10 episodes

Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike?

The Ezra Klein Sho‪w‬ The New York Times

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 1.9K Ratings

Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike?

    A Radical Proposal for True Democracy

    A Radical Proposal for True Democracy

    One thing I want to do on this show is give space to truly radical ideas, to expand the boundaries of our political and moral imaginations. And Hélène Landemore, a political scientist at Yale, has one of those ideas. She calls it “open democracy,” and the premise is simple: What we call democracy is not very democratic.

    The role of the people is confined to elections, to choosing the elites who will represent us. Landemore argues that our political thinking is stuck in “18th-century epistemologies and technologies.” It is not enough.

    We’ve learned much in the last few hundred years about random sampling, about the benefits of cognitively diverse groups, about the ways elections are captured by those with the most social and financial capital. Landemore wants to take what we’ve learned and build a new vision of democracy atop it — one in which we let groups of randomly selected citizens actually deliberate and govern. One in which we trust deliberation and diversity, not elections and political parties, to shape our ideas and to restrain our worst impulses.

    This is a challenging idea. I don’t know that it would work. But it’s a provocation worth wrestling with, particularly at this moment, when our ideas about democracy have so far outpaced the thin, corrupted ways in which we practice it.

    You’ve heard people say, “We’re a republic, not a democracy.” Landemore’s challenge is this: What if we were a democracy? We honor those who came before us for radically reimagining who could govern, and how politics could work. But did they really discover the terminal state of democracy? Or are there bold steps left for us to take?





    Recommendations:

    Liquid Reign by Tim Reutemann

    The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

    The Principles of Representative Government by Bernard Manin

    Mortelle Adèle Book Series



    "The Ezra Klein Show" is hiring an Associate Producer! Apply to work with us by clicking here or by visiting www.nytco.com/careers.

    Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. New episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 44 min
    George Saunders on Kindness, Capitalism and the Human Condition

    George Saunders on Kindness, Capitalism and the Human Condition

    George Saunders is one of America’s greatest living writers. He’s the author of dozens of critically acclaimed short stories, including his 2013 collection, “Tenth of December”; his debut novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” won the 2017 Booker Prize; and his nonfiction work has empathy and insight that leave pieces from more than a decade ago ringing in my head today. His most recent book, “A Swim in A Pond in the Rain,” is a literary master class built around seven Russian short stories, analyzing how they work, and what they reveal about how we work.

    I’ve wanted to interview Saunders for more than 15 years. I first saw him talk when I was in college, and there was a quality of compassion and consideration in every response that was, well, strange. His voice doesn’t sound like his fiction. His fiction is bitingly satirical, manic, often unsettling. His voice is calm, kind, gracious. The dissonance stuck with me.

    Saunders’s central topic, literalized in his famous 2013 commencement speech, is about what it means to be kind in an unkind world. And that’s the organizing question of this conversation, too. We discuss the collisions between capitalism and human relations, the relationship between writing and meditation, Saunders’s personal editing process, the tension between empathizing with others and holding them to account, the promise of re-localizing our politics, the way our minds deceive us, Tolstoy’s unusual theory of personal transformation, and much more.

    What a pleasure this conversation was. So worth the wait.

    Recommendations:

    Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel

    Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

    Dispatches by Michael Herr

    Patriotic Gore by Edmund Wilson

    In Love with the World by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

    Loving; Living; Party Going by Henry Green

    Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey by Hayden Carruth

    Tropic of Squalor by Mary Carr

    They Lift Their Wings to Cry by Brooks Haxton

    The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and Louis Slobodkin

    Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina



    "The Ezra Klein Show" is hiring an Associate Producer! Apply to work with us by clicking here or by visiting www.nytco.com/careers.

    Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. New episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 1 hr 15 min
    The Cost All Americans Pay for Racism

    The Cost All Americans Pay for Racism

    “The American landscape was once graced with resplendent public swimming pools, some big enough to hold thousands of swimmers at a time,” writes Heather McGhee in her new book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” These pools were the pride of their communities, monuments to what public investment could do. But they were, in many places, whites-only. Then came the desegregation orders. The pools would need to be open to everyone. But these communities found a loophole. They could close them for everyone. Drain them. Fill them with concrete. Shutter their parks departments entirely. And so they did.

