Host Thoko Moyo speaks with leading experts in public policy, media, and international affairs about their experiences confronting the world's most pressing public problems.
222 Joe Aldy on how Joe Biden can jumpstart the global climate effort
Twelve years ago, Aldy was a member of then President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team as it took over from the George W. Bush administration. He says the objective then was much the same as it is now—figuring out how to push aggressive measures to stave off the worst effects of climate change while bringing back lost jobs and jump-starting a stalled economy. But comparisons only go so far. Aldy says in many ways Biden’s challenges are more formidable: A much shorter window to transform our energy infrastructure, a struggling economy made even worse by a raging pandemic, and a country even more polarized and in ideological conflict with itself. Professor Aldy and host Thoko Moyo explore those those challenges and discuss how the new administration can respond — and maybe even succeed.
221 Young voters ascendant: How a generational shift won the 2020 election and could remake American politics
In 2019, the 72-million strong Millennial generation (23-to-38-year-olds) quietly surpassed the Baby Boomers as America’s largest living generational cohort. In the 2020 election, they made their voices heard with a roar. Not only did younger voters—and particularly younger voters of color—turn out to vote and organize for candidates in record numbers, they also provided the margin of victory for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in key states like Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Our guests for this episode are Mark Gearan, director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Peace Corps under President Bill Clinton and Marshall Ganz who teaches political organizing and trains young activists and was himself a member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. They talk with our host Thoko Moyo about what is different about the today’s young voters and activists and how they could reshape America’s political landscape going forward.
220 Garbage in, garbage out: Dissecting the disinformation that clouds our decisions
All of the choices we make have one thing in common: Our decisions are only as good as the information we have to base them on. And with the rise of disinformation, misinformation, media manipulation, and social media echo chambers, we’re finding it increasingly hard to know what information to trust and to feel confident in the decisions we make. Harvard Kennedy School Professor Matthew Baum and Joan Donovan, the research director for the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, have been building a community of researchers and creating tools to help understand disinformation, where it comes from, and — hopefully — how to make it less of a threat in the future.
219 The end of Us versus Them policing: The tough road ahead for reform
After the high-profile police killings of Black people like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and numerous others, polls show a majority of Americans say we need major changes to how police provide public safety. Policymakers and political leaders—under pressure from the Defund and Black Lives Matter movements—are now considering a variety of measures to protect civil rights and curb police brutality. But Harvard Kennedy School professors Sandra Susan Smith and Yanilda González say history shows that reforming the police is much easier said than done. Host Thoko Moyo and her two guests tackle this difficult problem and explore possible solutions.
218 If the Electoral College is a racist relic, why has it endured?
The one constant in the history of voting rights in America, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Alex Keyssar says, is that no law has ever been passed to restrict the voting rights of upper-middle-class white men. Other than that, he says, the history of access to suffrage has been a very mixed bag. This November, issues of voter disenfranchisement will once again occupy center stage: including voter list purges, attacks on voting by mail, and physical barriers to the polls, ones both man-made and pandemic-related. And looming over it all is the 230-year-old institution of the Electoral College. The title of Professor Keyssar’s new book asks the obvious question: “Why Do We Still Have an Electoral College?” The answer, he says, is complex — a mix of partisan politics, constitutional law, and structural racism.
217 Championing Human Rights Amid Disease and Discrimination
Throughout history, governments have seized on catastrophes to seize and consolidate power. Yet official actions like restricting movement, ramping up surveillance, curtailing freedom of assembly, and closing borders can also help control the spread of a deadly pandemic like COVID-19.
Harvard Kennedy School Professors Mathias Risse and Jacqueline Bhabha say that while some of these measures may be temporarily necessary to prevent loss of life, safeguards must be put in place to make sure human rights are not eroded over the long term. But how do you promote human rights in a worldwide climate of fear?