Today marks the official premiere of the second season of The Policast, a political affairs podcast I help co-host. Episodes are available from iTunes U, where you can download individual episodes or subscribe to get new installments as they’re produced. (If you don’t have the iTunes software, you can download it for free.)
We first did this back in the fall of 2008 during the Obama vs. McCain presidential campaign and the Franken vs. Coleman campaign in Minnesota for the U.S. Senate. “We” being my colleague Stacey Hunter Hecht (chair, Bethel’s Political Science department; regular contributor to the weekly civic affairs program Almanac on Twin Cities Public Television), my frequent partner in podcasting crime Sam Mulberry (my fellow coordinator for Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture program and an inveterate listener to podcasts by Tony Kornheiser, Bill Simmons, and others), and myself. Stacey’s on sabbatical this spring, so Prof. Chris Moore, our resident international relations specialist, will be serving as our in-house expert on the Obama vs. TBD presidential campaign and other political matters. (Sam produces the podcast, and I chiefly play the role of moderator/interviewer.)
We talk more about our goals for the podcast in general and this spring’s run of episodes in particular on the 1st episode, but in short, we’d like to do at least two things:
- Create an accessible voter education resource. Particularly for our students, alumni, and colleagues but not limited to the Bethel community. Chris and Stacey are both fantastic at talking about the kinds of complex issues that political scientists investigate, but at a level that us amateurs can understand. And, just as importantly, they’re able to do it as non-partisan observers. We’re not espousing any political positions or endorsing candidates on this show; we are trying to help voters from across the spectrum make sense of processes and policies that are anything but easy to understand.
- Model civil discourse as evangelical Christians. In general, this country could do with more coverage of politics that doesn’t feature pundits recycling talking points or talk show hosts screaming at their guests and audiences. We start from the assumption that there is a common good, that people on both sides of the aisle are doing their best to serve it, and that it’s possible to disagree with each other without denying each other’s American-ness. But more particularly, we recognize that we enter these waters as evangelical Christians — servants of a Lord higher than Caesar, and members of a movement that’s more politically diverse than most non-evangelicals (and many evangelicals) recognize. (for more on the importance of this goal, see my post from yesterday about the attacks on Messiah College professor John Fea)
This spring we expect to release episodes occasionally (no more than once every two weeks) and focus less on recapping events of recent days than on larger themes: foreign and domestic policy debates, the role of money in political campaigns, and the changing nature of media, to name but a few that have come to mind already.
For our first episode, we’re looking at the system of primaries and caucuses that American political parties now use to determine their presidential nominees. Chris, Sam, and I talk about the evolution of that system, alternatives to it around the world, its strengths and weaknesses, and the kinds of candidates (and, therefore, presidents) it tends to favor or produce. There’s also a brief interview with one of the many Bethel students who took part in Minnesota’s recent caucus meetings.