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Democracy Paradox

Democracy Paradox

The Democracy Paradox explores the diverse range of perspectives and insights about democracy through an interview format. Every week new scholars are invited to share their breakthrough research or bold ideas about politics, economics, and society. Most interviews are stand alone episodes, but some are tied together like the three episode arc "Resistance, Revolution, Democracy" which explored the concept of civil resistance and revolution to produce democracies. These three interviews featured Erica Chenoweth, George Lawson, and Johnathan Pinckney. Listeners can also visit www.democracyparadox.com to read weekly reviews on classic works of politics, international relations, and philosophy. Democracy is a complex and nuanced concept. It challenges our preconceptions. Take the time to explore the Democracy Paradox.

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Rana Siu Inboden on China and the International Human Rights Regime

Chinese participation in the human rights regime probably was never really intended to alter human rights so much in China that it would jeopardize the Chinese Communist Party?s hold on power. I think China, even if it may have been open to some areas of human rights, I think that we have to keep in mind that the full implementation of human rights including all of the elements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would mean that political competition is allowed. And that's just not something I see the current Chinese regime allowing.

Rana Siu Inboden

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on the human rights regime here.

Rana Siu Inboden  is a senior fellow with the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas?Austin. Her new book is China and the International Human Rights Regime: 1982-2017.

Key Highlights Include

What is the Human Rights RegimeChina's Participation in the Human Rights RegimeHow Tiananmen Changed China's View on Human RightsWhat is the Like Minded GroupHow China Views Human Rights


Key Links

China and the International Human Rights Regime: 1982-2017 by Rana Siu Inboden

China at the UN: Choking Civil Society by Rana Siu Inboden in Journal of Democracy

United Nations Human Rights Council

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Mareike Ohlberg on the Global Influence of the Chinese Communist Party

Xiaoyu Pu on China's Global Identities

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-09-14
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Timothy Frye Says Putin is a Weak Strongman

Putin in the past could claim to have won at least an honest plurality, if not an honest majority of votes given his approval. However, in the upcoming election this fall, in September, it looks like the Kremlin has so restricted political competition that it's going to be a difficult sell to the Russian public to show that these elections are even as legitimate as the elections held in 2016 or in 2011.

Timothy Frye

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on personalism here.

Timothy Frye is a Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University and a research director at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Key Highlights Include

Is Putin's popularity real?Why Russia holds elections at allDescription of Russia as a personalist autocracyHow autocracy shapes Russia's foreign policyWhat are the prospects for democratization in Russia



Key Links

Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia by Timothy Frye

Russia's Weak Strongman: The Perilous Bargains That Keep Putin in Power by Timothy Frye in Foreign Affairs

Follow Timothy Frye on Twitter @timothymfrye


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

Freedom House: Sarah Repucci Assesses Freedom in the World

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-09-07
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Kathryn Stoner on Russia's Economy, Politics, and Foreign Policy

Biden's current policy is, you know, we want Putin to calm down, be stable for awhile and turn our focus to restraining China. I don't think that's going to happen. That's not in his interest to do that. So, I think taking our eye off Russia, underestimating it, is the biggest concern for the U.S. currently.

Kathryn Stoner

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on Russia here.

Kathryn Stoner is a professor of political science at Stanford University. Her new book is Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order.

Key Highlights Include

A description of Russia's economyAn account of Russia's military reformsWhy Russia is in the Middle EastExplanation of Russia's foreign policyIs a resurrected Russia a danger to the West?


Key Links

Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order by Kathryn Stoner

The Freeman Spogli Institute For International Studies

Follow Kathryn Stoner on Twitter @kath_stoner

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Timothy Frye Says Putin is a Weak Strongman

Bryn Rosenfeld on Middle Class Support for Dictators in Autocratic Regimes

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100 Books on Democracy

 

2021-08-31
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Karen Greenberg on the War on Terror, Donald Trump, and American Democracy

It was an era in which lawmakers and office holders learned that imprecision could actually work to their benefit to allow them to do what they wanted to because there was unclear codification in the law. And so yes, everybody talks about, we have to revise this law or get rid of this law or replace this law. But I want to say, it's not about that. It's about what constitutes a legitimately written, voted upon law. And I think that's something we still haven't countered since 9/11.

Karen Greenberg

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on the War on Terror here.

Karen Greenberg is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, a fellow at New America, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her new book is Subtle Tools: The Dismantling of American Democracy from the War on Terror to Donald Trump.

Key Highlights Include

The origin of the AUMF and the Department of Homeland SecurityKaren Greenberg describes the subtle toolsThe link between the War on Terror and President TrumpHow will history view the 2020 electionIs the United States an illiberal democracy?


Key Links

Subtle Tools: The Dismantling of American Democracy from the War on Terror to Donald Trump by Karen Greenberg

Vital Interests Podcast with Karen Greenberg

Follow Karen Greenberg on Twitter @KarenGreenberg3

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Charles Kupchan on America's Tradition of Isolationism

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

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-08-24
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Charles Kupchan on America's Tradition of Isolationism

Beginning in the 1990s, and then really picking up after 9/11, the United States overreached ideologically by thinking it could turn Iraq and Afghanistan into Ohio. It overreached economically by throwing open the nation's doors and saying the more trade, the better. And suddenly, I think, Americans said to themselves and to their leaders, ?Wait a minute. Too much world, not enough America.'

Charles Kupchan

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on Isolationism here.

Charles Kupchan is a professor of international relations at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also the author of Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World.

Key Highlights Include

Isolationism's Place in America's National IdentityThe Relationship Between Isolationism and American ExceptionalismA Brief History of Isolationism in the United StatesSimilarities Between the Rise of China and the Early United StatesDonald Trump and the Reemergence of Isolationism


Key Links

Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World by Charles Kupchan

Learn more about Charles Kupchan

"The Home Front: Why an Internationalist Foreign Policy Needs a Stronger Domestic Foundation" an article by Charles Kupchan in Foreign Affairs

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John Ikenberry on Liberal Internationalism

Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon on the End of American Hegemony

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-08-17
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Aldo Madariaga on Neoliberalism, Democratic Deficits, and Chile

It's not just inequality of wealth. It is not just inequality of income, which is big. It's also inequality in terms of the geographical clustering of different strata of the population, of different people. It's inequality in life experiences. It's inequality in treatment. People felt mistreated by those in the upper echelons of society. So, it's not just money. It's also access to public goods, to certain spaces in the city, to education, unemployment benefits, and all sorts of things. But also, treatment.

Aldo Madariaga

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on Neoliberalism here.

Aldo Madariaga is a Professor of Political Science at Universidad Diego Portales, and Associate Researcher at Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES). He is also the author of Neoliberal Resilience: Lessons in Democracy and Development from Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Key Highlights Include

An Account of the Chilean Protests in 2019Description of Neoliberalism as a Political ProjectThe Role of the State in NeoliberalismHow does Neoliberalism Shield its Policies from DemocracyAre Neoliberal Policies Fundamentally Undemocratic?


Key Links

Neoliberal Resilience: Lessons in Democracy and Development from Latin America and Eastern Europe by Aldo Madariaga

Learn more about Aldo Madariaga

Follow on Twitter @AldoMadariaga


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James Loxton Explains Why Authoritarian Successor Parties Succeed in Democracies

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

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Democracy Group

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-08-10
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Roger Lee Huang on Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Tatmadaw

I think this actually reflects why we've seen a coup now. Clearly, the coup has really brought serious economic devastation for the entire country and the military itself will also not benefit from this. And that to me is the key, because they're not primarily motivated just by economic incentives and spoils. As a systematic military institution, it is driven by their own identity. Their own perception of what the Myanmar modern nation state should look like.

Roger Lee Huang

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com or a brief primer on Myanmar here.

Roger Lee Huang is a lecturer in terrorism studies and political violence at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia and the author of The Paradox of Myanmar?s Regime Change.

Key Highlights Include

A brief history of modern Myanmar (Burma)Description of the TatmadawA portrait of Aung San Suu KyiWhy is the National League for Democracy (NLD) so popularWhat are the prospects for democracy in Myanmar


Key Links

The Paradox of Myanmar's Regime Change by Roger Lee Huang

Myanmar?s Way to Genocide: The Rohingya Crisis in a Disciplined Democracy - Video Lecture by Roger Lee Huang

"The Generals Strike Back" by Zoltan Barany from Journal of Democracy


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Michael Miller on the Unexpected Paths to Democratization

Sebastian Strangio Explains the Relationship Between China and Southeast Asia

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Myanmar: A Podcast Primer

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-08-03
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Mallory SoRelle on the Politics of Consumer Credit

Americans are expected to take on debt, because that's how we're expected to finance everything from basic needs to a college education. And that's a function of economic policy making. That doesn't happen by accident.

