Is it correct to place politics in its own category, as if it were distinct from everything else that happens and has happened?
I struggled with this question because I don't think the history of politics can be separated from our general history. After all, what is politics? Isn't politics how politicians react to events and trends in all facets of life? If so, then the history of America's politics is, in effect, the history of America.
So, in this series, I have included conversations that feel more political than not.
I hope you enjoy these episodes. Listen, read and watch below. And by the way, we love feedback.
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HbN Guest: Dr. Michael Klarman, Harvard Law School
Author of: The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution
About Our Guest: Dr. Klarman is the Charles Warren Professor of Legal History at Harvard Law School. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and scholarship, which are primarily in the areas of Constitutional Law and Constitutional History. In 2009 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2020, he authored the Foreword to the Harvard Law Review’s annual Supreme Court issue, which is titled “The Degradation of American Democracy—and the Court.” He is the author of many books, including The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution, a book that was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.
In the news: The US Supreme Court ended is term last week with some big decisions, e.g., on affirmative action, student loans and gay rights. And also, the High Court is buffeted by allegations of potential misconduct.
In this episode (Jul. 7, 2023), we uncover the history behind:
HbN Guest: Dr. Robert Spitzer, SUNY Cortland
Author of: The Gun Dilemma
About Our Guest: Dr. Spitzer is a professor at the Political Science Department of the State University of New York at Cortland, AKA SUNY Cortland. He has testified before Congress and participated in meetings at the White House, and his work has been cited by federal courts. He is the author of fifteen books, including several on gun control. His latest book, published just this year, is The Gun Dilemma, which we discussed.
In the news: Kansas City shooting of a Black teenager who was at the wrong address. A New York woman in the wrong driveway shot dead. Alabama birthday party mass shooting. Nashville school mass shooting. Half Moon Bay mass shooting. Monterey Park Lunar New Year mass shooting. And many, many more. This episode is about America's guns, gun rights and gun regulations.
In this episode (Apr. 21, 2023), we uncover the history behind:
HbN guest: Dr. Thomas J. Balcerski
Author of: The Greatest Party Ever Known (forthcoming)
About our guest: Dr. Balcerski is a visiting professor in US History at Occidental College, AKA Oxy, where he teaches courses on U.S. Presidents and First Ladies as well as the history of the Democratic Party, from Thomas Jefferson to Joe Biden. In addition to Oxy, Dr. Balcerski is a professor of American history at Eastern Connecticut State University. Dr. Balcerski is also a Long-Term Fellow at the Huntington Library and he is conducting research for his forthcoming book, The Greatest Party Ever Known, which we discussed.
In the news: President Biden's age at his half-term.
In this episode (Jan. 27, 2023):
HbN guest: Prof. Joel Richard Paul
Author of: Indivisible - Daniel Webster And the Birth of American Nationalism
About our guest: Prof. Paul is a legal scholar and historian and he teaches Constitutional Law and other subjects at UC Law San Francisco. He has advised the Clinton presidential campaign on trade policy, challenged the military’s exclusion of gay service members and brought other First Amendment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has testified before Congress, managed political campaigns, and worked on affordable housing policies. In 1991 Professor Paul corroborated the testimony of Professor Anita Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas. He has written many books. In this conversation, we discussed his latest book, Indivisible - Daniel Webster And the Birth of American Nationalism.
In the news: Chaos in the People's House. Rep. McCarthy was finally voted in as the Speaker after 15 rounds.
In this episode (Jan. 6, 2023):
HbN guest: Prof. Michael J. Gerhardt
Author of: The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy
About our guest: Prof. Gerhardt is a legal scholar and historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, where he is a Burton Craig Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence. He is the author of seven books, including The Forgotten Presidents and Lincoln's Mentors. His forthcoming book is FDR's Mentors. Professor Gerhardt has testified more than 20 times before Congress, including as the only joint witness in the Clinton impeachment proceedings in the House; speaking behind closed doors to the entire House of Representatives about the history of impeachment in 1998.
He also testified as one of the four constitutional scholars called by the House Judiciary Committee during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings.
In the news: Trump's announces his candidacy for 2024.
In this episode (Dec. 9, 2022):
HbN guest: Dr. David Schultz
Author of: Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter
About our guest: Dr. Schultz is a Distinguished Hamline University Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies, where he teaches across a wide range of American politics classes including public policy and administration, campaigns and elections, and government ethics. He is also a professor of law at Hamline as well as the University of Minnesota Schools of Law, where he teaches election law.
