What's the difference between the House and the Senate? How do congressional investigations work? What is Federalist X actually about? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.
We have never actually fired the President of the United States. But we sure have tried. It’s the biggest job in the country, so the road to termination is a long and fraught. What happens after Congress initiates the process?What is impeachment? How does the process play out? Our brilliant friends Linda Monk (the Constitution Lady), Frank Bowman (author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors) and Dan Cassino (Political Science Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University) are our guides to the Big Show.
It's one of the most democratic aspects of our nation, not to mention extremely recent. In this episode we explore the snarled history of how we select party nominees; from delegates to superdelegates, and from gymnasiums in Iowa to booths in New Hampshire.This episode features political scientists Bruce Stinebrickner (DePauw University) and Alvin Tillery (Northwestern University), NPR's Domenico Montanarro, Iowa Public Radio's Kate Payne, and Lauren Chooljian from NHPR.
The job description is pretty sparse, the laws are convoluted and the path from A to Z seems fraught with peril. So how does a person go from candidate to nominee to Leader of the Free World? We asked some heavy hitters for the inside scoop on running for President. Settle in for a long and strange ride with Former Governor and Democratic nominee for President, Michael Dukakis, CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers and founding partner of Purple Strategies, Mark Squier.
It's time for the 2nd annual winner of our Student Contest! Our winners are Jessie Aniloff, Katie Bruni, and Tara Czekner from Anthony Micalizzi's class at Villa Joseph Marie High School In their podcast, On the Bench, they share their thoughts on representation in the Supreme Court, citing the work done by the four female justices to take the bench thus far.
We at Civics 101 adore Schoolhouse Rock and that sad little scrap of paper on the steps of the Capitol. But today we try to finish what they started, by diving into the messy, partisan, labyrinthine process of modern-day legislation.This episode features the voices of Andy Wilson, Adia Samba-Quee, Alizah Ross, and Eleanor Powell.
A tug of war, a balancing act, two dancers dragging each other across the floor. This is the perpetual ebb and flow of power between the states and the federal government. How can things be legal in a state but illegal nationally? Are states obstinate barricades to federal legislation? Or are they laboratories of democracy?Today's episode features Lisa Manheim, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law and co-author of The Limits of Presidential Power, and Dave Robertson, Chair of the Political Science department at the University of Missouri St.Louis.
The Supreme Court, considered by some to be the most powerful branch, had humble beginnings. How did it stop being, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, "next to nothing?" Do politics affect the court's decisions? And how do cases even get there?This episode features Larry Robbins, lawyer and eighteen-time advocate in the Supreme Court, and Kathryn DePalo, professor at Florida International University and past president of the Florida Political Science Association.
There are 535 people who meet in the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill. They go in, legislation comes out. You can watch the machinations of the House and Senate chambers on C-SPAN, you can read their bills online. But what are the rules of engagement? Where does your Senator go every day, and what do they do? What does it mean to represent the American people?Our guides to the U.S. Legislative branch are Congressman Chris Pappas, Eleanor Powell, Stefani Langehennig and Emmitt Riley.
In this episode of our Starter Kit series, a primer on the powers of the President, both constitutional and extra-constitutional. Also, a super inefficient mnemonic device to remember the 15 executive departments in the order of their creation.Featuring the voices of Lisa Manheim, professor at UW School of Law and co-author of The Limits of Presidential Power, and Kathryn DePalo, professor at Florida International University and past president of the Florida Political Science Association.
We exist in a delicate balance. Ours is a system designed to counterweight itself, to stave off the power grabs that entice even the fairest of us all. The U.S. government is comprised of humans, not angels, so each branch has the power to stop the other from going to far. The only catch being, of course, they have to actually exercise that power.In this episode, with the inimitable Kim Wehle as our guide, we learn what those checks actually are, and how the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches (ostensibly) keep things democratic.
It's also the final episode of our Life Stages series, and its euphemism-free. We speak to a doctors, lawyers, professors, and funeral professionals about the rules of death; pronouncing, declaring, burying, cremating, willing, trusting, canceling, donating.Featuring the voices of Dan Cassino, Ken Iserson, Leah Plunkett, Mandy Stafford, and Taelor Johnson.
