Politics with Amy Walter Every Friday, Amy Walter brings you the trends in politics long before the national media picks up on them. Known as one of the smartest and most trusted journalists in Washington, D.C., Amy Walter is respected by politicians and pundits on all sides of the aisle. You may know Amy her from her work with Cook Political Report and the PBS NewsHour where she looks beyond the breaking news headlines for a deeper understanding of how Washington works, who's pulling the levers of power, and how it all impacts you.Politics with Amy Walter is a co-production of PRI and WNYC Radio in collaboration WGBH.
Politics with Amy Walter

Politics with Amy Walter

From WNJP Radio - FM

Every Friday, Amy Walter brings you the trends in politics long before the national media picks up on them. Known as one of the smartest and most trusted journalists in Washington, D.C., Amy Walter is respected by politicians and pundits on all sides of the aisle. You may know Amy her from her work with Cook Political Report and the PBS NewsHour where she looks beyond the breaking news headlines for a deeper understanding of how Washington works, who's pulling the levers of power, and how it all impacts you.Politics with Amy Walter is a co-production of PRI and WNYC Radio in collaboration WGBH.

Most Recent Episodes

Election Officials Reflect on the 2020 Cycle

Over the past 25 years, the makeup of newsrooms—and the people covering politics—has changed significantly. As more women and people of color joined the media, newsrooms began to reflect the diversity of America. While newsrooms today are still overwhelmingly white, the lens through which we view politics has evolved largely due to the diversity of opinions. But there's still a long way to go. Amy Walter spoke with Errin Haines, co-founder and editor-at-large for the 19th*, Toluse Olorunnipa, national political Reporter for the Washington Post, and Maya King, political reporter at Politico, about their experiences reporting in an era where race, racism, and our national reckoning have become mainstream conversations. Both the pandemic and former President Trump's baseless attacks on voting by mail underscored the importance of election administrators and volunteers. As election officials attempted to run smooth and fair elections, they also had to combat the spread of misinformation, much of which was instigated by former President Trump. Even after a year like 2020, these individuals remain dedicated to administering future elections and safeguarding our democracy. Damon Circosta, chair of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Katie Hobbs, Arizona Secretary of State, and Evan Malbrough, founder of the Georgia Youth Poll Worker Project and Puffin Democracy fellow with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, reflect on the 2020 election cycle. Plus, Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the Secretary of State of Georgia, shares what it was like to face the real-time consequences of former President Trump's lies about the results of the general election. Former President Trump's norm-defying presidency caused many to question the roles institutions play in checking the power of the executive branch. The lies Donald Trump created and amplified about the integrity of our elections meant that millions of Americans doubted the final result. Suzanne Spaulding, senior adviser for homeland security and director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, describes how prepared social media networks and other institutions were to combat misinformation related to the election in 2020 and how that compared to 2016.

The Fight Over Returning to School

March will mark one year since students began learning from home. Today, about half the students in the United States are still learning remotely. While Zoom classrooms filled the gap at the beginning of the pandemic, it's not a sustainable measure. Many parents have grown exasperated trying to help their kids through online classes as their children deal with the lack of socialization and in-person interaction. Others fear that sending their child back to school could compromise the health and safety of other members of the household. Returning K-8 students for in-person instruction was one of President Biden's most prominent campaign promises. While the administration is weighing additional guidance from the CDC and input from teacher's unions, parents, and governors, there is no policy prescription that will erase the fear many teachers have regarding returning to the classroom amid the rise of more transmissible variants of coronavirus. Marguerite Roza, research professor at Georgetown University and director of the Edunomics Lab, and Dana Goldstein, national reporter at the New York Times covering education, address President Biden's plan to reopen schools. Plus, Howard Stevenson, director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, describes why Black and Hispanic parents are less likely to send their children back for in-person learning after being on the receiving end of discriminatory practices at the hands of institutions, including schools. And, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, describes the challenges for getting teachers back in the classroom after a year of remote teaching and muddled federal guidance from the Trump administration. Some music for this podcast by I Think Like Midnight.

