politics

Jurek Durczak, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2982346

Johnny Rotten had it easy in England. Try being an East German punk with the Stasi looking over your shoulder.

Tim Mohr, Berlin-based DJ, translator and music scholar, has written a history of the underground punk scene in East Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, called Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Jon Meacham has written some fine biographies of Americans, including one on Andrew Jackson that won a Pulitzer Prize.  Now it's not a person Meacham is examining, but a whole country. 

That's the gist of his latest work, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.  In the book, Meacham points out several times in American history when we were at each other's throats, figuratively if not actually, and managed to come through. 

The key: finding and accentuating those better angels. 

Andrew Bowen for Capital Public Radio

California state Sen. Kevin de León got a boost over the weekend in his underdog campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein this fall: an endorsement from the state Democratic Party.

Deviant Art/Wikimedia

Political figures are fond of making moves they say will help "the economy."  And often, out of sight, economists roll their eyes at the politicians. 

They rely upon each other, but economist Alan S. Blinder sees a dysfunctional relationship. 

And he demonstrates why in his book Advice and Dissent: Why America Suffers When Economics and Politics Collide.  Blinder advocates for more hard-headed but soft-hearted policies. 

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Just the title of Patrick J. Deneen's book might raise a few hackles on America's left wing: Why Liberalism Failed

Deneen, a political science teacher at Notre Dame, examines the tenets of liberalism and points out how they work against their professed goals. 

Example: encouraging members of society to work for a common good WHILE also elevating the rights of the individual.  CAN liberalism be made to add up?  And does it have a future? 

United Nations, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59070111

Richard Haass thinks a lot about the state of international relations in his role as president of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

He wrote A World in Disarray before Donald Trump took office, and added some thoughts on the last year in a new paperback version of the book. 

In short, the structures that guided the world out of World War II and away from World War III are now out of date, in Haass's estimation. 

Department of Defense/Public Domain

Elections and their aftermath produce jubil

ation and despair, that's clear.  But do people REALLY feel like their voices are heard on a regular basis? 

Activists Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen say NO.  They say too many people feel like our version of democracy may not be worth defending. 

They suggest remedies in the book they wrote together: Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want

They see a movement of other movements to stand up for democracy.

Christian Ferrer, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49733344

Think about some of the most divisive issues in our country, and what's at the heart of them. 

Abortion?  Procreation caused by sex.  Gay rights?  All about who you have sex with. 

You get the picture: sex and attitudes towards it figure prominently in our national debates. 

R. Marie Griffith tracks the debates back a century in Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics

The two major political parties have lost a bunch of ground in recent decades. 

The people who self-identify as "independent" far outnumber the people who identify as either Democrat or Republican.  But nearly all major political figures are party members. 

That is precisely the situation the Centrist Project wants to change.  The projects wants to get independent candidates elected at all levels of government, but especially the U.S. Senate... because electing a handful of independents would deny either party a majority. 

DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The American right wing is fond of talking about "the deep state" of late. 

Each side has its boogeymen and suspected conspirators, like the way the left wing feels about the Koch brothers. 

Nancy MacLean adds a name in her book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

And the name is that of James McGill Buchanan, presumed architect of many right wing victories and a friend to the Kochs. 

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The world is full of populations of people who wish or demand that they had their own countries. 

Think Taiwan, Tibet, and Crimea, for starters.  But there are many more... enough to fill a book, it turns out.  And that is Nick Middleton's An Atlas of Countries That Don't Exist

There are examples you've heard of, like the three above.  Many more will surprise you, like the Native American lands declared independent in the middle of the United States. 

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Do you look around before you speak your mind?  Are you concerned by what other people will think about what YOU think?  You're not alone in a country as politically divided as ours is. 

Oregon's own Sharon Schuman pushes for something she calls "dialogic freedom" -- freedom to say what you think, within certain guidelines. 

She goes back in history for examples, in her book Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.  It's a helpful reminder that today's polarization is not new. 

TKO: African-Americans In The GOP

Nov 28, 2016
University of California Press

Race loomed large in the recent election. 

One commentator referred to the election of Donald Trump as a "whitelash."  Exit polls indicate the story is more complicated than that, but racial and party identification can correlate closely. 

And sometimes not, as Corey D. Fields demonstrates in his book on African Americans in the Republican party: Black Elephants in the Room

The Keenest Observers host Rob Goodwin returns for this segment. 

Talking Politics Over The Turkey (Or Not)

Nov 22, 2016
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Thanksgiving will be the first time many Oregonians break bread together post presidential election. 

Will the time-honored rule of “no politics at the dinner table” still cut the mustard after an election where so many traditions went out the window? 

From "Ratf**ked"/W.W. Norton

It can be mighty hard to remember that there is more on the ballot than the race for president, MUCH more.  And what happens at the top of the ticket can have a profound effect on races down the ballot, like races for Congressional seats. 

Even so, do not expect the Democrats to win control of the House of Representatives.  The districts are drawn to accentuate Republican power in many states, as David Daley told us months ago in his book Ratf**ked

He adds an addendum to the book with a recent article at Salon

JPR Co-Sponsors First Oregon Gov Debate

Sep 23, 2016
campaigns/JPArt

Most of Oregon's people live in the Willamette Valley.  So that's where many of the state's elected leaders come from. 

But Oregon has many people living far from the urban areas, with their own concerns about state government.  The Oregon gubernatorial candidates--Kate Brown and Bud Pierce--agreed to hold their first debate in Bend, focused on the issues of Rural Oregon. 

JPR is one of the partners in this first debate (Saturday, September 24th), with Emily Cureton representing JPR News on the panel. 

The Siskiyou/Moro Campaign/JPArt

It will be Ashland's former mayor versus the Rogue Valley Transportation District's board chair in a special November election for Oregon Senate District 3. 

A special Republican convention held Tuesday night in Medford chose Alan DeBoer to run for the seat vacated by the sudden death of Sen. Alan Bates on August 5th. 

Moro Campaign/JPArt

Jackson County Democrats picked Tonia Moro to run for Oregon State Senate in a special convention Friday night (August 19).

She will run for the Senate District 3 seat vacated by Sen. Alan Bates of Medford, who died two weeks before.

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

The sudden death of State Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford) created a vacancy and an election in Oregon Senate District 3.

Twelve Democrats have expressed a desire to fill the position, either short or long-term. 

Holding Onto America's Promise

Aug 10, 2016
Tysto/Wikimedia

You frequently hear people refer to the United States as an "experiment" in its approach to liberty. 

Well, experiments fail.  And that is the concern of Eric Metaxas, author and radio host. 

His latest book is If You Can Keep It, a warning of what we could lose by not paying attention to the intentions of the country's founders. 

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