Mallory SoRelle

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Mallory SoRelle is an assistant professor of public policy at Duke University and the author of Democracy Declined: The Failed Politics of Consumer Financial Protection.

Key Highlights Include

How the American economy depends on creditA brief history of consumer credit in AmericaDetails why consumer debt is a systemic problemWhy financial consumers do not politically mobilize Explains how public policy shapes political behavior


Key Links

Democracy Declined: The Failed Politics of Consumer Financial Protection by Mallory SoRelle

Learn more about Mallory SoRelle

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


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

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

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-07-27
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David Stasavage on Early Democracy and its Decline

This was not a phenomenon to one specific region. This was nothing that got invented in one place and at one time. It seems to have emerged independently in a wide, wide variety of human societies at different points in time. And to me, that sounds like something that occurs naturally.

David Stasavage

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

David Stasavage is the Dean of Social Sciences and a Professor of Politics at New York University. His latest book is called The Decline and Rise of Democracy.

Key Highlights Include

A description of early democracy with an example of the Huron peopleWhy autocracy arose through the example of Ancient ChinaHow bureaucracy and the state changed governanceHow English history shaped modern democracyWhat modern democracy can learn from early forms of democracy


Key Links

The Decline and Rise of Democracy by David Stasavage

Learn more about David Stasavage

Follow David on Twitter @stasavage


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Daniel Carpenter Revisits the Petition in 19th Century America

Michael Hughes on the History of Democracy in Germany

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-07-20
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Christophe Jaffrelot on Narendra Modi and Hindu Nationalism

The police is even acting directly against the minorities and the Delhi riots of 2020 showed that the police could be on their side in the street in their rioting activities. This is exactly the same in other BGP ruled states like Uttar Pradesh. Now you have indeed a kind of new shift, if you want. It's not only with the blessing of the state. It?s also with the active participation of the state.

Christophe Jaffrelot

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Christophe Jaffrelot is a director of research at Sciences Po and a professor of Indian politics and sociology at King?s College. His latest book is Modi's India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy.

Key Highlights Include

Description of Hindutva or Hindu NationalismA brief account of the RSSAn account of the Ayodhya Temple ControversyExplains how Narendra Modi came to powerProspects for the future of Indian democracy


Key Links

Modi's India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy by Christophe Jaffrelot

"Toward a Hindu State" by Christophe Jaffrelot in the Journal of Democracy

Follow Christophe on Twitter @jaffrelotc


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Freedom House: Sarah Repucci Assesses Freedom in the World

Kajri Jain Believes Democracy Unfolds through the Aesthetic

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-07-13
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Jan-Werner Müller on Democracy Rules

It really matters how you set up conflict and how you talk about the issue and above all how you talk about your adversary. That's where I see the decisive difference between those who tend to invoke the people, the common good and et cetera, in a way that is compatible with democracy and then those who talk in a way that, ultimately, is bound to be dangerous for democracy.

Jan-Werner Müller

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Jan is a professor of Social Sciences at Princeton University. He is the author of the books What is Populism? and Democracy Rules.

Key Highlights Include

What does it mean to be undemocratic in a democracyWhy populism threatens democracyRole of conflict in democracyWhat is militant democracy and is it democraticRole of the majority and opposition in democracy


 Key Links

Democracy Rules by Jan-Werner Müller

What is Populism? by Jan-Werner Müller

"False Flags" from Foreign Affairs by Jan-Werner Müller


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Chris Bickerton Defines Technopopulism

Zizi Papacharissi Dreams of What Comes After Democracy

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-07-06
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Dorothy Sue Cobble on the Full Rights Feminists

They wanted the full array of rights. Political rights, yes, they were active in the suffrage movement, but they also wanted economic rights and social rights. They wanted to lessen inequalities. They also wanted the rights of mothers and of children advanced.

Dorothy Sue Cobble

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Dorothy Sue Cobble is the Distinguished Professor of History and Labor Studies Emerita at Rutgers University and the author of For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality.

Key Highlights Include

Dorothy explains who the full rights feminists were and what they advocated forProfiles of full rights feminists like Frances PerkinsHow full rights feminism influenced the New DealA brief history of the conflicts between full rights feminists and equal rights feminists over the Equal Rights AmendmentA profile of early Japanese feminist Tanaka Taka


Key Links

For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality by Dorothy Sue Cobble

Visit Dorothy at www.dorothysuecobble.com

Learn about the Triangle Shirtwaist Workers Strike

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

Barbara Freese on Corporate Denial

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Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-06-29
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Freedom House: Sarah Repucci Assesses Freedom in the World

Democracy is about more than elections. Election day is very important, but what is happening in the country every other day is an integral part to what a democracy is and if you think about the fundamental freedoms that we think of in our own democracy: free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly, also things like the independence of the judiciary, these are all things that are on the civil liberties side.

Sarah Repucci

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Sarah Repucci is the Vice President of Research and Analysis at Freedom House and coauthor (alongside  Amy Slipowitz) of the executive summary of the report Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy Under Siege.

* Note * Sarah's mic died early in the interview. The audio quality is not bad, but will sound different. Hopefully it does not take away from the quality of the interview.

Key Highlights Include

Why democracy continues its steady declineThe influence of China and the U.S. on global democracyThe role of civil liberties in democracyImpact of the pandemic on democracyDiscussion of democracy in India, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, and the United States


Key Links

Read the landmark report from Freedom House Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy Under Siege

Visit Freedom House online at www.freedomhouse.org

Follow Freedom House on Twitter @freedomhouse


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Michael Miller on the Unexpected Paths to Democratization

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

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Apes of the State created all Music

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-06-22
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Michael Miller on the Unexpected Paths to Democratization

So many cases of democratization start with these episodes and this period of elite political violence where the initial stages of it have nothing to do with democratization. People are not aiming for that. People are barely even thinking about it. It's all about this elite political struggle and out of that chaos a bit later you get democracy.

Michael Miller

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Michael Miller is a professor of political science and international relations at George Washington University and the author of the forthcoming book Shock to the System: Coups, Elections, and War on the Road to Democratization.

Key Highlights Include

How violent shocks like coups and civil wars create openings for democratizationWhy autocratic ruling parties continue to win elections in democraciesThe role for democratic activists in the democratization processDiscussions on possibilities for democracy in China, Belarus, and Myanmar.Mike offers a blueprint for an unconventional approach for democracy promotion

 Key Links

Shock to the System: Coups, Elections, and War on the Road to Democratization by Michael K. Miller

Follow Michael on Twitter @mkmdem

Learn more about Michael's work

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James Loxton Explains Why Authoritarian Successor Parties Succeed in Democracies

Elizabeth Nugent on Polarization, Democratization and the Arab Spring

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Democracy Group

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-06-15
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Daniel Carpenter Revisits the Petition in 19th Century America

The idea of a political system is not simply to be efficient. It's to have justice. It's to have the idea that anybody can come to the seat of power and say, 'Here are my grievances,' and that doesn't mean that by making that claim, they will get exactly what they want. But it does mean that they will get a hearing and in that notion, I think, lies again, a certain part of democracy that is not reduceable just to elections.

Daniel Carpenter

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Dan Carpenter is the Allie S. Freed professor of Government at Harvard University and the author of Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870.

Key Highlights Include

A history of petitions in the 19th century including an account of the gag rule.The role of petitions in the mobilization of women, Native Americans, the Whig Party, and the antislavery movementHow did petitions contribute to democratization of America in the 19th centuryWhat would Congress look like if we still had 'petition days'What can we learn from the era of petition politics


Key Links

Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870 by Daniel Carpenter

"The Menthol Cigarette Ban Shows There Is No Democracy Without Petitions," by Daniel Carpenter, Boston Review

"Robust Claims of Vast Lawlessness" from Lapham's Quarterly by Daniel Carpenter

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

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

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Democracy Group

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Out of Order from the German Marshall Fund

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-06-08
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Sebastian Strangio Explains the Relationship Between China and Southeast Asia

The experience of Western colonization has imprinted all of these nations in profound ways and it's tended to inculcate a sort of skepticism about Western invocations of democracy and the rule of law. China, of course, shares a similar skepticism. China was also not formerly colonized, or not fully colonized by Western powers, but it experienced what the Chinese communist party likes to term a century of humiliation.  And so, both regions share an abiding ambivalence about the current international order.

Sebastian Strangio

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Sebastian Strangio is the Southeast Asia Editor at The Diplomat and the author of In the Dragon's Shadow: Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century.

