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The Ezra Klein Show

Updated 7 days ago

Rank #1 in Philosophy category

Society & Culture
Philosophy
News
Politics
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Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

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Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

iTunes Ratings

7034 Ratings
Average Ratings
5752
492
242
171
377

Cold atheist book

By Phukew2 - Feb 20 2020
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Great episode. Reminded me of one of my favorite quotes. “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do. “ — James Baldwin

Talks too fast

By thotsalot - Feb 19 2020
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I would love the content but the struggle to decipher words is too hard for me. I tried using the speech button to slow it down, wasn’t effective. They talk so fast sometimes all I hear is a string of choppy consonants. They need to enunciate better.

iTunes Ratings

7034 Ratings
Average Ratings
5752
492
242
171
377

Cold atheist book

By Phukew2 - Feb 20 2020
Read more
Great episode. Reminded me of one of my favorite quotes. “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do. “ — James Baldwin

Talks too fast

By thotsalot - Feb 19 2020
Read more
I would love the content but the struggle to decipher words is too hard for me. I tried using the speech button to slow it down, wasn’t effective. They talk so fast sometimes all I hear is a string of choppy consonants. They need to enunciate better.
Cover image of The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

Latest release on Feb 27, 2020

All 306 episodes from oldest to newest

Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry

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It’s the rare podcast conversation where, as it’s happening, I’m making notes to go back and listen again so I can fully absorb what I heard. But this is that kind of episode.

Tracy K. Smith is the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, and a two-time poet laureate of the United States (2017-19). But I’ll be honest: She was an intimidating interview for me. I often find myself frustrated by poetry, yearning for it to simply tell me what it wants to say and feeling aggravated that I can’t seem to crack its code.

Preparing for this conversation and (even more so) talking to Smith was a revelation. Poetry, she argues, is about expressing “the feelings that defy language.” The struggle is part of the point: You’re going where language stumbles, where literalism fails. Developing a comfort and ease in those spaces isn’t something we’re taught to do, but it’s something we need to do. And so, on one level, this conversation is simply about poetry: what it is, what it does, how to read it.

But on another level, this conversation is also about the ideas and tensions that Smith uses poetry to capture: what it means to be a descendent of slaves, a human in love, a nation divided. Laced throughout our conversation are readings of poems from her most recent book, Wade in the Water, and discussions of some of the hardest questions in the American, and even human, canon. Hearing Smith read her erasure poem, “Declaration,” is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful moments I’ve had on the podcast.

There is more to this conversation than I can capture here, but simply put: This isn’t one to miss. And that’s particularly true if, like me, you’re intimidated by poetry.

References: 

Smith’s lecture before the Library of Congress 

Smith’s commencement speech at Wellesley College 

Book recommendations: 

Notes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith 

Quilting by Lucille Clifton 

Bodega by Su Hwang 


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Engineer - Cynthia Gil

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 27 2020

1hr 29mins

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Barbara Ehrenreich on UBI, class conflict, and collective joy

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In the late 90s Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover as a waitress to discover how people with minimum wage full-time jobs were making ends meet. It turned out, they weren’t. Ehrenreich’s book Nickled and Dimed revealed just how dire the economic conditions of everyday working people were at a time when the economy was supposedly booming. It was a wake up call for many Americans at the time, including me who picked up the book as a curious college student. 

Since then Ehrenreich, a journalist by trade, has written on a vast range of topics from the precarity of middle-class existence to the psychological and sociological roots of collective joy to human mortality to her own attempt, as an atheist, to grapple with mystical experiences. Needless to say, this is a widely ranging conversation.

References:

Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich

Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich

Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nicked and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Fear of Falling by Barbara Ehrenreich

Had I Known by Barbara Ehrenreich



New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Engineer - Cynthia Gil

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 24 2020

1hr 8mins

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What Donald Trump got right about white America

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Hello! I’m Jane Coaston, filling in for Ezra. My guest today is Tim Carney, a commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. 