The prospect of retirement -- of leaving the work force, aging, confronting a new body and a new way of life -- is peppered with concepts and requirements so unwieldy they can make your brain turn off. So how do we make retirement prep easier? Shed the dread and face the future armed with a plan? Our guides to the next stage of life are Bart Astor, Tom Margenau and Cristina Martin Firvida.
Today, what does it really mean to be married? Divorced? What changes in the law's eyes? What do you have to do? And, most importantly, how and why has the government decided who is allowed to marry whom? And while we're at it, what does love, Pocahontas, or a credit card application have to do with any of this?Today's episode features the voices of Stephanie Coontz, Kori Graves, Dan Cassino, Leah Plunkett, and dozens of County Clerks.
The modern day workplace is the product of a centuries-long battle for fair wages, reasonable hours and safe conditions. Today's episode tells the story of the labor in the United States -- from slavery and indentured servitude to the Equal Pay Act and the weekend. What did Americans workers have to go through to make their voices heard, and how did they change labor in America?Our guests include Priscilla Murolo, Philip Yale Nicholson and Camille Hebert.
As Adam Laats said, "when it comes to schools, the most important thing is who you are, and where you live."In today's episode, we explore how K-12 education has developed in the US since the 1600s, what teachers can and can't teach, what rights students have in public school, and how the federal government gets involved.Today's episode features Mary Beth Tinker, Dan Cassino, Kara Lamontagne, Adam Laats and Campbell Scribner. Subscribe to Civics 101 here!
What does it take to be born an American citizen? And then, once you are, how do you prove it? And what does it get you? Today on Civics 101, we talk to Dr. Mary Kate Hattan of Concord Hospital, Dan Cassino of Farleigh Dickinson University, Susan Pearson of Northwestern University and Sue Mangold of the Juvenile Law Center to find out where (American) babies come from, and what that means.
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to our Constitution. Why do we have one? What does it 'do'? And what does it really, really do?Our guests are Linda Monk, Alvin Tillery, David O. Stewart, Woody Holton, David Bobb, and Chuck Taft. Visit our website, civics101podcast.org, where you can get Chuck's wonderful Bill of Rights SURVIVOR lesson plan, along with our favorite Bill of Rights resources. Each Amendment could be (and has been) its own episode. Except maybe the Third Amendment. So if you don't know them by heart, take two minutes to watch this video.
Go to civics101podcast.org/contest for rules and resources. Make an under 15 minute podcast episode in any format by May 15th. We want to hear about your favorite civics primary source. This can be anything from Abigail Adams’ pocket to an interview with a family member about their protest sign to an old campaign button. It’s the ‘thing’ that rings that civic participation bell for you, and helps you to understand a moment, a political movement, a complicated element of our government, or your rights.
Ten days after the Constitution was signed at the Old Philadelphia State House, an anonymous op-ed appeared in the New York Journal. Signed by "Cato," it cautioned readers of the new Constitution to take it with a grain of salt. Even the wisest of men, it warned, can make mistakes. This launched a public debate that would last months, pitting pro-Constitution "Federalists" against Constitution-wary "Anti-Federalists." It was a battle for ratification, and it resulted in a glimpse into the minds of our Framers -- and a concession that would come to define American identity.
After just six years under the Articles of Confederation, a committee of anxious delegates agreed to meet in Philadelphia to amend the government. While the country suffered recession and rebellions, a group of fifty-five men determined the shape of the new United States. The document that emerged after that summer of debate was littered with strange ideas and unsavory concessions. The delegates decided they'd be pleased if this new government lasted fifty years. It has been our blueprint for over two centuries. This is the story of how our Constitution came to be.
While a famous committee of five drafted the Declaration of Independence, a far more unsung committee of thirteen wrote America's first rulebook. The Articles of Confederation was our first constitution, and it lasted nine years. If you prefer Typee to Moby Dick, Blood Simple to A Serious Man, or Picasso's Blue Period over Neoclassicism, you just might like the Articles of Confederation.The fable of its weaknesses, strengths, rise, and downfall are told to us by Danielle Allen, Linda Monk, Joel Collins, and Lindsey Stevens. Also, Paul Bogush tells us how to play Articles of Confederation the Game with a sack of blocks.Subscribe to Civics 101 for all your civil needs. Find out more at civics101podcast.org.
