Jeremi Suri: American Civil War | Lex Fridman Podcast #354

The war continues after the battle's end This is something that's hard for Americans to understand our system is Built with the presumption when War is Over when we signed a piece of paper Everyone can go home That's not what happens The following is a conversation with Jeremy Surrey a historian a UT Austin This is the Lex Friedman podcast to Support it please check out our sponsors In the description and now dear friends Here's Jeremy sorry What is the main idea the the main case That you make in your new book Civil War By other means America's long and Unfinished fight for democracy so our Democratic institutions in the United States they are filled with many virtues And many elements in their design that Improve our society and allow for Innovation but they also have many flaws In them as any institutions created by Human beings have and the flaws in our Institutions go back to a number of Judgments and perspectives That people on the 17th 18th and 19th Centuries had and those flaws have been Built into our institutions and they Continue to hinder Innovation and growth In our society three of the flaws that I Emphasize in this book are flaws of Exclusion The ways our institutions exclude people

Not just African Americans many Different groups the ways our Institutions also give power to certain People who have position rather than Skill or intelligence or quality And third in most of all the ways our Institutions embed certain myths in our Society myths that prevent us from Gaining the knowledge we need to improve Our world in all of these ways our Democracy is hindered by the false Reverence For institutions that actually need to Be reformed just as we need to highlight The good elements of them that's really What my book is about and then the myth The the false reverence what are we Talking about that so there's a way in Which uh we believe that if we love our Country it's somehow wrong to criticize Our institutions I believe if you love Your country you want to encourage your Institutions to get better and better I Love my University where I work but I Want it to be better we have many flaws I love my family but I'm constantly Telling family members how they can be Better that's what true knowledge Leadership is about not just Cheerleading what's the Counterpoint to That because uh The Other Extreme is a Deep All-encompassing cynicism towards Institutions

So for me I like the idea of loving America which seems to be sometimes a Politicized statement these days That you believe in the ideals of this Country that seems to be uh that seems To be either a naive or a political Statement the way it's interpreted so The flip side of that having a healthy Skepticism of Institutions is good but Having a complete paralyzing cynicism Seems to be bad absolutely both are a Historical positions what I try to do as A historian is work in between those Spaces The Virtue is is in the Middle Ground For Better or For Worse and uh What we have to recognize is that our Institutions are necessary there's a Reason government exists there's a Reason uh our Union was created that's What Abraham Lincoln was heroically Fighting for uh so we have to believe in Our Union we have to believe in our Government and we as business people as Intellectuals we have to be part of the Solution not the problem but that Doesn't mean uh just ignoring the Deep Flaws in our institutions even if we Find personally ways to get around them What really worries me is that there are A lot of very intelligent well Well-intentioned people in our society Who are figured out how to live with the Flaws in our institutions rather than How to use their skills to correct the

Flaws in our institutions there's folks Like uh somebody that lives next door to Me Michael malice is an anarchists Um philosophically maybe more than Practically just sort of August of that Position Um it's it's an interesting thought Experiment I would say and So if you have these flaws as Institutions one thing to do As the Communists did at the beginning Of the 20th century is to burn the thing Down and start in you and the other is To fix from within one step one slow Step at a time what's what's the case For both from a history perspective sure So historically there has uh always been An urge to burn down the institutions And start again start with a blank slate Uh the historical record is that almost Never works because what happens when You destroy the institutions you gave The example of the Bolshevik Revolution When you destroy the institutions all You do is in the jungle that's left Behind you give advantages to those who Are the most powerful institutions Always Place certain limits upon the Most powerful in the jungle if you go Back to the Jungle the most powerful are Actually going to have the most Influence and most control so the Revolutionaries who are usually the Vulnerable turn out to then be the

Victims of the Revolution and this is Exactly what we saw with the French Revolution with the Russian Revolution So the record for that is not a great Record there still might be times to do That but I think we should be very Cautious about that the record for Working through institutions is better Record now what we have to be careful About is as we're working through Institutions not to become bought into Them not to become of those institutions So what I've written about in this book And in other books my book on Henry Kissinger for example is how it's Important when in an institution to Still bring an outsider perspective I Believe in being an inside Outsider and I think most of your listeners are Inside Outsiders they're people who care About what's going on inside but they're Bringing some new ideas from the outside I think the correct statement to say is Most of the listeners most people aspire To be inside or Outsiders But we human nature such that we easily Become Insider Insiders so like uh we Like that idea but the reality is And I've been Very fortunate because of this podcast To talk to certain folks that live in Certain bubbles And It's very hard to know when you're in a

Bubble That you should get out of the bubble of Thought And that's a really tricky thing because Like yeah when you're whether it's Politics whether it's science whether It's uh And and any Pursuits in life Because everybody around you all your Friends you have like a little Rat Race And you're competing with each other and Then you get a promotion you get excited And you can see how you can get more and More power it's not it's not like a dark Cynical uh Rat Race it's it's fun that's The process of life and then you forget That there you just uh collectively have Created a set of rules for the game that You're playing you forget that this game Doesn't have to have these rules you can Break them this happens in the uh like Uh in Wall Street like the financial the Financial system everybody starts to Like collectively agree on a set of Rules that they play and they don't Realize like we don't have to be playing This game it's tough It's really tough It takes a special kind of human being As opposed to being a Anti-establishment on everything which Also gets a lot of uh attention But being just enough anti-establishment To figure out ideas how to improve the Establishment this is such a tricky

Place to operate I agree I I like the Word iconoclastic I think it's important To be an iconoclast which is to say you Love ideas you're serious about ideas But you're never comfortable with Consensus And I write about that in this book I've Written about that actually a lot in the New York Times too I I think consensus Is overstated As a as someone who's half Jewish and Have Hindu I don't want to live in a Society where everyone agrees because my Guess is they're going to come after People like me I want to live in a Society that's pluralistic this is what Abraham Lincoln was really fighting for In The Civil Wars but the Civil War was Really about and what my book's about Which is that we need a society where Institutions encourage as you say Different modes of thought and respect Different modes of thought and work Through disagreement so a society should Not be a society where everyone agrees a Democratic Society should be a society Where people disagree but can still work Together that's the Lincoln vision and How do you get there I think you get There by having a historical perspective Always knowing that no matter what Moment you're in and no matter what room You're in with really smart people there Are always things that are missing we

Know that as historians no one is Clairvoyant and the iconoclast is Looking for the things that have been Forgotten the silence is in the room And also I wonder what kind of skill what kind of Process is required for that kind of Class to reveal what is missing to the Rest of the room yeah because it's not Just shouting with a megaphone that Something is missing because nobody will Listen to you You have to convince them right it's Honestly where I have trouble myself Because I often find myself in that I Kind of classic role and people don't Like to hear it you know I like to Believe that people are acting out of Goodwill which I think they usually are And that people are open to new ideas But you find very quickly even those who You think are open-minded once they've Committed themselves and put their money And their reputation on the line they Don't want to hear otherwise so in a Sense what you say is the bigger than Even being an iconoclast that's being Able to persuade and work with people Who are afraid of your ideas yeah I Think the the key is like in Conversations is to get people out of a Defensive position like uh make them Realize we're on the same side we're Brothers and sisters and from that place

I think you just raise the question it's Like a little it's a little a little Thought that just lands and then I've Noticed this time and time again Just a little subtle thing and then Months later it percolates somewhere in The mind it's like all right well that Little doubt Um because I also realized in these Battles when dip when especially Political battles People often don't Have folks on their side Like that they can really trust As a fellow human being to challenge Them that's a very difficult role to be In and because in these battles you kind Of have a tribe and you have a set of Ideas and there's another tribe you have A set of ideas and when somebody says Something Conor to your Viewpoint you Almost always want to put them in the Other tribe as opposed to having Truly listening to another person that Takes uh skill But ultimately I think That's the way to bridge these divides Is having these kinds of conversations That's why I'm actually Again optimistically believe in the Power of social media to do that if if You design it well but currently the Battle rages on on Twitter well I think What you're getting at which is so Important is uh storytelling and uh all

The great leaders that I've studied some Of whom are in this book some of whom Are not right whether they're Politicians social activists technology Technologists Um it's the story that gets people in People don't respond to an argument We're trained uh at least in the United States we're often trained to argue uh You're you're told in a class okay this Part of the room take this position this Part of the room take this position and That's helpful because it forces you to See different sides of the argument but In fact those on one side never convince Those on the other side through argument It's through a story that people can Identify with it's when you bring your Argument to life in human terms and Someone again like Abraham Lincoln was a Master at that uh he told stories uh he Found ways to disarm people and to move Them without their even realizing they Were being moved Yeah not make it a debate make it uh Tell a story That's fascinating because yes one some Of the most convincing politicians I Don't feel like they're arguing a point They're just telling a story And it gets in there right That's right that's right when we look At what zielinski has done in Ukraine in Response to the Russian invasion and I

Know you you were there on the front Lines yourself Um It's not that he's arguing a position That persuaded us we already believe What we believed about Russia But he's bringing the story of Ukrainian Suffering to life and making us see the Behavior of the Russians that is moving Opinion Around the world Well the interesting stuff sometimes It's not actually the story told by the Person but the story told about the Person right and some of that could be Propaganda some of that could be uh Legitimate stories which is the Fascinating thing the power of story is The very power that's leveraged by Propaganda to convince the populace but The idea one of the most powerful ideas When I traveled in Ukraine and in General to me personally the idea that President zielinski stayed in Kiev in in The early days of War on everybody from His inner circle to the United States Everybody in the western NATO everybody Was telling him uh and even on the Russian side I I assumed they thought he Would leave he would Escape right and he Didn't Um from foolishness or from heroism I Don't know but if that's the story that I think United a country and it's such a

Small thing right but it's powerful it's The most basic of all human Stories the Story of human Courage the courage and I Remember watching uh his social media Feed on that and he was standing outside Not even in a bunker standing outside in Kiev right as the Russian forces are Attacking and saying I'm here And this minister is here and this Minister is here we're not corrupt we're Not Stooges of the Americans who told us To leave we're staying because we care About Ukraine and the story of Courage I Mean that's the story that you know Babies grow up seeing their parents as Courageous right it's the most natural Of all stories and that's also the Stories for better awards that are told Throughout history yeah uh because Stories of courage and uh stories of Evil those the two extremes are the ones That are kind of it's a nice mechanism To tell the stories of Wars Um of conflicts of struggles all of it Yeah yeah the tension between those two And the reason I believe studying History and writing about history is so Essential it's because it gives us more Stories Uh the problem with much of our world I Think is that we're confronted by data We're confronted by information and of Course it's valuable but it's easy to Manipulate or misuse information it's

The stories that give us a structure It's the stories where we find morality It's the stories where we find political Value and what do you get from studying History you learn more stories about More people Yeah I'm a sucker for courage for Stories of Courage like uh I've I've Been in too many rooms I've often seen Too many people Sort of in subtle ways sacrifice their Integrity and did nothing and people That step up Uh when uh the opinion is unpopular and They they do something where they really Put themselves on the line whether it's Their money where their well-being I Don't know that gives me hope about Humanity Um and of course during the war like Ukraine you see that more and more now Other people have a very cynical Perspective of it that's saying oh those Are just narratives that are constructed For propaganda purposes and so on but I've seen it with my own eyes there's Heroes out there both small and big so Just regular citizens and leaders one Set of Heroes I learned about writing This book that I didn't know about that I should have are uh more than one Hundred thousand uh former slaves who Become Union Soldiers during the Civil War which is an extraordinary story we

