Episodios

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is a grim reminder that the worst really can happen. Tail risk is real risk. Political leaders fumble, miscalculate, and bluster into avoidable disaster. And even as we try to deal with this catastrophe, the seeds of another are sprouting.

    The US-China relationship will define geopolitics in the 21st century. If we collapse into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism, the results could be hellish. And we are, right now, collapsing into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism. 

    The Trump administration, and key congressional Republicans, are calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus,” and trying to gin up tensions to distract from their domestic failures. Chinese government officials, beset by their own domestic problems, are claiming the US military brought the virus to China. The US-China relationship was in a bad way six months ago, but this is a new level of threat.

    Evan Osnos covers the US-China relationship for the New Yorker, and is author of the National Book Award winner, The Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China. In this conversation, we discuss the past, present and future of the US-China relationship. What are the chances of armed conflict? What might deescalation look like? And we know what the US wants — what, in truth, does China want?

    Book recommendations:
    Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China by Alec Ash
    The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom by John Pomfret

    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself!"
    That was President Donald Trump, this week, explaining why he was thinking about lifting coronavirus guidelines earlier than public-health experts recommended. The "cure," in this case, is social distancing, and the mass economic stoppage it forces. The problem, of course, is COVID-19, and the millions of deaths it could cause.
    This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously. Slowing coronavirus will impose real costs, and immense suffering, on society. Are those costs worth it? This is the most important public policy question right now. And if the discussion isn't had well, then it will be had, as we're already seeing, poorly, and dangerously.
    I wanted to take up this question from two different angles. The first dimension is economic: Are we actually facing a choice between lives and economic growth? If we ceased social distancing, could we sustain a normal economy amidst a raging virus? Jason Furman, professor of the practice of economic policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and President Obama's former chief economist, joins me for that discussion.
    But the economy isn't everything. What is a moral framework we can us when faced with this kind of question? So, in the second half of this show, I talk to Dr. Ruth Faden, the founder of the Berman Institute for Bioethics at Johns Hopkins.
    And then, at the end, I offer some thoughts on my own on the frightening moment we're living through, and the kind of political and social leadership it demands.
    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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  • “What is happening,” writes Annie Lowrey, “is a shock to the American economy more sudden and severe than anyone alive has ever experienced.”  
    It’s also different from what anyone alive has ever experienced. For many of us, the Great Recession is the closest analogue — but it’s not analogous at all. There, the economy’s potential was unchanged, but financial markets were in crisis. Here, we are purposefully freezing economic activity in order to slow a public health crisis. Early data suggests the economic crisis is going to far exceed any single week or quarter of the financial crisis. Multiple economists have told me that the nearest analogy to what we’re going through is the economy during World War II.
    I have a secret advantage when trying to understand moments of economic upheaval. I’m married to Annie Lowrey. I can give you the bio — staff writer at the Atlantic, author of Give People Money (which is proving particularly prophetic and influential right now) — but suffice to say she’s one of the clearest and most brilliant economic thinkers I know. Her viral piece on the affordability crisis is crucial for understanding what the economy really looked like before Covid-19, and she’s been doing some of the best work on the way Covid-19 will worsen the economic problems we had and create a slew of new ones.
    But this isn’t just a conversation about crisis. It’s also a conversation about how to respond. I wouldn’t call it hopeful — we’re not there yet. But constructive.
    References:
    "The Great Affordability Crisis Breaking America" by Annie Lowrey
    If you enjoyed this episode, check out:
    "Fix recessions by giving people money," The Weeds
    Book recommendations:
    Severance by Ling Ma
    Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham
    Crashed by Adam Tooze
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Ron Klain served as the chief of staff to vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden. In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped him to lead the administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He successfully oversaw a hellishly complex effort preparing domestically for an outbreak and surging health resources onto another continent to contain the disease.
     But Klain is quick to say that the coronavirus is a harder challenge even than Ebola. The economy is in free fall. Entire cities have been told to shelter in place. And there’s no telling how long any of this will last. In this conversation, Klain answers my questions about the disease and how to respond to it, as well as questions many of you submitted. We discuss:

    How to change the virus’s reproduction and fatality rates

    Why you need to work backward from health system capacity

    What it means to “flatten the curve”

    Why social distancing will be with us for a long time to come

    The difference between “social distancing” and “self-quarantine”

    What the Trump administration needed to do earlier, and what they still can do now

