In the United States, July is when we celebrate the birth of American citizenship—specifically, the thirteen original colonies freeing themselves from British imperial rule to become independent democratic states. So this month, let's take a deep dive into the archive to explore the ideals of freedom, democracy, and citizenship.
Although “one person, one vote” is—at least in principle—a core feature of our democracy, elections are often highly contentious. To think about how elections could be more fair, just this past January Josh and Ray ran the numbers with Moon Duchin from Tufts University, Director of the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Research Group. Political representation can also become distorted though channels such as the power wielded by philanthropic giving by extremely wealthy individuals. So in 2019, Josh and Ken asked Stanford political scientist Rob Reich about his then-new book, Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better. Democracy can be undermined in even more subtle yet pervasive ways when citizens no longer agree on the most basic, easily verifiable facts. Host emeritus John Perry returned this past spring to join Ray in examining the role of disinformation in our democracy with attorney and political analyst Dean Johnson. Other core features of democracy are the rights, privileges, and opportunities granted (again, in principle at least) to citizens. But is the way we grant citizenship truly just? Last fall Josh and Ray put that question and more to Arash Abizadeh from McGill University, author of Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics. it is a fact, of course, that our democracy comprises all sorts of non-citizens from all sorts of places. But should cultural or ethnic identity ever be a factor in who gets to immigrate? In 2019 Josh and Ken questioned the nature of multiculturalism with Sarah Song from the UC Berkeley School of Law, author of Immigration and Democracy. Enjoy listening!