America declared independence on July 2, 1776. But two days later it adopted this radical, revolutionary, inclusive, exclusive, secessionist, compromising, hypocritical, inspirational document. What does it say? What does it ignore? This episode features many scholars with differing opinions on the Declaration: Danielle Allen, Byron Williams, Cheryl Cook-Kallio, Woody Holton, and Emma Bray.
Magna Carta was sealed on a field in England in 1215. It's purpose was to appease some frustrated Barons, and it was never intended to last. Over 800 years later, this document is credited with establishing one of the most foundational principles of our democracy. So what does Magna Carta actually say? And how did it get from dubious stalling tactic in the 13th century to U.S. Supreme Court arguments in the modern era?
For our next season, we're going to tackle America's founding documents: Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers. Episode One will release on January 22nd, but don't hold back in the meantime! We want to hear your questions, comments and ideas. And if you're a teacher who has found a unique way to teach the founding documents, drop us a line! That email is email@example.com.
We've told you that midterm elections matter. But the truth is, midterms only matter to you -- and you only matter to your legislators -- if you show up at the polls. It's the first step in making yourself heard. And once you have, you mean that much more to the people who make our laws. In this episode, you'll hear what voting actually does for you and your demographic. Plus, how to make sure your voice is heard, whether you're eligible to vote or not. Our experts this time around are Cheryl Cook-Kallio, Edgar Saldivar and Peter Levine.
Regardless of how you choose to vote on Prop 1, you'll finish this episode knowing all about ballot measures. These are bills and amendments initiated by the people, and voted into law by the people. What could possibly go wrong when we sidestep our famously pedantic legislature??Today's episode features our eminently quotable teacher and former California Assemblymember Cheryl Cook-Kallio, political correspondent at KQED Guy Marzorati, and frequent initiative proposer Tim Eyman.
How do you stand out in a sea of lawn signs, or make yourself heard above the roar of a thousand ads? Campaigns are hard enough when the whole country is watching -- so what does it take to get the vote when most people couldn't care less? That's the mystery of the midterm campaign. We asked some experts to help us solve it.In this episode, you'll hear from Inside Elections reporter Leah Askarinam, CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers, politics professor Barry Burden and state house candidate Maile Foster. Plus, Brady Carlson walks us through a midterm of revolutionary proportions.
Two houses, both alike in...well, many things. But oh so different in many others. We go from absolute basics to the philosophical differences that exist in the Legislative branch. This episode features the opinions of former staffers from both chambers, Political Science professors, and political analysts. Also, Brady Carlson tells the tale of the biggest loss in midterm history, and its relation to a federal holiday.
Midterm elections don't have the glitz or drama of presidential campaigning. They're full of aldermen and comptrollers, state senators and governors. These offices seem meager next to national government. But most of the time, it's state and local officials that have the most palpable impact on our lives and on our future elections.In episode two of our five-part series on the midterm elections, we're taking a good look at the state and local offices that have a big-time impact on your life.
Today we launch our five-part series on the midterm elections! Keith Hughes, creator of Hip History, tells us the five things he thinks every American should know about midterms and why they matter.Each episode in this series concludes with a snapshot of an historic US Midterm election, delivered by Brady Carlson. Today, it's 1826: Good Feelings and Hard Feelings.
First off, our next season of Civics 101 will launch this October with a special miniseries on the midterm elections. Each episode will better educate you on what you're voting for in November (you are voting, right? Even if you can't yet, we've got some stuff for you) and each will include a breakdown of the wide-ranging effects of a historic US midterm.Second, this is a rebroadcast of IRL2, our episode on the history of the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, focusing on times the use (or lack thereof) of these icons challenged the 1st Amendment.
A rebroadcast to get ready for the school year: we're digging into four incredibly important Supreme Court cases - four cases that have shaped how we interpret the meaning of free speech in public schools. Is political protest allowed in class? Is lewd speech covered by the First Amendment? Can school administrators determine what students can and can't say in the school newspaper? Listen in, and find out how students and schools have gone head to head over how First Amendment rights apply in a public school setting.
