Democracy Paradox Podcast

The Democracy Paradox podcast brings scholars from political science, sociology, economics, and other disciplines to discuss social and political ideas. The aim is not to debate policy or politics, but to introduce new concepts to listeners so they can understand politics and society better. The host, Justin Kempf, works to create conversations that test our assumptions about democratic governance, while offering hope for the success of democratic ideals. 

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Democracy Paradox | Listen Notes

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A Podcast About Democracy

Episodes have explored concepts as broad as civil resistance, Russian conservatism, populism, and direct democracy. Guests have ranged from Ivy League professors to former elected officials. Many episodes have featured scholars from around the world including Israel, Greece, and Germany. Episodes regularly integrate big picture concepts with current events and history to make difficult ideas come alive. 

The Democracy Paradox podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and just about anywhere podcasts are found. It is a proud member of the Democracy Group network of podcasts. Please subscribe and leave a review wherever possible. Your support keeps this website and the podcast alive. Below is a list of past episodes.

Most Recent

Heather Cox Richardson on History, Conservatism, and the Awakening of American Democracy

Daniel Ziblatt on American Democracy, the Republican Party, and the Tyranny of the Minority

Is Reunification Still Possible? Victor Cha and Ramon Pacheco Pardo on Korea

Deng Xiaoping is Not Who You Think He is. Joseph Torigian on Leadership Transitions in China and the Soviet Union

Robert Kaplan on the Politics of the Past and Future of the Greater Middle East

Is India Still a Democracy? Rahul Verma Emphatically Says Yes

Cass Sunstein on Interpreting the US Constitution

Marc Plattner Has Quite a Bit to Say About Democracy

Is McKinsey and Company a Threat to Democracy? Michael Forsythe Shares His Reporting

Sergei Guriev Revisits Spin Dictators

Berk Esen and Sebnem Gumuscu on the Disappointing Elections in Turkey… or How Democratic (or Autocratic) is Turkey Really?

Episodes 151-160

Hal Brands Thinks China is a Declining Power… Here’s Why that’s a Problem

Natasha Wheatley Raises Some Really Difficult Questions About Sovereignty

Sebastian Edwards on the History of Neoliberalism in Chile

Dan Slater on Thailand’s Revolutionary Election

Peter Turchin Wants to Avoid Political Disintegration

Isabel Kershner on Israel and its Divisions

Cole Bunzel on Wahhābism

Daron Acemoglu on Technology and the Struggle for Shared Prosperity

Serhii Plokhy on the Russo-Ukrainian War

Anne Applebaum on Autocracy, Inc

Episodes 141-150

Marsin Alshamary on Iraq’s Struggle for Democracy

Jamie Susskind Explains How to Use Republican Ideals to Govern Technology

James Goldgeier on NATO, its Enlargement, and its Future

Steven Simon on American Foreign Policy in the Middle East including Iran and the Wars in Iraq

Larry Bartels Says Democracy Erodes from the Top

Samuel Woolley on Bots, Artificial Intelligence, and Digital Propaganda

Josh Chin on China’s Surveillance State

Staffan Lindberg with a Report on Democracy in the World

Srdja Popovic on Dilemma Actions

Wendy Hunter on Lula, Bolsonaro, January 8th and Democracy in Brazil

Episodes 131-140

Jennifer Piscopo on the Constitutional Chaos in Chile

Martin Wolf on the Crisis of Democratic Capitalism

Anna Grzymala-Busse on the Sacred Foundations of Modern Politics

Francis Fukuyama Responds to Liberalism’s Discontents

Patrick Deneen Offers a Powerful Critique of Liberalism

Michael Walzer on Liberal as an Adjective

Robert Kagan Looks to American History to Explain Foreign Policy Today

Olivier Zunz on Alexis de Tocqueville

Lynette Ong Describes How China Outsources Repression

Olga Onuch and Henry Hale Describe the Zelensky Effect

Episodes 121-130

Elizabeth Economy in a Wide Ranging Conversation About China

Richard Wike Asked Citizens in 19 Countries Whether Social Media is Good for Democracy

Naunihal Singh on the Myth of the Coup Contagion

Mohammed Ali Kadivar on Paths to Durable Democracy and Thoughts on the Protests in Iran

