Episodes

  • In a special, post-debate episode, I'm joined by Matt Yglesias to discuss the most unnerving presidential debate I've ever seen.

    Hosts:
    Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox
    Ezra Klein (@ezraklein), Editor-at-large, Vox

    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma

    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.

    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)

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  • We talk a lot on this show about the problems with American political institutions. But what if all those problems are actually just one problem: the two-party system.

    Lee Drutman is a political scientist, senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America, co-host of the podcast Politics in Question, and most recently the author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America, which makes the best case against America’s two-party system that I’ve ever read. 

    In Drutman’s telling, the reason our politics have gotten so toxic is simple: Toxicity is the core incentive of any two-party system. American democracy was only stable at mid-century because we functionally had a four-party system that kept the temperature of political combat from overheating, and the only way to achieve a similar homeostasis is by recreating that kind of system (which Drutman has a four-part plan to do).

    I'm convinced by a lot of Drutman’s analysis, but I tend toward skepticism that the two-party system is the source of our political ills, which makes this a really fun, dynamic conversation.

    Book recommendations:
    The Semi-Sovereign People by E.E. Schattschneider
    Uncivil Agreement by Liliana Mason 
    A Different Democracy by Steven L. Taylor, Matthew Soberg Shugart, Arend Lijphart, Bernard Grofman 



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    Credits:
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    Researcher - Roge Karma

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  • The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just weeks before a presidential election, leaves us in dangerous waters. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which the election outcome is contested by one side and is ultimately determined by a Supreme Court with the deciding vote cast by Trump's recent appointee. Indeed, both Sen. Ted Cruz and President Donald Trump have named this scenario as driving their urgency to replace Ginsburg. At that point, a legitimacy crisis looms.

    Suzanne Mettler is the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University. Her work has focused on trust between citizens and their governments, but recently, she’s co-written, with Robert Lieberman, a book that is tailor-made for this moment: Four Threats: The Recurring Crisis of American Democracy. Its thesis is a dark one: America’s most dangerous political crises have been driven by four kinds of threat -- political polarization, democratic exclusion, economic inequality, and executive power. But this is the first time all four threats are present simultaneously.  

    “It may be tempting to think that we have weathered severe threats before and that the Constitution protected us,” they write. “But that would be a misreading of history, which instead reveals that democracy is indeed fragile, and that surviving threats to it is by no means guaranteed.” 

    We discuss where Ginsburg's passing leaves us, what 2020 election scenarios we should be most worried about, what the tumultuous election of 1800 can teach us about today, how this moment could foster exactly the democratic reckoning this country needs, whether court packing and filibuster elimination will save American democracy or destroy it, when people know they’re benefiting from government programs and when they don’t, and more.

    Book recommendations:
    Good Enough for Government Work by Amy Lerman 
    Fragmented Democracy by Jamila Michener
    With Ballots and Bullets by Nathan Kalmoe 

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    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • David French is a senior editor at the Dispatch, a columnist at Time, and one of the conservative commentators I read most closely. French and I have rather different politics — he's a Christian conservative from Tennessee and I’m a secular liberal from California — but his upcoming book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, tracks some of the same problems that I’ve been obsessing over for years: political polarization and the way it's cracking America apart.
     
    But French goes further than I do: He fears not just governmental dysfunction and paralysis, but full-on secession and even civil war. He constructs two in-depth scenarios — one quite violent — by which America fractures into two separate red and blue nations following secession, and argues the only viable solution is a supercharged form of federalism in which both sides accept that in a nation this polarized, America can only hang together if it permits different regions to govern apart. But is that an answer to our problems, or simply a form of submission to them?
     
    In important ways, French's solution is the opposite of the path I tend to favor, and the result is a constructive debate about the nature of group polarization, the possibility of secession, the importance of the filibuster, what we can learn from James Madison, the virtues and vices of democracy, and the feedback loops of governance. There are, of course, no perfect answers here. But perhaps we can discover the least-terrible solution on offer. 

    (One note: This conversation was recorded shortly before Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. But as you'll hear, much of what we talk about is unnervingly relevant to the kind of political crisis, and particularly the questions of minoritarian vs. majoritarian rule, that we're now facing.)

    Book recommendations:
    The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
    The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
    Dune by Frank Herbert 


    We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey. 