In the wake of the 2016 election, Carney began traveling across the country and poring through county-level data in an attempt to understand the forces that led to Donald Trump’s victory. The culprit, he argues, is not racism or economic anxiety, it's the breakdown of social institutions.

In his new book Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse, Carney posits that for centuries religious (and other private) institutions formed a much-needed social glue that kept communities together. That social glue, however, has decayed in recent decades, creating a void of despair, alienation, and frustration in so-called “Middle America." Donald Trump did not offer a compelling way to solve these problems, but he was the only candidate willing to name them — and in 2016 that was enough.

In this conversation, we discuss Carney's thesis at length, but we also talk about why white evangelicals love Trump so much, how communities of color have responded differently to institutional loss than white communities, the appeal of Bernie Sanders, how Trump's reelection strategy will differ from his 2016 campaign, and much more. I hope this conversation is as interesting for you to listen to as it was for me to have.

Book recommendations:

Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America by Chris Arnade

My Father Left Me Ireland by Michael Brendan Dougherty 

The Bible


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 20 2020

1hr 14mins

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Ta-Nehisi Coates on my “cold, atheist book”

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This one was a pleasure. Ta-Nehisi Coates joined me in Brooklyn for part of the “Why We’re Polarized” tour. His description of the book may be my favorite yet. It is, he says, “a cold, atheist book.” We talk about what that means, and from there, go into some of the harder questions raised not so much by the book, but by American history itself. Then Coates asked me a question I never expected to hear from him: Is there anything I could say to leave him with some hope? Don’t miss this one.


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 17 2020

1hr 15mins

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If God is dead, then … socialism?

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Hello! I’m Sean Illing, Vox’s interviews writer filling in for Ezra while he’s on book tour. My guest today is Martin Hägglund, a philosopher at Yale and the author of This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, which I consider to be one of the most ambitious and important books in the last several years.

We begin by discussing what it means to live a free and purposeful life without regret or illusion. For Hägglund, this life is all we have. There is no heaven, no afterlife, no eternal beyond. We live and we die and that means that the most important question any of us can possibly ask is, “What should we do with our time?” 

We end by talking about the limits of capitalism, namely why it doesn’t really allow us to own our time in the way we ought to. And thus why, for Hägglund, democratic socialism is the only political project that takes the human condition seriously. 

This is an unusual conversation, but, I have to say, I loved it. I appreciate and admire Hägglund’s willingness to tackle the biggest questions any us can ever ask, and I think by the end of it you will, too.

Book recommendations:

Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the other animals by Christine Korsgaard

On the Soul (De Anima) by Aristotle 

Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F Hegel 


Follow Sean Illing at Vox or on Twitter @seanilling

New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

Ezra's book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Guest host - Sean Illing

Producer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 13 2020

1hr 5mins

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Tim Urban on humanity’s wild future

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 I’ve been a fan of Tim Urban and his site Wait But Why for a long time. Urban uses whimsical illustrations, infographics, and friendly, nontechnical language to explain everything from AI to space exploration to the Fermi Paradox. 

Urban's most recent project is an explainer series called “The Story of Us." It began as an attempt to understand what is going on in American politics today, and quickly turned into a deep exploration into humanity's past: how we evolved, the history of civilization, and the way our psychologies have come to interact with the world around us. 

My initial theory of this conversation was that Urban’s work has interesting points of convergence and divergence with my book. But once we got to talking, something more interesting emerged: Based on his reading of human history, psychology, and technological advancement, Urban has come to believe we are at an existential fork-in-the-road as a species. A hundred years from now, Urban thinks, our species will either advance so significantly that we will no longer be recognizable as human beings, or we will so lose control of our progress that the human story will end in a destructive apocalypse. I’m less convinced, but open to the idea that I’m wrong.

So this, then, isn’t just a conversation about politics and polarization in the present. It’s more fully a conversation about whether the politics of the present are distracting us from the forces that are, even as we speak, deciding our future.