Restoring Faith in American Institutions

According to a recent Marist/NPR/PBS NewsHour poll, the proportion of Americans who think the nation is on track is at its lowest point in twenty years. A mob descended on the U.S. Capitol in a literal attempt to overthrow an election. And, thousands of Americans took to the streets this summer to protest longstanding police violence against Black and brown Americans. But, skepticism of the government didn't start with President Trump's attacks on the Deep State or his claims of voter fraud. Distrust of the police didn't begin with the murder of George Floyd. And, mistrust of corporate and business leaders wasn't created by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. So, how long have we been here, how did we get here, and is there any hope that we can find resolution? Amy talks with Jamelle Bouie, opinion columnist at The New York Times and Yuval Levin, the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor in chief of National Affairs about how to restore the faith. Another big issue just around the corner is redistricting. For the past four years, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee has been preparing for the 2021 redistricting process. They've sued against gerrymandered maps of the last decade, educated people about the redistricting process and built grassroots infrastructure. But democrats had a tough year in 2020 at the state legislative level. We speak with Kelly Ward Burton, executive director at National Democratic Redistricting Committee about how things have changed since the last redistricting in 2011. The Republican counterpart to the NDRC is the National Republican Redistricting Trust. Like the Democrat's group the NRRT is also hard at work planning for what's to come. Adam Kincaid, the group's president and executive director, weighs in on their strategy and priorities throughout the mapmaking process. Not all states redistricting efforts are lead by lawmakers. In recent years a number of states have made attempts to strip politics out of the redistricting process by removing the mapmaking power from the legislature and handing it over to an independent commission. California formed it's first independent commission back in 2010. Paul Mitchell, owner of Redistricting Partners explains how commissioners in the Golden State are chosen. And Amy sits down with Jane Andersen and Sara Sadhwani, two of the newly minted members to hear about their expectations for the process. Amy's final take: Here's one more thing from me: We started this hour talking about the eroding faith in American institutions and ended the hour hearing from two California women - one Republican and one Democrat - who believe that they can make a difference in shaping our democracy. Two regular people - with busy lives and other responsibilities tugging at them - decided that their voice mattered. Yuval Levin said that hope, more than optimism, is what keeps him engaged in the work of trying to heal our nation's divides. Optimism implies that all will turn out ok. Hope is the acknowledgement that it might not. But, without it, we are just stuck in a cul-de-sac of cynicism - always looking for someone else to blame instead of figuring out ways to be part of the solution. It's not that our institutions have failed, as much as our leaders have failed them. The church leaders who didn't protect vulnerable children; the politicians who have abused the public trust; the corporate CEO who put profit over his own workers safety. If you want to fix our institutions, then be prepared to take ownership of the ones in which you are a part. Be prepared to put the greater good of that institution ahead of your personal needs and desires. Be willing to believe that those who have different ideas can be allies and not just enemies.

Politics with Amy Walter: Washington Tests Biden's Calls for Unity

President Biden's campaign message of unity is being tested in Washington during his first full week in office, particularly because Republicans and Democrats don't seem to agree on what unity means. The scars from the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol are still fresh, a second impeachment trial is looming in the Senate, and Republicans and Democrats are seemingly miles apart from agreeing on a new COVID-19 aid package. Meanwhile, disharmony is evident among members of the GOP as Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz flew to Wyoming to campaign against GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney after she voted to impeach former President Trump. Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, and Senator Mark Warner spoke with Amy Walter about whether or not Biden's calls for unity will be ignored. In 2020, almost 30 states expanded access to absentee ballots and early voting to make voting easier during the pandemic. Ahead of the general election, states saw a record-breaking number of requests for mail-in-ballots. And while Republicans have historically relied on absentee ballots, former President Trump's attacks on voting by mail meant that more Democrats took advantage of the early vote option, while many Republicans opted to vote in person on Election Day. Today, Republican state legislators in swing states like Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and Pennsylvania are pushing for new voting restrictions in the aftermath of a Biden win. Grace Panetta, senior politics reporter at Business Insider, describes the unintended consequences of restricting voting rights. Every ten years, the U.S. government conducts a census that determines how many seats each state will receive in the House of Representatives. This data is used to redraw congressional and state legislative district lines. The most recent census results have been delayed by the pandemic and a legal battle regarding whether or not undocumented immigrants would be included in the final count. Republicans and Democrats have long sought to draw districts in their favor, but tolerance for hyper-partisan gerrymandering has waned considerably over the last decade. Dave Wasserman, House editor for The Cook Political Report, describes where the latest redistricting efforts stand and which states stand to gain additional seats.