    The testing debacle

    The economic policy necessary to make social distancing possible

    Why we need to remember not everyone can work at home

    What it would take to surge health care capacity in the US — and how fast we could potentially do it 

    The strengths and weaknesses of America’s particular health care system in responding to a pandemic like this one

    Whether the coronavirus is showing authoritarian systems perform better than liberal(ish) democracies

    What Joe Biden is like in a crisis 


    And much more. I’ve been covering the coronavirus nonstop, and this is one of the clearest, most useful conversations I’ve had. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the clarity of Klain’s analysis will help.
     Also: We want to know what kinds of coronavirus conversations you want to hear right now. Email us at ezrakleinshow@vox.com with suggestions for guests, or just angles. This is going to be a hard time, and we want this podcast to be as much a help as possible.
    Book recommendations:
    Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by Michael Osterholm
    The Great Influenza by John Barry

    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Bernie Sanders campaign is an organizing tour-de-force relative to the Joe Biden campaign; yet the latter has won primary after primary — with even higher turnouts than 2016. So does organizing even work? And, if so, what went wrong?
    Jane McAlevey has organized hundreds of thousands of workers on the frontlines of America’s labor movement. She is also a Senior Policy Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center and the author of three books on organizing, including, most recently, A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy.
    McAlevey doesn’t pull her punches. She thinks the left builds political power all wrong. She thinks people are constantly mistaking “mobilizing” for “organizing,” and that social media has taught a generation of young activists the worst possible lessons. She thinks organized labor’s push for “card check” was a mistake, but that there really is a viable path back to a strong labor movement. And since McAlevey is, above all, a teacher and an organizer, she offers what amounts to a master class in organizing — one relevant not just to building political power, but to building anything.
    To McAlevey, organizing, at its core, is about something very simple, and very close to the heart of this show: how do you talk to people who may not agree with you such that you can truly hear them, and they can truly hear you? This conversation ran long, but it ran long because it was damn good.
    References:
    No Shortcuts by Jane McAlevey
    Raising Expectations and Raising Hell by Jane McAlevey
    Book recommendations:
    Democracy May Not Exist But We'll Miss it When its Gone by Astra Taylor
    I've Got the Light of Freedom Charles M. Payne
    On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • This week, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders each gave separate speeches in response to a rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak in the United States. What did they say? How do their responses differ? And what do those speeches tell us about how their future (or current) administrations? Vox’s Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias discuss on this week’s 2020 election edition of The Weeds.
    Then, how will coronavirus impact the general election in November? Matt and Ezra run through the political science research on how economic growth correlates with electoral success, how analogous situations (like severe weather events) have impacted past elections and more. Hint: things don’t look so great for Donald Trump.
    For more conversations like this one, subscribe to The Weeds on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts!
    Resources:
    President Trump's oval office address
    Joe Biden's coronavirus address
    Bernie Sanders' coronavirus address
    Hosts:
    Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox
    Ezra Klein (@ezraklein), Editor-at-large, Vox



    About Vox
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
    Follow Us: Vox.com
    Facebook group: The Weeds
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  • Before becoming the co-host of Pod Save America, Dan Pfeiffer spent most of his adult life in Democratic Party politics, which included serving as White House communications director for President Barack Obama. But in his new book Un-Trumping America, the former operative levels some sharp criticism toward the party he came of political age in. 
    Contrary to the rhetoric of the leading Democratic presidential candidate, Pfeiffer doesn’t think of Donald Trump as the source of our current social and political ills, and he doesn’t believe that beating Trump will bring about a return to “normalcy.” For Pfeiffer, Trump is a symptom of much deeper forces in our politics — forces that will continue to proliferate unless Democrats get serious about, among other things, genuine structural reform. Among the things we discuss: 
    - Pfeiffer’s view that Donald Trump is the favorite in 2020
    - Why the core divide in the Democratic Party isn’t progressive vs. moderate
    - The flaws in both Sanders and Biden’s theories of institutional change 
    - The way Obama looms over the Democratic primary — perhaps even more than Trump does 
    - The case for, and against, filibuster reform
    - Pfeiffer’s biggest regret from inside the Obama administration
    - What working with Joe Biden is like
    - Why the Obama White House didn’t rally around Biden in 2016
    - The damage the political consultant class does to Democrats
    - What the left got wrong about the Democratic Party
    - Why Democrats need to prioritize democracy itself
    References:
    Ezra's profile of Joe Biden
    Book recommendations:
    Nixonland by Rick Perlstein
    The Known World by Edward P. Jones
    No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin


    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Obsessively following the daily political news feels like an act of politics, or at least an act of civics. But what if, for many of us, it’s a replacement for politics — and one that’s actually hurting the country?
    That is the argument made by Tufts University political scientist Eitan Hersh. In his incisive new book Politics is for Power, Hersh draws a sharp distinction between what he calls “political hobbyism” — following politics as a kind of entertainment and expression of self-identity — and the actual work of politics. His data shows that a lot of people who believe they are doing politics are passively following it, and the way they’re following it has played a key role in making the political system worse.
    But this isn’t just a critique. Hersh’s argument builds to an alternative way of engaging in politics: as a form of service to our institutions and communities. And that alternative approach leads to some dramatically different ideas about how to marry an interest in politics with a commitment to building a better world. It also speaks to some of what we lost in rejecting the political machines and transactional politics of yesteryear — a personal obsession of mine, and a more important hinge point in American political history than I think we realize.
    We are, as you may have noticed, deep into election season, and that’s when it’s easiest to mistake the drama of national politics for the doing of actual politics. So there’s no better time for this conversation.
    Book recommendations:
    Hobbies by Steven Gelber
    Concrete Demands Rhonda E. WIlliams
    Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz

    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Super Tuesday winnowed the 2020 Democratic primary race down to two candidates: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. So how would their presidencies actually differ? Who would staff their administrations? How would they handle Congress? How would they handle key foreign policy decisions? What are their likely points of failure? How would they change the Democratic Party?
    I asked my friend, colleague, and Weeds co-host Matt Yglesias to join me for this conversation, and it was a good one. We’ve both covered Biden and Sanders for a long time, but come away with somewhat different impressions of each. The points where we differ here were, for me, even more helpful than the points where we agreed.
    I'll be interested, as always, to hear your thoughts: ezrakleinshow@vox.com.
    References:
    Matt Yglesias' case for Bernie Sanders
    Ezra's piece on what Bernie needs to learn from Biden

    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Rebecca Solnit is one of the great activist-essayists of our age. Her books and writing cover a vast amount of human existence, but a common thread in her work — and a focus of her upcoming memoir, Recollections of My Nonexistence — is what it means to be voiceless, ignored, and treated as a unreliable witness to the events of your own life. 
    “We always say nobody knows, and that means that everyone who knows was nobody,” Solnit says. “Everyone who was nobody knew about Harvey Weinstein.”
    This conversation is, in part, about what it means to be a nobody and what we’d learn if we listened to the voices on the margins of society. But it goes wide from there, covering the psychic toll of sexual violence, the Weinstein ruling, how visual art infuses Solnit’s journalism, the changing cultural role of San Francisco, what climate change will do to social relations, the different narratives of violence that men and women grow up with, and much more.
    A quick warning: We spoke just after the Weinstein ruling, and we discuss sexual violence both in terms of specific cases and larger cultural questions. It’s an important conversation, and Solnit’s thinking here is essential and humane, but listeners should be prepared for it.
    Book recommendations:
    On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
    In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
    There There by Tommy Orange

    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Welcome to Weeds 2020! Every other Saturday Ezra and Matt will be exploring a wide range of topics related to the 2020 race. 
    Since the Nevada caucuses, Bernie Sanders has become the clear frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary, spurring lots of debate over whether he could win in the general election. We discuss where the electability conversation often goes off-the-rails, why discussing electability in 2020 is so different than 1964 or 1972, the case for and against Bernie’s electability prospects, and the strongest attacks that Trump could make against Sanders and Joe Biden. 
    Then, we discuss Ezra’s favorite topic of all time: the filibuster. Ezra gives a brief history of this weird procedural tool, and we discuss why so many current Senators are against eliminating it.

