Background Briefing: June 15, 2023


Are We at the Point of No Return With American Democracy at the Crossroads? 

We begin with the Republican party’s embrace of authoritarianism as they blindly defend Trump from the most serious possible charges under the Espionage Act while his GOP campaign rivals trip over each other promising him pardons. Vowing to go after Biden and what he calls “the Biden crime family” as “the most corrupt presidency in US history”, Trump promises to “obliterate the Deep State”, telling his adoring crowd of donors that “I’m the only one who can save this nation.” In contrast the pathetic refrain from the progressive opposition is that Trump is not above the law when what Trump is really saying as he channels a fascist dictator, is that HE IS THE LAW. Joining us is Thomas Edsall, who has written a weekly opinion column for the New York Times since 2011. Before joining the Times, he covered national politics for the Washington Post. He is the author of The New Politics of Inequality; Building Red America, and The Age of Austerity. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his latest book is The Point of No Return: American Democracy at the Crossroads.


A Cultural Historian on “Animal Spirits” and How the Universe is Alive

Then we speak with the cultural historian Jackson Lears, the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University and the editor of Raritan. His books include Something for Nothing: Luck in America; and Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America. His latest book is Animal Spirits: The American Pursuit of Vitality from Camp Meeting to Wall Street which Cornel West describes as “a grand narrative of animal spirits and popular vitalism which takes us from the heights of William James, John Maynard Keynes, Norman Mailer, and Jane Bennett to the depths of grassroots spiritualism and countercultural activism. His ecological vision and radical democratic politics speak directly to our moment of spiritual decay and market idolatry!’’