#166 Populism: Bigger Than Trump? Salena Zito

Was Donald Trump's election a one-off event, or did it represent a fundamental realignment of American politics?

Washington-based political experts wrongly called the 2016 election, and our guest, Salena Zito, author of "The Great Revolt", argues that they keep blowing it today. Democrats who ignore the concerns of those who went for Obama in 2012, but then backed Trump four years later, do so at their peril.

We examine the spread of populism that is reshaping American politics on the right and the left, and why it may have much more staying power than critics would like to admit.

Despite President Trump's weak approval ratings, the coalition that brought him to the White House is largely holding together. Salena drove many thousands of miles on back roads, speaking with hundreds of Trump voters in ten Great Lake swing counties while reporting for the New York Post, the Washington Examiner, and contributing to The Atlantic. 

She takes them seriously. From "red-blooded blue-collared" conservative populists to "rough rebounders" and "girl gun power" supporters, we learn why so many believe that Trump stands up for working people against powerful corporate interests.

"Modern populism today is a healthy skepticism of large things, big institutions, big government, big entertainment, big sports," says Salena. "This coalition isn't just impacting the ballot, its having an impact on how we shop and how we consume things."

In this episode we look at the roots of populism, but also take a skeptical view of its future.

#165 Can Podcasting Save The Planet?

From ancient times to the present day, women and men have brought meaning to their lives through storytelling.

Before the invention of the printing press, ancient societies passed on the knowledge and wisdom of one generation to the next through oral history. 

Today, no other medium is as intimate and personal as podcasting. We are the town criers of our time.

In this "Quick Fix" episode, Richard and Jim discuss the future of podcasting-- an industry that faces both opportunities and challenges. 

More than 550,000 podcasts are on iTunes-- and the number is growing every week. So is the audience. But while two-thirds of Americans have heard of the term "podcast," fewer than one-in-five are regular listeners. 

Last week in Philadelphia at Podcast Movement-- the annual trade show, rally and conference-- Tom Webster of Edison Research said: "The key to moving from 48 million weekly podcast listeners to the 100 million mark is understanding why those people familiar with the term “podcasting” have never listened."

The launch of the new Google Podcasts app may go a long way towards reaching this goal. Until now, Apple has been the dominant player. Smart speakers present a great growth opportunity, bringing new ways to listen to podcasts. And each year podcasting reaches into an ever-widening circle of communities and interests. 

Find out here about how we make this show and other podcasts for our clients.

#164 The Fight For Free Expression: Deb Mashek

Free speech on campus is under assault at many colleges and universities. From disinviting commencement speakers to shouting down professors and others they disagree with, some students demand "safe spaces" from controversial remarks and what they call micro-aggressions.

So far, 1800 professors from the right, left, center and other political leanings have joined the effort to bridge the ideological divide. Heterodox Academy is part of a growing number of attempts to encourage greater civility and respect for different points of view.

Deb Mashek is the first Executive Director of Heterodox Academy. For 13 years, she was a professor of psychology at Harvey Mudd College. 

"My learning is improved when I get to engage with you, because you see things differently, Deb tells us. It's not just about tolerating other viewpoints. "If we're serious about solving the world's biggest problems, we need to be open to the best ideas, regardless of where they come from."

"A willingness to evaluate new ideas is vital to understanding our world," says Harvard University Professor Steven Pinker. "Universities, which ought to be forums for open debate, are developing a reputation for dogmatism and intolerance." Heterodox Academy was formed in 2015 to counteract the narrowing of viewpoints on many college campuses.

In this episode we look at why viewpoint diversity matters just as much as other forms of diversity on campus and in society at large.

Useful links: 
Heterodox Academy podcast.
OpenMind Platform.
"The Closing of the American Mind", by Allan Bloom. 

#163 The High Cost of America First: James Bacchus

President Trump has withdrawn from international agreements, criticized NATO, The European Union, and attacked the policies of Canada, Mexico, Britain, France and Germany-- all traditional allies. He praised President Putin, and continues to sow chaos in the international trading system, reportedly threatening to pull the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization-- W.T.O.

This last step, above all, could have the most serious impact on the American economy, damaging businesses, destroying jobs, and weakening U.S. influence around the world.

In this episode, we look at solutions for climate change, sustainable growth, the need for smarter international co-operation, and the reason why the W.T.O. is so crucial to the future of the global trading system. 

Our guest is former Florida Congressman James Bacchus, Director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity at the University of Central Florida. He was twice the chief judge of the highest court of world trade at the W.T.O. in Geneva, Switzerland.

Jim's new book is "The Willing World. Shaping and Sharing a Sustainable Global Prosperity."

"I believe our President is a pessimist," he says. "He doesn't really believe in America or the American people, despite all he says about putting America first."