Key Highlights Include

Sebastian explains the economic, political, and cultural ties between China and Southeast AsiaAn overview of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)An explanation of the South China Sea disputeDistinguishes between maritime and mainland nations in Southeast AsiaChina's approach to Southeast Asia under Xi Jinping


Key Links

In the Dragon's Shadow: Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century by Sebastian Strangio

www.thediplomat.com

www.sebastianstrangio.com

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Mareike Ohlberg on the Global Influence of the Chinese Communist Party

Xiaoyu Pu on China's Global Identities

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Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

On Opinion: The Parlia Podcast

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-06-01
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Can America Preserve Democracy without Retreating from it? Robert C. Lieberman on the Four Threats

Racism and racial conflict are always there, always a powerful and important part of American politics. But when they combine with polarization, with this kind of partisan antagonism, and when that becomes the dividing line between the parties, that's really dangerous. That's what happened in the 1850s. It led to civil war. That's what happened in the 1890s. It led to violent conflict and mass disenfranchisement. And it's happening again today.

Robert C. Lieberman

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

An account of the 1898 insurrection in Wilmington, North Carolina.Is polarization the fault of both sides or is one party responsible?How the election of 1896 affected American democracy.How polarization, conflicts over who belongs, rising economic inequality, and executive aggrandizement interact to threaten democracy in the United States.Does the preservation of democracy really require democratic backsliding?


Robert Lieberman is a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and  coauthored Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy with Suzanne Mettler.

Key Links

Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy by Robert C. Lieberman and Suzanne Mettler

"Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation" by John Lewis in The New York Times

Follow Rob Lieberman on Twitter @r_lieberman

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

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

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Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

The Science of Politics

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-05-25
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Kurt Weyland Distinguishes Between Fascism and Authoritarianism

In the 19th century Europe had thought that they had moved towards liberalism, enlightenment, rationality, progress, that stuff like mass warfare was over and it wouldn't come back. And then you have four years of senseless, mass slaughter, they just totally destroyed or challenged those ideas of humankind getting better off, progress of humankind getting more civilized. In retrospect, it's hard to imagine the coincidence of deep challenges and crises that wrecked the interwar years.

Kurt Weyland

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

Kurt clarifies the concept of totalitarian fascism from conservative authoritarianismA description of the political environment of the interwar periodWhy did authoritarians disliked communism and fascism?Why did fascism emerge during this period?Is there a parallel between the interwar period to today?


Kurt Weyland is a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of the new book Assault on Democracy: Communism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism During the Interwar Years.

Key Links

Assault on Democracy: Communism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism During the Interwar Years by Kurt Weyland

"The Real Lessons of the Interwar Years" by Agnes Cornell, Jørgen Møller, Svend-Erik Skaaning in Journal of Democracy, July 2017

Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation by Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan

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Agnes Cornell and Svend-Erik Skaaning on the Interwar Period

Paul Robinson on Russian Conservatism

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Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

Another Way Podcast

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-05-18
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James Loxton Explains Why Authoritarian Successor Parties Succeed in Democracies

They really view their history as one of victimization, one of struggle and even martyrdom. ARENA had multiple leaders assassinated. Again, that version of history that I just told you, that's not necessarily my view. But I do actually believe that that is their sincere belief and it makes for a really compelling founding myth if you will. And I think that founding myth has helped to hold both parties together right up until the present day.

James Loxton

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

Why do voters elect leaders with ties to former dictators?Description of authoritarian successor partiesChallenges for conservative party formationA brief history of the UDI in Chile and ARENA in El SalvadorThe role of counterrevolutionary struggle


Key Links

Conservative Party-Building in Latin America: Authoritarian Inheritance and Counterrevolutionary Struggle by James Loxton

"Authoritarian Successor Parties" by James Loxton in Journal of Democracy, July 2015

Visit James at www.jamesloxton.net

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Bryn Rosenfeld on Middle Class Support for Dictators in Autocratic Regimes

Amy Erica Smith on Politics and Religion in Brazil

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Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

Democracy Matters Podcast

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100 Books on Democracy

2021-05-11
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Derek W. Black Says Public Education Represents the Idea of America... Not its Reality

I find it hard to believe, without a lot more justification than they're offering that somehow that there's this new secret sauce to opportunity and equality and democracy that does not involve public education as the fundamental pillar. So you have people arguing that it's not. They're not saying we want to destroy democracy, but I'm saying, you as reader, you as listeners, need to think about the long-term consequences of shrinking the public education footprint and moving back into a siloed or a fiefdom or a private system that resembles our darkest days.

Derek W. Black

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

Derek explains the case for a right to education.A brief history of public education in the United StatesHow the NAACP used the language of democracy in their litigation for school desegregationWhy vouchers and charter schools threaten public educationFinally, the intersection of public education and democracy runs throughout the conversation


Key Links

Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy by Derek W. Black

San Antonio Independent School District et. al. v. Rodriguez

Follow Derek W. Black @DerekWBlack

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

Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan and John Boswell on Mending Democracy

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Apes of the State created all Music

Swamp Stories

Email the show at [email protected]

Follow me on Twitter @DemParadox

100 Books on Democracy

2021-05-04
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Sheryl WuDunn Paints a Picture of Poverty in America and Offers Hope for Solutions

That's why all Americans should care. Because the cost of poverty is not just the cost to that person who is in poverty. It's a cost to all of society. We're all paying for people being jailed. We're all paying for extra costs in the legal system, in the police force, in the healthcare system.

Sheryl WuDunn

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

Stories of Poverty and Inequality in AmericaChallenges in America in Education, Health, and Well-BeingImpact of Poverty on Children with an Explanation of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)Collective Responsibility to Solve Social ProblemsRethinking of Social Programs as Investments Rather than Outlays


Sheryl WuDunn is a pulitzer prize winning reporter, business executive, and the author of Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope (along with her husband Nicholas Kristof).

Key Links

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope - PBS Documentary Presented by Show of Force

Follow Sheryl on Twitter @WuDunn

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

Zizi Papacharissi Dreams of What Comes After Democracy

More from the Podcast

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Apes of the State created all Music

Email the show at [email protected]

Follow me on Twitter @DemParadox

100 Books on Democracy

2021-04-27
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Mike Hoffman on How Religious Identities Influence Support for or Opposition to Democracy

Doctrine is actually often a lot looser and more subject to interpretation than we tend to assume and the way that the doctrine gets interpreted is often partially a function of group interests themselves. If you have a religious group in a given country that believes it would benefit from democracy, it's pretty likely that that group will find a way to interpret and frame its doctrine in a way that supports democracy.

- Mike Hoffman

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

Role of Religion in Identity FormationHow Communal Prayer Shapes Religious IdentityWays Group Interests Shape Perspectives on DemocracyDescription of Lebanon's Political SystemWhy Some Groups Oppose Democracy

Mike Hoffman is a professor of political science at Notre Dame and the author of Faith in Numbers: Religion, Sectarianism, and Democracy.

Key Links

Faith in Numbers: Religion, Sectarianism, and Democracy by Michael Hoffman

Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

Patterns of Democracy by Arend Lijphart

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Elizabeth Nugent on Polarization, Democratization and the Arab Spring

Bryn Rosenfeld on Middle Class Support for Dictators in Autocratic Regimes

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Apes of the State created all Music

Democracy Works

Email the show at [email protected]

Follow me on Twitter @DemParadox

100 Books on Democracy

2021-04-20
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Shari Davis Elevates Participatory Budgeting

Participatory budgeting is actually about connecting folks with the skills and resources to navigate and shape government. And so, for me, that is the most optimistic and the most important outcome of any participatory budgeting process.

Shari Davis

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

A walk through the process of participatory budgeting with an exampleThe history of participatory budgeting around the worldAn example of participatory budgeting in ChinaThe Role of Art in DemocracyNext steps for Participatory Budgeting

Shari Davis leads the Participatory Budget Project as its Executive Director. They have over 15 years working in local government beginning in high school. And not long ago they were honored as an Obama Fellow.

Key Links

Participatory Budgeting Project

Democracy Beyond Elections

"Why is Democracy Performing so Poorly" by Francis Fukuyama

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Hélène Landemore on Democracy without Elections

Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan and John Boswell on Mending Democracy

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How Do We Fix It?

Email the show at [email protected]

Follow me on Twitter @DemParadox

100 Books on Democracy

2021-04-13
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Chris Bickerton Defines Technopopulism

That tension between the politics of the whole and the politics of the part, that tension between the politics of generality and the politics of particularity, is really at the heart of party democracy. What we are sort of trying to capture, I suppose, with technopopulism is to think of a form of politics where that tension has simply gone.

Chris Bickerton

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Key Highlights Include

- Chris describes Technopopulism through an explanation of the Five Star Movement in Italy

- We discuss how populists and technologists consider expertise

- How technopopulism is different from classic interest-based politics

- We discuss ANO and the Pirate Party in the Czech Republic

- Barak Obama is analyzed in the lens of technopopulism

- Chris explains how he thinks we can move beyond technopopulism

Chris Bickerton is a reader of of Modern European Politics at the University of Cambridge. Alongside Carlo Invernizzi Accetti, he is the coauthor of Technopopulism: The New Logic of Democratic Politics.  He is also a frequent panelist on Talking Politics.

