Election Special 2016 – Uncut
Devon Strolovitch

02 September 2016

Happy Labor Day from your friendly neighboorhood producer. This weekend we present our first Election Special, a pre-produced epsidoe taking a (mostly) Trump-free look at some of the deeper issues raised by this year's presidential campaign. Once again I thought I'd offer a behind-the-scenes look (and listen) into the show's production.

The idea of an election-related episode actually came up at a production meeting early in the year. Our student researchers had proposed a multi-segment show focusing on the moral duty to vote, the role of money in elections, and the history of socialism and fascism in American politics. This last segment was, of course, inspired by the Sanders and Trump campaigns, and the possibility of their becoming the Democratic and Republican nominees. Well we all know how that turned out. In any case, we decided to hold off on the program as a whole until after the party conventions, and ultimately replaced this segment with one examining the nature of and disatisfaction with the two-party system.

For the first segment, John and Ken spoke to Stanford political scientist Emilee Chapman about the duty to vote. As the author of Voting Matters: A Critical Examination and Defense of Democracy’s Central Practice, Emilee was a fervent advocate of voting as an ethical duty. Her interview would follow the Roving Philosophical Report in which Shuka Kalantari spoke to several peole who admitted to not voting for various reasons. Here’s the complete conversation that John and Ken recorded with Emillee, which included some discussion of mandatory voting proposals that didn’t make it to air:

Given all the noise about a certain celebrity candidate in this year's camppaign, you could be forgiven for forgetting just how much money is involved in running for office, especially in the wake of Citizens United (Trump did, for better or for worse, announce his candidacy by telling us, among other things, how rich he was). For the second and longest segment, we were very pleased to speak to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich about money in politics. Check out the complete interview:

What the Trump and Sanders also revealed for many people was a deep-seated dissatisfaction with many aspects of the two-party system. Was the US ripe for a radical rethinking of its basic political alignments? For the final segment, John and Ken spoke to Elaine Kramarck from the Brookings Institution about the origins and implications of our two-party system: