Episode 16: Don F. Kettl

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 federalism 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 federalism 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.

Donald Kettl is the Sid Richardson Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and the author of The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn’t Work. 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.

Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. You can find The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn’t Work at Amazon or your local library. The music of Apes of the State is featured in the introduction and outro . You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.

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