On today's episode we're looking into a practice that sets the U.S. aside from all other Western countries: Capital Punishment. So, is the death penalty a part of the constitution? How has the Supreme Court ruled on the issue? And ultimately, what can we learn about ourselves from the practice? Our guest today is Carol Steiker, Harvard Law Professor and author of Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed Constitutional amendment that would explicitly guarantee legal equality under U.S. law, regardless of sex. But almost a century after it was first proposed, the ERA has still not been ratified. What's the hold-up?Lillian Cunningham is a journalist at The Washington Post. She's also host and creator of the podcasts Presidential and Constitutional.
On today's episode, we tackle a defining law from the Obama administration, the Affordable Care Act -- better known as Obamacare. Some people love it, others hate it, but what did the law really do? Is American health care actually more, you know, affordable? And why is there so much talk of repealing the ACA? Our guide today is Julie Rovner, Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News.
Today on Civics 101, Ron Elving takes us through Tariffs. What are they? What are the pros and cons of taxing goods that enter our country? What is the effect on the consumer? And finally, how do trade wars end?
Adia Samba-Quee is the winner of our first ever student contest. She wrote, narrated, and cast a "Parks n' Rec-style mockumentary about the arguments surrounding representation at the Constitutional Convention in 1787."
Do you believe in the power of an informed citizenry? Click this link to support Civics 101 today. When you hear 'the draft' you might think about the Vietnam War... but the history of compulsory military service goes all the way back to before the Constitution was written. In this episode, we start from the beginning: How did conscription change over the years? When was the first national draft law? Who was most likely to be drafted? And the big one: Will the draft ever come back? Answering those questions and more is Jennifer Mittelstadt: professor of history at Rutgers and the Harold K. Johnson Chair of Miltary History at The U.S. Army War College.
Show your support for Civics 101. Click here to donate:https://goo.gl/6VNE6EToday a listener opens up a rabbit hole, and we immediately jump down it. We're learning about the Federal Register, a dense, cryptic document published every single day that records all the activities of the Executive Branch. It's a lot. Joining us is Oliver Potts, the director of the Federal Register, along with Kevin Kosar of the R Street Institute and Nick Bellos of the Regulatory Review.
Hey folks! We're raising money to support this podcast. Please click this link and donate today! https://goo.gl/6VNE6ERemember the Human Genome Project? The massively complicated international undertaking that aimed to map the entirety of human DNA? It was funded and coordinated in large part by the NIH, or National Institutes of Health. The NIH is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is the nation's foremost government funded medical research agency. So how does it work? What do they actually do? Do politics influence their research? To find out, we turn to Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, Associate Director for Science Policy at the NIH.
Norm Stamper was a past-Chief of Seattle's Police Department and an officer with the San Diego PD. He joins us to talk about the history of modern policing, the role of police today, and how to make sense of controversial police killings.
Drinking water in the United States is, according to the EPA, among the world's "most reliable and safest supplies." Its delivery involves a complex infrastructure of pipes, treatment facilities, aqueducts, dams, and reservoirs, and it operates on a local, state, and federal level. How did we get here? How is the U.S. public water system legislated? And, how is "potable" actually pronounced? We spoke with James Salzman, author of Drinking Water: A History. He is also a professor of environmental law at the UCLA School of Law and the Bren School of Environmental Science at UC Santa Barbara.This episode is part of our occasional series on American infrastructure. Listen to our first installment on roads.
On today's episode: What exactly is the Freedom of Information Act, better known as FOIA? Can anybody use it to get their hands on... any public documents? What kind of government secrets have come to light as a result of FOIA? We talk shop with Jason Leopold, a senior investigative reporter for Buzzfeed News.
Space is big - like, insanely, incomprehensibly big - so it's understandable that NASA can seem divorced from the world of cabinet secretaries, White House press briefings, and presidential tweets. Amy Shira Teitel is the host of the YouTube channel Vintage Space and author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA. In this episode, she explains how despite its lofty aims, NASA is a lot more political than you might think.
Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for NPR, has reported on White House press briefings for 3 administrations. She tells us about the role of the Press Secretary, and how the job has changed from president to president.
ICE, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is one of the nation's youngest law enforcement agencies. It's also become one of the most controversial. But what does ICE actually do? Dara Lind, a senior reporter for Vox, walks us through how ICE got its start, some of its responsibilities today, and what we can expect from the agency moving forward.
Miranda Summers Lowe, Military Curator at the Smithsonian and active National Guard soldier, tells us the history of the Guard, the process for calling them out, and what sets them apart from other branches of the USAF.
On today's episode: what happens when the incumbent president leaves office and the president-elect enters? How is information shared? What laws or guidelines govern the transition of power? We talked with Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, on the written and unwritten rules of presidential transitions. We also explore our own transition, as hosting duties for Civics 101 transition from Virginia Prescott to Hannah McCarthy and Nick Capodice.
On today's episode: How does the government respond when an American is taken hostage? Is it true that we don't negotiate with terrorists? Who in the government handles these situations? We talked with Chris Mellon, a policy analyst at New America and coauthor of a paper on whether American hostage policies are effective.
Dams, highways, telephone poles... all of these things fall under the huge umbrella we call INFRASTRUCTURE. But what does all that concrete and copper have to do with government? More than you might think. Our infrastructure is what gives Americans access to community, communication, and business – it’s a system so complicated it takes dozens of federal administrations and agencies to oversee and regulate it. In this episode, the first in a sporadic series on American infrastructure, we look specifically at roads. Who pays for them? How do we benefit from roads, even if we aren't the ones driving on them? What the heck is a public-private partnership? Our guests are Civics 101 Senior Producer Taylor Quimby, and Shailen Bhatt, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
On today's episode: What is foreign aid, and how much money does the U.S. spend on it? Is it purely humanitarian, or is it strategic? And how do we know if foreign aid actually works? Addressing these issues with us is Brian Atwood, senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute and former Administrator of USAID.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a U.S. foreign intelligence service. It was created in the wake of World War II and Pearl Harbor, at the dawn of the Cold War. But the agency's record and methods are controversial. What is the purpose of the CIA and what is the role of espionage within a democracy? Journalist Tim Weiner joins us to trace the inner workings and history of the CIA. He is the author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA..
On today's episode: How does the government look out for people who use a wheelchair, are deaf or blind, or have other disabilities? What forms of discrimination do people with disabilities face, and what did it take to get protections passed into law? How well are businesses complying with those protections? We spoke with Lennard Davis, professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights.
The Eighth Amendment grants us the right for protection against excessive bail, fines, or cruel and unusual punishment. But how do we define cruel and unusual? And how has that definition changed over the course of history? Is it still "an eye for an eye" out there? Walking us through everything from unreasonable bail to capital punishment is John Bessler, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore and Visiting Scholar at Minnesota Law School.
The Justice Department seems to always be in the news - from the White House's public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to the President's firing of James Comey - but what's behind the headlines? What exactly does the DOJ do from day-to-day? And what's the agency's relationship between other branches of government? NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson joins us to help us learn more.
Every now and again, reports come out that a public official has violated The Hatch Act - a 1939 law that prevents federal employees from engaging in certain types of political activity and speech. Today, we'll find out what exactly is and is not allowed under the Hatch Act; who decides when the line has been crossed; and what the penalties are for violations. Our guest is Liz Hempowicz, Director of Public Policy for the Project On Government Oversight.
When an ordinary citizen interacts with law enforcement, it can be unnerving to realize the amount of power an officer wields: they've got the guns, the handcuffs, and the authority. But the Fourth Amendment places limits on governmental and police power. What exactly are those limits, and have they changed in the 21st century?Cynthia Lee is a professor at George Washington University Law School and author of Searches and Seizures: The Fourth Amendment.Correction: Cynthia Lee has written one book on the topic of the Fourth Amendment, not several, as stated in the episode's introduction.
The FBI is our federal law enforcement agency. And, to enforce the law, it plays the role of secret intelligence agency as well. So how does the FBI protect us against domestic threats? And how far has it been willing to go to uphold the law? Journalist and author Tim Weiner joins us to reveal the inner workings of an agency shrouded in secret.