How President Biden Will Tackle the Economic Crisis

Joe Biden takes the helm as the 46th president of the United States during an unprecedented crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 400,000 Americans, nearly 16 million remain unemployed, and the peaceful transfer of power was disrupted by a violent mob unleashed by the former president. Unity was the centerpiece of President Biden's inaugural address, but he also acknowledged that unity cannot be achieved without addressing the division and anger that defined the last four years. Nick Fandos, congressional correspondent for The New York Times, Toluse Olorunnipa, national political reporter at The Washington Post, and Clare Malone, a freelance writer, reflect on the last four years and discuss President Biden's path forward. The precarious nature of the economy is among the challenges President Biden has inherited. Record unemployment continues as major sectors of the economy remain shut down as a result of the pandemic. Having introduced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package ahead of inauguration, President Biden is hoping to bring Republicans on board to demonstrate his commitment to bipartisanship. But it's unlikely that Republicans will support his plan as it currently reads even though distributing aid to suffering businesses and families is a time-sensitive matter. Heather Long from The Washington Post and Derek Thompson from The Atlantic describe the economy as it stands today and what approach President Biden should take in implementing another stimulus package. Plus, Kamala Harris made history this week as she became the first woman and woman of color to be sworn in as vice president. Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List and author of "Run to Win: Lessons in Leadership for Women Changing the World," has spent her professional life working to elect pro-choice Democratic women to public office. She spoke with Amy Walter about how drastically things have changed for women in politics throughout her career and the magnitude of Vice President Harris' ascent to the White House.

What Happens to President Trump's Grip on the GOP Following Two Impeachments?

President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives just one week after encouraging his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol and disrupt Congress as they tallied Joe Biden's Electoral College win. He is the first president to be impeached twice. Privately, many Republican members said that while they supported impeachment, they were worried about their physical safety and the political fallout from denouncing a president who remains popular among the base. Only ten Republicans joined House Democrats in voting to impeach. President Trump's ban from Twitter means that for the first time in four years, Washington is unaware of how he's processing the current news cycle and the end of his term. With President-elect Joe Biden days away from assuming the presidency, he's preparing to tackle the dual crises of COVID-19 and an economic downturn. How quickly the Senate moves to take up impeachment will have a direct impact on how efficiently the Biden administration is able to move through their agenda. Annie Linskey, a national political reporter at The Washington Post, Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for POLITICO, and Sarah Wire, congressional reporter at The Los Angeles Times, share what the mood is like in the West Wing and what happens to President Trump's grip on the Republican Party after he leaves office. Throughout his time in office, Donald Trump's actions have raised many questions about the presidency. Particularly, since he broke with America's proud tradition of a peaceful transfer of power when his supporters attacked the Capitol. Today, a militarized Washington, D.C. stands prepared to address growing security concerns ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration. Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia Miller Center, puts Donald Trump's presidency into context and expands on how he changed the presidency, for better or worse. Also, the insurrection has highlighted the role social media platforms have in the dissemination of conspiracy theories and lies. Many of those who participated in the violent attack were involved in conversations on Twitter and Facebook that falsely claimed that the election had been stolen from President Trump. While Trump has been banned from several platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, the lies and rhetoric he shared with his followers has not disappeared. Darrell West, senior fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation at The Brookings Institution, and Kevin Roose, technology columnist at The New York Times, describe how individuals become radicalized online and where they go when they've been deplatformed.

What Happens to President Trump's Grip on the GOP Following Two Impeachments?