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    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • Matt Yglesias is a co-founder and senior correspondent at Vox, my co-host on The Weeds podcast, and my oldest friend in journalism. Matt’s college blog was an inspiration for my own, and since then we’ve worked together, podcasted together, and even started Vox together. I've learned an enormous amount from him, both when we agree and when we disagree.

    A lot has changed since Matt and I started blogging in the early 2000s — and we’ve changed, too. So we start this conversation by discussing how social media has altered American politics, why Matt went from a war hawk to near-pacifist on US foreign policy, what it’s like to go from attacking the establishment to being seen as part of the establishment, and the way the Obama administration disillusioned him. 

    But Matt has also recently written a new book, One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger. In it, he argues that the path to ensure American greatness and preeminence on the world stage is a combination of mass immigration, pro-family policy, and overhauling America’s housing and transportation systems. We discuss how to reconcile that vision with the reality of climate change, what a genuinely progressive pro-family agenda would look like, Donald Trump’s housing policy dog-whistling, why we should be allowing a lot more legal immigration, and much more.

    Book recommendations:
    Justice, Gender and the Family by Susan M. Okin
    Political Order and Political Decay by Francis Fukuyama
    A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark


    We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey. 

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    Researcher - Roge Karma

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • Our conversation over race and policing — like our conversations over virtually everything in America — is shot through with a crude individualism. Talking in terms of systems and contexts comes less naturally to us, but that means we often miss the true story.
    Phillip Atiba Goff is the co-founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity, as well as a professor of African-American studies and psychology at Yale University. At CPE, Goff sits atop the world’s largest collection of police behavioral data. So he has the evidence, and he knows what it tells us — and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t even attempt to measure. He knows what we can say with confidence about race and policing, and what we wish we knew, but simply don’t. He thinks in systems, in contexts, in uncertainty — in the bigger, harder picture. 
    That’s what this conversation is about. What do we know about racial bias in policing? At what levels does it operate? Where has it been measured, and what haven’t we even tried to measure? How much of policing is driven by crime rates? How do we think about the conditions that create crime in this analysis, and what do we miss when we ignore them? What do we know about the investments that actually make people safe? How do we balance the reality that police do reduce violent crime with the fury communities have at being over-policed, or victimized by police? How do we experiment with other models of safety carefully and systematically?
    There’s a lot in this one. This conversation could’ve gone for hours longer. But these are tough issues, and they deserve someone who understands both the micro-level data and the macro-level context. Goff does, and he shares that knowledge generously and clearly here.

    Book recommendations:
    Wounded in the House of a Friend by Sonia Sanchez
    Evicted by Matthew Desmond 
    Uneasy Peace by Patrick Sharkey
    No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay


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    Credits:
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  • Coronavirus has turned life into an endless series of risk calculations. Can I take my child to see his grandparents, even if it means getting on a plane? Is it okay to begin seeing friends or dating? Should I attend religious services even if they are held inside? Do I have to wear a mask around my roommates? The profusion of these questions reflects public health failures, but we live in the wreckage of those failures. So how are we best to live?

    Julia Marcus is an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and a contributing writer for The Atlantic who has penned a brilliant series of essays about how to think about risk amidst this pandemic. Marcus’s starting point, which emerges from her previous work on HIV prevention, is that an all-or-nothing approach is blindly unrealistic: Everything is a trade-off. Shaming is a terrible public health strategy. And we can’t have a conversation about risks that ignores the reality of benefits, too. 

    In this conversation, Marcus offers a framework for making key life decisions while also managing coronavirus risk at the same time. We also discuss what the risk calculation for someone living in Germany or South Korea looks like, how the US government’s abdication of responsibility has shifted the burden of risk management onto individuals, the kinds of activities we tend to underestimate and overestimate the riskiness of, the principles that should guide us in the age of coronavirus, how long we can expect this pandemic to last, and much more.
    References:
    “Quarantine Fatigue Is Real”, Julia Marcus, The Atlantic
    “Americans Aren’t Getting the Advice They Need”, Julia Marcus, The Atlantic
    “Colleges Are Getting Ready to Blame Their Students”, Julia Marcus, The Atlantic
    Book recommendations:
    Momo by Michael Ende
    Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed 
    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

    We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey. 

    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.

