Tag: Conversations with Bill Kristol

John J. DiIulio Jr.: Big Government, Then and Now


Surveys tell us that Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with government institutions—from Congress and federal agencies to state and local governments. Given our aversion to taxes and bureaucracy, why do we demand the government do so much? And what can be done to improve the quality of our government’s performance?

In this provocative Conversation, University of Pennsylvania political scientist John J. Dilulio, Jr. argues that America does not have enough government workers to accomplish the tasks we demand of our government. Dilulio points to the paradox that we have not witnessed any increase in the federal workforce since the mid-1960s, while government spending has exploded since that time. Instead, the federal government has increasingly outsourced work to for-profit contractors, state and local employees who are de-facto federal workers, as well as non-profit workers. Making matters worse, we do not give the federal workers the discretion and oversight necessary to achieve good results. This “government by proxy,” according to Dilulio, is plagued by a lack of accountability, out-of-control spending, and poor outcomes. This is a must-see Conversation for anyone interested in the inner workings of American government.

Andrew Ferguson on Identity Politics and American Culture


What is “identity politics”? How has it changed American culture? What are its political ramifications? In this podcast, the author and Atlantic Staff Writer Andrew Ferguson shares his perspective on identity politics and the condition of American culture today. Ferguson argues that the weakening of civic education in America created a void that identity politics has filled. Instead of attempting to think for themselves, many of our best and brightest students are attracted to championing identity groups (e.g. on the basis of race, gender, or class). According to Ferguson, this has made our civic life more contentious and has weakened our culture and institutions. Kristol and Ferguson also discuss the effects of identity politics in higher education—and consider alternative ways of fostering civic and liberal education.

Kristen Soltis Anderson: Millennials and Gen Z on Trump, the Left, and Big Government


Kristen Soltis Anderson is a pollster, author, and political analyst. In her second conversation with Bill Kristol, Anderson analyzes the latest data on the political, social, and cultural attitudes of the two youngest voting generations, “Millennials” (ages 23-38 in 2019) and “Generation Z” (ages 14-22 in 2019). According to Anderson, both of these generations continue their leftward political trajectory—a trend, she asserts, has accelerated during the presidency of Donald Trump. Anderson shares her perspective on what this data means for American politics in the short and medium term. Finally, Kristol and Anderson discuss how Republicans might broader their appeal to younger voters.

Michael Strain: Against Economic Pessimism


Michael Strain is a scholar and director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. In this Conversation, Strain challenges the increasingly widespread notion that America is in decline economically—and reflects on the enduring importance of innovation and dynamism in the American economy. Highlighting measures like social mobility and increases in living standards, Strain argues that America remains robust economically even as globalization, technology, and other factors have presented and will continue to present serious challenges to the status quo. Finally, Strain points to several policy goals that promote innovation and growth—including high-skilled immigration, renewed focus on STEM, and investment in research and development—that could increase America’s economic performance.

Stephen Rosen on US Foreign Policy, Great Power Competition, and the Rise of China


Harvard government professor Stephen Rosen assesses the current geopolitical environment, and considers America’s capacity to meet its foreign policy responsibilities and deter its adversaries. Detailing threats to America from a rising China, the success of bad actors in the Middle East, and other geopolitical turmoil, Rosen explains why America must compete in economic, political, and military arenas—and reflects on the deleterious consequences of American disengagement from the world.

Harvey Mansfield on Aristotle, Democracy, and Political Science


What does Aristotle have to teach us about democracy and the relationship of philosophy to politics? A profound treatment of this theme is found in “Aristotle: Democracy and Political Science” by Delba Winthrop (1945 – 2006), which has just been published by the University of Chicago Press. In his sixteenth appearance on Conversations, Harvey Mansfield draws on Winthrop’s book and her stunning interpretation of Book III of Aristotle’s “Politics.” Mansfield argues that the political quarrels in every city between a “democratic” party and an “oligarchic” party have something crucial to teach us about political science, natural science, and human nature. As Mansfield demonstrates, Aristotle’s “Politics” reveals that philosophers have something to learn from politics. And, if they do, according to Mansfield, “they’re no longer just natural philosophers but political philosophers. This would make political philosophy central to all philosophy. Politics shows you the central heterogeneity of things.”

Mike Murphy: Onward to 2020! (Conversations With Bill Kristol)


Veteran political strategist and commentator Mike Murphy assesses where the Republicans and the Democrats stand as we look toward 2020. What are President Trump’s prospects for reelection? Where are the divisions in the Democratic Party, and which Democratic candidates might prevail in the primaries? And could there be a successful primary challenge to Trump? Murphy shares his thoughts on these and other pressing questions with his usual blend of political insight and humor.

Jack Goldsmith: Cybersecurity, Cyberwarfare, and the Threats We Face


Jack Goldsmith is a professor of law at Harvard University and served as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel (2003-2004). In this Conversation, Goldsmith shares his perspective on America’s vulnerabilities to cyber attack—the complex and systemic threats to our digital and physical infrastructures, as well as to our politics via hacking and digital espionage. As Goldsmith explains, we have not done nearly enough to counter cyber threats through better defense or employment of countermeasures against adversaries. Finally, Kristol and Goldsmith consider what the government and private sector can do to improve our cybersecurity.

Christine Rosen on #MeToo, Women, and Men


Christine Rosen is an author, the managing editor of The Weekly Standard, and a columnist at Commentary. Rosen shares her perspective on the confused and confusing state of relations between men and women in contemporary America. According to Rosen, the #MeToo movement has shown how we lack the rules and even the language for understanding the new sets of challenges facing men and women today. In Rosen’s view, we can begin to address these challenges by encouraging young men and women to think not only of their rights but also of their responsibilities in a free society. Finally, Kristol and Rosen discuss why the study of history and literature can give us necessary perspective on the most important and contentious questions about men and women.

