Disagreements between the American right and left have led many journalists and activists to investigate the factors at work deep within our political factions. Nancy MacLean, the William Chafe Professor of history and Public Policy at Duke University, joins us with a deep-delving interrogation of the American right and presents a decade of research and insight from her book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. MacLean shares her account of a relentless campaign by the radical rich to eliminate unions, suppress voting, stop action on climate change, alter the U.S. Constitution, and privatize everything from schools to Medicare and Social Security. She describes this game plan in terms of its key figures in the radical right—such as billionaire Charles Koch and the network of wealthy right-wing donors he has built, and Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan and his attempts to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education.
MacLean is joined onstage in conversation with Nick Licata, former Seattle City Councilmember and current activist and author. Together MacLean and Licata explore the genesis of the seemingly unexpected swing in our nation’s larger political dialogue towards populism and far-right rhetoric, from its beginnings in academia to its eventual embrace and financial backing by powerful and wealthy individuals and interest groups. Join MacLean and Licata for an incisive discussion of the roots of our nation’s growing political divide, and its potential to irrevocably alter the American government.
Nancy MacLean is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry (a New York Times “noteworthy” book of the year) and Freedom is Not Enough, which the Chicago Tribune called “contemporary history at its best.” She is the William Chafe Professor of history and Public Policy at Duke University, and the immediate past president of the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA).
Presented by Town Hall Seattle as part of the Civics series.