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    Credits:
    Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • The Republican Party began losing the Black vote around 1936. Since then, Republicans have commissioned reports, hired consultants, and spent huge sums of campaign dollars trying to win back Black voters. The project continues today: This year’s Republican National Convention presented a lineup of speakers far more diverse than the Republican Party itself, making the case for the “Party of Lincoln.” A third of African Americans, after all, self-identify as “conservative.” And yet, no Republican presidential candidate has won more than 15 percent of the Black vote since 1964 (many have received well under 10).
     
    Leah Wright Rigueur is a historian and public policy scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican, a remarkable study of the distinct ideologies woven through the Black conservative and Black Republican traditions. The book traces the history of why Black voters left the GOP and what the Republican Party has tried to do — and what it has refused to do — to win them back.
     
    Rigueur has also spent the past decade teaching classes on racial protests, riots, and how they shaped American politics in the 20th century. We discuss the historical analogues for today’s protest movement, what’s different now than in 1968, the complex relationship between protesters and electoral politics, how these movements can lead to both lasting change and white backlash, and more.

    Book recommendations:
    Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State by Megan Ming Francis
    Don't Blame Us by Lily Geismer
    One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson



    We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey. 

    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.

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    Credits:
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    Researcher - Roge Karma

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • The last time Andrew Yang was on the podcast, he was just beginning his long shot campaign for the presidency. Now, he’s fresh off a speaking slot at the Democratic convention, and, as he reveals here, talking to Joe Biden about a very specific role in a Biden administration. 
    Which is all to say: A lot has changed for Andrew Yang in the past few years. And even more has changed in the world. So I asked Yang back on the show to talk through this new world, and his possible role in it. Among our topics:
    - Could a universal basic income be the way we rebuild a fairer economy post-coronavirus? 
    - What’s changed in AI, and its likely effect on the economy, over the past five years? 
    - What’s the one mistake Yang wishes the Democratic Party would stop making? 
    - What did he learn from the surprising success of his own campaign? 
    - What job is he talking to Joe Biden about taking if Democrats win in November? 
    - Democrats think of themselves as the party of government. So why don’t they care more about making government work? 
    - How can Democrats get away with endlessly claiming to support ideas they have no actual intention of passing?
    - Do progressives have an overly dystopic view of technology?
    - Is there a way to pull presidential campaigns out of value statements, and into real plans for governing?
    - The unusual power Joe Biden holds in American politics
    And much more.
    References:
    Vox's Kelsey Piper's piece on GPT-3
    My previous podcast with Andrew Yang
    Ezra's piece on "Why we can't build"
    Book recommendations:
    Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee
    They Don't Represent Us by Lawrence Lessig 
    Humankind by Rutger Bregman

    This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild

    We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: voxmedia.com/podsurvey. 

    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • In 2003, America invaded Iraq. The war cost trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and destabilized the both the US and the Middle East. And for what? Iraq had no WMDs. Even if they had, they posed no threat to us. Why did we do it? What do we need to learn from it?

    That’s the question Robert Draper has spent years trying to answer. In 2007, Draper wrote Dead Certain, a study of the Bush administration with access to the President himself. But there was a hole at the center of that book, and Draper knew it: He still didn't quite understand what had led Bush to invade Iraq. And so he set out to fill the hole. Draper’s To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq is based on interviews with more than 300 people involved in the run-up to the Iraq War, and the stories they tell offer the clearest, most damning, most useful account of that decision to date. 

    There’s a reason I wanted to have this conversation right now. The Iraq War isn’t just past. It’s present. It’s part of how George W. Bush’s Republican Party fell to Donald Trump. It’s a study in the ways a president led by conviction and dismissive of expertise can warp the federal government (sound familiar?). It’s a reminder that belief can be as dangerous as cynicism. It's a lesson in the way that, when information is uncertain, assumptions rule all. And for all the differences between Bush and Trump personally, closely studying the Iraq War reveals a key continuity between them, and a reason Republican administrations keep leading to catastrophe. 

    References:
    Ezra's piece on why Republican administrations keep leading to catastrophe

    Book recommendations:
    The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
    The False Cause by Adam H. Domby
    Young Heroes of the Soviet Union by Alex Halberstadt



    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • Saul Griffith knows the US energy system better than just about anyone on this planet. He’s an inventor, a MacArthur genius fellow, and the founder and CEO of Otherlab where his team was contracted by the Department of Energy to track and visualize the entirety of America’s energy flows. I had Griffith on the show last year for our climate series to lay out what it would look like for America to decarbonize. It was an awesome episode, but it was just a start. 
     