Michael Ignatieff Warns Against the Politics of Enemies

Emilee Booth Chapman Has Ideas About Voting with Profound Implications

Jason Brownlee Believes We Underestimate Democratic Resilience

Allie Funk of Freedom House Assesses Global Internet Freedom

Jeremi Suri on America’s Unfinished Fight for Democracy

Frank Dikötter on the History of China After Mao

Episodes 111-120

Larry Diamond on Supporting Democracy in the World and at Home

Lynn Vavreck on the 2020 Election and the Challenge to American Democracy

Sarah Cook on China’s Expanding Global Media Influence

Constitution Makers on Constitution Making: Hassen Ebrahim on South Africa’s Constitution

Simon Usherwood on Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and the Nested Games of British Politics

Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way on the Durable Authoritarianism of Revolutionary Regimes

Laura Gamboa on Opposition Strategies to Resist Democratic Erosion

Kim Lane Scheppele on Hungary, Viktor Orbán, and its Democratic Decline

Jessica Pisano on How Zelenskyy Changed Ukraine

Neil DeVotta on the Protests in Sri Lanka

Episodes 101-110

Aynne Kokas on the Intersection Between Surveillance Capitalism and Chinese Sharp Power (or How Much Does the CCP Already Know About You?)

Michael McFaul and Robert Person on Putin, Russia, and the War in Ukraine

Scott Mainwaring on Argentina and a Final Reflection on Democracy in Hard Places

Lucan Way on Ukraine. Democracy in Hard Places.

Michael Coppedge on Why Democracies Emerge, Why They Decline, and Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)

Rachel Beatty Riedl on Benin. Democracy in Hard Places.

Ashutosh Varshney on India. Democracy in Hard Places

Evan Lieberman on South Africa

Dan Slater on Indonesia

Kathryn Stoner on How Putin’s War has Ruined Russia

Episodes 91-100

Scott Radnitz on Why Conspiracy Theories Thrive in Both Democracies and Autocracies

Ronald Deibert from Citizen Lab on Cyber Surveillance, Digital Subversion, and Transnational Repression

Thomas Piketty on Equality

Marta Dyczok and Andriy Kulokov on the Media, Information Warriors, and the Future of Ukraine

Yascha Mounk on the Great Experiment of Diverse Democracies

Mark Beissinger on Urban Civic Revolutions

Craig Whitlock on the Lessons Learned in Afghanistan

Miles Rapoport on How We Can Achieve Universal Voting

Between Russia and China: Anja Mihr on Central Asia

Moisés Naím on the New Dynamics of Political Power

Episodes 81-90

Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili and Ilia Murtazashvili on Afghanistan, Local Institutions, and Self-Governance

Sarah Repucci from Freedom House with an Update on Freedom in the World

Elisabeth Ivarsflaten and Paul Sniderman on Inclusion and Respect of Muslim Minorities

Debasish Roy Chowdhury and John Keane on the Decline of Indian Democracy

Lisa Disch on Representation, Constituencies, and Political Leadership

Joseph Fishkin on the Constitution, American History, and Economic Inequality

Bilal Baloch on Indira Gandhi, India’s Emergency, and the Importance of Ideas in Politics

Sara Wallace Goodman on Citizen Responses to Democratic Threats

Joseph Wright and Abel Escribà-Folch on Migration’s Potential to Topple Dictatorships

Robert Lieberman, Kenneth Roberts, and David Bateman on Democratic Resilience and Political Polarization in the United States

Episodes 71-80

Angus Deaton on Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Zeynep Pamuk on the Role of Science and Expertise in a Democracy

Caitlin Andrews-Lee on Charismatic Movements and Personalistic Leaders

Stephan Haggard and Robert Kaufman on Democratic Backsliding

Joshua Yaffa on Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia

Zoltan Barany on the Ineffectiveness of the Gulf Militaries

Amory Gethin on Political Cleavages, Inequality, and Party Systems in 50 Democracies

Daniel Brinks on the Politics of Institutional Weakness

Elizabeth Perry and Grzegorz Ekiert on State-Mobilized Movements

Susan Rose-Ackerman on the Role of the Executive in Four Different Democracies

Episodes 61-70

Tom Ginsburg Shares his Thoughts on Democracy and International Law

Robert Meister Believes Justice is an Option

Martin Conway Believes “Democracy Owes its Durability Not to its Principles but to its Flexibility.” Democracy in Western Europe from 1945 to 1968

