After four tumultuous years of the Trump presidency, President Joe Biden promised to put the chaos behind him and return the country to normalcy. While dysfunction and partisan gridlock in Washington were amplified during Trump’s tenure, it existed long before he arrived. Even so, it’s clear that the political divide has become deeper and democracy is more vulnerable than ever. On the final episode of Politics with Amy Walter, Astead Herndon, national political reporter for The New York Times, Adam Serwer, staff writer at The Atlantic, and Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker, join Amy Walter for a conversation about the future of American politics.
One of the takeaways from the 2016 election was to constantly question our assumptions about voting behavior. Democratic dominance in the so-called Blue Wall states of the midwest is no longer assured and neither is the GOP hold on states like Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. Even so, the assumptions about demographics, specifically the role that race has on voting preferences, continue. For years, conventional wisdom suggested that higher overall turnout would result in more wins for Democrats. And while Biden won seven million more votes than Trump, he only carried the electoral college by around 40,000 votes. Record turnout helped Democrats win in Georgia, but it also helped Republicans hold onto vulnerable Senate seats in Iowa and North Carolina.
Chryl Laird, assistant professor of government and legal studies at Bowdoin College, Julia Azari, associate professor of political science at Marquette University, and Mark Hugo Lopez, director of global migration and democracy research at Pew Research Center, describe the nuances of the electorate and debunk the assumptions we make based on demographics.
Politics with Amy Walter Theme: "Enter the Dragon" by J. Cowit is currently available for free here.
Amy's Final Take
I have had the great privilege and honor to host this show every week for the last 2 and a half years. And I am so very grateful to those who made this possible - WNYC, PRX, and the amazing team of professionals who work so hard on making sure that we get the best possible product on the air.
Over the last few years, political reporting has become more about generating outrage than seeking to explain. Covering the loudest and most controversial voices, while ignoring those who are doing the work at keeping our democracy alive.
The goal of this show was to be the opposite of all of this. We wanted to help people understand that politics wasn’t meant to be distilled in 140 characters. That curiosity is one of our most valuable - and under appreciated - assets.
That doesn’t mean that I want politics to be neat and clean. It’s messy. And, that’s ok. The more voices in the mix mean that we are hearing from people whose stories were once left out of our political narratives.
But, messy doesn’t have to mean dysfunctional. What we need more than anything in this moment is leadership. Instead of throwing up their hands and saying “well, it’s what people want” or “it’s what the market demands” leaders set boundaries and are willing to be unpopular for doing so.
I also wanted every show to convey a sense of humility and empathy. To
Accept that you don’t always have the answers or that sometimes the people you may not always agree with have some pretty good ideas.
Covering this moment in American politics has been an amazing experience. Thank you for taking this crazy journey with me.
And, while I won’t be at this microphone every week, I will be popping on every now and then to talk with Tanzina about politics and Washington. You can also catch me every Monday on PBS NewsHour or read my weekly column at CookPolitical.com.
I leave you with this: our politics is only as broken as we allow it to be. Show up. Speak up. Listen more, shout less.