies anti-Muslim bigotry? What are the political incentives that foster it? Not everything in this conversation is easy to hear. But understanding the scope and scale of the war on Muslims is central to understanding the world we live in, the Orwellian nature of the Islamophobic narrative, and the resentments and traumas we’re inflicting on the future.  Book recommendations: The Fear of Islam by Todd H. Green  The Enemy Within by Sayeeda Warsi  The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineer- Cynthia Gil Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 20, 2020
Post-debate special!
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Vox's Matt Yglesias and I unpack the debate that did, and didn't, happen. Related reading: "Joe Biden will never give up on the system" by Ezra Klein "4 winners and 3 losers from the January Democratic debate" Vox Staff "The case for Elizabeth Warren" by Ezra Klein "Bernie Sanders can unify Democrats and beat Trump in 2020" by Matthew Yglesias "Joe Biden skates by again" by Matt Yglesias "Elizabeth Warren’s new plan to reform bankruptcy law, explained" by Matt Yglesias "The Third Rail of Calling ‘Sexism’ Warren tried not to talk about it." by Rebecca Traister My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 16, 2020
An “uncomfortable” conversation with Cory Booker
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When the Democrats meet for their next debate, Booker won’t be on the stage. That’s despite a bevy of endorsements, killer debate performances, innovative policy proposals, and a resume that runs circles around many of the other candidates in the field.  That’s a shame. There is a moral radicalism to the way Cory Booker lives out his politics. He lived for years in a housing project. He leads hunger strikes. He challenges political machines. He’s a vegan. He has a more ambitious policy vision than is often discussed, but beneath that is a far more radical ethical vision than he get credit for. I think there’s a reason for that. When Booker turns his politics turn outward, they lose clarity. He shies away from drawing bright lines, his answers double back to blur out potential offense. As a result, his arguments for a politics of radical love end up emphasizing his love in ways that obscure his radicalism. As admiring as I am of what Booker demands of himself, I often can’t tell what he’s asking of me. In this conversation, I wanted Booker to risk my discomfort, not just his own. And in his answers, I think you can hear both the remarkable promise and power of Booker’s politics, and some of the challenges that have held back his campaign. References/Book recommendations: Tightrope by Nicholas Kristof  “Who Killed the Knapp Family” by Nicholas Kristof  The Violence Inside Us by Chris Murphy  My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineer- Cynthia Gil Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 13, 2020
The conservative mind of Yuval Levin
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Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is the way we often conflate two very distinct things when we assign political labels. The first is ideology, which describes our vision of a just society. The second is something less discussed but equally important: temperament. It describes how we approach social problems, how fast we think society can change, and how we understand the constraints upon us.  Yuval Levin is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, the editor-in-chief of the public policy journal National Affairs, and the author of the upcoming book A Time to Build. Levin is one of the most thoughtful articulators of both conservative temperament and ideology. And, perhaps for that reason, his is one of the most important criticisms of what the conservative movement has become today. There’s a lot in this conversation, in part because Levin’s book speaks to mine in interesting ways, but among the topics we discuss are:  The conservative view of human nature Why the conservative temperament is increasingly diverging from the conservative movement What theories of American politics get wrong about the reality of American life The case Levin makes to socialists How economic debates are often moral debates in disguise Levin’s rebuttal to my book  The crucial difference between “formative” and “performative” social institutions Why the most fundamental problems in American life are cultural, not economic Why Levin thinks the New York Times should not allow its journalists to be on Twitter Whether we can restore trust in our institutions without changing the incentives and systems that surround them   There’s a lot Levin and I disagree on, but there are few people I learn as much from in disagreement as I learn from him. Book recommendations; Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville  The Quest for Community by Robert Nisbet  Statecraft as Soulcraft by George Will  If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like: David French on “The Great White Culture War" George Will makes the conservative case against democracy My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineer- Cynthia Gil Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 09, 2020
How an epidemic begins and ends
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Introducing season 3 of The Impact! The 2020 candidates have some bold ideas to tackle some of our country's biggest problems, like climate change, the opioid crisis, and unaffordable health care. A lot of their proposals have been tried before, so, in a sense, the results are in.  This season, The Impact has those stories: how the big ideas from 2020 candidates succeeded — or failed — in other places, or at other times. What can Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal to fight the opioid crisis learn from what the US did to fight the AIDS epidemic? How did Germany — an industrial powerhouse that invented the automobile — manage to implement a Green New Deal? How did public health insurance change Taiwan? Subscribe to The Impact on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week. On this special preview: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is running for president with a plan to fight the opioid epidemic. Her legislation would dramatically expand access to addiction treatment and overdose prevention, and it would cost $100 billion over 10 years. Addiction experts agree that this is the kind of money the United States needs to fight the opioid crisis. But it’s a really expensive idea, to help a deeply stigmatized population. How would a President Warren get this through Congress?  It’s been done before, with the legislation Warren is using as a blueprint for her proposal. In 1990, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, the first national coordinated response to the AIDS crisis. In the decades since, the federal government has dedicated billions of dollars to the fight against AIDS, and it’s revolutionized care for people with this once-deadly disease.  But by the time President George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law, hundreds of thousands of people in the US already had HIV/AIDS, and tens of thousands had died.  In this episode, Vox's Jillian Weinberger explores how an epidemic begins, and how it ends. We look at what it took to get the federal government to finally act on AIDS, and what that means for Warren’s plan to fight the opioid crisis, today.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 08, 2020
Nathan Robinson’s case for socialism
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“Socialism” is simultaneously one of the most commonly used and most confusing terms in American politics. Does being a socialist mean advocating for the complete abolition of capitalism, markets, and private property? Does it mean supporting a higher tax rate, Medicare-for-all, and Sen. Bernie Sanders? Or does it simply mean a deep hatred of systemic injustice and the institutions that perpetuate it?  In his new book Why You Should be a Socialist Nathan J Robinson, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Current Affairs magazine, attempts to shed light on these questions. In his writing, Robinson distinguishes between a “socialist economy” (think collective ownership, worker cooperatives, single-payer health care) and what he calls a “socialist ethic": a deep sense of moral outrage that animates agents of radical change. This distinction may sound like a dodge, but I think Robinson gets at something here that — while hard to understand from the outside — is crucial to understanding today's left politics. We also discuss:  - The central role of democracy to the socialist worldview - What it means to be a “libertarian socialist” - What Robinson's socialist utopia would look like  - Why so many socialists have turned on Sen. Elizabeth Warren in favor of Sen. Bernie Sanders  - Robinson’s special loathing for South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg - What he believes Sanders’s “political revolution” would look like - The lessons of Jeremy Corbyn - Whether the deep difference between liberals and socialists is temperament  - Why “public vs. private” is often a false choice - The challenge of economic growth  And much more.  Book recommendations: Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky The Anarchist FAQ by Ian McKay  The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin  If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like: Leftists vs. Liberals with Elizabeth Bruenig Matt Bruenig’s case for single-payer health care Why my politics are bad with Bhaskar Sunkara My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineer- Cynthia Gil Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 06, 2020
How to topple dictators and transform society (with Erica Chenoweth)
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The 2010s witnessed a sharp uptick in nonviolent resistance movements all across the globe. Over the course of the last decade we’ve seen record numbers of popular protests, grassroots campaigns, and civic demonstrations advancing causes that range from toppling dictatorial regimes to ending factory farming to advancing a Green New Deal.   So, I thought it would be fitting to kick off 2020 by bringing on Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard specializing in nonviolent resistance. At the beginning of this decade Chenoweth co-authored Why Civil Resistance Works, a landmark study showing that nonviolent movements are twice as effective as violent ones. Since then, she has written dozens of papers on what factors make successful movements successful, why global protests are becoming more and more common, how social media has affected resistance movements and much more.  But Chenoweth doesn’t only study nonviolent movements from an academic perspective; she also advises nonviolent movement leaders around the world (including former EK Show guests Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement and Wayne Hsiung of Direct Action Everywhere) to help them be as effective and strategic as possible in carrying out their goals. This on-the-ground experience combined with a big-picture, academic view of nonviolent resistance makes her perspective essential for understanding one of the most important phenomena of the last decade -- and, in all likelihood, the next one. References: "How social media helps dictators" by Erica Chenoweth "Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works" by Erica Chenoweth Book recommendations: These Truths by Jill Lepore Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Kurlansky From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keenga-Yamahtta Taylor If you enjoyed this podcast, you may also like: Varshini Prakash on the Sunrise Movement's plan to save humanity When doing the right thing makes you a criminal (with Wayne Hsiung) My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineer- Cynthia Gil Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 02, 2020
Ask Ezra Anything
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It’s here. The final AMA of 2019. Among the questions you asked: - If you believe that changing someone's mind about a topic, any topic is difficult, how do you function as a journalist? - What’s your opinion on capitalism? - What have you learned about yourself since being a dad that has surprised you the most? - You talk a lot about polarization. But it seems your audience leans liberal. So how do you reconcile that? - Do you believe in free will? - What’s your take on the left/liberal divide? - Red wine or white wine? - We know 2020 will come down to a small collection of swing states. Shouldn’t the Democrats just run whichever candidate will be strongest in those states? - What’s with Vox and NBER papers? - What would get journalists to leave Twitter? - What happens if Trump loses the election but refuses to leave office? All this, plus you get to hear from the mysterious Jeff Geld… My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer, Editor, Guest Interviewer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 30, 2019
Best of: Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle
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Here, at the end of the year, I wanted to share one of my favorite episodes of 2019 with you. Earlier this year, two essays on America’s changing relationship to work caught my eye. The first was Anne Helen Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed piece defining, and describing, “millennial burnout.” The second was Derek Thompson’s Atlantic article on “workism.” The two pieces speak to each other in interesting ways, and to some questions I had been reflecting on as my own relationship to work changes. So I asked the authors to join me for a conversation about what happens when work becomes an identity, capitalism becomes a religion, and productivity becomes the way we measure human value. The conversation exceeded even the high hopes I had for it. Enjoy this one. Book recommendations: Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials by Malcolm Harris White: Essays on Race and Culture by Richard Dyer The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 by Philipp Blom A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Engineers - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 26, 2019
Republicans vs. the planet
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Dave Roberts is an energy and climate writer at Vox and a senior fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He started as his career covering climate science and clean energy technology, but -- for reasons we discuss here -- he now writes just as much about political psychology, media ecosystems, political institutions, and how they intersect with climate change. We cover a lot in this conversation, including: “Tribal epistemology,” and why it’s crucial to climate paralysis  How the GOP went from the party of cap-and-trade to the party of climate denial  Why the right and left-wing media ecosystem’s diverged so dramatically What today’s climate activists get right about our politics that their predecessors got wrong The carbon tax dead-end How nuclear energy became so divisive The conflicting moral and social visions at the heart of the climate movement  Why it is impossible to separate technological innovation from the policy ecosystem that shapes it  Whether climate change really is an “existential” threat  What climate change will mean for the world’s poor References: Dave Roberts on America's "epistemic crisis." Book recommendations: Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston "State of the Species" by Charles C. Mann My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Submit questions for our upcoming "Ask Me Anything" at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineers - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 23, 2019
The geoengineering question
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Most analyses of how to “solve” climate change start from a single, crucial assumption: that carbon emissions and global warming are inextricably linked. Geoengineering is a set of technologies and ideas with the potential to shatter that link.  Can we use them? Should we? Could they be used in concert with other solutions, or would simply opening the door drain support from those ideas? Even if we did want to deploy geoengineering, who would govern its use? And is mucking with the earth at this level more dangerous than climate change itself — which may, ultimately, be the choice we face? Jane Flegal is a geoengineering expert at Arizona State University and a program officer at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust. She’s able to parse this debate with an unusual level of clarity, fairness, and rigor. This isn’t an argument for or against geoengineering. It’s a way to think about it, and that turns out to be a way to think about the climate change problem as a whole. Book recommendations: The Planet Remade by Oliver Morton Experiment Earth by Jack Stilgoe Frontiers of Illusion by Daniel Sarewitz  My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Submit questions for our upcoming "Ask Me Anything" at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineers - Cynthia Gil & Ed Cuervo Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 19, 2019
How to solve climate change and make life more awesome
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The climate series is back! The reason for the delay is that I wanted to make sure that this episode was next up in the series. Once you start listening, you’ll understand why.  So far, we’ve spent the series talking about the problem we're facing and what the world will ultimately look like if we fail. Today’s conversation is different: It is about what it will take to solve climate change and what kind of world we can build if we succeed.  Saul Griffith is an inventor, a MacArthur genius fellow, and the founder and CEO of Otherlab, a high-tech research and development company on the frontlines of trying to imagine our clean energy future. Griffith and his team were contracted by the Department of Energy to track and visualize the entirety of America’s energy flows — and as a result, he knows the US energy system better than just about anyone on this planet. As a result, Griffith is clearer than anyone else I’ve found on the paths to decarbonization, and how to navigate them. Most conversations about climate change are pretty depressing. This conversation is not. We have the tools we need to decarbonize. What’s more, decarbonizing doesn’t mean accepting a future of less — it can mean a more awesome, humane, technologically rich, and socially inspiring future for us all. This conversation is about a vision of decarbonization that is genuinely awesome, and how we can actually get there. References: Otherlab's diagram of US energy flows Griffith's piece on paths to decarbonization Book recommendations: Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber Freedom's Forge by Arthur Herman The Extinction Rebellion Handbook Silent Spring by Rachel Carson My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. The first batch of stops for my book tour is up! Get tickets at http://www.whywerepolarized.com Submit questions for our upcoming "Ask Me Anything" at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 16, 2019
Paul Krugman on climate, robots, single-payer, and so much more
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It’s cliché to call podcasts wide-ranging. But this conversation, with Nobel-prize winning economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, really is. A sample of what we discuss: - How economists mucked up the climate debate - What a Democratic president should pass first - The politics and policy of Medicare-for-all - Krugman’s three-part test to determine whether a program needs to be paid for (don’t miss this!) - Why Pete Buttigieg is wrong on tuition-free college  - Why Andrew Yang is wrong on automation - What the Obama administration got wrong, and right, in the financial crisis - The means-testing vs. universal program debate is a false dichotomy  - What it would take to revitalize the economies of middle and rural America - The productivity puzzle - The antitrust problem - Geographic inequality - Whether elite or mass opinion is the key constraint on policy ambition - Path dependence in social welfare states - Whether private insurers should exist  And much more. Don’t miss this one. References: Krugman's upcoming book, Arguing with Zombies Book recommendations: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume  Plagues and Peoples by William McNeil  Collected essays of George Orwell My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Submit questions for our upcoming "Ask Me Anything" at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 12, 2019
The moral philosophy of The Good Place (with Mike Schur and Pamela Hieronymi)
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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 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 My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Submit questions for our upcoming "Ask Me Anything" at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 09, 2019
When doing the right thing makes you a criminal
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For most of his life, Wayne Hsiung was a typical overachiever. He attended the University of Chicago, started his PhD in Economics, became a law professor at Northwestern, was mentored by Cass Sunstein. But then, something snapped. In the midst of a deep, overwhelming depression, Hsiung visited a slaughterhouse and was radicalized by the immense suffering he saw. He now faces decades in prison for rescuing sick, injured animals from slaughterhouses. Hsiung is the founder of Direct Action Everywhere, an organization best known for conducting public, open rescues of animals too sick for slaughter. These rescues are, in many cases, illegal, and Hsiung and his fellow activists are risking years of imprisonment. But the sacrifice is the point: Hsiung and his colleagues are trying to highlight the sickness of a society that criminalizes doing what any child would recognize as the right thing to do. In our conversation, I wanted to understand a simple question: How did he get here? What leads someone with a safe, comfortable life to risk everything for a cause? What does society look like to him now, knowing what he faces? And the big question: Is Hsiung the weird one? Or is it all of us — who see so much suffering and injustice and simply go about our lives — who have lost our way? References: New York Times story on a DxE rescue mission Video of the mission to save Lily the piglet Book recommendations: Everything is Obvious by Duncan J. Watts  The Brothers Karamazov by  Fyodor Dostoevsky Grit by Angela Duckworth My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Jeremy Dalmas Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 05, 2019
Peter Singer on the lives you can save
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Imagine you’re walking to work. You see a child drowning in a lake. You’re about to jump in and save her when you realize you’re wearing your best suit, and the rescue will end up costing hundreds in dry cleaning bills. Should you still save the child? Of course you should. But this simple thought experiment, taken seriously, has radical implications for how you live your life. It comes from Peter Singer’s “The Life You Can Save,” one of the most influential modern works of ethical philosophy. Singer is perhaps the most influential public intellectual of my lifetime. His book “Animal Liberation” helped build America’s animal rights movement. His work helped create the effective altruism movement. In Singer’s hands, the questions that motivate a moral life are startlingly simple. But if you take them seriously, living morally is very, very hard. And the way most of us are living, right now — well, we’re letting a lot of children drown. What happens if we force ourselves to recognize that fact? What does it demand of us? That’s the topic of my conversation with Singer. We also discuss the differences between ethical philosophy and religion, why moral reasoning is a social act, the ethics of caring most about those closest to you, The Good Place, AI risk, open borders, where our obligations to others end, why Singer wouldn’t have become a philosopher if he’d been an effective altruist in his youth, and much more. Book recommendations: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker On What Matters by Derek Parfit Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit To read Peter SInger's book please visit www.thelifeyoucansave.org My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineers - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 02, 2019
Best of: The age of "mega-identity" politics
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Happy Thanksgiving! Please enjoy a re-air episode from April 2018 with Lilliana Mason. Yes, identity politics is breaking our country. But it’s not identity politics as we’re used to thinking about it. In Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, Lilliana Mason traces the construction of our partisan “mega-identities”: identities that fuse party affiliation to ideology, race, religion, gender, sexuality, geography, and more. These mega-identities didn’t exist 50 or even 30 years ago, but now that they’re here, they change the way we see each other, the way we engage in politics, and the way politics absorbs other — previously non-political —spheres of our culture. In making her case, Mason offers one of the best primers I’ve read on how little it takes to activate a sense of group identity in human beings, and how far-reaching the cognitive and social implications are once that group identity takes hold. I don’t want to spoil our discussion here, but suffice to say that her recounting of the “minimal group paradigm” experiments is not to be missed. This is the kind of research that will change not just how you think about the world, but how you think about yourself. Mason’s book is, I think, one of the most important published this year, and this conversation gave me a lens on our political discord that I haven’t stopped thinking about since. If you want to understand the kind of identity politics that’s driving America in 2018, you should listen in. Books recommendations: Ideology in America by Christopher Ellis and James Stimson  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi  The Power by Naomi Alderman My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 28, 2019
Because podcast
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Gretchen McCulloch is a self-described “internet linguist,” host of the podcast Lingthusiasm, and author of the recent book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. In it, she demonstrates that the way we've come to speak on the internet -- from emojis to exclamation points -- is not random or arbitrary, but part of a broader attempt to make our written communication more vibrant, meaningful, and, genuinely human. Far from ‘ruining’ the written English language, internet-speak, McCulloch argues, is revolutionizing language in unprecedented, and ultimately positive, ways. We discuss why I feel bad if I don't use enough exclamation points (or use too many), why postcards are the pre-internet predecessors to Instagram, how emojis act as written equivalents of our body language, why sarcasm is like a “linguistic trust fall,” the meaning of “Ok boomer” and much more. Book recommendations: It’s Complicated:The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd  You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like: danah boyd on why fake news is so easy to believe You will love this conversation with Jaron Lanier, but I can’t describe it My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineers - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 25, 2019
There’s more to life than profit
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Yancey Strickler is the co-founder and former CEO of Kickstarter, and he’s just released a new book, This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World. In Strickler’s telling, our society has been so thoroughly captured by the value-system of financial maximization, that we don’t even view it as such. Kickstarter was an affront to that value-system, a way that groups could fund ideas outside of the realm of profit. And this new book is trying to dig deeper into that worldview, unveil its fallibility, and offer an alternative way of imagining our society. So, in this conversation we talk about profit and the economy, but also about climate change, the founding story of Kickstarter, what makes great fiction so great, Alan Moore’s notion of the “idea space,” the bizarre way that Strickler went about writing his book, and much more. Book recommendations: Time Loops by Eric Wargo  Value and Ethics in Economics by Elizabeth Anderson  Dune by Frank Herbert  My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineers - Cynthia Gil & Chris Shurtleff Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 21, 2019
Having a bad day? Dave Eggers can help.
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I’ve wanted to have Dave Eggers on the show for a while now. Eggers has not only written a vast range of books (a deeply ironic personal memoir, a heartwarming novel about a Sudanese refugee, a futuristic story about a tech dystopia) but he's also founded the national tutoring nonprofit 826 Valencia, started the literary magazine McSweeney’s, co-authored the screenplay of Where the Wild Things Are, and much more. I’m fascinated by people who are able to do a variety of wildly different things, all successfully. Dave Eggers is one of those people.  So, we start this conversation by discussing Eggers’s life’s work, his recent book The Captain and the Glory, and Donald Trump. But then — somewhere around the halfway point — the conversation transforms into something I can only describe as, well, therapeutic. Eggers doesn’t own a smartphone or have wifi in his house, and hearing the way he talks about the internet, social media, and our relationship to them put me in a sort of quasi-meditation state that I can’t describe adequately with words. This one is a little strange, but it may just make your day. It certainly made mine. Book recommendations: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton  Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton  The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton If you enjoyed this episode, you may like: You will love this conversation with Jaron Lanier, but I can’t describe it Cal Newport on doing Deep Work and escaping social media My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Cynthia Gil Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 18, 2019
How Whole Foods, yoga, and NPR became the hallmarks of the elite
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If you're anything like me, this episode will make you think about the way you shop, learn, eat, parent, and exercise in a whole new way. My guest today is Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California whose most recent book The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class documents the rise of a new, unprecedented elite class in the United States. Previously, the elite classes differentiated themselves from the rest by purchasing expensive material goods like flashy clothes and expensive cars. But, for reasons we get into, today’s elite is different: We signify our class position by reading the New Yorker, acquiring elite college degrees, buying organic food, breastfeeding our children, and, of course, listening to podcasts like this one. These activities may seem completely innocent — perhaps even enlightened. Yet, as we discuss here, they simultaneously shore up inequality, erode social mobility, and create an ever-more stratified society — all without most of us even noticing. This is a conversation that implicates us all, and, for that very reason, it is well worth grappling with. Book recommendations: Just Kids by Patti Smith  Art Worlds by Howard S. Becker The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like: When meritocracy wins, everybody loses Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle What a smarter Trumpism would sound like My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Jeff Geld Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 14, 2019
How social media makes us antisocial
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Andrew Marantz is a writer at the New Yorker who, for years, has been deeply immersed in the world of conservative trolls, alt-right social media personalities, and online conspiracy theorists. His most recent book Antisocial has been viewed as a brilliant ethnography of the bizarre universe that is the alt-right.  But I’m interested in it for a different reason: Somehow, these folks have figured out how to manipulate the social media ecosystem that frames our political discourse. Thus, they represent an important window into understanding how that ecosystem functions, who it advantages, and where it dramatically falls short. We discuss: - Why Mark Zuckerberg’s defenses of Facebook so obviously fail - Where the conversation about “free speech” in America went completely off the rails - How alt-right personality Mike Cernovich cracked social media algorithms to influence the 2016 news cycle - What Marantz calls the “primary laws of social media mechanics” and how they can be manipulated to bring out the worst in human nature - Why conflict has become the primary way to garner attention and influence online while more constructive social interactions remain in obscurity - How a kid from a progressive, upper-middle-class family became one of the nation’s leading neo-Nazis - The role the social justice left plays in fomenting online extremism And much more. Book recommendations: Contingency, Irony and Solidarity by Richard Rorty  The Captive Mind by Czesław Miłosz Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 11, 2019
ICYMI: Edward Norton’s theory of mind, movies, and power
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You’ve heard of Edward Norton. He’s starred in critically acclaimed films like American History X, Fight Club, and Birdman, been nominated for multiple Academy Awards, and, most recently, wrote, directed, and starred in Motherless Brooklyn, a film about a detective with Tourette’s syndrome who ends up taking on the most corrupt and powerful forces in New York City politics. Motherless Brooklyn, as it happens, is one of my all-time favorite books. And so this conversation was an unexpected pleasure. In addition to a joint love of Motherless Brooklyn, Norton and I share an unusual number of interests: Meditation, the uncontrollable nature of the mind, the difficulty of solving problems by thinking about them, the psychology of power, media analytics, cultural ideas of heroism, thwarted masculinity in politics, Ralph Nader, and more. It’s rare that I think a conversation could’ve gone for hours more. But it’s true for this one. References: Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem This Could Be Our Future by Yancey Strickler Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch   *The world according to Ralph Nader* Book recommendations: Barbarian Days by William Finnegan  Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor If you like this episode, check out: What Buddhism got right about the human brain You will love this conversation with Jaron Lanier, but I can’t describe it My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Jeff Geld Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 08, 2019
Introducing Reset
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Thanks for listening to Reset from Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network. Today's episodes were Can A.I. Tech You To Write Better and Quantum Supremacy, WTF. If you enjoyed these episodes, If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to Reset for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app to get new episodes every week. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 08, 2019
What a smarter Trumpism would sound like
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Michael Lind is a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the co-founder of the New America Foundation, and an important contributor to American Affairs, a journal originally created to imagine a more Trumpist conservatism. Lind is by no means a supporter of Trump. But, for decades now, he has been developing a coherent intellectual worldview around many of the same issues that Trump intuited, however crudely, during his campaign. He’s one of the intellectuals that the nationalist conservatives trying to imagine a Trumpism after Trump tell me they read most closely. There are three big pieces of Lind’s thought that I think help to illuminate this era. One is his idea of the “new class war,” which builds a deep cultural component into class identity and maps much better onto populist resentment. The next is his approach to China, which has long been skeptical of Washington’s optimistic consensus. And the third is his insistence that political conflicts — be they class wars or partisan ones — don’t end in victories, they end in “settlements.” References: "The New Class War" by Michael Lind "The Return of Geoeconomics" by Michael Lind "Classless Utopia versus Class Compromise" by Michael Lind "Donald Trump, the Perfect Populist" by Michael Lind Book recommendations: The Machiavellian Defender’s of Freedom by James Burnham  Foundation by Isaac Asimov The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 07, 2019
The climate crisis is an oceans crisis
4471
Welcome to episode 2 of our climate cluster. The more I prepared for this series, the more I realize there was a big blue gap in my understanding of climate change. Oceans cover 70% of the earth, absorb 93% of the heat from the sun, and capture 30% of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forty percent of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast, and half a billion people rely on oceans as their primary food source. As go the oceans, so goes humanity. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is the founder of the Urban Lab and the Ocean Collective, she’s held positions at the NOAA and the EPA, and was named by Outside Magazine as the most influential marine biologist of our time. And she’s able to do something a lot of people aren’t: communicate not just the science of climate change from the ocean perspective, but the role oceans play in the human story. This is not a dry, complex disquisition on climate science. This is a vivid tour of the way oceans shape our lives, and the costs and consequences of reshaping them. Book Recommendations: Eat like a Fish by Bren Smith  Water in Plain Sight by Judith D. Schwartz Emergent Strategy by Adrian Marie Brown  My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Ernie Erdat Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 04, 2019
Edward Norton’s theory of mind, movies, and power
6749
You’ve heard of Edward Norton. He’s starred in critically acclaimed films like American History X, Fight Club, and Birdman, been nominated for multiple Academy Awards, and, most recently, wrote, directed, and starred in Motherless Brooklyn, a film about a detective with Tourette’s syndrome who ends up taking on the most corrupt and powerful forces in New York City politics. Motherless Brooklyn, as it happens, is one of my all-time favorite books. And so this conversation was an unexpected pleasure. In addition to a joint love of Motherless Brooklyn, Norton and I share an unusual number of interests: Meditation, the uncontrollable nature of the mind, the difficulty of solving problems by thinking about them, the psychology of power, media analytics, cultural ideas of heroism, thwarted masculinity in politics, Ralph Nader, and more. It’s rare that I think a conversation could’ve gone for hours more. But it’s true for this one. References: Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem This Could Be Our Future by Yancey Strickler Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch   *The world according to Ralph Nader* Book recommendations: Barbarian Days by William Finnegan  Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor If you like this episode, check out: What Buddhism got right about the human brain You will love this conversation with Jaron Lanier, but I can’t describe it My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Jeff Geld Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 31, 2019
We live in The Good Place. And we’re screwing it up.
5223
Welcome to the first episode of our climate cluster. This isn’t a series about whether “the science is real” on climate change. This is a series about what the science says — and what it means for our lives, our politics, and our future. I suspect I’m like a lot of people in that I accept that climate change is bad. What I struggle with is how bad. Is it an existential threat that eclipses all else? One of many serious problems politics must somehow address? I wanted to kick off the series with someone who knows the science cold. Kate Marvel is a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a professor at Columbia University’s Department of Applied Physics and Mathematics. But Marvel isn’t just a leading climate scientist. She’s also unique in her focus on the stories we tell each other, and ourselves, about climate change, and how they end up structuring our decisions. We discuss: - How a climate model actually works - Why this is the good place - Why there is so much variation in climate scientists’ predictions about global temperature increases - Why global warming is only one piece of the much larger problem of climate change - Why a hotter planet is more conducive to natural disasters - The frightening differences between a world that experiences a 2°C temperature increase as opposed to a 5°C temperature increase - Whether the threat of climate change requires solutions that break the boundaries of conventional politics - The underlying stories that animate much of the climate debate - Whether the planet can sustain continued economic growth - What it means to “live morally” amid climate change And much more... Book recommendations: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler Annihilation by Jeff Vendermeer My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Ernie Erdat Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 28, 2019
Neoliberalism and its discontents
5672
“Neoliberalism” is one of the most confusing phrases in political discourse today. The term is often used to describe the market fundamentalism of thinkers like Milton Friedman and Frederich Hayek or politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. At the same time, critics often place more progressive figures like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and even Elizabeth Warren under the neoliberal banner. This raises an important question: what the hell is neoliberalism? I decided to bring on two guests today to help us answer that question. Wendy Brown is a professor of political theory at UC Berkeley, author of Undoing the Demos and In the Ruins of Neoliberalism, and one of the foremost critics of neoliberalism, not only as a set of economic policies but a “governing rationality” that infects almost all aspects of our existence. Noah Smith is an economist, a columnist at Bloomberg, and is known for his robust defenses of some (though not all) neoliberal positions, which earned him the prestigious title of Chief Neoliberal Shill of 2018. We discuss: - The differences between neoliberal theory and “actually existing neoliberalism” - Neoliberalism as not only a set of economic policies but a form of “public reason” that influences our very conception of what it means to be human - How neoliberal thought came to dominate almost every aspect of our lives - Whether neoliberalism is an inherently anti-democratic project - The relationship between neoliberal economic policies and traditional morality - The differences between New Deal liberalism and Obama-era neoliberalism - Whether a growth-driven economic model is compatible with our planet's ecological limits Book recommendations: How Asia Works by Joe Studwell Law Without Future by Jack Jackson Democracy in Chains by Nancy McLean My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com. Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app. Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineer - Topher Routh Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 24, 2019
The four words that will decide impeachment
3358
Hey EK Show listeners! Something different today. The first episode of my new podcast: Impeachment, Explained. This was the week of confessions. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to a Trump administration quid quo pro with Ukraine, with cameras rolling. EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirmed that President Trump made Rudy Giuliani the hinge of America’s Ukraine policy. And then the administration announced that the location for the upcoming G7 summit: Trump’s own resort in Doral, Florida. We break down the three stories that mattered most in impeachment this week. And then we dig into the four words that will shape the entire impeachment fight: “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” What did they mean when they were added to the Constitution? How have they been interpreted through American history? And do Trump’s acts qualify? Listen to the first episode here, and subscribe to Impeachment, Explained, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app to get stay updated on this story every week. References: "Indispensable Remedy: The Broad Scope of the Constitution’s Impeachment Power" by Gene Healy "The case for normalizing impeachment" by Ezra Klein Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Engineers - Malachi Broadus & Jeremey Dalmas Theme music composed by Jon Natchez Special thanks to Liz Nelson Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 21, 2019
We don’t just feel emotions. We make them.
5757
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 Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, Explained 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
Oct 17, 2019
How politics became a war against reality
5392
In his brilliant 2014 book Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, Soviet-born TV producer turned journalist Peter Pomerantsev described 21st-century Russia as a political anomaly. He wrote about “a new type of authoritarianism” that waged war on reality by peddling conspiracy theories, disregarding the notion of truth, and framing all political opposition as the enemy of the people.

