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


Propaganda is a piece of information designed to make you think or do something specific. So how does it work? Today on Civics 101, John Maxwell Hamilton (professor and author of Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda) and Jennifer Mercieca (professor and author of Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump) take us through the Federalist Papers, the Committee on Public Intelligence, the Four Minute Men, amygdala highjacking, and the myriad ways propagandists take advantage of our best intentions to achieve a result.

Post-Presidency Perks

What does a person get after the U.S. presidency's over and done with? We answer a question from listener Patrick, who asks if former presidents get anything special. Do they ever, and we lay out the perks of having once held the highest office in the land. Please note: an earlier version of this episode stated that Harry Truman was the only living president at the passage of the 1958 Former Presidents Act. Former President Herbert Hoover was also still living at the time of the passage of this Act.

The White House Press Corps & The Press Secretary

The White House Press Corps wasn't always such an organized bunch. In this episode, we'll dive into the history and evolution of reporters in the White House. Plus, the how the role of Press Secretary was created, how it's evolved, and how the relationship between POTUS and the press has shifted over the centuries. Guests: NPR's Scott Horsely and Mara Liasson Get more Civics 101 by signing up for our free newsletter! Want to donate to the show? Click here!

Are We A Democracy? Or Are We A Republic?

There's a complaint we get pretty often around here, that our tagline contains the word "democracy," but the United States is *actually* a republic. we need to make a change? What did the framers think about democracy? How do we compare to Athens and Rome? And finally, how democratic are we anyways? Guests: Juliet Hooker: Royce Professor, Teaching Excellence in Political Science at Brown University Paul Frymer: Professor of Politics, Princeton University Click here for our episode on where the 1965 Voting Rights Act stands today. Click here to sign up for our newsletter! Do you love the show? Please donate to support our work!

American Myths Part Two: Progress

There are three American myths that define "Americanness." The frontier, the melting pot and the "self-made man." They're concepts that define how we are to think about transformation, progress and possibility in America. They also rarely hold up. Heike Paul, author of The Myths That Made America, is our guide to the stories we tell about how it is in this country (even when it isn't.)

American Myths Part One: Origins

In this episode we take a closer look at four well-worn stories: that of Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, the Pilgrims and Puritans and the Founding Fathers and ask what is actually true. They're our foundational origin myths, but why? And since when? Author Heike Paul, author of The Myths That Made America, is our guide.

Host v Host: A Trivia Battle of Wits

Senior Producer Christina Phillips puts Nick and Hannah to the test in this trivia face off! Play along as our co-hosts prove their mettle (and also don't) and learn a little something while you're at it. Featuring Nick as Christopher Walken... with apologies to Mr. Walken.

Civics 101 Presents: Future Hindsight on the Asian American Vote

This is a featured conversation from Future Hindsight, a podcast with a simple premise: civic participation is essential to a functioning democracy. So how do we do it? In this episode, host Mila Atmos speaks with Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, about Asian American stereotypes, changing the narrative about who Asian-Americans are, and activating Asian communities to take civic action. You can find so many more conversations that span the civic world at

Nina Totenberg Live On Stage

In September 2022, Hannah sat down with NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent for a show called Writers on a New England Stage. This is an excerpt from their conversation. Nina discusses her new book, Dinners with Ruth, focusing on her career as a journalist and her relationship with late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You can catch the whole conversation at

Taking the Fifth: When What You Say Could Be Used Against You

The Fifth Amendment's self-incrimination clause says that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Basically, it means that the government, or law enforcement, can't force you to talk to implicate yourself in a crime. However, what that looks like in practice... is a little more messy. When do you have a right to remain silent? When do you become a suspect? What does compulsion look like? Can your silence be used against you? We talk about how the Supreme Court has interpreted these questions, and how to exercise Fifth Amendment right when you are interacting with law enforcement, with Tracey Maclin, a professor of Constitutional law and Constitutional criminal procedure at the University of Florida's Levin School of Law, and Jorge Camacho, a clinical lecturer on law and policing at Yale University, where he is the policy director of the Yale Justice Collaboratory.