More Information

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Apes of the State created all Music

Let's Find Common Ground

Key Links

Technopopulism: The New Logic of Democratic Politics by Christopher Bickerton and Carlo Invernizzi Accetti

"Understanding the Illiberal Turn: Democratic Backsliding in the Czech Republic" by Seán Hanley and Milada Anna Vachudova

Five Star Movement at Wikipedia

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

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

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2021-04-06
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Ross Benes on Nebraska and Rural Conservatism

The legislature is one of several examples of our history of being independent which is why I think it was such an important story to tell of Nebraska becoming like baptized into Republican orthodoxy. Because seeing that shift. That it wasn't always that way. We founded Arbor day in this state, we settle a lot of refugees per capita, we increased minimum wage, and Medicaid through ballot measures recently. We do stuff like that.
- Ross Benes

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Red states and blue states. Republicans and Democrats. Rural and urban. Polarization. It is a term often heard about American politics. Most states find their politics lean heavily toward one party or the other. And Nebraska is no different. It is a very conservative state so it makes sense for it to elect Republicans.

But not too long ago Democrats competed for state offices. In fact, Nebraska had at least one Democratic Senator from 1977 until 2012. It?s really only been the last ten years where Democrats could not compete in the state. 

Of course, the Democrats it elected were about as conservative as many Republicans. But Nebraska also has a history of progressive reforms. In fact, it was often rural America who championed many of the progressive ideas in the early twentieth century. 

This realization has caused me to go through a variety of different counterfactuals. Like why are rural Americans conservative and urban Americans liberal? Is there a scenario where this is reversed? I?m not looking to rewrite history. I just want to understand how politics change over time. And maybe where it is going next. Because history shows some of the things we take for granted have not always been that way. 

My guest Ross Benes grew up in Nebraska before moving to New York City. He has the kind of expat perspective that has given so many writers both clarity and insight. His recent book is Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold. 

Ross and I, we discuss why Democrats no longer compete in Nebraska. But I don?t want anyone to think Nebraska has to elect Democrats to prove their commitment to democracy. That?s not the point. Nebraska is one of many states with very little genuine competition between parties for statewide office. My concern is effective governance needs a range of perspectives to succeed. And this problem is not unique to Nebraska nor are many liberal states immune. 

More Information

Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

Our Body Politic


Key Links

Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold by Ross Benes

Fighting Liberal by George Norris

The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker by Katherine Cramer

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

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

Rural Consciousness as Political Identity

2021-03-30
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Chad Alan Goldberg on the Wisconsin Idea and the Role of the Public University in a Democracy

They had an obligation to take the knowledge that they were developing, to take their expertise and put it in the service of the community as a whole and the service of its elected leaders.

Chad Alan Goldberg

A Fulll Transcript is Available at www.democracyparadox.com.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Wisconsin was at the forefront of the Progressive Movement. Wisconsin adopted the first modern state income tax. It initiated the first workers? compensation plan. It enacted the first unemployment insurance program. Wisconsin even spearheaded important constitutional reforms like the direct election of Senators. UW Madison Professor Patrick Brenzel explains, ?To say that Wisconsin was known nationally for transparent and egalitarian government is an understatement.?

These reforms were the product of a relationship between the public university, legislators, and other stakeholders. It is known as the Wisconsin Idea. The Wisconsin Idea is a belief the public university has a role to contribute its research to the service of the state. A common motto is ?The boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state.? 

The Wisconsin Idea remains central to the mission of the University of Wisconsin system to this day, but has become the subject of attacks from conservatives in recent years. Among the many efforts by Scott Walker to dismantle the administrative state included an attempt to remove the Wisconsin Idea from the university charter. It failed, but it highlights how there is a genuine debate about the role of public universities. 

Chad Alan Goldberg has been at the forefront of the effort to defend the Wisconsin Idea in recent years. He is a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the editor of the volume Education for Democracy: Renewing the Wisconsin Idea. This book features chapters from many leading scholars in a variety of disciplines including Kathy Cramer. 

Our conversation discusses some of the history behind the Wisconsin Idea. But it is really about the role of the public university. How is a public university different from a private university? Why does the public support universities? And how does a public university help to shape democracy? These are important questions I never thought to ask, but will mean a lot as we work to renew democracy.

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Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

Politics in Question

Key Links

Education for Democracy: Renewing the Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Idea by Charles McCarthy

The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker by Katherine Cramer

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Ryan Salzman is an Evangelist for Placemaking

Zizi Papacharissi Dreams of What Comes After Democracy

Thoughts on John Dewey's Democracy and Education

2021-03-23
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Elizabeth Nugent on Polarization, Democratization and the Arab Spring

The focus on the individual people involved in this moment and their preexisting relationships for me is a new way of thinking about democratic transitions. Because I think we see how much these personal relationships and personal histories matter for whether or not they can make these really big, important decisions at a moment of very high stress, very little information.

Elizabeth Nugent

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Elizabeth Nugent believes political polarization derailed Egyptian democratization, while the lack of severe polarization has allowed Tunisian democracy to survive. But what makes her work remarkable is she argues Egyptian polarization was the outcome of targeted repression under authoritarian rule. At the same time, Tunisia avoided polarization because repression was more widespread. Stop and think about this for a moment. Tunisian democracy succeeds today because of a legacy of widespread, indiscriminate repression. It affected everyone so opposition groups learned to work together and even sympathized with one another. 

This is a truly counterintuitive insight. But it makes so much sense at the same time. Liz Nugent?s new book is After Repression: How Polarization Derails Democratic Transition. She is an assistant professor at Yale University with a focus on Middle Eastern politics. Her book uses the cases of Egypt and Tunisia to explain her ideas, but her thoughts on polarization will make waves as they are used in other contexts. 

Our conversation discusses Tunisia and Egypt. We also talk about how polarization affects democratization. But I find it most interesting how Liz emphasizes the political process requires real relationships with real people. She reminds us a very human element is necessary for democracy and democratization. 

More Information

Democracy Group

Apes of the State created all Music

Democracy in Danger

Key Links

Elizabeth Nugent's Home Page

After Repression: How Polarization Derails Democratic Transition

Yale MacMillan Center Council on Middle East Studies

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

Jonathan Pinckney on Civil Resistance Transitions

Thoughts on Samuel Huntington's The Third Wave

2021-03-16
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Ryan Salzman is an Evangelist for Placemaking

Like so many things we're coming to grips with now in the 21st century, we're realizing that the 20th century was the anomaly. We feel like what was happening in the first 20 years of the 21st century that that was the anomaly. But it's not. The 20th century was the anomaly. And there's a temptation among policymakers to say, ?But this is how it's always been.? No. Wrong.

Ryan Salzman

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

I live in Carmel, Indiana and in May The Farmers? Market opens. It?s in a small public space between a concert hall called The Palladium and the Booth Tarkington Theatre. The Monon Bike Trail runs alongside it and there is bike parking sponsored by the Mayor?s Youth Council. Live bands play in the center of the market. In the winter, the same space is used for an n outdoor ice skating rink surrounded by a German Christkindlmarkt. This is what Ryan Salzman describes as placemaking. 

Placemaking does not just transform public spaces. It expands them. Placemaking changes how we experience our community and establishes new landmarks. And whether we want to admit it or not, this is political. Placemaking involves the creation and distribution of public goods. 

Local governments make decisions over whether to embrace or prevent placemaking. For example, teenagers can paint a beautiful mural on a public building. Elected officials will decide whether to send a thank you or a citation. 

Ryan Salzman has studied the phenomenon of placemaking in his home of Bellevue, Kentucky and in other communities across the United States. He is a professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University and the author of Pop-Up Civics in 21st Century America: Understanding the Political Potential of Placemaking. He has experienced placemaking as an academic, an elected city councilman, and an active participant. 

Ryan?s work caught my attention because it examines local engagement through a novel lens. It considers political behavior that the participants probably don?t realize is political. It moves beyond theories of deliberative and direct democracy to consider ways everyday citizens produce meaningful action. Ryan and I have a light hearted conversation. But I don?t want to overlook the significant implications of placemaking for political science and political theory. I am excited for Ryan to share his stories and ideas. So it?s about time I introduce you to Ryan Salzman?

Key Links

Pop-Up Civics in 21st Century America: Understanding the Political Potential of Placemaking

Black Lives Matter Mural in Cincinnati, Ohio

ArtPlace America

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2021-03-09
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Kajri Jain Believes Democracy Unfolds through the Aesthetic

"We don?t pay enough attention to the sensory aspects of what it means to be equal. That?s what it fundamentally is. That?s the presupposition of democracy. Not the goal. The presupposition is that we are equal, but does our comportment reinforce that or does it re-institute hierarchies."