    It’s a shocking tale. But it’s too easily dismissed as yet one more story of America’s racist past. McGhee shows otherwise. Drained-pool politics are still with us today and shaping issues of far more consequence than pool access. Drained-pool politics — if “they” can also have it, then no one can — helps explain why America still doesn’t have a truly universal health care system, a child care system, a decent social safety net. McGhee, the former president of the think tank Demos, offers a devastating tour of American public policy, and she shows how drained-pool politics have led to less for everyone, not just their intended targets.

    I asked McGhee to join me for a discussion about drained-pool politics, the zero-sum stories at the heart of American policymaking, how people define and understand their political interests, and the path forward. This is, in my view, a hopeful book, and a hopeful conversation. There are so many issues where the trade-offs are real, and binding. But in this space, there are vast “solidarity dividends” just waiting for us, if we are willing to stand with, rather than against, each other.

    Recommendations:

    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

    The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

    “Good Times” (TV series)

    The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

    Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. New episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    The Senate Is Making a Mockery of Itself

    The Senate Is Making a Mockery of Itself

    The Senate is where Joe Biden’s agenda will live or die. More specifically, the intricacies of archaic Senate rules — the budget reconciliation process, the filibuster, the majority leader’s ability to control the floor — combined with the fealty today’s senators have to yesterday’s structures will decide the agenda’s fate. It would be the gravest mistake for progressives, or anyone else, to consider the fight over how the Senate works to be a sideshow compared with debates over a $15 minimum wage, a Green New Deal or democracy reform. The fight over how the Senate works is what will decide all those other debates.

    Adam Jentleson served as deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid when he was the majority leader. Jentleson was high enough to see how the institution really worked, and young enough to be free of gauzy nostalgia from the days of yore. And his book, “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy,” is both blistering and persuasive. “This is not a particularly uplifting history,” Jentleson writes. But nor is it without hope. “Unlike many of the structural features that determine the politics of our era, the Senate is relatively easy to reform.”

    So I invited Jentleson on my podcast, “The Ezra Klein Show,” to explain how the modern Senate really works, why it works that way, and how to fix it. Along the way, we discuss what can — and crucially can’t — be passed through budget reconciliation, why senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continue to defend the filibuster (and why Jentleson thinks they will change their minds), the foundational myths of the Senate, like the idea that the modern filibuster encourages compromise, how Mitch McConnell understands the American political system better than his opponents and much more.

    Recommendations:

    Double Indemnity by James Cain

    Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

    The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

    Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

    (Tune in to find out why)

    Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. New episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Should We Dim the Sun? Will We Even Have a Choice?

    Should We Dim the Sun? Will We Even Have a Choice?

    “We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand famously wrote in “The Whole Earth Catalogue.” Human beings act upon nature at fantastic scale, altering whole ecosystems, terraforming the world to our purposes, breeding new species into existence and driving countless more into extinction. The power we wield is awesome. But Brand was overly optimistic. We did not get good at it. We are terrible at it, and the consequences surround us.

    That’s the central theme of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.” And yet, there is no going back. We will not return to a prelapsarian period where humans let nature alone. Indeed, as Kolbert shows, there is no natural nature left — we live in the world (and in particular, a climate) we altered, and are altering. The awful knowledge that our interventions have gone awry again and again must be paired with the awful reality that we have no choice save to try to manage the mess we have made.

    Examples abound in Kolbert’s book, but in my conversation with her I wanted to focus on one that obsesses me: solar geoengineering. To even contemplate it feels like the height of hubris. Are we really going to dim the sun? And yet, any reasonable analysis of the mismatch between our glacial politics and our rapidly warming planet demands that we deny ourselves the luxury of only contemplating the solutions we would prefer. With every subsequent day that our politics fails, the choices that we will need to make in the future become worse.

