#138 50/50 Nation? No! Morris Fiorina

From the recent government shutdown to strict partisan votes on taxes and healthcare, official Washington lurches from one fight to the next, with no end in sight.

But the American public is not as polarized as the pundits say.

While elected Republicans and Democrats appeal to their base, and are more divided than ever, the electorate has not changed dramatically in recent years. According to Pew Research and other pollsters, moderate independents outnumber either liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans.  

Stanford University political scientist Morris Fiorina confronts the widespread assumption that voters are neatly split into rival camps, and argues that neither party can hold a majority for more than a few years. His new book is "Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting and Political Stalemate.

We discuss solutions, including open primaries, weekend voting, easier voter registration and independent redistricting-- all designed to encourage citizen involvement in the political system.

#136 Ending Sexual Harassment: Claire Cain Miller

The fight against sexual harassment was the hot topic in Hollywood at the Golden Globes Awards, with outspoken and inspiring remarks by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and others. But allegations of bullying or inappropriate behavior by powerful men are still being made almost every day.

 

Despite widespread outrage, little focus has been given to effective measures that can be taken by employers to reduce the number of cases and improve the workplace environment.

Our guest is journalist Claire Cain Miller, who writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot, a New York Times site that covers policy and economics. She tells us what works and explains the challenges ahead in the fight for gender equality and respect. 

A recent survey found that nearly half of women said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work at least once in their careers. A 2015 study revealed that only one-quarter to a third of women who experience sexual harassment report it.

Solutions:
Empower bystanders to act, giving everyone the tools to help prevent harassment. Bystander training is still rare in corporate America, but it has been effectively used in the military and on college campuses.  In some cases, direct action may work. One example was Charles Sonder, in the Snackman case, who disrupted a fight on a New York subway train by standing between a couple and loudly eating chips. 

Other examples of how to disrupt harassment: Drop a book, ask the victim to come to a conference room or if they want to get coffee. Talk to the victim to make sure she is OK, You might say: “I noticed that happened. Are you alright with that?”

Encourage civility:  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission designed a program to create a culture of respect for everyone, such as spotlighting contributions by people who are marginalized. The program also offers helpful things to say in situations when you want to act but don’t know what to do.

Claire Cain Miller says frequent workplace training programs can help. Employees and managers should be encouraged to report harassment. Professor Ian Ayres of Yale Law School has written "information escrows"-- creative and safer ways to help harassment victims who may fear that reporting wrongdoing to harm their careers. 

Among other potential solutions: Gender equity with more women in senior executive positions; greater diversity in occupations now dominated by either men or women; generous workplace and family leave policies.

#135 What's Ahead in 2018: Richard and Jim's Forecast

2018 is certain to bring surprises. In this episode, Jim and Richard bravely venture out onto the high diving board of ideas and plunge into the pool of predictions. We also asked listeners and "How Do We Fix It?" guests for their forecasts of the year to come.

Well-known author and skeptic Michael Shermer says "2018 will be the best year in the history of humanity as measured by health, longevity, medicine, technology, science and culture."

Disruptive marketer and communications designer Geoff Colon tells us that "people are tired of how noisy the world has become. So I see more people deleting apps from their phones and spending less time in the Twitter-verse."

Jim and Richard give their predictions on the 2018 mid-term elections and the new tax code (they go out on a limb here). Both forecast troubled days ahead for Facebook, Google and other giant internet firms, as they run into a buzz saw of criticism over their business practices. 

On the international stage, Richard predicts the U.S. will continue its recent retreat from diplomacy and be weaker as a result.  China's strength will grow. Jim says U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will be a shining star in the Republican party.  

What are your predictions? Go to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Tell us what you think, using the hashtag #FixItForecasts. Our Twitter i.d. is @fixitshow. Find us at "How Do We Fix It?" on Facebook and Instagram.

#131 Why Migration is Good: Leonard Doyle

What do you think of when you hear the word “refugee” or “migrant”? If over-crowded rafts or vast tent encampments come to mind, you are not alone.

But there’s a very different— and much more positive side to migration. Across the world, record numbers of people are on the move in search of new opportunities and a better life.

One solution to the vast increase in global migration is to gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges resulting from a more deeply connected world.

Former journalist, Leonard Doyle, head of Media and Communications at the UN Migration agency IOM, is our guest. 

This episode discusses immigration reform, the surprising impact of Facebook and other social media platforms in promoting migration and the great contributions many migrants and refugees make to the new societies they join.

#127 The Threat to Democracy: Reed Galen

One year after the election of Donald Trump, American democracy is under threat. Our civic life is in a shambles.

Our guest, Reed Galen, says America is a “dual-civilization society,” with each side viewing the other with suspicion, disgust and disdain.

The guardrails of democracy are banged up. Some dents were made years ago — the result of dysfunction In Washington D.C. Others are the result of the President’s sustained attacks on Congress, the judiciary and a free press.

In this episode we look at ways to narrow the gap — from non-partisan redistricting commissions and curbs on gerrymandering, to encouraging more independents to run for office.

Political strategist Reed Galen was deputy campaign manager for Senator John McCain's Presidential campaign and worked in the George W. Bush White House. Earlier this year, Reed left the Republican Party and is now Chief Strategist at Serve America Movement.

He works actively to narrow the great political divide and boost citizen involvement in civic life.

#124 Russia's Threat to U.S. Democracy: Amy Knight

How should the U.S. and other Western nations deal with Vladimir Putin and well-documented threats to democracy from the Russian government? What are the most effective ways to push back against hacking and other attacks?

Ever since Vladimir Putin came to power, his critics have turned up dead on a regular basis. According to our guest, Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In her book "Orders to Kill" and during this episode of "How Do We Fix It?", she exposes a campaign of political murder during Putin's reign that includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Called "the West's foremost scholar of the KGB” by The New York Times, Amy Knight traces Putin's journey from the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the late 1990's to his rise to absolute power in the Kremlin. 

In this episode, we also explore President Trump's defense of Putin and his denial that the Russian leader has murdered opponents. 

Amy Knight explains how human rights groups in the west and Putin's brave and outspoken critics in Russia could weaken the Kremlin.

Web Extra: Listen to Amy Knight explained why she was interviewed by the KBG when she was a young college student.