Kajri Jain

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

This week?s guest is Kajri Jain. She is an art historian from the University of Toronto and the author of Gods in the Time of Democracy. Her work is well known among scholars of contemporary Indian art. But I doubt many political scientists have come across her work.

Our conversation explores politics in India through the construction of massive statues that are sometimes the size of the Statue of Liberty or taller. It?s a completely novel way to examine Hindu Nationalism, Dalit identity, and religion in India.

But the conversation also explores the ways we communicate political ideas and create an inclusive democracy. Art is ultimately a form of communication, but it is largely neglected by scholars of democracy. We might discuss what people say about art, but rarely how the art interacts with us. This is a conversation I could only have with an art historian. But not just any art historian, but one who is also a philosopher and a religious scholar. An art historian who examines people affected by art more than the art itself. This is my conversation with Kajri Jain?

Key Links

Gods in the Time of Democracy

Statue of Unity

Kajri Jain at University of Toronto

Key Content

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

Yael Tamir on Nationalism

Thoughts on Jürgen Habermas' The Inclusion of the Other

More Information

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2021-03-02
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Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch on the Moral Economy of Elections in Africa

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

It?s common for Westerners to lecture Africans about democracy. Most Africans will admit their different political systems have many problems. Money is exchanged for votes, elections are rigged, and sometimes violence even breaks out. But the challenges African countries face in the process of democratization are not absent in the rest of the world.

The 2020 American Presidential Election exposed many problems in the United States. The storming of the American capital proved that even violence is possible in the world?s oldest democracy. My point here is not to disparage American democracy, but to recognize every nation has a lot to learn. 

Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch along with Justin Willis offer us an opportunity to consider democracy in an unfamiliar context. Their examination of Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda allow us to identity universal aspirations and ideals citizens hold in very different settings. But it?s not the differences which I believe are important. It?s their similarities. 

Nic, Gabrielle, and Justin are the authors of the book The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa: Democracy, Voting, and Virtue. Nic is the kind of political science rock star who gets quoted in The Economist. He is among the foremost experts on democracy in Africa, a professor of political science and democracy at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and the co-editor of the website Democracy in Africa. Gabrielle Lynch is a professor of comparative politics at the University of Warwick. 

I invited Nic and Gabrielle to discuss their new book, because their research is always informative, not just because it exposes us to another part of the world, but because they are able to draw connections to larger ideas from their experiences. This is a conversation about Africa. This is a conversation about democracy. This is my conversation with Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch?

Music from Apes of the State.

Key Content

www.democracyinafrica.org

Ghana: The Ebbing Power of Incumbency

The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa

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

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

Thoughts on Brian Klaas and Nic Cheeseman's How to Rig an Election

2021-02-23
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Thomas Carothers and Andrew O'Donohue are Worried About Severe Polarization

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

My thoughts on polarization have changed over the past few years. On the one hand, polarization can be a danger to democracy. Milan Svolik among others have shown how strong ideological positions lead some voters to support leaders they know are undemocratic. Moreover, democracy depends on the willingness of both parties to make compromises to govern effectively. 

But on the other hand, there are issues where compromise itself is undemocratic. How do you compromise on the right to vote? Is it polarizing to refuse to waiver on issues of human rights? What about the rule of law? Sometimes compromise does not protect democracy, but endangers it.

A lot of intelligent people have strong opinions about polarization. But few of them have thought deeply about the subject or read much of the literature. It?s a complicated subject. Last year Ezra Klein published a surprising book called Why We?re Polarized. It?s actually an impressive work of scholarship from someone who does not consider himself a scholar. But when he says ?we?re polarized? he refers to an American experience. He largely ignores the polarization around the world in places like Venezuela, Poland, and India. 

So I reached out to Thomas Carothers and Andrew O?Donohue because I wanted to better understand polarization not just in the United States but as a wider global phenomenon. Tom and Andrew are the editors of s remarkable volume called Democracies Divided from 2019. Last year they published a supplement called Political Polarization in South and Southeast Asia: Old Divisions, New Dangers. Tom is the Senior Vice President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a legendary scholar in the field of democracy promotion. Andrew is a nonresident assistant at Carnegie as well. He is also in the PhD program in Harvard?s Department of Government. 

Together they offer reflections on polarization in different contexts. They help explain how each is different and where they commonalities. Most of all this broader examination helps us think about polarization in very different ways.

Email me at [email protected]
Follow me on Twitter @DemParadox

Key Links

Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization

Political Polarization in South and Southeast Asia: Old Divisions, New Dangers

Rejuvenating Democracy Promotion

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

Lee Drutman Makes the Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Thoughts on Chantal Mouffe's On the Political

2021-02-16
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Can Democracy Survive the Internet? Nate Persily and Josh Tucker on Social Media and Democracy

A complete transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Over the past ten years social media has reshaped politics. Fake news and political disinformation have become a part of the political discourse. But social media has also brought about meaningful change through the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements. 

Social media has allowed dissident voices to express themselves in authoritarian regimes, but it has also given a platform to anti-democratic views in Western Nations. It has reawakened our sense of fairness, while it has brought to light some of our darkest demons. In the final analysis, social media is both a problem and an opportunity. And your outlook probably depends on the last headline you saw on Twitter or Facebook. 

Nate Persily and Josh Tucker are at the forefront of conversations on the role of social media in politics and its influence on democracy. Nate is a professor of law at Stanford, but also has a PhD in political science. He has long been an expert in election law, but has also become among the foremost scholars on the politics of social media and the internet. Among his many roles, he is the co-director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. 

Josh is a professor of political science at NYU. He specializes in post-communist politics and is the Director of NYU?s Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia. But he is also a faculty director at the Center for Social Media and Politics. 

Together Nate and Josh edited a volume called Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field and Prospects for Reform. It is available to download on the Cambridge University Press website. I highly encourage policymakers, researchers, and anyone who is curious to take a look. It features important contributions from well-known scholars such as Francis Fukuyama and Pablo Barberá on a wide range of relevant topics. 

In this conversation you will learn why Nate and Josh are at the forefront of research on social media. They rattle off multiple studies their teams conducted that produced groundbreaking research. Now, I have read many articles about the ways social media influences politics, but this is my first podcast where I really grapple with the challenges of the internet. I was fortunate to do so with two of the field?s most important researchers today.

Key Links

"Can Democracy Survive the Internet?"

"From Liberation to Turmoil"

Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election and Beyond

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Zizi Papacharissi Dreams of What Comes After Democracy

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

Thoughts on Cristina Flesher Fominaya's Democracy Reloaded

2021-02-09
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Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the Plutocratic Populism of the Republican Party

A transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Democracy depends on distinctions between political parties. Every election they offer clear choices on economic proposals. In recent years, cultural issues have added a new dimension to the polarization of American politics. 

But the 2020 election added a dangerous dimension to the political divide. The Republican Party has begun to question the integrity of elections and the value of democracy itself. It is not clear how far the Republican Party intends to widen this issue, but the ramifications are dangerous for constitutional government. 

So how did we get to this point? Has the Republican Party radically transformed after four years of Donald Trump or has this been the inevitable trajectory of Republican policies and ideology?

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have studied the Republican Party for two decades. In their book Let them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality they consider how conservative economic policies have shifted the Republican Party further to the right on issues related to economics, race, and democracy itself. 

Jacob Hacker is a professor of political science at Yale University and Paul Pierson is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. We discuss the relationship between inequality and democracy, American politics, and the possibilities for change in the Republican Party.

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Lee Drutman Makes the Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

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

Thoughts on Jonathan Hopkin's Anti-System Politics 

2021-02-02
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Bryn Rosenfeld on Middle Class Support for Dictators in Autocratic Regimes

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Barrington Moore famously claimed, ?No bourgeoisie. No democracy.? Many scholars before and after Moore have argued the middle class is necessary for successful democratization. But Moore had a specific image of the middle class. The bourgeoisie were not simply white-collar professionals. They were entrepreneurs who were independent of the landed aristocracy.

Bryn Rosenfeld recognizes a new source for the growth of the middle class. Many authoritarian regimes have established a state dependent middle class. A professional class who relies on the state bureaucracy for employment and think differently about their relationship to the regime than the bourgeoisie Barrington Moore portrayed.

Scholars have long recognized the heterogeneity of the middle class even while they described them as a homogenous group. The diverse interests and perspectives are part of what leads the middle class to demand democracy. But Bryn Rosenfeld finds there is also an autocratic middle class who rely on the state for their status and position. They view the process of democratization as a labyrinth of risk and uncertainty.

Bryn Rosenfeld is an assistant professor in the department of government at Cornell University. She is the author of The Autocratic Middle Class: How State Dependency Reduces the Demand for Democracy. Bryn is part of a new generation of comparative political scientists who blend field research with rigorous quantitative research designs to produce new insights into political behavior.

