The McCourtney Institute for Democracy

A male voter at a voting booth with a "Vote" sign
Alex Brandon / AP

This year’s Mood of the Nation poll from Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy asked Americans across the country about election policies, which found Republicans and Democrats usually disagree. 

This year’s poll found the main difference in the concerns of Republicans and Democrats is who is voting and how people vote.

More than 80% of Democrats polled believe the government should focus on making voting easier. At nearly the same rate, Republicans say a top priority should be making sure registered voters are actually eligible.

Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis

What does jazz music have to do with democracy? We’ll find that out from this week’s guest, jazz great Wynton Marsalis. He’ll explore power, struggle, finding common ground and how those factor into his new album, The Ever Fonky Lowdown.

Head shots of Michael Berkman and Candis Watts Smith
The McCourtney Institute

The Presidential election is about a month away. Mail-in ballots, whether people will trust the election results, and the role of local politics are a few of the issues factoring into the race. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke about those topics and more with Michael Berkman and Candis Watts Smith from The McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. 

We're just a few weeks away from the deadline for the UK to reach an agreement on its plan to leave the European Union. Nearly three years after the infamous Brexit vote, things appear to be as murky as ever.

Rather than trying to predict the future, we invited Penn State's Sons Golder to join us for a conversation about how Brexit originated, and the pros and cons of putting the decision directly in the people's hands. Sona is a comparative politics scholar and co-editor of the British Journal on Political Science.

Jonathan Haidt
Jayne Riew

These days, political polarization is on the rise as support for democracy declines in the U.S. and around the world.

Why is it so hard for us to get along? And, what can we do about it?

We talked with social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt about the moral foundations of politics and how our kids can play their way to a better democracy.  

Michael McDonald (right) and Micah Altman are the lead researchers for the Public Mapping Project.
Min Xian / WPSU

In most cases, Gerrymandering -- the practice of drawing political district boundaries to favor a specific political party -- creates unequal representation.

Michael McDonald and Micah Altman, the lead researchers for the Public Mapping Project, talked with WPSU about providing the public with tools and data to create and evaluate redistricting plans for transparency and encouraging greater participation in the process.

They are the winners of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy's 2018 Brown Democracy Medal. 

 

Norman Eisen

There are a lot of books about democracy filling book store and library shelves right now. Norman Eisen could have written one of those books, but chose to go in a different direction.

This episode is being released on Veterans Day, a time when people across the United States remember and thank those who have served in the military. While the military remains one of the most respected institutions in the U.S., it's also one of the most misunderstood.

Two men at table with microphones
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Political cartoonist Steve Brodner and Chris Beem, managing director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, at Penn State talk with WPSU about the role of political caricatures in a changing time for media.

Americans of all stripes increasingly say our political system is in a state of crisis.  They point to intense partisanship, lack of civility, and the inability of government to get things done.  Just how dire are things?  How did we get into this fix?  More importantly, what can we do about it?  Christopher Beem, the managing director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State, and the author of "Democratic Humility," says part of the problem is that we are all hardwired with "confirmation bias," and that we are too quick to reject any information that goes against our belief