Background Briefing: May 9, 2019


Democrats Should Not Have to Choose Between Progressive Politics and Winning Elections

We begin with Nancy Pelosi’s warning that centrist candidates are the way to beat Trump in 2020. This underscores the mainstream Democratic establishment’s strategy that centrist candidates are needed to win over their Independent or center-right Republican neighbors. Whether or not this strategy works, electability is, almost by definition, something that should be determined by voters. Moreover, male pundits focus on the electability of female candidates far more often than their male counterparts, and often over superficial matters like clothing style and physical appearance. Female candidates face backlash over demonstrating stern or aggressive behaviors, whereas male candidates are praised for demonstrating such behavior. Joining us is Amanda Marcotte, a feminist author, blogger and a politics writer for Salon. She is the author of “Troll Nation: How the Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set on Rat-F*cking Liberals, America and Truth Itself,” and she has an article at Salon “Are centrist candidates really the most “electable”? It may be the opposite.” In arguing that Democrats should not have to choose between progressive politics and winning elections, she posits that we shouldn’t be cautious with elections, but that we need radical change and voting for a more progressive candidate is a risk we should be willing to take. Moreover, she argues that America is ready for a Female president, but as long as vocal male pundits in the mainstream media are not, they are thereby lessening the chances for a woman becoming president.


How Putin and His Cronies Are Looting Russia

Then we speak with Anders Aslund, a professor at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University who was a former Swedish diplomat in Moscow and served as an economic advisor to the governments of Russia and Ukraine. He joins us to discuss his new book, just out, “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy” and how Putin and his cronies have systematically looted the cash cow Gazprom whose fortunes have sunk from $369 billion in 2008 to barely $60 billion today. And with $800 billion in Russian private wealth help abroad, it is estimated that Putin’s share of that is as much as $160 billion.