How President Trump Attempted to Subvert Democracy

This week, a violent mob of President Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The insurrectionists were seeking to overturn the results of the general election during a joint session of Congress as members tallied the Electoral College votes. President Trump has routinely and falsely claimed that the presidential election was rigged and encouraged his supporters to reject the result. As Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House, politicians that will remain in Washington will have to contend with the loyalty he's fomented among his base and the anger that has been released. Jelani Cobb, staff writer at The New Yorker, and Adam Serwer, staff writer at The Atlantic, describe the consequences of failing to hold President Trump accountable for the violent attempt to subvert democracy. And, Grace Segers, political reporter for CBS News, provides a firsthand account of the attack on Capitol Hill. Also, in the midst of the crisis in Washington this week, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock won both Senate runoffs in Georgia. As a result, Democrats will have a slim majority in the House and Senate. Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for NBC News, describes how Democrats were able to run progressive candidates in a swing state and win. Finally, President Trump's norm-defying first term has drawn sharp criticism over the last four years, but the events of the week have drawn almost universal condemnation. Members of his own party have called on President Trump to resign and in less than two weeks, Joe Biden will be sworn in against a backdrop of unprecedented division. To understand how Joe Biden might attempt to navigate this moment in politics Amy Walter spoke with Brendan Buck, Republican strategist at Seven Letter and a former aide to John Boehner and Paul Ryan, and Joel Payne, Democratic strategist, former aide to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and host of "Here comes the Payne."

How American Democracy Became Vulnerable to the Threat of Populism

Individual reactions to the coronavirus pandemic and the public health restrictions that have accompanied it have underscored how powerful negative partisanship can be in the formation of political opinions. In past crises, national shocks have urged partisans to put aside their personal grievances in pursuit of the greater good, but today, that doesn't seem to be the case. Jonathan Haidt, psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, shares how the perception of risk influences our political behavior and the impact it has on public opinion. President Donald Trump spent his first term undermining the credibility of the media. His tweets, campaign events, and press conferences were tools he used to cast doubt on the legitimacy of reputable news organizations while promoting unfounded lies and conspiracy theories that served his personal agenda. As President Trump prepares to leave office, members of the White House press pool have turned their gaze to President-elect Joe Biden. Due to the virtual nature of campaigning in 2020, Biden was able to avoid much of the traditional back and forth with members of the media. There are some who argue that members of the press didn't push hard enough to get Biden in front of reporters. But because Biden has spent a considerable amount of time in Washington, he has a track record that he can be measured against. A core part of Biden's campaign promise was a return to normalcy that would include a more traditional communications team and relationship with the press. Rick Klein, political director at ABC News, Caitlin Conant, political director at CBS News, and Ben Smith, media columnist at The New York Times, discuss what the Biden administration's relationship with the press could look like. President Trump distinguished himself in a crowded 2016 primary field by running as a populist. He spoke to the problems that many Americans felt the government had failed to adequately address, like their inability to earn a decent wage or pay for healthcare and higher education. A man who was born rich tapped into the anxieties of working-class Americans whose pleas for help were ignored by leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties. William G. Howell, professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and Terry M. Moe, professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution are the co-authors of Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy. They spoke with Amy Walter about the last impact of populism and President Trump's lasting impact on our politics.

The Old South vs. The New South

Since Georgia flipped blue for President-elect Joe Biden, the gulf between the Old South and the New South has come into focus. Come January, the state's closely watched runoff elections will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. In one race, Republican Senator David Perdue will face Democrat Jon Ossoff. In the other race, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat last year by Governor Brian Kemp, faces Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. We are in the final weeks of a campaign that has, not surprisingly, turned ugly and expensive. To better understand the dynamics, host Amy Walter called up Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr., Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, and Jim Galloway, a political columnist at the Atlanta Journal constitution. Read the 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" here.

Freshman Conversation: Representative-Elect Cliff Bentz, OR-2

Cliff Bentz was elected to represent Oregon's 2nd Congressional District this fall. He will fill the seat left open by retiring Congressman Greg Walden who served the district for more than 20 years. Oregon's 2nd encompasses a wide swath of eastern Oregon covering about 70,000 square miles it ranks among the largest congressional districts in the nation. Here Representative-Elect Bentz talks with host Amy Walter about climate change, how COVID-19 has affected the people of his district, and what he's learned about governing as a member of the minority party. Check out our 2020 election coverage here. Check out the full freshman conversation series here. Check out our series, "A Votar: A Look at Latino Voters in the 2020 U.S. Election," here. Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this segment. Don't have time to listen right now? Subscribe for free to our podcast via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts to take this segment with you on the go. Want to comment on this story? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram.

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