Sound familiar?

Upon leaving Russia, Pomerantsev found that the world around him had been infected with the same post-truth disease he had diagnosed in Moscow. The war against reality had spread across the globe, from London and Washington, DC, to Mexico City and Manilla, Philippines. All over the place, the same values that had once defined liberal democracy — free speech, pluralism, the open exchange of ideas — were now being used to undermine it. This development became the centerpiece of his dizzying new book This is Not Propaganda, and it is the focal point of our conversation. We discuss:

- How information went from being the tool of dissidents to the tool of authoritarians
- Why Russia developed modern, post-truth politics first
- The tactics that spin doctors and troll farms use to warp our sense of reality
- How the end of the Cold War triggered a global descent into relativist chaos
- How liberal democratic values like free speech and pluralism are being used to undermine liberal democracy
- Why “all politics is now about creating identity”
- Whether it is possible to organize the internet democratically
- Why the informational chaos of digital politics is much worse outside the US
- The worst butchering of a guest’s name in the show’s history

And much more. Taking a step back from our current moment, American politics is now dominated by the internal machinations of the post-Soviet political systems Pomerantsev specializes in understanding. To see our politics clearly requires seeing their politics clearly.


References:

For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe

On Populist Reason by Ernest Laclau

Book recommendations:

The Asthenic Syndrome by Kira Muratova (film)

History becomes Form by Boris Groys

If you enjoyed this conversation, you may also like:

Jia Tolentino on what happens when life is an endless performance






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Oct 14, 2019
The loneliness epidemic
4899
As US surgeon general from 2014 to 2017, Vivek 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.

Loneliness isn’t simply painful, it’s lethal. Several meta-studies have found the mortality risk associated with loneliness is higher than that of obesity and equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. So, Murthy decided to label loneliness a public health “epidemic,” a term that medical professionals don’t throw around lightly.

Murthy’s advocacy has changed the national discourse around loneliness. However, this isn’t a conversation simply about loneliness as a public health problem: It is about loneliness as a deeply painful lived experience — one that both Murthy and I are all too familiar with.

There’s a lot in this conversation. 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 is, often, helping someone else out of the very pit we’re in.

References:

Ezra's conversation with Johann Hari on the causes of depression

Murthy's article that called loneliness an "epidemic"

KFF/Economist poll of loneliness in US, UK and Japan

Book recommendations:

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albolm 
Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch 
Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri 






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Oct 10, 2019
Ibram X. Kendi wants to redefine racism
5478
Racism is one of the most morally charged words in the English language. It is typically understood as a form of deep inner prejudice — something that people actively feel and consciously express. My guest today, Ibram X. Kendi, wants to redefine racism. He defines the idea simply: support for policies that widen racial inequality.

Kendi is a professor of African-American Studies and director of the Antiracist Policy Center at American University. His National Book Award-winning Stamped From the Beginning argued that racist policies beget racist ideas, not the other way around. His new book, How to Be an Antiracist, is a continuation of that project. It focuses on racism as a structural ecosystem that black people face, not a prejudice that white people feel.

The implications of this redefinition are far-reaching. Are you a racist if you loathe people who aren’t of your race but don’t want to pass policy on it? Are you a racist if you tried to narrow racial inequality but your program backfired?

In this conversation, we map the boundaries of Kendi’s definition and its implications. We discuss his admission that he “used to be racist most of the time,” his argument against racial integration, whether it’s giving too much power to policy to blame it for all racial inequality, whether the word “racist” is too charged for the more nuanced conversations we need to have, the meta-philosophy behind African-American studies, and much more.

Book recommendations:

Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley)

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois

Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

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Oct 07, 2019
Malcolm Gladwell’s Stranger Things
5842
Malcolm Gladwell’s work is nothing short of an intellectual adventure.

Sometimes, as in his podcast Revisionist History, he takes something small and mundane — a hockey statistic, a semicolon, a verbal tic — and draws a broad, sweeping conclusion that shatters your worldview.

Other times, as in his new book Talking to Strangers, he takes something big and contentious — the death of Sandra Bland, the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox, the ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff — and produces insights that challenge conventional wisdom, leaving you wondering how you missed what he saw all along.

In either case, once you’ve experienced what Gladwell has to say, you can never see things in quite the same way again.

This conversation is an adventure of its own. We cover everything from the secrets behind Gladwell’s creative process to the basic social ingredient that undergirds all of modern society to the story of how an entire field office of the CIA got infiltrated by Cuban spies — and what that teaches us about human nature.

So, tune in and be a part of this adventure with us.

Books recommendations:


Exit, Voice, and Loyalty by Albert Hirschman
The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran by Andrew Scott Cooper

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Oct 03, 2019
An inspiring conversation about democracy
5569
Danielle Allen directs Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She’s a political theorist, and a philosopher, and the principal investigator of the Democratic Knowledge Project. I talk about democracy a lot on this show, but it’s her life’s work.

I've tried a bunch of different descriptions here, but they fail the conversation. I loved this one. Don’t make me cheapen it by describing it. Just download it.

References:

Talking to Strangers by Danielle Allen

"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


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Sep 30, 2019
Samantha Power’s journey from foreign policy critic to UN ambassador
5605
Samantha Power reported from the killing fields of Bosnia. She watched a genocide that could’ve been stopped years earlier grind on amidst international indifference. What she saw there led to A Problem From Hell, her Pulitzer-prize winning exploration of why the world permits genocide to happen. She emerged as a fierce critic of America’s morally lax foreign policy, a position that led to a friendship with Barack Obama, and then a series of top jobs in his administration, culminating in ambassador to the UN. Power’s new book, The Education of an Idealist, is a memoir of this journey.

It is rare that an outspoken critic of the foreign policy establishment becomes so powerful within it. But that’s what makes Power’s career, and the lessons she learned, so interesting. In this conversation we discuss:

- What causes ordinary people to participate in genocide

- Why policymakers so often fail to respond to genocide before it is too late

- Whether foreign policy decisions are too restrained by the overreaches and mistakes of the previous generation

- Power’s reflections on Libya, Syria, South Sudan, and more

- How the US’s inconsistent moral stances undermine its strategic interests

- The blurry line between morality and strategy in foreign policy

- How the next administration should handle US relationships with China and Russia.

- The case for being “unreasonable,” even as a policymaker

And much more. This conversation is weedsy at times, but in a way that I think is telling: It’s a window into the agonizing complexity and impossible choices that define foreign policymaking.

Book recommendations:

Switch by the Heath Brothers

The Abandonment of the Jews by David S. Wyman

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

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Sep 26, 2019
When meritocracy wins, everybody loses
5460
In The Meritocracy Trap, Daniel Markovits argues that meritocracy — a system set-up to expand opportunity, reduce inequality and end aristocracy — has become exactly what it was set up to combat: a mechanism for intergenerational wealth transfer that leaves everyone worse off in the process.

Markovits isn’t only challenging a system; he is challenging the system that I (and probably most of you) have been part of for our entire lives. For better or worse, Meritocracy is the water we swim in. We implicitly accept its values, practices, arguments, and assumptions because they govern our everyday lives.

This interview was a chance for me to exit the water. Maybe it will be for you as well.

Book recommendations:

The Rise of the Meritocracy by Michael Young

The Race between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz

"Technical Change, Inequality, and The Labor Market" (article) by Daron Acemoglu


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Sep 23, 2019
Nikole Hannah-Jones on the 1619 project, choosing schools, and Cuba
6261
“The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today” writes Nikole Hannah-Jones “it has been borne on the backs of black resistance.”

Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist at the New York Times Magazine, the winner of MacArthur Genius Grant (among countless other awards), and, most recently, the creator of the New York Times’ 1619 project, which explores the ways slavery shaped America.

As Hannah-Jones points out, no group in American history has more to teach us about what it means to live out the practice of democracy, in its most difficult and graceful form, than African-Americans. We also discuss:

- The economics of slavery, and the role of the cotton gin
- Why it took a civil war to end slavery in America, but not elsewhere
- What it means to love a country that doesn’t love you back
- Whether busing worked
- Why Southern schools are the most racially integrated in the US
- The long-term effects of school integration
- Whether class-based policies can solve racial inequity
- What America can learn from Cuba
- Whether racism blocked social democracy in America
- Whether any presidential candidates has a serious school integration plan
- Why housing and education segregation are so rarely discussed by politicians
- Why Hannah-Jones dislikes “gifted and talented” programs in school

And much more.

References:

Hannah-Jones' opening essay of the 1619 project

Hannah-Jones' essay on choosing a school for her daughter

Book recommendations:

Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 W.E.B. DuBois

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff

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Sep 19, 2019
Randall Munroe, the genius behind XKCD
5269
I’m not usually a fanboy on this podcast, but this episode is the exception.

I love the web-comic XKCD. I’ve had prints of it hanging in my house for years. It’s nerdy and humane, curious and kind. And every so often, it’s explosively, crazily creative, in ways that leave me floored. Like the Hugo-award winning “Time,” a 3,099 frame animation that unspooled every hour for over four months. Or the book Thing Explainer, which used only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to explain some of the hardest ideas in the world.

XKCD is the work of one person, Randall Munroe, and I’ve wanted to talk with him for years. Now he’s out with a new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, and I got my chance. The episode covers:

- The simple places Munroe draws inspiration for his ideas
- The fact that scientists still don’t know how lightning works or why ice is slippery
- How pedantry kills creativity
- Why aliens probably build suspension bridges like we do
- The superpower of refusing to be embarrassed by what you don’t know
- How to retain a sense of wonder as you age
- Whether the water of Niagra Falls can fit through a straw
- How to dig a hole
- How a priest in 1590 intuited dozens of scientific discoveries centuries before they were officially discovered
- And, most importantly, the best book recommendations I think I’ve ever heard on the show

This one was a pleasure.

