Background Briefing: June 5, 2023

The False Equivalence of the Far-Right House Freedom Caucus and the Democrat’s Progressive Caucus

We begin with the coverage of the recent debt ceiling extortion in which much of the press equated the far right with the progressive left in their opposition to the Biden/McCarthy deal when there is no comparison between the white supremacist, Christian nationalist insurrectionists in the House Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic party that had 40 of its 100 members vote against the deal while 81% of the Freedom Caucus voted against the deal with many calling for a default that would have devastated the economy. Joining us is Peter Dreier, the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and Chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His books include Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century and The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, and we discuss his article at Talking Points Memo, “Media Coverage Must Stop Equating Congress’s Far Left and Far Right.”


Mike Pence and the Growing Republican Ranks of Hopefuls Challenging Trump

Then we examine the Republican field that met over the weekend in Iowa as they lined up against the front-runner and no-show Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Joining us to discuss former Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance on a Harley Davidson at the “Roast and Ride” event in Des Moines is Tom LoBianco, national politics reporter at The Messenger covering the 2024 presidential race. He has covered Mike Pence from the statehouse to the White House for Business Insider, The Associated Press, CNN, and the Indianapolis Star and is the author of Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House. and we discuss how if Pence told the whole truth about Trump he would have a much better chance than sticking to his current cowardly strategy of not saying anything about the man who tried to have him lynched by an insurrectionist mob.


Sunday’s Massive Demonstrations in Poland Against Anti-Democratic Authoritarianism

Then finally we explore the global authoritarian drift away from democracy as right wing leaders in Poland, Hungary, Turkey and India take over the media, eviscerate the courts and demonize the opposition and discuss the massive demonstrations in Poland on Sunday against the country’s right wing government that has taken over the judiciary and targeted the opposition as Communist sympathizers or Russian agents. Joining us is Jan Kubik, a Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Professor in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University College London. His books include The Power of Symbols against the Symbols of Power, Postcommunism from Within: Social Justice, Mobilization, and Hegemony, and Twenty Years After Communism: The Politics of Memory and Commemoration.