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Civics 101

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.

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Electoral College

When we vote for a president, we're not really voting for a president. Today in our episode on the Electoral College, we explore the rationale of the framers in creating it, its workings, its celebrations, its critiques, and its potential future. This episode features the voices of Northwestern Professor of political science Alvin Tillery, University of Texas Professor of political science Rebecca Deen, and former 'faithless elector' Christopher Suprun.

19mins

5 Nov 2019

Rank #1

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Founding Documents: Bill of Rights

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.

23mins

26 Feb 2019

Rank #2

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Third Parties

When it comes to federal elections, third party candidates are almost assured a defeat. And yet the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Reform Party -- these underdogs always appear on the scene ready for a fight. So why run if you're not going to win? What do third parties do to American politics? Our mediators for this one are Marjorie Hershey, Professor of Political Science Emerita at Indiana University and Geoffrey Skelley, Elections Analyst at FiveThirtyEight.

24mins

18 Dec 2019

Rank #3

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Founding Documents: The Constitution

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. 

37mins

12 Feb 2019

Rank #4

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Midterm Edition: House v Senate

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.

25mins

16 Oct 2018

Rank #5

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Founding Documents: The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers

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. 

28mins

19 Feb 2019

Rank #6

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Starter Kit: Executive Branch

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. 

21mins

9 Jul 2019

Rank #7

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Presidential Transitions

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.

18mins

24 Apr 2018

Rank #8