References:

Jimmy Carter's Voyager letter

Book recommendations:

Natural and Moral History of the Indies by José de Acosta

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch

Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record by Carl Sagan (and others) 

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Sep 16, 2019
Julián Castro's quiet moral radicalism
4043
I’m careful about inviting politicians onto this podcast. Too often, questions go unanswered, and frustrated emails flood my inbox. So I only bring on candidates now if there’s a conversation directly related to themes of this show.
In this case, there is.

There’s a quiet moral radicalism powering Julián Castro’s presidential campaign. Laced through his policy agenda are proposals to decriminalize the movements of undocumented immigrants, to involve the homeless in housing policy, to establish American obligations to those displaced by climate change, to protect animals from human cruelty.

This is an agenda to expand the moral circle. To redefine who counts in the “we” of American politics.

I asked Castro if this wasn’t all a step too far, if Democrats didn’t need to play it safer to eject Trump from office in 2020. This broader moral vision, he replied, “is not just trying to backfill the negative. It gives people a positive purpose that they can reach for. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

This is a candidate interview worth hearing.

Book recommendations:

Influence by Robert Cialdini

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley


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Sep 12, 2019
Political animals (with Leah Garcés)
5551
Imagine, for a moment, what it’s like to be an animal rights activist. Tens of billions of animals are being tortured and slaughtered every year. It is, to you, a rolling horror. But to the people you love, the world you live in — it’s normal. You’re the weird one.

So what do you do? How do you engage, politically and personally, when so few see what you see?

Leah Garcés is the Executive President of Mercy for Animals and the author of Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry ,which documents her journey to reduce the suffering of chickens by building coalitions with none other than well… industrial chicken farmers.

I wanted Garcés on the show because her story is about more than animal suffering. It’s about the core question of politics: the choice we face, every day, between condemnation and compromise. Whether your issue is health care or climate or civil rights or abortion or taxes or foreign policy, you’re faced daily with people working for a world you find repellent. What do you do when they’re the majority and you’re the minority? How do you maintain your own morality when the system itself is sick? When do you draw bright lines, and when do you erase the lines you’ve spent your life drawing?

This conversation gets uncomfortable at times — the realities of factory farming are not easy to face. But, trust me, you will want to stick with it. Garcés offers an extraordinary lesson in the daily practice of politics, one worth hearing even if it’s not ultimately your path.

Book recommendations:

Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard

Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna

Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey by Joe Hutto   

If you enjoyed this podcast, you may also like:

The Green Pill

Bruce Friedrich on how technology will reduce animal suffering

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Sep 09, 2019
John McWhorter thinks we're getting racism wrong
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Hello everyone. I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism (Ezra will be back from vacation next week).

"Antiracism… is now a new and increasingly dominant religion” writes John McWhorter, “it is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus.”

McWhorter is a Professor of English at Columbia University, a contributing editor to The Atlantic, and an outspoken critic of what he calls “third-wave antiracism.” He believes that our increasingly religious national discourse around race -- with its focus on “safe spaces,” “wokeness” and “white privilege” -- is not only wrongheaded, but even dangerous.

But McWhorter isn't that easy to pin down. He acknowledges racism’s pernicious effects on communities of color, but believes that while we are busy calling out individual racism, we are ignoring the issues that most impact black lives: an endless War on Drugs, an unequal education system, and attacks on reproductive and voting rights.

In this conversation, we explore what terms like “woke” and “diversity” actually mean, the types of issues that really do impact black communities, the legacy of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the potential virtues of virtue signaling, why The Phantom Menace was (objectively) a terrible movie and much more.

I hope y’all have as much fun with this conversation as I did.

References:

John's essay "The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World"

Book recommendations:

A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea by Don Kulick

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep


Follow Jane on Twitter @cjane87

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

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Sep 05, 2019
The rocky marriage between libertarians and conservatives
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Hello, everybody! I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism.

Today, I'm speaking with Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer for the Atlantic, who has been navigating the fractious divides within the conservative movement since long before 2016.

Friedersdorf is extremely hard to pin down. His intellectual hero is Friedrich Hayek and he believes the Supreme Court “ought to thwart the will of democratic and legislative majorities.” He’s also staunchly anti-war, an outspoken critic of police brutality, and has even occasionally praised Bernie Sanders.

This is what makes Friedersdorf so interesting to talk to: He doesn't fall neatly along partisan lines. We discuss a lot here: the importance of police reform; the way the term “racism” is used and misused in American politics; the future of the GOP; and what it means to be politically homeless in Trump's America.

References:

"A question for conservatives: what if the left was right on race?" by Jane Coaston, Vox

"What Ails the Right Isn’t (Just) Racism" by Conor Friedersdorf, the Atlantic

Book recommendations:

The Authoritarian Dynamic by Karen Stenner

Kindly Inquisitors by Jonathan Rauch

The Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich A. Hayek



Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com


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Sep 02, 2019
A mind-bending, reality-warping conversation with John Higgs
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I don’t usually begin interviews with the question “who the hell are you?” But, then again, not every guest is John Higgs.

I fell into Higgs’s work by accident. An offhand recommendation of his book on the KLF, a British band that burnt a million pounds but couldn’t explain why they did it. What’s unusual is that I’ve not quite been able to climb back out of it. Higgs’s work is reality-warping. Once you put on his lenses, it’s hard to take them back off.

At the center of Higgs’s strange, brilliant books — his heterodox history of the 20th century, his biography of Timothy Leary, his tour of “metamodernism” — is a single, urgent question: How do we understand the world around us even as advances in physics, psychology, art, pharmacology, and philosophy shatter our frames of reference?

This conversation takes some wild turns, but trying to describe it would do it a disservice. Just trust me on this one. It’s good to mess with your reality every once in awhile.

References:

John Higgs’s conversation with Alan Moore
What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff

Book Recommendations:

The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent
Cosmic Trigger I by Robert Anton Wilson
From Hell by Alan Moore 




Aug 29, 2019
Jia Tolentino on what happens when life is an endless performance
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The introduction to Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, hit me hard. In her investigation of how American politics and culture had collapsed into “an unbearable supernova of perpetually escalating conflict,” she became obsessed with five intersecting problems: “First, how the internet is built to distend our sense of identity; second, how it encourages us to overvalue our opinions; third, how it maximizes our sense of opposition; fourth, how it cheapens our understanding of solidarity; and, finally, how it destroys our sense of scale."

Yeah, me too.

What sets Tolentino’s work apart, though, is that it’s not about the internet — it’s about how people are living their real, everyday lives in the age of the internet. This is a conversation about what happens when technology combines with the most powerful forces of human psychology to transform the nature of human interaction itself. It’s about how we construct and express our core sense of self, and what that’s doing to who we really are.

References:
The art of attention (with Jenny Odell)

Book Recommendations:
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vaughn
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, Explained
Aug 26, 2019
The original meaning of “identity politics” (with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor)
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Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an associate professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University and the author of multiple books, including most recently How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which traces the origins of the term “identity politics” back to its very first use.

“Since 1977,” she writes, “that term has been used, abused, and reconfigured into something foreign to its creators.” Taylor’s intellectual history is driven by more than curiosity: it’s part of a larger vision that views racism and our contemporary economic system as inextricably linked.

This is a conversation full of tough questions. What constitutes identity politics? When is it inclusive, and when is it exclusive? Is racism a function of capitalism or is it constant across economic systems? How did Barack Obama’s presidency lead to Donald Trump’s? What can stop future Democrats from running into the very same institutional strongholds that plagued Obama?

Book recommendations:

Black Reconstruction by W.E.B DuBois
Selected poems of John Weaners
Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis

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Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

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Aug 22, 2019
Are bosses dictators? (with Elizabeth Anderson)
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Imagine a society whose rulers suppress free speech, free association, even bathroom breaks. Where the government owns the means of production. Where the leader is self-appointed or hand-selected by a group of wealthy oligarchs. Where exile or emigration can have severe, even life-threatening, consequences.

My guest today, University of Michigan Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson, writes that workplaces are “communist dictatorships in our midst.” Her book Private Government: How Employers Rule our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It) draws an extended analogy between firms and tyrannical governments, each of which she believes hold extended, unaccountable power over people’s lives.

Anderson is one for the most influential philosophers alive today, and her aim isn’t just to be provocative. It’s to argue that the ideals of representation, rights, and legitimacy that we apply to public governments should extend to private governments, too. And beyond that, it is to pose a question about the lenses through which we peer out at the world: “Why do we not recognize such a pervasive part of our social landscape for what it is?”

I don’t agree with Anderson on every point, but she’s offering a gift: another framework for understanding the world in which we live. This is the kind of conversation that sticks with you, that leaves everything looking just a little bit different.

Book recommendations:

What is Populism? by Jan Werner-Muller

Communicating Moral Concern by Elise Springer

The Racial Contract by Charles Mills

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com


Aug 19, 2019
The Constitution is a progressive document
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“The Constitution must be adapted to the problems of each generation,” writes Erwin Chemerisnky, “we are not living in the world of 1787 and should not pretend that the choices for that time can guide ours today.”

Does that sentence read to you as obvious or offensive? Either way, it’s at the core of the constitutional debate between the left and the right — a debate the left all too often cedes to the right through disinterest.

Chemerinsky is trying to change that. He’s the dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, a decorated constitutional scholar and lawyer, and the author of We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century. At the core of Chemerinsky’s vision is the idea that the Constitution must be interpreted through the lens of the preamble: a crucial statement of intent, and one that establishes the US Constitution as one of the most adaptive and glitteringly progressive founding documents in the world.

This is a conversation about both direct questions of constitutional interpretation and the meta-questions of constitutional debate in a polarized age. What, for instance, does it mean that so much turned on Mitch McConnell’s blockade against Merrick Garland? Is this just a legal debating club disguising the exercise of raw power? What should progressive constitutionalists make of proposals to expand the Supreme Court? What would be different today if Hillary Clinton had filled Scalia’s seat?

Book recommendations:

Simple Justice by Richard Kluger (1975)
American Constitutional Law by Larry Tribe
The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay
The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
Aug 15, 2019
Matt Bruenig’s case for single-payer health care
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The Democratic primary has been unexpectedly dominated by a single question: Will you abolish private health insurance?
Wrapped in that question are dozens more. Why, if private health insurance is such a mess, do polls show most Americans want to keep it? What lessons should we take from the failure of past efforts at health reform? What does it mean to say “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it?”

Matt Bruenig, the founder of the People’s Policy Project, is firmly in support of true single-payer. No compromise, no chaser. He’s frustrated by those, like me, who try to work around the public’s resistance to disruptive change, who treat past failures and current polls as predictions about the future. And, in turn, I’m often frustrated by Matt’s tendency, mirrored by many on the left, to treat people with similar goals but different theories of reform as villains and shills.

In this podcast, Matt and I hash it out. The questions here are deep ones. When are political constraints real, and when are they invented by the people asserting their existence? If you already believe the political system is broken and corrupt, how can you entrust it to take over American health care? Can you cleave policy from politics? What would the ideal health care system look like, and why?

Book recommendations:
A Theory of Justice  by John Rawls
What Is Property?  by P. J. Proudhon
The Progressive Assault on Laissez Fair   by Barbara H. Fried

Ezra’s recommended reading:
One Nation, Uninsured  by Jill Quadagno
Remedy and Reaction by Paul Starr
It's the Institutions, Stupid! by Sven Steinmo, Jon Watts

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com 
Aug 12, 2019
Can Raj Chetty save the American dream?
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I don’t ordinarily find myself scrambling to write down article ideas during these conversations, but almost everything Raj Chetty says is worth a feature unto itself. For instance:

- Great Kindergarten teachers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in future earnings for their students
- Solving poverty would increase life expectancy by more — far more — than curing cancer
- Public investment focused on children often pays for itself
- The American dream is more alive in Canada than in America
- Maps of American slavery look eerily like maps of American social mobility — but not for the reason you’d think

Chetty is a Harvard economist who has been called “the most influential economist alive today.” He’s considered by his peers to be a shoo-in for the Nobel prize. He specializes in bringing massive amounts of data to bear on the question of social mobility: which communities have it, how they got it, and what we can learn from them.

What Chetty says in this conversation could power a decade of American social policy. It probably should.

References:
Atlantic profile
Vox profile

Books:
Scarcity:The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matt Desmond
How to Catch a Heffalump




Aug 08, 2019
Astra Taylor will change how you think about democracy
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Astra Taylor’s new book has the best title I’ve seen in a long time: Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

I talk a lot about democracy on this show, but not in the way Taylor talks about it. The democracy I discuss is bounded by the assumptions of American politics. This, however, is not a conversation about the filibuster, the Senate, or the Electoral College — it is far more diverse and far more radical.

Taylor and I cover a lot of ground in this interview. We discuss how what it would mean to extend democracy to our job and schools, whether animals, future humans, or even nature itself can have political rights, how democracy thinks about noncitizens and children, and what would happen if we selected congress by lottery.

Something I appreciate about Taylor’s work is it’s alive to paradoxes, ambiguities, and hard questions that don’t offer easy answers. This conversation is no different.

References:
The link between support for animal rights and human rights
Interview with Will Wilkinson

Book Recommendations:
How democratic is the American Constitution? By Robert Dahl 
Abolition Democracy by Angela Davis
The Two Faces of American Freedom by Aziz Rana 

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Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com




Aug 05, 2019
Introducing Land of the Giants
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Ezra sits down with Jason Del Rey, host of Land of the Giants, a new podcast from Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network. Land of the Giants is about the major technology companies that have reshaped our world and explores the ways that they've changed our lives – for better and for worse. The first season is titled The Rise of Amazon. Enjoy this special conversation between Ezra and Jason, followed by a preview of the first episode, Why You’ll Never Quit Amazon Prime. Subscribe to Land of the Giants for free in your favorite podcast app to hear the rest of the episode and to get new episodes automatically.



Aug 02, 2019
Is big tech addictive? Nir Eyal and I debate.
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“How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?”

That’s the opening line of the description for Nir Eyal’s bestselling 2014 book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Hooked became a staple in Silicon Valley circles — it was even recommended to me when I started Vox — and Eyal became a celebrity.

Today, Silicon Valley’s skill at building habit-forming products is looked on more skeptically, to say the least. So I was interested to see him releasing a second book that seemed a hard reversal: Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

But Eyal doesn’t think big tech is addictive, and he sees the rhetoric of people who do — like me — as “ridiculous.” He believes the answer to digital distraction lies in individuals learning to exercise forethought and discipline, not demonizing companies that make products people love.

Eyal and I disagree quite a bit in this conversation. But it’s a disagreement worth having. Life is the sum total of what we pay attention to. Who is in control of that attention, and how we can wrest it back, is a central question of our age.

Book Recommendations:

Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Aug 01, 2019
Generation Climate Change
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This is one of those episodes I want to put the hard sell on. It’s one of the most important conversations I’ve had on the show. The fact that it left me feeling better about the world rather than worse — that was shocking.

Varshini Prakash is co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement. Sunrise is part of a new generation of youth-led climate-change movements that emerged out of the failure of the global political system to address the climate crisis. They’re the ones who made the Green New Deal a litmus test for 2020. They’re the reason there might be a climate debate. They’re the reason candidates’ climate plans have gotten so much more ambitious.

Behind these movements is the experience of coming of age in the era of climate crisis and the new approach to organizing birthed by that trauma. We also talk about Sunrise’s theory of organizing, why it’s a mistake to say you’re saving the planet when you’re saving humanity, Sunrise’s motto “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,” the joys of organizing in the face of terrible odds, and, unexpectedly, the Tao Te Ching.
This is a conversation about climate change and about political organizing, but it’s also about finding agency amid despair. Don’t miss it.

Book recommendations:
Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.
This Is an Uprising  by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
Tao Te Ching by Laozi 

*******************************************************
The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.
Please send guest suggestions for our upcoming series on climate change to ezrakleinshow@vox.com






Jul 29, 2019
Is the media amplifying Trump’s racism? (with Whitney Phillips)
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Some podcasts I do are easy. There’s a problem and, hey look, here’s a great answer! Some are hard. There’s a problem and, well, there may not be a good answer. This is one of those.

When Donald Trump tweeted that four new Democratic members of Congress (commonly known as ‘the Squad’) should “go back” to the “corrupt” countries he said they are from, the media went into frenzy. When he said he didn’t worry if the comment was racist, because “many people agree with me,” it got worse. Trump’s racism — and his justification of it — dominated the news.

Under the “sunlight disinfects” model of media, that’s a good thing. But, as communications scholar Whitney Phillips argues, sunlight also does something else: it makes things grow. What if, by letting Trump focus the national conversation on his most vile comments at will, we’re nourishing the very ideas we’re trying to bleach?

Behind this conversation lurks some of the hardest questions in media. What makes something newsworthy? When do we let Trump set the agenda, and when don’t we? And is the theory under which we give the worst comments the most coverage true, or is it making us part of the problem?

Book Recommendations:
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer
Klu Klux by Elaine Parsons
White Racial Framing by Joe Feagin

Check out Whitney Phillips’ previous appearance on the show

*******************************************************
The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.
Please send guest suggestions for our upcoming series on climate change to ezrakleinshow@vox.com






Jul 25, 2019
Rutger Bregman’s utopias, and mine
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Universal basic income. A 15-hour work week. Open borders.

These ideas may strike you as crazy, fantastical, maybe even utopian... but that’s exactly the point.

My guest today is Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, whose book Utopia for Realists is not only about utopian visions but about the importance of utopian thinking. Imagining utopia, he writes, “isn’t an attempt to predict the future. It’s an attempt to unlock the future. To fling open the windows of our minds.”

He’s right. And so this isn’t just a conversation about his utopia, or mine. It’s a conversation about how to think like a utopian, and why doing so matter most when the days feel particularly dystopic.

Citations:
The Lost Boys by Gina Perry
"Socially Useless Jobs" by Robert Dur and Max van Lent
"Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" by John Maynard Keynes
"I was a fast-food worker. Let me tell you about burnout." by Emily Guendelsberger

Book Recommendations:

Bullshit Jobs and Debt by David Graeber
A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato

*******************************************************
The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.

Please send guest suggestions for our upcoming series on climate change to ezrakleinshow@vox.com








Jul 22, 2019
How white identity politics won the Republican civil war
5320
Tim Alberta’s new book American Carnage documents “the Republican Civil War”: a decade-plus struggle over whether the Republican Party would build itself around white identity politics or try to reach out to a changing America.

Trump’s election settled the argument, and Alberta’s book tracks the way top Republicans processed that resolution — and submitted to their new reality — in real time. The profiles in courage are few and far between; the capitulations, however, are everywhere. Alberta takes us deep inside that process, and the quotes and stories he’s revealed already have top Republicans at each other’s throats.

This is a conversation about what the Republican Party has become, why Donald Trump won the fight for the party’s soul so decisively, why so many conservative politicians abandoned their loathing of Trump to embrace the power he offered, and what comes next. Alberta brings the receipts, and if nothing else, it’s a helluva portrait of how principles are traded for power.

Book recommendations:
The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright
War  by Sebastian Junger
Moneyball by Michael Lewis

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Want to get in touch with the show? Send us a message at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.




Jul 18, 2019
George Will makes the conservative case against democracy
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It’s a good time to be a Republican. But it’s a bad time, George Will argues, to be a conservative. Hence his new, 700-page manifesto, The Conservative Sensibility, which tries to rescue conservatism from the perversions of the Trumpist GOP.

Will’s conservatism is rooted in a deep mistrust of majority rule, and an almost religious veneration of the Founding Fathers, or at least a certain understanding of them. Remember, he writes, “the Constitution of the first consciously modern nation, the United States, protects the sovereignty of private individuals, not the sovereignty of a public collective, ‘the majority.’”

Will is articulating a tendency that’s always been present on the right, but is becoming more central today: the belief that majority rule will be the death of the American experiment and that the conservative project is at odds with democracy. Will is more forthright than most on this point: He chides conservatives for blasting activist judges, for instance, arguing that the right needs a judiciary willing to make sweeping rulings to curb the power of the state.

There’s a lot to discuss here. And discuss we do.

Book recommendations:
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
Freedom: Virtue and the First Amendment by Walter Fred Berns


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The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.















Jul 15, 2019
What deliberative democracy can, and can’t, do (with Jane Mansbridge)
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Every time I do an episode on polarization, I get a few emails asking: What about deliberative democracy? Couldn’t that be an answer?

Deliberative democracy, if you’re not familiar, refers to a broad set of approaches in which citizens get together, with or without their representatives, to deliberate on political questions. Not just vote, or donate money, but actually work through hard questions, in a structured process, together.

Jane Mansbridge is the Charles F. Adams professor of political leadership and democratic values at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a past president of the American Political Science Association, and co-editor of the book, Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale. So she’s not just a pioneering theorist on deliberative democracy, she’s specifically studied the question where I’m most skeptical: Can it scale?

