WooCast's Politics & Polls
Summary: WooCast is a podcast series produced by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress this week, answering questions about the platform’s use of personal data. The social media giant has been under fire regarding the spread of fake news on the platform throughout the 2016 U.S. elections, and revelations political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of 87 million Facebook users. In this episode, Julian Zelizer discusses Zuckerberg’s testimony and the power of the internet in politics with award-winning journalist David Kushner.
Questions about democracy have been front and center in the United States, especially since the 2016 election. What is the state of democracy both in the United States and around the globe? How are our democratic institutions faring in the modern age — especially given new and emerging threats like “fake news?” In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the overall health of democracy — and whether it’s in danger — with Steven Levitsky, professor of government at Harvard University, and co-author of “How Democracies Die,” with Daniel Ziblatt. Levitsky’s research interests include political parties, authoritarianism and democratization, and weak and informal institutions, with a focus on Latin America. In addition to “How Democracies Die,” he is author of “Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective” (2003), co-author (with Lucan Way) of “Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War” (2010), and co-editor of “Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness” (2005); “Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America” (2006); and “The Resurgence of the Left in Latin America” (2011). He is currently engaged in research on the durability of revolutionary regimes, the relationship between populism and competitive authoritarianism, problems of party-building in contemporary Latin America and party collapse and its consequences for democracy in Peru.
President Donald Trump’s moods and temperament are a hot topic for journalists, lawmakers and academics. In fact, earlier this year, a psychiatrist from Yale University actually briefed Democratic lawmakers on president’s mental state, which she called “dangerous.” The analysis, by Dr. Bandy Lee and others, received criticism given that she and others haven’t actually examined President Trump. She joins the podcast this week to explain her position, which is described in her book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” Lee is an internationally recognized expert on violence. Trained in medicine and psychiatry at Yale and Harvard Universities, and in medical anthropology as a fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health, she is currently on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine’s Law and Psychiatry Division.
President Donald Trump tweeted choice words last weekend about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Trump then added another lawyer to his team — Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who has spoken aggressively against the Russia investigation. Both moves concern many lawmakers, who worry Trump may actually find a means to have Mueller fired in an attempt to quash the examination. If Mueller is fired, has he positioned the investigation so it can continue without him? This and more is discussed in this episode of Politics & Polls as Fordham Law Professor Jed Shugerman joins the show. Note: This episode was recorded on March 14, 2018, before President Trump posted tweets calling out Mueller for the first time. That same day, an opinion piece by Shugerman and his colleague Ethan Leib appeared in the Washington Post (link below), explaining how a part of the Constitution could stop Trump from abusing his pardon power or from firing Mueller. They also published a piece in Slate (link below) arguing Sessions also may not fire Mueller. Jed Shugerman teaches at Fordham Law. He has a bachelor’s degree, a J.D., and a Ph.D. in American History from Yale University. He is the author of “The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America” (2012) on the evolution of judicial elections and politics in America. He is currently working on anti-corruption emoluments litigation against the Trump administration, and he is writing about American prosecutors, and the “faithfully execute” fiduciary limits on the executive branch. He writes about law and politics at shugerblog.com. Washington Post: http://bit.ly/2GaWBvo Slate: http://slate.me/2IGE74k
Music has long been an important avenue for political discussion. This episode features Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, a Southern rock band whose music has tackled a number of contentious political issues from class to race and even partisan politics. Cooley and Hood co-founded the Drive-By Truckers in 1996, and the band has produced nearly a dozen albums since. For decades, their hard-driving sound has blended the classic sounds of the South with literary skill and sonic power. Their latest album, “American Band,” is perhaps their most explicitly political yet, capturing the many tensions America faces in the age of Trump. Cooley and Hood chat with Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang about rock-and-roll, progressive politics and the dirty South in this episode.
Is President Donald Trump a threat to American democracy? This is explored in a new book by The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr., a regular on MSNBC, NPR’s All Things Considered and ABC News’ This Week. He joins this week’s episode to discuss this new era of politics and what it means for American democracy. Currently a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, Dionne started his journalism career in 1975 at The New York Times before joining The Post in 1990 as a political reporter. He has been writing his column for The Post since 1993 — it appears in more than 240 newspapers. Dionne is the author of six other books, including “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported,” “Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism – From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond” and “Why Americans Hate Politics,” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award nominee. He has edited or coedited seven volumes, including most recently “We Are The Change We Seek,” a collection of President Barack Obama’s speeches. Dionne also serves as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor in the foundations of democracy and culture at Georgetown University. He is visiting the Woodrow Wilson School as part of its Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Leadership through Mentorship Program.
President Donald Trump’s recently passed tax bill included a sizable tax break for many American corporations, slashed from 35 percent to 21 percent. While the tax cuts have increased cash flow for businesses, they also raise questions about the power of corporations in Washington through lobbying, campaign finance and political mobilization. Author and academic Gordon Lafer joins this episode of Politics & Polls to discuss the corporate tax cut and his new book, “The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time.” Lafer is a political economist and is an associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center. He has written on issues of labor and employment policy and is author of “The Job Training Charade” (Cornell University Press, 2002). Lafer has served as an economic policy analyst for the Office of the Mayor in New York City and has testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and state legislatures. Lafer is the founding co-chair of the American Political Science Association’s Labor Project, and has taught as a visiting faculty member at the University of Massachusetts’ Union Leadership Academy and at the Universidad Latina de America in Michoacan, Mexico. From 2009 to 2010, Lafer took leave from his faculty position to serve as senior labor policy advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor.
