Episode 20: William Howell and Terry Moe

    Millions of Americans are voting for the President of the United States. Some of you will hear this episode before the election is over. Others will likely listen after the election is over. I hope my conversation with William Howell and Terry Moe will have relevance no matter when you listen.  William is Chair of the Department... Continue Reading →

Episode 17: John Matsusaka

  The United States has a long tradition of direct democracy through referendums dating back to the early years of the republic. Nearly every state today has some form of referendums or ballot initiatives. Yet the United States has never had a national referendum. John Matsusaka points out that from a comparative perspective, this is... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

Suzanne Mettler & Robert C. Lieberman – Four Threats

Polarization has become known as the great challenge for American Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. Suzanne Mettler and Robert Lieberman include it among their Four Threats. So long as polarization is portrayed as a problem, the solution remains simple, although difficult to achieve. The solution to polarization is described as compromise and moderation. But what... Continue Reading →

E.B. White – On Democracy

My kids know E.B. White as the author of Charlotte’s Web. Both of my kids were expected to read this classic on their own. Some books are written for children to read rather than their parents to read to them. I held off reading The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham until... Continue Reading →

Podcast Ep. 9 – John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch

  John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch are the authors of Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics. Their book explains an experiment in democracy called the Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR). It incorporated the idea of delegative democracy into the initiative referendum process in Oregon. Everyday citizens were brought together to discuss... Continue Reading →

Episode 7: Joshua J. Dyck and Edward L. Lascher, Jr

In the seventh episode Joshua (Josh) and Edward (Ted) Lascher join me for a conversation about what they describe as "Direct Democracy's Secondary Effects." Their recent book Initiatives without Engagement focus on the effects of popular initiatives. An initiative is a distinct form of referendum where citizens propose a law or policy change typically through... Continue Reading →

Werner Sombart – Why is there no Socialism in the United States

The campaign of Bernie Sanders was destined for failure. The American public has long rejected socialism as a political ideology despite its widespread embrace of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance. The irony is redistributive programs have largely buttressed the capitalist system. They offer enough security to maintain widespread support for capitalism... Continue Reading →

Seymour Martin Lipset – Continental Divide

Let us get past the surface level topics which Continental Divide revolves. It is easy to become distracted in Lipset’s depiction of Canada and America. He recognized both societies had undergone dramatic change throughout the twentieth century that transformed their political images. The book is now thirty years old. It’s almost as old as I... Continue Reading →

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