Politics & Polls is a podcast produced by the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
#260: How the Democrats Failed to Solve Inequality (Lily Geismer)
The GOP is often seen as "the party of the rich," enacting policies that benefit the wealthy and leave the poor behind. However, a new book by historian Lily Geismer reveals that Democrats also played a significant role in deepening American inequality.
In this episode, she and Julian Zelizer discuss the Clinton-era policy decisions that led to skyrocketed inequality and poverty in the U.S. today. Her book, "Left Behind: The Democrats' Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality," was published in March 2022 by PublicAffairs.
Geismer is an associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century political and urban history in the United States, especially liberalism and the Democratic Party.
* We apologize for any sound-quality issues in this episode. (Headphone microphones can be unkind.)
#259: Does America Need a Reboot? (Will Hurd)
Big questions are coming up as the midterm elections inch closer. Where does the GOP stand in the post-Trump era? How severe is political polarization? And how will President Biden and his team tackle some of the country’s biggest challenges from responding to the war in Ukraine to getting a handle on inflation?
Former Congressman Will Hurd — and self-described “idealist” — proposes a blueprint for getting things done in Washington, all of which is explained in his new book, “American Reboot: An idealist Guide to Getting Things Done,” published this week by Simon & Schuster. He discusses this and more in a lively conversation with Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang in this week’s episode.
Hurd represented Texas’s 23rd Congressional District from 2015 to 2021. He previously worked for the CIA stationed primarily in Washington, D.C., including a tour of duty as an operations officer in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
#258: The War In Ukraine and U.S. Politics
Russia's attacks on Ukraine are getting closer to NATO countries and striking civilians trying to flee. Negotiations for a resolution have been attempted, but all have failed so far. Nuclear weapons seem as though they loom large, as the world watches how the conflict continues to unfold.
Julian and Sam discuss the current state of the war in Ukraine, how the media is responding, and what might lie ahead in this week's episode.
#257: Fighting for Peace: From Lincoln to Modern Europe
Following Russia's invasion into Ukraine, the world finds itself again in a moment of war. As gunfire and bombings continue, it's unclear whether Putin will give up this fight, leading to questions about how to achieve an end to the conflict. Moving into a successful post-war peace will require thoughtful and deliberate leadership — characteristics that President Abraham Lincoln displayed during and after the Civil War.
A new book by author John Avlon provides a groundbreaking, revelatory account of Lincoln's approach to peace — one that's inspired many famous leaders including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avlon joins Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang in this week’s show to talk about the book, “Abraham Lincoln: Fight for Peace,” published by Simon & Schuster in February 2022.
Avlon is a senior political analyst and anchor at CNN. He is an award-winning columnist and the author of Independent Nation, Wingnuts, and Washington’s Farewell. Previously, he was the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast and served as chief speechwriter for the Mayor of New York during the attacks of 9/11.
#256: Living with COVID-19 (Ezekiel J. Emanuel)
COVID-19 restrictions are being dropped around the country as the U.S. enters what feels like a state of normalcy, at least to some. Oncologist and health expert Ezekiel J. Emanuel joins Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang to discuss how the nation will continue to live with the virus. As Sam described on his Twitter feed: “What’s out: surface transmission. What’s in: air quality, HEPA filters.” Tune in to learn more.
Emanuel is the vice provost for global initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and co-director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. From January 2009 to January 2011, Dr. Emanuel served as a special advisor on health policy to the director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. He is the most widely cited bioethicist in history.
Emanuel visited the Princeton campus on Feb. 7-8 as part of the SPIA Leadership through Mentorship Program.
#255: The Dismantling of American Democracy (Karen Greenberg)
Taking readers from Ground Zero to the Capitol Insurrection, Karen Greenberg describes the subtle tools that were forged under George W. Bush in the name of security — all of which had profound effects on democracy. She details these tools in a new book, "Subtle Tools: The Dismantling of American Democracy from the War on Terror to Donald Trump," which she discusses with Julian Zelizer in this episode.
Greenberg is director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, an international studies fellow at New America, and a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
This recording debuted as a virtual book talk sponsored by the Princeton Public Library on Jan. 6, the anniversary of the insurrection. This interview was first recorded as a virtual public book talk sponsored by the Princeton Public Library Library.
Thought Provoking Topics
I've enjoyed Politics and Polls for some time now, so I figured it was time to give it my written endorsement! Sam and Julian are very good hosts who ask great questions and bring their own unique academic backgrounds to the table in every show. The guests too ofer a wealth of expertise, and I enjoy the variety that we get as the audience: politicians and pollsters (as you might expect), but also historians, economists, and even speechwriters. If you are interested in current events and the ideas that are shaping them, I highly recommend Politics and Polls.
As a person with a historical mind, I enjoy listening to Julian’s accounts of past figures and eras. In general I like the variety of topics covered. With all due respect, Sam Wang always seemed out of place in his role on the show.
Great political content, could stand better audio
I really enjoy this podcast. The subjects are always interesting and wide-ranging. I’ve listened to every one of these since the very start. The only critique I’d offer is that the audio production is not always the best. Sometimes the levels are too low and not at the same volume among the different people speaking making it hard to hear occasionally.