Think of it as North versus South white Northern troops versus white Southern Troops there are as I said more than a Hundred thousand slaves no education Never anything other than slaves who Flee their plantations join the Union Army and what I found in the research And other historians have written about This too is they become some of the most Courageous soldiers uh because they know What they're fighting for but there's Something more to it than that it's it Seems in their stories that there there Is a Humanity a human desire for freedom And a human desire to improve oneself Even for those who have been denied even The most basic rights for all of their Lives and I think that story should be Inspiring to all of us as a story of Courage because we all deal with Difficulties but but none of us are Starting from slavery that's really Powerful that that that flame the Longing For Freedom can't be Extinguished through the generations of Slavery so that's something you talk About there's some deep sense in which Uh while the war was about in part about Slavery It's not The slaves themselves Fought for their freedom and they won Their freedom I don't think it's a war About slavery I think it's a war about

Freedom because if you say it's a war About slavery then it sounds like it's An argument between the slave masters And the other white guys who didn't want Slavery to exist and of course that Argument did exist but it wasn't it was An argue it was a war over over Freedom Especially after 1863 into the second Year of the war when Lincoln because of War pressures Uh signs Emancipation Proclamation which Therefore says that Um the Contraband the property of Southerners I.E they're slaves will now Be freed and brought into the Union Army That makes it about about Freedom Already the slaves were leaving the Plantations they knew what was going on And they were going to get out of Slavery as soon as they could but now it Becomes a war over freeing them over Opening that opportunity for them uh and And that's how the war ends that's Really important right and that's where We are in our politics today it's the Same debate it's why I wrote this book Uh the challenge of our time is to Understand how do we make our society Open to more freedom for more people So let's go to the beginning How did the American Civil War start and Why so the American Civil War starts Because of our flawed institutions the Founders uh had mixed views of slavery

But they wanted a system that would Eventually work its way toward uh Opening for more people of more kinds Not necessarily equality but they wanted A more open democratic system but our Institutions were designed in ways that Gave disproportionate power to slave Holders in particular states in the Union through the Senate through the Electoral College through many of the Institutions we talk about in our Politics today therefore that part of The country was in the words of Abraham Lincoln holding the rest of the country Hostage For a poor white man like Abraham Lincoln born in Kentucky who makes his Way in Illinois slavery was an evil not Just for moral reasons it was an evil Because it denied him Democratic Opportunity Why would anyone hire poor Abe to do Something if they could get a slave to Do it for free An economy of effort of opportunity for Him had to be an economy that was open And that did not have slavery Particularly in the new states that were Coming into the Union Lincoln was one of the creators of the Republican party which was a party Dedicated to making sure all new Territory Was open to anyone who was willing to

Work any male figure who would be paid For their work Free Labor Free Soil free Men basic capitalism Southerners Southern plantation owners were an Aristocracy that did not want that they Wanted to use slavery and expand slavery Into the new territories what caused the Civil War to clash and our institutions That were unable to adapt and continue To give disproportionate power To these southern plantation slave Owners the Supreme Court was dominated By them Senate was dominated by them and So the Republican Party Came into power as a critique of that And Southerners unwilling to accept Southern Confederates unwilling to Accept that change Went to war with the Union So who was on each side the union Confederates What are we talking about what are the States how many people Uh what's like the the demographics and The Dynamics of of each side the union Side is much much larger right in terms Of population I have about 22 million People uh and it is what we would today Recognize as all the states uh basically Uh north of Virginia the south is the States in the south of the Mason-Dixon Line so Virginia and there on South West Through Tennessee so Texas for example Is in the Confederacy Tennessee's in the

Confederacy uh but other states like Missouri are border border states and Um the the Confederacy is a much smaller Entity uh it's made up of about nine Million people plus about 4 million Slaves and it is a agricultural economy Whereas the northern economy is a more Industrializing economy interestingly Enough the Confederate states are in Some ways more International than the Northern states because they are Exporters of cotton exporters of tobacco So they actually have very strong International economic ties very strong Ties to Great Britain the United States Was the largest source of cotton to the World before the Civil War Egypt Replaces that a little bit during the Civil War but all the English textiles Were American cotton from the south and So uh it is the southern half of what we Would call the eastern part of the United States today with far fewer People it's made up the Confederacy is Of landed families wealth in the Confederacy was land and slaves the Northern United States is made up Predominantly of small business owners And then larger Financial interests such As the banks in New York And what about the military who are the People that picked out guns what are the Numbers there so the the union also Outnumbered a Confederate by far but

It's a really interesting question Because there's no conscription in the Constitution uh unlike most other Countries our democracy is formed on the Presumption that human beings should not Be forced to go into the military if They don't want to most democracies in The world today actually still require Military service the United States is Very rarely in its history done that It's not in our constitution so Um during the Civil War in the first Months and years of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln has to go to Um the different states to the governors And ask the governors for volunteers So the men who take up arms especially In the first months of the war are Volunteers in the North in the South They're actually conscripted And then as the war goes on the union Will pass the conscription acts of 1862 And 1863 which for the first time and This is really important because it Creates new presidential powers for the First time Lincoln will have Presidential Power to force men into the Army which is what leads to all kinds of Draft riots in New York and elsewhere But suffice it to say the Union Army Throughout the war is often three times The size of the Confederate Army what's The relationship Between this uh no conscription and

People standing up to fight for ideas And the Second Amendment a well Regulated militia being necessary to the Security of a free state the right of The people to keep and bear arms shall Not be infringed We're in Texas yeah yes so what's the Role of that uh in in this story the American population is already armed Before the war And so even though the union and the Confederate armies will manufacture and Purchase arms it is already an armed Population so uh the American Presumption going into the war is that Citizens will not be forced to serve but They will serve in militias to protect Their own property and so the Second Amendment the key part of the Second Amendment for me as a historian is the Well-regulated militia part the Presumption that citizens as part of Their civic duty do not have a duty to Join a national Army Prussian style but Are supposed to be involved in defending Their communities Uh and that's that's the reality it's Also a bit of a myth Um and so Americans have have throughout Their history been gun owners Not AK-47 owners but gun owners and gun Ownership has been for the purpose of Community self-defense the question Coming out of that is what does that

Mean in terms of do you have access to Everything uh Antonin Scalia even Himself asked this question on the Supreme Court you know he said in one of The gun gun cases uh you have the right To defend yourself but you don't have The right to own an Uzi Yeah you don't have the right to have a Tank I don't think they'd let you park a Tank Lex in your parking spot right I Looked into this I think I think there's A gray area around tanks actually I Think you're legit allowed to own a tank Oh you really I think that like somebody Look into somebody told me but I could See like that because it's very Difficult for that to get out of hand Right right okay there may be one guy in A tank that you could be breaking laws In terms of the width of the vehicle That you're using to operate Um anyway that's that's a hilarious Discussion but starting to make the case Speaking of AK-47s and rifles and back To Ukraine for a second one of the Fascinating social experiments that Happened in Ukraine at the beginning of The war is they handed out guns to Everybody rifles and crime went down Which I think is really interesting Yeah I hope somebody does a kind of Psychological data collection analysis Effort here to try to understand why

Because it's not obvious to me that in a Time of War if you give guns to the Entire populace anyone who wants a gun It's not going to especially in a Country who has historically suffered From corruption not result in robberies And assaults and all that kind of stuff There's a deep lesson there now I don't Know if you can extend that lesson Beyond wartime though right that's the Question what happens after the war I Mean my inclination would be to say that Can work during war but you have to take The guns back after the war But they might be very upset when you Try that's the problem no that's Precisely the problem that that's Actually part of the story here I mean What happens after the Civil War after Appomattox in 1865 is that many uh Southern soldiers go home with their Guns and they misuse their weapons uh to Quite frankly shoot and intimidate uh Former slaves who are now citizens this Is a big problem I talk about this in The book in Memphis in 1866 it is former Confederate soldiers and police officers And judges who are responsible for Hundreds of rapes uh within a two-day Period and destroying an entire Community of African Americans and They're able to do that because they Brought their guns home but underneath Underneath the issue of guns there is

Just the fundamental issue of Hatred and inability to see uh other Humans in this in this world as having Equal value is another human being what Was the election of 1860 like that Brought Lincoln to power so the election Of 1860 uh was a very divisive election We have divisive contested elections From 1860 really until 1896. the 1860 Election is the first election where a Republican is elected president that is Lincoln but he's elected president with Less than 40 percent of the vote because You have two sets of Democrats running Democrats who are out to defend the Confederacy and everything and then Democrats who want to compromise but Still keep saying slavery uh most famous Stephen Douglas who argues for Um basically allowing each state to make Its own decisions popular sovereignty as He called it um and then you still have Traditional Whigs who are running that Was the party that preceded uh the Republican party so you're four Candidates Lincoln wins a plurality Lincoln is elected largely because uh The states that are anti-slavery or Anti-expansion of slavery are not a Majority but they're a plurality and the Other states have basically uh Factionalized and so they're unable to Have a united front against him was the Main topic a hand slavery I think the

Main topic at hand at that time was the Expansion of slavery into new Territories into new territory right it Was not whether to abolish slavery or Not Lincoln is very careful and its Correspondence is clear he wants no one On his side during the election to say That he's arguing for abolitionism even Though he personally supported that what He wants to say is the Republican party Is for no new slave territories did he Make it clear That he was for abolition no he was Intentionally unclear about that What do you think he was throughout his Life was there a deep Because that takes quite a vision like You look at society today And you it takes quite a man To see that there's something deeply Broken where a lot of people take for Granted I mean in modern day you could See factory farming Is one of those things that in a hundred Years we might see is like the torture Of the mass torture of animals could be Uh could be seen as evil but just to Look around and wake up to that Especially in a leadership position uh Yeah was he able to see that in some Ways yes in some ways no I mean the Premise of your question is really Important that Um to us it's obvious that slavery is is

A horror but to those who had grown up With it who had grown up seeing that it Was hard to imagine a different world so You're right Lincoln's imagination like Everyone else's was limited by his time I don't think Lincoln imagined a world Of equality between the races but he had Come to see that slavery uh was horrible And historians have differed in in how He came to this uh part of it is that uh He had a father who treated him like a Slave And you can see in his early Correspondence how much he hates that His father who is a struggling farmer Was basically trying to control Lincoln's life And he came to understand personally I Think how horrible it is to have someone Else tell you what you should do with Your labor not giving you your own your Own choices but Lincoln was also a Pragmatist this is what made him a great Politician he wanted to work through Institutions not to burn them down And he famously said that uh if he could Preserve the union and stop the spread Of slavery by allowing slavery to stay In the South he would if he could do it By eliminating slavery in the South he Would if he could do it by buying the Slaves and sending them somewhere else He would his main goal what he ran on Was that the new territories west of

