Episode 11 – Political Responsibility, Climate Change, and Police Violence with Dr. Christopher Sardo

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 11 - Political Responsibility, Climate Change, and Police Violence with Dr. Christopher Sardo
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Dr. Michael Christopher Sardo / Occidental College

Even if you don’t read comic books, you’ve probably heard the adage from Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” But what does it mean to be responsible or take responsibility, especially when it’s not clear that you’ve done something illegal, immoral, or wrong? Who should bear responsibility for climate change, global justice, or police violence? Today we’re switching things up, with Junko Anderson, Oxy class of ’21, interviewing our usual host, Dr. Christopher Sardo from Occidental College to talk about his work on political responsibility. We talk about what it means to be politically, as opposed to morally, responsible, and how this idea can change the way we think about challenges like climate change and police reform.

Episode 10 – Protest and Activism in a Comparative Perspective with Dr. Kelly Bauer

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 10 - Protest and Activism in a Comparative Perspective with Dr. Kelly Bauer
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Dr. Kelly Bauer

How can the study of comparative politics – of the different forms of political organization and behavior around the world – help us make sense of the US’s challenging and contentious politics in this moment? My guest today is Dr. Kelly Bauer is joining the Politics Department at Occidental College this year to teach courses in comparative politics Latinx politics, and research methods. We talked about her research on activist movements in Chile, the importance of methodological debates, and her approach to teaching in the brave new world of Covid-19.

Episode 9 – Politics, Humor, and Socrates with Dr. John Lombardini

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 9 - Politics, Humor, and Socrates with Dr. John Lombardini
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John Lombardini, College of William and Mary

What role does comedy, satire, and humor play in a democracy? Is it good that one of our primary modes of engaging with political authority is through the mode of irony and comedy? What happens when the target of comedy moves from those in power, to those who are most vulnerable. My guest today, Dr. John Lombardini of the College of William and Mary, studies humor and irony in ancient political thought. We talked about Socrates, the politics of comedy, and the value of reading ancient thinkers two millennia after they wrote.

Episode 8 – Campaign Semester with Dr. Regina Freer and Natalie Martinez ’21

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 8 - Campaign Semester with Dr. Regina Freer and Natalie Martinez '21
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Dr. Regina Freer / Occidental College

Every two years Occidental students leave campus for competitive elections across the country to work full time as campaign staff, bringing what they’ve learned in the classroom to bear on the real world work of politics and bringing their experiences on the campaign trail back to the classroom. I sat down with Dr. Regina Freer, Professor in the Politics department and one of the faculty coordinators of the Campaign Semester program, and Natalie Martinez, a rising senior who participated in the program in 2018. Professor Freer has been overseeing this program since it’s inception, and Natalie worked for Mikie Sherril’s successful election in the New Jersey 11th. We talked about the unique experiences that students can gain from the program, how it translates to both academic studies and work beyond politics, and advice for students considering the program

Episode 7 – Social Media as/and Politics with Dr. Jennifer Forestal

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 7 - Social Media as/and Politics with Dr. Jennifer Forestal
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Dr. Jennifer Forestal / Loyola University Chicago

Social media has pervaded almost every aspect of our lives and, as the 2016 election has demonstrated, our political life is not immune from the effects of social media. But what if thinking about the effects of social media on politics is asking the wrong question? My guest today, Dr. Jennnifer Forestal of Loyola University Chicago, argues that we should be studying social media platforms as political sites themselves – where users collective decide, even if contentiously, how to manage public things of value. Professor Forestal is a political theorist who draws on the history of political thought to investigate the politics of social media, studying the effects of site design, governance structures, and software development on the potential for democratic engagement with and through digital media. We spoke about the politics of social media, their role in American democracy, and ways to design platforms in a more just manner.

