Background Briefing: May 24, 2022


Primaries in Georgia as 14 Children and 1 Teacher are Shot Dead in a Texas Elementary School

We begin and go to Georgia where important primary elections today will determine how much Trump’s big lie that is underpinning the MAGA takeover of the Republican party is on a roll or is encountering a speed bump. Joining us is Jared Yates Sexton, a professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University and the author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore as well as three collections of fiction. His political writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The New Republic, Politico, and, and his latest book is American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People. He also has a forthcoming book, out soon, The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis, and we discuss his article at, “This is Going to Get Really Ugly, Really Soon: Tucker Carlson and the Right have created imaginary rivals in order to legitimize their antidemocratic actions.”


Pessimism as a Weapon Authoritarians Use to Defeat Hope

Then, with a CNN poll last week finding only 10% of Americans feel “optimistic” about the way things are going in America, while 65% are concerned, and 21% are downright scared we will explore how to stop the contagion of pessimism since authoritarianism is a system of governance that revolves around defeating hope. Joining us is Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an historian who writes about authoritarianism, democracy protection, and propaganda. She is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other fellowships, and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. She is also an MSNBC opinion columnist, a regular contributor to CNN and The Washington Post, and provides live commentary on CNN, MSNBC, and other networks. Her latest book is Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, and she publishes Lucid, a newsletter on threats to democracy, where her latest article is “Hope: The Secret Weapon of Democracy Protection.”


The Urgent Need to Lower the Price and Increase the Availability of Solar Panels

Then finally we look into what apart from the fossil fuel lobby and Senator Joe Manchin is threatening the urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and that is the price and availability of solar panels. Joining us is Mark Wolfe, an energy economist who serves as the executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, representing the state directors of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. He specializes in energy, climate, housing and related consumer finance issues and we discuss his article at CNN, “The US solar panel industry is on the verge of collapsing. Here’s how to prevent it.”