Scott Lincicome: In Defense of Free Trade


Scott Lincicome is a leading international trade attorney, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and senior visiting lecturer at Duke University. In this Conversation, Lincicome explains the system of free trade agreements and alliances that the U.S. has built over many decades and how the system contributes to peace and prosperity for America. Lincicome also shares his perspective on the renegotiation of NAFTA, the decision not to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and other trade agreements. Finally, Kristol and Lincicome consider where Republicans and Democrats stand on trade today—and where the parties are likely to go in the future.

Paul Cantor on Great Television and the Emergence of a TV Canon


In his most recent Conversation, University of Virginia literature professor Paul Cantor considers how television has reached a critical stage in the history of a medium: canonization. According to Cantor, television, much like theater, novels, and movies before it, has now reached a point where people recognize that its greatest artistic triumphs have enduring cultural value. Shows such as Breaking Bad, Deadwood, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and The X-Files, Cantor argues, will be appreciated for many generations to come. Cantor explains how the canonization of TV follows a pattern whereby a medium—originally designed for utilitarian purposes or simple entertainment—is then transformed by great artists into an instrument for the creation of great art. Finally, drawing on the history of TV shows and movies, Cantor argues that collaboration, improvization, and chance are often as essential to the production of great art as forethought and individual genius.

Conversations With Bill Kristol: Jim Manzi on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Technological Innovation


Jim Manzi is a leading software entrepreneur and developer of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. In this Conversation, Manzi shares his perspective on AI—what it is, what it can do today, and how it might develop in the coming years. Manzi also discusses how AI currently affects politics and society, and the implications of progress in AI for the future. Finally, Manzi compares today’s advances in computer science and in biology to past scientific breakthroughs in chemistry and physics.

Conversations with Bill Kristol: Steven F. Hayward on Winston Churchill and Statesmanship


Steven F. Hayward is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and author of important books on Churchill, Reagan, and many other subjects. In this Conversation, Hayward analyzes Churchill’s wartime leadership and his domestic political concerns—as well as his often neglected writings, which contain both timeless and timely political insights. Highlighting Churchill’s attachment to principles as well as his understanding of circumstances, Hayward demonstrates that Churchill remains vital to understanding statesmanship. Kristol and Hayward also compare and recommend their favorite speeches and works by and about Churchill.

Conversations with Bill Kristol: Ronald Brownstein on Red and Blue America, 2018, and 2020


Ronald Brownstein is a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Senior Political Analyst at CNN, and a shrewd observer of American politics. In this Conversation, Brownstein analyzes factors that fuel our increasingly polarized politics. He explains why these partisan divisions are likely to increase as we head toward elections in 2018 and 2020. Brownstein and Kristol also consider possible outcomes in the midterms, the direction of the Trump presidency, and reflect on the electoral dilemmas both parties face in an atmosphere of intense partisanship.

Conversations with Bill Kristol: Diana Schaub on the Life and Political Thought of Frederick Douglass


Diana Schaub is a professor of political science at Loyola University Maryland and a leading interpreter of political philosophy and American political thought. In this Conversation, Schaub considers the life and ideas of the statesman and political thinker Frederick Douglass (c. 1818 – 1885). Schaub reflects on Douglass’s life, including his experience of slavery, his abolitionist politics, his work on behalf of the Union in the Civil War, and his post-war efforts to secure civil rights. Schaub demonstrates Douglass’s importance as a political thinker, pointing to his reflections on the corruptions of slavery, the meaning and requirements of freedom, the significance of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the role of prudence in politics.

Conversations with Bill Kristol: Christopher Caldwell on Populism in Europe and the Future of the European Union


Christopher Caldwell is a Senior Editor at The Weekly Standard and a leading commentator on European politics. In this Conversation, Caldwell shares his perspective on recent developments in Europe, particularly the surging populist movements that have upended politics in many countries. Caldwell focuses particularly on populist parties and movements in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Hungary—and also analyzes the ramifications for Europe as a whole. Highlighting the effects of mass migration, weak economies, and mounting debt, Caldwell anticipates greater turmoil and significant threats to the European Union in the years ahead.

Edward Conard on Innovation, Income Inequality, and High-Skilled Immigration


Edward Conard is a former Managing Director of Bain Capital and bestselling author. In this Conversation, Conard shares his perspective on why innovation is the key to America’s long-term economic vitality and how we can go about fostering it. To address what he describes as a shortage of properly-trained talent and risk-bearing capital, Conard calls for increasing high-skilled immigration and other public policies that match talent with opportunities. Conard and Kristol also reflect on the inequalities that are inherent in a technology-driven economy and consider what can be done now to benefit lower-skilled workers in the years to come.

Conversations with Bill Kristol: Paul Begala on the Democratic Party, the Midterms, and 2020


Paul Begala is a veteran Democratic strategist and commentator, and served as counselor to the president in the Clinton White House. In this Conversation, Begala analyzes the key dynamics within the Democratic Party today. Looking ahead to the midterms and to 2020, Begala considers the Democrats’ response to Trump, the tensions between progressives and moderates, and the kinds of candidates that are likely to succeed. Begala also makes a spirited case for why Democrats must defend free speech and liberal principles more generally.

Conversations with Bill Kristol: Jonah Goldberg on Nationalism, Populism, and Identity Politics


Jonah Goldberg is a senior editor of National Review and Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute. Drawing on his new book Suicide of the West, Goldberg argues that strong tendencies in contemporary American culture—including tribalism, populism, nationalism, and identity politics—are increasingly undermining the moral and political foundations of America. In discussing these phenomena, Kristol and Goldberg also consider why it is important for young people to study the American political tradition and appreciate what is best in Western civilization.