Illinois that they would be areas for Free poor white men like him not slavery What do you learn about human nature if You step back and look at the big Picture of it that slavey has been a Part of human civilization for thousands Of years that this American slavery is Not a new phenomenon I think history teaches us a very Pessimistic and a very optimistic lesson The pessimistic lesson is that human Beings are capable of doing enormous Harm and brutality to their fellow man And woman and we see that with genocide In our world today Dead human beings are capable with the Right stimuli the right incentives Of of enslaving others I mean genocide Is in the same category right Uh the optimistic side Is that human beings are also capable With proper leadership and governance of Resisting those urges Of putting those energies into Productive uses for other people but I Don't think that comes naturally I think That's where leadership and institutions Matter but leadership and institutions Can tame us we contain we can civilize Ourselves you know for a long time we Stopped using that verb to civilize I Believe in Civilization I believe There's a civilizing role Lincoln spoke Of that right so did Franklin Roosevelt

The civilizing role that government Plays education is only a part of that It's creating laws minimal laws but laws Nonetheless that incentivize and Penalize us for going to the dark side But if we allow that to happen or we Have leaders who encourage us to go to The dark side we can very quickly go Down a deep dark tunnel see I believe That most people want to do good and the Power of Institutions if done well They encourage and protect you if you Want to do good So if you're just in the jungle The so from a game theoretic perspective You get punished for for doing good So being extremely self-centered and Greedy and even violent and manipulative Can have from a game theory perspective Uh benefits but I don't think that's What most humans want institutions allow You to do what you actually want which Is to do good for the world do good for Others and actually in so doing do good For yourself Institutions protect that natural human Instinct I think and what you just Articulated which I think the historical Record is very strong on is the classic Liberal position that's what liberalism Means in a 19th century sense right that You believe in civilizing human beings Through institutions that begins with Education kindergarten is an institution

Laws uh and and just basic habits that Are enforced by Society How do you think people thought about The idea How do they Square the idea of all men Are created equal those very powerful Words uh at the founding of this nation How do they square that with slavery For many Americans saying all men were Created equal required slavery because It meant that uh the equality of white People was dependent upon others doing The work for us in the way some people View Animal labor today and maybe in 50 Years we'll see that as a contradiction But the notion among many Americans in The 17th 18th century and this would Also be true for those in other Societies was that equality for white Men Meant that you had access to the labor Of others that would allow you to Equalize other differences So uh you could produce enough food so Your family could live equally well Nourished as other families because you Had slaves on the land doing the farming For you this is Thomas Jefferson's world So it's like animal farm all animals are Equal but some are more equal than Others that's right and I think that's That's still the way people view things Yeah right I don't know if that's a That's a liberal position or it's just a

Human position that um That all humans have equal value Just on the basic level of like of Humanity But do we really believe that I we want To I don't know ourselves I don't know If our society really believes that yet And I don't know exactly I mean it's Super complicated of course Um when you realize the amount of Suffering that's going on in the world Where there's children dying from Starvation in Africa and to say that all Humans are equal well a few dollars can Save that life and and instead we buy a Starbucks coffee and we are willing to Pay 10 50 100 000 to save a child our Child like uh somebody from our family And don't want to spend two dollars to Save a child over in Africa right so There's and uh I think Sam Harris or Others have talked about like well I Want I don't want to live in a world Where we'd rather send two dollars to Africa there's something deeply human About saving those that are really close To you the ones we love so that like Hypocrisy That seems to go attention with the Basic ethics of alleviating suffering in The world that's also really human That's also part of this ideal Of all men are created equal it's a Complicated messy World ethically it it

Is but I mean I think at least the way I Think about it is so what are the things Even within our own Society Where we choose to do something with our Resources that actually doesn't help the Lives of many people so we we invest in All kinds of things that are often Because someone is lobbying for them This happens on both sides of the aisle This is not a political statement right Rather than saying you know if we Invested a little more of our money Really a little more we can make sure Every child in this country had decent Health Care We can make sure every child in this Country had what they need needed to Start life healthy And that would not require us to Sacrifice a lot but it would require us To sacrifice a few things Yeah there's a balance there and I also Noticed the passive aggressive statement You're making about how I'm spending my Money you know me too spending it a Little more wisely I I you know I like to eat nice meals at Nice restaurants uh so I'm I'm as guilty Of this as you are I got a couch and that couch serves no Purpose it looks nice though no it's so Nice it's a nice looking cow so it's Actually very clean I got it for Occasional Instagram photos to look like

An adult okay Because everything else in my life is a Giant mess What role did the ideas of the founding Documents of this country play in this War the war between the union and the Confederate States And the founding ideas that were Supposed to be unifying to this country Is there is there interesting tensions There well there were certainly tensions Because built into the founding Documents of course is slavery and Inequality and women's exclusion from Voting and things of that sort uh but The real Brilliance of Abraham Lincoln Is to build on the Brilliance of the Founders and turn the union position Into this into the defense of the core Ideas of the country so the Confederacy Is defending one idea the idea of Slavery Lincoln takes the basket of all the Deeper ideas and puts them together Three things the war is about for Lincoln and this is why his speeches Still resonate with us today you know Every time I'm in Washington I go to the Lincoln Memorial It's the best Memorial the best Monument I think in the world actually and Um there are always people there Reading Gettysburg address and the Second inaugural Lincoln had two years

Of education yet he found the words to Describe what our country was about Better than anyone and it's because he Went back to these founding values three Values we already talked about one Freedom That uh and freedom is is actually Complex but it's also simple Uh the simple Lincoln definition is that Freedom is the right of each person to Work for himself Or herself which is to say it doesn't Mean you own your own company but it Means you control your labor And no one can tell you you have to work For a certain wage You might not have a job but you decide You decide right you can see where that Comes from his own background as a poor Man right so freedom is control of your Own labor Second democracy government of the People by the people for the people the Government is to serve the peoples to Come from the people And then the third Point Justice and Helping all human beings He at the end of his life as the Civil War is ending he never declares that the South should be punished his argument is That we shouldn't apologize for their Misdeeds but that all should be part of This future he's not arguing for Consensus he's arguing for a society

Where everyone has a stake going forward So Justice democracy Freedom those are Those those are the gifts I talked about The flaws in our system those are the The virtues in our system that our Founders coming out of the Enlightenment Planted and and Lincoln carries them Forward he gives us the 2.0 version of Them So a few uh tangent questions about each Of those so one on democracy Um people often bring up the United States as a democracy it's a republic Um that it's representative is there Some interesting tensions there in Terminology or is Um yeah can you maybe kind of expand on The different versions of democracy Um so the philosophy of democracy but Also the Practical implementations of it Sure the founders intended for us to be A democracy this argument that they Wanted us to be a republican sort of a Democracy is one of these made up myths Um they believed that fundamentally what They were creating was a society very Few of which had existed before a Society where the government would be of The People by the people for the people That's what they expected right that's What I meant so the legitimacy of our Government was not going to be that the Person in charge was of Royal Blood That's the way the Europeans did it or

Did the person in charge had killed Enough people Allah gang is gone or that The person in charge uh was serving a Particular class it was that the person In charge the institutions were to serve Serve the People they adopted Republican Tools to get there Because they were fearful appropriately Of Simply throwing every issue up to the Masses democracy is not mob rule Democracy is where you create procedures To assess the public will And to act in ways that serve the public Without harming other elements of the Public that are not in the majority That's why we have a constitution and a Bill of Rights and at that for their Time the founders did not believe that Women should be part of this discussion That they were not capable they were Wrong about that in their time that's How they thought we've of course changed That they believed you had to have Property to have a stake we don't Believe that anymore so we can argue Over the details and and those 50 years From now will criticize us right for the Way we think about these things but it Was fundamentally about this is the Radicalism of the American experiment That government should Serve the People All people so democracy means of the People by the people for the people and Then it doesn't actually

Give any details of how you implement That because you could Implement all Kinds of voice and I think what we've Learned as historians I think what the Founders knew because they were very Well read in the history of Rome and Greece was that democracy will always Have unique characteristics for the Culture that it's in Um If coming out of the war against Russia Ukraine is able to build a better Democracy than it had before it's never Going to look like the United States Is I'm not saying it's gonna be worse or Better a culture matters the particular History of societies uh matters uh Japan Is a vibrant democracy I've been there Many times uh it it does not look at all Like the American democracy so so Democracy is a set of values the Implementation of those values is a set Of practical institutional decisions one Makes based in one's cultural position So just the link on that topic is there If you do representative you said like You know democracy should not one Failure mode is Mob rule So you should not descend into that not Every issue should be up to everybody Correct okay so you have a Representation but you know uh Stalin Similarly felt that he could represent

The interests of the public he was also Helping represent the interests of the Public so that's a failure mode too the If if the people representing the public Become more and more powerful they start Becoming detached from uh from actually Being able to represent or having just a Basic human sense of what the public Wants I I think being of the People by The people for the people means you are In some way accountable to the people And the problem with the Communist Party Of the Soviet Union this was already Evident before Stalin came into power is The same problem the Communist Party of China has today which is that you have Leadership that's non-accountable Well let me go then to one of the other Three principles of freedom because one Of the ways to keep government Accountable is the freedom of the press So there's a the internet and on the Internet there's social networks and one Of them is called Twitter I think you Have an account there people should Follow you and uh you know recently People have been throwing around Recently for a while the words of Freedom of speech uh just out of Curiosity uh for tangent upon a tangent Uh what do you think of freedom of Speech as it is today and as it was at That time during the Civil War after the Civil War throughout the history of of

America so freedom of speech has always Been one of the core tenets of American Democracy and I'm near absolutist on it Uh because I I think that people should Have the right to speak uh what what Makes our democracy function is that There is always room for quite frankly People like you and me who uh like to Disagree and have reasons to disagree so I am against almost all forms of Censorship the only time I believe in Censorship is if somehow an individual Or a new newspaper has stolen the Ukrainian plans for their next military Movements in the next week you should Not be able to publish that right now Maybe after they act but criticism Opinion interpretation should be wide Open now that doesn't mean though that Um you have the right to come to my Classroom and start shouting and saying Whatever you want yeah you have the Right on the street corner to do that But my classroom is a classroom for my Students with a particular purpose sorry About that from last week I'll never do It again I'm really sorry it's okay it never Happened you know we get drunk so the People who don't know your your Professor UT Austin is just it's nearby So sometimes I I get a little drunk and Wander in there I'm not the only one is That you I didn't even know it was you

Okay Um so the point is that free speech is Not licensed to invade someone else's Space and and I also believe in private Enterprise so I think that um You know if if if I owned a social media Network I don't It would be up to me to decide Who gets to speak on that Network and Who doesn't and then people could decide Not to use it If they don't want to use it but there's Uh so yes that's one of the founding Principles so oftentimes when you talk About censorship that's government uh Censorship so social media if you run a Social media company you should be able To decide from a technical perspective Of what freedom of speech means but There's some deeper ethical Philosophical Sense of How do you create a world where Every voice is heard of the People by The people for the people that's not a That's a complicated technical problem When you have a Public Square how do you Have a productive conversation where Critics aren't silenced but the same Time Whoever has the bigger megaphone is Not going to crowd out everybody else so I think it's very important to uh create Rules of the game that'll give everyone A chance to get started and that allow

For guideposts to be created from the Will of the community which is to say That we as a community can say We Can't Stop people from speaking but we as a Community can say that in certain forms We're going to create certain rules for Who gets to speak and who doesn't under What terms but they can still have Somewhere else to go so I'm I believe in Opening space for everyone but creating Certain spaces within those spaces that Are designed for certain purposes that's What a school does so I will not bring Someone to speak to my students who is Unqualified it's not a political Judgment the rules at a university are Where an educational institution you Need to have the educational credentials To come speak about artificial Intelligence I'm not going to bring some Bum off the street to do that right we Have certain rules but that bomb on the Street can still in his own space or her Own space can still say what he or she Wants to say about artificial Intelligence this is how newspapers work When I write for the New York Times They Have an editorial team the editorial Team make certain decisions they check Facts and there's certain points of view They don't allow anti-submitted comments Right you're not going to be able to Publish an anti-semitic screed whether You think it's true or not true in the