On today's episode: What does the United States do when it captures prisoners of war? What are the Geneva Conventions? How did 9/11 change our commitment to treating prisoners humanely, and what mark has it left on public opinion about torture?
They are two of the most powerful positions in a president’s cabinet: the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. One has been around since the American Revolution, the other is relatively new. So what exactly do these two departments and their heads do? And are diplomatic efforts and military strategy natural opposites? In this episode, the history and interaction between two of the most powerful US agencies.This is a rebroadcast of an episode that aired in March, 2017.
On today's episode: What are the norms of democratic government, and where do they come from? Which norms are essential to U.S. democracy, and how are they changing today? We put these questions to the authors of How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, and get some concerning answers.
Today, our second IRL puts it up the flagpole and sees if anyone salutes it. Hannah goes into the history of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance and how they've changed since their inception. Then Nick talks about four times behavior towards the flag and the pledge were the subject of Supreme Court decisions.
The Constitution doesn't explicitly guarantee the right to vote, but it's widely considered to be a fundamental way for citizens to participate in American democracy. Who gets to vote and why?Victoria Bassetti is the author of Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters. She is also a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.
After the Civil War, Congress passed a bundle of Amendments which came to be known as the Reconstruction Amendments. Their purpose was to address the mass racial inequality that plagued the still forming nation. But did they work? And are they still relevant today? Helping us unpack the last Reconstruction Amendments - the Fifteenth - is Khalilah Brown-Dean, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University.
Today, we continue our series on the Reconstruction amendments, the series of Constitutional amendments passed in the aftermath of the Civil War. Congress outlawed slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment, but freed slaves still were not legally citizens, were subject to discriminatory laws, and were not allowed to go to court. The Fourteenth Amendment was intended to change all that, with some of the strongest civil-rights language in the Constitution. If you've heard of due process or equal protection under the law, you've heard of the Fourteenth. We talk to Ted Shaw, professor and director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill, and the former President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
After the Civil War, Congress passed a bundle of Amendments which came to be known as the Reconstruction Amendments. Their purpose was to address the mass racial inequality that plagued the still forming nation. But did they work? And are they still relevant today? Helping us unpack the first of these Amendments - the Thirteenth - is Maria Ontiveros, a Law Professor at the University of San Francisco and Thirteenth Amendment scholar.
What exactly is DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? Is it the same as the Dream Act? What will happen if it expires? How do DACA recipients effect the economy? Today, an explainer and brief history of DACA. Our guest is Sarah Gonzalez, who covers youth and families for WNYC.
The role of the First Lady carries a lot of responsibility, but it's really more custom than law. How has is changed over time, and who are the women who have defined the role?Susan Swain is co-CEO of C-SPAN. She was the host of their year-long series "First Ladies: Influence and Image" and editor of the accompanying book. She's also behind the @firstladies Twitter feed.
On this episode: How does the United States use, or more precisely avoid using, its fearsome arsenal of nuclear weapons? How did we arrive at a world in which so many countries are armed to the teeth with nukes? What can we expect from North Korea as negotiations continue? We revisit the Cold War this week with Joe Cirincione, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, and president of Ploughshares Fund.
If you watch a lot of police procedurals, you’ll recognize this setup: beat cops get a visit from Internal Affairs and drama ensues. As it turns out, government agencies also have their own internal watchdogs: investigators that make sure federal policymakers are following the law. In this episode, we learn about the role and origin of inspectors general. How do they launch investigations? To whom do they report? And is the position influenced by politics? Our guest is Elizabeth Hempowicz, Director of Public Policy for the Project on Government Oversight.
On today's episode: How does the government make sure elections are conducted fairly? Who's keeping track of all the money donated to candidates? Is the Federal Election Commission still relevant in the era of dark money and Super PACs? Joining us on the show is Bob Biersack, senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics.
The secret ballot... the decorum of the polling place... the sanctity of the voting booth... these are the trappings of Election Day in the U.S., and they feel as old as time when you pull that curtain closed to (silently) voice your vote. But we haven't always voted this way. In fact, there was a time when Election Day was characterized by violence, drunken revelry and beans in a box. Jill Lepore is a professor of American History at Harvard University, and staff writer at the New Yorker. She joined us to shed some light on the (occasionally dark) history of voting in the U.S., and to explain why things got so quiet.