In the news: 2022 Midterm Elections. The Republican red tsunami didn't happen.
In this episode (Nov. 18, 2022):
HbN guest: Prof. Heidi Kitrosser
Author of: Reclaiming Accountability: Transparency, Executive Power, and the U.S. Constitution
About our guest: Prof. Kitrosser is a legal scholar at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. She is an expert on the constitutional law of federal government secrecy and on separation of powers and free speech law more broadly. She is the author of Reclaiming Accountability: Transparency, Executive Power, and the U.S. Constitution, which was awarded the 2014 Chicago-Kent College of Law / Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize. She is on the steering committee of a new initiative – the Free Expression Legal Network (FELN) spearheaded by Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic and the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press
In the news: Investigation of former Pres. Trump's documents in Mar-a-Lago.
In this episode (Nov. 4, 2022):
HbN guest: Prof. Edward Foley
Author of: Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States
About our guest: Prof. Foley holds the Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law at The Ohio State University, where he also directs its election law program. He is a contributing opinion columnist for The Washington Post, and for the 2020 election season, he served as an NBC News election law analyst. He is the author of Presidential Elections and Majority Rule, and Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States, which was named a Finalist for the David J. Langum Prize in American Legal History and listed as one of 100 “must-read books about law and social justice".
In the news: Congresswoman Liz Cheney lost her re-election bid because, unlike 66% of House Republicans, she did not deny the 2020 election results.
In this episode (Aug. 26, 2022):
HbN guest: Mr. Daniel Okrent
Author of: Last Call, The Rise And Fall of Prohibition
About our guest: Mr. Okrent is the author of the Last Call, The Rise And Fall of Prohibition, which won the Albert J. Beveridge prize, awarded by the American Historical Association to the year's best book of American history, and was used as a major source for the PBS miniseries Prohibition, which was directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Mr. Okrent served as the first public editor of The New York Times , and he has also been the editor of prestigious publishing companies, as well as the Esquire Magazine, Life Magazine, and Time, among others. He also served on the board of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for 12 years, including a four-year term as chairman, and remains a board member of the Skyscraper Museum and the Authors Guild.
In the news: controversy over the 2020 U.S. census continues in Congress. That controvery involved President Trump's interference in the census, and lawsuits that went t othe Supreme Court.
In this episode (Aug. 5, 2022):
HbN guest: Dr. James C. Clark
Author of: Hidden History of Florida
About our guest: Dr. Clark lives in Orlando and is an award-winning journalist, and a history lecturer at the University of Central Florida.
He is the author of 9 books, including Hidden History of Florida, A Concise History of Florida, Orlando Florida - A Brief History, and Presidents in Florida.
In the news: Just a couple of weeks ago, Florida’s Governor, Mr. Ron DeSantis, signed a bill that revoked Disney’s special district status in his state.
In this episode (May 13, 2022):
HbN guest: Dr. Aimee Edmondson
Author of: In Sullivan’s Shadow, The Use and Abuse of Libel Law During the Long Civil Rights Struggle
About our guest: Dr. Aimee Edmondson is a professor in media law and journalism history with a particular focus on civil rights-related libel law, critical race theory, and free expression. She also teaches data journalism using the techniques of Investigative Reporters and Editors. She is the Director of Graduate Studies, at E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and also the Acting Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Research, and Creative Activity, at Scripps College of Communication. She is the author of In Sullivan’s Shadow, The Use and Abuse of Libel Law During the Long Civil Rights Struggle, which we discuss in this episode.
In the news: Dominion's defamation lawsuit against Fox News regarding the 2020 presidential election goes to trial.
In this episode (Apr. 28, 2023):
HbN guest: Dr. Martin Spinelli
Author of: Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution
About our guest: Dr. Spinelli is a professor of Podcasting and Creative Media at the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K. He is lead editor of the Bloomsbury Podcast Studies book series, co-host and executive producer of the podcast For Your Ears Only, and writer and executive producer on the recently released adolescent emotional well-being sci-fi podcast drama, the Rez. His benchmark radio art series Radio Radio and LINEbreak are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. He is the co-author of a ground-breaking 2019 book Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution, which we discussed.
In the news: the second anniversary of the History Behind News podcast.
In this episode (Jan. 20, 2023):