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.
S6 E7. Twitter Pill
A former editor and columnist turned media scholar discusses Black Twitter, a community that fueled a movement for racial justice and the end of police brutality. And she explains what this story has to say about the need for reparative journalism. Read more >
S6 E6. Fighting with Song
Musicians and artists of the Anataban movement in South Sudan have been mobilizing to demand free elections and an end to the cycle of violence. A leader of the movement joins us on the show to talk about his work and his music. Read more >
S6 E5. Ballot Blues
In Nevada, a secretary of state struggles against election denialism, political apathy and threats against poll workers. A legal scholar in Virginia, meanwhile, says the surest way to address political and economic inequality in America is by making it easier for poor people to vote. Read more >
S6 E4. Resisting Russia’s War
Evgeniya Chirikova got a knock at the door of her home in Moscow from the FSB, Russia’s national security service. They wanted to take her children away. It only supercharged her activism. And, in Ukraine, a teenager struggles to stay sane and do her part for her country. Read more >
S6 E3. The Road Past Roe
In 2016, she won a critical Supreme Court case affirming abortion rights. Now that effort has been all but undone. Still, Amy Hagstrom Miller says she will keep fighting for abortion as a human right that is fundamental to the democratic project. Read more >
S6 E2. Rights of Passage
Is the United States a “nation of immigrants”? Depends whom you ask. But one thing is certain: who counts as worthy of being American has always been contingent and politicized. Amanda Frost takes Will, Siva and their class on a journey through immigration history. Read more >
S6 E1. Disunion Runs Deep
There’s no question the U.S. Constitution was, in its original form, a proslavery compromise. But for many — including early African-American activists — the country’s founding principles planted the seeds of the freedom movement. A Civil War historian discusses America’s political fault lines in the 19th century and how they resonate today. Read more >
Archive: Season Five
Democracy depends on the rule of law — but the law doesn’t always support the rule of the people. In Season Five we dove deep on the U.S. Constitution, the courts and the legal frameworks that make inclusive, collective decisionmaking possible, but often hinder it, too.
We also visited Brazil once again, and Chile. And we paused midseason to reflect on a tragedy close to home.
Arm your activism with some deep knowledge of democracy and the law.
Archive: Season Four
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.
Archive: Season Three
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.
Archive: Season Two
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.
Archive: Season One
We were worried.
Relive why. After all, those demons are all still with us.
In the works
This season, we’re bringing you some live recordings with Will and Siva’s students in the audience, and much more on pro-democracy advocates and activists from around the world. If you have any ideas for us, or feedback, drop us a line.
Find us on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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