Day: January 2, 2023

Background Briefing: January 2, 2023


How in America Liars and Cheats Can Become Presidents or be Sworn in Tomorrow as Congressmen

We begin with the new American success story in which liars and cheats can make it all the way to the presidency of the United States and tomorrow a spectacular liar and brazen fraud will be sworn in as a congressman. Joining us as a new year begins to discuss what has happened to the nation’s moral and ethical standards is Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian who writes about authoritarianism, democracy protection, and propaganda. She is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and is 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 she hosted a Q&A on Sunday, “George Santos as Outcome of Trump Remaking GOP in His Own image.”


What Makes Dictatorships Like Russia and Iran so Durable

Then with two durable dictatorships Russia and Iran forming an alliance in waging war against Ukraine, we look into how Putin stays in power as catastrophic losses of Russian soldiers pile up and how the Ayatollah’s hold onto power in Iran in the face of a youthful revolution led by women that has spread to all walks of life across the country. Joining us is Steven Levitsky, a Professor of Government, and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. His books include Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War and How Democracies Die, and we discuss his latest book, co-authored with Lucan Way, Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism.


The Threat of White Christian Nationalism in 2023

Then finally, following a hearing last week before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on the threat of white Christian nationalism, we speak with Dr. Bradley Onishi, a scholar of religion and cohost of the Straight White American Jesus podcast. His writing has been published in the New York Times, LA Review of Books, and Religion & Politics, among other outlets. The author of a number of books, his latest, out tomorrow, is Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism—and What Comes Next.