I have read my share of books on democracy published in 2020. Some are well-written. Others offer deep insights. So far, this is the most consequential book on democracy I have come across from last year. I do not doubt scholars will refer to its conclusions for years to come. It astonishes me this is Bryn?s first book. I expect to come across her name again in the future.

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2021-01-26
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Zizi Papacharissi Dreams of What Comes After Democracy

Political theorist Takis Pappas has described the formation of liberal democracy as an elite project. Its creation was dependent on the decisions of political leaders rather than the public. But over the subsequent decades the space between politicians and their constituents has grown smaller. It is now unclear whether elected officials remain political leaders or whether they simply follow the opinions of their constituents. 

Democracy is in the process of a transformation. Politicians have abdicated responsibility for political power to the people, but the people do not share a sense of responsibility for this newfound political power. So, everyone blames each other for political conflict, but nobody accepts the responsibility to resolve it. It is not clear anyone completely understands what democracy is or what it will become. 

Robert Dahl imagined the possibility of a third transformation of democracy into something deeper, thicker, and richer. But he never explained how this new sense of democracy might manifest itself. Dahl thought more about democracy than anyone has before or since. 

So I have searched for the next incarnation of Robert Dahl but have failed to discover her or him. These conversations are my attempt to piece together the ideas from multiple perspectives about democracy to offer an updated theory of democratic governance. 

Populism, of course, is the great challenge for democracy today. Many scholars have offered institutional solutions as an antidote to populism. But the challenges democracy faces are not an American problem. They exist across the globe. They persist in Presidential and Parliamentary systems. It is a deeper challenge within the demos itself. 

I believe democracy will inevitably overcome the populist challenge. It will emerge from this crisis stronger and healthier. Fifty years from now democracy will be different than it is today. And in five hundred years, its institutions may even be unrecognizable. But I believe the answer exists.  

Zizi Papacharissi has dared to imagine what our future may hold after democracy. The research for her remarkable book, After Democracy, took her around the world where she asked one hundred everyday citizens three simple questions:

1.      What is democracy?

2.      What is citizenship?

3.      What might make democracy better?

The answers she received helped her imagine what might come after democracy. Zizi offers us a dream. She explained to me that she ?wanted the book to have a dream-like feel, like a dream many people were having together or a polyphonic story they were simultaneously telling and listening to.?

Zizi Papacharissi is a professor of communication and political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She was among the first to study social media and has shaped the scholarship on political communication on the internet. Her name is a familiar sighting in the footnotes of many of the books and articles I read. 

Our conversation explores the ideas in her book from many different angles. We talk about the meaning of democracy and the role of citizens. We think about how democracy might be reimagined. And she invites you to dream of what might come after democracy.

Notes
Website:  www.democracyparadox.com

Music from Apes of the State

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Hélène Landemore on Democracy without Elections

Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan

2021-01-19
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Winston Mano on Social Media and Politics in Africa... And what America can Learn from Africa about Democracy

Recent events in the United States have shown how even the most established democracies have much to learn about democracy. But my guest Winston Mano does not like to talk about democracy. He prefers to talk about democratization because the process never ends. Our conversation focuses on Africa with many topics discussed including social media, decolonization, and, of course, democracy. It concludes with a complex question, ?What can America learn about democracy from Africa??

When I ask this question, it is not intended to embarrass Americans, but to look for insights from abroad. Winston believes humility is critical in a successful democracy. Different parts of the globe have different lessons so there is always something to learn from others. 

But for those who believe democratization is a linear process, my question won?t make any sense at all. America is widely viewed as farther along this process than any African nation. But Winston points out how technologies develop out of necessity. Some cultures ?leapfrog? steps to develop new technologies outside the traditional sequence. Africa has even done this before. For example, Africa never experienced a Bronze Age. It went immediately into an Iron Age. 

So, can Africa leapfrog America at this crossroads of democratization? I have no idea. But the current crisis of democracy requires a transformation in how it is both imagined and approached. So, the solutions may come from unlikely sources. 

Winston Mano is a reader at the University of Westminster. He is also the principal editor of the Journal of African Media Studies. Alongside Martin Ndella, he edited the recent two volume publication Social Media and Elections in Africa.

Today?s conversation begins on the topic of social media in Africa. This is where I thought the conversation would remain. But recent events made it impossible to avoid a wider conversation on democracy.

Notes
Website:  www.democracyparadox.com

Music from Apes of the State

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2021-01-12
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Michael Hughes on the History of Democracy in Germany

The German Question haunted international relations for generations. Like China, it was a rising authoritarian power. But its successful democratization after the Second World War cast an amnesia upon the uncertainty and anxiety it had caused the international community. 

Today democracy in Germany is taken for granted. It is a force of democratic stability within Europe and in the world. Its journey from dictatorship to democracy is largely forgotten and its current challenges are often ignored. 

Some of those challenges have surfaced in recent years. Hessian politician, Walter Lübcke , was assassinated by a far right extremist on June 2nd, 2019 and in August The New York Times reported that Neo-Nazis have established a presence in the ranks of the military and police. 

Today?s guest Michael Hughes offers a helpful reminder, ?Democracy may have prevailed in Germany? but conceptions remain contested? So, crucially, the story?s outcome cannot be an ending? for the process remains ongoing.? Michael is a professor of History at Wake Forest University. His research has focused on 19th and 20th Century German history. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Embracing Democracy in Modern Germany: Political Citizenship and Participation, 1871-2000

I liked Michael?s book because it approaches history like political science. It focuses on the development of democracy through political culture. It is a thicker conception of democracy that goes beyond constitutions and institutions to consider democratization as a process.

My plan is to touch on the different regimes throughout Modern Germany?s history, but I also keep a focus on big picture trends. Don?t worry if you are not familiar with Germany. This is a good introduction, but more importantly this is about the process of democratization. The challenges and successes that countries face. This is how I chose to begin 2021. Looking back through history before we begin to move forward.

Notes
Website:  www.democracyparadox.com
Music from Apes of the State

Related Content
Paul Robinson on Russian Conservatism

Yael Tamir on Nationalism

Thoughts on Sheri Berman's Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancien Régime to the Present Day

2021-01-05
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Lee Drutman Makes the Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Madison?s Federalist 10 makes an unusual case. He argued the size and diversity of the United States is a critical safeguard against the dominance of any single faction. Of course, it is well-known that the Founding Fathers were wary of all factions, political parties and, most of all, the tyranny of the majority. The American constitution is even described as counter majoritarian, because multiple avenues exist for entrenched minorities to prevail in the legislative process. But Madison was different. While he is credited as the father of the constitution, he was among the most majoritarian of all the founding fathers.

Still Madison was wary of strong, overwhelming majorities. He saw regional diversity as a check against majoritarianism. The size and diversity of the new nation meant any meaningful majority would be the result of significant compromise and deliberation.

Unfortunately, the two-party system, as it exists today, has undermined the Madisonian vision in Federalist 10. The two political parties fight for overwhelming majorities, but the inability of either party to prevail causes gridlock rather than compromise. Necessary reforms are stalled or delayed as they become rallying cries in a never-ending campaign cycle. This was never Madison?s intention.

Lee Drutman offers a solution to transform American democracy. His book Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America argues for proportional representation of the legislature and ranked-choice voting for the Presidency. But his intention is not about any one reform. Instead, his goal is to produce a multiparty democracy where no single party commands an absolute majority.

You may recognize Lee Drutman from articles he has written in The New York Times, Vox, and Five Thirty-Eight. He is also a Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America and a cohost of the podcast Politics in Question alongside Julia Azari and James Wallner.

The idea of multiparty democracy in the United States can seem radical, but like most reformers Drutman is a traditionalist at heart. He finds his inspiration in Madison?s vision of the American political system. Rather than designing something novel, Lee believes his reforms bring America closer to the original aims of the Founding Fathers. The United States has grown in its size and diversity. Nonetheless, the two political parties have reduced politics to a single dimension. Ultimately, Lee believes a more diverse party system is necessary to represent a diverse population. It?s a Madisonian case for the challenges of polarization and partisanship.

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

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2020-12-29
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Hélène Landemore on Democracy without Elections

The origin of the third wave of democratization is commonly dated to the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974. The fall of the Soviet Union accelerated this process until about 2005 when the pace began to slow and it even began to reverse. But Robert Dahl thought about waves of democratization differently. He believed a democratic wave was more like a transformation. It was an intensification rather than a proliferation of democracy.

Dahl allows us to interpret the current rise of populism around the world not as a rejection of democracy, but as a challenge as democratic governance and ideals continue to evolve and transform. Or as Hélène Landemore puts it, ?What you call the ?crisis? of democracy can also be read as the growing pains of a system trying to adjust to the constraints of a globalized economy, an interconnected world, and rising democratic expectations.?

