All over the world, liberal democracy is getting turned upside-down. Autocratic leaders are using populist appeals, the partisan media and the power of their offices to short-circuit thoughtful deliberation and political consensus. They flout the rule of law, unleash the police on their own people, suppress dissent and attack voting rights. So what can you do about it?
Join hosts Will Hitchcock and Siva Vaidhyanathan — along with leading thinkers from around the world — as they put illiberal trends in context and explore ways to turn them around. New shows drop every other Wednesday.
The FBI ran covert surveillance programs in its earlier history against civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. It also went after the KKK and white hate groups. An acclaimed writer assesses the bureau’s mixed past and its ambiguous present. Read more >
Patrícia Campos Mello has faced online abuse for doing her job — reporting on Brazilian politics under the administration of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Now Bolsonaro is the underdog in an election the results of which he may not accept. Read more >
The biggest roadblock to democratic progress in the United States may be the U.S. Constitution itself. We turn to a political theorist and a constitutional law professor — and ask them what the heck Americans can do about it. Read more >
The faith Americans have in the federal bench has hit rock bottom. And that might be a good thing, says NYU constitutional law professor Christopher Sprigman. He says it’s high time to strip the high court of its stranglehold on democracy, one case at a time. Read more >
Four years ago, ethnographer Emily Van Duyn embedded herself in a group of covert progressives in rural Texas. Does their story tell us what’s wrong with America’s political climate — or what might save it? Read more >
Fraught as it is, democracy is still America’s best bet for a good society, says author and legal scholar Jed Purdy. But that means people need to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the messy business of politics: to become framers themselves. Read more >
What can citizens, leaders and activists do to make democracy work better? It’s always a concern of ours, but we paid special attention to this question in our fourth run.
Episodes in the run considered the state of the Fourth Estate, America’s education system, the racist history of the Second Amendment, abortion rights and lots more.
Then there was the war in Ukraine — putting a people and their dreams of self-rule in jeopardy.
Myanmar, Ukraine, Haiti, Charlottesville, trouble across the States — check out these shows and more in the three miniseries we dropped in the fall of 2021.
Plus, the anniversary of an insurrection.
Russia, Brazil, climate change, the troubled relationship between democracy and capitalism — and much more.
And let’s not forget, an insurrection at the seat of American government.
We were worried.
Relive why. After all, those demons are all still with us.
In the works
This season we’re homing in on the complex relationship among democracy, the law and the people.
Next up: A special episode with our hosts and producers, as we reflect on the tragic events that befell our university and our hometown this past week. After that, we’ll speak with Cambridge legal theorist Camila Vergara González — and try to figure out what went wrong with Chile’s constitutional reset; plus, we round out the season with Anand Giridharadas and a conversation about his new book on democracy do-gooders. Stay tuned!
Our show is a project of UVA’s Karsh Institute of Democrcy. It’s produced with support from the UVA College of Arts and Sciences and syndicated in coordination with WTJU’s Virginia Audio Collective. We’re also a member of The Democracy Group, a podcast network that exposes the growing fissures in America’s democracy and equips concerned citizens with the tools to do something about it.
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