Book recommendations:
Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy by Michael A. Neblo
Democracy When the People Are Thinking: Revitalizing Our Politics Through Public Deliberation by James S. Fishkin
Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign by Frances E. Lee

Jul 11, 2019
Rod Dreher on America’s post-Christian culture war [CORRECTED]
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[A quick note about this episode - we have fixed an error that caused some listeners to hear overlapping audio in the first portion of the show. Thank you for your understanding, and we're sorry for the issue]

In 2017, Rod Dreher published The Benedict Option, a book arguing that America has grown so hostile to Orthodox Christian practice and morals that believers need to retreat into sealed communities to wait out the cultural storm. It’s a window into a mindset that is increasingly powerful in politics but befuddling to those who don’t share its premise: How have so many white Christians come to feel like America’s most persecuted class?

Dreher writes about the monastics, but he lives the engaged life. He’s a senior editor at the American Conservative, where he writes a popular blog confronting American politics and culture from an Orthodox Christian perspective. I asked him on the show to try to see the world through his eyes and better understand some of the debates splitting the country.

How can a country so suffused in Christian culture seem so hostile to Christians? Why does the Christian right focus so much on sexuality rather than poverty, lust rather than greed? How can a religion built around such radical openness to strangers embrace Trump’s approach to borders and migrants? What is the line between protecting religious liberty and accepting widespread discrimination? And do blogs like Dreher’s, which trawl the culture for the stories meant to make Christians feel persecuted and appalled, just drive a deeper wedge into our politics?

Dreher is thoughtful, eloquent, and open, and this is a conversation that left us both questioning some premises. A lot of the points we differ on can’t be settled by debate, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for understanding.



Book recommendations:
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin







Jul 08, 2019
White threat in a browning America (Jennifer Richeson re-air)
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This conversation with Yale psychologist and MacArthur genius Jennifer Richeson first appeared a year ago, and it’s one of my favorites. But I wanted to repost it now for two reasons.

First, it’s as a necessary companion to Monday’s conversation with Robert Jones over changing religious dynamics. Richeson focuses on racial demographic change, and in particular, how the perception of losing demographic power pushes people’s politics in a sharply conservative direction. I don’t think it’s possible to understand our politics in this moment without understanding this research.

Second, it’s July Fourth, and this conversation makes me feel patriotic. America has its problems, but it’s to our great and enduring credit that we are at least trying to navigate a transition to being a true multiethnic liberal democracy. Other countries have collapsed into violence and civil war over far less.
It’s easy to look back on history and think that the great political challenges belonged to past generations and we’re merely drafting off their achievements. But it’s not true. We’re navigating an unprecedented political transition in our own time. If we make good on its promise — on this country’s promise — we’ll deserve our place in the history books, too.

Recommended books:
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America by Christopher S. Parker and Matt A. Barreto
The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics by Ryan Enos



Jul 04, 2019
Behind the panic in white, Christian America
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About seven in 10 American seniors are white Christians. Among young adults, fewer than three in 10 are. During the span of the Obama administration, America went from a majority white Christian nation to one where white Christians are a minority. That’s an earthquake, and we’re living in the aftershocks.

This is a story that Robert Jones, the head of the Public Religion Research Institute, tells in his book The End of White Christian America. Much of Donald Trump’s support is driven by a sense of religious loss, not just racial or national loss. Many of the debates playing out on the American right — particularly the Sohrab Ahmari-David French fight — reflect the belief that these are end times for a certain strain of American Christians, unless emergency measures are undertaken.

This is not, to put it lightly, a perspective that’s treated sympathetically on the left. What could carry more privilege than being a white Christian? But that’s why, if you want to understand American politics right now, it’s important to try to see the other side of this one. I’m going to be exploring this more on the show in the weeks to come, but I wanted to start with Jones, who knows the data here better than anyone. This is part of the deep context of American politics right now. Seeing it clearly makes a lot of our fights more legible.

If you liked this episode, you may also like: “David French on the Great, White Culture War” and Jennifer Richeson on “The most important idea for understanding politics in 2018.”
Book recommendations:

Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement by Carolyn Renée Dupont

Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows

Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promiseby Eboo Patel
 
Jul 01, 2019
An enlightening, frustrating conversation on liberalism (with Adam Gopnik)
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“Liberalism is as distinct a tradition as exists in political history, but it suffers from being a practice before it is an ideology, a temperament and a tone and a way of managing the world more than a fixed set of beliefs.”
That’s from Adam Gopnik’s new book A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism. It is, by turns, a bracing, charming, insightful, irksome defense of the most successful political movement of our age. Liberalism is so successful, in fact, that its achievements are taken for granted while its shortcomings throb through our politics.
What caught my eye about Gopnik’s book is his argument that liberalism is a temperament more than an ideology, an approach more than a prescription. As I read his argument, it felt to me that he had identified something essential and often missed in discussions of agendas and plans. But he was also developing a definition of little use in settling the core debates of our age, a liberalism that could be seen as too flexible to mean anything in particular.
And so, as liberals do, we argued it out. This conversation has something to thrill and frustrate every listener. In that way, it’s like liberalism itself.
Book recommendations:
Life of Johnson  by James Boswell
The Open Society and Its Enemiesby Karl R. Popper
No Other Book: Selected Essays by Randall Jarrell
Jun 27, 2019
The cognitive cost of poverty (with Sendhil Mullainathan)
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If you’re a Parks and Rec fan, you’ll remember Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness. Right there at the base sits “Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”

It’s a joke, but not really. Few want to justify the existence of poverty, but when they do, that's how they do it. People in poverty just aren’t smart enough, or hard-working enough, or they’re not making good enough decisions. There’s a moral void in that logic to begin with — but it also gets the reality largely backward. “The poor do have lower effective capacity than those who are well off,” write Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir in their book Scarcity. "This is not because they are less capable, but rather because part of their mind is captured by scarcity.” They show, across continents and contexts, that the more economic pressure you place on people, the worse their cognitive performance becomes.

Mullainathan is a genius. A literal, MacArthur-certified genius. He’s an economist at the Chicago Booth School of Business who has published foundational work on a truly dizzying array of topics, but his most important research is around what scarcity does to the brain. This is work with radical implications for how we think about inequality and social policy. One thing I appreciated about Mullainathan in this conversation is that he doesn’t shy away from that.

This is one of those conversations I wanted to have because the ideas are so important and persuasive. I didn’t expect Mullainathan to be such a delight to talk to. But since he was, we also discussed the economics of our AI-soaked future, the power of rigid rules, the reason conversation is so much better in person, why cigarette taxes make smokers happier, what Star Trek got wrong, and how he’s managed to do so much important work in such a vast array of disciplines. We could’ve gone for three more hours, easily.

If you liked this episode, you should also check out the Robert Sapolsky and Mehrsa Baradaran podcasts.

Book recommendations:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl




Jun 24, 2019
Failing towards Utopia
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Nice Try! is a new podcast from Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network that explores stories of people who have tried to design a better world, and what happens when those designs don't go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place. Enjoy this special conversation between Ezra and Avery and an excerpt from the recent episode Oneida: Utopia, LLC, and subscribe to Nice Try! for free in your favorite podcast app.
Jun 21, 2019
Why liberals and conservatives create such different media (with Danna Young)
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The debate over polarized media can make the two ecosystems sound equivalent. One is left, the other right, but otherwise they’re the same. That couldn’t be more wrong. They’re structured differently, they work differently, they value different things, they’re built atop different aesthetics. And behind all these differences is something we don’t talk about enough: their audiences, and what those audiences demand.

Danna Young is an associate professor of communications at the University of Delaware and author of the forthcoming Irony and Outrage, a fascinating study of the differing aesthetics of the left and right media universes, and how those differences are rooted in the psychological composition of their audiences. This is tricky stuff to talk about, but it’s necessary for understanding why political media looks the way it does today.

Book recommendations:
Constructing the Political Spectacle by Murray Edelman
The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility by Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj
Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics by Nicole Hemmer
Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States by Danna Young (pre-order)
Jun 20, 2019
Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo (Live!)
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“The phrase ‘identity politics’ is a weaponization of the Democrats’ structural advantage in elections from now until eternity,” says Stacey Abrams.

In this live interview from 2019’s Code conference, Kara Swisher and I sat down with Abrams and her campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo. Abrams lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, but became a Democratic superstar in the process. She was tapped to give the party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union, and she’s mentioned often as a top-tier vice president pick for 2020, and perhaps a candidate for the presidency herself.
This conversation makes it clear why. Abrams says more interesting things in an hour than most politicians do in a year. Her take on identity politics is worth the conversation alone, but she also offers one of the clearest discussions of the role of regulation in an advanced economy I’ve heard. We also talk about her 2020 plans, why she’s not running for Georgia’s Senate seat, why she thinks Democrats aren’t in as much Senate recruiting trouble as the conventional wisdom holds, whether America is still a democracy, and much more.

It’s particularly interesting to hear Abrams alongside her longtime friend and campaign manager, Groh-Wargo, who’s now the CEO of Fair Fight Action, the organization they founded to push for free and fair elections. Where Abrams is effortless with narrative, Groh-Wargo is tactical and specific. Listening to them play off each other, you get a much clearer sense of the strategic partnership and electoral theories at the core of Abrams’s 2018 run, and that might power whatever she does next.

Jun 17, 2019
This changed how I think about love (with Alison Gopnik)
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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. 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.

I worry when I post these podcasts with experts in child development that people without children will pass them by. So let me be direct: Listen to this one. I didn’t have Gopnik on the show to talk about children; I had her on the show to talk about human beings. 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.
There is more great stuff in this conversation than I can write in an intro. She’s changed my thinking on not just parenting but friendships, marriage, and schooling. Some of these are ideas you could build a life around. This is worth your time.


Book recommendations:
A Treatise of Human Natureby David Hume
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The works of Jean Piaget



Jun 13, 2019
The plan behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans
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Oligarchic capitalism? Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that. Opioid deaths? She’s got a plan for that too. Same is true for high housing costs, offshoring, child care, breaking up Big Tech, curbing congressional corruption, indicting presidents, strengthening reproductive rights, forgiving student loans, providing debt relief to Puerto Rico, and fixing the love lives of some of her Twitter followers. Seriously.

But how is Warren going to pass any of these plans? Which policy would she prioritize? What presidential powers would she leverage? What argument would she make to her fellow Senate Democrats to convince them to abolish the filibuster? What will she do if Mitch McConnell still leads the Senate? What about climate change?

I caught her on a campaign swing through California to ask her about that meta-plan. The plan behind her plans. Warren’s easy fluency with policy is on full display here, but it’s her systematic thinking about the nature of power, and what it takes to redistribute it, that really sets her apart from the field. I don’t want to shock you, but: She’s got a plan for that too.

Vox’s guide to where 2020 Democrats stand on policy

Book recommendations:

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer







Jun 10, 2019
Michael Lewis reads my mind
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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








Jun 06, 2019
How Mitch McConnell convinced Michael Bennet to run for president
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I’m not sure what I expected Sen. Michael Bennet’s answer to be when I asked him why he was running for president. I didn’t expect it to be “Mitch McConnell.”

Since arriving in the Senate in 2009, Bennet has built a reputation as a senator’s senator. He’s smart and measured, thoughtful on policy, and good at working across the aisle. I’ve had colleagues of his tell me they wish he’d run for president, that he’s the kind of guy the country needs. But Bennet’s been radicalized. He believes America’s government is broken.

So what happens when you radicalize a moderate? How far will an institutionalist go to save the institutions he loves? And at what point do you decide the problem is inside the institutions themselves?

That’s the conversation, and at times argument, Bennet and I have in this podcast, and it’s an important one. His critique is angry and sweeping. But are his solutions as big as the problem he identifies? We also talk about his plan to end extreme childhood poverty, which I think is one of the most important proposals in the race, his view that rural America is the key to passing climate legislation, why he opposes Medicare-for-all, what to do about the filibuster, and much more.

Book recommendations:
There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir by Casey Gerald
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
Jun 03, 2019
How the brains of master meditators change
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Richie Davidson has spent a lifetime studying meditation. He’s studied it as a practitioner, sitting daily, going on retreats, and learning under masters. And he’s pioneered the study of it as a scientist, working with the Dalai Lama to bring master meditators into his lab at the University of Wisconsin and quantifying the way thousands of hours of meditation changed their brains.

The word “meditation,” Davidson is quick to note, is akin to the word “sports”: It describes a huge range of pursuits. And what he’s found is that different types of meditation do very different things to your brain, just as different sports trigger different changes in your body.
This is a conversation about what those brain changes are, and what they mean for the rest of us. We discuss the forms of meditation Westerners rarely hear about, the differences between meditative and psychedelic states, the Dalai Lama’s personality, why elite meditators end up warmhearted and joyous rather than cold and detached, whether there’s more value to meditating daily or going on occasional retreats, what happens when you sever meditation from the ethical frameworks it evolved in, and much more.

Book recommendations:
Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama by Dalai Lama
The Principles of Psychology by William James
In Love With the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happinessby Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
10% Happierby Dan Harris
The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guideby John Yates





May 30, 2019
Why good people are easily corrupted (with Lawrence Lessig)
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I’ve been learning from, and arguing with, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig for a decade now. We have a long-running debate over whether money or polarization is the root cause of our political ills. But our debate works because we share a crucial belief: Bad institutions overwhelm good individuals.
In his latest book, America, Compromised, Lessig is doing something ambitious: He’s offering a new definition of institutional corruption, then showing how it plays out in politics, academia, the media, Wall Street, and the legal system. This is a definition of corruption that doesn’t require any individual to be corrupt. But it’s a definition that, if you accept it, suggests much of our society has been corrupted.

Here, Lessig and I discuss what corruption is, how to understand an institution’s purpose, whether capitalism is itself corrupting, our upcoming books about the media, how small donors polarize politics, Lessig’s critique of democracy, why good people are particularly susceptible to institutional corruption, whether we should ban private money in politics, and ways to reinvent representative democracy. So, you know, nothing too big or heady.

Book recommendations:
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
May 27, 2019
The art of attention (with Jenny Odell)
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“For some, there may be a kind of engineer’s satisfaction in the streamlining and networking of our entire lived experience,” writes Jenny Odell. “And yet a certain nervous feeling, of being overstimulated and unable to sustain a train of thought, lingers.”

Odell is the author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. And she’s a visual artist who has taught digital and physical design at Stanford since 2013, as well as done residencies at Facebook, the San Francisco Planning Department, the Dump, and the Internet Archive.

All of which is to say she’s the perfect person to talk with about creativity and attention in a world designed to flatten both. In this conversation, we discuss the difference between productivity and creativity, how artists orchestrate attention, the ideologies we use to value our time, what it means to do nothing, restoring context to our lives and words, why “groundedness requires actual ground,” lucid dreaming, the joys of bird-watching, my difficulty appreciating conceptual art, her difficulty with meditation, and much more.

Book recommendations:
Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Nature and Functions of Dreaming by Ernest Hartmann
Cult Shock: The Book Jehovah’s Witnesses & Mormons Don’t Want You to Read by Mark Stengler
The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram



May 23, 2019
Matt Yglesias and Jenny Schuetz solve the housing crisis
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In this special crossover episode, Brookings Institution’s Jenny Schuetz joins The Weeds’ Matt Yglesias to discuss subsidies, zoning reform, and much more.
May 20, 2019
What kind of news is cable news? (With Brian Stelter)
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Brian Stelter is the host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, as well as the network’s chief media correspondent. But before he was the host of Reliable Sources, he was just a kid with a blog — a blog that obsessed over the coverage decisions, business models, and consequences of cable news.

So he was the perfect person to have this conversation with. I’ve done — and continue to do — a lot of cable news. So I think a lot about the effect cable news has on the political system. How does it change the stories it covers? How does it decide what is and isn’t news? What are its biases? Who actually watches it? How has it been changed by Trump and Twitter? And, with apologies to Jon Stewart, is cable news hurting or helping America?

Brian and I see the answers to some of these questions differently. But he’s one of the most thoughtful media analysts going today. Love it or hate it, cable news matters. So it’s worth trying to understand how it works, and why it works the way it does.

Book recommendations:

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race  by Douglas Brinkley
The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner
Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella


May 16, 2019
Contrapoints on taking the trolls seriously
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YouTube is where tomorrow’s politics are happening today.
If you’re over 30, and you don’t spend much time on the platform, it’s almost impossible to explain how central it is to young people’s media consumption. YouTube far outranks television in terms of where teens spend their time. It’s foundational to how young people — and plenty of not-so-young people — form their politics. And it features a political divide that’s different than what we see in Washington, but that I think predicts what we’re going to see in Washington.
Natalie Wynn, of the channel Contrapoints, is one of YouTube’s political stars. The former philosophy PhD student dropped out and found her calling producing idea-dense and aesthetically rich explanations of everything from capitalism to Jordan Peterson to incels to “the West.” In this conversation, we talk about the political divides on YouTube, how the YouTube right differs from the YouTube left, why obscure ideological movements are making comebacks online, her experience transitioning gender while in the public eye, why you need to take trollish questions seriously, and the anxieties of modern masculinity.
May 13, 2019
The purpose of political violence
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“Between 1830 and 1860, there were more than seventy violent incidents between congressmen in the House and Senate chambers or on nearby streets and dueling grounds.”

Here’s the wild thing about that statistic, which comes from Yale historian Joanne Freeman’s remarkable book The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War: It’s an undercount. There was much more violence between members of Congress even than that.
Congress used to be thick with duels, brawls, threats, and violent intimidation. That history is often forgotten today, and that forgetting has come at a cost: It lets us pretend that this moment, with all its tumult and terror, is somehow divorced from our traditions, an aberration from our past, when it’s in fact rooted in them.

That’s why I wanted to talk to Freeman right now: to remind us that American politics has long been shaped by people who used the threat or practice of national violence as a way to force the political system to accept ongoing injustice. This conversation isn’t as easy as just saying political violence is bad. It’s also about recognizing that political violence has a purpose, and weighing the conditions under which it’s right and even necessary to provoke it.

Book recommendations:
Witness to the Young Republic: A Yankee’s Journal, 1828-1870 by Benjamin Brown French
First Blows of the Civil Warby James S. Pike
The Impending Crisisby David M. Potter
May 09, 2019
Ask Ezra Anything 3: Endgame
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Time for another AMA! You all hit the big stuff in this one. What’s the purpose of this show? How do I prep for it? What did I think of the Whiteshift conversation? What has fatherhood changed in my worldview? What weird work habits do I recommend? How about weird techno sets? How about comic runs?

Should we be optimistic about humanity in 100 years? How about 1,000? Why did I describe Elizabeth Warren as a “fighter” rather than “professor” candidate? What’s the likeliest sci-fi dystopia?

All this, plus some vegan recipe recommendations and the proportions for a Vieux Carré cocktail!

May 06, 2019
The disillusionment of David Brooks
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2013 was David Brooks’s worst year. “The realities that used to define my life fell away,” he says. His marriage ended. His children moved out. The conservative movement was undergoing the crack-up that would lead to Donald Trump, and to Brooks’s excommunication.

For Brooks, the past few years have been a radicalization. His new book, The Second Mountain, is an effort to work out a more service- and community-oriented definition of the good life. But on a deeper level, it’s a searing critique of meritocracy, of productivity, and, as I try to get him to admit in this podcast, of capitalism itself. But is Brooks really willing to embrace what that critique demands?

If you liked the “Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle” episode a few weeks back, you’ll love this one.

Book recommendations:
Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris 
May 02, 2019
Emily Oster schools me on parenthood
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I’ve read a lot of Emily Oster over the past year. Her first book, Expecting Better, has become the data-minded parent’s bible on pregnancy. Her new book, Cribsheet, extends that analysis to the first years of life.

Oster is an economist at Brown University, and what she brings to this particular pursuit is a passion for good evidence. And here’s the thing: it turns out that much of what we think we know about pregnancy and parenthood isn’t based on good evidence. Sometimes it’s not based on any evidence at all.

This is, on one level, a conversation about some topics of particular interest to me right now — breastfeeding, sleep training, brain development — but, it’s also a conversation about a meta-topic of interest to us all: how we assume experts are basing their confident pronouncements on good data, when, in fact, they often are not.

Book recommendations:
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
The Shakespeare Requirement: A Novel by Julie Schumacher
The Odyssey by Homer (translation by Emily Wilson)


Apr 29, 2019
Lessons from Vox’s first 5 years
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This is a special episode for me. Vox turns 5 this week! So I sat down with my co-founders, Melissa Bell and Matt Yglesias, to discuss what went right, what went wrong, what changed in the media environment, and what we learned along the way.

Matt’s recommendations:
Vox’s Explained on Netflix — Episode 4: “K-Pop”
Our incel problem” by Zack Beauchamp

“We visited one of America's sickest counties. We're afraid it's about to get worse.” by Julia Belluz
Vox’s The Weeds podcast

Melissa’s recommendations:
Vox Observatory by Joss Fong
“Apollo astronauts left their poop on the moon. We gotta go back for that shit.” by Brian Resnick
Today, Explained: “Friends without benefits”

Ezra’s recommendations:
“Hospitals keep ER fees secret. We’re uncovering them.” by Sarah Kliff
“The rise of American authoritarianism” by Amanda Taub
“Show me the evidence” by Julia Belluz
Today, Explained: “HQ2-1”

This special episode of The Ezra Klein Show was taped in celebration of Vox’s fifth anniversary. Today, we’re hosting live tapings of The Weeds and Recode Decode with Kara Swisher at The Line Hotel in Washington, DC. Subscribe to those shows for free in Apple Podcasts, or in your favorite podcast app, to be the first to hear them when they’re released.





