American Hearts and Minds

With the presidential primaries practically over, let’s take a moment on the psychiatrist’s couch, with an eye on the health of American hearts and minds.

We spent months and months inside two overheated political races, and nearly half of all Americans are displeased with our options.  We’re left without a feeling of confidence, let alone consensus.

But Marilynne Robinson—novelist, essayist, and friend of POTUS—declares that the political pandemonium is all to the good, if it can reintroduce us to ourselves, and to a country that many of us have ceased to understand.


Robinson sees the world through her own Christian moral learning. So for her, America is an old and venerable civilization that has finally come to appreciate what we had in Barack Obama. We’re often saved by human ingenuity, we make a few simple requests, for solid public education and affordable healthcare, and yet we’re tempted by fear, greed and division.

Robinson recalls that we’ve been in worse scrapes before. In 1968, after the death of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Chicago convention that nominated Hubert Humphrey was marred by the protests of young antiwar voters.

After that, Humphrey was stranded, Richard Nixon ascended—and brought with him a period of democratic decay.


What if we had a replay of that strange fractured moment in the 1960s and ’70s? And what if we asked the wisest Americans we know what to do in another moment of democratic uncertainty and disappointment?

With a very wise panel—of psychologist Andrew Solomon, philosopher Nancy Rosenblum, and historian Bruce Schulman—we’re talking through just what we’ve learned.

Guest List
Marilynne Robinson
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of Housekeeping and Lila, essayist of The Givenness of Things, and outgoing head of the Iowa Writer's Workshop.
Andrew Solomon
writer, psychologist of Far From The Tree, and the traveler behind the new book, Far and Away.
Nancy Rosenblum
professor of government at Harvard, philosopher, and author, most recently, of Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life.
Bruce Schulman
American historian at Boston University and author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics.

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  • Potter

    This heart and mind feels tremendously grateful for Bernie Sanders in this primary season. I hate to see or hear him coupled with Trump as a symptom as he has not quite been in this insightful discussion. Still I have to say to Andrew Solomon, if I understood him, that there is no evidence that Sanders would not have been competent while idealistic and pragmatic. I trust the mans judgement and integrity over any of the others. But Hillary it is thanks to a process that was weighted and will hopefully change…yes of course incrementally. Like we have time?

    This was as usual a well designed discussion, many good observations. I like, in particular, Mary Robinson’s simplification: are we a capitalism or a democracy? Do we just roll with that evolution or do we tend to the needs of people, all people, not the very few? That was/is Sanders cry from the heart. Followers had anger turned to vision of what should be and it was about openness.

  • Chris,

    I’d like to echo Potter’s comments before me for the most part. It was, however, not well designed but rather a platform for Clinton disinformational talking points. Open Source can and does better.

    Love the show and your erudition.

  • Scott Ralph

    Great show.
    I think that the RSS feed metadata, or the embedded MP3 metadata was not correct. On my player (podcast addict, a normally very stable platform), it reported that the length of the show was over two hours long. Some players may take this length as authoritative, and so resuming/re-positioning point in the playback is broken. I ended-up listening to it online. You might want to look into this.