Today, the nation faces a series of major policy challenges revolving around immigrants and refugees. In this episode, Julian Zelizer talks to NPR veteran Deborah Amos about how President Donald Trump has used executive power to move the country rightward on these issues and what the impact has been on local communities. Amos also talks about the state of journalism in 2018 and its future. Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and “Weekend Edition.” Amos travels extensively across the Middle East covering a range of stories including the rise of well-educated Syria youth who are unqualified for jobs in a market-drive economy, a series focusing on the emerging power of Turkey and the plight of Iraqi refugees.
As the earth continues to warm, life - both in cities and rural areas - will undoubtedly change. Urban centers, which contribute the lion’s share of carbon into the atmosphere, are at a greater risk, especially those in coastal zones where sea levels are rising. In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the future of cities in an age of climate change with eco-justice scholar and author Ashley Dawson. Dawson is the 2017 Barron Visiting Professor in Environmental Humanities at the Princeton Environmental Institute. His book, “Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change,” offers an alarming portrait of the future of our cities. Dawson also is a professor of english at the CUNY Graduate Center, and at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. He specializes in postcolonial studies, cultural studies, and environmental humanities with a particular interest in histories and discourses of migration.
2018 has started off with a bang under President Trump, especially with the release of a controversial memo about the Russia investigation by Rep. Devin Nunes (R- Calif.) The three-and-a-half-page memo, written by Nunes' congressional aides, accused the F.B.I and Justice Department of using their surveillance powers to spy on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser suspected of being an agent of Russia. The news has led some to wonder whether the memo is skewed and misleading. Others say the Russia investigation is corrupt. A classified Democratic memo is expected to soon rebut the Republican memo, though President Trump may redact parts of it. Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the memos and their influence on the country’s government institutions in this episode.
Best-selling author and radio host Charlie Sykes is among the leading conservative voices standing in opposition to President Donald Trump and the alt-right. His latest book, “How the Right Lost Its Mind,” presents an impassioned, regretful and deeply thoughtful account of how he believes the American conservative movement lost its values. In this episode, Sykes discusses his book and the state of conservatism with professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang. Sykes visited the Princeton University campus in December 2017 through the Woodrow Wilson School’s Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Leadership through Mentorship Program. One of the most influential conservatives in Wisconsin, Sykes is a contributor and analyst for MSNBC. Previously, he was the host of WNYC’s “Indivisible.” He is the author of eight additional books, including “A Nation of Victims,” “Dumbing Down Our Kids,” “Profscam,” “The Hollow Men,” “The End of Privacy,” “50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School,” “A Nation of Moochers,” and “Fail U.: The False Promise of Higher Education.” He also was co-editor of the National Review College Guide. Sykes has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, Salon, USA Today, National Review, The Weekly Standard and other national publications. He has appeared on the Today Show, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, PBS, the BBC, and has been profiled on NPR. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the website Right Wisconsin.
Intense partisanship. Rampant wealth and inequality. Racial divisions. While they sound like the issues of today, they were also prevalent during the Gilded Age, an important time in American history. It was during these years — between 1865 and 1896 — that many of the foundations of modern society were set into place. In this episode, Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss this era and how it compares to today with award-winning historian Richard White, author of “The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896.” White is a historian of the United States specializing in the American West, the history of capitalism, environmental history, history and memory, and Native American history. His work has occasionally spilled over into Mexico, Canada, France, Australia and Ireland. He is a MacArthur Fellow and a recipient of the Mellon Distinguished Professor Award. His work has won numerous academic prizes, and he has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
President Donald Trump’s election stirred up what some call a resurgence of white nationalism. But is this a new phenomenon outside of mainstream America? Or has white nationalism been more part of American culture than we’ve been willing to admit? Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang untangle this issue in this episode, which features historian Linda Gordon, who recently published “The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition.” Gordon is a professor of history and a University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. Her early books focused on the historical roots of social policy issues, particularly as they concern gender and family issues. More recently, she has explored other ways of presenting history to a broad audience, publishing the microhistory “The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction” (Harvard University Press, 1999) and the biography “Dorothea Lange: A Life beyond Limits” (W.W. Norton, 2009), both of which won the Bancroft Prize. She is one of only three historians to have won this award twice.
A panel of federal judges rejected a congressional district map in North Carolina, calling it a partisan gerrymander. Never before has a court overturned a Congressional districting plan on grounds of partisanship. The panel ordered the state legislature to redraw the map. Gerrymandering, a practice which manipulates district boundaries for political gains, is a much-debated topic in the political sphere. In this episode, Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss what’s next for North Carolina and the practice of gerrymandering in general.
From smart phones to social media, digital technology has changed the way we live —allowing for new explorations of human behavior. Big data now enables scientists to process data about human behavior on a scale never before imaginable. In this episode, Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang interview Matt Salganik, a professor of sociology at Princeton University. Salgnik’s new book, “Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age,” explores these concepts, detailing how the digital revolution is transforming how social scientists observe behavior, ask questions, run experiments and engage in mass collaborations. Salganik is also affiliated with the Center for Information Technology Policy and the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning at Princeton University. His research has been funded by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, and has been featured on NPR and in such publications as the New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.