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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: August, 2022
Aug 29, 2022

Could the structure of elections in the US be feeding the polarization in modern politics? Currently only about twenty percent of voters show up to the polls for what are often closed primaries, meaning that the general election is often a showdown between candidates who have appealed to the most extreme elements of their party’s base. This is far from an optimal outcome in a country where few voters identify with political extremes.

Most voting experts believe that the way to reduce the influence of the most extreme voices in our political system would be through open primaries in which voters can choose any candidate regardless of party affiliation. This system would favor candidates who speak to a broader swath of the American public and give voters a more representative general election ballot.

In this episode, Bob welcomes back to the show his former Political Statistics Professor, Dr. Scott Huffmon, to discuss Rank choice voting and the 2022 election primaries. Dr. Huffmon is a professor of political science as well as the founder and director of the Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research (CPOPR) at Winthrop. Dr. Huffmon also directs the Winthrop Poll initiative, which is the most important poll focusing on the south. You can follow him on twitter at @HuffmonPolitics.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

 

Aug 22, 2022

When Bitcoin launched in January 2009, few people took it seriously and even fewer had the means to mine, buy or spend it. By the end of 2021, the Pew Research Center reported that 16% of Americans had held cryptocurrency and 86% had heard of it. Despite all of this, many of us remain perplexed by the topic, so Ben and Bob invited Yahoo! Finance’s David Hollerith to join us for a conversation about the origins and potential of crypto. We hope this helps!

David Hollerith is a senior reporter at Yahoo! Finance who covers cryptocurrency. To keep up on his reporting, make sure to follow him on twitter at @DsHollers. You can check out his suggested reading on the topic at the episode page on our website.

If you enjoy this episode, check out #192 The History of Financial Bubbles w/ William Quinn.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 15, 2022

Political rhetoric has become increasingly divisive in the 21st century, but many of the themes and rhetorical strategies we see today have deep roots in American history. In this episode, Ben and Bruce Carlson (My History Can Beat Up Your Politics) discuss the impact that technology, society and other factors have had on Presidential rhetoric from the 1932 contest between Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt to the election of 2020. A lot has changed since the Great Depression, but the similarities between then and now might surprise you.

Bruce Carlson is the host of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics. For more on his podcast, follow @myhist on twitter, check out his website here and subscribe to MHCBUYP anywhere you get The Road to Now.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 8, 2022

Partisanship in politics has become increasingly tense in the 21st century, and while many Americans lament this polarization, few seem convinced that a rapprochement is possible. Yet history is full of proclaimed enemies striking mutually beneficial deals even in the toughest conditions. In this episode, NCSL Director Curt Stedron explains how a deep examination of the Christmas truce struck between Entente and Allied powers during World War I can reveal some core lessons for finding common ground in even the most horrific conditions.

Curt Stedron is Director on the Legislative Training Institute at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a non-partisan organization whose mission is “to advance the effectiveness, independence and integrity of legislatures and to foster interstate cooperation.” He is a graduate of West Point and previously served as an Officer in the US Army. This conversation grew out of his talk “Lessons in Trust: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” which he delivered at the 2022 NCSL Legislative Summit and can be viewed via NCSL’s linkedIn page here.

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Aug 1, 2022

At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the territory that we call the Middle East- including Syria, Iraq, Israel and Turkey- were part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman alliance w/ Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I provided Britain and France w/ the opportunity to divide the once-great empire into many states based on European imperial ambitions. In this episode Bob and Ben speak w/ Eugene Rogan to learn more about why the Ottoman Empire was divided, how that process shaped the Middle East, and how this history helps us understand the world today.

Dr. Eugene Rogan is a Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He is author of The Arabs: A History (Penguin, 2009, 3rd edition 2018), which has been translated in 18 languages and was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Atlantic Monthly. His new book, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920, was published in February 2015.

This is a rebroadcast of episode 112 which originally aired on November 19th, 2018. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer.

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