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Episode 6 – A Middle Ground between Radical Skepticism and Unthinking Deference with Dr. Alec Arellano

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 6 - A Middle Ground between Radical Skepticism and Unthinking Deference with Dr. Alec Arellano
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Dr. Alec Arellano / Photo credit: Matthew Chambers

“Think for yourself;” “Question authority;” “Critique those in power” – these are the hallmarks of democratic citizenry. But how do we draw the line between healthy skepticism that is necessary for democracy, and the forms of skepticism that animate climate denialist and conspiracy theorists? How should democratic citizens navigate between the twin pitfalls of unthinking obedience and nihilistic skepticism? My guest today, Dr. Alec Arellano of Occidental College, turns to Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous study, Democracy in America, to chart a middle ground between these two constitutive dangers of democratic politics. Professor Arellano teaches in the Politics Department at Occidental College, and we spoke about Tocqueville, democratic citizenship, and crafting research projects.

Episode 5 – Gun Ownership, Political Identity, and the NRA with Dr. Matthew Lacombe

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 5 - Gun Ownership, Political Identity, and the NRA with Dr. Matthew Lacombe
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Dr. Matthew J. Lacombe / Barnard College

Why have gun control advocates been unable to effectively pass legislation on stricter gun restrictions, despite high profile mass shootings at schools, places of worship, night clubs, and concerts as well as significant public support many proposed measures? Many have suggested that the National Rifle Association has bought off members of congress to prevent any reform from passing. My guest today, Dr. Matthew Lacombe of Barnard College, argues that this is only partially correct. The most important way that the NRA exerts its power is by cultivating a sense of political identity around gun ownership and framing any gun control as a threat to that identity in order to motivate its members. We spoke about the NRA, gun-ownership as an identity, and what this means for gun control and the 2020 election.

Episode 4 – Gender, Politics, and Leadership with Dr. Jennifer Piscopo

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 4 - Gender, Politics, and Leadership with Dr. Jennifer Piscopo
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Jennifer M. Piscopo / Occidental College

Do women “naturally” make better leaders than men? While this has been a theme in political philosophy and science fiction for centuries, many point to the coronavirus pandemic as a natural experiment to test this question. My guest today, Professor Jennifer Piscopo, studies gender and politics, and we talk about female political leadership, why the “right to be elected” is as important for gender equality as the right to vote, and who Vice President Biden might pick to be his running mate.

Dr. Jennifer Piscopo is Associate Professor of Politics here at Occidental College. Her research focuses on gender and comparative politics, and has published extensively on gender quotas and legislative institutions in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Her public writing has appeared in The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post among others. She joined me to talk about gender representation and democracy, the role of female political leaders in responding to the coronavirus, and who Joe Biden might choose to be his running mate. We spoke a few weeks ago, so some of the political forces may have shifted, but her insights on to the general concerns driving Biden’s decision remain important.

Episode 3 – Election Administration and Election-Day Poll Workers with Dr. Mara Suttman-Lea

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 3 - Election Administration and Election-Day Poll Workers with Dr. Mara Suttman-Lea
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Every election day, thousands of poll-workers, or election judges, give their time to ensure that people are able to vote throughout this country. Yet despite how necessary their work is for American democracy to function, their work is understudied by political scientist. My guest today, Dr. Mara Suttman-Lea is working to rectify that. We spoke about election administration, the reasons why poll-workers give their time, and how covid-19 may affect the administration of the fall presidential election.

Episode 2 – Race, Anger, Protest, and Politics with Dr. Davin Phoenix

Oxy Poli-Cast
Episode 2 - Race, Anger, Protest, and Politics with Dr. Davin Phoenix
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Associate Professor of Political Science Davin Phoenix photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Conventional political wisdom states that getting people angry is a good way to get them to vote. My guest today, Professor Davin Phoenix, argues in his recent book, The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics, that for African-Americans, and other communities of color, anger functions differently. Because their grievances are not taken seriously by the political establishment, anger inhibits rather than encourages formal political participation – like voting – but encourages system-challenging behavior like protests and boycotts. Professor Phoenix and I talk about the role of race and emotions in politics, how we should understand the present political moment, and what all of this means for politics moving forward.

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