New York Times but that doesn't prevent You from finding somewhere else so we Allow entities to create certain rules Of the game we trans we make transparent What those rules are and then we as Citizens know where to go to get our Information what's what's been a problem The last few decades I think is it Hasn't been clear what the rules are in Different places and what are the Legitimate places to get information and What are not yeah the transparency seems To be very critical there even from the New York Times I think there's a lot of Skepticism about which way the editorial Processes lean I mean there's a public Perception that it's especially for Opinions it's going to be very Left-leaning in the New York Times and Without transparency About what the process is like about the People involved you all you do like Conspiracy theories and and the general Public opinion about that is going to go Go wild And uh I think that's okay for the New York Times people can in a collective Way figure stuff out like they could say Okay New York Times uh 73 of the time is Gonna lean left in their head they have Like a loose estimation or whatever uh But for a platform like Twitter it seems Like they're it's more complicated now Of course there should be rules of the

Game but I think there's um Maybe I want to say a responsibility to Also create incentives for people to do High effort empathetic debate Versus throwing poop at each other yeah I think those are two slightly different Things so I agree I think that my view is that the failure Of Facebook and Twitter and others and In recent years has been that they have Been completely untransparent about Their rules so what I would think would Make would Advance us Is if they had a set of rules that were Clear that were consistently followed And we understood what they were That would also tell us as consumers How much what the biases are how to Understand what's going on it seems like I might say that since Elon Musk is Taken over Twitter it's been arbitrary And who's thrown off and who's not Thrown off who's and that's that's a Real problem arbitrariness is in some Ways the opposite of democracy but There's also a hidden arbitrariness In uh Interpretation of the rules so for Example What comment incites violence That's really really difficult to figure Out to me like there's a gray area Obviously there's very clear versions of That but if I know anything about people

That try to incite violence they're Usually not coming out and clearly Saying it they're usually kind of dog Whistling it and same with racism and Anti-Semitism all of that it's usually Dog whistles so like and they usually I have fun playing with the rules Playing around the rules so it's a it's A gray area same with uh June covet Misinformation what's misinformation Right I agree and some of these are Age-old problems our legal system common Law has been struggling with what is Incitement to violence since the first Supreme Court decisions in the 18th Century right so so you're absolutely Right but I will say this there are Certain things that are clearly Incitement to violence I'll give you Very clear examples uh I'll just make it Personal right my wife is an elected Official here in Austin there have been People who put things up on Twitter Calling for her to be hanged or calling For her to be attacked that's incitement Of violence when you specifically call For violence against someone I agree There's a lot of other stuff where it's A gray area but we could start If we're applying these rules Yes by getting that material off of These sites so some of that is a problem Of scale too but the gray area is still A forever problem that we may never be

Able to solve and maybe the tension Within the gray area is the very process Of democracy but saying like we need to Take our country back Is that excitement of violence I don't Think that I think we need to take our Country back just that no But then you know because I might say That I might say we need to take I say That all the time I go again I walk Around drunk just screaming at everybody I know you wanted it wants to take you Back exactly I was very confused and my Messaging needs to work but let's let's Go to the January 6th example right to Say hang Mike Pence that's insight into Violence yeah to say go get Nancy That's incitement to violence yeah yeah It's very clear I again I don't think That's the big problem the big problem Is the gray area but yet Uh and the other problems just how to Get how to technically find the large Scale of comments and posts and so on That are doing this kind of clearance I Mean don't ask me those questions well I Have to say some of that is motivation Some of that is vision and some of that Is execution so for example just to go Out briefly on a dark topic Um something I've recently became aware Of is you know Facebook and Twitter and so on people Post uh violence on there like little

Like videos of violence child porn Um some of the darkest things in this World and to find them at scale is is a Difficult problem And to act in it aggressively is a Difficult problem but uh that I think Part of this motivation like saying this Is a big problem we need to take this on We need to uh find all the darkest Aspects of human nature that rise and Appear on our platform and remove them So that we can create a place for like For Humanity to flourish through the Process of conversation but it's just Hard it's just really hard when you look At like millions of posts trillions of Interactions it's wild what's like the Amount of data but where we are now with With social media seemed wild and Impossible five years ago right yes I I Actually what frustrates me is I think They're people who have politicized this Issue in unnecessary ways everyone Regardless of their politics should Support what you just said investing our Money Maybe grants from uh the federal Government in AI skilled people like you Figuring out ways to get violent videos Yeah off of there that that shouldn't be Political Well some of that also requires being Transparent from a social media company

Perspective and transparent in a way That really resists uh being political To be able to be transparent about your Fight against these Uh evils while still not succumbing to The sort of the political narratives of It oh that's tricky but you have to do That kind of and I think walk calmly Through the fire because that's that's What Twitter feels like if you're being Political is it it's like a firing squad From every side you know as a leader you Have to kind of walk calmly right and And that is where we need a new Generation of people who will have Diverse politics but will stand up Against that right I mean that's the Lesson from after the Civil War is where Progress is made the war doesn't solve Problems of hate where progress is made Is where you have local leaders and Others who stand up and say we can Differ but we're not going we're going To stop calling people from certain Backgrounds monkeys which was a common Thing to do at that time Jews are still Called monkeys in certain places right Uh people have to stand up while still Maintaining their political differences Several hundred thousand people died oh What made this war such a deadly War It's extraordinary how many people died More than more than half a million and This was without a single automatic

Rifle without a single bomb it was Mostly in hand-to-hand combat which is To say that these 600 000 or so people Who died they died were the person who Killed them was standing within a few Feet of them Uh that's really hard most of the Killing that happens in Wars today is Actually from a distance it's by a drone It's by a bomb it's by a rocket or by an You know an automatic weapon and just to Make this even more focused uh to this Day the deadliest day in American History was during the Civil War September 1862 in Antietam more than 22 000 Americans uh kill one another Uh hand to hand uh there hasn't been a Day that deadly in American history Since then that's amazing considering The technological changes what was in The mind of those soldiers on each side Was there conviction for ideas was it Did they hate the other side I think Actually they were fighting out of fear What we what we know from Reading their Letters what we know from the accounts Is that yes their their ideas that are Promoted to them to get them to the Battlefield they believe in what they're Doing but here it's the same as World War one and I think the civil war in World War One are very similar as Wars You are in these horrible conditions You're attacked and you have the chance

To either kill the other side and live Or die And you fight to live and you fight to Save the people next to you uh what is True about war what is both good and Dangerous about it is you form an almost Unparalleled Bond With those on your side this is uh the Men underarms scenario right and and That's where the killing goes and it's a Civil War which means sometimes it's Brother against brother uh uh quite Literally and what it teaches us Is how human beings can be put into Fighting and will commit enormous damage And that's why this happens it goes on For four years and just the extensive Research you've done on this war for This book uh what are some some of the Worst and some of the best aspects of Human nature that you you found like you Said brother against brother That's pretty powerful They're both right so the level of Violence that human beings are capable Of how long they're able to sustain it The South should not have the Confederacy should not have lasted in This war as long as it did by the end I Mean they're they're starving and they Keep fighting So the resilience in War of societies And Um the power of hate to move people

What are the bright sides uh you see in Lincoln and Grant who I talk about a lot In the book as well Ulysses Grant you See the ability of empathetic figures to Still Rise Above This in spite of all The horror Lincoln went to visit more Soldiers in war than any president ever Has Often at personal Peril because he was Close to the lines and he connected it Wasn't propaganda there weren't always Reporters following him he was able to Build empathy in this context And I think as I said war is horrible as It is often gives opportunities to Certain groups so African-Americans Former slaves are able to prove Themselves as Citizens Jews did this an Enormous number in World War II Henry Kissinger I wrote about before he really Only gets recognized as an American he's A German Jewish immigrant he's seen as An American because of his service in World War II so the bright side of this Is that often in the case of War on your Own side you will let go of some of your Prejudices Ulysses Grant has a total transformation He goes into the Civil War and Anti-semite and a racist he comes out With actually very enlightened views Because he sees what Jewish soldiers and What African-American soldiers did What's Ulysses Grant's story what uh

What do you learn from him was he a hero Or a villain of this War I think he's a Hero uh though he's a flawed hero as all Heroes are Um he's a man from Ohio and Illinois who Uh was a really a failed businessman Time and again Um and uh had an ability to command People in War uh where did this come From he was a clear communicator and an Empathetic figure he tended to drink too Much but he was the kind of person People wanted to follow they trusted him And so in battle that became very Important and the second thing is he did His homework and he had a sense of the Terrain he had a sense of the Environment he was operating in and he Was ruthless in pursuing what he had Studied so he turns out it battles as Like Vicksburg and elsewhere to actually Undertake some pretty revolutionary Maneuvers and then he figures out that The advantage now is on his side in Numbers and he just poundsly pounds him To death similar what the United States Does at the end of World War II with Germany and Japan he comes out of the War Grant does he's a believer in Union He wants to protect Um former slaves and other groups and he Tries to use the military for that Purpose he's limited and then as President he tries to do that as well uh

Right now we still use many of the laws That were passed during Grant's Presidency to prosecute insurrectionists So the 900 or so people who have been Prosecuted for breaking into the capital And attacking police on January 6. those Insurrectionists they've been prosecuted Under the 1871 anti-clu Klux Klan law so That's a big accomplishment by Grant and We still benefit from it the problem is Grant was not a great politician unlike Lincoln He didn't give good speeches he wasn't a Persuasive figure in a political space And so he had trouble building support For what he was doing uh even though he Was trying to do what in the end I think Were the right things what was the role Of the KKK at that time so the Ku Klux Klan is formed at the end of the Civil War by Confederate Veterans first in Tennessee in Pulaski Tennessee and then It spreads elsewhere and there are other Groups that are similar the red shirts And various others these are veterans of The Confederate Army who come home And are committed to continuing the war They are going to use their power at Home and their weapons to intimidate and If necessary kill people who challenge Their Authority not just African Americans Jews Catholics various others They are going to basically protect the Continued rule of the same families who

Own the slaves before in post-slavery Tennessee and post-slavery South Carolina and when we get to voting They're often the groups that are Preventing people from voting the white Sheets and the ritual around that was All an effort to provide a certain Ritualistic legitimacy and hide identity Though everyone knew who they were oh so That that whole brand that whole Practice was there from from have you Studied the KKK it's history a little Bit I have and there are a number of Other historians who have too so I've Used their research as well I'm kind of Curious I have to admit that my Knowledge of it is very kind of Caricature knowledge I'm sure there's Interesting stories and threads because I think there's there different Competing organizations or something Like that of course within the United States and I feel like they through that Lens you can tell a story of the United States also of these different they're Often business associations I mean There's a lot of work showing that They're actually people join the KKK for The reasons I just laid out but also Because it was networking for your Business you gained legitimacy in the Area that you that you were in so this These were Community groups that were formed to

