The New Yorker: Politics And More



A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.


  • The Early Days of ACT-UP, and Its Lessons for Today’s Activists

    07/06/2021 Duration: 17min

    Sarah Schulman is a novelist and playwright as well as a well-known activist and documentarian. She was an early member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, and, for twenty years, she and the filmmaker Jim Hubbard have run the ACT UP Oral History Project, interviewing surviving members of the group. Out of that work comes a new history of ACT UP in its early days, “Let the Record Show: A Political History of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, New York, 1987-93.” Schulman talks with David Remnick about the group’s successes, its lessons for young activists, and also its greatest failing. “We were able to defeat H.I.V.,” she said. “But we couldn’t defeat capitalism. And we still don’t have a workable health-care system in this country.”

  • Biden’s Plan to Reshape the American Economy

    04/06/2021 Duration: 19min

    A semblance of pre-pandemic life has resumed across the country, but the economic signs are mixed, even after the strong jobs report for May. Supply chains are bottlenecked, unemployment is just under six per cent, and fiscal conservatives warn about inflation. President Biden has stated to Congress, in defense of his stimulus plans and of his six-trillion-dollar budget, that “trickle-down economics has never worked,” and that the best way to strengthen the economy is from the bottom up, not the top down. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the political perils and promise of Bidenomics.

  • How Will the Biden Administration Deliver on Racial Justice?

    31/05/2021 Duration: 13min

    Joe Biden has spoken clearly about the reality of systemic racism in America, and he’s said that racial justice would be a defining element of his Presidency. Such a statement would have been unlikely before the movement that followed the death of George Floyd, or before the overt white supremacy that was on display during the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, which Biden has said convinced him to run in 2020.  Vanita Gupta will be one of the key people guiding the Administration’s response. She was confirmed in April as Associate Attorney General, the No. 3 position at the Department of Justice, overseeing the Civil Rights Division. David Remnick spoke with Gupta about how Biden intends to make good on his promises, and whether criminal-justice reform is still possible in bitterly divided Washington.

  • The Democratic Party, Reimagined by Young Progressives

    27/05/2021 Duration: 23min

    Over the past four years, progressive insurgents have defeated moderate incumbents in Democratic primaries across the country. These politicians have aggressively pursued policies such as the Green New Deal and have been credited with pushing the Biden Administration’s policy priorities to the left. Much of this work is fuelled by grassroots youth movements such as Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement. Some worry that the shift will alienate moderate Democrats, and put the Party’s electoral fortunes at risk. Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the progressive movement within the Democratic Party, and the groups that have helped it gain traction.

  • Can We Finally End School Segregation?

    26/05/2021 Duration: 45min

    By many accounts, American schools are as segregated today as they were in the nineteen-sixties, in the years after Brown v. Board of Education. WNYC’s podcast “The United States of Anxiety” chronicled the efforts of one small school district, Sausalito Marin City Schools, in California, to desegregate. Fifty years after parents and educators there first attempted integration, the state’s attorney general found that the district “knowingly and intentionally” maintained a segregated system, violating the equal-protection clause of the Constitution. The district’s older public school, which served mostly Black and Latino students, suffered neglect; meanwhile, a new charter school, though racially diverse, enrolled virtually all the white children in the district. The reporter Marianne McCune explored how one community overcame decades of distrust to finally integrate. This episode was edited from “The United States of Anxiety” ’s “Two Schools in Marin County” and “Desegregation by Any Means Necessary.”

  • A Predictable yet Shocking Eruption of Violence in Israel

    20/05/2021 Duration: 20min

    Following seven years of relative peace, violence has erupted in Israel in recent weeks. Hamas has fired rockets into Jerusalem, Israel has bombarded Gaza, and Israelis and Palestinians are fighting in the streets. The international community has its eyes on Israel, with activists using social media to rally support, and world leaders interceding to bring an end to the violence. Ruth Margalit, a New Yorker contributor based in Tel Aviv, joins Carla Blumenkranz to discuss the fighting and what it means for the future of both Israel and Palestine.

