Background Briefing: December 24, 2018

Could American Democracy Die? – Daniel Ziblatt And Steven Livitsky

We begin our look back on the most important stories of the past year with an interview from January 28, 2018. We look into of the state of American democracy and the durability of our democratic institutions which are under attack by President Trump. Added to this, the traditional checks and balances provided by the constitution’s separation of powers no longer function because the Republicans in Congress are enabling Trump rather than curbing his abuse of power. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both Professors of Government at Harvard University, join us to discuss their new book “How Democracies Die” and their article at the New York Times “How Wobbly is Our Democracy?” We examine how durable our democracy is with rising political polarization in America that is racial and cultural and assess the global retreat of democracy and the rise of authoritarian regimes as democracies in Turkey, The Philippines, Hungary and Poland are under attack from the right while democracy in Venezuela and Bolivia is under attack from the left.


Trump Distracts Us From the Enactment of the Koch Brothers’ Agenda – Nancy Maclean

Then we go to an interview from February 19, 2018 with Nancy Maclean, a Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and the award-winning author of “Democracy in chains, the deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America”. She joins us to discuss how much the press and public are distracted by Trump’s daily headline-grabbing antics while behind the scenes the Republicans are making every bit of the Koch Brothers’ agenda the land of the land as America more and more drifts away from democracy towards plutocracy.


Are Israel’s & Saudi Arabia Drawing the US Into Fighting Iran on Their Behalf? – Lawrence Wilkerson

Then finally we go to May 9 2018 with an assessment of what is widely seen as a strategic blunder and foreign policy malpractice by President Trump who yesterday tore up an agreement which the U.S. signed together with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany just as Trump is poised to sign another agreement with North Korea. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who now teaches at the College of William and Mary and has an article at The American Conservative “Gina Haspel and How Torture Deceived Us Into Iraq”, joins us. In the absence of any alternative policy or rational explanation for such a destabilizing and unnecessary act, we will discuss how much Trump is motivated by spite in undoing his predecessor’s achievements following his racist campaign of hatred towards Barack Obama whose birth certificate and legitimacy Trump rose to political prominence questioning. Or could it be Trump’s own ego-driven exaggerated sense of fulfilling his campaign promises, no matter how ridiculous, at the expense of U.S. National Security and global peace? With Iran now free to pursue nuclear weapons as the U.S. moves away from diplomacy towards military confrontation, are the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia hoping to draw the U.S. into fighting a war against Iran on their behalf?