    Last month, Griffith formed an organization called Rewiring America and released an e-book of the same name that details the path to effectively decarbonize the US economy by 2035 without forcing Americans to sacrifice their current lifestyles and without having to invent any new technology. Just as importantly — and this is why it fits our mobilization series — Griffith worked with economists to come up with an estimate of how many new jobs this kind of mobilization could create: 25 million over the next five years, they found. More than that: They looked at what kinds of jobs these would be and where they’d be created. 
     
    Griffith’s plan is just about the boldest I’ve seen — and there are real questions about whether our political system is up for the task. But those are, crucially, political questions; part of answering them is showing that they can be answered and that they can be answered in ways that make working Americans better off rather than worse. We are in the midst of an unprecedented triple crisis: A public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a climate crisis each unlike anything we’ve ever faced. If there is a time to be bold, this is it.

    References:
    Rewiring America's Jobs Report
    Study on animal agriculture and emissions
    Dave Robert's Vox explainer on the "Rewiring America" plan
    My previous conversation with Saul Griffith
    You can check the Ezra Klein Show's climate change series here.

    Book recommendations
    Debt: A 5,000 Year History by David Graeber

    This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild



    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Isabel Wilkerson is an intimidating guest. She’s a former New York Times reporter, Pulitzer Prize recipient, Guggenheim fellow, and hands-down one of the best writers of our time. Her 2010 book The Warmth of Other Suns, a beautiful narrative history of the Great Migration, was a landmark achievement, and remains one of the all-time most recommended books on this show. 
     
    Wilkerson worked for years on her new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which grapples with a question that has become all the more relevant in recent months: What does America look like when the myths we tell ourselves about who we are, who we’ve been, and what we’ve created fall away? How should we understand the way the racial hierarchies of our past still shape our present?
     
    Caste is a book built around a big theory: that America is a caste system and that, to understand it, we need to drop our sense of exceptionalism and analyze ourselves the way we analyze caste systems in other countries. But it is also a book built around dozens — hundreds — of smaller stories. Wilkerson’s genius as a writer is her ability to connect the macro and the micro, to tell you the big story of what happened but to make that story matter by linking it to the lives of those who survived it. That is, to me, her unique contribution: What in the hands of another writer would feel like an abstraction attains, in her work, the vividness and emotional power of lived experience. 
     
    This is a big conversation, and it’s not always an easy one. But it is one you will not forget.

    References:
    My conversation with David Williams on why Covid-19 is so deadly for Black America
    Book recommendations:
    Annihilation of Caste by B.R. Ambedkar
    Deep South by Allison Davis and Burleigh Gardner 
    The Heart of Man by Eric Fromm


    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld
    Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In 2019, about one in six children in America — 12 million kids nationwide — lived in poverty. That’s a rate about two or three times higher than in peer countries. And that was before the worst economic and public health crisis in modern history. 
     
    The scale of child poverty in America is a disgrace, not only because of the suffering it creates and the potential it drains from our society, but because it’s easily avoidable. Child poverty is not an inevitability; it’s a policy choice. And we’ve been making the wrong choice for far too long. 
     
    So for the second episode of our economic remobilization series, I wanted to focus on a simple set of questions: What if we started taking our moral responsibility to America’s kids seriously? What would that world look like? How would we get there? 
     
    Congress member Barbara Lee is the chair of the Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity — and she’s someone who raised two kids, as a single mom on public assistance. In 2015, Lee and her colleague Lucille Roybal-Allard commissioned a landmark report from the National Academy of Sciences to better understand child poverty in America and what we could do to reduce it. Released last year, the report lays out a series of concrete policy proposals that would cut child poverty in half while paying for themselves 10 times over in social benefits.
     
    In this conversation, Lee and I discuss the psychological impact that poverty has on kids, why investing in children is one of the best investments a society can make, what other countries do right on this front that we can learn from, what it would take to end child poverty as we know it, and much more — including why Lee, a hero to many progressives, was an early backer of now-VP nominee Kamala Harris.

