A conversation with Peter Geoghegan of openDemocracy and Jennifer Cobbe of the Trust and Technology Initiative about Cambridge Analytica, money, power, and what is and isn’t corrupting our democracy. How easy is it to buy influence in British politics? Did Cambridge Analytica break the rules or show just how little difference the rules make anyway? Who has the power to take on Facebook? And what does the British government’s failure to handle the pandemic tell us about the corrosive effects of cronyism?
David talks to the historian Sarah Churchwell about how well America's political institutions have withstood the stress of the last four years. Have we seen the limits of presidential power or have we discovered how easy it is to trash those limits? Are constitutional checks and balances still intact? Is it really Mitch McConnell who is putting American democracy under stress? Plus we talk about what will be needed to restore the social contract and the perils of political humility.
David Runciman talks to Helen Thompson and Gary Gerstle about the historical precedents for US presidents losing office after a single term. Can Trump use the powers of incumbency to prevent it? Can Biden use Trump's growing chaos to seal his fate? The episode also covers the fall-out from the first presidential debate, and how the politics of the Supreme Court might intersect with a contested election result.
David Runciman and Helen Thompson talk to the philosopher Michael Sandel about the damage that the idea of rewarding people on merit has done to education, democracy and public life. Why is it wrong to try to match the best students to the best universities? What is credentialism and how has it warped the way work is rewarded? Whatever happened to the idea of the common good?
David Runciman talks to the American historian Jill Lepore about the damage new technology can do to democracy, from the 1960s to the present. Who first tried to manipulate the minds of the electorate? Where did the money come from? What happened when the same technology was applied to fighting the Vietnam War? The episode also covers US presidential elections from 1960 to 2020: do the machines really decide who is going to win?
Revisiting the interview with the economist Thomas Piketty recorded the week Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency, David and Helen ask what have we learned since? Where does Macron fit on the left/right political spectrum? What has his cult of personality done to French politics? And are we anywhere nearer knowing how to tackle the problem of inequality?
This week we look at the big changes in European politics during the crisis and ask who has managed to turn it around. Is Italy now a model for crisis management? Has there been a reorientation in German politics under Merkel? Can the EU rescue fund really rescue the European project?
This week two conversations with the feminist theorist and writer Judith Butler: one recorded the week Trump won the presidency in 2016 and one recorded a few days ago, as his presidency (just maybe) approaches its end.
David and Helen talk with the historian David Kynaston about his diary of the 2016-17 season in football and in politics, when a lot happened both to the world and to his beloved Aldershot FC. It's a conversation about loyalty, identity and belonging, and about what sorts of change we can tolerate and what we can't. Plus Helen reflects on her life as a West Ham fan.
David and Helen talk with Diane Coyle about what the pandemic has revealed about the changing nature of work. Who is doing more of it? Who is still getting paid for it? Which jobs are not coming back? Plus we explore the impact of the digital revolution on how we get rewarded for what we do and we ask whether the big tech firms can continue to hoover up so many of the rewards. Is Jeff Bezos really worth it?
David Runciman launched the Talking Politics podcast in 2016 with a conversation with Yuval Noah Harari about his book Homo Deus. In this episode, Runciman reflects on what difference the four subsequent years have made to how we think about the themes that emerged in that conversation, themes which the podcast has revisited regularly: the power of the big technology companies; the vulnerability of democracy; and the deep uncertainty we all feel about the future.