11.08.15: How to Watch the Debates, The Invisible Primary, & Extreme Do-Gooders

Nov 6, 2015

When it comes to stump speeches, presidential contenders want their words to resonate with as many voters as possible – which may explain why Donald Trump speaks to the public at a 4th grade reading level. Today, the strategy of simplicity. Then, they say charity begins at home - but can altruism go too far? We take a look at the complicated motivations behind the actions of extreme "do-gooders", and the strangely hostile reactions they sometimes face from the world around them.

Listen to the full show. 

Are the Candidates Smarter Than a 4th Grader?

According to a recent review by the Boston Globe, Donald Trump’s speeches operate at the fourth-grade level. To some, Trump’s simplistic rhetoric and bombastic swipes at rivals reveal that he’s too crude to hold high office…but it’s working on a broad level. Matt Viser wrote about the results for the Globe. 

Contenders: William Jennings Bryan

At the 1896 Democratic convention, William Jennings Bryan gave a speech that electrified his party and won him the nomination. His “Cross of Gold” speech is known today as one of the most important oratorical performances in American history. 

We learn more in this story, produced by Joe Richman and Samara Freemark of Radio Diaries, as part of the series "Contenders," portraits of America's most original presidential candidates. 

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

What the Wonks Don't Want You to Hear

Darren Samuelsohn is senior policy reporter at Politico – he recently wrote about how policy experts, lobbyists, and lawmakers watch the presidential debates differently than the rest of us

The Invisible Primary

Although New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Primary is still months away, the invisible primary is in full swing, and many votes have already been cast – by endorsements. Just how important are these political endorsements? And who is leading the invisible primary? Well, Aaron Bycoffe is meticulously tracking the political endorsements of each presidential candidate for FiveThirtyEight, so he had some ideas for us.

Extreme Do-Gooders

If someone offers to donate a kidney to a stranger, should we be impressed - or concerned?  Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer for The New Yorker, profiles extreme "do-gooders" in a new book called Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices and the Overpowering Urge to HelpIn this interview, she talks about the strange, sometime hostile reactions faced by those who exercise high levels of altruism.