Apr 25, 2019
Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle
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In the past few months, two essays on America’s changing relationship to work caught my eye. The first was Anne Helen Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed piece defining, and describing, “millennial burnout.” The second was Derek Thompson’s Atlantic article on “workism.”

The two pieces speak to each other in interesting ways, and to some questions I’ve been reflecting on as my own relationship to work changes. So I asked the authors to join me for a conversation about what happens when work becomes an identity, capitalism becomes a religion, and productivity becomes the way we measure human value. The conversation exceeded even the high hopes I had for it. Enjoy this one.

Book recommendations:
Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials by Malcolm Harris
White: Essays on Race and Culture by Richard Dyer
The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 by Philipp Blom
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

If you’ll be in Washington, DC, on Thursday, April 25, join us for a morning of live podcasts in celebration of our fifth birthday. RSVP here: http://voxmediaevents.com/vox5
Apr 22, 2019
How social democrats won Europe — then lost it
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Democratic socialism is on the rise in the United States, but it’s been a dominant force for far longer in Europe. Ask Bernie Sanders to define his ideology and he doesn’t start naming political theorists; he points across the Atlantic. “Go to countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden,” he says.

The populist right is on the rise in the United States too, and that’s also been a powerful force for far longer in Europe. The mix of economic populism and resentful nationalism that Donald Trump ran on in 2016 and Tucker Carlson offers up nightly on Fox News might be unusual here, but it’s commonplace there.

Understanding Europe’s politics, then, is of particular help right now for understanding our own. Sheri Berman is a political scientist at Barnard College, as well as the author of multiple books on European social democracy. We discussed what separates social democrats from progressives and neoliberals, how the populist right co-opted the European left, why social democrats lost ground in the ’90s to Blairite technocrats, whether multi-party political systems work better than our own, and why identity issues tend to unite the right and split the left. Berman is masterful in clearly synthesizing politics across countries and time periods, so there’s a lot to learn in this one.

Book recommendations:
Nation Building: Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apartby Andreas Wimmer
The Meaning of Race: Race, History, and Culture in Western Societyby Kenan Malik
Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognitionby Charles Taylor and Amy Gutmann
Apr 18, 2019
In defense of white-backlash politics
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“The big question of our time is less, ‘What does it mean to be American?’ than, ‘What does it mean to be white American in an age of ethnic change?’” writes Eric Kaufmann in his new book Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities.

Kaufmann’s book is unusual in two respects. First, it’s explicit (and persuasive) in its argument that demographic change and the white backlash to demographic change are behind the rise of rightwing populism across the West. Second, it argues that the right response is to slow demographic change and calm the fears of white majorities.

I think Kaufmann’s framework of what’s driving political conflict right now is correct. I have more trouble with his vision of what to do about it. But this is a book, in my view, that gets to the core debate of contemporary politics and takes it on directly. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation.

Book recommendations:
The Ethnic Origins of Nationsby Anthony D. Smith
The Cultural Contradictions Of Capitalismby Daniel Bell
NEXT AMERICAN NATION: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolutionby Michael Lind
Apr 15, 2019
Identity, nationalism, and fatherhood
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Michael Brendan Dougherty is a senior writer at National Review and the author of My Father Left Me Ireland, a moving, lyrical memoir about fatherhood and identity. It’s also a stirring defense of nationalism, an attack on wonks, and a critique of some of the core assumptions of liberal modernity. When I opened it, I didn’t expect it to be quite so on point to my interests. But here we are.

This conversation starts a little slow, but it accelerates into an exploration of some of the biggest questions this podcast has approached. What’s the purpose of the nation-state? Where does identity come from? What kinds of historical inheritances matter? How do human beings discipline their emotions and intuitions without losing their souls? When is violent revolution or resistance merited? And what does it mean to be a wonk?

One of the nice things about a conversation like this is it required both of us to articulate and defend some core beliefs that often go unquestioned. So there’s a lot here, including, at about the 32nd minute, probably the clearest description of my moral approach that I’ve offered on this podcast. Enjoy!

Recommended books:
The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
Political Writings and Speeches by Patrick Pearse
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom by James Burnham 
Apr 11, 2019
An ex-libertarian’s quest to rebuild the center right
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Nothing would do more to repair American politics than for the center right to regain power in the Republican coalition. But before that can happen, the center right needs to exist — it needs a theory of both policy and politics, one that would allow it to organize a new right if the Trumpist coalition ever collapses.

The Niskanen Center is a new Washington think tank started by refugees from the libertarian right who’ve decided to do exactly that. Will Wilkinson, Niskanen’s director of research, is one of them.

A former Ayn Rand devotee, philosophy grad student, and Cato Institute staffer, Wilkinson has come to believe, among other things, that the freest economies feature the biggest welfare states, that unchecked capitalism and unchecked democracy pose similar threats, and that polarization is a function of density and psychology. This is a podcast about those ideas, but also about whether a center right like this is actually possible, or whether it’s a doomed project that misunderstands conservative psychology from the outset.

Sometimes conversations go in very interesting directions you didn’t expect. This is one of those. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, but we could’ve, and perhaps should’ve, talked for twice as long. Enjoy!

Book recommendations:
Open Versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistributionby Christopher D. Johnston, Howard Lavine, and Christopher M. Federico
The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequalityby Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles
The New Geography of Jobsby Enrico Moretti



Apr 08, 2019
How whiteness distorts our democracy, with Eddie Glaude Jr.
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“Race isn’t about black people, necessarily,” says Eddie Glaude Jr. “It’s about the way whiteness works to disfigure and distort our democracy, and the ideals that animate our democracy.”
Glaude is the chair of Princeton University’s department of African American studies, the president of the American Academy of Religion, and the author of the powerful book Democracy in Black. And this is a conversation about some of the hardest issues in American life: the way racism is intertwined with America’s political system, the worldviews we force ourselves to adopt to justify racial inequality, and the way white fear sets boundaries on black politics.
These aren’t easy topics to discuss, but they’re necessary ones. As Glaude says, “We have to have a politics that can interrogate it honestly, and do it in such a way that is mature, that opens up space for us to imagine ourselves otherwise.”
Book recommendations:
The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action by John Dewey
James Baldwin: Collected Essays by James Baldwin
No name in the street by James Baldwin
More Beautiful and More Terrible by Imani Perry

 


Apr 04, 2019
Pete Buttigieg’s theory of political change
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First off. Hello! I’m back from paternity leave. And this is a helluva podcast to restart with.

Pete Buttigieg is a Rhodes scholar, a Navy veteran, and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He’s a married gay man, a churchgoing Episcopalian, and a proud millennial. He’s also, according to CNN, “the hottest candidate in the 2020 race right now.”

There’s been plenty of discussion of Buttigieg’s biography, and of whether a midsize-city mayorship is appropriate experience for the presidency. But I wanted to talk to him about something else: his theory of political change. How, in a broken system, would he get done even a fraction of what he’s promising? To my surprise, he actually had an answer.

Before I did this podcast, I was surprised to see Buttigieg catching fire. Now that I’ve had this conversation, I’m not.

Book recommendations:
Ulysses by James Joyce
Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 by Stephen Kotkin

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Apr 01, 2019
Meet the policy architect behind the Green New Deal
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Last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey introduced a Green New Deal resolution, outlining a bold effort to decarbonize the US economy and forestall the worst effects of climate change. Ever since, it has been the talk of the town in Washington, drawing praise and criticism from all quarters.

But most critics completely misunderstood the resolution. It is not a policy document. It is a set of goals and principles meant to guide the development of policy.
The work of fleshing out the policy details is largely in the hands of Rhiana Gunn-Wright, working out of a think tank called New Consensus. Gunn-Wright is busy consulting a broad slate of experts, with the goal of assembling a policy framework that will be ready to go when/if Democrats take power in 2021.

Vox staff writer David Roberts sat down with Gunn-Wright to chat about how she’s approaching this monumental task, why the Green New Deal includes social and economic goals (like full employment) alongside environmental goals, and what she makes of the criticism that the plan is “unrealistic.”

Book recommendations:
The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths by Mariana Mazzucato
Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time by Ira Katznelson

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Mar 28, 2019
The somewhat fractured state of American conservatism
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Matthew Continetti, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, sits down with Vox senior politics reporter Jane Coaston to discuss intellectual conservatism, the legacy of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan, neoconservatism, and the role Donald Trump is playing in both the GOP and conservatism more broadly.
Book recommendations:
Crisis of the House Divided by Harry V. Jaffa
Nixon's White House Wars by Patrick J. Buchanan

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Mar 25, 2019
American politics after Christianity, with Ross Douthat
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I’m Vox’s interviews writer, Sean Illing. Lately, I’ve been interested in the following question: Is the decline of institutionalized Christianity making our politics worse? The answer may be yes, but I’m not convinced it’s for the reasons many people suppose.

Ross Douthat is a conservative columnist for the New York Times who has been one of the more thoughtful writers on this topic. Douthat believes that Christianity’s collapse has not only helped destroy civic bonds in America, it’s also amplified our tribalism problem. As more and more Americans lose any connection to a shared religious or moral worldview, he argues, they’re increasingly drawn to transgressive movements like the alt-right or to the vulgar politics of Donald Trump.

My sense is that Douthat’s view of Christianity is somewhat nostalgic and overlooks the racial hierarchy that undergirded previous eras of American politics. But I’m open to his point of view, and admit I might be mistaken. In this conversation, we discuss the forces behind the decline of Christianity, how it’s fueling tribal politics, and why he thinks the left should really be worried about the post-Christian right.


Book recommendations:
Religion: If There Is No God-- : On God, the Devil, Sin, and Other Worries of the So-Called Philosophy of Religionby Leszek Kolakowski
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

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Mar 21, 2019
Why Gov. Jay Inslee is running for president on climate change
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Vox senior politics reporter, Jane Coaston speaks to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at South by Southwest about climate change, his 2020 candidacy, why it's time to eliminate the filibuster, and the Green New Deal.

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Mar 18, 2019
ICYMI: Julia Galef
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For this episode of The Ezra Klein Show, we're digging into the archives to share another of our favorites with you!
*
At least in politics, this is an era of awful arguments. Arguments made in bad faith. Arguments in which no one, on either side, is willing to change their mind. Arguments where the points being made do not describe or influence the positions being held. Arguments that leave everyone dumber, angrier, sadder. Which is why I wanted to talk to Julia Galef this week. Julia is the host of the Rationally Speaking podcast, a co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, and the creator of the Update Project, which maps out arguments to make it easier for people to disagree clearly and productively. Her work focuses on how we think and argue, as well as the cognitive biases and traps that keep us from hearing what we're really saying, hearing what others are really saying, and preferring answers that make us feel good to answers that are true. I first met her at a Vox Conversation conference, where she ran a session helping people learn to change their minds, and it's struck me since then that more of us could probably use that training. In this episode, Julia and I talk about what she's learned about thinking more clearly and arguing better, as well as my concerns that the traditional paths toward a better discourse open up new traps of their own. (As you'll hear, I find it very easy to get lost in all the ways debate and cognition can go awry.) We talk about signaling, about motivated reasoning, about probabilistic debating, about which identities help us find truth, and about how to make online arguments less terrible. Enjoy!

Recommended books:
Language, Truth, and Logic by A.J. Ayer
Seeing Like a State by James Scott
The Robot's Rebellion by Keith Stanovich

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Mar 14, 2019
The roots of extremism, with Deeyah Khan
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What draws someone into an extremist movement? Is it about ideology? Race? Politics? So many of our discussions about extremism try to explain away the problem by reducing its complexity, but that brings us further and further away from actually solving it.
Deeyah Khan is a British documentary filmmaker and human rights activist. She’s the creator of two extraordinary films airing on Netflix right now, White Right: Meeting the Enemy and Jihad: A Story of the Others. The films do a remarkable job of showing why these opposing brands of extremism are both similar and reciprocal, and why the people they attract mirror each other in so many ways.
Khan spent hours with the most extreme figures she could find, and made a real effort to understand what’s motivating them. She sat down with Vox’s interviews writer, Sean Illing, for a conversation about what she discovered, why the roots of fanaticism are much deeper than we suppose, and what we have to do win the battle against hatred.
Recommended reading:
It's Not About the Burqa by Mariam Khan
From Fatwa to Jihad by Kenan Malik
Faith and Feminism in Pakistan by Afiya S. Zia


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Mar 11, 2019
ICYMI: Paul Krugman
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For this episode of the Ezra Klein show we're digging back into the archives to share another of our favorite episodes with you!

***

On October 24, 2016, in the final days of the presidential election, Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize winning economist and New York Times columnist, tweeted, "When this election is finally over, I'm planning to celebrate with an orgy of...serious policy discussion.”  Then, of course, Donald Trump won the election, and serious policy discussion took a backseat to alternative facts, at least for awhile. But now it’s time! In this podcast, Krugman and I cover a lot of ground. We talk taxes, net neutrality, universal basic incomes, job guarantees, antitrust, automation, productivity growth, health care, climate change, college costs, and more. Krugman explains why more information doesn’t make people better thinkers, the “kitchen test” for assessing how much technological progress a society is really making, and what the role of policy analysis is when the policymakers don’t care about evidence. 
Enjoy!

Recommended books:
The Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov
An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
Plagues and Peoples by William McNeil

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Mar 07, 2019
Pop music can make you smarter
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Vox takes culture seriously. Our coverage of movies, TV, books, and music delves deep into what our cultural touchstones reveal about who we are and what we care about — and how what we consume influences our world in turn.
That's why I'm so excited to introduce you to Switched on Pop. It's a podcast that digs into both the musical theory and the cultural context of pop music, and it's now part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
As a big fan of the show, I wanted to introduce you to the hosts, Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding. In this bonus episode you'll hear some of their favorite interviews, as they pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic. Subscribe to Switched on Pop wherever you get your podcasts. 
Mar 06, 2019
Life after climate change, with David Wallace-Wells
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After years of hovering on the periphery of American politics, never quite the star of the show, it seems that climate change is having a moment. An ambitious Green New Deal, backed by a large and active youth movement, identifies global warming as a national emergency and seeks to completely decarbonize the US economy. While it’s a long way from becoming law, it has forced all the Democratic candidates to take very public positions on the subject. Climate, it seems, is finally becoming a priority.
But do people really understand it? According to journalist David Wallace-Wells, no, they do not. “It is worse, much worse, than you think,” his book begins, and over the course of several hundred pages, it makes that case in rich, harrowing detail.
The sheer variety and scope of physical damages — droughts, storms, heat waves, sea level rise — is greater, and coming faster, than most people appreciate. But that’s just the beginning. Wallace-Walls also considers how a century dominated by global warming will change our politics, our art, and our very self-conception.
David Roberts sat down with David Wallace-Wells to discuss the latest science of climate change, the way that political and scientific reticence have caused us to underestimate it, his hopes (such as they are) for the future, and the stories he tells himself about the world his daughter will grow up in. It’s not happy news, but it’s a fascinating conversation.

Recommended reading:
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Really Big One by Kathryn Schulz
The Fever by Wallace Shawn

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Mar 04, 2019
Pramila Jayapal thinks we can get to Medicare-for-All fast
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The Democratic Party is quickly coalescing around an ambitious Medicare-for-All platform — and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is shaping up to be a major voice in that debate.

Jayapal co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus and, earlier this week, released a sweeping new plan for single-payer health care in the United States. Her proposal is arguably the most ambitious we’ve seen yet. It envisions a wider set of benefits and a much quicker transition to government-run health care than the plan offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Vox Senior Policy Correspondent Sarah Kliff, who is filling in for Ezra, sat down with Rep. Jayapal to walk through how this Medicare-for-All plan came together. We get into why Rep. Jayapal thinks it’s possible for the United States to move to government-run health care in just two years, and which countries’ health systems she thinks of as good models for where the United States should head.

In this conversation, you’ll get a sense of Rep. Jayapal’s theories of governing, how they differ from those of Obama-era Democrats, and why she doesn’t think she needs buy-in from the powerful hospital and insurance lobbies to pass new legislation.






Feb 28, 2019
Noah Rothman on the "unjustice" of social justice politics
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I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism and the GOP.
For the last three years or so, there has been an ongoing discussion among conservatives about identity politics and what many view as the corrosive use of identity politics in the pursuit of "social justice." As they argue, "social justice warriors" are using so-called "identity politics" -- debates around race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity -- as cudgels, often against the Right. In general, to put it mildly, I disagree.
Which is why I invited Noah Rothman, an editor at Commentary magazine, an MSNBC contributor, and more relatedly, author of "Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America," released on January 29th, to join me in a discussion on this very topic. We discussed how identity politics are in no way new, and are inherent to our politics, and we talked about his view on where "social justice" went wrong. The conversation was contentious, but hopefully, productive.
As you may have noticed, I am not Ezra Klein. Ezra is away on paternity leave (congratulations, Ezra!) and will return in a few weeks.

Book recommendations:

The Victims' Revolution by Bruce Bawer
Suicide of the West by Jonah Goldberg
The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff & Jonathan Haidt
Feb 25, 2019
Why should we care about deficits?
4107
Stony Brook University’s Stephanie Kelton is the most influential proponent of Modern Monetary Theory, a heterodox take on government budgets that urges a focus on inflation, rather than deficits. Jason Furman was President Barack Obama’s chief economist, and while he’s firmly in the economic mainstream, he’s been pushing his colleagues to recognize that the economy has changed in ways that make our debt levels less worrying. 
I asked the two of them to join the podcast together because I wanted to understand some questions at the intersection of their competing theories. Should we worry about government deficits, and if so, when? Does MMT actually offer a free lunch, or is it just a different way of calculating the bill? When can the Federal Reserve print money without triggering inflation? How would an administration that followed MMT actually diverge from what we've seen in the past? Why did so many mainstream economists make such bad predictions about deficits after the financial crisis? And does Medicare-for-all actually need to be paid for?
This is a weedsy conversation about one of the most important questions in American governance. Enjoy!


Book Recommendations:

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Understanding Modern Money: The Key to Full Employment and Price Stabilityby L. Randall Wray
Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists by Raghuram G. Rajan
The Worldly Philosophers by Robert L. Heilbroner



Feb 21, 2019
Anniversary special: Rachel Maddow
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To celebrate The Ezra Klein Show's third anniversary, I’m listening back to the very first episode: a conversation with Rachel Maddow. 
Rachel is, of course, the host of MSNBC's primetime news show and a best-selling author. But she took a winding path to cable news — a path that included scheming to disrupt skinhead rallies, radical AIDS activism at the height of the plague, a gig as a sidekick on drivetime morning radio, and a stint at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. We talk about all of that in this conversation. We also cover our shared love of dogs, Rachel's favorite graphic novels, and why part of her show preparation process is to avoid reading op-ed columns. 






Feb 18, 2019
Andrew Sullivan and I work out our differences
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I’ve been arguing with Andrew Sullivan online for almost 15 years now. It’s one of my oldest and most rewarding hobbies. In the past, I’ve always felt we understood each other, even in periods of sharp disagreement. Lately, that’s changed.

Sullivan and I have both been writing about identity politics and demographic change, though from quite different perspectives. Our arguments of late have felt more like we’re talking past each other, or about each other, than to each other. We decided to do this podcast to talk it out, and trace where our differences really cut, and where they can be bridged.

This is a conversation about political movements, American religiosity, and identity. It’s about whether the illiberalism of today is really worse than the illiberalism of yesteryear, and whether the critiques of the campus left accurately describe anyone who holds real power. It’s about how much demographic change a society can absorb, and at what pace that change should occur. It’s about what conservatism is versus what it says it is.
A lot of what I try to do on this show is dig beneath the daily fights over whatever is in the news to the differences in worldview that power our disagreements. I think this conversation was unusually successful in doing that.

Some background links, if you want to dig into the articles we're discussing:
America's new religions
America, land of brutal binaries
The political tribalism of Andrew Sullivan
Democrats can't keep dodging immigration as a real issue




Feb 14, 2019
The core contradiction of American politics
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The Republican and Democratic parties are not the same. I’ll say it again: The Republican and Democratic parties are not the same.

I don’t just mean they believe different things. I mean they’re composed in different ways, they argue from different premises, they’re structured in different ways. We treat them as mirror images of each other — the left and right hands of American politics — but they’re not. And the ways in which they’re different make it hard for them to understand each other, and hard for American politics to function.

Political scientists Matt Grossmann and Dan Hopkins literally wrote the book on how the parties are different. In Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, they argue that the differences between the parties stem from a central and longstanding split in the country’s political personality: We are a country of philosophical conservatives, and policy liberals. We want a small government that does more of everything.

I asked Grossmann on the show to walk me through the ways the parties are different, and how those differences explain everything from the GOP’s repeated shutdowns to asymmetric polarization to the rise of Fox News. This is a conversation about the fundamental structure of America’s parties, public opinion, and media institutions. It’s worth the time.

