Democracy Works

By Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy/The Democracy Group

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Subscribers: 1102
Reviews: 2

sheep
 Feb 4, 2020
listen to primaries parties and the public and you can hear the complete contempt these elitists have for your input in any democratic process. the peasants are to be witnesses to politics never participants.

H.
 Nov 26, 2019
very informative by people who understand the value of Rule of Law

Description

Examining what it means to live in a democracy

Episode Date
Sheriffs 101
00:39:33

Our guest is Mirya R. Holman is an associate professor of political science at Tulane University. She was drawn to researching sheriffs after growing up in rural Oregon, where sheriffs were the only type of law enforcement, and identifying a lack of research about them once she got to graduate school.

In this conversation. Holman  discusses what sheriffs do, how those responsibilities have changed in light of COVID-19 and ongoing civil unrest, the difference between sheriffs and police, and where to go to find information about sheriff elections that might be happening in your city or town this fall.

Additional Information

Holman's website

Holman on Twitter

Sep 21, 2020
Students learn, students vote
00:39:23

Nancy Thomas is director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, an applied research center at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. Over the past decade, the IDHE has worked to understand how college students vote and make recommendations to university leaders about both short-term voting challenges and long-term obligations to creating democratic citizens. This conversations covers both of those areas, as well as what role faculty can play in fostering democracy and civic engagement in their courses.

Additional Information

Institute for Democracy and Higher Education

National Voter Registration Day

Faculty Network for Student Voting Rights

Campus Election Engagement Project

All In Campus Democracy Challenge

Related Episodes

The promise and peril of early voting

Are land-grant universities still democracy's colleges?

Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom

Sep 14, 2020
A dark side to "laboratories of democracy"
00:39:35

Virginia Eubanks examines the relationship between technology and society in her book Automating Inequality: How High-Tech tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor and joins us this week for a discussion about who matters in a democracy and the empathy gap between the people who develop the technology for social systems and the people who use those systems.

Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is also the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in Scientific American, The Nation, Harper’s, and Wired. She was a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a 2016-2017 Fellow at New America.

Additional Information

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor

Eubanks will present a lecture on her work for Penn State's Rock Ethics Institute on October 1, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. The event is free and open to anyone. Register here.

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A roadmap to a more equitable democracy

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Sep 07, 2020
A fall preview — with a new cohost!
00:39:37

In this episode, Michael, Chris, and Candis discuss:

  • The dynamics at play in national, state, and local elections this fall
  • How politics impacts the Census Bureau and other organizations
  • Whether all politics are really local
  • What we've learned since 2016 about how democracy functions

We are excited to welcome Candis to our team. As you'll hear, she doesn't always agree with Michael and Chris and brings some important perspectives to the table.

Related episodes

The clumsy journey to antiracism

Breaking down Black politics

Public health depends on the Census

Free and fair elections during a pandemic

Episode credits

This episode was engineered by Jenna Spinelle, edited by Mark Stitzer, and reviewed by Emily Reddy.

Aug 31, 2020
YIMBYs and NIMBYs in a democracy
00:39:11

Many of us are spending more time at home these days than we ever have before. In the United States, owning a home has come to symbolize the American Dream and homeowners have more political capital than those who don't. Over the past decade or so, this has led to showdowns at local government meetings between YIMBYs, who want more housing, and NIMBYs, who do not.

Dougherty covers economics and housing for the New York Times and is the author of "Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America." The book focuses on San Francisco, but as you'll hear Dougherty say, he could have written it about just about any major city in the U.S. 

We also discuss the role that ballot initiatives play in the fight for housing, particularly in California. Born during the Progressive era to give more power to the people, Dougherty they've become co-opted by money and other influences that plague other areas of our democracy.

Related Episodes

The power of local government

Ten thousand democracies

Additional Information

Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America

Dougherty's work in the New York Times

Aug 24, 2020
After 100 years, there's still no "woman voter"
00:31:03

In their new book A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage, Christina Wolbrecht and Kevin Corder examine women’s (and men’s) voting behavior, and traces how women’s turnout and vote choice evolved across a century of enormous transformation overall and for women in particular. 

The work shows that there is no such thing as ‘the woman voter. Instead, there is considerable variation in how different groups of women voted in response to changing political, social, and economic realities. The points Wolbrecht makes in this interview about how women are perceived by pundits and scholars alike are worth reflecting on as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of suffrage and prepare for an election this fall.

Wolbrecht is Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and Director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy. Her areas of expertise include American politics, political parties, gender and politics, and American political development.

Additional Information

A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage

Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy

Christina Wolbrecht on Twitter

Related Episodes

Behind the scenes of the "year of the woman"

The connective tissue of democracy

Aug 17, 2020
She Votes! — Susan B. Anthony and "voting while female"
00:32:56

This episode examines the arrest, trial, and conviction of suffragist Susan B. Anthony for the crime of "voting while female." Rather than sitting on her heels, Anthony launched a campaign to raise awareness about voting rights for women that would set the stage for the next 50 years of work through the passage of the 19th Amendment.

You might be familiar with parts of this story, but you've never heard it quite like this — Anthony is voiced by actress Christine Braranski in this episode. 

She Votes! is hosted by Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Boston Globe and founder of The Conversation Project, and Lynn Sherr, a longtime correspondent for ABC News and author of "Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words."

The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment is coming up at the end of August and we're planning an episode of Democracy Works on a century women's voting on August 24.

You can find more episodes of She Votes at shevotespodcast.com or in any podcast app. Thank you to the Wonder Media Network for sharing this episode with us.

Aug 10, 2020
Reason in politics and hope for democracy
00:30:19

"Hope for Democracy" recognizes the primary problems that plague contemporary democracy and offers a solution. It tells the story of one civic innovation, the Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR), which asks a small group of citizens to analyze a ballot measure and then provide recommendations on that measure for the public to use when voting.

It relies on narratives of the civic reformers who developed and implemented the CIR and the citizens who participated in the initial review. Coupled with extensive research, the book uses these stories to describe how the review came into being and what impacts it has on participants and the public.

In this episode, we also discuss the ways that deliberative democracy challenges existing power structures and how it can change participants' thoughts on civic engagement and how they can impact government outside of partisan politics.

Gastil is Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science and Senior Scholar in the McCourtney Institute. Knobloch is Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies Department at Colorado State University and Associate Director of the university's Center for Public Deliberation.

Additional Information

Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back Into Politics

McCourtney Institute for Democracy Virtual Book Club on Hope for Democracy - August 31, 2020, 4 p.m. ET

Citizens Initiative Review

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Aug 03, 2020
The people who choose the President
00:42:06

At the end of its 2020 term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on what might seem like an obscure question in Constitutional law, but could have huge ramifications in elections this November and beyond. We dive into the ruling on "faithless electors" in this episode from The Democracy Group podcast network.

Democracy Works podcast host and producer Jenna Spinelle leads a discussion with:

  • Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, founder of Equal Citizens, and host of  the podcast Another Way by Lawrence Lessig. Lessig and Equal Citizens Executive Director Jason Harrow argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the electors in Washington and Colorado.
  • Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One and one of the nation’s foremost experts on Congress and ethics in politics. Issue One was part of an amicus brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center on behalf of the states.
  • Michael Baranowski, associate professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University and host of The Politics Guys, a bipartisan American politics and policy podcast. Baranowski is an expert on political institutions and discusses the practical implications of the Supreme Court's decision with Lessig in the second half of the episode.