References:

Dave Robert’s piece on Tim Urban’s aversion to politics 

My conversation with Andrew Yang

Book recommendations: 

A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich 

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu 

Atomic Habits by James Clear


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Producer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 10 2020

1hr 30mins

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Jill Lepore on what I get wrong

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Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones.

This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world?

But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, why (and whether) my book is devoid of individual or institutional “villains,” and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account, in addition to the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more.

This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them.


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Producer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 06 2020

1hr 25mins

Play

Is Tom Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics?

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Tom Steyer has worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. He made his billions running a hedge fund for decades before moving into progressive activism on causes like democratization, climate change, and impeaching Donald Trump. Now, he is running for president of the United States. 

Steyer’s primary message on the campaign trial is that we need to get money, lobbyists and corporate influence out of politics. At the same time, he is the living embodiment of much of what he thinks is broken about our system. He used his wealth as a shortcut onto the presidential debate stage and, in doing so, essentially wrote the playbook for any future billionaire who decides they want a shot at winning the highest office in the land. 

So, is Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics -- or is he part of the problem? That question is a lot bigger than Steyer himself. It is about the kinds of people we think will best represent the interests of non-billionaires. It is about the sort of influence we think wealth should have in our society. It is about whether, in our current political moment, we want to trust the arsonists to put out the fires they helped create.

I’ll let you decide the answer.

Book recommendations:

The Holy Bible

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details.

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Engineer - Cynthia Gil

Producer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 03 2020

1hr 6mins

Play

Why We're Polarized, with Jamelle Bouie (live!)

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 The Why We’re Polarized book tour kicked off this week with a wonderful event at Sixth and I in Washington, DC. My conversation partner for this one was New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie. Our interview was great, and then the audience questions were so good we had to keep them in as well. We discuss:  

• Why things were far worse in the “golden age” of the 1950s and ’60s than they are today

• Why the key question isn’t so much “why are we polarized?” as “why weren’t we polarized?”

• Why “moderate” Republicans end up losing to conservatives

• Why demographic change is the core cleavage of American politics today

• How polarization makes bipartisanship irrational and political dysfunction the norm

• Why Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are not the causes of polarization but rather the most clear manifestations of it

• That more information doesn’t rescue politics

• Why America today is not functionally a democracy (and why I hate when people claim it is a “republic” to justify our current system)

• Why the most underrated divide in American politics is not that between left and right but between the informed and the uninformed

• Why we can’t reverse polarization and instead need to reform our political system so that it can function amid polarization


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

Also, we’ve announced more tour dates! Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for all the details.

My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app.

Credits:

Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Jan 30 2020

1hr 16mins

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Antisemitism now, antisemitism then

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“The bad days are back” wrote Batya Ungar-Sargon in the Forward in December, “Orthodox Jews are living through a new age of pogroms. This week, as we celebrated the Festival of Lights, there were no fewer than 10 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area alone.” 

Antisemitism is occasionally called “the oldest hatred.” It thrums across continents and eras, finding new targets for old prejudices. But where, exactly, does it come from? Why is it such a hardy weed? And why does this era feel so thick with it? 

Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, is the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now. We discuss the earliest forms, tropes, and rationales for antisemitism, and the cultural reasons for their persistence. Lipstadt explains the way right- and left-wing antisemitism differ, and examines the charges of antisemitism levied against some modern politicians, like Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. We talk about antisemitism in the age of social media and rising party polarization. And we talk about the convergence and divergence of antisemitism and anti-Zionism: what distinguishes a legitimate critique of Israel from an antisemitic slur towards it?

This episode airs on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a reminder that the very worst days lie in living memory, in an age more similar our own than we like to admit. 

References: 

“Why No One Can Talk About The Attacks Against Orthodox Jews” by Batya Ungar-Sargon

Book recommendations: 

If This is Man by Primo Levi 

Still Alive by Ruth Kluger 

The Unwanted by Michael Dobbs


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com.

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

You can subscribe to Ezra's new podcast Impeachment, explained on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app.

Credits:

Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld

Engineer- Cynthia Gil

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Jan 27 2020

1hr 31mins

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