On this episode: What is a super PAC, and for that matter, what's a PAC? What are the rules they have to follow? Does spending money in an election count as free speech? We address campaign finance and the murky world of dark money with Dante Scala, political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.
Welfare is one of the nation's most contentious and least understood social programs. What began as support for single mothers and their children has throughout history been a target for stigmatization and budget cuts. Premilla Nadasen is author ofWelfare in The United States and she joined us to better understand the history and potential future of the program.
It happened. The government shutdown. But what does that mean? Civics 101 revisits an episode from September, 2017. On this episode: What actually shuts down during a government shutdown? Do federal workers still get paid? Who decides what government jobs are essential, and non-essential? What can past government shutdowns tell us about the process? Our guest is Charles Tiefer, law professor at the University of Baltimore.
Today, we celebrate our one-year anniversary with the first annual Civics 101 lightning round, in which we answer all the little questions you sent us that we never got around to answering in a full episode. Joining us to test his civics knowledge against your queries is Dave Alcox, social studies teacher at Milford High School and friend of the podcast. Plus, stick around after the show for an exclusive taste of the secret, long-form Civics 101 theme song.
There are lots of political parties in the United States - so how come we pretty much only hear about two? What is the 'two-party system' and why does it hold sway? Is it an intentional part of governmental design, or is this simply how history shook out? In this episode, we'll explore those questions, hear from an original member of a third party, and dig into something called Duverger's Law - which explains why two parties tend to dominate in American politics. Our guest is Civics 101 Senior Producer Taylor Quimby. This episode also features Hans Noel, political scientist at Georgetown University, and Lenny Brody, a member of the steering comittee at The Justice Party.
On today's episode: Who is the Surgeon General and what powers do they have? When a public health crisis strikes, what can the Surgeon General do? What influence did Surgeons General have on issues like smoking and HIV/AIDS? We sit down with Fitzhugh Mullan, professor of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University.
The President of the United States is considered one of the most powerful people in the world. So what happens after the Commander-in-Chief becomes a civilian again? How does a former president shape his legacy after he leaves office? To find out, we asked Mark Updegrove, historian and author of Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House.
On this week's show: What does the Department of Homeland Security do? How has it evolved in the past decade and a half? Can it keep up with the changing nature of terrorism? Our guide today is Ron Nixon, the New York Times homeland security correspondent.
On this week's episode: Who composed our national anthem? Why do we play it so often? And what's the significance of protesting during the anthem? Our guest is Marc Leepson, author of Flag: An American Biography.
Every president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has spent time at Camp David. But why was the presidential retreat built in the first place, and what happens there? To find out, we spoke to Retired Rear Admiral Michael Giorgione, former commanding officer of Camp David and author of Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat.
When discussing the political power of special interest groups, you can't help but talk about lobbying. But what does a lobbyist actually do? We know they hand over checks (lots of them), but how do they spend the rest of their time? What separates legal lobbying from bribery? And how is the food at all those Washington D.C. fundraising breakfasts, anyway? Jimmy Williams, former lobbyist and current host of Decode D.C., spills the beans. This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired in July 2017.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was established in order to plan and respond to nuclear war. These days, they're tasked with showing up after all sorts of disasters strike. But what kind of resources does FEMA have to respond to storms, earthquakes, fires and floods? And where is the organization when we feel we need them most... in the hours and days after disaster strikes? Our guest today is Garrett Graff, a journalist and historian who wrote The Secret History of FEMA for Wired Magazine.
What do alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives all have in common? They fall under the umbrella of a single federal bureau - commonly referred to as the ATF. On this episode, what led to the creation of the ATF? What kind of power do ATF agents have? What exactly is a legal explosive? Our guest is Katie Tinto, assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
On today's episode: What does it mean to be an ally of the United States, who decides which countries we should be allies with, and how do our alliances influence the role of the United States around the world? To clear up these questions, we spoke with Melissa Waters, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
In the 1960’s there was a growing awareness of urban plight and poverty, which was generally referred to as the "Urban Crisis" - the economic abandonment of large U.S. cities. As part of President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" push came a cabinet department designed in part to stabilize housing and urban areas: the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. How has HUD evolved since those early days? What programs does the department oversee? And what's its future today? Guiding us through the young history of HUD is Alec MacGillis, politics and government reporter with ProPublica.