The first half of the episode focuses on the Supreme Court's decisions in Chafalo v. Washington and Baca v. Colorado. Lessig and McGehee explain what led them to get involved in the cases and have a spirited discussion about the role special interests could play in the Electoral College.

Then, Lessig and Baranowski discuss the Supreme Court's opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan, and how to make the Electoral College more democratic though measures like the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

A huge thank you to The Democracy Group Network Manager Katie DeFiore for editing this episode!

Note: Severe thunderstorms hit Washington, D.C. when we recorded this episode on July 22, 2020 and Meredith McGehee lost power halfway through. We were not able to get her back on the line before the end of the recording session. We apologize and are grateful for the time she was able to join us!

Additional Information

Equal Citizens

Issue One

The Democracy Group podcast network

The Politics Guys podcast

Jul 27, 2020
Broken Ground: Robert Bullard on environmental justice
00:22:45

This week, we're bringing you an episode from another podcast we think you might enjoy, Broken Ground from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Broken Ground digs  up environmental stories in the South that don’t always get the attention they deserve, and giving voice to the people bringing those stories to light. While the show focuses on the South, the conversations — including the one in this episode — resonate far beyond the region's confines.

In the latest season, the podcast explores how Southerners living along the coast are navigating sea level rise as they race against the clock. How will people on the front lines protect themselves from the immediate and impending threats of rising tides?

This episode features a conversation with Dr. Robert Bullard, widely considered the father of environmental justice. He talks with Broken Ground host Claudine Ebeid McElwain about how communities of color are disproportionally impacted by climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction. Bullard was scheduled to visit Penn State in April and organizers are hopeful that he'll be able to make the trip in April 2021.

If you enjoy this episode, check out Broken Ground wherever you listen to podcasts.

Additional Information

Broken Ground website

Dr. Bullard's website

Southern Environmental Law Center

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Michael Mann's journey through the climate wars

Changing the climate conversation

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Jul 20, 2020
Broken Ground: Robert Bullard on environmental justice
22:45
This week, we’re bringing you an episode from another podcast we think you might enjoy, Broken Ground from the Southern Environmental Law Center. Broken Ground digs  up environmental stories in the South that don’t always get the attention they deserve, and giving voice to the people bringing those stories to light. While the show focuses on […]
Jul 20, 2020
The world’s most punitive democracy [revisited]
38:46
We’re digging into the archives this week for another episode on race and criminal justice. Peter K. Enns, associate professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University, Executive Director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, and author of Incarceration Nation: How the U.S. Became the Most Punitive Democracy in the World. In this episode, […]
Jul 13, 2020
The world's most punitive democracy [revisited]
00:38:46

We're digging into the archives this week for another episode on race and criminal justice. Peter K. Enns, associate professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University, Executive Director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, and author of Incarceration Nation: How the U.S. Became the Most  Like the conversation with Frank Baumgartner last week, we look at how public opinion around criminal justice has changed over the past two years and how that translates into public policy.

Enns argues that, while public opinion around criminal justice continues to shift, we still don't have anything close to a clear picture about what's happening inside correctional institutions. That, he says, makes it tough for the public to fully grasp the gravity of how incarcerated people are treated and inhibits progress toward a more just, rehabilitative system. We also talk about whether it's possible to both deal with COVID-19 in prisons and jails while also pushing for long-term structural change — and how making conditions healthier and safer benefits everyone.

Additional Information

Incarceration Nation: How the U.S. Became the Most Punitive Democracy in the World