Book Recommendations:
Racial Realignment: The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932-1965by Eric Schickler
Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensusby Rick Perlstein
Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960's by Michael W. Flamm
Feb 11, 2019
Leftists vs. liberals, with Elizabeth Bruenig
4918
What separates Obama-era liberalism from Sanders-style democratic socialism? What are the fights splitting and transforming the Democratic Party actually about?
This is a conversation I’ve wanted to have for a while, in part because I often find myself simultaneously in these debates and confused by them. Sometimes, arguments that are framed as deep ideological disagreements seem to actually be about differing political judgments about what public and political institutions will permit. But perhaps those political judgments are just ideology posing as pragmatism. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole here.

Elizabeth Bruenig is an opinion columnist at the Washington Post, co-host of the podcast The Bruenigs, and a thoughtful champion of the democratic socialist worldview. I asked her on the show to help me trace the boundaries of this debate and highlight where the divides really are.

This is a conversation about ideology, but it’s also about the limits of persuasion, whether civility is a weapon wielded by the powerful, what Medicare-for-all means, the left’s definition of freedom, the contradictions of being “socially liberal and fiscally responsible,” Howard Schultz, and much more.

Book Recommendations:

The Confessions of Saint Augustine by Saint Augustine
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Malaise of Modernity by Charles Taylor
Feb 07, 2019
The world according to Ralph Nader
5162
Ralph Nader needs no introduction. But if your knowledge of Nader mostly consists of his 2000 campaign for the presidency, his career does demand some context. Nader is one of America’s truly great policy entrepreneurs, and arguably one of its great ideologists. The consumer safety movement he founded and led has saved, literally, millions of lives. His idea of what it means to be a public citizen is deeply rooted in American traditions, but largely, and lamentably, lost today in national American politics.

And Nader is still active. Writing books. Writing columns. Releasing podcasts. He’s never stopped. He has led, and continues to lead, one of the most fascinating lives in American political history.

In this conversation, we talk about everything from his theories of the media to his approach to political change to how he hired and advised “Nader’s Raiders.” We discuss Howard Schultz’s third-party presidential campaign, whether America is a better country than it was 50 years ago, the differences he sees between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and which parts of life he believes should be de-commercialized. I’ve long wanted to interview Nader, to ask him about the parts of his career, and of his philosophy, that I knew less about. It was a pleasure to get the chance.

Book Recommendations:

The CEO Pay Machine: How it Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford
The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
Impeaching the President: Past, Present, and Future by Alan Hirsch
Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
Feb 04, 2019
This conversation will change how you understand misogyny
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Misogyny has long been understood as something men feel, not something women experience. That, says philosopher Kate Manne, is a mistake. In her book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, Manne defines misogyny as “as primarily a property of social environments,” one that not only doesn’t need hatred of women to function, but actually calms hatred of women when it is functioning.

Politics is thick right now with arguments over misogyny, patriarchy, and gender roles. These arguments are powering media controversies, political candidacies, and ideological movements. Manne’s framework makes so much more sense of this moment than the definitions and explanations most of us have been given. This is one of those conversations that will let you see the world through a new lens.

In part because her framework touches on so much, this is a conversation that covers an unusual amount of ground. We talk about misogyny and patriarchy, of course, but also anxiety, Jordan Peterson, the role of shame in politics, my recent meditation retreat, Sweden, the social roles that grind down men, and a piece of satire in McSweeney’s that might just be the key to understanding the 2016 and 2020 elections. Enjoy!

Information about Peltason Lecture at UC Irvine

Book Recommendations:
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt
Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View by Stanley Milgram
Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Jan 31, 2019
Ending the age of animal cruelty, with Bruce Friedrich
4885
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
Jan 28, 2019
Robert Sapolsky on the toxic intersection of poverty and stress
4869
Robert Sapolsky is a Stanford neuroscientist and primatologist. He’s the author of a slew of important books on human biology and behavior. But it’s an older book he wrote that forms the basis for this conversation. In Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Sapolsky works through how a stress response that evolved for fast, fight-or-flight situations on the savannah continuously wears on our bodies and brains in modern life.

But stress isn’t just an individual phenomenon. It’s also a social force, applied brutally and unequally across our society. “If you want to see an example of chronic stress, study poverty,” Sapolsky says.

I often say on the show that politics and policy need to begin with a realistic model of human nature. This is a show about that level of the policy conversation: It’s about how poverty and stress exist in a doom loop together, each amplifying the other’s effects on the brain and body, deepening their harms.

And this is a conversation of intense relevance to how we make social policy. Much of the fight in Washington, and in the states, is about whether the best way to get people out of poverty is to make it harder to access help, to make sure the government doesn’t become, in Paul Ryan’s memorable phrase, “a hammock.” Understanding how the stress of poverty acts on people’s minds, how it saps their will and harms their cognitive function and hurts their children, exposes how cruel and wrongheaded that view really is.

Sapolsky and I also discuss whether free will is a myth, why he believes the prison system is incompatible with modern neuroscience, how studying monkeys in times of social change helps makes sense of the current moment in American politics, and much more. This one’s worth your time.

Book Recommendations:
The 21 Balloons by William Pene Dubois
Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick
The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit by Melvin Konner








Jan 24, 2019
Frances Lee on why bipartisanship is irrational
3793
There aren’t too many people with an idea that will actually change how you think about American politics. But Frances Lee is one of them. In her new book, Insecure Majorities, Lee makes a point that sounds strange when you hear it, but changes everything once you understand it.

For most of American history, American politics has been under one-party rule. For decades, that party was the Republican Party. Then, for decades more, it was the Democratic Party. It’s only been in the past few decades that control of Congress has begun flipping back every few years, that presidential elections have become routinely decided by a few percentage points, that both parties are always this close to gaining or losing the majority.

That kind of close competition, Lee shows, makes the daily compromises of bipartisan governance literally irrational. And politicians know it. Lee’s got the receipts.

"Confrontation fits our strategy,” Dick Cheney once said. "Polarization often has very beneficial results. If everything is handled through compromise and conciliation, if there are no real issues dividing us from the Democrats, why should the country change and make us the majority?”

Why indeed? This is a conversation about that question, about how the system we have incentivizes a politics of confrontation we don’t seem to want and makes steady, stable governance a thing of the past.

Book Recommendations:
The Imprint of Congress by David R. 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







Jan 21, 2019
Sean Decatur doesn’t see a free speech crisis on campus
4844
Sean Decatur is the president of Kenyon College and the first African-American to hold that job. He’s also one of the most thoughtful voices in the debate over free speech and political correctness on campus.

"Colleges and universities have been charged from their very origins to advance civility, and this has meant regulating student behavior on campus,” he says. "If anything, the approach taken earlier in history was far stricter than anything that 21st-century critics of higher education see as a product of 'political correctness.’”

Decatur manages these conflicts as a college president, looks at them as a historian, and brings a perspective that’s unusually alert to the larger social context. As such, this is a conversation that begins in the fights over speech but quickly dives into more fundamental questions, like what kind of learnings we value, whose definitions of civility matter, what we ask colleges to teach, and what the role of the student has become.

This debate often plays out with far less nuance than it deserves. Decatur's perspective is an antidote to that.

Book Recommendations:
Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education by Nathan D. Grawe
The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Jan 17, 2019
Cal Newport has an answer for digital burnout
4303
Cal Newport suspects you’re a digital maximalist — someone who believes that any potential for benefit is reason enough to start using a new technology. Don’t feel bad. That’s how most of us are. That’s how society teaches us to be.

Newport wants us to become digital minimalists. He defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected activities … that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Newport is making a bid to be the Marie Kondo of technology: someone with an actual plan for helping you realize the digital pursuits that do, and don’t, spark joy and bring value to your life. This is a conversation about becoming a digital minimalist: why to do it, how to do it, and what it might get you. Whether you want to try Newport’s whole plan or just pick and choose some good ideas from his buffet, there’s a lot in here that will help you find a healthier, more intentional approach to technology.

Book Recommendations:

The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul

Medieval Technology and Social Change by Lynn White
Jan 14, 2019
Eric Holder’s plan to save democracy
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Eric Holder was attorney general during the first six years of Barack Obama’s presidency, and there are days when it feels like he’s the attorney general of Obama’s post-presidency, too. Holder chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a cause close enough to Obama’s heart that the ex-president recently folded his Organizing for America operation into it. Holder calls the project “a partisan effort for good government,” a line rich with both the promise and problems of Obamaism. The NDRC doesn’t want to build a redistricting operation to match the GOP’s machine, they want to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians altogether. But critics worry that their organizing will work in blue states, fail in red states, and lead to Democrats unilaterally disarming in the redistricting wars. In this conversation, Holder lays out his strategy to end redistricting and answers his critics. We discuss whether there’s still the possibility of a Supreme Court ruling on the subject, and what tools Democrats have in red states. We also revisit Holder’s famous “nation of cowards” speech on race, and discuss whether more bankers should’ve been sent to jail during the financial crisis. Enjoy! Book Recommendations: An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 - 1963 by Robert Dallek The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik
Jan 10, 2019
Anil Dash on the biases of tech
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“Marc Andreessen famously said that ‘software is eating the world,’ but it’s far more accurate to say that the neoliberal values of software tycoons are eating the world,” wrote Anil Dash. Dash’s argument caught my eye. But then, a lot of Dash’s arguments catch my eye. He’s one of the most perceptive interpreters and critics of the tech industry around these days. That’s in part because Dash is part of the world he’s describing: He’s the CEO of Glitch, the host of the excellent tech podcast Function, and a longtime developer and blogger. In this conversation, Dash and I discuss his excellent list of the 12 things everyone should know about technology. This episode left me with an idea I didn’t have going in: What if the problem with a lot of the social technologies we use — and, lately, lament — isn’t the ethics of their creators or the revenue models they’re built on, but the sheer scale they’ve achieved? What if products like Facebook and Twitter and Google have just gotten too big and too powerful for anyone to truly understand, much less manage? You know the topics that obsess me on this podcast. Polarization. Identity. Attention. I’ve come to believe that all of them are downstream from the technologies on which they rest. If you feel like society has gone a bit wrong, it’s likely because the internet has gone a bit wrong. And Dash’s arguments help explain why. Book Recommendations: Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz Prince and the Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 and 1984 by Duane Tudahl
Jan 07, 2019
Jill Lepore on America’s two revolutions
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Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, and the author of These Truths, a dazzling one-volume synthesis of American history. She’s the kind of history teacher everyone wishes they’d had, able to effortlessly connect the events and themes of American history to make sense of our past and clarify our present. “The American Revolution did not begin in 1775 and it didn’t end when the war was over,” Lepore writes. This is a conversation about those revolutions. But more than that, it’s a conversation about who we are as a country, and how that self-definition is always contested and constantly in flux. And beyond all that, Lepore is just damn fun to talk to. Every answer she gives has something worth chewing over for weeks. You’ll enjoy this one. Recommended books: Fear Itself by Ira Katznelson A Godly Hero by Michael Kazin The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson
Jan 03, 2019
Best of: N.K. Jemisin
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This is the most fun I’ve ever had on a podcast. Nora Jemisin — better known by her pen name, N.K. Jemisin — won the Hugo Award for best novel this year for the third year in a row. No one had ever done that before. Jemisin is also the first author to have every book in a single series — her Broken Earth trilogy — win the Hugo for best novel, and the first black author to win a Hugo for best novel. She’s a badass. But what made this episode such a delight is it isn’t just a conversation. It’s a demonstration. Here, Jemisin takes me through the way she builds new worlds, and in doing, she offers a master class on how to think more rigorously, clearly, and thoroughly about our own world. Don’t miss it.
Dec 31, 2018
Best-of: Bryan Stevenson
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Here, at the holidays, I wanted to share some of my favorite episodes of the show with you. Bryan Stevenson tops the list. He’s the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, the author of the remarkable book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, a MacArthur genius, and so much more. There are some people you meet who seem like they’re operating on a higher plane of decency, grace, and thoughtfulness. Stevenson is one of them. His thoughts on justice, on poverty, on racism, and on shame have stayed with me ever since this conversation, and they’ll do the same for you.
Dec 27, 2018
Kara Swisher interviews me on the Future of Journalism (Live!)
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When I decided to start an interview podcast, the first person I went to for advice was Kara Swisher — founder of Recode, host of the Code Conference and the Recode/Decode podcast, and one of the most legendary interviewers in the business. Since then, she’s been a guest on this show, and Vox and Recode have started up a partnership that’s given me the gift of working with her much more closely. Recently, Kara interviewed me in front of a live audience at Manny’s in San Francisco for Recode/Decode. We talked about the future of journalism, the culture of DC, and so much more. One of the secrets to Kara’s success as an interviewer is that even when she’s grilling you, no one is more fun to talk to, and that comes out in this conversation. Enjoy! 
Dec 24, 2018
TED’s Chris Anderson on the lessons of listening
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You know TED. Black stage, red accents, wireless mic, one speaker. Billions of views each year. TED is more than a conference now; it’s a meme: “Thanks for coming to my TED talk” closes Tumblr and Twitter posts. Chris Anderson is the guy that took TED from tiny conference to global juggernaut. Today, he’s TED’s chief curator and the host of the TED Interview podcast. But I wanted him on the show for something specific — his success with TED relied on answering two questions this podcast has left me obsessed with: 1. How do you convince an audience, or even yourself, to listen openly to what’s being said? 2. How do you find ideas, research, and activists that the media is otherwise overlooking? In this conversation, Anderson offers a visual I love: "the steel door of skepticism" that can slam down on us when we know we don't want to listen to what we're about to hear. How to get control of that door is a topic worth meditating on, and it's the focus of this podcast. 
Dec 20, 2018
Rep. Katie Porter on how capitalism is failing
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Katie Porter is the Rep.-elect from California’s 45th District, which happens to be the district I grew up in. She’s part of the brigade of Democrats who turned Orange County blue for the first time since the Great Depression. But that’s not why I asked her on the show. I asked her on the show because she’s one of the most interesting members of the incoming House majority. Porter grew up on an Iowa farm, watching the debt crises of the ’80s devastate her family and her region. At Harvard Law, she took the class of a particularly charismatic professor whom you might have heard of: Elizabeth Warren. That class changed Porter’s life. Porter’s academic work explores how rarely markets work the way they’re supposed to, and how often banks and other lenders play by different rules than the law says they need to. In 2012, then-state Attorney General Kamala Harris appointed Porter to be California’s independent monitor of banks, where she saw the lengths they went to to avoid abiding by the settlements they’d signed. In this conversation, Porter and I talk about how all this informed her path to Congress, why she thinks Americans are losing faith in capitalism, whether the Obama administration failed homeowners in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage collapse, and why lenders are always making you fax them documents (the answer is, honestly, infuriating). I know, I know, interviews with politicians are often a bit bland. Trust me. This isn’t one of those. Recommended books: Evicted by Matthew Desmond Denial by Jessica Stern Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Pop
Dec 17, 2018
How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy
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In Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj’s new Netflix show, he does three things political comedians often don’t do. First, he makes political comedy personal. Second, he makes it visual. And third, he makes it last. Minhaj was the last correspondent hired by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Since then, he’s hosted the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner, debuted the critically-acclaimed special Homecoming King, and now, with the new show, he’s creating a unique space in the post-Stewart world. In this conversation, we talk about what Minhaj learned from Stewart, what political comedians owe their audiences, and whether creativity requires safe spaces. We also nerd out on process: how he writes his jokes, the difficulty of knowing what you actually think amidst so much noise and so many takes, and how it changes the editorial process when you know people will be watching what you produce a year from now. And most importantly, I force Minhaj to answer for his many, many slurs against my beloved UC Santa Cruz. This is definitely a conversation: Minhaj turns the tables on me more than once. And don’t miss the end, when Minhaj explains his three favorite stand-up specials. Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Ship
Dec 13, 2018
Adam Serwer on white political correctness
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“What a society finds offensive is not a function of fact or truth,” writes Adam Serwer, “but of power.” Serwer is a writer at the Atlantic, and he’s been looking at the identity politics and political correctness debates from a direction that’s too often ignored. What do identity politics look like when they’re white identity politics? What does political correctness look like when the people enforcing it have so much power that no one dares dispute the boundaries on speech? In general, the debate over identity politics and political correctness is a debate over how those terms apply to the priorities of traditionally marginalized groups. Applying those ideas to the priorities of traditionally powerful groups casts the conversation — and American history — in a whole new light. Recommended books: The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter Black Reconstruction in America by W.E.B. DuBois Strangers in the Land by John Hingham
Dec 10, 2018
Will Storr on why you are not yourself
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“To have a self is to feel as if we are, in the words of neuroscientist Professor Chris Frith, the ‘invisible actor at the centre of the world’.” That’s Will Storr, writing in his fantastic book Selfie. Ignore the very of-the-moment title. Storr dives deep into the cultural, evolutionary, and psychological construction of that thing that feels to us like our self, but is not actually ours, and is not a single thing. This is a mind-bending conversation that should, truly, change your understanding of your self. Definitely in the top five EK Show episodes to listen to stoned. ––– Recommended books: You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] by Andrew Hankinson The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville Personality by Daniel Nettle ––– Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Pop
Dec 06, 2018
How to be a better carnivore
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Here are two things I believe. First, the way we treat the animals we kill for food is shameful. Second, only a tiny percentage of the population will go vegetarian or vegan and stay that way, at least until lab-grown meat gets a lot better. The middle ground is treating the animals we kill for food more humanely. Take fish. In the United States, most of the fish we eat die by slowly suffocating to death on the deck of a boat, struggling for air. That’s horrendously cruel — and it makes for acidic, rubbery, smelly food. There’s a better way. And in this episode of Dylan Matthews’s Future Perfect, he explores it. This podcast is also a powerful example of living your deepest values. Dylan is a vegetarian because he cares about animal suffering, but because reducing suffering is what he cares about most, he’s willing to go to a place vegetarianism alone could never have taken him. I can’t recommend it enough. Subscribe to Future Perfect: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Overcast | Pocket Casts Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Ship
Dec 03, 2018
Peter Beinart on anti-Semitism in America and illiberalism in Israel
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This is a conversation I’ve been putting off, if I’m being honest. I can’t hold it from the safe space of journalistic distance. It’s about the strange, vulnerable space that many Jews, myself included, find themselves in today. The first part of this conversation is about being Jewish at a time of rising anti-Semitism in the Western world. The October massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue was the worst act of anti-Semitic violence ever committed on American soil. In 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia, protesters waved torches while chanting “Jews will not replace us.” It’s often said that anti-Semitism is a light sleeper. It feels like it’s stirring. The second, and separate, part of this conversation is about Israel. The peace movement in the Jewish state has collapsed, and the country has decided a repressive illiberalism is the best guarantor of safety. They’ve found plenty of allies on the American right for that project, but it’s one that shreds the humanistic and pluralistic ideals that many diaspora Jews, myself included, believe in. All of this is coming at a time that has reminded many of us of the core lessons of Judaism: the importance of remembering what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land, of knowing that bigotry takes whatever forms it requires to justify itself, of maintaining humanity amid struggle. Peter Beinart is an associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. He’s also a columnist at the Atlantic and the Forward, a CNN contributor, and author of The Crisis of Zionism. He’s a thoughtful and courageous writer on these issues, and I’m grateful he joined me for this conversation. Recommended books: Covenant & Conversation series by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America by Edward Kaplan The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz
Nov 29, 2018
Where Jonathan Haidt thinks the American mind went wrong
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Jonathan Haidt is a psychologist at New York University and the co-founder of Heterodox University. His book The Righteous Mind, which describes the different moral frameworks that animate the left and the right, was a key influence on my work. But these days, Haidt is worried about something new. "Teen anxiety, depression, and suicide rates have risen sharply in the last few years," he writes in The Coddling of the American Mind, co-authored with Greg Lukianoff. "The culture on many college campuses has become more ideologically uniform, compromising the ability of scholars to seek truth, and of students to learn from a broad range of thinkers." The kids, in other words, aren't all right. Haidt sees a generation warped by overparenting and smartphones and flirting with illiberalism. He worries over a culture of "safetyism" that confuses disagreement with violence. He sees political correctness on campus as a threat not just to speakers' incomes, but to students' psyches. I often find myself a skeptic in this conversation. The panic over campus activism seems overblown to me. It's suffused with bad-faith efforts to nationalize isolated examples of college kids behaving badly in order to discredit serious critiques of social injustice. But that's why I wanted to have Haidt on the show: If anyone could convince me I'm wrong about this, it'd be him. Recommended Books: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie The Authoritarian Dynamic by Karen Stenner Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Pop
Nov 26, 2018
The Impact: Deportation without representation
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For Thanksgiving listening, I have an episode of The Impact, from my Weeds co-host Sarah Kliff. The Impact is a show about how policy shapes our lives. This season, Sarah and her team are focusing on the most exciting, innovative ideas at the state and local level. They crisscrossed the country and found that state and local officials are trying to fix some of our country’s biggest problems: campaign finance, affordable housing, educational inequality, and more. This episode focuses on immigration. While the federal government is trying to deport as many immigrants as possible, Oakland, California, is running a policy experiment to help immigrants stay in their communities. Immigrants have no constitutional right to attorneys in immigration court, but Oakland is giving as many immigrants as possible attorneys in court, free of charge. In this episode, find out how Oakland pulls this off when the federal government is against it — and how immigrants’ lives change when they get representation. Find The Impact on Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Overcast | ART19
Nov 22, 2018
Molly Ball on Nancy Pelosi’s future and Paul Ryan’s failure
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The midterm elections are being interpreted almost entirely as a referendum on President Donald Trump. But it was also a referendum on Paul Ryan’s speakership, which drove Trump’s domestic policy agenda, and Nancy Pelosi’s opposition strategy. In its aftermath, the two parties need to work through a very different question. How do Republicans understand the failure of Ryan’s brief speakership, which managed to betray key promises (like cutting the debt) while crafting an agenda so unpopular that House Democrats ran more ads about Ryan’s plans than Trump’s words? On the Democratic side, Pelosi’s strategy won the day — but she’s still facing significant opposition from within her caucus. She’ll likely be the next speaker of the House, but what kind of speaker will she be? How will her style have to change for this era in the Democratic Party? Molly Ball is Time’s national political correspondent and one of the sharpest analysts, and best reporters, around today. I always feel like I have a much better handle on the deep forces of American politics after talking to her, and this conversation was no exception.
Nov 19, 2018
Whitney Phillips explains how Trump controls the media
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Here’s a fun fact: The best training for understanding the president’s media strategy is to have studied internet trolls for years and years. Okay, maybe that fact wasn’t so fun. Maybe it’s incredibly depressing. At any rate, Whitney Phillips did exactly that. She was one of the earliest scholars of online trolling (yes, that’s a job). She was studying trolling when it was a tiny sideshow. And she was there, studying it, as online trolling got amplified by algorithmic platforms and a click-hungry media. As Gamergate made it a political movement. Then, most importantly, she was there, watching, as the media manipulation tactics that she had seen perfected by the trolls became the playbook for how Trump controls the media’s agenda, and the national conversation. I’m in the media. I’m inside this machine looking out. It can be hard, from inside, to understand what the hell is happening. But Phillips is outside the machine looking in. And she understands, better than anyone I’ve talked to, what’s gone wrong, and how hard it will be to fix. Recommended books: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble Custodians of the Internet by Tarleton Gillespie
Nov 15, 2018
Ask Ezra Anything
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You had questions. Smart, interesting questions. Questions about the zero-sum logic of markets, about whether compromise is possible or even desirable in today’s politics, about where the left goes too far, about local vs. national politics, about how to break into journalism, about Sam Harris and the “Intellectual Dark Web,” about deep work, about spirituality and politics, tribalism and democracy, and whose job it is to persuade racists, anyway. I have, well, not answers, exactly, but thoughts. Musings. Reflections. This is the long-awaited AMA episode. I’m joined by Vox’s master of interviews, Sean Illing, who agreed to make sure I wasn’t weaseling away from the hard questions or completely missing the point. This was a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy it.
Nov 12, 2018
Presidents in crisis with Slow Burn’s Leon Neyfakh
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Slow Burn is one of my favorite podcasts of the past few years. Its first season, on Watergate, relived the confusion, chaos, and strangeness of the Richard Nixon presidency’s collapse. Its second season, on Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the surrounding allegations of sexual harassment and even assault, demanded a reckoning with one of the Democratic Party’s living icons. But where some histories use the past to comfort, Leon Neyfakh, Slow Burn’s host and creator, uses it to complicate: His show raises hard questions about presidential corruption, political accountability, public morality, and the partisan mind. This podcast was recorded before the midterm elections. For my take on the elections, head over to the latest episode of The Weeds. But if you want a conversation about whether liberals need to reassess Bill Clinton, whether Watergate would’ve been punished by a Republican Congress, and what all this teaches us about Donald Trump’s presidency, you’re in the right place. Recommended books: Quick Studies: The Best of Lingua Franca ed. by Alexander Star A Wilderness of Error by Errol Morris The Crime of Sheila McGough by Janet Malcolm 
Nov 08, 2018
Sandy Darity has a plan to close the wealth gap
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Here’s something to consider: For families in which the lead earner has a college degree, the average white family has $180,500 in wealth. The average black family? $23,400. That’s a difference of almost $160,000 — $160,000 that could be used to send a kid to college, get through an illness, start a small business, or make a down payment on a home that builds wealth for the next generation, too. Sandy Darity is an economist at Duke University, and much of his work has focused on the racial wealth gap, and how to close it. He’s a pioneer of “stratification economics” — a branch of study that takes groups seriously as economic units, and thinks hard about how group incentives change our behavior and drive our decisions. In this podcast, we talk about stratification economics, as well as Darity’s idea of “baby bonds”: assets that would build to give poor children up to $50,000 in wealth by the time they become adults, which would in turn give them a chance to invest in themselves or their future the same way children from richer families do. Think of it as a plan for universal basic wealth — and people are listening: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a past guest on this show, recently released a plan to closely tracked Darity’s proposal. I know, I know, the election is in a day. But right now, we don’t know who will win. So how about spending some time thinking about what someone who actually wanted to ease problems like wealth inequality could do if they did have power? Recommended books: Caste, Class, and Race by Oliver Cox Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams Black Reconstruction in America by W.E.B. DuBois
Nov 05, 2018
How identity politics elected Donald Trump
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Identity Crisis is the most important book written on the 2016 election. Based on reams of data covering virtually every controversy, theory, and explanation for the outcome, it settles many of the debates that have raged over the past two years. More importantly, it offers a framework for thinking about American politics in this era. The authors — political scientists John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck — show how identity drives American politics, why our political identities are getting stronger and angrier, and how the Obama and Trump eras have changed our parties and made conflict more irresolvable. Only some of the conversations I have on this show really change how I think about politics, but this was one of them. Don’t miss it. Recommended books:  Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild Divided by Color by Donald Kinder The American Voter by Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes 
Nov 01, 2018
Rep. Mark Sanford on losing the Republican Party to Donald Trump
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Mark Sanford was elected to Congress in 1994, where he quickly established himself as one of the most conservative members of the chamber. In 2002, he was elected governor of South Carolina. He was, again, one of the most conservative elected officials in the country. Many expected him to be the GOP’s nominee against Obama in 2012. Then it all happened. The disappearance. “Hiking the Appalachian trail.” Sanford left public life. He was done, it seemed. And then he wasn’t. He won a House seat in South Carolina. He overcame the kind of scandal that usually destroys a politician. But he couldn’t overcome Trump. Sanford was a rock-ribbed conservative, a Republican, but he was no Trumpist. He accused the president of fanning the flames of intolerance, of being reckless with the truth. He wrote a New York Times op-ed calling on Trump to release his tax returns. Sanford got a primary opponent for his troubles, Trump endorsed her, and Sanford lost. Weeks after Sanford's defeat, Trump appeared before House Republicans and mocked Sanford in front of his colleagues. The president, unusually, was booed. I sat down with Sanford in his final weeks in Congress to talk about what he’s learned about the Republican Party, about Donald Trump, about America, and about himself.   Recommended books: Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? by Graham Allison Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook by Niall Ferguson
Oct 29, 2018
Doris Kearns Goodwin (live!) on how great presidents are made
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If you’ve got a question, Doris Kearns Goodwin has a charming, insightful, well-told presidential anecdote for you. Actually, a couple of them. I interviewed the Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian live onstage for the release of her new book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times, and left the building slightly in awe: Some people are truly masterful storytellers, and Goodwin is one of them. In the book, Goodwin examines how Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson became the men we remember. She focuses, in particular, on the periods of suffering that softened them, eras that preceded the soaring leadership etched into history. Threaded through the book’s pages, then, is a lot of pain, a lot of mental illness, a lot of uncertainty. That opened space for a conversation about the recurrent link between the presidency and mental illness, about how Goodwin researches the personal lives of presidents, about who the best analogues to our current president may be, about how history will have to be researched and written differently in an age when few write letters but text constantly. Goodwin makes the humanity of our past vivid enough that it is able to provide ballast, just for a moment, to the inhumanity of our present. Enjoy! Recommended books: The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Oct 25, 2018
What Nate Silver's learned about forecasting elections
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This close to an election, who do I want to hear from? Nate Silver, of course. I sat down with the FiveThirtyEight founder and math wizard to talk about how he builds his forecasting models, what they’re saying about 2018, how big the Democrats’ structural disadvantage in the House and Senate really is, whether there's a purpose to predicting election outcomes, which campaign reporters he reads, and whether Trump is the favorite for 2020. Silver and I also share the experience of building journalism outlets trying to do things a bit differently over the past five years, so we discuss what he’s learned along the way, what he wishes he knew at the beginning, and how he hires. Silver brings unusual clarity and rigor to the topics he focuses on, and right now, given the speed and intensity of the elections news cycle, a bit of rigor is a welcome thing. Enjoy! Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Bad Blood by John Carreyrou Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
Oct 22, 2018
Jay Rosen is pessimistic about the media. So am I.
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This is a tough conversation. It was a tough one to hold, and it’s a tough one to publish. I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist for 15 years. I believe in journalism. But right now, I’m worried we’re failing. I’m worried we’re making American politics worse, not better. That’s not because we're not doing remarkable, courageous, heroic work. It’s not because we’re fake news or biased hacks. Look at the #MeToo movement, the investigations of Donald Trump's finances, the remarkable reporting that journalists do every day from war zones and Ebola outbreaks and authoritarian regimes. It's because everything around us has changed — our business models, the way people read us, the way we compete with each other, the way we’re manipulated — and we’re getting played, particularly in political reporting and commentary, by the outrage merchants and con artists and trolls and polarizers who understand this new world better. President Trump is the most successful media hacker out there, but he’s not the only one. They’re using us as tools to fracture American democracy, and I don’t think we know how to stop them. Jay Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University and the founder of PressThink. He’s one of our sharpest, clearest critics and interpreters. I asked him on the show to help me think through what’s wrong in the press, and what I’m doing wrong in my own work. Recommended books: Deciding What's News by Herbert Gans Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville Exit, Voice, and Loyalty by Albert O. Hirschman Making Democracy Work by Robert Putnam
Oct 18, 2018
Why Bill Gates is worried
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“To put it bluntly,” wrote Bill and Melinda Gates in their foundation’s annual Goalkeepers Report, “decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling. This is because the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else; more babies are being born in the places where it’s hardest to lead a healthy and productive life.” There is no topic in the philanthropic world more fraught than population growth. The history of efforts to analyze and address it is filled with bad predictions and cruel solutions. The Gateses, though, are trying to take a different approach to the issue. Rather than seeing a population problem in the demographic projections, they’re framing it as a poverty problem — and, for that matter, an opportunity. In this conversation, I talk with Bill Gates about the report and about much more: the geographic and political forces that have held African development back, whether economic growth brings political freedom, the risks posed by artificial intelligence, and how we should weigh future human lives and current animal suffering. This conversation also marks the launch of a new Vox podcast and section, Future Perfect, which focuses on evidence-based ways to make the world a better place. You can find the section at Vox.com, and you can find the podcast, which is hosted by my colleague and friend Dylan Matthews, wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy! Recommended books: The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe Educated by Tara Westover Big Debt Crises by Ray Dalio Find the Future Perfect podcast on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | ART19
Oct 15, 2018
Reihan Salam makes the case against open borders
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In his new book, Melting Pot or Civil War: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders, Reihan Salam tries to do something difficult: build a pro-immigrant case for a more restrictive immigration system. This is an argument, interestingly, that’s as much about inequality as it is about immigration. “Diversity is not the problem,” Salam writes. “What’s uniquely pernicious is extreme between-group inequality.” Salam, the executive editor of the National Review, thus makes a two-sided case: He argues that a socially sustainable immigration system is one where America is more deeply committed to equality, which means both focusing on higher-skilled immigrants who need less support and radically raising the amount of support we’re willing to give immigrants who do need it. And that compromise, he argues, should be paired with a more serious American effort to improve the economic conditions of the places immigrants travel here from. Is this a synthesis that makes sense? Does it really address the cleavages preventing us from moving forward on immigration? And what are the fundamental values that we should base our immigration system on anyway? That’s what Reihan and I discuss in this episode.   Recommended books: The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants Are Changing American Life by Tomas Jimenez Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity by Tomas Jimenez Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity by Samuel Huntington
Oct 11, 2018
Jose Antonio Vargas on living undocumented in Trump’s America
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Jose Antonio Vargas was born in the Philippines in 1981. When he was 12, his mother sent him to America, to live with family. When he was 16, he went to the DMV to get a driver's license and found out his green card was forged; he was an undocumented immigrant. Vargas went on to be a decorated journalist, winning a Pulitzer as part of the Washington Post team covering the Virginia Tech shootings. He profiled Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker and led a technology vertical at the Huffington Post. But he lived in fear of his secret, of the fragile foundation upon which he'd built his life. So he did something few would have the courage to do: He told the world himself. In his new book, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, Vargas details what happened both before and after his confession. "This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves," he writes. "This book is about what it means to not have a home.” Vargas has spent the better part of the last decade doing something no one should have to do: asking people to see him as a human, not a category; asking the country he lives in to decide what it wants to do with him, or what it wants from him. It is a testament to how strange and broken our system is, how uncertain our values are, that it has refused to give him an answer. Immigration politics is at the core of Trumpism, which means it’s at the core of our politics right now. But the stories of actual immigrants aren’t. In this raw conversation, Vargas and I discuss his life, how being undocumented changes not just your path but your psyche, and what Vargas wants to say to those who see him as the problem they elected this president to fix.   Recommended books: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin There There by Tommy Orange America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo 
Oct 08, 2018
Rebecca Traister: Women's rage is transforming America
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Why did Christine Blasey Ford have to smile and politely ask for breaks while Brett Kavanaugh could rage at the cameras and dismiss the hearings as a farce? The answer is in Rebecca Traister’s essential, perfectly timed new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger. It’s a book, Traister writes, about how anger works for men in ways it doesn’t for women. I happened to read it the weekend before the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings, and it was eerily prescient: The book was essential to understanding not only what I was seeing at the hearings but, as importantly, what I wasn’t seeing. My conversation with Traister is about those hearings, but about much more too: When is anger constructive and important? Can it tie us together, rather than just pulling us apart? How is the #MeToo movement navigating the fact that sometimes the people it’s angry about are also the people it loves — that our bad guys are also our good guys, as Traister puts it? And what does it mean to see each other in our full humanity, including in our angry humanity?   Recommended books and essays: Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin The Uses of Anger by Audre Lorde The Power by Naomi Alderman
Oct 04, 2018
Patrick Deneen says liberalism has failed. Is he right?
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Liberalism, write Patrick Deneen, "has been for modern Americans like water for a fish, an encompassing political ecosystem in which we have swum, unaware of its existence.” Deneen, a political theorist at Notre Dame, isn’t talking about the liberalism of the left, the liberalism of Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi. He’s talking about the liberalism that drives both the left and the right, the one that elevates individual flourishing over groups, families, places, nature. That’s the liberalism that is wrecking our societies and our happiness, Deneen says, and while the left and the right often disagree on how to achieve it, they're both disastrously bought into its core ideas.  Deneen’s book, Why Liberalism Failed, has become a quiet sensation, gaining plaudits from conservative pundits and even showing up on Barack Obama’s reading list. His is a radical critique, and while I disagree with much of it, the things it gets right are important.  
Oct 01, 2018
Francis Fukuyama’s case against identity politics
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Is all politics identity politics? And if so, then what does it mean to condemn identity politics in the first place? That’s the subject of my discussion with Stanford political scientist Francis Fukuyama. In his new book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, he builds a theory of what identity means in modern societies and how spiraling demands for recognition are tearing at the fabric of our politics. "The retreat on both sides into ever narrower identities threatens the possibility of deliberation and collective action by the society as a whole," he writes. "Down this road lies, ultimately, state breakdown and failure.” Yikes. Fukuyama’s book revolves around a question I’ve become a bit obsessed by: When do we see political claims as identity politics, and when do we see them as just politics? What’s obscured in the passage from one boundary to another? Whose agendas are served by it? And in a country whose narrative of progress and perfection is inextricably bound up in the success of past moments of identity politics, how did this come to be such a vilified term today? So I asked Fukuyama on the show to discuss it. This is a great conversation with one of the foremost political thinkers of our age. Recommended books: Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government by  Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Sep 27, 2018
Carol Anderson on the myth of American democracy
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The president of the United States was the runner-up in the popular vote. The majority in the US Senate got fewer votes than the minority. And even if Democrats win a hefty majority of the vote in 2018’s House elections, Republicans, due to gerrymandering and geography, may retain control of the chamber. But it’s not just the structure of our system that eats at America’s democratic claims. It’s the rules being layered on top of it. In 2017, 99 bills to limit voting have been introduced in 31 states. Recent years have seen an explosion of laws meant to make it harder for Americans — particularly nonwhite, young, and poorer Americans — to vote. America calls itself a democracy, but it's elected officials are actively working to make democratic participation harder. This is nothing new, says Carol Anderson, chair of Emory’s African-American studies department, and author of the new book One Person, No Vote. Efforts to limit the franchise, to ensure power remained where it was even as the trappings of democracy gave it legitimacy, are as old as the country itself. “Right now, our democracy is in crisis,” she says. This is a conversation about the distance between what America claims to be, what it is, and how much worse it can get. It's about the continuity between past violations of our democracy that we all understand and condemn and present violations that cloak their true nature. With the 2018 election around the corner, this is a conversation we all need to be having.   Recommended books: Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism by Kevin Kruse It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
Sep 24, 2018
Martha C. Nussbaum on how fear deforms our politics
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In her new book Monarchy of Fear, famed philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum identifies fear as the oldest and deepest of our emotions. Fear takes hold in our earliest infancy, when we can experience need but we can’t act. And it lurks underneath our psyches, communities, and polities forever after that. This is a conversation about what fear is and how it shapes our worldviews and our politics. It’s also a conversation about what hope is, and whether embracing it is a choice we can, and should, make. Nussbaum is one of our greatest living philosophers. The way she thinks about politics, and her effort to recenter emotions at the core of both political and philosophical inquiry, is worth hearing. The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela by Sahm Venter To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon M. Terry The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics by John Hickenlooper
Sep 17, 2018
David French on “The Great White Culture War"
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David French is a senior writer for National Review and one of the conservatives I read most closely. About a month ago, he published an interesting column responding to some things I had said, and to the broader currents cutting through our politics. “Conservative white Americans look at urban multicultural liberalism and notice an important fact,” he wrote. "Its white elite remains, and continues to enjoy staggering amounts of power and privilege. So when that same white elite applauds the decline of 'white America,' what conservatives often hear isn’t a cheer for racial justice but another salvo in our ongoing cultural grudge match, with the victors seeking to elevate black and brown voices while remaining on top themselves." I asked French to come on the podcast to discuss this idea — and the controversies that motivated it — more deeply, and he quickly accepted. The result is a tricky conversation about very sensitive territory in our politics. It’s about how we talk about race and class and status and gender and sexuality and religion, how we understand and misunderstand each other, how our political identities turn conflicts about one thing into conflicts about all things, why groups that are objectively powerful feel so powerless, and much more. I always appreciate the grace, openness, and intelligence French brings to his writing, and all of that is on full display here too. Recommended books: The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt Coming Apart by Charles Murray The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey
Sep 10, 2018
Your attention is being hijacked. Chris Bailey can help.
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Life is the sum focus of what you pay attention to. You hear that a lot. But look at the verb there: “pay” attention to. As if attention is something we consciously spend out. As if it’s something we control. But do we? Not these days. There’s a war on for our attention, and we’re often losing it. Chris Bailey’s Hyperfocus looks, from the outside, like a book about productivity. But it’s really one of the best books I’ve read about attention: what it is, how much it can hold, how we lose track of it, and how to get it back. This is a conversation about paying attention to your attention, making sure you’re controlling it rather than accidentally letting it — and all the multibillion-dollar companies working to hijack it — control you. This is one of those conversations that, if you can apply it, will actually make your life a bit better, a bit more your own. Recommended books: Getting Things Done by David Allen Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana How Not to Die by Michael Greger
Sep 04, 2018
Anand Giridharadas on the elite charade of changing the world
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“How can there be anything wrong with trying to do good?” asks Anand Giridharadas in his new book, Winners Take All. “The answer may be: when the good is an accomplice to even greater, if more invisible, harm.” Giridharadas has done his time in elite circles. His education took him through Oxford and Harvard, he spent years as a New York Times columnist, he's a regular on Morning Joe, he’s a TED talker. And so when he mounted the stage at the Aspen Institute and told his fellow fellows that their pretensions of doing good were just that — pretensions — and that they were more the problem than the solution, it caused some controversy. Giridharadas’s new book will make a lot of people angry. It’s about the difference between generosity and justice, the problems with only looking for win-win solutions, the ways the corporate world has come to dominate the discourse of change, and the fact that elite networks change the people who are part of them. But for all the power of Giridharadas’s critique of elite do-goodery, does he have better answers to the problems they’re trying to solve? And what of the very real problems that have left so many disillusioned with government, or the very real accomplishments that exist in the systems we’ve built? If we are pursuing change wrong, then what needs to be changed to pursue it better? Recommended books: There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald (forthcoming) The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment by Francis Fukuyama
Aug 30, 2018
I build a world with fantasy master N.K. Jemisin
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I’m just going to say it. This may be the most fun I’ve ever had on a podcast. Nora Jemisin — better known by her pen name, N.K. Jemisin — just won the Hugo Award for best novel for the third year in a row. No one had ever done that before. Jemisin is also the first author to have every book in a single series win the Hugo for best novel, and the first black author to win a Hugo for best novel. She’s a badass. What makes Jemisin’s work so remarkable is the power and detail of the worlds she builds for her characters, and her readers, to inhabit. In this podcast, she shows us how she does it: Jemisin teaches a world-building seminar for sci-fi and fantasy authors, and here, she leads me through that exercise live. It’s a master class not only in building a new world but in understanding our own. You don’t want to miss this. Recommended books: The Murderbot Diaries series from Martha Wells Unexpected Stories by Octavia Butler
Aug 27, 2018
Reup: Zephyr Teachout vs. Corruption
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Zephyr Teachout is a law professor at Fordham University and one of the nation’s foremost experts on political corruption. She’s also, after a glowing New York Times endorsement this week, arguably the frontrunner in the race to replace Eric Schneiderman as New York’s attorney general. The Democratic primary, which will likely decide the race, is on September 13. The NY AG position is unusually important right now. President Trump’s businesses are in New York, his family works in New York, his associates worked in New York. When special counsel Robert Mueller referred Michael Cohen for prosecution, it was to New York prosecutors. And for all the talk of Trump’s pardon power, he can pardon against federal prosecution, not state prosecution.  All that means that the New York attorney general is uniquely situated to investigate, and prosecute, the corruption swirling around Trumpworld. I had Teachout on this podcast in June 2017. We talked about how political corruption was defined by the Founding Fathers, and why, during the Constitutional Convention, they discussed the threat posed by corruption more than they discussed the threat posed by foreign invasion. And we talked about the way today’s Supreme Court — in the Citizens United and related decisions — has narrowed the definition to be almost meaningless. We also discussed an emoluments lawsuit Teachout was involved in against Trump, as well as the power of corporate monopolies in American life. It was a great conversation then, and it’s all the more relevant now. Enjoy!
Aug 24, 2018
Is our economy totally screwed? Andrew Yang and I debate.
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"The future without jobs will come to resemble either the cultivated benevolence of Star Trek or the desperate scramble for resources of Mad Max,” writes Andrew Yang. Well then. Yang is the founder of Venture for America, the author of The War on Normal People, and an outsider candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020. His campaign is based on a grim view of the economy he sees coming: AI, automation, and globalization leading to mass joblessness. The only things that can save us, he says, are a universal basic income (UBI), a redefinition of what work is and how it’s compensated, and a redefinition of how we measure economic and social progress. I’ll be honest. I’m skeptical of the robots-will-take-all-the-jobs thesis that’s took Silicon Valley, and much of the punditariat, by storm. Yang and I debate those doubts, as well as the different arguments for a UBI (and the various ways to finance it). You want big ideas? Here they are. Recommended Books: Give People Money by Annie Lowrey (I promise I did not push Andrew to recommend this!) AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee Squeezed by Alissa Quart
Aug 20, 2018
Chef Marcus Samuelsson on immigration, creativity, and Anthony Bourdain
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Marcus Samuelsson is the Michelin-starred chef behind Harlem’s The Red Rooster an award-winning cookbook author,the winner of the first season of Top Chef: Masters, ;nd the host of No Passport Required, a new food and travel show from Eater and PBS. Samuelsson’s story is remarkable. He was born in Ethiopia to a mother who carried him and his sister 75 miles on foot to a hospital when all three of them were suffering from tuberculosis. Samuelsson’s mother died, but he and his sister survived and were adopted by a Swedish family, which is where he grew up. He’s lived and cooked all over the world — Japan, France, Austria, Switzerland — and has a pile of Michelin stars as a testament to his ability to see how the culinary traditions of one place can be informed by another, or introduced to another. This is a conversation about creativity and how diversity powers it. It’s a conversation about what immigration adds to communities, rather than just the role it plays in politics. And it’s a conversation — an emotional one — about what Samuelsson learned from his friend Anthony Bourdain, whose show No Reservations set the template in this space, and whose loss continues to be 
Aug 13, 2018
Why online politics gets so extreme so fast
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During the 2016 campaign, Zeynep Tufekci was watching videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube. But then, she writes, she "noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and ‘autoplay' videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content.” And it wasn’t just Trump videos. Watching Hillary Clinton rallies got her "arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11.” Nor was it just politics. "Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons." Tufekci is a New York Times columnist and a professor at the University of North Carolina. She’s also one of the clearest thinkers around on how digital platforms work, how their algorithms understand and shape our preferences, and what the consequences are for society. So as we learn that Facebook is detecting new efforts at electoral manipulation and as we watch online politics become ever more bitter and divisive, I wanted to talk with Tufekci about how digital platforms have become engines of radicalization, and what we can do about it. Recommended books: The Control Revolution by James Beniger Ruling the Waves by Debora Spar Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong
Aug 06, 2018
Taking Trump’s corruption seriously
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The question of whether President Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election has consumed Washington since the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller special counsel in March 2017. But there's another question worth considering: the financial corruption swirling around Trump’s businesses, and now his administration. In any other White House, this would be the ongoing, constant story — the site of endless investigations and inquiries. And it still might be. We know Mueller is looking into the web of financial ties between Trump’s businesses and the post-Soviet bloc, and we know that part of the Mueller investigation gets Trump particularly outraged. Plus, we still don’t know what’s on Trump’s tax returns, or what could be discovered if Democrats take back a chamber of Congress and get subpoena power. Here’s my bet: If there is some scandal lurking that’s going to derail the Trump administration, I think it’s going to be found by following the money, not by following the Russian bots. Adam Davidson has been investigating this since Trump's election. If you're an avid podcast listener, you probably know Adam from his days at Planet Money. He's now at the New Yorker, doing some of the best investigative work on the Trump Organization. You’ll want to hear what he’s found.
Aug 02, 2018
The surprising story of how American politics polarized
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We talk a lot on this podcast about the epic levels of political polarization and how much of our ongoing breakdown they explain. But what was American politics like before it was polarized? And what got us from there to here? Sam Rosenfeld is a political scientist at Colgate University and author of the book The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era. I’ve read a lot of books on polarization, and Rosenfeld’s is the best I’ve seen at painting a picture of what American politics looked like before Republican meant conservative and Democrat meant liberal, and why polarization seemed like a good, necessary thing to many of the people who drove it. While you listen to this history, try to think about it not from the perspective of someone sitting in 2018, looking at a political system in crisis, but someone in 1955, observing a system that offered nothing but false and confusing choices. Would you have been on the side of the polarizers? Recommended books: On Capitol Hill by Julian Zelizer Making Minnesota Liberal by Jennifer Delton Social Policy in the United States by Theda Skocpol
Jul 30, 2018
The most important idea for understanding American politics in 2018
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America is changing. A majority of infants are, for the first time in US history, nonwhite — and the rest of the population is expected to follow suit in the coming decades. The number of religiously affiliated Americans is at a record low, and the share of foreign-born residents is at a historically high level. What happens to a country amid this kind of demographic change and strain? What does it do to our politics, to our identities, to our worldview? I’ve come to believe that you can’t understand politics in America right now without understanding these changes and how they act on us psychologically. And to understand these changes, you need to talk to Yale psychologist Jennifer Richeson, who has done pioneering work on the way perceptions of demographic threat and change affect people’s political opinions, voting behavior, and ideas about themselves. I believe this is one of the most important conversations I’ve had on this podcast for understanding America today — and I also know it’s just the start of trying to understand these questions. Enjoy. Recommended books: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (who was also on EKS) Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America by Christopher S. Parker and Matt A. Barreto The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics by Ryan Enos
Jul 23, 2018
What economists and politicians get wrong about trade
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For decades, Harvard’s Dani Rodrik has been a lonely voice in the economics profession warning that the academics were getting this one wrong. Trade is not an unalloyed good; “globalization would deepen societal divisions, exacerbate distributional problems, and undermine domestic social bargains,” Rodrik warned. But few listened. The tendency to emphasize trade’s benefits while ignoring its costs created a massive political backlash.   “Economists would have had a greater—and much more positive—impact on the public debate had they stuck closer to their discipline’s teaching, instead of siding with globalization’s cheerleaders,” Rodrik wrote in his excellent book, Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy. Rodrik isn’t just a rock thrower. He’s a professor of international political economy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the president-elect of the International Economic Association. And so, as Trump’s trade war begins, I asked him on the show to explain what politicians and economists have gotten so wrong about trade, and what it would mean to get it right. Recommended books (and an article): Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium by Ronald Findlay and Kevin O'Rourke “International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order” by John Ruggie
Jul 19, 2018
How to disagree better
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Arthur Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, one of Washington’s most respected and powerful conservative think tanks. He’s also launching a new podcast, The Arthur Brooks Show, with Vox Media on the art and practice of disagreement. I’ve known Brooks for a while. And I disagree with him on, well, a lot — at least when it comes to American politics. And yet, those disagreements haven’t ended a years-long conversation between us on everything from management to spirituality to policy. I can say from experience: Brooks really is good at disagreeing. In this podcast, Brooks — a Seattle native with a liberal family and a background as a traveling musician — reveals what he’s learned on how to disagree better, why civility shouldn’t be the goal in conversation, and why it’s healthy to have a lot of arguments. We talk about why he’s stepping down from his position at AEI, why I stepped down from management at Vox, and why anger is a healthy emotion and contempt isn’t. This is one of those conversations I’ve thought about daily since having it. The anger versus contempt rubric has been particularly useful for me, and I think it will be for you. Enjoy! Recommended books: Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel The Unpersuadables by Will Storr The Consolations of Mortality by Andrew Stark
Jul 16, 2018
Jaron Lanier’s case for deleting social media right now
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During my book leave, I took a social media sabbatical. No reading Facebook. No reading Twitter. And you know what? It was great. I felt able to think more clearly, and listen more closely, than had been true in years. I’m not sure that was all because of social media — I was also hanging back from much of the news — but I’m certain the blackout helped. The experience of coming back, and reopening myself to the feeds and the tweets and the algorithms, has been profound. It feels like, suddenly, someone is following me around and shouting in my ear. Sometimes what they’re shouting is important, or funny, or incisive. Sometimes it’s angry, insulting, or just irrelevant. Sometimes it’s just a cry for attention — Look at me! Post to me! Don’t let your competitors get all the likes and retweets! I’ve been thinking, a lot, about how I want to engage with social media going forward. And so I called Jaron Lanier. Lanier’s been on this podcast before. Our previous conversation — about virtual reality and the ways the internet went awry from its early utopian ideals — is one of my favorites. But his new book is particularly relevant to me. It’s called Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and so I asked him on the show to make the case that I should, in fact, delete all my social media accounts right now, and that you should, too.
Jul 09, 2018
The most clarifying conversation I’ve had about Trump and Russia (part 2)
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What have we actually learned about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, and his administration’s efforts to cover those ties up? What role did Russia really play in the 2016 election? And what are special counsel Robert Mueller’s possible endgames — what can he really do, and when might he do it? In January, I had Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey on the podcast to guide me through the Trump-Russia case, and it’s one of the most helpful — and popular — episodes we’ve done. Now she’s back, and given how much more we know now than we did eight months ago, it’s an even crazier, more necessary, conversation. Enjoy!
Jul 05, 2018
The Supreme Court vs. Democracy
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If 75,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had tipped the other way, President Hillary Clinton would’ve named both Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy’s replacements. But they didn’t. And now Donald Trump, in less than two years, will fill as many Supreme Court seats as Barack Obama did in eight. When news of Kennedy’s retirement came down, I knew exactly who I wanted to talk to: Dahlia Lithwick, Slate’s exceptional legal analyst, and host of the podcast Amicus. I can’t say our conversation made me feel better about the Supreme Court. If someone as knowledgeable and humane as Lithwick is this alarmed, then, well, it’s alarming. But it at least left me feeling like I understood the stakes. Lithwick is brilliant in tracing the ideological and political trends that have led us to this moment: We talk about how the Court has moved steadily right for a generation, such that John Roberts — John Roberts! — is now the closest thing to a swing vote; how lifetime appointments have collided with deep politicization; what it means that voting rights are under attack from judges who wouldn’t hold their jobs if America was more of a democracy, and much more. The right has won the fight for the Supreme Court for the next few decades, and they have done so because they were more focused, more committed, and better organized. This is how they did it, and what comes next. Recommended book: One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson
Jul 02, 2018
Eric Garcetti on the lessons of Los Angeles
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There’s been a lot of talk about the coming of majority-minority America — the point, projected for roughly 2045, when there will no longer be any racial or ethnic group that makes up a majority of the United States. But there are plenty of places in America where this has already happened. Los Angeles is one of them. LA has about 4 million people, making it more populous than 23 states, and a demography in rapid flux. Non-Hispanic whites make up about 30 percent of the population, while Hispanics and Latinos make up 47 percent, and African Americans make up 10 percent. Eric Garcetti is the mayor of LA. He’s its first Jewish mayor and its second Mexican-American mayor. He was reelected in 2017 with a stunning 81 percent of the vote. And he’s openly considering a run for president in 2020. If Garcetti does jump into the race, he’ll likely do so based on two core ideas: that there’s a better way to talk about and govern amid diversity than either Donald Trump or the Democrats have shown, and that Americans are primed for a manager who makes running the government their core objective, rather than fighting the culture wars. In this conversation, Garcetti and I talk about what he’s learned governing a majority-minority polity, why he thinks national identity is crucial amid rising diversity, his political vison’s central tenant of “belonging,” the roots of LA’s homelessness crisis, whether paving streets is sexy, and much more. Garcetti offers a different vision of where the Democratic Party should go next — one based much more on the lessons of California than backlash to Trump. It’s worth hearing. Recommended books: Stone, Paper, Knife by Marge Piercy Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer
Jun 25, 2018
What Ellen Pao saw coming
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Ellen Pao had a rough 2015. She lost her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest and most powerful venture capital firms. She also stepped down as CEO of Reddit after a tumultuous tenure in which she came under withering criticism for, among other things, shutting down online communities devoted to shaming fat people and posting upskirt photos. A few short years later, Pao’s 2015 looks prophetic. Her fight against Kleiner Perkins presaged much of the #MeToo movement. Her campaign to set some limits around what could and couldn’t be done on Reddit presaged the difficulties the social media giants are having as they try to rein in online harassment and fake news. Ellen Pao, I’ve come to think, was the canary in Silicon Valley’s coal mine. Pao is now the CEO of Project Include, and in this conversation, we talk about what’s changed since 2015 and how she thinks her 2015 would’ve been different if it had happened in this moment. We discuss how this era may be radicalizing young white men online and what, if anything, can be done about it. We talk about what it really takes to diversify a company — hint: much more than most companies are currently doing or are willing to do — as well as research showing diverse teams are more productive but less happy. And we look at how arguments about biological difference are used to justify the inequalities of our present society. Much of what's obsessing us in 2018 is rooted in fights Pao has been waging for far longer. It's worth hearing what she's learned. Recommended books: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times by Eyal Press Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Jun 18, 2018
The Green Pill
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What accounts for the way most of us eat? What’s the ideology, the theory, behind our diets? And what happens when you stop believing in it? Over the past decade, I’ve been on a fitful journey toward veganism. At least, that’s the way I normally say it. That’s the polite way to say it. The truth is I’ve been on a fitful journey away from the idea that unnecessarily inflicting suffering and death on literally billions of beings that can feel pain is moral. And it’s been one of the most disorienting, radicalizing experiences of my life. It’s the belief I hold most strongly that I’m most uncomfortable talking about. I find myself, out to dinner with friends, apologizing for it, avoiding it, gently mocking it. I didn’t really understand why I felt all this until I read Dr. Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. In it, she does something both obvious and brilliant: She names the ideology that governs the way we eat, investigates its beliefs and demands, and explores how its dominance makes it invisible. This is a conversation about carnism, but it’s also a conversation about how truly dominant worldviews work. "The primary way entrenched ideologies stay entrenched is by remaining invisible,” Joy writes. "And the primary way they stay invisible is by remaining unnamed. If we don't name it, we can't talk about it, and if we can't talk about it, we can't question it.” Joy’s work applies to much more than how we eat: It’s a lens for thinking about all the systems we’re so deeply embedded in that we can no longer see them, and so we learn not to notice if they compel us to do things that don’t align with what we believe to be right, or who we actually want to be. And it’s about what happens when those ideologies become visible and we have to grapple with what they’ve done to us and the world we live in. This is among the most important conversations I’ve had on this podcast. I can’t recommend it enough. Recommended books: How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger How to Create a Vegan World by Tobias Leenaert Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Jun 11, 2018
How Jane Mayer exposed Eric Schneiderman, Bush’s torture program, and the Kochs
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On May 7, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow published a story in the New Yorker detailing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s alleged history of sexually and psychologically terrorizing the women he dated. Hours later, Schneiderman stepped down. Schneiderman was only Mayer’s most recent investigation. Over the course of her career, she’s exposed America’s torture programs, the Koch brothers’ takeover of Republican Party politics, the role the reclusive Mercer family had in funding Donald Trump’s rise, the real story of what happened between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, and more. She’s among the greatest investigative reporters of her generation, and I’ve always wondered how she breaks so many huge stories on such a vast range of topics. And so, in this podcast, I asked her. The result is a conversation that not only helps make sense of the moment we’re living in — from #MeToo to how the Kochs tamed the Trump administration to why Gina Haspel is our CIA director — but also acts as a primer on the art and practice of investigative reporting. Enjoy! Recommended books: Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson The Diamond as Big as the Ritz by F. Scott Fitzgerald Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal by Kim Phillips-Fein
Jun 04, 2018
Political power and the racial wealth gap
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The racial wealth gap is where past injustice compounds into present inequality. When I asked Ta-Nehisi Coates, on this show, what would prove to him that white supremacy was over in this country, he pointed to the closing of the racial wealth gap. The numbers here are startling. In 2016, the median white family in America had $171,000 in wealth. The median black family had just $17,400. Put differently, for every dollar in wealth the average white family has, the average black family has a dime. And the chasm is growing. One of the first episodes of Vox’s new Netflix show, Explained, explores the roots, realities, and future of America’s racial wealth gap. This conversation continues the discussion with one of the key voices in that episode: Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor at the University of Georgia and author of the extraordinary book The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. Baradaran focuses on a part of the American story that’s often ignored: the way African Americans were locked out of the financial engines that create wealth in America, and the way the rhetoric of equal treatment under the law was weaponized, as soon as slavery ended, against efforts to achieve economic equality. But Baradaran’s view isn’t just historical: she’s also studied the way African Americans are disproportionately unbanked and underbanked today, and has been advising Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s efforts to do something big and surprising to solve it: building a nationwide postal banking system. The issues discussed in this episode are, I think, some of the most important facing America right now, and Baradaran’s perspective is unusual in its marriage of analytical rigor, historical analysis, real solutions, and deep compassion. This is worth listening to. Recommended books: The Human Instinct by Kenneth R. Miller Master of the Senate by Robert Caro Feel Free by Zadie Smith
May 28, 2018
Tyler Cowen on the painful end of American complacency
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Headlining any conversation with Tyler Cowen is difficult. This one, for instance, covers how to write a book, single-payer health care, political correctness, loneliness, the expanding Overton window, the tech backlash, technological innovation, the case for American optimism, how to change our cultural assumptions about race, and much more. But if there is a theme, it calls back to Cowen’s fascinating 2017 book, The Complacent Class. There, Cowen argued that contrary to the widespread belief that America was undergoing convulsive change, it was actually changing less than ever — becoming geographically, ideologically, politically, and technologically complacent. But surveying the past year or so in American life, Cowen thinks that the age of American complacency is ending faster than he expected — and that change of the sort that’s happening now will prove deeply painful, even if it also kick-starts our economy and builds us a better future. Recommended books: The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order by Bruno MaCaes Symposium by Plato Grant by Ron Chernow Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
May 21, 2018
A mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan
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This is perhaps the most literal title I’ve given a conversation on this podcast. This is a discussion about how to expand your mind — how to expand the connections it makes, the experiences it’s open to, the sensory information it absorbs. And, more than that, this is a conversation about recognizing that our minds are narrower than we think, that there is a lot we’re filtering out and pruning away and outright ignoring. You know Michael Pollan’s work. He wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, perhaps the most influential book about how we eat in the modern era. He’s the guy who told us, sensibly: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” His new book is called How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. And it is, quite honestly, a trip. Over the past decade or so, the scientific community has reengaged with psychedelic substances, and done so to extraordinary effect: The studies Pollan describes in this discussion are remarkable, but so too are the insights into how our minds work, the ways in which they become overly ordered and efficient as we age, and the power that a dedicated dose of disorder can hold. You don’t have to be interested in taking magic mushrooms to listen to this conversation. Most of it isn’t about psychedelics at all. It’s about how we think, how we sense, how we learn, whether spiritual experiences can have materialist consequences, what makes us afraid of death, what our minds filter out in the world around us, and much more. Pollan changed how I think about my mind. He’ll change how you think about yours. Recommended books: The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley Miserable Miracle by Henri Michaux The Evolution of Beauty by Richard Prum Rachel Aviv’s New Yorker article on refugees, trauma, and psychology
May 14, 2018
Optimism about America
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