Day: January 1, 2023

Background Briefing: January 1, 2023


The House in 2023 Crippled by Polarization and the Growing Threat of American Fascism

We begin on this New Year’s Day and reflect back on 2022 but also look ahead to 2023 with hope for better things to come while acknowledging the daunting challenges ahead as our crippling political polarization is likely to intensify as distraction and demagoguery inhibits the chances of solutions to real problems. Joining us is Adele Stan, an independent journalist who is a longtime chronicler of the right wing of U.S. politics. A winner of the Hillman Prize in Opinion & Analysis Journalism, her work has appeared in Mother Jones, The Nation, and The American Prospect as well as on the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. We discuss the growing threat of American fascism and how the Republican Party is being captured by radical-right extremists while the leader of this anti-democratic movement, Donald Trump, continues to project the lie that radical-left Democrats are taking over the country.


Are We Seeing a Replay of the 1850 Collapse of the Whig Party and the Rise of the Know-Nothings?

Then we look further into our political polarization as 2023 promises to be even more rancorous on Capitol Hill and explore historical analogies such as the collapse of the Whig party in the 1850’s which gave birth to the Know-Nothing party whose xenophobia and ignorance appears to live on in today’s Freedom Caucus in the House GOP. Given the possibility that DeSantis may capture the nomination from Trump, could the petulant loser pick up his marbles and form his own party, causing a split in the GOP which might then go the way of the Whigs? Joining us is Sean Wilentz, the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1979. His books include The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008, Bob Dylan in America, and The Politicians and the Egalitarians. His latest book is No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding.