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Politics & Polls #118: The Politics of Climate Change
December 13, 2018 11:25 AM PST
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Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the politics of combating climate change with author Jeff Nesbit.

Nesbit examines the consensus in the scientific community concerning climate change. He explains how the U.S. is effectively shielded from the worst effects of climate change because of its wealth and situation in a temperate zone. This is not the case in the rest of the world.

Nesbit sees a bipartisan opportunity to address climate change through clean energy, but it's a race against time.

Nesbit is the author of several books, including “This is the Way the World Ends,” which was published in September. He was the director of public affairs for two science agencies: the National Science Foundation and the Food and Drug Administration. He now serves as the executive director of Climate Nexus and is a regular opinion contributor to several national publications.

Politics & Polls #117: Thunderdome Politics with Greg Sargent
December 06, 2018 07:12 AM PST
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Donald Trump’s presidency has been unsettling to some, often spurring controversy while testing our country’s political institutions. Some argue he is at the root of the problem while others say he is simply a symptom of an already broken system.

To unravel this a bit more and to offer possible ways out, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post’s Plum Line Blog joins this episode of Politics & Polls with Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang. Sargent has written a new book on the subject, “An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome Politics.”

Sargent is an opinion writer covering national politics at the Washington Post. Previously, he wrote for New York magazine, the New York Observer, Talking Points Memo and numerous political websites. He lives in Maryland with his family.

Politics & Polls #116: Another Look at the Midterms
November 29, 2018 09:22 AM PST
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Three weeks after the midterm elections, the results are finally clear.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang examine the emerging consensus regarding the outcome of the midterms that there was, in fact, a Blue Wave—at least in terms of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The pair discuss the effects of geographic polarization and gerrymandering on the election results and how the size of the Democratic party’s popular vote victory is historic. Zelizer and Wang also discuss Nancy Pelosi’s prospects for resuming the title of Speaker of the House.

Politics & Polls #115: Conservatism Today with Arthur Brooks
November 15, 2018 08:07 AM PST
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How is today’s brand of conservatism different from past presidencies? In this episode, Julian Zelizer discusses the ins and outs of conservatism today, particularly compared with that during the Ronald Reagan presidency, with economist Arthur Brooks.

Brooks elaborates on his own unlikely path to becoming a leading conservative thinker and expresses his firm belief that, because of the unique history of the United States, nearly all Americans are progressive, regardless of their party identification. He also takes an historic look at the conservative movement, noting, for example, that while many of Trump’s views are in opposition to those of Reagan, they are very much in line with the conservatism of President William Taft.

Brooks is currently the president of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and also author of numerous books including “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America.” He also writes comments in several media outlets including The New York Times.

Politics & Polls #114: Midterms Reactions with Valerie Jarrett
November 08, 2018 08:17 AM PST
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Democrats gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 6, while Republicans bolstered their majority in the U.S. Senate. Democrats also gained seven new governorships, including in states key to President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 like Michigan, Wisconsin and Kansas.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the election results and voting rights with Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama. Jarrett believes that wrestling control of the House from the Republicans was a massive accomplishment and asserts that the Democrats did what they set out to do, successfully communicating a message to the electorate that resonated broadly across the country. Jarrett also discusses the strategy she and other women developed to make sure their ideas were heard in the White House.

Politics & Polls #113: A Week of Hate Crimes
November 01, 2018 07:33 AM PDT
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he past week has been marked by a series of hate crimes. Pipe bombs were sent to a few political critics of President Donald Trump by a fanatic in Florida; two African Americans were shot by a white nationalist in Kentucky; and a horrific attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh left 11 people dead.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss how these events could influence next week’s midterm elections. They examine how white nationalism is being leveraged to maximize voter turnout and if voter suppression attempts will affect tight gubernatorial and Congressional races. They also discuss voter rights expansion, which has substantial implications for 2020 and beyond.

Politics & Polls #112: A Midterms Update
October 25, 2018 07:22 AM PDT
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Uncertainty looms regarding next week’s midterm elections.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang consider the dynamics shaping the midterm elections and the potential implications with journalist Barry Yeoman and political scientist Danielle M. Thomsen.

Yeoman discusses a judicial race in North Carolina that has significant implications for democracy and voting rights in the state. Thomsen speaks about the likely role that female candidates and women voters will play in November.

Thomsen is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine, and a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, Princeton University, 2018-19. She is the author of the 2017 book, “Opting Out of Congress: Partisan Polarization and the Decline of Moderate Candidates.” Her research focuses on the kinds of candidates who run for Congress, how this has changed over time, and why this matters for partisan trends in Congress.

Barry Yeoman is a journalist who “specializes in in-depth reporting that puts a human face on complex issues.” In addition to his work in print media, Yeoman has also made forays into documentary radio. His work has won numerous accolades, including an honor by the Columbia Journalism Review, which proclaimed him to be one of “the best unsung investigative journalists working in print in the United States.”

Politics & Polls #111: How Technology Changed Illicit Trade
October 18, 2018 08:32 AM PDT
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Technological innovations have fundamentally altered the landscape of illicit trade.

From war lords to state actors, top-down forces have harnessed technology to expand illicit trade in everything from pesticides to rhino horns.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the current state of the global illicit economy with expert Louise Shelley of George Mason University. Shelley explains the roles of market forces, criminal actors and non-criminal actors in the illicit trade market.

Shelley is the Omer and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair for Civil Intellectuals, a professor in the Schar School of Government at George Mason University and the founder and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center. She also is the author of a new book, “Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy is Threatening Our Future.”

Politics & Polls #110: The Aftermath of the Kavanaugh Confirmation
October 11, 2018 06:36 AM PDT
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Following a bitter and contentious confirmation process, Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in to the Supreme Court. Could his confirmation galvanize Republican support in the upcoming midterm elections? And what effect will it have on the reputation of the Court?

Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang dive deep into the aftermath of Justice Kavanugh’s confirmation in this episode. They discuss Kavanaugh’s career, the increasingly politicized Supreme Court and whether this confirmation process was, indeed, historically divisive.

Politics & Polls #109: What’s Next for Kavanaugh?
October 04, 2018 08:20 AM PDT
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Questions abound regarding what impact the recently opened FBI investigation will have on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss Kavanaugh’s prior political career, recent testimony and prospects for confirmation with research journalist Marcy Wheeler.

Wheeler discusses Kavanaugh’s role in both the Ken Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton and the national security legislation of the George W. Bush administration. Wheeler also discusses her unique approach to journalism, which relies predominantly on document analysis rather than human sourcing.

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