    Resources:
    "Bernie Sanders can unify Democrats and beat Trump in 2020" by Matthew Yglesias, Vox
    "The case for Elizabeth Warren" by Ezra Klein, Vox
    "How the filibuster broke the US Senate" by Alvin Chang, Vox
    "Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity" by Jonathan Chait, Intelligencer
    "The Sixty Trillion Dollar Man" by Ronald brownstein, Atlantic
    "The Day One Agenda" by David Dayen, American Prospect
    "Bernie Sanders looks electable in surveys — but it could be a mirage" by David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, Vox
    Hosts:
    Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox
    Ezra Klein (@ezraklein), Editor-at-large, Vox
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

    About Vox
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
    Follow Us: Vox.com
    Facebook group: The Weeds

    New to the show? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide


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  • It’s the rare podcast conversation where, as it’s happening, I’m making notes to go back and listen again so I can fully absorb what I heard. But this is that kind of episode.
    Tracy K. Smith is the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, and a two-time poet laureate of the United States (2017-19). But I’ll be honest: She was an intimidating interview for me. I often find myself frustrated by poetry, yearning for it to simply tell me what it wants to say and feeling aggravated that I can’t seem to crack its code.
    Preparing for this conversation and (even more so) talking to Smith was a revelation. Poetry, she argues, is about expressing “the feelings that defy language.” The struggle is part of the point: You’re going where language stumbles, where literalism fails. Developing a comfort and ease in those spaces isn’t something we’re taught to do, but it’s something we need to do. And so, on one level, this conversation is simply about poetry: what it is, what it does, how to read it.
    But on another level, this conversation is also about the ideas and tensions that Smith uses poetry to capture: what it means to be a descendent of slaves, a human in love, a nation divided. Laced throughout our conversation are readings of poems from her most recent book, Wade in the Water, and discussions of some of the hardest questions in the American, and even human, canon. Hearing Smith read her erasure poem, “Declaration,” is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful moments I’ve had on the podcast.
    There is more to this conversation than I can capture here, but simply put: This isn’t one to miss. And that’s particularly true if, like me, you’re intimidated by poetry.
    References: 
    Smith’s lecture before the Library of Congress 
    Smith’s commencement speech at Wellesley College 
    Book recommendations: 
    Notes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith 
    Quilting by Lucille Clifton 
    Bodega by Su Hwang 


    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comCredits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In the late 90s Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover as a waitress to discover how people with minimum wage full-time jobs were making ends meet. It turned out, they weren’t. Ehrenreich’s book Nickled and Dimed revealed just how dire the economic conditions of everyday working people were at a time when the economy was supposedly booming. It was a wake up call for many Americans at the time, including me who picked up the book as a curious college student. 
    Since then Ehrenreich, a journalist by trade, has written on a vast range of topics from the precarity of middle-class existence to the psychological and sociological roots of collective joy to human mortality to her own attempt, as an atheist, to grapple with mystical experiences. Needless to say, this is a widely ranging conversation.
    References:
    Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Nicked and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Fear of Falling by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Had I Known by Barbara Ehrenreich


    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Hello! I’m Jane Coaston, filling in for Ezra. My guest today is Tim Carney, a commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. 
    In the wake of the 2016 election, Carney began traveling across the country and poring through county-level data in an attempt to understand the forces that led to Donald Trump’s victory. The culprit, he argues, is not racism or economic anxiety, it's the breakdown of social institutions.
    In his new book Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse, Carney posits that for centuries religious (and other private) institutions formed a much-needed social glue that kept communities together. That social glue, however, has decayed in recent decades, creating a void of despair, alienation, and frustration in so-called “Middle America." Donald Trump did not offer a compelling way to solve these problems, but he was the only candidate willing to name them — and in 2016 that was enough.
    In this conversation, we discuss Carney's thesis at length, but we also talk about why white evangelicals love Trump so much, how communities of color have responded differently to institutional loss than white communities, the appeal of Bernie Sanders, how Trump's reelection strategy will differ from his 2016 campaign, and much more. I hope this conversation is as interesting for you to listen to as it was for me to have.
    Book recommendations:
    Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America by Chris Arnade
    My Father Left Me Ireland by Michael Brendan Dougherty 
    The Bible

    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • This one was a pleasure. Ta-Nehisi Coates joined me in Brooklyn for part of the “Why We’re Polarized” tour. His description of the book may be my favorite yet. It is, he says, “a cold, atheist book.” We talk about what that means, and from there, go into some of the harder questions raised not so much by the book, but by American history itself. Then Coates asked me a question I never expected to hear from him: Is there anything I could say to leave him with some hope? Don’t miss this one.

