Our Week in Politics & Culture: Democratic Despair & Dumb Soundbites

Is democracy dying? That seems to be a pretty common theme with political coverage and discussion these days. The United States is always in the midst of some kind of crisis, but the current one—Republicans working to disenfranchise as many people, mostly Black and brown, as possible—feels pretty existential. As does Democrats’ unwillingness to, y’know, fight back. It’s hard not to write and talk about that, so that’s exactly what we did. Whether it’s a former Obama speechwriter, a national correspondent, or our established podcasts hosts and producers, we’ve got democratic despair covered. Oh yeah, and our usual slate of artist interviews, movie reviews, first person stories, meme compilation, and more.


On Art Uncovered, Kimberly speaks with William Chan, a New York based artist and United States War Veteran, whose work includes performance interventions and photography. Throughout the conversation we talk about William’s ideologies surrounding communication, compassion, American politics and laughter.

What explains the gap between what We, the People want and what our elected leaders do? How can we fix our politics before it’s too late? And how can we truly understand the state of our democracy without wanting to crawl under a rock? That’s what former Obama speechwriter David Litt set out to answer with Democracy in One Book or Less. He speaks with Kory on this week’s Book Talk.

On this week’s Radio Dispatch, the Knefels discuss data on how the stimulus helped people out of poverty, how Mare of Easttown can’t break out of the carcereal framework of police procedurals, and listener mail.

On BreakThru Radio Weekly, Joe Virgillito speaks with Ryan Cooper about the latest assaults on democracy being carried out by the Republican Party and the ability of the Democratic Party to stand up to the GOP – or their lack thereof. Later in the episode, J. McVay and Jacqueline Soller discuss Censor, which is directed by Prano Bailey-Bond and stars Niamh Algar. It’s now in theaters as of June 11th, and will be available on demand on June 18th. Plus live performances from Golden Alphabet and Phantom Wave, recorded exclusively for BTRtoday.


When faced with the prospect of living with blindness, Paul turned to Eastern philosophies for a new way to perceive the world. On this week’s 1st Person, shares the benefits of opening one’s third eye and viewing life through varied perspectives.

On Video Dispatch, John Knefel refutes the current claims that there is a shortage of workers in the United States and offers the reality that there are fewer workers who are willing to work in poor conditions for inadequate pay.


West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is taking the heat for fellow moderate Dems skeptical about protecting voting rights. But if it wasn’t him, it’d be someone else.

Meanwhile, Montana Sen. Jon Tester provided a solid example of what a red state Democrat should sound like.

With one signature and explicatory tweet, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott laid bare conservatives’ warped views on liberty.

It’s not like Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson cares about sounding dumb on Fox News. The more scary buzzwords you hit, the better.

Everyone can relate to eagerly asking for details before the truth silently hits you, Princess Padmé most of all. Check out our favorites of the recent viral Star Wars meme.

Other Politics & Pop Culture News …

In Pennsylvania, a federal authorities arrested a man who posed as a Trump family member and duped the president’s supporters out of money. Apparently the man even fooled Donald Trump himself.

For TNR, Melissa Gira Grant writes about how The New York Times‘ Michael Powell frames policing and racial justice as issues moving the ACLU away from its core mission around speech. It’s a false antagonism—and a trap.

Earlier this week, Joe Biden ended infrastructure talks with Senate Republicans, who reportedly never increased the price tag of their offer enough to satisfy the president.

For Media Matters, Madeline Peltz writes about where Trump’s idea to become Speaker of the House after the 2022 midterms came from.