The Long Game
Summary: Americans don't know how to solve problems. We've lost sight of what institutions are and why they matter. The Long Game is a look at some key institutions, such as political parties, the U.S. Senate, the media, and the church.
Steven Levitsky is professor of government at Harvard University. He has spent most of his life studying Latin American politics and history, with a focus on political parties, authoritarianism and democratization. He is co-author of a book called "How Democracies Die." Here, Steven and I discuss what he means when he calls political parties the "gatekeepers of democracy," and why the Democrats reduction of superdelegates in their presidential primary may have unintended negative consequences.
Dan Koch, host of the Depolarize podcast, joins me to talk about his thoughts while reading "How to Think," by Baylor literature professor Alan Jacobs.
"Part of the problem for parties is our insistence that they be run democratically. That turns out not to be a very realistic concept," Seth Masket writes. The chair of the University of Denver's political science department has dared to say what few will: that for party primaries and maybe all of American politics to be more productive and functional, they might need to be a little less democratic.
A new feature in The Long Form podcast, where I'll post short interviews with friends and public figures about the book that they are in the middle of. I'm starting out with a look at one of the books I'm reading, "12 Rules for Life" by Jordan Peterson. He's a psychology professor at the University of Toronto who has developed a cult following particularly among young men. I think after listening to this you'll have a better understanding of why.
Norm Ornstein has a different take from Jonathan Rauch and Elaine Kamarck on why our politics is broken. Ornstein believes increasing voter participation and reducing the role of money in politics are better goals, and that the Republican Party is far more of a culprit in creating dysfunction than are the Democrats. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a book late last year with Thomas Mann and EJ Dionne called "One Nation After Trump."
Kamarck, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and a Democratic National Committee member and superdelegate, talks about her proposal to have a party gathering prior to the presidential primary to vote on potential candidates. But she says she doesn't care if superdelegates go away. She also says she doesn't fault Reince Priebus for not doing more as RNC Chairman to block Donald Trump from the nomination.
Jonathan Rauch's 2016 Atlantic cover story, "How American Politics Went Insane," argued that we've reformed our politics into dysfunction. The irony, he says, is that "an unmediated, direct democracy, is less democratic and less representative than mediated democracy.”
Jemar Tisby is one of the more compelling figures I am aware of when it comes to race and Christianity in America. He is the president of the Reformed African American Network, and is obtaining a PhD in the history of race and religion at the University of Mississippi. Jemar is on a "journey to figure out how … social justice and historic Christian faith connect: how faith catalyzes justice." I wanted to get his take on institutions early on in this podcast to help us think critically about the topic.
The Origin Story