    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Hello! I’m Sean Illing, Vox’s interviews writer filling in for Ezra while he’s on book tour. My guest today is Martin Hägglund, a philosopher at Yale and the author of This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, which I consider to be one of the most ambitious and important books in the last several years.
    We begin by discussing what it means to live a free and purposeful life without regret or illusion. For Hägglund, this life is all we have. There is no heaven, no afterlife, no eternal beyond. We live and we die and that means that the most important question any of us can possibly ask is, “What should we do with our time?” 
    We end by talking about the limits of capitalism, namely why it doesn’t really allow us to own our time in the way we ought to. And thus why, for Hägglund, democratic socialism is the only political project that takes the human condition seriously. 
    This is an unusual conversation, but, I have to say, I loved it. I appreciate and admire Hägglund’s willingness to tackle the biggest questions any us can ever ask, and I think by the end of it you will, too.
    Book recommendations:
    Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the other animals by Christine Korsgaard
    On the Soul (De Anima) by Aristotle 
    Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F Hegel 

    Follow Sean Illing at Vox or on Twitter @seanilling
    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Guest host - Sean Illing
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  •  I’ve been a fan of Tim Urban and his site Wait But Why for a long time. Urban uses whimsical illustrations, infographics, and friendly, nontechnical language to explain everything from AI to space exploration to the Fermi Paradox. 
    Urban's most recent project is an explainer series called “The Story of Us." It began as an attempt to understand what is going on in American politics today, and quickly turned into a deep exploration into humanity's past: how we evolved, the history of civilization, and the way our psychologies have come to interact with the world around us. 
    My initial theory of this conversation was that Urban’s work has interesting points of convergence and divergence with my book. But once we got to talking, something more interesting emerged: Based on his reading of human history, psychology, and technological advancement, Urban has come to believe we are at an existential fork-in-the-road as a species. A hundred years from now, Urban thinks, our species will either advance so significantly that we will no longer be recognizable as human beings, or we will so lose control of our progress that the human story will end in a destructive apocalypse. I’m less convinced, but open to the idea that I’m wrong.
    So this, then, isn’t just a conversation about politics and polarization in the present. It’s more fully a conversation about whether the politics of the present are distracting us from the forces that are, even as we speak, deciding our future.
    References: 
    Dave Robert’s piece on Tim Urban’s aversion to politics 
    My conversation with Andrew Yang
    Book recommendations: 
    A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich 
    The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu 
    Atomic Habits by James Clear

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones.
    This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world?
    But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, why (and whether) my book is devoid of individual or institutional “villains,” and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account, in addition to the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more.
    This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them.

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Tom Steyer has worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. He made his billions running a hedge fund for decades before moving into progressive activism on causes like democratization, climate change, and impeaching Donald Trump. Now, he is running for president of the United States. 
    Steyer’s primary message on the campaign trial is that we need to get money, lobbyists and corporate influence out of politics. At the same time, he is the living embodiment of much of what he thinks is broken about our system. He used his wealth as a shortcut onto the presidential debate stage and, in doing so, essentially wrote the playbook for any future billionaire who decides they want a shot at winning the highest office in the land. 
    So, is Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics -- or is he part of the problem? That question is a lot bigger than Steyer himself. It is about the kinds of people we think will best represent the interests of non-billionaires. It is about the sort of influence we think wealth should have in our society. It is about whether, in our current political moment, we want to trust the arsonists to put out the fires they helped create.
    I’ll let you decide the answer.
    Book recommendations:
    The Holy Bible
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details.
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Credits:
    Engineer - Cynthia Gil
    Producer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  •  The Why We’re Polarized book tour kicked off this week with a wonderful event at Sixth and I in Washington, DC. My conversation partner for this one was New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie. Our interview was great, and then the audience questions were so good we had to keep them in as well. We discuss:  
    • Why things were far worse in the “golden age” of the 1950s and ’60s than they are today
    • Why the key question isn’t so much “why are we polarized?” as “why weren’t we polarized?”
    • Why “moderate” Republicans end up losing to conservatives
    • Why demographic change is the core cleavage of American politics today
    • How polarization makes bipartisanship irrational and political dysfunction the norm
    • Why Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are not the causes of polarization but rather the most clear manifestations of it
    • That more information doesn’t rescue politics
    • Why America today is not functionally a democracy (and why I hate when people claim it is a “republic” to justify our current system)
    • Why the most underrated divide in American politics is not that between left and right but between the informed and the uninformed
    • Why we can’t reverse polarization and instead need to reform our political system so that it can function amid polarization

    New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.
    Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details.
    My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app.
    Credits:
    Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices