Democracy in Danger

Saving the rule of the people — one episode at a time.

Democracy in Danger

Season Five

Will and Siva homed in on democracy, the law and the people in Season Five, with all-star guests bookending this run: Jed Purdy to start and Anand Giridharadas to wrap things up before the holiday.

Halfway through we felt compelled to put out a special episode — on the tragic shooting that unfolded on our own university campus, and its broader implications.

When you’ve caught up on all our past shows, stop by the current run, subscribe to the show, and don’t be stranger — shoot us a tweet sometime. We always want know what you think we should cover.

Season Finale

S5 E9. Changing Minds


In 2016, Russian trolls worked doggedly to polarize Americans more than they already were. To do it, they peddled cynicism and pandered to the belief that you can’t change anyone’s mind anyway. Our guest tries to prove them wrong. Read more >


S5 E8. Missed Opportunity

The Chilean constitution was designed for a neoliberal dystopia under authoritarian military rule, where market fundamentalism reigned. Two years ago it seemed destined for the dustbin of history. A political theorist explains why the effort to replace that document failed so spectacularly. Read more >

Special Episode. UVA, Wounded and Strong

Our university — and our town — has been visited yet again with violence. Three students are dead, two are wounded, and our hearts are in tatters. The show’s hosts and producers ponder the questions we need to ask, and the pathways to healing we need to find. Read more >

S5 E7. Unsafe Harbor

Historian Kimberly Gauderman explains how scholars can serve as expert witnesses in asylum cases, shedding light on the sociocultural dynamics driving applicants to escape their countries of origin. Read more >

S5 E6. Hoover’s Ghost

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 >

S5 E5. Brazilian Nail-Biter

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 >

S5 E4. We the Entrenched

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 >

S5 E3. The Justices Have No Robes

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 >

S5 E2. Closet Civics

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 >

S5 E1. The Good Gamble

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 >

Archive: Season Four

We kicked off with a one-year retrotspective on the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Then we started asking in earnest what we can do to make democracy work better..

Show topics this season included a look at creative ideas for improving the news business, supporting America’s troubled K-12 schools, stemming gun violence and connecting more people to high-speed internet. We also took a look at a pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe and considered the wider implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine. It was a busy time!

See what you missed.

Archive: Season Three

We took a new approach this time, producing three multi-part series: one on the fallout and lessons from the war in Afghanistan; a tour of some fine states in the Union; and hard look at democratic hot spots around the world.

Listen to episodes on America’s earlier and often forgotten 19-year occupation of Haiti, on the summer 2021 unrest in Cuba and on the effort to restore voting rights for former felons in Florida. Plus a lot more.

See what you missed.


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.

See what you missed.

Archive: Season One

We were worried.

Really worried.

Relive why. After all, those demons are all still with us.

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