Peter K. Enns on Twitter

Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

The Marshall Project - nonprofit journalism on criminal justice

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Jul 13, 2020
Suspect citizens in a democracy [revisited]
00:36:27
This week marks the beginning of our summer break here on Democracy Works. We are going to be rebroadcasting a few episodes from our back catalog — with a twist. In fall 2018, we did two episodes on police, criminal justice, and race that are directly relevant to what’s happening today. We caught up with […]
Jul 06, 2020
The second annual Democracy Works listener mailbag
00:39:38
Before we take a short summer break, Michael and Chris answer your questions about democracy in our current moment. Thank you to everyone who sent in questions; they were excellent! Some of the things we talk about in this episode include: The difference between federalism and the federal government The definition of an institution How […]
Jun 29, 2020
How to end democracy’s doom loop
00:43:53
As we bring this season of Democracy Works to a close, we’re going to end in a place similar to where we began — discussing the role of political parties in American democracy. We started the season discussing the Tea Party and the Resistance with Theda Skocpol and Dana Fisher, then discussed presidential primaries with […]
Jun 22, 2020
The clumsy journey to antiracism
00:34:50
This week, we are bringing you another interview that we hope will give some context to the discussions about racism and inequality that are happening in the U.S. right now. We’re  joined by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, assistant professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and Candis Watts Smith, associate professor […]
Jun 15, 2020
Civil rights, civil unrest
00:40:07
As protests continue throughout the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death, we’ve been thinking a lot about comparisons to the Civil Rights era and whether the models for demonstrations created during that era are still relevant today. As we’ve discussed on the show before, public memory is a fuzzy thing and we’re seeing […]
Jun 08, 2020
Aaron Maybin on doing the hard work of democracy [rebroadcast]
00:33:54
We are working on an episode about the social and democratic context for the protests taking place around the U.S. after George Floyd’s death; we’ll have it for you on Monday. In the meantime, we are going to share a few episodes from our archives that we hope can provide context for our current moment. […]
Jun 03, 2020
Free speech from the Founding Fathers to Twitter
00:42:05
This is another episode that we recorded in our final days together in the office before COVID-19. However, the topic is just as relevant — if not more so — in our new reality. The topic is free speech and our guest is Stephen D. Solomon, Marjorie Deane Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism […]
Jun 01, 2020
Bonus: Mayors and bipartisanship during COVID-19
00:19:25
Today we’re bringing you a special episode produced by Nicole Gresen, our intern on Democracy Works during the spring 2020 semester. Nicole spoke with Bob Buckhorn, who was mayor of Tampa, Florida from 2011-2019, about the role that mayors have played during COVID-19 and how they have to put partisans allegiances aside during times of […]
May 29, 2020
The people vs. the experts — and those caught in the middle
00:35:30
These days, it can feel like some politicians are working against experts in public health and other fields when it comes to actions surrounding COVID-19. There’s always been a tension between populism and expertise, but our media landscape and strong partisan polarization are pushing that tension to its breaking point — or so it seems, […]
May 25, 2020
China’s role in the COVID-19 infodemic
00:35:10
As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with, the World Health Organization says we’re now in an infodemic alongside it. We’ve seen this play out as misinformation and conspiracy theories move from digital to mainstream media and cast a shadow of doubt about information coming from the government and public health experts. Our […]
May 18, 2020
A roadmap to a more equitable democracy
00:39:51
COVID-19 has exposed longstanding racial and economic inequalities in American life, which is evident in the fact that communities of color are being hit the hardest by both the medical and the economic impacts of the virus. Our guest this week argues that now is the time to empower those communities to have a stake […]
May 11, 2020
Trust, facts, and democracy in a polarized world
00:41:17
This episode was recorded before COVID-19 changed everything, but many of the themes we discuss about public opinion polling and the importance of trust and facts to a democracy are perhaps more relevant now than ever before. We talked with Michael Dimock, president of the Pew Research Center, about how the organization approaches polling in […]
May 04, 2020
Bonus: Civic engagement, social distancing, and democracy reform
00:37:25
Democracy is very much a group activity. Inside, we come together to debate, discuss, do the work of government, and make laws. Outside, we protest and hold rallies. But much of this is not possible. Social distancing presents a tremendous challenge. In this episode from The Democracy Group podcast network, we look at the barriers […]
May 01, 2020
Give me liberty or give me COVID-19?
00:34:13
From Maine to California, people across the country have gathered at their state capitols over the past few weeks to protest stay at home orders issued by their governors in response to COVID-19. Protest is a hallmark of any democracy, but what happens when doing so comes with health risks? What is motivating people to […]
Apr 27, 2020
Bonus: COVID-19 and Democracy with The Democracy Group
00:54:29
We are excited to collaborate with our partners in The Democracy Group podcast network to bring you a bonus episode on how COVID-19 is impacting democracy in the United States and around the world.  COVID-19 brings together several issues that have long been talked about separately — political polarization, misinformation, international cooperation, democratic norms and […]
Apr 24, 2020
Federalism in uncertain times
00:35:45
With each passing day, the relationship between states and the federal government seems to grow more complicated. States are forming coalitions and working together to chart a path out of COVID-19, while sometimes competing with one another for resources. A lack of clear guidance from the federal government will likely lead to a fragmented return […]
Apr 20, 2020
Will COVID-19 create a one-issue campaign?
00:39:02
The general election is going to happen in November, and candidates still need to figure out ways to get their messages out to voters. COVID-19 has changed everything about the way candidates communicate with potential voters and how they position themselves in relationship to the virus. This episode addresses the nuts and bolts of campaigning […]
Apr 13, 2020
Public health depends on the Census
00:38:53
  The COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. intensified just as the 2020 Census was getting underway in earnest. As Americans fill their days with news about the new coronavirus, the Census Bureau is doing everything it can to spread the word about completing the Census online while grappling with how to do critical in-person follow […]
Apr 06, 2020
Free and fair elections during a pandemic
00:42:00
As COVID-19 intensifies throughout the U.S., questions about the future of the remaining primary elections and the general election in November are beginning to surface. The last thing you want are large groups of people standing in line near each other for long periods of time. At a time when seemingly everything in life has […]
Mar 30, 2020
COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions
00:42:29
As we’ve seen over the past weeks and months, democracies and authoritarian countries respond to pandemics very differently. There are balances to be struck — liberty and community, human rights and disease mitigation — that every country’s government and culture handle a little differently. We dive into that this week with our first ever all-remote […]
Mar 23, 2020
Populism is not a monolith
00:36:39
We know that there are a lot of episodes about COVID-19 out there right now. We’re working on one of our own that we hope to bring to you soon, but in the meantime, consider something different to focus on while you practice social distancing this week. We’ve talked a lot on this show about […]
Mar 16, 2020
Swamp Stories: Cashing In
00:25:18
It’s spring break at Penn State this week and we’re going to take a brief hiatus to bring you an episode from a new podcast that’s part of The Democracy Group, our new podcast network. Swamp Stories is produced by Issue One, a group that takes a cross partisan approach to democracy reform. The podcast follows […]
Mar 09, 2020
The promise and peril of early voting
00:36:23
Super Tuesday is this week, but voters in many states have already cast their ballots for races happening this week and throughout the rest of the primary season. From Florida to Pennsylvania, states are expanding access to early and absentee voting to give people more options to make their voices heard in our democracy. Sounds […]
Mar 02, 2020
Breaking down Black politics
00:34:04
As the South Carolina primary approaches, all eyes are on the African American vote. This week, Michael Berkman is taking over the interviewer’s chair for a roundtable discussion on black politics with Ray Block and Candis Watts Smith, who are associate professors of African American studies and political science at Penn State. Ray is the […]
Feb 24, 2020
Does Congress promote partisan gridlock?
00:40:35
Some of the most talked-about issues in Congress these days are not about the substance of policies or bills being debated on the floor. Instead, the focus is on the partisan conflict between the parties and the endless debate about whether individual members of Congress will break with party ranks on any particular vote. This […]
Feb 17, 2020
How states are working to keep your vote safe
00:36:30
Elections are the bedrock of any democracy. Without confidence in the process or the results, confidence in democracy itself is vulnerable. With the primary season underway and the general election just a few months away, conversations about election security are starting to enter the public conscience. We saw this firsthand in Iowa last week as […]
Feb 10, 2020
Primaries, parties, and the public
00:40:10
The 2020 primary season officially begins today with the Iowa caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 11 and Nevada and South Carolina later this month. It’s easy to forget that the primaries have not looked like they do now. In fact, it was not until 1968 that things really began to morph […]
Feb 03, 2020
The connective tissue of democracy
00:36:32
The Women’s March 2020 was held in cities across the country January 18. What began as a conversation on social media has evolved into a network of groups and organizations that are united in opposition to the Trump administration. Dana Fisher and her research team have been there alongside the protesters asking about their motivations […]
Jan 27, 2020
How the Tea Party and the Resistance are upending politics
00:41:19
Since 2008, the Tea Party and the Resistance have caused some major shake-ups for the Republican and Democratic parties. The changes fall outside the scope of traditional party politics, and outside the realm of traditional social science research. To better understand what’s going on Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Strategy […]
Jan 20, 2020
A 2020 preview
00:35:13
This week, we begin a new year and a new season with a look ahead what 2020 will mean for democracy in the United States and around the world. We know that there will be a Census and an election, but will they be carried out in a democratic way? The escalating conflict with Iran […]
Jan 13, 2020
Grassroots organizing to “reboot” democracy [rebroadcast]
00:36:42
Happy New Year! Our winter break continues with a rebroadcast from fall 2018 with Lara Putnam on grassroots organizing in suburban America. This episode was recorded before the  2018 midterms, but many of the trends we discuss bore out in the election. Putnam is a Professor and Chair of the History Department at the University […]
Jan 06, 2020
E.J. Dionne on making America empathetic again [rebroadcast]
00:35:39
While we enjoy a holiday break, we are rebroadcasting an episode with E.J. Dionne that was recorded in March 2019. The McCourtney Institute for Democracy brought Dionne to Penn State for a talk on “protecting free expression and making America empathetic again.” After spending some with him, it’s clear that he walks the walk when […]
Dec 30, 2019
Is it possible to overdo democracy?
00:42:08
As we enter the holiday season, Robert Talisse thinks it’s a good idea to take a break from politics. In fact, he might go so far as to say democracy is better off if you do. Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and author of a new book called Overdoing […]
Dec 23, 2019
Chris Beem on democratic humility and virtues
00:35:01
Earlier this fall, our own Chris Beem traveled to Notre Dame to appear on With a Side of Knowledge, a podcast produced by the university’s Office of the Provost. The show is recorded over brunch, and this happened to the last meal served at campus institution Sorin’s. Bacon and eggs aside, Chris talks with host Ted […]
Dec 16, 2019
Next-generation democracy
00:28:51
One of the things we heard in our listener survey (which there’s still time to take, by the way) is that we should have more young people on the show as guests. It was a great suggestion and, after having this conversation, we’re so glad to have received it. Joining us this week is Kyle […]
Dec 09, 2019
The democracy rebellion happening in states across the U.S.
00:42:26
Hedrick Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of bestselling books The Russians, Who Stole the American Dream? and many others. Over the course of his nearly 60 years in journalism, he’s interviewed some of the biggest politicians and power brokers on the national and international stage. Now, his reporter’s curiosity has led him to places like […]
Dec 02, 2019
A roundtable on impeachment, institutions, and legitimacy
00:55:27
This week’s episode is a conversation between Michael Berkman, Chris Beem, and Michael Baranowski of The Politics Guys, a podcast that looks at political issues in the news through a bipartisan, academic lens. Baranowski is an associate professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University. His focus is American political institutions, public policy, and media […]
Nov 25, 2019
Your guide to ranked-choice voting
00:38:13
Ranked-choice voting has been in the news a lot lately. It was adopted in New York City’s November 2019 election, used for the first time in U.S. Congressional elections last year, and will be the method by which at least a few states choose a Democratic primary candidate in 2020. But, what is it? How […]
Nov 18, 2019
Latino immigrants and the changing makeup of American democracy
00:41:48
We’ve talked about immigration several times on this show with good reason. The role that people coming to the United States play in our democracy is an important question and something states, cities, and towns across the country will continue to grapple with as demographics shift. This week’s guest offers a historical perspective that sets […]
Nov 11, 2019
Inside the world’s largest democracy
00:38:51
More than 600 million people voted in India’s most recent election, but that does not mean all is well with democracy there. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP recently won re-election on a platform based on Hindu nationalism. As we’ve seen with other countries experiencing democratic erosion, the people and parties coming to power […]
Nov 04, 2019
Climate 2020: Exxon, Inslee, and the GOP Narrative
29:13
Our look at climate change continues with an episode from the Climate 2020 podcast, a show that looks at how climate is being addressed (or not) in the 2020 election. It’s hosted by by Years Of Living Dangerously award-winning documentary producer David Gelber and Climate Nexus Founding Director Jeff Nesbit and produced in in association with […]
Nov 01, 2019
Changing the climate conversation
00:39:23
Climate change is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time, but it’s so big that it can be difficult to imagine how you as an individual can make an impact — or even know how to talk about it with other people in a meaningful way. This episode offers a few creative suggestions for […]
Oct 28, 2019
From political crisis to profound change
00:37:41
Last week, we heard from Andrew Sullivan about the challenges facing the future of democracy in the United States and around the world. This week’s episode offers a glimpse into what can happen when a country emerges from a political crisis with stronger democratic practices in place. About 10 years ago, Ireland found itself facing […]
Oct 21, 2019
Andrew Sullivan on democracy’s double-edged sword
00:40:16
This is one of the most pessimistic episodes we’ve done, but it’s worth hearing. Andrew Sullivan, New York magazine contributing editor, Daily Dish founder, and former editor of The New Republic, is a longtime observer of American politics who does not shy away from controversial opinions. In this episode, we discuss the tension between liberalism and democracy, […]
Oct 14, 2019
The case for open primaries
00:34:45
In about a dozen U.S. states, the only people who can vote in primary elections are those who are registered with a party. Republicans vote in the Republican primary and Democrats vote in the Democratic primary. This leaves out independents, who make up a growing share of the electorate. This week’s guest argues that’s problem […]
Oct 07, 2019
Understanding impeachment — from the Federalist Papers to the whistleblower
00:31:46
We bring you special episode of Democracy Works this week that’s all about impeachment. Michael Berkman takes the lead on this episode and talks with Michael Nelson, the Jeffrey L. Hyde and Sharon D. Hyde and Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professor in Political Science and affiliate faculty at Penn State Law. Michael and […]
Sep 30, 2019
Street-level bureaucrats at the border
00:39:27
Immigration is one of the most complex issues of our time in the United States and around the world. Enforcing immigration law in the U.S. involves a mix of courts and executive agencies with lots of opportunities for confusion, miscommunication, and changes in approach from administration to administration. While these things are nothing new, they […]
Sep 23, 2019
Out of Order: A conversation with Mitch Landrieu and Margaret Carlson
00:37:15
Today we’re bringing you a bonus episode from Out of Order, a podcast produced by the German Marshal Fund of the United States. Out of Order is a podcast about how our world was, is, and will be ordered. How do we save democracy, rule of law and global cooperation? Why do some people not […]
Sep 20, 2019
China’s threat to democracies around the world
00:39:44
Larry Diamond joins us this week to talk about the threat China’s model of authoritarian capitalism poses to liberal democracy in the United States and around the world. Economics drives politics, and it’s easy to admire China’s growth while looking past things like increasing surveillance and lack of respect for norms and the rule of […]
Sep 16, 2019
One state’s fight for fair maps
00:35:30
Pennsylvania is one of several states trying to ensure fair congressional maps are drawn after the 2020 Census. As we say in the episode, redistricting is one of democracy’s thorniest problems. It’s easy to say you want a  map that’s fair, but far more difficult to determine what that actually looks like. The Keystone State […]
Sep 09, 2019
How music transcends political polarization
00:30:33
Last week, we heard from Aaron Maybin about the ways visual art relates to his conception and practice of democracy. This week, we are going to look at the relationship between art and democracy through the lens of music. Music has always been political, but what that looks like changes based on the culture. Joining […]
Sep 02, 2019
How music transcends political polarization
30:33
Last week, we heard from Aaron Maybin about the ways visual art relates to his conception and practice of democracy. This week, we are going to look at the relationship between art and democracy through the lens of music. Music has always been political, but what that looks like changes based on the culture. Joining … Continue reading How music transcends political polarization
Sep 02, 2019
Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore
00:43:25
You might remember Aaron Maybin from his time on the football field at Penn State or in the NFL. These days, he’s doing something much different. He’s an artist, activist, and educator in his hometown of Baltimore and talked with us about the way that those things intersect. Celebrities and philanthropists often want to help […]
Sep 01, 2019
How conspiracies are damaging democracy
00:36:53
From Pizzagate to Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracies seem to be more prominent than ever in American political discourse. What was once confined to the pages of supermarket tabloids is now all over our media landscape. Unlike the 9/11 truthers or those who questioned the moon landing, these conspiracies are designed solely to delegitimize a political opponent […]
Sep 01, 2019
Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore
43:25
You might remember Aaron Maybin from his time on the football field at Penn State or in the NFL. These days, he’s doing something much different. He’s an artist, activist, and educator in his hometown of Baltimore and talked with us about the way that those things intersect. Celebrities and philanthropists often want to help … Continue reading Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore
Aug 26, 2019
How conspiracies are damaging democracy
36:53
From Pizzagate to Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracies seem to be more prominent than ever in American political discourse. What was once confined to the pages of supermarket tabloids is now all over our media landscape. Unlike the 9/11 truthers or those who questioned the moon landing, these conspiracies are designed solely to delegitimize a political opponent … Continue reading How conspiracies are damaging democracy
Aug 19, 2019
Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate
00:32:49
We are back with new episodes this week, and we’re starting with an interview that we recorded in New York City earlier this summer. David McCraw is the Deputy General Counsel of the New York Times and author of Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts. The First Amendment and a […]
Aug 12, 2019
Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate
32:49