Hélène Landemore offers an alternative approach to imagine democratic governance. It is a democracy without elections or politicians. She calls it an Open Democracy. It relies on representative assemblies where members are selected through lottery kind of like a jury. Her approach encourages deliberation among ordinary citizens who better represent their communities and societies.

Many advocates have already embraced this novel approach. and it has already used in limited ways. We talk quite a bit about political theory, but also some real-world applications of these ideas. Indeed, Landemore has found inspiration in many of these examples like the constitutional assembly in Iceland or France?s citizen assembly on climate change. So these mini publics offer a novel way to consider the possibilities for democratic government without elections.

Hélène Landemore is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. She is the author of the book Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century. Her research reconsiders the meaning of representation and legitimacy.

Robert Dahl was unclear of what the next transformation of democracy would become. I feel the same uncertainty. But I believe Hélène Landemore challenges us to consider new experiments in democracy happening right now. So perhaps a third transformation of democracy has already begun.

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Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan and John Boswell on Mending Democracy

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2020-12-22
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Glenn Tiffert on the Manipulation of Academia by Foreign Governments

This week America discovered some startling news. Russians hacked into the email systems of the Commerce and Treasury Departments. The information age has brought about a new era of intelligence and espionage. This was a blatant act of theft, but more subtle forms of espionage are available. Globalization has left many institutions vulnerable to foreign manipulation. 

I invited Glenn Tiffert from the Hoover Institution to shed light on this phenomenon through a discussion of two of his recent publications. He is the editor of Global Engagement: Rethinking Risk in the Research Enterprise. It is an examination of the ways academic collaboration with China exposes vulnerabilities in our National Defense. It features a forward from former National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, and an introduction from icon of democracy scholarship, Larry Diamond. 

The second publication is a report from the National Endowment for Democracy. It is titled, ?Compromising the Knowledge Economy: Authoritarian Challenges to Independent Intellectual Inquiry.? This report explains how authoritarian regimes use sharp power to influence academic institutions. 

Universities are the heart of political discourse in free societies. E.B. White once wrote, ?The reading room of a college library is the very temple of democracy.? When foreign governments manipulate Western academia, it challenges an important source of democratic legitimacy. Larry Diamond explains, ?This is more than a national security threat: It is an existential challenge to the entire global liberal order.?

Globalization has not simply brought about economic interdependence. It has extended the boundaries of political influence. The United States has long had the advantage of soft power to inspire people around the world. China has now found a form of sharp power to influence the United States in turn. The global order continues to change and evolve so it is incumbent on us to strengthen liberalism and democracy to overcome these challenges. 

This conversation shares themes with recent episodes that featured John Ikenberry on liberal internationalism and Mareike Ohlberg on the Chinese Communist Party. This is a topic with multiple dimensions. It combines elements of national security with cornerstone values such as liberalism and democracy.

Related Content

Mareike Ohlberg on the Global Influence of the Chinese Communist PartyJohn Ikenberry on Liberal InternationalismOn the Global Ascendance of China

More from Glenn Tiffert

Global Engagement: Rethinking Risk in the Research EnterpriseCompromising the Knowledge Economy: Authoritarian Challenges to Independent Intellectual InquiryThe Authoritarian Assault on Knowledge
2020-12-15
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Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan and John Boswell on Mending Democracy

There is a book that was written in 1989 called Democracy and its Critics. The renowned Robert Dahl is the author. In the book, he answers objections to critiques of democracy through a series of dialogues. One of them has stuck with me because I hear it so often: The problem with democracy is it is not democratic enough. 

Many of the scholars who are featured on the Democracy Paradox have ideas or plans to make democracy more democratic. Many books, articles, and podcasts focus on ways to reform or redesign institutions so they can become more democratic. For example, Ezra Klein has a popular podcast. Every week he advocates for the Senate to drop the filibuster. Sure. Let?s do it. But we are delusional if we believe democracy is one reform away from perfection. 

I invited Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan, and John Boswell to join me because they examine democracy reform through a multidimensional lens. Rather than offering a single blueprint to redesign our institutions, they suggest we should continue to mend the damage in our existing framework. It is an achievable call to action where they raise the profile of some everyday heroes who have made positive contributions to repair the connections vital to democracy. 

Carolyn is an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Governance at Australian National University, Selen is an Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Canberra, and John is an Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Southampton. They are the authors of Mending Democracy: Democratic Repair in Disconnected Times.

It?s always interesting when my guests are in Australia because it works best for me to call in the afternoon or evening so they can be reached the morning of the next day. This conversation had an extra wrinkle because John is in the UK so we coordinated this call across three time zones on three continents. 

Whenever this many people are on a podcast, it can become difficult to know who says what. For that I apologize. But it was necessary. Their work was a collaborative effort. Indeed, a work like theirs cannot be anything but collaborative. Their research is, in many ways, about collaboration. 

Our conversation will introduce some important concepts and theories about deliberative democracy. But it also offers some real-world examples. I cannot wait for you to learn about the Knitting Nanas Against Gas. They call themselves KNAG. There is so much I want to share right now. But it?s best if I relax and just let you listen.

Notes
Website:  www.democracyparadox.com
Music from Apes of the State

Relevant Past Episodes
John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch on Citizen Initiative Review
Jill Long Thompson on Character in a Democracy

Relevant Articles on Democracy Paradox
Thoughts on Adam Przeworski's Crises of Democracy
Thoughts on E.B. White's On Democracy
Thoughts on Florence Brisset-Foucault's Talkative Polity

2020-12-08
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Mareike Ohlberg on the Global Influence of the Chinese Communist Party

Last October Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey shook the sports world with a tweet. It said, ?Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.? Pretty simple. Not controversial?. at least, not controversial in the United States. But China was offended. They cut off all economic ties with the Rockets and demanded an apology from the National Basketball Association. And they got one. 

China uses its economic clout to shape the public discourse in business, academia, politics, and even sports. Its authoritarian impulse has no boundaries. Even citizens of liberal democracies are subject to its influence. 

This is the third part of ?Liberalism, Capitalism, Communism? about the global ascendance of China. My conversation with Mareike Ohlberg, a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, explores how the Communist Party of China extends its influence beyond its borders. She recently authored the book Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World with Clive Hamilton. They write in the opening lines of the first chapter, ?The Chinese Communist Party is determined to transform the international order, to shape the world in its own image, without a shot being fired.?

China is imagined as a powerful, authoritarian state. Francis Fukuyama has described it as a strong state with weak rule of law. I disagree. China is a weak state with a strong party. Xi Jinping is described as the President of China, but his real power comes from his role as the Chairman of the Communist Party. The power of the CCP is neither subtle nor indirect. For example, the military is not a part of the government. It is a branch of the CCP. 

China?s global ascendance is the ascendance of China?s Communist Party. It does not matter whether the CCP is committed to Marxism or Communism. The reality is it has always been authoritarian. It has never been supportive of liberalism nor democracy. 

Recently, The Economist observed, ?The achievement of the Trump administration was to recognize the authoritarian threat from China. The task of the Biden administration will be to work out what to do about it.? There is a bipartisan consensus in the US that China represents a threat to America. Something must be done. We just need to figure out what that ?something? is.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 80 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Michel de Certeau's classic  The Practice of Everyday Life. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-12-01
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Xiaoyu Pu on China's Global Identities

China is a nation of contradictions. It is a developing economy that is an economic powerhouse. It is a rising power that is already a great power. It is a communist state that has embraced capitalism. The dualism of yin and yang is not simply an element of Chinese philosophy. It is a source of modern Chinese identity. 

This is part two of ?Liberalism, Capitalism, Communism? about the global ascendance of China. Last week was about liberal internationalism. Next week will focus on the global influence of the Chinese Communist Party. Part 1 was about liberalism. Part 3 is about communism. This is Part 2 but it is not about capitalism. 

This week will explore how China?s different sources of identity shape its foreign policy. It is about how an illiberal state adapts to a liberal world order. I want to convey the nuance and complexity of modern China as it exists today. So this week is not about capitalism but the juxtaposition of capitalism and communism. It is about the reconciliation of its many contradictions. And it is about the challenges for China to continue to evolve and transform.

The contradictions and complexities intrinsic to Chinese identity are present in its foreign policy. Xiaoyu Pu writes, ?China?s grand strategy has no coherent blueprint, and there are competing visions for its emerging roles on the world stage. This is not to argue that Beijing has no grand strategy but rather that Beijing?s grand strategy includes contradictory elements.?

Xiaoyu is an Associate Professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno and the author of Rebranding China: Contested Status Signaling in the Changing Global Order. There is a lot to worry about China?s global ascendance. But Xiaoyu believes much of the alarm is overblown. Let me restate that he does not believe there is no cause for concern, but he does offer an alternative perspective. 

