Our American Discourse, Ep. 28: Who Do Politicians Really Represent and Does the Electorate Notice?

With Donald Trump’s approval ratings at record lows, it’s worth asking how much this one number matters…and whether the people who approve really are better represented by him than the people who don’t. If our politicians really do represent some Americans better than others, it calls into question the very foundational ideals of our representative democracy.

In this episode, Brian Newman uncovers who’s represented, who’s not, and how it affects their view of government.

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Autopsy of a Failed Health Insurance Experiment: Did It Die of Natural Causes, or Was It Murdered?

It was just another week for the Trump administration. A senior official resigned after admitting to major ethics violations, the President insulted millions of innocent brown-skinned Americans on Twitter, and quietly—so quietly that almost no one noticed—the Department of Health and Human Services pulled another Jenga block out of the teetering tower that is the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, it did not fall.

But it did become more expensive. And in that understated tragedy, we find our mystery: Was that HHS’s intent all along?

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 15: Sports and Racial Justice in America

To some, it represents the highest ideals of our society. To others, it is a symbol of unfulfilled potential at best, outright oppression at worst. Are we referring to the American flag? Or to American sports? This debate is about more than one athlete or one gesture. It is about an institution, a system of competition, dominance, and deeply ingrained beliefs. In this episode, we examine this balance of power—and the protestors who are trying to change it.

In front of a live audience at USC, Prof. Jody David Armour interviews ESPN writer Jason Reid about Colin Kaepernick, political activism, and being black in America.

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Regarding “Greatness”: A Baby Boomer’s Lament

The following is a beautiful essay written by my friend Susan Chase. I think it brilliantly captures the moment were living in and the danger of not standing up to the forces of evil a lesson we seem to have taken for granted from generations past. Susan has spent a lifetime working to leave the world a better place for the next generation as a mother, as a therapist, as a teacher, as a performing artist, writer, and director. I believe, as she once did, in the greatness of America. I would like to think we still have what it takes to embody that greatness as she remembers her fathers generation doing. But. Only if we heed her warning…


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Our American Discourse, Ep. 10: Paid Family Leave and Work-Life Balance in Today’s America

It’s one of the few things that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agreed on, but it’s nowhere to be seen on the current legislative agenda. Why do both a majority of both parties want paid family leave, and when are they going to get it? This isn’t just a matter of mothers and babies. It cuts to the very core of who we are as people and how we balance the things we care about. Where do we draw the line between work and life in today’s America? And what does it mean for the all-American centerpiece of our society: the family?

In this episode, we explore the future of our sacred family values and the policies that affect them with Johanna Thunell.

Ms. Thunell is a Ph.D. candidate in public policy and management at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Prior to joining USC, she served as an Administrative Analyst at the Port of Long Beach. She holds a Master’s in public administration from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor’s in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.


“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey and Ryan Hedden.