We are back with new episodes this week, and we’re starting with an interview that we recorded in New York City earlier this summer. David McCraw is the Deputy General Counsel of the New York Times and author of Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts. The First Amendment and a … Continue reading Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate

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Aug 12, 2019
Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast]
00:37:56
For the last of our summer rebroadcasts, we are revisiting the conversation with Penn State’s Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist. We’ve just finished the warmest month in global recorded history, so it felt like a good time to share this episode. We talk with Mann, a Nobel Prize winner and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric […]
Aug 05, 2019
Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast]
37:56

For the last of our summer rebroadcasts, we are revisiting the conversation with Penn State’s Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist. We’ve just finished one of the hottest — if not the hottest — month in global recorded history, so it felt like a good time to share this episode. We talk with Mann, a … Continue reading Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast]

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Aug 05, 2019
Tracing the past, present, and future of protests
00:26:49

Since we started this show, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with several organizers, from Joyce Ladner in the Civil Rights movement to Srdja Popovic in Serbia to the students involved with the March for Our Lives. Today, we think of protests as a pillar of democratic dissent, but things didn’t necessarily start out that … Continue reading Tracing the past, present, and future of protests

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Jul 29, 2019
A conversation about conversation [rebroadcast]
00:33:26

This week, we are revisiting another episode from the Democracy Works back catalog. This discussion is a nice companion to our episode with Timothy Shaffer on civility. This episode seeks to answer one simple, but very important, question: Why is it so hard for people to talk to each other? There are a lot of … Continue reading A conversation about conversation [rebroadcast]

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Jul 22, 2019
Politics and Polls: Blue state federalism
00:37:23
Democracy Works summer break 2019 continues with an episode from Politics and Polls, a podcast produced by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. The show’s hosts are Sam Wang and Julian Zelizer. If you enjoyed our conversation with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro about states suing the federal government, you’ll … Continue reading Politics and Polls: Blue state federalism
Jul 15, 2019
The Pledge: Are you scared of the cafeteria lady?
00:17:53
Our summer break continues this week with an episode of The Pledge, a podcast about people who are taking an active role in improving democracy in the U.S. The show’s first season features a group of women working in grassroots political organizing in Alabama. This episode tells the story of Oni Williams. As a resident of one of … Continue reading The Pledge: Are you scared of the cafeteria lady?
Jul 15, 2019
How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the “grinding work” of democracy [rebroadcast]
00:32:40
Our summer break continues this week with a rebroadcast of one of our very first episodes, a conversation with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt. He spoke at Penn State in March 2018. Both the book and the conversation are worth revisiting, or checking out for the first time if the episode is new to you. Ziblatt has … Continue reading How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the “grinding work” of democracy [rebroadcast]
Jul 08, 2019
A democracy summer reading list [rebroadcast]
00:54:03

Democracy Works is taking a few weeks off for the summer. While we do, we are going to share some older episodes you might have missed, along with a few from other podcasts we think you’ll enjoy. First up is our democracy summer reading list, which we recorded last summer but holds up well today. Since … Continue reading A democracy summer reading list [rebroadcast]

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Jul 01, 2019
Answering your questions about democracy
00:46:21

Is the United States really a democracy? What will the EU look like in 50 years? What should 2020 candidates be doing to demonstrate civility? Those are just a few of the questions we received from Democracy Works listeners around the country and around the world. We close our third season by answering some of your … Continue reading Answering your questions about democracy

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Jun 24, 2019
Congressional oversight and making America pragmatic again
00:46:31

We tend to think about congressional oversight in very academic terms — checks and balances, the Framers, etc. But what does it actually look like on the ground in Congress? To find out, we’re talking this week with Charlie Dent, who served Congress for more than a decade until his retirement in 2018. He argues … Continue reading Congressional oversight and making America pragmatic again

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Jun 17, 2019
Will AI destroy democracy?
00:39:22

Some political scientists and democracy scholars think that it might. The thinking goes something like this: inequality will rise as jobs continue to be automated, which will cause distrust in the government and create fertile ground for authoritarianism. Jay Yonamine is uniquely qualified to weigh in on this issue. He is a data scientist at … Continue reading Will AI destroy democracy?

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Jun 10, 2019
The 2019 version of Democracy in America
00:35:41

If Alexis de Tocqueville visited America today, what would he have to say about the condition of our democracy? We hear a lot in the news and on Twitter about how support for democracy is waning. We’re perhaps even a little guilty of it on this show. But, what do everyday Americans think? Some of … Continue reading The 2019 version of Democracy in America

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Jun 03, 2019
What neoliberalism left behind
00:39:03

Much like our conversation with Patricia Roberts-Miller on demagoguery last week, neoliberalism is one of those fuzzy words that can mean something different to everyone. Wendy Brown is one of the world’s leading scholars on neoliberalism and argue that a generation of neoliberal worldview among political, business, and intellectual leaders led to the populism we’re … Continue reading What neoliberalism left behind

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May 27, 2019
Demagogues are more common than you think
00:38:42

When you think of the word “demagogue,” what comes to mind? Probably someone like Hitler or another bombastic leader, right? Patricia Roberts-Miller is a rhetoric scholar and has spent years tracing the term and its uses. She joins us this week to explain a new way of thinking about demagoguery and how that view relates … Continue reading Demagogues are more common than you think

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May 20, 2019
What does the Mueller report mean for democracy?
00:32:37

By now, you’ve no doubt head all about the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the drama in Washington that’s ensued in the time since its release. But, if you only focus on the information about collusion and obstruction in the Trump administration, you are missing a whole other part of the story … Continue reading What does the Mueller report mean for democracy?

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May 13, 2019
School segregation then and now
00:39:19

It’s been 65 years since the Brown v. Board of Education changed public schooling throughout a large portion of the United States. In his opinion, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that public education was important to democratic society and the “very foundation of good citizenship.” Integrated schools, the Court argued, would expose children … Continue reading School segregation then and now

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May 06, 2019
What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice — recorded live at Penn State
00:33:32

Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland’s criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look like for lawyers, judges, defendants, police officers, and the countless others who pass through the building’s courtrooms each day. … Continue reading What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice — recorded live at Penn State

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Apr 29, 2019
Send us your questions!

We are excited to announce our first ever Democracy Works listener mailbag episode! We’ve covered a lot of ground on the show over the past year, but there’s still many more questions to answer — and we would love to hear yours. We’ll be recording the show in a few weeks and publishing the episode … Continue reading Send us your questions!

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Apr 25, 2019
Is it time to revive civility?
00:36:06

There are a lot of calls these days to “revive civility” in politics. While there are plenty of examples of uncivil behavior, there’s far less agreement about what civility should look like in 2019. Timothy Shaffer joins us this week to talk about work being done to create a new definition of civility and a playbook … Continue reading Is it time to revive civility?

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Apr 22, 2019
E.J. Dionne on empathy and democracy
00:34:02

E.J. Dionne has the unique perspective of studying the horse race and the big picture of American politics. He writes a twice-weekly column for the Washington Post and appears regularly on NPR, but he’s also a senior fellow at Brookings and professor in Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University. We talked with him … Continue reading E.J. Dionne on empathy and democracy

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Apr 15, 2019
No Jargon: Who controls the states?
00:29:48

We are excited to bring you an episode from No Jargon, a podcast from the Scholars Strategy Network. Much like Democracy Works, No Jargon aims to break down some of the biggest issues in politics and society in a way that’s not partisan and not punditry. New episodes are released every Thursday, and we hope … Continue reading No Jargon: Who controls the states?