Our conversation explores topics as diverse as the domestic politics in China to an analysis of its use of sharp power. We discuss not just China?s prospects for democratization, but whether China must democratize to become a dominant hegemonic power.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 80 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed John Dewey's classic Democracy and Education. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-11-23
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G. John Ikenberry on Liberal Internationalism

Democracy is often imagined at its purest at a micro level. Town hall meetings are sometimes imagined as a simpler form of democratic governance, so international relations can feel as though it is miles away from democracy. Andy yet, it is the international liberal order which has brought about the vast proliferation of democracy around the world. 

My guest, John Ikenberry, notes ?Liberal democracy was both a national and an international project? Its institutions and ideals were premised on an expanding world of trade, exchange, and community.? Scholars talk about liberal democracy. Sometimes it is not clear whether liberalism depends on democracy or democracy depends on liberalism. It?s easy to assume liberalism is necessary to limit the dangers of democracy, but one of my favorite scholars, Sheri Berman, explains, ?Liberalism unchecked by democracy can easily deteriorate into oligarchy or technocracy.? The two are linked. 

G. John Ikenberry has written about liberal internationalism since the 1980s. He is a giant in the field of international relations. He is a Professor of Politics and International Relations at Princeton University and the author of the new book A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crisis of Global Order. Our conversation explores political theory and international theory, but also American history and current events. 

This is the first of my three-part episode arc about the global ascendance of China called ?Liberalism, Capitalism, Communism.? We do not discuss China until the end of the conversation. This is not by accident. The purpose of this episode is to offer context. It?s impossible to grasp the impact of China until we explain the liberal international order and its importance. 

My hope is you will have a stronger sense of what is at stake as we discuss China with two different scholars who have very different perspectives. This is a great conversation and a wonderful introduction for the next two weeks.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 80 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Mark Beissinger's Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-11-16
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Amy Erica Smith on Politics and Religion in Brazil

Political Scientist Seymour Martin Lipset wrote, ?A person who knows only one country doesn't know any country because you're not sensitized to what is unique, what is different, what is special about your country.? Brazil offers a parallel to the United States because it has a populist President who is active on social media and has been indifferent to the pandemic and hostile to the environment. But it also has differences in culture, development, and religion. 

The past week has largely been about the American Presidential Election for me. Like most of you my attention was focused on the results until this past weekend when Joe Biden was officially declared the winner. But now I am exhausted talking about American politics, so I invited Amy Erica Smith to discuss politics in Brazil. She is the author of Religion and Brazilian Democracy: Mobilizing the People of God and a Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University. 

My conversation with Amy Erica is about Brazil, but in many ways, it is illuminating about the United States. Everyone will have theories about American politics after a consequential election. But an examination of other countries tests those assumptions in different contexts. Populist leaders have found success in many parts of the world, but Jair Bolsonaro feels eerily similar to Trump in so many ways. And yet, ?Bolsonaro is a Brazilian invention.? Brian Winter writes in Foreign Affairs, ?He is a product of the singularly awful economic and political crisis the country has endured over the last decade and, just as important, of Brazil?s long tradition of being ruled by conservative white men of military background.?

The most striking of those similarities and differences is the way religion has interacted with politics in Brazil. Amy Erica?s research is amazing. She is a political scientist?s political scientist but also part of a new generation of scholars who combine field research with statistical analysis to give anecdotal observations new meaning.

We cover a lot of ground in our conversation. We talk about Jair Bolsonaro. We discuss the Workers? Party. We talk about Catholics, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals and... you really just need to listen.

This episode marks the start of my second season. Each episode stands alone so there is no theme or topic for each season. But I do feel the podcast has grown in its production and sophistication over the past 20 episodes. And the new election gives me a chance to mark this growth with a new season of episodes. Next week begins the three part series "Liberalism, Capitalism, Communism" about the global ascendance of China. Stay tuned!

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 80 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Tom Ginsburg's Judicial Review in New Democracies. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-11-09
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William G. Howell and Terry M. Moe on the Presidency

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 of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Terry is a Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Our conversation explores their book Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy. These are familiar topics for regular listeners of Democracy Paradox. William and Terry break from many critics of Donald Trump in their defense of the Presidency as an institution. They have tremendous faith in the Presidency to deliver effective governance.

Many ideas have been considered as an antidote to populism. William and Terry believe effective government is the solution to the populist backlash. There is some truth in their argument. But more importantly, democracy must always strive for effective governance. Because unless democratic governance is synonymous with effectiveness, authoritarians have a justification for their rule.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 80 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Karl Marx's third volume of Capital. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-11-02
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Barbara Freese on Corporate Denial

Democratic values are about more than politics. They permeate throughout society and into the economy. Barbara Freese has examined how corporate leaders have not lived up to these values. She offers examples like the tobacco industry, the use of lead in gasoline, and global warming to demonstrate how they have avoided not just accountability but any sense of responsibility for behavior with catastrophic consequences. 

Barbara calls this phenomenon corporate denial and explains, ?We should study corporate denial because corporations dominate our economy and shape our democracy, and for a huge proportion of Americans, corporate incentives, pressures, norms, and culture govern our work lives.? 

This is really a conversation about citizenship. We work hard to compartmentalize different parts of our life. Our behavior at work is not supposed to impact our neighbors or our community, but it can and often does. Ultimately, corporate denials do not come from corporations. They come from people viewed as leaders. And they erode the trust necessary for democratic governance. But we can restore that trust through honesty. Honesty with each other and honesty with ourselves.

Barbara Freese is the author of Industrial Strength Denial: Eight Stories of Corporations Defending the Indefensible from the Slave Trade to Climate Change. She is an environmental attorney and a former Minnesota assistant attorney general. Her interest in corporate denial was sparked by cross-examining coal industry witnesses disputing the science of climate change. She lives in St. Paul.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 70 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed The Concept of the Political by Carl Schmitt. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.




2020-10-28
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Paul Robinson on Russian Conservatism

The Russian interference in the 2016 American Presidential election brought Russia to the forefront of conversations about international relations. But it has also given us a one-dimensional view of this complex country. Today?s conversation is about Russian Conservatism with historian Paul Robinson. We talk about conservatism as an ideology, we talk about its history, and we talk about the many dimensions of Russian Conservatism today that offer a complex and nuanced view.

Our conversation is not an endorsement of Russian Conservatism. It is a largely undemocratic and anti-liberal school of thought. But even this statement is misleading because there are elements of democracy and liberalism in the ideas of some Russian Conservatives.

Consider how your views on Russia change throughout its history. Today, it is largely considered conservative at least socially or culturally. But not long ago, it was Communist and associated with the far left. The reality is few of us have thought much about Russian political thought beyond broad generalizations. This podcast will scratch the surface on a particular political tradition but hopefully it offers a broader context as Russia becomes a topic in Western politics in the 2020 election and beyond.

Paul Robinson is Professor of History of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and the author of Russian Conservatism. He is author of several books, including The White Russian Army in Exile, 1920?1941, and co-author of Aiding Afghanistan.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp. Thanks to Cornell University Press for providing a copy of Russian Conservatism.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 70 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Crises of Democracy by Adam Przeworski. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-10-19
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John Matsusaka on National Referendums

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 unusual. Nearly all other democracies have held national referendums, and many have made them a regular part of their political process. 

Matsusaka emphasizes tradition should not be an obstacle. He writes, ?American democracy is not a static system created by the Founders, but a work in progress, an evolving set of practices that each generation has updated, largely by extending the scope of popular participation.? 

I share an optimistic conversation with John Matsusaka about the possibilities for direct democracy. There is a little bit of talk about Brexit and a few other countries like Switzerland are mentioned, but we mainly focus on the United States. John thinks the time is past due to introduce direct democracy on the national level. He writes in his book, ?Although the Founders got some things wrong, they got many things right. We would like to know if omitting direct democracy was one of the things they got right, or one of their mistakes.?

John Matsusaka is the Charles F. Sexton Chair in American Enterprise at the University of Southern California and the author of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge. An economist by training, he works on topics related to political economy, direct democracy, corporate finance, and corporate governance. His article, ?Corporate Diversification, Value Maximization, and Organizational Capabilities,? was awarded the Merton Miller Prize for most significant paper by the Journal of Business; and his article "Ballot Order Effects in Direct Democracy Elections" received the Duncan Black Prize for best paper in Public Choice.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp. Thanks to James Schneider at Princeton University Press for my copy of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge and for an introduction to John Matsusaka.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 70 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed On the Political by Chantal Mouffe. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-10-12
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Donald F. Kettl on Federalism

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.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp. Thanks to James Schneider at Princeton University Press for my copy of The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn't Work and for an introduction to Donald Kettl.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 70 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy by Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

2020-10-04
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