Civics 101 Why does the U.S. have an Electoral College? How do congressional investigations work? What does the minority whip actually do? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.
Civics 101

Civics 101

From New Hampshire Public Radio

Why does the U.S. have an Electoral College? How do congressional investigations work? What does the minority whip actually do? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.

Most Recent Episodes

US vs: Two Party System

Americans often take issue with our two-party system. So what other options are out there? Today, with the help of political scientists Guillermo Rosas and Robin Best, we explore the reason why we have (and may always have) such a system, and compare it to other democracies around the world. This episode contains an overabundance of Street Fighter 2 references. Support Civics 101 with a donation today!


The United States charges nearly 8,000 people with being good at relationships. These are our diplomats, or Foreign Service Officers. These are the people who make us look good, make sure the world gives us what we want and need and try to keep tensions at a minimum. To try to understand how this nuanced job actually works, we speak with Alison Mann, Public Historian at the National Museum of American Diplomacy and Naima Green-Riley, soon-to-be professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton and former diplomat.


The 2020 census has concluded, which means it's time for states to redraw their congressional districts. Today we're exploring partisan gerrymandering, the act of drawing those maps to benefit one party over the other. In this episode you'll learn about stacking, cracking, packing, and many other ways politicians choose voters (instead of the other way round). Taking us through the story of Gerry's salamander and beyond are professors Justin Levitt, Robin Best, and Nancy Miller. Civics 101 is free to listen to, but not to make. Click here to make a small donation to support the show today!

After 9/11: The Department of Homeland Security

The terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, made one thing very obvious: our country's national security strategy was flawed. What followed was one of the biggest reorganizations of our federal government in history: the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in November, 2002. What about 9/11, the attacks, and their aftermath, made it possible for the government to transform, in just over a year? And how has that transformation changed how our government makes decisions about threats to our country, and responds to them? Helping us untangle this story are: David Schanzer, the director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University; Darren Davis, a politics professor at the University of Notre Dame who studies public opinion and political behavior; and Eileen Sullivan, the Homeland Security Correspondent for the New York Times. Support Civics 101 with a small donation today!

Government Shutdown

Congress agrees on a budget and the President signs it. Or... not. This is what happens when we don't have a full and final budget or a continuing resolution. This is what happens when the government shuts down and how our idea of a shutdown has changed over time. Our guest this time around is Charles Tiefer, Professor of Law at Baltimore School of Law.

State Attorneys General

We often hear them referred to as the "top cop" of a state. The attorneys general are the chief legal advisors and law enforcement officers, the ones in charge of statewide investigations and asserting state sovereignty. They sue presidential administrations and big businesses, give press conferences and advise the legislature. But what is the daily business of a state attorney general? How does the "People's Lawyer" actually work for the people? Our guests are former New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney and New Hampshire policy experts Jackie Benson and Anna Brown.

After 9/11: The FBI

This is the story of where the FBI was on September 11th, 2001. This is what they did — and did not — have when it came to counterterrorism and how the tragedy of that Tuesday morning transformed the Bureau. Our guide is Sasha O'Connell, the director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Program at American University who spent the bulk of her career to this point working for the FBI. Please note: An earlier version of this episode identified Mohamed Atta's connecting flight as being from Portland, OR. It was from Portland, ME.

John Marshall and the Supreme Court

John Marshall was the longest-serving Chief Justice in Supreme Court history. In today's episode, we learn all about the man as well as the decisions that shaped the highest court in the land; from Marbury v Madison to McCullough v Maryland. This episode features the voices of Susan Siggelakis, Robert Strauss and Randolph Moss.

Civil Rights: Obergefell v Hodges

It's the most recent landmark case in our Civil Rights SCOTUS series, the decision that said the fundamental right to marry is protected under the 14th Amendment. How did it come about? What was the status of marriage before June of 2015? And why is the government so involved in the marriage business anyways? This episode features the voices of Melissa Wasser from the Project on Government Oversight and Jim Obergefell, the named party in Obergefell v Hodges.

Civil Rights: Loving v Virginia

Mildred and Richard Loving were jailed and banished for marrying in 1958. Nearly a decade later, their Supreme Court case changed the meaning of marriage equality in the United States — decriminalizing their own marriage while they were at it. This is the story of Loving. Our guests are Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui of the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. and Farrah Parkes and Brad Linder of The Loving Project.