Help white business people they helped White sheriffs get elected what we have To understand today is when we're Debating policing this history matters Enormously right I I have nothing Against police my cousin one of my Closest relatives just retired from 25 Years in the New York Police Department Thank God he survived I have deep Respects one of the best public servants I know but what we also have to Recognize as we respect police officers Is that for many communities In our country they know this history And the KKK in the 1870s and in the 1930s you look at any KKK organization As I have in my research and you find The police Chiefs or the KKK members the Local police officers local judges Because it was how you became police Chief so the these groups infiltrated Some of the main institutions in our in Our nation I don't even think they Infiltrated I think they were part of Those institutions the deeper question Today in the 21st century is uh one how Much of that is still there and how much Of the history of that reverberates Through the institutions and I'm making The latter point that it's not there That much now but people remember it Well and some people would even say it's Not there at all that there is not Institutional racism or policing

Uh but if if that's the case then you Can also say that if there is not direct Institutional racism there what is it The Echoes of History still have effects Of course and that and that's and that's Really important in that we have to take That seriously that's not an excuse for People then saying nasty things about The police but it is what we have to Recognize look I'm Jewish and there are Certain Um elements of Russian Behavior today I See in Ukraine that reverberate with the History of how my grandparents dealt With pogroms in Russia right even though What Putin is doing in Ukraine might not Technically be a pogrom that history Matters and how I view these issues and And that's a reality yeah I had I went To 7-Eleven recently And uh uh what did I eat ate one of Their salads I'm sorry I love 7-Eleven I'm sorry it's One of the cells and got like terrible Food poisoning oh I was suffering for Like four days and now I can't I love Seven I love going to 7-Eleven late at Night in sweatpants and just I escaped The world I'm listening to an audiobook And now every time I pass that salad for The rest of my life I would have hate For that salad so history matters even If the salad is no longer have any bad Stuff in it it's probably the lettuce or

Something whatever Um mostly for humor's sake but I'm also Giving a a kind of metaphor that Um history can have an individual and a Large-scale society effect on on human Interactions both the good and the bad If you actually recommend to me offline Uh books on the KKK they'll be really Happy there were a few mentioned in in The in the footnotes in my book here and Also in part because I also want to Understand the white nationalism white Supremacists uh Christian supremacists Of Christian nationalism all those Different subgroups in the United States And also around the world I'm a bit My mind has been focused on some of the Better aspects of human nature that it's Nice to also understand uh some of the Darker aspects Um let me ask you sort of a personal Question for me do you think it's Possible Do you think it's useful to do a podcast Conversation with somebody like David Duke Or somebody This was somebody that everybody knows So it's not like you're giving a Platform to to somebody that's a hidden Um Member of the KKK or like uh it's sort Of putting a a pretty face on some dark Ideas but everybody knows and so now

You're just exploring you're sitting Across the table maybe not in his case Um maybe somebody who's an active KKK Member sitting across from a person that Literally hates me Flex I think that's fascinating too I do Too I I think uh so long as what you are Doing Is not boosting someone so taking an Obscure figure And making that figure now famous yes uh But if it's someone who's already Infamous yeah and it helps us to Understand them and as so long as your Effort Is to ask them tough questions which you Do right you don't you don't give them All the questions in advance you don't Have limitations on what you can ask so Long as it is a real interview not Pablum then I'm for it what I'm what I'm Against is a softball interview that Allows someone to sound reasonable when They're not uh but the way I've seen you Do this when you've had figures like That I won't name who I have in mind but When I've seen that is I I think that's I think that's useful because honestly Uh the historian and me and the citizen In me wants to understand Um my my Jewish grandfather always was The the first to be against any effort To suppress anti-semites because his View was he wanted to know who they were

And he wanted to know what they thought So he could be prepared And I also see like perhaps as a Historian You may be able to appreciate this kind Of thing that's probably how you see the World but There's several ways to see a human Being like Vladimir Putin is an example One is a political figure that's Currently Doing actions on the world geopolitics Internally the politics of Russia but There's also that human being in a Historical context And collecting information about that Person in the historical context is also Very valuable so you could see Interviews with Hitler In uh 39 40 41 as being very bad and Detrimental To all that is good in the world but at The same time it's important to Understand that human mind how it uh how Power affects that mind how power Corrupts it how they see the world Absolutely absolutely I would be all in Favor and maybe he will if Vladimir Putin would sit down with you absolutely I I don't think you're boosting someone Like that when you ask them tough Questions in fact I think that's what we Need to do those sorts of figures tend To insulate themselves from tough

Questions so just to restate I I am for The Lex Friedman interview of uh those Sorts of figures I am not for the puff Piece on Fox and Friends uh where they Just come on and they're asked oh isn't It tell us what you think of this tell Us what you think of that yeah so but There's a balance there because A lot of people that interview somebody Like Vladimir Putin all they do is Heart-handing questions they often Demonstrate a lack of knowledge of the Perspective of the Russian people and The president there's not an empathy to Understand that this is a popularly Elected uh you can criticize that notion But this is still the area that Represents the beliefs of a large number Of people and they have their own life Story they see the world they believe They're doing good for the world and I Don't Um that idea Seems to not permeate the questions and The thoughts that people say because They're afraid of being attacked by the People back home fellow journalists for Not being hard enough well maybe I think That's probably true I think in my Experience with interviewers is that a Lot of them are really lazy you're not Which is why I like talking can I just Say okay this is not you saying it can I Just rant

If you're sitting across from Xi Jinping From Vladimir Putin you you you should Be fired if you have not read like at Least several books on the guy the the Surprising lack of research that people Do leading up to it right so you need to Be a historian or a biographer you need To be the kind of person that writes Biographies or histories before you sit In front of the person not uh Not a low effort journalist and it's so Surprising to me that I think they're Probably really busy and it's probably Not part of the culture of the people That do interviews to do deep deep like Investigative you need to be the kind of Person that lives that idea like see it As a documentary that you work on for Three years kind of thing anyway that uh Of course some journalists do do that And they do that masterfully and that's The best of Journalism but I think a lot Of the times when the questions are as You said uh out of touch with the Society that person that person is Leading it's because the interviewer Hasn't taken the time and I understand Uh you can't be an expert on every Subject but you can do what you do right You read my book to prepare for this you Look things up you had a sense of the Person you're talking to and you put the Time in to do that this is what I always Tell my students right the secret to

Success in anything is outworking other People be more prepared right what you Show is like an iceberg it's the tip of The iceberg right is what what people See it's all the work that goes on below The surface and if you work hard enough Which I aspire to do at the end of the Day just like an animal farm you'll be Like the horse boxer and slaughtered Unjustly by those that are much more Powerful than you because you'll be Happy when you're slaughtered you have Lived for the right idea and history Will remember you fondly okay uh what About Robert E Lee so he's the Confederate generality that you Mentioned yeah uh was he a hero or Villain to me he's a villain many people Treat Robert E Lee as a hero and one of The points I make in the book is we have To rethink that and it's very important For our society because Robert E Lee Pops up all over our society names of Schools names of streets and he also Embeds and justifies certain behaviors That I think are really bad Lee was a Was a tremendous General he had the Weaker side and he managed to use Maneuver or secrecy and Circumstance to Give himself so many advantages and win So many battles he should have lost so In terms of the technical generalship uh He's a great General but Lee at the end Of the war never wants to really

Acknowledge defeat what he acknowledges At Appomattox is that his soldiers will Have to leave the battlefield because They have not won on the battlefield but He refuses to do what Grant asks him Which is to help sell his side on the Fact that we're going into a post-war Moment where they don't have to see Themselves as losers but they have to Get on board with change real leadership Is convincing people who follow you that They have to change when they don't want To change Lee refuses to do that he says To Grant I quote this in the book he Says to granted Appomattox if you want To change the South you have to run your Army over the South three or four times He's not going to do anything he's not Going to help and uh he becomes a figure Who people rally around and in the rest Of his life and even after he dies so it Is as if At the end of World War II Hitler had been allowed to just retire And he didn't go back into politics but Yet he was there and he continued to Have meetings with former Nazis and People would rally around the idea of Bringing back or going back to Hitler's Ideas think of how harmful that would be Lee played that kind of of role after The war and I think it's one of the Problems we have now I don't think we Should continue to Revere him because it

Justifies too much of what the Confederates stood for And that's the difference that you Highlight between World War II and the Civil War that in the case of Hitler There was there was a there was an end To that war there's a very distinctive Clear end to that war and you also uh Make the case that World War II is not a Good example not a good model of a war To help us analyze history it's given Americans the wrong idea what war is Because World War II ends as most wars Don't end World War II ends with a Complete defeat Of the German Army and the German Society and the near complete defeat of Japan And where both sides in different ways Except defeat What I'm pointing out in the book is That most wars don't accept with one Side don't end with one side accepting Defeat and uh generally the war Continues after the battles and this is Something that's hard for Americans to Understand our system is built with the Presumption when War is Over when we Sign a piece of paper everyone can go Home That's not what happens I mean Civil War Is a special case it's especially a Strong case of that because the people That fought the War is still living in

That land that's exactly right and in This case some of them are leaders also Many of them become the leaders of the Very areas that they were leading before Uh and I think that's another lesson Here too that we did undertake after World War II though in a flawed way we Had a Nuremberg system we did prohibit At least Nazi leaders from coming back Into power we made an exception for the Emperor in Japan but we generally Followed the same rule uh in Japan Whereas in the United States As I point out many of the leaders of The Confederacy first of all don't Surrender they flee to Mexico Then they come back after they lose in Mexico a second time they come back to The United States and they get elected To office Uh the guy who writes the election laws In Texas Alexander Watkins Terrell most People don't know this even in Texas he Was a confederate general fled to Mexico So he committed treason by joining the Army of Maximilian emperor of Mexico who Was put in power by Louis Napoleon after Max Millions defeated Alexander Watkins Terrell comes back to Texas runs for the State legislature and then writes the Election laws it's crazy can you make The case for that that that's a feature Of the American system not a bug that That is an implementation of justice

That you forgive that you don't Persecute everybody on the other side of The war maybe and I think that's a good Feature in terms of lower level Individuals but I think a bad feature of Our system is we do allow Elite figures who have committed Wrongdoing we give them many ways to get Out of punishment you are more likely to Be punished in this Society if you do Something wrong and you're not an elite Figure then if you're on a leader there Should be a proportional like Forgiveness should be equally Distributed across and it's not yeah and It's not But we could change it we could fix that How do we fix that but how do how do we Fix that what I think was argued at the End this is one of the really important Things about studying history you learn About ideas that were not pursued that Could be pursued today uh at the end of The Civil War there was there was an Effort to ban anyone who was in a Leadership position in the Confederacy From ever serving in federal office Again that's the third uh element of the 14th Amendment it's in the 14th Amendment the 14th Amendment Clause 3 Says that if you took an oath of office Meaning you were elected to office You're an elite figure And you violated that oath you can still

Live in the country you can still get Rich but you can't run for elected Office again yeah and that what we we've Never really Uh implemented that is it obvious that Everybody who's in a leadership position On the Confederate side Is a bad person for the future of the United States Or is that just a safe thing to assume For the future of the nation I think It's the latter you know maybe people do Things for all kinds of reasons and Sometimes they have regrets That's also why we have the pardoning Capability you could pardon someone Individually if they show you that that They've changed yeah and it would only Create fairness because right now let's Say Lex you take out a huge huge loan And you don't pay your loan back that Will go on your credit And you won't get a big loan again You don't get to say Just give me another chance you're gonna Have to prove I think about holding public office in The same way If you've violated your credit rating on That you should have a much higher road To go to prove to us that you should be Back in office Foreign How did the War end

