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A Few Reasonable Words

A Few Reasonable Words features three professors trying desperately to soothe the frayed nerves of the American public with the comforting balm of political science. We analyze current political events through the lens of political theory and research in American politics. Every week we offer a quick reminder about the basics in a segment called Civics for Grownups. We also include recommended readings. Learn more: https://afrwpodcast.wordpress.com/
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A Few Reasonable Words
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A podcast from three professors trying desperately to soothe the frayed nerves of the American public with the comforting balm of political science.

Check out our website to learn more!

Jul 11, 2017

Why do politicians seem to never stop campaigning? Has our democracy lost touch with the difference between governing and electioneering? Should we be mad about all this? And if it is a bad thing, how much of it is the media’s fault? (Hint: A lot) 

Jul 3, 2017

Everybody knows the Declaration of Independence, but there’s nothing quite like political scientists nerding out on founding documents, so grab a hot dog and check out the fireworks while we break down America’s great Dear John letter to England.

Jun 24, 2017

The Senate finally released their super-secret bill for restructuring the American Health Care system, so we’ve decided to re-run our “Lawmaking 101” episode in hopes of getting everybody back up to speed just in time for health care battles anew!

Jun 15, 2017

What does it mean for the President to invoke executive privilege? Is executive privilege actually in the Constitution? Do Presidents only invoke executive privilege when they have something to hide? And isn’t getting to live in the White House privilege enough?

Jun 10, 2017

Folks wring their hands about our President’s use of social media, but how much do his tweets really matter for politics, policymaking, or the presidency? How does Twitter compare to previous technological innovations like radio and television? Should we care that our president seems addicted to twitter? And how seriously should we take his tweets? 

Jun 3, 2017

We believe in the rule of law. We believe the president is above the law. But how do we hold the executive branch accountable for wrongdoing when it’s the executive branch’s job to investigate and try wrongdoing?

 

May 20, 2017

What is the rule of law, exactly? Where did the idea of the rule of law come from and why do we care about it so much? Does it just mean following whatever the laws say, or is it something more particular than that? And does every society with laws follow the rule of law, or can you have laws but not follow the rule of law? Can breaking the law ever be a way to respect the rule of law? And what on earth does firing the FBI director have to do with the rule of law?

May 13, 2017

What is Trumpism? Is it even a thing? How does it relate to American Conservatism? Is it at all distinct from the cult of personality around Trump himself? If in 20 years, we see politicians calling themselves "Trumpists," what might that look like? How will we know if they are really doing Trumpism or something other thing entirely? 

May 5, 2017

What is conservatism? What is its history? Is it a set of ideas or a kind of temperament? What are its core ideas? What are the differences among conservative thinkers? Is it right to call the GOP conservative? And why is it called "the right" anyway?

Apr 29, 2017

Donald Trump has been President for 100 days! Has it really only been that long? Why do we fixate on a President's first 100 days? How successful has Trump been, and how does he match up with other Presidents? And if this is what 100 days feels like, how will we feel after the next 1360? 

Apr 23, 2017

Why are college students always protesting? What is the history of campus protest? When are campus protests effective? How do ideals like academic freedom and free speech relate to protesting on campus? And how should we feel about protests of controversial speakers? Is 'no-platforming' a good way to prevent the proliferation of false or dangerous ideas, or an unreasonable affront to free speech?

Apr 15, 2017

Folks seem to be in a protesting mood these days, but how much do we really know about protests? What are the varieties of protests? What are the rights of protesters? How effective are protests in changing public opinion or policy?

Apr 6, 2017

What's the deal with filibusters? How do they really work & why do we have them? Do they only happen in the Senate? And why don't they still have to stand & talk to keep them going? 

Mar 27, 2017

What are the ethics of immigration? How can moral philosophy help us think about immigration policy? Is there such a thing as a right to immigrate? Do states have the right to exclude migrants? What about refugees - do they have a privileged moral status?

Mar 22, 2017

What do political scientists know about immigration? What is the history of our immigration laws and policies? How does immigration really affect the economy & national security? Do the president’s actions have any basis in these empirical realities? 

Mar 16, 2017

We haven't talked much about lawmaking because Congress hasn’t tried to do anything! Now Congress has a big agenda and the leadership is trying to act quickly on it. So let’s get everyone up to speed on what Congress can and can’t do, and how it does it (whatever it is that it is trying to do).

Mar 6, 2017

We hear a lot about the DNC & the RNC, but how much power do the national organizations really have? And are parties really driven by ideology, or is winning elections the only thing that actually matters to political parties?

Feb 27, 2017

What is gerrymandering and why are people (especially if they are democrats) so mad about it? Is it really to blame for all our problems? If not, what should we think about it? And where on Earth did that silly word come from? 

Feb 21, 2017

How important is competence in government? What is the civil service anyway? Are the Trump administration's early stumbles evidence of incompetence, or just the normal learning curve of a new president? 

Feb 13, 2017

With a President openly trafficking in conspiracy theories and his opponents developing their own about him, we explore the attraction to conspiratorial thinking. Why do folks believe conspiracy theories? How can we avoid succumbing to paranoid delusions?

Feb 6, 2017

Now that we've got a slate of cabinet nominees and a Trump Supreme Court nominee, how should we expect the Senate to advise & consent? Will (& should) Democrats play nice, or will they take the lessons of Merrick Garland to heart and play hardball?

Jan 30, 2017

What are the president’s powers? Can the president make or defy the law? What is the unitary executive theory, and what is the evidence supporting it? http://Afrwpodcast.wordpress.com

Jan 24, 2017

Final installment of our month-long series on politics & identity. Knowing what we do about racial identity & structural racism, how should Democrats and Republicans think about the role of identity politics in the future? 

Jan 15, 2017

We continue our month-long series on race, identity, & democracy with a look at institutional (or structural or systemic) racism, what kind of evidence there is for its existence, how we ought to feel about it, and what we might be able to do about it. 

Jan 8, 2017

We continue our a month-long discussion of the connections between race, racial attitudes, and politics in the United States today. This episode explores how identity groups form and relate to each other in democratic politics. How do people in those groups develop in-group and out-group attitudes, and how do those attitudes affect attempts to build coalitions and practice pluralistic politics? 

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