Making sense of the post-Trump political landscape…

Factions of both the Republican and Democratic parties are struggling to defend the political center against illiberal extremes. The country needs policies that can reverse our political and governmental dysfunction, advance the social welfare of all citizens, combat climate change, and confront the other forces that threaten our common interests. We launched the Vital Center podcast in February 2021 to explore solutions to the threats facing our democracy.

The podcast focuses on current politics seen in the context of our nation’s history. It highlights the policy initiatives of the Niskanen Center and other non-partisan institutions while drawing upon current academic scholarship and political literature from years past — including Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s 1949 classic “The Vital Center.”

The podcast is hosted by Geoffrey Kabaservice, Niskanen’s Vice President of Political Studies, with the regular participation of other Niskanen staff members.

You can find all episodes on this webpage, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Episode 1: The Forces Behind the Radical Right, with Damon Linker

Episode 2: Why I Left the GOP, with Linda Chavez

Episode 3: The Man Behind the Modern Conservative Movement, with Sam Tanenhaus

Episode 4: Could Women Save the GOP by Running for Office? with Kodiak and Ariel Hill-Davis

Episode 5: The Rise of the “Establishment,” and Its Impact Today, with Aaron Renn

Episode 6: How Democrats Lost the Working Class, with Matt Karp

Episode 7: How to Fix Our Political Parties, with Rob Saldin

Episode 8: The Case for a Moderate Third Party, with Chris Vance

Episode 9: Moderate Conservatism as a Way to Protect Pre-modern Institutions, with R.R. Reno

Episode 10: What’s Behind the Illiberal Attack on Our Institutions, and How to Fight Back, with Jonathan Rauch

Episode 11: The Roots of Reactionary Conservatism, with Laura K. Field

Episode 12: The Role of the Corporate Elite in Politics, with Mark Mizruchi

Episode 13: Can America Untangle Itself from Red Tape? (With Philip K. Howard)

Episode 14: How to Bridge Our Divides and Find Our Shared American Identity, with Philippa Hughes

Episode 15: How to Confront the Growing Threat to American Democracy, with Tom Nichols

Episode 16: Dark Days in Washington, with A.B. Stoddard

Episode 17: The Last Liberal Republican President, with John R. Price

Episode 18: The Influence of Gingrich, the Triumph of Trump, and the Legacy of Conservative Court Appointments, with Jackie Calmes

Episode 19: How America Can Become a “Can Do” Country Again, with Philip Zelikow