Donald Horowitz on the Formation of Democratic Constitutions

Guillermo Trejo and Sandra Ley on the Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico

Rana Siu Inboden on China and the International Human Rights Regime

Timothy Frye Says Putin is a Weak Strongman

Kathryn Stoner on Russia’s Economy, Politics, and Foreign Policy

Karen Greenberg on the War on Terror, Donald Trump, and American Democracy

Charles Kupchan on America’s Tradition of Isolationism

Episodes 51-60

Aldo Madariaga on Neoliberalism, Democratic Deficits, and Chile

Roger Lee Huang on Myanmar

Mallory SoRelle on the Politics of Consumer Credit

David Stasavage on Early Democracy and its Decline

Christophe Jaffrelot on Narendra Modi and Hindu Nationalism

Jan-Werner Müller on Democracy Rules

Dorothy Sue Cobble on the Full Rights Feminists

Freedom House: Sarah Repucci Assesses Freedom in the World

Michael Miller on the Unexpected Paths to Democratization

Daniel Carpenter Revisits the Petition in 19th Century America

Episodes 41-50

Sebastian Strangio Explains the Relationship Between China and Southeast Asia

Can America Preserve Democracy without Retreating from it? Robert C. Lieberman on the Four Threats

Kurt Weyland Distinguishes Between Fascism and Authoritarianism

James Loxton Explains Why Authoritarian Successor Parties Succeed in Democracies

Derek W. Black Says Public Education Represents the Idea of America… Not its Reality

Sheryl WuDunn Paints a Picture of Poverty in America and Offers Hope for Solutions

Mike Hoffman on How Religious Identities Influence Support for or Opposition to Democracy

Shari Davis Elevates Participatory Budgeting

Chris Bickerton Defines Technopopulism

Ross Benes on Nebraska and Rural Conservatism

Episodes 31-40

Chad Alan Goldberg on the Wisconsin Idea and the Role of the Public University in a Democracy

Elizabeth Nugent on Polarization, Democratization and the Arab Spring

Ryan Salzman is an Evangelist for Placemaking

Kajri Jain Believes Democracy Unfolds through the Aesthetic

Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch on the Moral Economy of Elections in Africa

Thomas Carothers and Andrew O’Donohue are Worried About Severe Polarization

Can Democracy Survive the Internet? Nate Persily and Josh Tucker on Social Media and Democracy

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the Plutocratic Populism of the Republican Party

Bryn Rosenfeld on Middle Class Support for Dictators in Autocratic Regimes

Zizi Papacharissi Dreams of What Comes After Democracy

Episodes 21-30

Winston Mano on Social Media and Politics in Africa… And what America can Learn from Africa about Democracy

Michael Hughes on the History of Democracy in Germany

Lee Drutman Makes the Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Hélène Landemore on Democracy without Elections

Glenn Tiffert on the Manipulation of Academia by Foreign Governments

Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan and John Boswell on Mending Democracy

Mareike Ohlberg on the Global Influence of the Chinese Communist Party

Xiaoyu Pu on China’s Global Identities

John Ikenberry on Liberal Internationalism

Amy Erica Smith on Politics and Religion in Brazil

Episodes 11-20

William G. Howell and Terry M. Moe on the Presidency

Barbara Freese on Corporate Denial

Paul Robinson on Russian Conservatism

John Matsusaka on National Referendums

Donald F. Kettl on Federalism

Jonathan Pinckney on Civil Resistance Transitions

George Lawson on Revolution

Erica Chenoweth on Civil Resistance

Jill Long Thompson on Character in a Democracy

Juliet B. Schor on the Sharing Economy

Episodes 2-10

Agnes Cornell and Svend-Erik Skaaning on the Interwar Period

John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch on Citizen Initiative Review

Yael Tamir on Nationalism

Joshua J. Dyck and Edward L. Lascher, Jr. on Initiative Referendums

William S. Smith on Irving Babbitt

Takis Pappas on Populism and Liberal Democracy

Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon on the End of American Hegemony

Luis Cabrera on International Human Rights

Marlene Mauk on Citizen Support for Democracies… and Autocracies

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