Can Federalism Work? Podcast #16

Don Kettl joins the Democracy Paradox to discuss the challenges of American federalism. He is the Sid Richardson Professor at the LBJ School, specializing in public management and public policy and the author of the book The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn’t Work.

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Why Federalism Remains Relevant

Federalism has become marginalized in academic literature. Everybody knows the United States depends on a federal system, but few talk about it. The nationalization of politics makes it feel esoteric and obsolete. My conversation with Donald Kettl explains why federalism remains vibrant and relevant. And it is necessary to understand American politics today as much as it has ever been.

Listeners will find we talk about equality almost as much as federalism. Don writes in his book, The Divided States of America, “Federalism, instead of bridging the gaps in the polarization and inequality of the new century, fed and accelerated them.” He explains why it has failed to deliver and how it can be reimagined once again.

This is a wide ranging conversation that spans history and current events. We discuss important topics like healthcare, environmental policy, and the pandemic. These issues all touch on different aspects of federalism.

Don Kettl on Federalism

Donald Kettl is the Sid Richardson Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. Don has twice won the Louis Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration for The Transformation of Governance (2002); and System Under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics (2005). His book, Escaping Jurassic Government: How to Recover America’s Lost Commitment to Competence, won the 2016 award for book of the year from the American Society for Public Administration.

Music from Apes of the State.

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