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What on Earth is Going on? is a podcast for the curious, where small talk is banned and tangents are prized. Strap yourself in for genuine dialogues with people who think deeply and are ready to tackle the big questions, such as broadcaster Terry O'Reilly, economist Miles Corak and journalist Jessica Vomiero.

Join Ben Charland to peel back the headlines and ask, what are the forces, people and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? From the Mafia to the Beaverton, from women in politics to women in leadership, from history to artificial intelligence, and from entrepreneurship in the digital age to the art of wheelchair fencing, just what on Earth is going on?

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Dec 21, 2018

The subtitle of Yascha Mounk's powerful and chilling book is, "Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It". Mounk describes populism and the current disruptions in our politics with a sweeping look at polarization, economics, social media and more. But he also exposes something deeper: the rot in our democratic institutions. Individual rights and the world rules-based order are not the same thing as democracy. Now, they may be in opposition.

Joining Ben to discuss the book is Alex Slusar.

About the Book

“We can no longer assume that liberal democracy is the wave of the future… This splendid book is an invaluable contribution to the debate about what ails democracy, and what can be done about it.”—Michael J. Sandel, author of Justice

“Everyone worried about the state of contemporary politics should read this book.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation

The world is in turmoil. From Russia, Turkey, and Egypt to the United States, authoritarian populists have seized power. As a result, democracy itself may now be at risk.

Two core components of liberal democracy—individual rights and the popular will—are increasingly at war with each other. As the role of money in politics soared and important issues were taken out of public contestation, a system of “rights without democracy” took hold. Populists who rail against this say they want to return power to the people. But in practice they create something just as bad: a system of “democracy without rights.” The consequence, as Yascha Mounk shows in this brilliant and timely book, is that trust in politics is dwindling. Citizens are falling out of love with their political system. Democracy is wilting away. Drawing on vivid stories and original research, Mounk identifies three key drivers of voters’ discontent: stagnating living standards, fear of multiethnic democracy, and the rise of social media. To reverse the trend, politicians need to enact radical reforms that benefit the many, not the few.

The People vs. Democracy is the first book to describe both how we got here and what we need to do now. For those unwilling to give up either individual rights or the concept of the popular will, Mounk argues that urgent action is needed, as this may be our last chance to save democracy.

Learn more about The People vs. Democracy.