Welcome to a special two-part series (click here for part one) about the looming clash over the future of America. In part one, we looked at the tattered state of our democracy and searched for peaceful ways through an election season in which one candidate — Donald Trump — has threatened violence and disruption if he doesn’t win. Here in part two, we look at the work waiting for us after the election: fixing the way we govern ourselves so that we’ll never have another president like Trump or another year like 2020.
360° Context: The 2020 US Election Explained
The real breakdowns in our system go much deeper than Trump, hence the cliché that he’s the symptom, not the disease. Boxed in by demographic change, the Republican Party has devolved over the past half-century into a force that taps racial and economic anxieties to win elections, erodes faith in government by deliberately and cynically undermining government, and exploits constitutional loopholes and congressional procedure to exercise endless minoritarian rule. Democrats, of course, are beset by their own internal divisions — and by a growing thirst for revenge.
To reverse this toxic dynamic, we’ll need reforms that give both parties a fair shot at legislating and lower the risk of tyranny by the minority or the majority. It’s a tall order, given that we’re more sharply divided along ideological, geographical and economic lines than at any point in American history. Which is why the necessary reforms could end up going so deep that we come out the other side looking like a different nation—or nations.
This episode draws on a range of ideas from thinkers such as journalist David A. French, political scientists Adam Przeworski and William Howell, and sociologist and science fiction author Malka Older, along with an assortment of other commentators on the topics of polarization, federalism and the possibility of secession or breakup. And in the best “Soonish” tradition, there’s also a little dose of “Apollo 13.”
Mentioned in This Episode
- Check out the essay version of American Reckoning, which includes extensive annotations and links to source materials
- Graham Gordon Ramsay
- Titlecard Music and Sound
- Tamar Avishai, Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Toothpaste Tube (1964), “The Lonely Palette”
- Hub & Spoke
- 00:22 Welcome to Part 2
- 01:15 The Apollo 13 Election
- 03:38 Reviewing the Givens
- 05:34 Tara Westover and the Breaking of Charity
- 06:14 David A. French on the Central Fear of Conservatives
- 07:55 New Rules for the Game of Democracy
- 11:05 Scenario 1: Trumpocracy
- 12:46 Scenario 2: Biden Our Time
- 13:44 Scenario 3: The New New Deal
- 18:37 Scenario 4: The Bonds of Our Disaffection
- 25:25 Scenario 5: Micro-democracy
- 35:15 A House Divided
- 36:57 The Other Side
- 38:21 End Credits and Acknowledgements
- 39:27 Shout-out: The Lonely Palette
*[This podcast was produced by Wade Roush. Click here for a full list of episodes.]
The views expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.