    This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild

    References:
    "A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty" by the National Academies of Sciences
    A great Vox explainer on the child poverty report

    Book recommendations:
    The End of White Politics by Zerlina Maxwell
    Say It Louder! by Tiffany Cross 
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 



    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Jack-of-all-audio-trades - Jeff Geld
    Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby became a global star with her Netflix special Nanette. It’s a remarkable piece of work, and it does what great art is supposed to do: Give you a sense, however fleeting, of what it is like to live inside another human’s experience. Gadsby’s new special, Douglas, takes that a step further: It explores her autism diagnosis and gives you a sense of what it is like to experience the world through another person’s mind. 

    The first half of my episode with Gadsby is about her experience moving through the world as a neurodiverse person. Gadsby didn't receive her autism diagnosis until she was almost 40 years old, after decades of struggling to navigate systems, institutions, and norms that weren't built for people like her. Her story of how she got to comedy — and how close she was to simply falling off the map — is searing, and it helped me see some of the capabilities and social conventions I take for granted in a new light. As in her shows, Gadsby, here, renders an experience few of us have had emotionally legible. It’s a powerful conversation.

    Then, we turn to the topics of free speech, safety, and cancel culture. For years, comedy has been undergoing many of the very same debates that have recently become front and center in the journalism world, and Gadsby has done some of the most powerful thinking I've heard on these issues. We discuss what it means for people in power to take responsibility for their speech, how to navigate the complex relationship between creator and audience members, why Twitter is a “bullying pulpit,” the role of recording technology, and the new skills those of us privileged with a platform are going to need to develop.

    This is one of those conversations I’ve been thinking about since I had it. Don’t miss it.


    Book (and painting) recommendations:
    Saint Sebastian as a Woman by Louise Bourgeois
    The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben 
    The New Tsar by Steven Lee Myers


    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
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    Credits:
    Producer/Editor/Jack-of-all-audio-trades - Jeff Geld
    Researcher/Learner of all things - Roge Karma
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  • The novel coronavirus — and America’s disastrously inept response — has shuttered the economy, leaving factories quiet, businesses closed, workers unable to do their jobs. Pulling out of this hole will require an economic effort unlike anything in recent history. We don’t just need a bit of stimulus. We will need a remobilization. But towards what end?

    This is the first episode in a four-part series exploring how to rebuild the economy after COVID. Future episodes will look at a Green New Deal, a children-centric economy, and a universal basic income. But I wanted to start at the beginning. What can the government do? What is the economy for? Why should we trust politicians, rather than markets, to allocate resources on this scale?

    Zach Carter is a senior reporter at HuffPost and the author of a new book, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes. The book, which has widely been hailed as one of the year’s best, is a remarkable biography animated by a question many of us have forgotten Keynes asked: What values should guide an economy? What are the higher purposes economic policy should serve? Carter and I discuss:

    What Keynes would advise the US government to do if he were alive today

    How good domestic economic management can reduce the risk of global war

    Whether economics should be about maximizing consumer preferences or pursuing a social purpose

    The limits of democracy

    The role advertising plays in economic preferences

    Why the gold standard was — and is — a terrible idea

    Why Democratic politicians are stuck in the 1990s when it comes to their thinking on budget deficits

    Modern Monetary Theory (and its discontents)


    And much more.

    Book recommendations:
    The Globaists by Quinn Slobodian
    The Deluge by Adam Tooze 
    Nova by Samuel R. Delany
    John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics by Richard Parker 


    This podcast is part of a larger Vox project called The Great Rebuild, which is made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. You can find out more at vox.com/the-great-rebuild
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Audio fanatic - Jeff Geld
    Researcher- Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • For 30 years, Stuart Stevens was one of the most influential operatives in Republican politics. He was Mitt Romney’s top strategist in 2012, served in key roles on both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, and worked on dozens of congressional and gubernatorial campaigns — building one of the best winning records in politics. Then Stevens watched his party throw its support behind a man who stood against everything he believed in, or thought he believed in. 

    Most dissidents from Trumpism take a familiar line: They didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left them. But for Stevens, Trump forced a more fundamental rethinking: The problem, he believes, is not that the GOP became something it wasn’t; it’s that many of those within it — including him — failed to see what it actually was. In his new book, It Was All a Lie, he delivers a searing indictment of the party he helped build and his role in it. 

    This is a conversation about the Republican Party’s past, present, and future. We discuss the differences between the Democratic and Republican coalitions, whether party elites could have prevented Trump’s rise, the power the GOP base holds, the relationship between tax cuts for the rich and white identity politics for the poor, where the party can and can’t go after Trump, the GOP operatives trying to put Kanye West on the 2020 ballot, how Stevens played the race card in his first campaigns, why Romney lost while Trump won, and much more.