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Apr 08, 2019
The ongoing struggle for civil rights
00:37:00

Joyce Ladner was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She was mentored by Medgar Evers, expelled from Jackson State University for participating in a sit-in, and failed Mississippi’s voter literacy test three times. She discusses those … Continue reading The ongoing struggle for civil rights

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Apr 08, 2019
Immigration, refugees, and the politics of displacement
00:36:08

From Brexit to Hungary to the U.S. border wall, many of today’s political conflicts center around immigration. Moving people from one place to another is easier said than done, and as we’ve seen around world, there are inherent tensions between people who want to enter a country and the people who are already there. On top … Continue reading Immigration, refugees, and the politics of displacement

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Apr 01, 2019
A playbook for organizing in turbulent times
00:39:23

20 years ago, Srdja Popovic was part of a revolution — literally. He was a founding member of the Otpor! movement that ousted Serbia Slobodan Milsovic from power in 1999. It’s easy to characterize social movements as a bunch of people rallying in the streets, but successful movements require a lot of planning and a … Continue reading A playbook for organizing in turbulent times

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Mar 25, 2019
Jonathan Haidt on the psychology of democracy
00:43:51

We say on this show all the time that democracy is hard work. But what does that really mean? What it is about our dispositions that makes it so hard to see eye to eye and come together for the greater good? And why, despite all that, do we feel compelled to do it anyway? … Continue reading Jonathan Haidt on the psychology of democracy

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Mar 18, 2019
Future Hindsight: Ian Bremmer on the failure of globalism
00:32:48

We are closing out our series on democracy around the world with a bonus episode from Future Hindsight, a show that features deep conversations with guests who are engaged in strengthening our society. This episode is a discussion with Ian Bremmer, author of Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism. Ian is a political scientist and president of … Continue reading Future Hindsight: Ian Bremmer on the failure of globalism

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Mar 14, 2019
Brexit and the UK’s identity crisis
00:28:27

We’re just a few weeks away from the deadline for the UK to reach an agreement on its plan to leave the European Union. Nearly three years after the infamous Brexit vote, things appear to be as murky as ever. Rather than trying to predict the future, we invited Penn State’s Sona Golder to join … Continue reading Brexit and the UK’s identity crisis

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Mar 11, 2019
Brazil’s tenuous relationship with democracy
00:39:48

To say Brazil has had a complicated history with democracy is a understatement. The country has bounced in and out authoritarian regimes for hundreds of years, with democracy never having quite enough time to really take hold. Following the election of Jair Bolsonaro in October 2018, many are wondering whether the cycle is about to … Continue reading Brazil’s tenuous relationship with democracy

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Mar 04, 2019
Yellow vests and the “grand debate” in France
00:37:21

This episode is the second in our series looking at democracy around the world. France is the focus this week. Our guest is Cole Stangler, an independent journalist based in Paris who covers French politics. The yellow vest movement, named for the safety vests that all drivers are required to carry in their cars, began … Continue reading Yellow vests and the “grand debate” in France

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Feb 25, 2019
Viktor Orbán’s “velvet repression” in Hungary
00:41:40

This episode begins a four-part series examining the state of democracy around the world. First up is Hungary, a country that’s often referred to in a group of countries in central and Eastern Europe that are seeing authoritarian leaders rise to power. You might have heard of Viktor Orbán or know that the country is … Continue reading Viktor Orbán’s “velvet repression” in Hungary

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Feb 18, 2019
A brief history of “people power”
00:40:38

In his book Can Democracy Work? A Short History of a Radical Idea from Ancient Athens to Our World, James Miller encapsulates 2500 years of democracy history into about 250 pages — making the case that “people power” will always need to be at the heart of any successful democracy. James is a professor of politics and liberal … Continue reading A brief history of “people power”

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Feb 11, 2019
The power of local government
00:42:38

No matter where you live, chances are that your local government is filled with things like feasibility studies, property tax assessments, and endless meetings governed by Robert’s Rules of Order. It’s difficult to keep track of, but yet could fundamentally impact your day-to-day life in ways that few state or national-level decisions do. This week’s … Continue reading The power of local government

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Feb 04, 2019
Using the tools of democracy to address economic inequality
00:36:06

Democracy and inequality have been at odds for as long as democracy as has existed. As the gap between rich and poor widens, so too does trust in political institutions and faith in democracy itself. Chris Witko, associate director of Penn State’s School of Public Policy and author of The New Economic Populism: How States Respond … Continue reading Using the tools of democracy to address economic inequality

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Jan 28, 2019
What is democracy? A conversation with Astra Taylor
00:37:59

We begin our third season with a fundamental question: What is democracy? Astra Taylor grapples with this question in a documentary of the same name and a forthcoming book. We talk with her this week about what she learned from traveling the world and talking with people from all walks of life. As you’ll hear, … Continue reading What is democracy? A conversation with Astra Taylor

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Jan 21, 2019
Trump on Earth: The Red State Paradox
00:30:01

We’ll be back with new episodes starting next week. This week’s episode comes to you from our friends at Trump on Earth, a podcast that’s taking a closer look at all the changes coming out of Washington on the environment — from what’s happening at the EPA to how our public lands will fare under the Trump … Continue reading Trump on Earth: The Red State Paradox

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Jan 14, 2019
It’s good to be counted [rebroadcast]
00:32:38

For this week’s rebroadcast, we revisit an episode on the U.S. Census that originally aired in May 2018. New episodes return January 21 when we talk with “What is Democracy?” director Astra Taylor. The next census won’t start until 2020, but the U.S. Census Bureau is already hard at work on preparing to count the … Continue reading It’s good to be counted [rebroadcast]

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Jan 07, 2019
When states sue the federal government [rebroadcast]
00:31:13

Our holiday break continues this week as we bring you an episode with with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that originally aired in October. Happy New Year! It seems like every few weeks, we see headlines about states banding together to block actions taken by the federal government. You might even remember former Texas Attorney … Continue reading When states sue the federal government [rebroadcast]

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Dec 31, 2018
Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom [rebroadcast]
00:35:10

While we take a holiday break, we are going back into the archives to rebroadcast a few of our favorite episodes from earlier this year. This one originally aired in September. As a piece in The Atlantic recently noted, democracy is not natural. Becoming a democratic citizen involves a set of behaviors that need to be learned … Continue reading Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom [rebroadcast]

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Dec 24, 2018
2018: The year in democracy
00:38:42

From gerrymandering to record voter turnout, it’s been a busy year for democracy. This doesn’t mean that everything has been positive, but there’s certainly plenty to reflect on. This week, Michael Berkman and Chris Beem take a look a look back at some of the biggest democracy-related stories of the year and look at what’s in … Continue reading 2018: The year in democracy

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Dec 17, 2018
The complicated relationship between campaign finance and democracy
00:33:55

In the United States, voting is a very private act. You step into the booth alone and, for a lot of people, it’s considered taboo to tell someone who you voted for. Campaign donations, however, are a different story. The Federal Election Commission, an independent regulatory agency established after Watergate, collects donor infomration from candidates, … Continue reading The complicated relationship between campaign finance and democracy

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Dec 10, 2018
Bonus: Capturing the nation’s mood
00:28:06

We end almost every episode of the show with four questions that come from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s Mood of the Nation Poll. Rather than simply addressing people agree  agree or disagree with a particular point of view, the poll uses open-ended responses to understand why people feel the way they do. Every poll … Continue reading Bonus: Capturing the nation’s mood

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Dec 06, 2018
Are land-grant universities still “democracy’s colleges?”
00:32:02

Land-grant universities were once known as “democracy’s colleges,” places where people who were not wealthy elites could earn the education necessary to make better lives for themselves and contribute to the greater social good in the process. The The United States does not have a national university, but the Morrill Land-Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890 … Continue reading Are land-grant universities still “democracy’s colleges?”

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Dec 03, 2018
Norman Eisen’s love letter to democracy
00:34:14

As we’ve previously discussed, there are a lot of books about democracy filling book store and library shelves right now. Norman Eisen could have written a book in the vein of Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky’s How Democracies Die or David Frum’s Trumpocracy, but chose to go in a different direction. In The Last Palace, he tells the … Continue reading Norman Eisen’s love letter to democracy

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Nov 26, 2018
Winning the “democracy lottery”
00:40:37

It’s not the Powerball or the Mega Millions, but this democracy lottery does give people the chance to directly impact information that appears on the ballot in their state. Like a lot of things we talk about on this show, the Citizens Initiative Review (CIR) is not easy, but as you’ll hear from this week’s … Continue reading Winning the “democracy lottery”

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Nov 19, 2018
From soldier-statesman to the warrior ethos: Gen. Wesley Clark on the military and democracy
00:39:41

We observe Veterans Day this week, a time when people across the United States remember and thank those who have served in the military. While the military remains one of the most respected institutions in the U.S., it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Active duty service members represent less than one percent of the … Continue reading From soldier-statesman to the warrior ethos: Gen. Wesley Clark on the military and democracy

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Nov 12, 2018
Protecting democracy from foreign interference — recorded live at the National Press Club
00:32:37

With the midterms this week, all eyes are on the threat of election hacking and interference. Electoral integrity is important, but as you’ll hear in this week’s episode, the threats to American democracy go much deeper than that to the very basis of information and conversation. Laura Rosenberger has been one of the most important … Continue reading Protecting democracy from foreign interference — recorded live at the National Press Club

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Nov 05, 2018
Will Millennials disrupt democracy?
00:37:44

From cooking to shopping to getting around town, disruption is the name of the game for Millennials. Will they do the same thing to democracy? Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, are now largest generational group in the United States. There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether these 20 and 30-somethings … Continue reading Will Millennials disrupt democracy?

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Oct 29, 2018
David Frum on developing the habits of democracy
00:40:25

Around the McCourtney Institute, we like to say that we’re “partisans for democracy.” We can think of few people who better embody that notion today than David Frum. He was among the first people to talk about the Trump administration’s impact on democracy and remains one of the loudest voices defending democratic norms in the … Continue reading David Frum on developing the habits of democracy

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Oct 22, 2018
When states sue the federal government
00:29:49

It seems like every few weeks, we see headlines about states banding together to block actions taken by the federal government. You might even remember former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quipping that he goes to the office, sues the federal government, then goes home. How do those lawsuits take shape? How does a state … Continue reading When states sue the federal government

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Oct 15, 2018
How “if it bleeds, it leads” impacts democracy
00:34:35

The problems with the prison system in the U.S. have been well documented, but what’s not talked about nearly as often is how things got this way. Why does there seem to be such enthusiasm for putting people in jail? One answer might be the shift toward “risk management policing” that Frank Baumgartner described in … Continue reading How “if it bleeds, it leads” impacts democracy

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Oct 08, 2018
A story about democracy, told through 20 million traffic stops
00:31:40

The lights flash in your rearview mirror as the police car comes up behind you. A sinking feeling forms in the pit of your stomach as the officer approaches. Sound familiar?  However, this is where the story can differ greatly depending on who you are and where you live. If you’re African-American or Latino, you … Continue reading A story about democracy, told through 20 million traffic stops

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Oct 01, 2018
Breaking the silence in Syria
00:35:36

We’ve talked before on this show about the importance of a free press, but this week’s episode brings a whole new meaning to the term. In 2014, Abdalaziz Alhamza and his friends started social media accounts to document the atrocities being committed by ISIS in their city of Raqqa. They called themselves Raqqa is Being … Continue reading Breaking the silence in Syria

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Sep 24, 2018
Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom
00:33:55

As a piece in The Atlantic recently noted, democracy is not natural. Becoming a democratic citizen involves a set of behaviors that need to be learned and practiced over time. One of the first places for that conditioning to happen is in the classroom. Beyond reading, writing, and STEM skills, students have an opportunity to engage in … Continue reading Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom

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Sep 17, 2018
Behind the scenes of the “Year of the Woman”
00:26:46

One of the biggest headlines to emerge heading into the 2018 midterms is the record number of female candidates in local, state, and national races. While it’s easy to point to this a post-Trump reaction, there’s much more that goes into persuading women to run and helping them raise the money and build the relationships … Continue reading Behind the scenes of the “Year of the Woman”

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Sep 10, 2018
The democrats in public sector unions [Labor Day rebroadcast]
00:32:08

This week, we are rebraodcasting our conversation about public sector unions from earlier this year with Paul Clark, director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State. Paul talks about how these unions exist at at all levels of government — from bureaucrats to bus drivers. Many could find higher wages in … Continue reading The democrats in public sector unions [Labor Day rebroadcast]

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Sep 03, 2018
Middle America, Part 2: Grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy
00:34:49

Last week, we heard from Salena Zito about the segments of middle America who supported Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama. This week, we talk with another Pittsburgh resident, Lara Putnam, about a different version of Middle America — the college-educated, middle-aged suburban women who have dusted off the organizing skills honed through decades … Continue reading Middle America, Part 2: Grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy

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Aug 27, 2018
Middle America, Part 1: Populism and the Trump Voter
00:33:04

In the effort to understand the people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, a style of reporting has emerged that Chris Hayes recently described as “Trump pastoral.” You might not know the phrase, but, but you’ve probably read a piece or two like this in the past few years: A reporter from a national … Continue reading Middle America, Part 1: Populism and the Trump Voter

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Aug 20, 2018
Facebook is not a democracy
00:37:35

We have access to more information now than at any other time in history, but we trust that information less than ever before. A Gallup survey recently found that 58 percent of respondents felt less informed because of today’s information abundance. As with a lot of things in life, too much of a good thing … Continue reading Facebook is not a democracy

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Aug 13, 2018
How will we remember Charlottesville?
00:29:35

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the Unite The Right rally and counter protests in Charlottesville, Virginia that claimed the life of Heather Heyer and set off a firestorm around President Trump’s remarks about who was to blame for the violence. One year later, the Robert E. Lee statue at the center of the controversy … Continue reading How will we remember Charlottesville?

