11.8.16: Historically Contentious Elections, Zoltan Istvan, & the Church's Stance on Weed

Nov 8, 2016

It's here - the day of reckoning for the most bitter, acrimonious, controversial election in recent memory. But not, it might be a relief to know, in American history. Today, some historical perspective on contentious elections with Brady Carlson: and spoiler alert - our democracy survived.

Then we'll check in with transhumanist presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan who is just one of the nineteen hundred people who decided to run for president this year. We'll talk to him about what it was like to be on the campaign trail for over a year and what he learned.

Listen to the full show. 

Historically Contentious Elections

So, here we are. It's the day of reckoning for what feels like an interminably long and rancorous campaign season. So long and so divisive the deep fissures exposed within the American electorate will not likely be smoothed over after the results are tallied - especially since the traditions and legitimacy of our democracy have  been called into question, even threatened in ways unprecedented in recent history. But not American history. For some perspective, we're turning to Brady Carlson, late of NHPR, now All Things Considered host at Wisconsin Public Radio and forever the author of Dead Presidents: an American Adventure Into the Strange Deaths and Afterlives of our Nation's Leaders.

Election Signs

We've heard a lot over this election cycle that voters are more partisan than ever. There's at least one thing democrats and republicans agree on completely: bumper stickers, buttons and posters. No matter whose name is being promoted, political parties tend to follow the marketing gospel of clear brand identity. Graphic designer Michael Bierut explains why in this piece produced by Hillary Frank.   

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

Zoltan Istvan on Running for President

On this show, we try to give listeners a break from the political races, but throughout this very very very long election season, we did manage to nab an interview with one of the at least 1900 people running for president: Transhumanist candidate Zoltan Istvan.

Since we last spoke to him in March, 2015, Zoltan has been zipping around on his "Immortality Bus", campaigning on issues like artificial intelligence, genetic modification, and space travel – in addition to the usual stuff: immigration, cyber-security, and healthcare. According to one poll, Zoltan is fourth among third party candidates, but with the race coming to a close, he's also feeling deeply disappointed in the process. His article "What I Learned by Running for President" appeared in Motherboard.

Victoria Woodhull: the First Woman to Run for President

Plenty of complicated, out-of-the mainstream Americans have made their bid for the presidency – most of them men. In an election where the historical nature of the first woman candidate for a major party has been stewed over by the media, we’ll take a look at another historical game changer – the first woman to run for US president, ever. This story comes to us from producers Joe Richman and Samara Freemark of Radio Diaries as part of the series “Contenders.”  

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

The Church's Stance on Weed

Among the ballot initiatives for Massachusetts voters - legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. Among those funding the opposition: billionaire Sheldon Adelson, The Knights of Columbus, and the Catholic Church.

Emma Green covers politics, policy, and religion at The Atlantic. She reported on “Why the Catholic Church is Leading the Fight Against Legal Pot in Massachusetts”.