    Book recommendations:
    The memoirs of Franz von Papen
    Black Cross by Greg Iles 


    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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/Audio fanatic - Jeff Geld
    Researcher- Roge Karma
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  • Conservative parties operating in modern democracies face a dilemma: How does a party that represents the interests of moneyed elites win mass support? The dilemma sharpens as inequality widens — the more the haves have, the more have-nots there are who want to tax them.

    In their new book, Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality, political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that three paths are possible: Moderate on economics, activate social divisions, or undermine democracy itself. The Republican Party, they hold, has chosen a mix of two and three. “To advance an unpopular plutocratic agenda, Republicans have escalated white backlash — and, increasingly, undermined democracy,” they write.

    On some level, it’s obvious that the GOP is a coalition between wealthy donors who want tax cuts and regulatory favors, and downscale whites who fear demographic change and want Trump to build that wall. But how does that coalition work? What happens when one side gains too much power? If the donor class was somehow raptured out of politics, would the result be a Republican Party that trafficked less in social division, or more? And has the threat of strongman rule distracted us from the growing reality of minoritarian rule?

    In this conversation, we discuss how inequality has remade the Republican Party, the complex relationship between white identity politics and plutocratic economics, what to make of the growing crop of GOP leaders who want to abandon tax cuts for the rich and recenter the party around ethnonationalism, how much power Republican voters have over their party, and much more.

    Paul Pierson's book recommendations:
    Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
    Evicted by Matthew Desmond
    The Social Limits to Growth by Fred Hirsch

    Jacob Hacker's book recommendations:
    Tocqueville's Discovery of America by Leo Damrosch
    The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
    The Internationalists by Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro


    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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 in chief - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • The introduction to Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, hit me hard. In her investigation of how American politics and culture had collapsed into “an unbearable supernova of perpetually escalating conflict,” she became obsessed with five intersecting problems: “First, how the internet is built to distend our sense of identity; second, how it encourages us to overvalue our opinions; third, how it maximizes our sense of opposition; fourth, how it cheapens our understanding of solidarity; and, finally, how it destroys our sense of scale."

    Yeah, me too.

    My conversation with Tolentino was one of my favorites of last year -- and it has become all the more relevant in the midst of a pandemic that has collapsed most human communication into Zoom calls, Twitter feeds, and Instagram stories. This is a conversation about what happens when technology combines with the most powerful forces of human psychology to transform the nature of human interaction itself. It’s about how we construct and express our core sense of self, and what that’s doing to who we really are.

    References:
    The art of attention (with Jenny Odell)
    Book Recommendations:
    On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
    Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
    Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond



    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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 in chief - Roge Karma
    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Mike Birbiglia is one of my favorite comedians. He’s behind the specials. “Thank God for Jokes” and “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” the movies “Sleepwalk With Me” and “Don’t Think Twice,” and now the book The New One.

    The New One is on a subject close to my heart: Fatherhood. Birbiglia didn’t intend to be a father. He didn’t want to be a father. But he became one. And it was hard — on him, on his wife, on his marriage. The New One is a memoir of that time — funny, but brutally honest, and touching on some of the hardest truths of parenthood. It’s the kind of book that you can’t quite believes anyone would write. I mean, who would admit that? Or that? And did you read the part where…?

    So this is a conversation with a very funny person about some very tender subjects. Something Birbiglia and I both found becoming fathers is that there’s a lot less discussion of the emotional and relational dimensions of fatherhood than you might think. Our experiences were different. But these are topics that should be discussed more, whether you’re a parent or not.

    Book recommendations:
    Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb
    Feel Free by Zadie Smith



    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    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 in chief - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In this special crossover episode of Vox's Future Perfect series, The Way Through, Co-host Sean Illing talks to David Wolpe, senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, about God and how to make sense of suffering in human life.

    Relevant resources: 
    Making Loss Matter : Creating Meaning in Difficult Times by Rabbi David Wolpe
    Religion without God: Alain de Botton on "atheism 2.0." by Sean Iling

    Featuring:
    David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe), senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles

    Host:
    Sean Illing (@Seanilling), senior interviews writer, Vox

    More to explore:
    Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them.

    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.
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts. Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
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