Making sense of the post-Trump political landscape…
Both the Republican and Democratic parties are struggling to defend the political center against illiberal extremes. America must put forward policies that can reverse our political and governmental dysfunction, advance the social welfare of all citizens, combat climate change, and confront the other forces that threaten our common interests.
The podcast focuses on current politics seen in the context of our nation’s history and the personal biographies of the participants. It will highlight the policy initiatives of non-partisan think tanks and institutions, while drawing upon current academic scholarship and political literature from years past — including Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s 1949 classic “The Vital Center.”
How Democrats Lost the Working Class, with Matt Karp
As Republicans embraced anti-elitism under Trump, Democrats reacted by embracing the values of the upper-middle class.
The result, according to historian Matt Karp is a party that often - intentionally or unintentionally - distances itself from the working class, which it used to champion. The professional class has made all opposition the "other," embracing a partisan identity politics that says "if you're not with us, you're against us."
But pushback is coming from both the right and the left. Karp discusses how the mainstream media has mischaracterized what Bernie Sanders is trying to do, and then digs deep into his historical research to provide analogies from the past that explain the present moment.
The Rise of the "Establishment," and Its Impact Today, with Aaron M. Renn
"One of the few things that both left and right can agree upon nowadays is that both the "establishment" and the meritocracy ought to be overthrown. But in all of these discussions, there's little awareness that there is a history and a scholarly literature behind these concepts. And all of that in one way or another draws upon the work of the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell, who was born in 1915 and died in 1996 and spent most of his academic career at the University of Pennsylvania."
Aaron M. Renn, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has dug deep into the scholarship of Baltzell and the larger question of how the "establishment" has impacted American politics. He chats with Geoff Kabaservice about his findings.
Could Women Save the GOP by Running for Office? (With Kodiak and Ariel Hill-Davis)
For years, Democrats have provided training and resources to women looking to run for office through organizations like EMILY's List. Republicans have not, and the current demographics of Congress show the results. That's one of the reasons sisters Kodiak and Ariel Hill-Davis helped to found Republican Women for Progress, which provides policy-minded Republican women with the tools they need to win.
They discuss many of the unique roadblocks Republican women face on the campaign trail, but also touch on the many accomplishments moderate women have made in Congress. While the media likes to highlight individuals with the most outrageous rhetoric (men and women alike), many women are doing the hard, unglamorous work of governing behind the scenes.
The Man Behind the Modern Conservative Movement, with Sam Tanenhaus
William F. Buckley was a public intellectual, commentator, and founder of National Review, the magazine that arguably launched the modern conservative movement as we know it today. Would there even be a conservative movement without Buckley's leadership?
And if so, is he responsible for the Trumpist turn Republican Party has taken? Does Buckley bear some blame for the direction in which conservatism has developed?
Journalist and historian Sam Tanenhaus has spent years studying the life and legacy of William F. Buckley. He joins Vital Center host Geoffrey Kabaservice for a deep dive into how Buckley became the force that shaped American politics as we know it today.
Why I Left the GOP, with Linda Chavez
During the Trump years, political commentator and strategist Linda Chavez held out hope that the more moderate elements of the Republican Party would make a resurgence. But the widespread denial of the 2021 election results was her breaking point, and she openly left the party. She could no longer associate with a group that embraced conspiracy theories denied the results of a free and fair election.
While Chavez has repudiated the GOP, she sees herself as too conservative for the Democratic Party. Today on the Vital Center podcast, she discusses the importance of moderate thought in a country with increasingly radical factions. She takes a look back over her illustrious career to document how the GOP slid to where it is today, remembering its embrace of populism over rationality and its clumsy attempts to reach out to minorities. While Chavez doesn't feel optimistic about the GOP's recovery, she envisions a party that would competently address the very real concerns of today's working class.
The Forces Behind the Radical Right
What motivated the rioters to buy plane tickets and storm the Captol? Was it a pre-meditated, organized coup or something more spur-of-the-moment? And what's the future of the Republican Party, given that so many base voters still support Trump?
The Week's Damon Linker joins Niskanen's Geoffrey Kabaservice to discuss the intellectual, psychological, political, and socio-cultural forces behind the January 6 riots, and if/how moderates can play a role in bringing the U.S. back to normalcy.
Fantastic deep dives, keep up the great work!
Balanced analysis of politics today
Geoff and his guests take a deep dive into history and political thought as they look at today’s current events. If you’re interested in politics but exhausted by polarization, this is a breath of fresh air that lays out forward thinking ways to heal American democracy