  • Joe Biden Wants to Be Like Roosevelt. But Can He Get the Votes?

    17/05/2021 Duration: 19min

    When, on the campaign trail, Joe Biden compared his platform to the New Deal—and, by extension, himself to F.D.R.—who really believed him? Certainly not the left of his party. For a generation, the “end of big government” has been near-consensus in Washington, attested to even by Democrats like Bill Clinton, as well as by Republicans who ran up gigantic deficits. In his hugely ambitious, multi-trillion-dollar plans, Joe Biden argues for big government—very big government—as a force for positive change. Those plans may well fail to win the votes he needs in Congress, because the contemporary United States no longer resembles the country that embraced the New Deal. “You can’t put F.D.R. in Dr. Who’s phone booth and bring him to 2021 and he’ll address the American people,” the historian Jill Lepore says. David Remnick discusses the promise and challenges he faces with Lepore, Susan Glasser, Jelani Cobb, and John Cassidy.

  • Liz Cheney’s Thought Crime

    13/05/2021 Duration: 24min

    On Wednesday morning, Representative Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, was ousted from her position as the House Republican Conference chair. Cheney was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection, and her expulsion from the chair position is seen as a move by the Republican leadership to unify the Party behind the former President. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Trump’s continued stranglehold over the G.O.P. and what to expect from the immediate future of both parties.

  • Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee on the State of the Pandemic

    10/05/2021 Duration: 18min

    After a year of battling COVID-19, parts of the United States are celebrating a gradual turn toward normalcy, but the pandemic isn’t over—and it may never be over, exactly. Atul Gawande tells David Remnick that a hard core of vaccine resisters, along with reservoirs of the virus in domestic animals, may make herd immunity elusive. Rather, he says, the correct goal is to bring the impact of COVID-19 down to that of something like the flu. Meanwhile, India is now overwhelmed by a devastating death toll, reported at around four thousand per day but likely much higher. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who reported on the pandemic in developing nations, says that commitments from the West such as extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will barely scratch the surface. A national mobilization will be required to even begin to flatten the curve.

  • A High-School Cheerleader, the Supreme Court, and the First Amendment

    06/05/2021 Duration: 20min

    In 2017, Brandi Levy, a junior-varsity cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School, in Pennsylvania, was denied a spot on the school’s varsity squad. That weekend, off campus, Levy posted a furious, profanity-filled photo and message about the decision on Snapchat. A student who saw the message showed a screenshot to her mother—the cheer coach. Levy was barred from cheerleading for the rest of the year. The A.C.L.U. helped Levy’s parents file suit against the school in federal court, claiming that Brandi’s First Amendment right to free speech had been curtailed. Last week, four years after that pivotal snap, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. Jeannie Suk Gersen joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss this contentious case and what it means for free speech in the digital age.

  • Three Women Who Changed the World

    03/05/2021 Duration: 18min

    “The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden, tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”

  • #MeToo, 2021

    29/04/2021 Duration: 25min

    This week, W. W. Norton announced that it would take two books by the writer Blake Bailey out of print, after accusations that Bailey has had a long history of sexual misconduct and assault. The case has helped bring the struggle against sexual misconduct back into the cultural spotlight. The New Yorker staff writers Alexandra Schwartz, who wrote about Bailey, and Jane Mayer, who has reported on sexual misconduct by powerful men, join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the state of the #MeToo movement in 2021.