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Aug 06, 2018
A democracy reading list
00:51:44

If you’ve been to a book store or the library lately, then you’ve probably seen at least a few books on democracy on the shelves. The 2016 presidential election spurred a lot of conversation about the current state of our democracy and where things go from here. These books are not what most people would … Continue reading A democracy reading list

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Jul 09, 2018
Bonus: A dose of optimism about the future of democracy
00:12:40

If you need a sense of hope about the future of democracy, you’ve come to the right place. Stephanie Keyaka, editor-in-chief of The Underground and one of the McCourtney Institute’s Nevins Fellows, is spending the summer interning for Zeke Cohen on the Baltimore City Council. She believes Baltimore is on the cusp of something big and is … Continue reading Bonus: A dose of optimism about the future of democracy

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Jul 05, 2018
The constitutional crisis episode
00:24:19

This is one we’ve been wanting to do since we started the podcast. The term constitutional crisis is frequently used but often misunderstood. Like democracy, it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it. If anyone can provide a definition, it’s Jud Mathews, an associate professor of law at Penn State. He … Continue reading The constitutional crisis episode

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Jul 02, 2018
What public sector unions can teach us about democracy
32:08

Earlier this year, images of teachers protesting for higher wages in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma flooded the airwaves as teachers took action against years, if not decades, of stagnant wages being asked to do more with less in the classroom. Teachers are one visible example of a public sector union, but many other state and … Continue reading What public sector unions can teach us about democracy

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Jun 26, 2018
Unpacking political polarization
00:31:25

Polarization is a term that’s thrown around among political pundits as one reason for the decline of American democracy — often without an explanation of what it really means. We’re even guilty of it on this show. To set the record straight, we talk with Boris Shor, an assistant professor at the University of Houston … Continue reading Unpacking political polarization

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Jun 25, 2018
What should voting look like in the 21st century?
00:27:43

Across the U.S., the process to register to vote and cast a ballot is different in every state. And we’re not just talking about minor details. The entire registration process and timeline can vary widely from one state, as do the regulations surrounding campaign finance and electoral maps. Pennsylvania tends to fall on the more … Continue reading What should voting look like in the 21st century?

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Jun 18, 2018
When the “business of business” bleeds into politics
00:26:08

What is the role of a corporation in a democracy? If you asked Milton Friedman, the answer would be none at all. He famously said in the 1970s that the only corporate social responsibility a company has is to turn a profit for its shareholders. Some 40 years later, the answer to that question looks … Continue reading When the “business of business” bleeds into politics

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Jun 11, 2018
Michael Mann’s journey through the climate wars
00:36:48

This episode is not about climate change. Well, not directly, anyway. Instead, we talk with Nobel Prize winner and Penn State Distinguished Professor of Meteorology Michael E. Mann about his journey through the climate wars over the past two decades and the role that experts have to play in moving out of the lab and … Continue reading Michael Mann’s journey through the climate wars

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Jun 04, 2018
Can young people revive civic engagement?
00:26:04

Peter Levine is one of the country’s leading scholars in the area of civic engagement. He is the Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life and author of “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal … Continue reading Can young people revive civic engagement?

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May 29, 2018
Bonus: Democracy In Action #1
00:07:25

We love talking with scholars and thought leaders on Democracy Works, but we’d also like to bring you the everyday stories of democracy in action. This the first installment in that series. We visited the central Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action and heard how they are using the power of conversation to reframe the gun … Continue reading Bonus: Democracy In Action #1

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May 24, 2018
A conversation about conversation
00:32:26

This week’s episode seeks to answer one simple, but very important, question: Why is it so hard for people to talk to each other? There are a lot of easy answers we can point to, like social media and political polarization, but there’s another explanation that goes a bit deeper. Laurie Mulvey, executive director of … Continue reading A conversation about conversation

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May 21, 2018
Ten thousand democracies
00:27:36

One of the things we talked about in our episode with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt is the “grinding work” that it takes to make a democracy function. School board meeting rooms around the country are some of the places where that happens at the grassroots level. If you’ve ever been to a school board … Continue reading Ten thousand democracies

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May 11, 2018
It’s good to be counted
00:31:47

The next census is still a few years away in 2020, but the U.S. Census Bureau is already hard at work on preparing to count the more than 325 million people in the United States. The census is one of the few democratic norms that’s required by the Constitution, and the data collected has wide-ranging … Continue reading It’s good to be counted

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May 08, 2018
Satire is good for more than just a few laughs
00:33:45

Political satire has been around nearly as long as politics itself and can provide a much needed laugh in times of crisis. But, as you’ll hear from our guests this week, it’s much more than that. Satire is a check on people in power and helps to engage the public around issues that might otherwise go … Continue reading Satire is good for more than just a few laughs

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May 01, 2018
Tommie Smith: From sharecropper to Olympic protester
00:36:11

Tommie Smith is a true living legend. He won a gold medal in the men’s 200 meter event at the 1968 Olympics, setting a world record in the process. When he took the medal stand in Mexico City that day, he made history again by raising a black-gloved fist during the National Anthem. As you’ll … Continue reading Tommie Smith: From sharecropper to Olympic protester

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Apr 24, 2018
Generation Z and the future of democracy
00:35:37

Over the past few months, the members of Generation Z have combined the tenets of traditional social movements with the power of social media to reimagine what it means to protest in a democracy. That energy was on display during the March for Our Lives events held around the world on March 24. We interviewed … Continue reading Generation Z and the future of democracy

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Apr 17, 2018
How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the ‘grinding work’ of democracy
00:31:40

Daniel Ziblatt has done a lot of interviews since the release of How Democracies Die, the bestselling book he co-wrote with Steven Levitsky. But we asked him a question he’d never gotten before — about a line toward the end of the book when he refers to democracy as “grinding work.” The idea that democracy isn’t easy is a … Continue reading How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the ‘grinding work’ of democracy

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Apr 10, 2018
What can Pennsylvania voters do about gerrymandering?
00:26:27

Pennsylvania received a new congressional map earlier this year, closing the books on what was widely considered one of the most egregious examples of partisan gerrymandering after 2010 census. Chris Satullo sees that decision as winning the battle against gerrymandering, but not the war. Satullo, a civic engagement consultant for the Committee of Seventy, is involved with … Continue reading What can Pennsylvania voters do about gerrymandering?

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Apr 03, 2018
Fake news, clickbait, and the future of local journalism
00:32:05

Can philanthropy save local journalism? Are the calls of “fake news” from Washington impacting the work of journalists in other parts of the country? We discuss those questions and the role of the free press in a democracy with Halle Stockton, managing editor of PublicSource in Pittsburgh. PublicSource is a nonprofit journalism organization in the … Continue reading Fake news, clickbait, and the future of local journalism

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Mar 27, 2018
Checking the President’s power
00:33:10

From Watergate to Benghazi to Robert Mueller, U.S. history is full of congressional hearings. You’ve no doubt heard about them in the news, but do you know what those House and Senate committees actually do and what their role is in a democracy? We address those questions and more with Doug Kriner, professor of Government … Continue reading Checking the President’s power

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Mar 20, 2018
Is Colin Kaepernick a good democrat?
00:26:33

No matter how much of a sports fan you are, you probably remember seeing Colin Kaepernick kneeling during National Anthem. President Trump took the debate to a whole new level when he said that anyone who does not respect the National Anthem and the flag should be fired. Kaepernick and those who followed him are … Continue reading Is Colin Kaepernick a good democrat?

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Mar 14, 2018
What is Democracy Works?
00:04:56

From the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State, this is Democracy Works. In this episode, hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem take a few minutes to explain why we wanted to start this podcast and what we hope to achieve through our interviews and conversations. They also explain the meaning behind the name Democracy … Continue reading What is Democracy Works?

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Mar 12, 2018