In quotes Uh what was the so you said and you make This case in the book that in some sense The elements the tensions behind the Civil continue to this day but Officially how did the war end so Officially the war ends at Appomattox uh In uh the early spring of 1865 when uh Grant has pretty much smashed Robert E Lee's army Appomattox Courthouse is a Small town in Virginia and the two men Meet and uh their as their portraits of This as a painting of it we have in the Book and Grant and Lee signed a paper Which basically allows lead soldiers to Leave the battlefield and leave with Their sidearms to go back home that's Pretty much The end uh Jefferson Davis who's the President of the Confederacy goes into Hiding he's later captured uh and then Not convicted uh but there's no formal Settlement in the way there is at the End of World War II where uh they meet In Yokohama Bay the US and Japanese Leaders in China this is not that So what stands out to you as brilliant Ideas during this time and actions to of Lincoln Abraham Lincoln so I mentioned That his values I think a number of the Things that he does that are quite Extraordinary first Um in emancipating the slaves now the Slaves were freeing themselves but

Lincoln recognizes that he needs more Labor in the Union Army and he Recognizes that there's still a lot of Resistance Uh and what he does is he makes the case For freeing the slaves based on the Argument not just of the moral value of That but based on how that will benefit The north he's able to convince Non-abolitionists to pursue abolitionist Policies uh that by serving their own Interests but he's basically saying by 1863 or 64 is I can ask for more white Soldiers or I can bring in former slaves Would you like me to take your son or Would you like me to put in it's the Same thing Franklin Roosevelt does During World War II he says we need to Build more planes and more tanks and I'm Sending all the soldiers off to Europe I've got this African-American Population in the South wouldn't you Like me to move them up to Chicago so we Can win this war and build things in the In the factories so so Lincoln uses the War To move the country forward morally even If at times he's convincing people by Using other other reasons and I think That's great politics I guess that's one Of the components of great leadership is Uh is is do the right thing for the Uh wrong reasons Or publicly sounding wrong reasons yeah

Find ways to move people what we talked About before different stories move Different people so you can tell Different stories he tells one set of Stories to the religious leaders who are Abolitionists and a different set of Stories to the New York bankers And that's leadership you tell different Kinds of stories to move people to a new To a new position the other thing Lincoln is is is really brilliant at is Uh managing the international side of This so one of the real dangers for the Union is that the British will come in On the side of the Confederacy the Confederates expected the British Because again the Confederates were Selling all their cotton to Britain and They knew that the British leadership First of all was very happy to work with Slave holding societies even though they Didn't have slaves and number two that They believe the union was getting too Strong and threatening the British in Canada so there were many reasons the British might have gone in with the Confederates Lincoln mixes Um sticks and carrots with the British He threatens them and if and when the British actually tried to send diplomats To negotiate with Southerners he Interdicts that he basically initiates a Quarantine of the south on the other Hand he reaches out to them

And tries to show that he wants better Relations and makes the argument that They will actually benefit more from Having the industrial capability of the Union on their side so he's a very good Diplomat He is considered to be one of the great Presidents in the history of the United States Are there ways that he failed is there Things he could have done better so he Failed in the ways that most great Leaders fail Which is that he had a terrible Succession plan His uh vice president who I spend a lot Of time on in the book Andrew Johnson Who is probably our worst president ever Uh Andrew Johnson had no business being Anywhere near the presidency Andrew Johnson was the only Southern senator Who did not secede and so even though he Was a Democrat Lincoln wanted to show That he was creating a Unity ticket when He ran for reelection in 1864. this Happens today right so he put someone on As vice president who he didn't even Like but who he thought was politically Useful problem is when Lincoln was Assassinated This guy took over Andrew Johnson was Drunk at his own inauguration the guy Was a true drunkard he was not prepared To lead in any sense intellectually

Politically and he was against most of The principles Lincoln was for And the irony is that when Lincoln is Assassinated in April of 1865 Andrew Johnson takes over and he has all the War Powers Lincoln had Uh that was not good Planning by Lincoln And we can look back on it now and say Even though Lincoln is the first President who was assassinated uh he Should have known that there were people Coming for him it wasn't inevitable that He'd be assassinated but he should have Had a backup plan for who would take Over hopefully someone who was capable Of doing the job and Andrew Johnson was Not capable so for me for a person if I Were to put myself in in Lincoln shoes Or anybody any leadership position she Was It is difficult to think about what Happens after my death after I'm gone Right to plan well at the same time If you care about Your actions to have a long-term impact It seems like you should have a Succession plan that continues on the Path yeah it continues to carry the Ideals that you've implemented So I'm not I'm unsure why people don't Do that more often like I wonder how Much Vladimir Putin spends percentage of Time Per day thinking what happens after he's

Gone to help flourish the nation and the Region that he deeply cares for I wonder And the same as for other presidents Donald Trump Joe Biden uh they might Think politically like how do I Guarantee that a democrat or a Republican but do they think like Um Visionary for the country I don't Know I wonder I think that's very rare And I think uh what I understand from The literature among business people who Talk about this a lot right is what ends Up happening is you become so powerful You assume you're always going to be in Power you convince yourself of that you Convince yourself that the end is far Away and of course for Link in the end Could have been far away he was healthy He was only in his 50s he could have Lived a lot longer But it also it ended fast as it could And and my understanding is that most Americans don't prepare their Wills in Estates and it doesn't matter whether They're rich or poor they they assume Things are just going to go on because It's not fun to think about this yeah But I feel like it's freeing like you Know what I did which is interesting Before I went to Ukraine I recorded a Video I set up a whole thing where I Record a video like what happens if I Die I record a video to release I gave My uh brother access to my passwords to

So that and I gave them instructions You're not allowed to look at this but Please publish this after if I die and You know that made me uh it sounds silly And ridiculous but uh that made me feel Free To do the best thing I want to do It's like it's a it's a liberating so Like I guess that's for your will but Also like do the best possible damn job You can I feel like as a leader having a Plan what happens if if not if you fail If you die if you um Or or you lose some of the um some of The power some of the momentum that is Driving you currently that there's going To be a handoff where you will still and You will still be remembered as a great Man or a woman that but you identify one Of the other problems right which is one Of the other reasons why someone like Lincoln or certainly Henry Kissinger Doesn't create a successor because You're afraid they're going to steal Your passwords you're afraid they're Gonna steal the power from you that's True you had to find someone your Brother hopefully who you could trust But let's just be clear I love my Brother but he's a troll so uh so There's a feature on the past on Whatever password manager I may or may Not use uh and this is there's a bunch Of services like this it's interesting I

Don't know if you you know about I've Learned about all this uh is you can Have them request access and it's going To wait 30 days before it gives them Access so it's kind of has this um Built-in trust okay uh trust padding uh But it's interesting I mean to me on That aspect is just to have a plan in All aspects of life this is for Leadership in your private life Like what happens To not just your will and your wealth uh Your wealth or whatever but what happens To other stuff like social media and all That right in this Digital World Anything you care about if you wanted to Live on and that's the problem but if You Unless you can devise A technical solution like that you have To give someone power now yeah and That's the tricky thing I mean uh Democracy is a kind of Technology you Kind of have to figure out how to do it Correctly how to have how to have that Power propagate and especially during War how you get everybody together into This war-mongering mood or and then how Do you how do you like come come down From that and just relax precisely so in Some sense that's Well there Johnson that was the the Problem is is the over centralization of Power it was the over centralization of

Power but it was also that Lincoln Had a designated successor who was going To do and tried to do everything that Ran against what Lincoln was doing and It set the country back we went forward At the end of the Civil War and then we Went backward More so than we would have if there had Been a new election because if there had Been a new election there still would be Reason for that person running even if They were on the other side to try to Find some compromise positions Andrew Johnson inherited power With very few limitations on how he used That power Congress wasn't even in Session And so this became very directly a Problem because Andrew Johnson started Pardoning Southerners allowing them to Come back into power So we had like a few months where he Just went wild yeah It's it's giving the car keys to someone Who's not prepared to drive but decided That they're going to do what they want With the car for a while All right Is there any level to which power Corrupted Lincoln a war president yes I Do think there are some areas and I Think that even though he was a great President if not our greatest president Maybe one of the greatest figures of the

Of our history Um he was flawed uh one is his problem Of succession but also I think Lincoln uh over invested in the Power of the presidency he came to Believe too much In the role of one man And not in creating a more balanced Approach to governance and that's a Function of War that's where war is Dangerous War has an inherent Centralizing power in a democracy And that is dangerous because even when You have the best of people running a War That gives them a lot of power to make Decisions yeah how do you come down from That I see that was the landscape Putin Currently yep it's a war how do you come Down because uh Ukraine and everybody anybody in the war Kind of especially if you're fighting For the ideal of democracy It seems like war is anti-democratic it Is so how do you come down from that What's the interesting mechanism of I Mean some of it is leadership you have To be like a George Washington type Figure be able to walk away from Power I Think you gave the answer right there Yeah you need to walk away from power or You need to be forced to walk away from Power historically one of the things That democracies have tended to do when

They have a chance is to vote out of Office the Victor in the war think about Winston Churchill Roosevelt is elected to his fourth term When he's still in the war it's not Clear that he would have been elected Again let's say he lived on because There is a sensibility that the person Has become too powerful in this role and That they someone else should now step In someone else who's also not a war President but has other interests so Let's hope Ukraine wins this war Um zielinski should then step down Or someone else should be voted in it Will be dangerous if he remains President let's say he wins somehow and A true Victory which is just Hypothetical He should not be he should be praised Maybe given a nice Villa Um but someone else should take over Because the problem is that he's going To have too much power And honestly he's going to be too out of Touch with what the country needs after The war What do you think would have happened if Lincoln had lived that's the sort of Counter factual view of History it's an Interesting question that probably you Think about a lot this is a lot what Would have happened if you didn't get Assassinated it's a reasonable question

Because it was not inevitable he'd be Assassinated right he could have had More protection that night he had Invited Ulysses Grant to go to the Theater with him and Grant and his wife Didn't go if they had been there there Would have been more protection for Grant so he would have had at least Double the the security there Um so there are many ways in which he Might not have died I think it still Would have been a difficult transition But I think there were a few things that Would have been better first of all Lincoln would not have pardoned all of These Confederate leaders and allowed Them to come back into Power Lincoln Also would have been a better politician At holding his Republican Coalition Together And I think Lincoln was more committed To empowering former slaves and others So we still would have had a lot of Conflicts but I think what would have Been a degree of difficulty was doubled Or tripled because Um Lincoln was was removed and the Opposite came into Power with Andrew Johnson so you don't think there's a Case you made the Andrew Johnson was Turned out to be A bad decision but the spirit of the Decision is the correct one no I think It was a terrible decision because you