The National Archives and Records Administration is the forever home of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, but what else do they keep in their vaults? Can just anybody do research at the Archives? And what role does NARA play in the national election? To find out, we spoke to Jessie Kratz, the historian at the National Archives.
In this episode: What is the U.S. Flag Code? Who created it, and why? Is it enforceable? When did the American flag start getting used in advertising? What are the differences between the U.S. Flag Code and flag protection laws? Has the flag always been a symbol of patriotism? Our guest is Marc Leepson, author of Flag: An American Biography.
In a given week, Congress might vote on everything from international diplomacy to wildlife conservation to internet regulation. How do individual members of Congress become experts on each of these subjects? The answer is: they don't. Congress divides its work load among committees. This week, how does the committee system work, which committees wield the most influence, and how do members of Congress jockey for committee seats? We speak with Garrison Nelson, a professor of political science at the University of Vermont.
One of the founding institutions of America's government is also one of the most overlooked and surprising ones: the Postal Service. What role did it play in shaping the early, disparate colonies into a unified nation? How has it survived the digital age? And what's its future going forward? Our guest is Winifred Gallagher, writer and author of How the Post Office Created America.
This is the first in a series called Civics 101 IRL; special episodes where we explore the historic moments connected to our regular podcast topics. Today we're digging into four incredibly important Supreme Court cases - four cases that have shaped how we interpret the meaning of free speech in public schools. Is political protest allowed in class? Is lewd speech covered by the First Amendment? Can school administrators determine what students can and can't say in the school newspaper? Listen in, and find out how students and schools have gone head to head over how First Amendment rights apply in a public school setting. CORRECTION: A previous version of this episode inaccurately stated that Justice Abe Fortas was Chief Justice. While Fortas wrote the Tinker decision, Earl Warren was the Chief Justice at the time.
On this episode: What is a Native American reservation? What is a pueblo? What does it mean to be a sovereign nation? What is the relationship between reservations and the federal government? Can reservations pass laws that run up against state or federal statutes? How are, and were, reservations created? What does the Bureau of Indian Affairs actually do? Our guest is Maurice Crandall, assistant professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth, and a citizen of the Yavapai-Apache Nation of Camp Verde.
In this episode: What do White House staffers actually do, what are the rules constraining them, and how have the day-to-day staffing demands of the White House changed over the years? Our guest is Karen Hult, Chair of the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech.
In this episode: What is a union? How are unions formed? What are the benefits and costs of labor unions, for both workers and business? What is the history of unions in America, and what might unions look like in the future? Our guest is David Zonderman, author of Uneasy Allies: Working For Labor Reform in Nineteenth-Century Boston.
The vice president is said to be just a heartbeat away from Commander-in-Chief. But what does the VEEP actually do? How significant a role does the vice president play in the White House... and with the president? And what kind of effect can a running mate have on a presidential election? To find out, we talked to one of the foremost experts on the Vice Presidency, St. Louis University law professor Joel Goldstein.
On today's episode: The Second Amendment. For ages, the right to bear arms was among the least controversial amendments in the U.S. Constitution. Today, it's among the most divisive issues in American politics. What were the Founders hoping to achieve in ratifying The Second Amendment? When did the U.S. start regulating guns? What qualifies as arms? We'll seek out constitutional consensus on a topic where common ground is hard to find. Our guest is Jeffrey Rosen, CEO and President of the National Constitution Center, and host of We the People.
You've heard of the Secret Service and you've probably even seen them in action - observing stoically behind a dark suit and sunglasses. But what exactly do they do? How does someone become an agent? And how are they fairing with the demands of a Trump presidency? Today we get a behind-the-scenes breakdown of the agency from New York Times Reporter Nicholas Fandos who's been covering the service's inner-workings.