    This is a conversation about some of the difficult trade-offs and suboptimal options that we are left with in what Kolbert describes as a “no-analog moment.” We discuss the prospect of intentionally sending sulfurous particles into the atmosphere to dim the sun, whether “carbon capture” technology could scale up to the levels needed to make a dent in emissions levels, the ethics of using gene editing technologies to make endangered species more resistant to climate change, the governance mechanisms needed to prevent these technologies from getting out of hand, what a healthier narrative about humanity’s relationship with nature would sound like, how the pandemic altered carbon emissions, and more.

    At the end, we discuss another fascinating question that Kolbert wrote about recently in The New Yorker: Why is a Harvard astrophysicist arguing Earth has already been visited by aliens, and should we believe him?

    References:

    Whole Earth Catalogue

    Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert

    The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

    The Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

    Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb

    Recommendations:

    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka

    The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

    Global Warming (The Complete Briefing) by John Houghton

    Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

    Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. New episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 56 min
    Can the Republican Party Be Saved?

    Can the Republican Party Be Saved?

    "I don’t think conservatism can do its job in a free society in opposition to the institutions of that society,” Yuval Levin told me. “I think it can only function in defense of them.”

    Levin is the director of social, cultural and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute, as well as the author of a number of great books, most recently, “A Time to Build.” I wanted to talk to him about a very specific question, though: What will the Republican Party become? Levin is one of its most thoughtful and sober analysts — a temperament that may, I realize, make him unsuited to interpreting its current incarnation, in which a majority of House Republicans voted to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election and one of them is, well, Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    But Levin’s diagnosis is interesting. Histories of the modern Republican Party often place Ronald Reagan at their center. That is, in Levin’s view, a mistake. “I think Reagan is better understood as a detour from a history that is otherwise a story of a constant struggle between populism and conservatism,” he said. Donald Trump was an inheritor of a tradition that stretches long before him — Pat Buchanan’s tradition, and Strom Thurmond’s tradition. He didn’t form a new Republican Party; he allowed a long-existing part to express itself.

    Behind that lie institutional changes both in the Republican Party and in the broader structure of American politics. That’s why I wanted to talk to Levin for this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show”: He, like me, thinks in terms of institutions. “The question for us in the coming years is whether we can move a little more in the direction of a politics of ‘what does government do,’ and less of a politics of ‘who rules,’” he says.

    That’s exactly the right question, in my view. But we have very different views of what kinds of institutional changes would get us there. I’d like to see a more democratized, majoritarian system. Levin would, among other things, add a filibuster to the House.

    So this is more than just a conversation about how to fix the Republican Party. It’s a conversation about how to fix American politics — how to recenter it on policy that changes people’s lives, rather than symbolic clashes that merely harden our hearts.

    References:

    “Big Tech, Big Government: The Challenges of Regulating Internet Platforms,” National Affairs, Winter 2021

    The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism by Henry Olsen

    "Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It." by Ezra Klein

    Recommendations:

    Groundhog Day (movie)

    On Empire, Liberty, and Reform: Speeches and Letters by Edmund Burke

    Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke

    The American Crisis by Thomas Paine

    The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

    Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition by Roger Scruton

    Freedom From the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand by Mike Konczal

    Social Democratic Capitalism by Lane Kenworthy

    The Upswing by Robert Putnam with Shaylyn Romney Garrett

    (tune in to find out why)

    Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. New episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld. Special thanks to Kathy Tu.

    • 1 hr 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

Walking and Learning ,

Walking many miles a day to listen to your show!

Guests are so brilliant!! Can’t wait for Tuesday’s and Friday’s

Ray8991 ,

Brilliant mind!

I missed Ezra when he signed off late last year. So glad to discover this. He’s not only smart, he asks great questions and listens well.

J_NYC_10000 ,

Excellent, thought-provoking interviews

Ezra Klein’s podcast is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The guests are amazing and the quality of the interviews is consistently excellent. Ezra clearly knows his stuff, enough to ask incisive questions, but also has a real humility that I appreciate. Love that he ends each interview by asking for book recommendations.

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