Should never put someone one step away From enormous power who's not prepared Oh in that sense yeah so uh in essence I Got it but but the the other the spirit Of the decision meaning you put somebody Who's in a Represents a very opposing Viewpoint Than you well I'm for that so long as That person is on board with some of the Basic values that you're pursuing and That person is capable of doing the job Well do you think that was obvious to Him that Andrew Johnson was not capable Of doing the job yes okay it's in the Right I mean everyone recognized that But it made sense I mean what Lincoln Has to be praised for is in the midst of A war When at that point he was not doing well The war was not going well he ran for Re-election he didn't try to postpone The election he didn't try to do Anything yeah and and so he needed all The help he could get when running and So he wanted to have someone on there Who looked like a Unity candidate who Could appeal to some Southerners uh so It made sense from a political point of View Uh but it created a really big problem And Um there were people who said he should Have removed Johnson as soon as he was Elected and in retrospect he probably

Should have how gangster is that to During a war still run the election Yeah it's it's extraordinary I mean he Lincoln believed in Democratic Values he Also believed he would win but he knew It was not guaranteed yeah and it's Interesting for for people don't know This the reason we have mail in Balloting in the US is because of that So Um Almost what uh I think it's almost a Million uh Union voters are away from their homes And so how do they vote as soldiers as Nurses they vote by mail the poster post Office delivers their ballots that's why We have mail-in balloting What about the other kind of factual Question of what what would have Happened if Confederate States won the War the Confederate States had won the War you would have seen I think a Separate country And the South you would have seen two Countries and that Confederate country Would have been a smaller country but it Probably would have been able to defend Itself because it would have actually Gotten much richer than it was it was Poor at the time but through its cotton Trade and other things it would have Been recognized by Great Britain by France by other societies and you would

Have seen Um a southern Republic I don't think you Would have seen that southern Republic Dominate the continent the union had the Men and people and had the resources But you would have seen a rival Republic To the United States in the South do you Think they had interest to dominate the Continent to take over the the union They had a foreign policy they had a Plan many have written about this they Had plans many Southerners did of Expanding into the Caribbean Which was actually more feasible they Did not have the Personnel to occupy so Much territory going out west if you Think about the amount of land that had To be covered but they had the nautical Capabilities in Naval power and the Money Um to dominate islands in the Caribbean And those islands were important for Their trade so there were many Southerners who wanted to take control Of Cuba wanted to take control of Haiti And the Dominican Republic and so you Probably would have seen Southern Warfare in those areas From a counter factual history Perspective can you make the case That secession would have been created a Better world like if we're sitting today And do Back to the Future thing that's a Session in this context if we put aside

The the suffering and the loss of life In the war that we would be in a better World today just look into a political Climate or and can you also make the Case that actually this outcome of the Union winning the war is the better one I think the union union victory is by Far the better outcome because I think What you would have had otherwise is you Would have had a slave Republic in in The South that would have encouraged Slavery in other parts of the world Would have exported slavery and would Have necessarily been hostile to many of The positive changes that occur in the Union the movement toward Progressive Reforms creating cities with health Codes and public education and many of Those things public education really Develops in the north as a way of Training workers who are being paid to Be better workers in a factory there's a Reason you don't educate slaves because If you educate slaves they'll Rebel yeah So don't you think there'll be a huge uh Pressure from the north to about slavery Anyway it would but I think the South Could have survived without another War I mean I think the way that slavery Would have would have ended in the South If it didn't end with the Civil War it Would have been with another War I guess the deeper question is is it Better to work through your problems

Together or is it better to get a Divorce I think in this case it was better to Work through the problems not even Working through them together it's Better to work through the problems Where one side has the resources to Incentivize you to work through the Problems rather than leaving you on your Own to go your own to go your own Direction I think the argument against The union winning would be the argument That would be made by those who believe They suffered from Union power later on So you could argue if you're a historian Of Native Americans Uh if you're historian of the Philippines You could argue some of the Areas where this newly United Nation Coming out of the Civil War was able to Use its power to spread its influence it Would have been harder for the union to Do that uh if the union had to deal with A rival to the South So as a historian the union won To which degree are the people from the Union there is now the United States the Writers of the history That that color the perspective of who's The good guys and the bad guys so this Is such an interesting question because I like how you take every question I ask And make it into a better question That's a deep I deeply appreciate it

I'll ask every time I ask some Ridiculous question and you go that's Really interesting because they're Really good questions they're thoughtful Questions you know actually the best Questions are not the simple ones right So um Foreign The Axiom is that the winners write History yeah and that's usually the case Right most of the history I learned About Ukraine when I was growing up was Written by Russians it was Russian History of Ukraine uh most of the History of Europe has been written by Germans and French and and British Citizens right I mean so usually it's That way and for the most part our History has been written from a sort of Northeastern point of view but it's very Interesting the history of the years After the Civil War that I focus on in This book has largely been written by The losers because the union and its Legacies and I grew up in New York so I'm growing up as a legacy of that right Those were individuals who wanted to Write about what happened long after the Civil War when the north got rich all Those beautiful buildings in New York All that wealth in New York it's 1880s 90s it's The Late Late 19th centuries The Gilded Age and that's what Northerners want to write about right

Because there's Glory there the 20 years Or so after the Civil War the years that Really count 1865 to 1880 or so uh those Years are ugly it's messy and so who Wrote about them Southerners wrote about Them and they wrote a story that was About uh Northern Carpetbaggers and Corrupt African Americans uh and this is The story that Americans learned until a Few years ago I've gone around the Country talking about this book and the Number of people have told me they never Learned this basic history because they Grew up in Chicago not because they grew Up in Texas because they grew up in Chicago and the story they were told the Civil War ended oh now let's talk about The Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and how Chicago is coming of age as this great City we don't like to write history in Our country that's not about Glory I'm All for the greatness of our country but You become great by studying your Failures as well as your successes And that's a real problem we have and I Would love to see a kind of humility From uh from a history perspective one Of the things that always surprised me Just coming from the Soviet Union to to The United States as you've I think Spoken about Is the perspective on World War II yeah And who is the critical component of Winning the war obviously in the Soviet

Union uh it's a Great Patriotic War it's You know uh the Soviet unions are the Ones that suffered and often actually Don't emphasize the suffering they Emphasize the glory that they defeated This huge evil but then you listen to The United States perspective on this And it's almost like the the I mean There's several ways of phrasing it but Basically the United States won the war Without the United States it would be Impossible to win the war there were the Turning point there were the the last There were uh one of my last my Everything that that song uh um my first My last my everything so so that and I'm Sure I wonder what what growing up In uh maybe after war in in Britain I Wonder if there's history books written There that basically saying they could Also make a pretty strong case that Britain was Central to the turning point You could really make a strong case that Like Churchill and Britain uh were like The turning point of the war that the That they're responsible for some of the First failures major failures of Hitler From a military strategy perspective but Uh that's interesting to look at that Very recent history from very different Perspectives and it's the same problem With the Civil War we want to tell the Story of the Union winning the war and Then everything is good yeah and it's

Not the way it's not the way it worked Um what I'm really trying to get at is Uh when you love your country you have To study the failures because by Studying the failures that's how you Improve yourself and that's where you See where where real courage is it's Actually that Lincoln failed for so long That makes him a great president he lost More battles than he won but he learned And he got it right in the end same with Ulysses Grant I don't want generals I'm Just echoing Lincoln here I don't want Generals I don't want leaders who think They're going to get it right the first Time because they're never going to get It right the first time you never get it Right the first time in an AI experiment Right it's those who can work through Failure learn from failure and we as a Society have to start doing that better We have to not just trumpet the Successes let's talk about where we Failed as Republicans as Democrats as Independents and let's move forward from There in recent years have been a kind Of Movement of highlighting some of the Hypocrisy sort of highlighting the Racism the fact that many of the finding Fathers were slave owners that kind of Thing uh sort of highlighting from the Current Uh ethics of our world uh showing that

Many of the people involved in the war On each side were evil uh what do you Think about that perspective on history I think it's super valuable I think we Should expose the the gap between ideals And practice but that doesn't mean we Should throw away the great people who Are also Hypocrites because everyone I've studied is a hypocrite I'm a Hypocrite I think I'm a pretty good Father luckily my son is an even better Mother but uh uh the parts of me there I Mean I often find myself telling our Children to do things that I didn't do Right yeah but they're smart and they Recognize that and they learn something From that so let's not cover over The hypocrisy but let's not throw people Away for being hypocritical here's my View of Thomas Jefferson which is Similar to my view of Abraham Lincoln Right these are incredibly insightful Thoughtful people who added so much to Our country But they also created flawed systems And one of Link one of excuse me Jefferson's flaws was even though he saw All the evils of slavery he was a Terrible farmer and he could not imagine Living the lifestyle he lived without Slaves he could never work his way out Of that but that doesn't make the Declaration of Independence less Valuable in fact it makes it more

Valuable there's more that we can learn From that and to me On the hypocrisy side many of the people That participate in cancel culture and These kinds of movements That call everything as racist and so on Sometimes they're highlighting uh Properly the evils in our current Society But the hypocrisy they have is not Realizing if they were placed in Germany In the 40s if they were placed in the Position of being a white Christian During slavery at the fighting of this Country they would do the same thing They would do the evils that are not Criticizing most of them is that it Takes a truly heroic human to think Outside to be aware of all the evils Going on Assad Around you and take action it's easy now On Twitter to call people as racist What's hard is to see the racism when You're living in it and your well-being Is funded by it yep I think that's right I think to analyze ourselves and look Honestly in the mirrors very hard I also Think I make this point in actually all Of my books Um the real and it's an Eli visel point That a lot of the evil in our world is The evil of silence and just looking Away And and one form of that on Twitter is

Just hitting like Yeah uh it's it's a cheap way of Pretending you're you're doing something That's important right after the Civil War there's all sorts of bad stuff that Happens I talk about it a lot there Always are people there who could stop It Most people are not responsible for the Bad activities but most don't do Something to stop it And when I say do something I mean Really do something yeah really and That's it's also to push back and Pushback Silence on Twitter is not what Eli Rozelle was talking about So sometimes silence on Twitter is the Courageous action because you wait and Think and learn and have patience to Truly understand the situation before You take actual action not participate In the outrage crowds on Twitter the Hysteria of cancellation what's hard to Do is to speak up when everybody else is Silent right that's what's hard to do Right and to speak up against those who You thought were on your side yes Exactly good luck to those on the left Who speak up against the left uh and the Same good luck to those on the right who Speak up against the right It's a lonely place it's a it's a Painful place that's why walking in the

Center is tough you get attacked by both Sides yeah so it's a wonderful wonderful Uh journey and you know what what's Interesting to me uh and what I learned Writing this book every book is a Journey what I learned in this in the Laboratory of this book right Was a lot of those figures who do stand Up Uh even in their own lifetime they don't Get the accolades they deserve but they Make a difference and that that's maybe Not enough Comfort uh because you want To see benefits in your own lifetime but I think it really matters and many of The figures I talk about were not even Well known in their time so you can make A difference you do impart something Small in the universe that can grow into Something better and we shouldn't forget That yeah that's why I admire a boxer The horse I will work harder even if he Gets sent to the slaughter by the evil Pigs You're on Orwell today I love how much Recently I mean uh animal farm is one of My favorite my favorite books I've been Recently I've just I'm rereading 1984 Now uh it's been politicized that book In general yeah but to me it's a love Story it is a love story that there's uh The like love is the like it's a story Of an oppressive government it's a real Estate and uh the nature of Truth being