  • The Children of Morelia

    26/04/2021 Duration: 30min

    Refugees arriving at the southern border of the United States, and especially the unaccompanied children among them, are again in the headlines. A parent’s decision to send his or her chiId on an extremely perilous journey is difficult to comprehend, but war, violence, and hunger can be decisive factors. Nearly a century ago, a group of Spaniards put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. They were escaping the extraordinary brutality of the Spanish Civil War, and few ever saw their parents again. When they arrived, the conditions in the Mexican orphanage where they were placed were bleak. The youngest of those children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, just three years old; her first memory is of throwing her shoes overboard on the ship, because she thought the fish would need them. The writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, who is Martinez’s granddaughter, tells her grandmother’s story and explains how the impact of the trauma she suffered resonat

  • The Politics of the Pandemic Oscars

    22/04/2021 Duration: 21min

    This Sunday is the ninety-third Academy Awards. It’s been a trying year for the film industry, with the pandemic shuttering theatres and halting film productions. But the unusual circumstances have contributed to a remarkable crop of Oscar nominees. For years, the Academy has struggled with diversity and inclusion, but this year’s nominees are among the most diverse in Oscar history. Some have suggested that this year might be a turning point for Hollywood, though others have cautioned against assuming that a permanent change has occurred. Michael Schulman, a New Yorker staff writer, joins the guest host Carla Blumenkranz to discuss what the 2021 Oscars tell us about the politics of pandemic-era Hollywood, and what the future of the movie business might look like.

  • Why Has China Targeted Minorities in Xinjiang?

    19/04/2021 Duration: 20min

    “Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang” is a expansive and detailed account of Xi Jinping’s policies against ethnic Uyghurs and Kazhaks in China’s northwestern region, which culminated in the detainment of a group estimated to number more than a million, in the largest civilian internment since the Holocaust. The staff writer Raffi Khatchadourian tells David Remnick how Xi Jinping’s government used an obsession with what it calls stability, and a fear of separatism and terrorism, to justify a campaign of genocide. It involves forced cultural assimilation, mass imprisonment, and coercive measures to reduce the birth rate.

  • Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

    15/04/2021 Duration: 23min

    This week, for the first time in more than two years, the directors of the D.N.I., C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A., and D.I.A. appeared before Congress to testify about “worldwide threats” to the United States. They discussed Russia, China, Iran, and domestic extremists—and warned about the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and climate change. On the same day, President Biden announced the withdrawal of the final U.S. troops from Afghanistan, closing a twenty-year chapter in the  War on Terror. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the matrix of threats facing the country, and how the Biden Administration is responding to them.

  • Louis Menand on “The Free World”

    12/04/2021 Duration: 12min

    The postwar years were a true flowering of American culture. Even as the United States was locked in an arms race with the Soviet Union, which culminated in the terrifying doctrine known as mutually assured destruction, the country evolved from a military and economic powerhouse into a cultural presence at the center of the world. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the globe. Painters came out of the long shadow of war-torn Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Thinkers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. This period, in all its complicated glory, is the subject of “The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War,” by Louis Menand. Menand is a professor at Harvard University and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Metaphysical Club,” from 2001. Menand talks with David Remnick about a time, as he writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”

  • Joe Biden Plays Hardball on Social Spending

    08/04/2021 Duration: 20min

    Joe Biden promised to be the country’s Unifier in Chief, emphasizing his history as a consensus builder. But the first major bill of his Administration, the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate. Republicans remain wary of his recently announced $2.3-trillion infrastructure plan. These two bills propose to fundamentally reorder the American economy without substantive participation from Republicans. John Cassidy, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s latest economic plan and the real Trojan horse of the Administration.

  • Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill

    05/04/2021 Duration: 11min

    The investigative reporter Jane Mayer recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we discussed in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile.

  • In Minneapolis and Georgia, the Fight for Racial Justice Continues

    01/04/2021 Duration: 22min

    This week, testimony began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, in May of 2020. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests across the country and something like a new reckoning with systemic racism in America. But, while the Chauvin trial gets under way, sweeping new voting policies have been signed into law in Georgia, which critics say are designed to make it hard for people of color to cast their votes. Jelani Cobb joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the response to the killing of George Floyd, and how to think about the current wave of voter-suppression efforts across the country.

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