Manipulated by wartime so on but the the Beacon of Hope in the human heart that Pulls you out that wakes you up in a World like that is a love of another Human being it's Transcendence I totally Agree my understanding you would know Better than I would is that it's now a Best-selling book in Russia again 1984 Yeah it's actually being downloaded more There was a piece on NPR I heard about This actually yeah yeah well I hope it's Because they're looking for love that's What I was just gonna say hopefully not In all the wrong places Hey there's no such thing as the wrong Places but that's that's my opinion I'm The one that showed up naked and drunk To your classroom I still surprised that With you I was wearing a wig I'm sorry uh quick Pause uh can I take a breath And we're back uh John Wilkes Booth Assassinated Abraham Lincoln in his Diary as you write in your book he wrote About Lincoln our country owed all her Troubles to him and God simply made me The instrument of his punishment the Country is not what it was Uh what was the idea of the country that John Wilkes Booth uh believed in he Talked about this country that just Constantly being repeated in his writing For John Wilkes Booth and many other uh People who were close to the southern

Part of the country and the Confederacy They believe the country should be a Democracy for white people abounded Democracy and uh Booth was horrified and We have to empathize with it not Sympathize but recognize how how strange It seemed to him that all of a sudden Those who were slaves were now Soldiers With guns And he was particularly offended when he Saw in Washington DC a group of African-American Union Soldiers holding Southern prisoners of War And um the world was turned upside down For him democracy for him he believed in Democracy but democracy for white people And that justified uh mistreating black People for him It's a country means uh white white People yeah and and I don't think it's That different from Um and white Christians white Christians Yes yeah he was not arguing for Jewish Emancipation either Um I I I don't think that's really Different from what we've seen in the 20th century for people who justify Ethnic cleansing or genocide Uh let's go to the you know the extreme Example of Hitler again uh that we've Talked about before His view was actually he he claimed he Wanted a democracy for Germany he wanted A democracy of the right Germans and he

Wanted those who he saw infecting and Mongolizing the society out that's in Essence what John Wilkes Booth thought The scary thing is those kinds of ideas You can put a pretty face on them like You don't have to use and maybe Hitler Didn't until the war started or even Parts of the war make it so clear that You just want the certain kind of Germans that have made Germany a great Nation to be the people that are running That nation and other people who are not Truly interested in it don't hold the Interest of the country at heart like They should go elsewhere where they can Flourish also is wonderful but like the Good Germans uh they've built all these Amazing things which should give them The power and not to the others and you Can put a bunch of Flowery language Around that precisely it's the argument That's made all the time today against Immigration That the wrong people are coming into Our society it's ironic because it's Often made by those who themselves are Immigrants history teaches us that those Who have arrived as immigrants are no More likely to like those who come in Fact they might be against the next Group for just this reason because they Think they're the right group can you Describe to me if it's useful at all to Know the difference

If there's a difference between white Nationalism white supremacists And uh Christian nationalism Is there an intersection between them I've heard these terms used oh Separatism too right that Um is there interesting distinction that Permeated that history that's the last Today I think um there's a long history In the United States of a belief in White supremacy and it's not unique to The United States we actually inherit This from Europe uh and white supremacy Is is the belief that uh for whatever Reason those with lighter color skin uh Usually of northern European extraction Uh are superior have more rights or the Better people to make decisions all Sorts of things and it's an aesthetic Judgment as much as it is a political Judgment and that gets embedded in our Society right we inherit that Um Christian nationalism Is the presumption that it's not just Your race but now it's also your Christian belief and that is actually Relatively new there are little pieces Of that in our history but but many of Those who are white supremacists even Those in the Confederacy are not Christian nationalists because they Don't agree on which kind of Christianity and they don't view those Who are from a different denomination of

Christianity of being good Christians There isn't this big tent Christianity In the 19th century Um this notion that there is one Christian Nation and that we're all part Of it that's actually really a 20th Century creation it precedes the Evangelical movement but it's been made Even more popular but it would not make Sense to a Confederate to say we're a Right white Christian Nation it would Make sense to say we're a white Protestant Nation because they didn't Consider Catholics good Christians or a White Presbyterian Nation Um and so that's that's something new And I think with particularly dangerous About this notion of Christian Nationalism is it creates this false History saying we've always been Together as Christians that's always how We've denied I defined ourselves and That's not accurate well one interesting Thing so I recently talked to Uh uh left leaning or maybe a far left Political streamer Named Destiny uh Stephen Burnell I don't know if you're Familiar with him he uh he does uh live Streaming debates with people it's very Passionate I've heard of this my Students have told me I'm not actually My students are always up on the most Hip things yes that is no the funny Thing about him he's already considered

Like a boomer he's already the old Streamer because he's been doing it for 10 years he's not the cool kids anymore Anyway he goes into some difficult Political territory and he actually had A many conversation with Nick Fuentes And he says I mean uh some of it is Humor but some of it is pretty dark uh Hard-hitting sort of criticism is he Says that anyone who claims to be a Christian nationalist asks them if they Would rather Have a million people who are atheists From Sweden who are white come or if you Would rather have a million uh people From Africa who are Christian come and The the truth comes out that this is a Very surface level this kind of idea of Christian nationalism is still Underneath it is a deep racism uh like Hate your toes black people I think That's I'm sure that's right I'm sure That's right that's the sense I got into It does not seem to have deep kind of uh Yeah like historical context to it it's Just it's just a different a rebranding Of the old kind of hate what I think is Important though in drawing this Distinction and why it really matters Beyond the history of it is someone like Lincoln Quotes scripture all the time the second Inaugural is filled second inaugural Address the Gettysburg Address filled

With Biblical references But he does it in a way that's not Christian nationalist because he's using The text to bring people together he's Using it as a fable of humanity And you could say he's not open to Islamic thinking he's ignorant of the Islamic world but as a Jew I'm a Jew Reading and studying Lincoln I know he's A Christian but I don't feel excluded From his rhetoric Because I share that Bible We have different views but I I don't Feel excluded it actually brings people Together the Christian nationalist Approach that we've seen in the 20th Century and especially in recent decades Is intended to divide people It excludes Jews It excludes Christians who don't Interpret Christianity their way and and To say that's what we've always done is An entire Distortion of our country And it also hides why this is so Dangerous Insofar as Christianity matters to our Country it should be in the way Lincoln Uses it as a set of common texts that Many of us resonate with knowing that we Have different rituals and different Understandings not as a way to exclude People and not as a cover for racism Which is what it is it's kind of Interesting that you could talk about

I've talked to a lot of people Muslim Folks uh Jewish folks Christian folks There's a way to talk about religion That's inclusive and then that's Exclusive I mean it's just been of these I've been listening to a lot of these Interfaith conversations and they're Awesome They like celebrate the beauty of each Religion they banter and argue with each Other about details and so on but like It feels like love like it feels like Anybody from any of those religions uh Would feel welcome at that party yeah And I think that's possible Can you tell me about the disputed Election of 1876 so this is fascinating The 1876 election is one of many Elections we've had some recently that Are intensely controversial uh and They're controversial because they're so Close They're controversial because it's not Always clear who's won In 1876 uh Samuel Tilden the governor of New York who's running as the Democratic Candidate wins more votes across the Country So everyone knows he becomes president Right wrong he doesn't become president Because in three states South Carolina Louisiana and Florida it's very very Close And even though Tilden has more total

Votes if he loses those States the Electors in those States all of which go To the winner of the state would Actually make Rutherford B Hayes the Republican candidate president in all Three of those States you also have Republican Governors who have just lost But are still the people who have to Certify the election All three states say that hey is one Even though it's very close and disputed So Hayes has one more electoral vote Of course the Democrats won't accept That and so we go into February that the Inauguration was done in March not in January we go from November to February Without clear agreement on who the President is in the end there's an Agreement that they come to a deal which Is where the Democrats will accept Hayes As president in return for Hayes doing All the things the Democrats want in the South And so in essence you have a deal made That one side will get all its all it Wants while allowing the other side to Have the figurehead And so in a certain way this marks a Moment when the Confederacy wins For example Hayes has to agree to pull Out all federal force from the south Which means there's no protection for Fair elections going forward and you'll See in States like Mississippi uh the

Number of African-American voters will Decline and not recover again until the Late 20th century so that's what that Election does and from 1876 until 1896 We have a series of Elections that are Very close it happens also In 1888 that the person with the most Popular vote loses that's Grover Cleveland who loses to Benjamin Harrison Um and again we'll have the same issue Where there's a dispute and so what that Election shows us 1876 1888 is that our Election system and the problem of Having an electoral college really Complicates things and makes it harder For us to come to any kind of consensus Any kind of agreement on who's won an Election super important for today Because most of the 20th century we Don't have close elections so it doesn't Matter when we come to a world today Where our elections are very close our System is not well designed to deal with Those issues do you draw any parallels Uh with our time and what are some key Differences there's been contested Elections uh Florida Florida With Al Gore and there's been just Contest election after contested Election and of course most famously Recently Uh with the the contested election that Led to uh January 6th so I think uh a Couple of parallels and a couple of

Differences one parallel is that when You have close elections uh the losing Side is never happy It's a myth That when you have a close election the Other side just accepts it and it's not That doesn't happen and we need to be Attentive to that and ready for that January 6th actually should surprise us Not because it happened but because it Hadn't happened before Um people who lose a close election are Never happy and they always think that Something has been done that's one Parallel second parallel is elections Are violent We have this myth that our elections are Peaceful no there's always violence Involved in one way or another violence In either trying to prevent people from Voting or violence and preventing people From preventing people from voting right Elections are not uh peaceful walks in The park and that's why most countries Have a centralized system to manage Elections and provide protection for People uh we need to think about that a Lot of people don't vote because they're Afraid They don't want to take the time but They're also afraid that they're going To anger someone or that they're going To be seen as politicizing an issue Differences uh in 1876 there was fraud

In the election uh there were people who Voted two three times one of the things The Ku Klux Klan did is it prevented Black people from voting and that it Helped white people go to multiple Voting booths Uh and this was quite common in the 1880s if you went to vote uh here's how It would happen in a place like Chicago Or New York the union boss from your Factory would come and get you at the Factory Give you lunch get you drunk and then Drive you from one voting booth to Another and give you a ballot that you Would bring in and just and he would Watch you deposit that ballot Sounds pretty nice not gonna lie I take That right so that's a difference that That is not how our elections work now One of our Great accomplishments has Been to eliminate virtually all the Fraud in our elections how have we done That by creating safeguards Um it is very difficult all the evidence We have is that the minimal fraud that's Occurred in elections or onesies and Twosies and it's never in the last 20 Years had any big difference in the Outcome of Elections so that's a that's A big difference and then another big Difference I think is that um in that Time the Democrats and Republicans are On the opposite sides of where they are

Now and that that changes everything Right so the Democrats then are the Party of the Confederacy the Democrats Are the party of exclusion the Republicans are more the party of Economic expansion Uh and the Republicans are the Big Ten Party were reversed today do you think Uh because there's much less election Fraud Now like you described Uh one of the lessons we want to maybe Learn from that is that doesn't actually Have to be election fraud for either Side to claim this election fraud it Seems like it's more and more common and It seems to me that in 2024 election in The United States if a republican wins That would also be uh Just maybe just as likely as as uh Um if uh if a Democrat wins that there Would be Nuanced claims of election fraud Because it's become more and more Normalized I think what the what this History shows is that our election System makes it easy for people to claim Fraud because it's so unnecessarily Complex First of all we don't have a system Where the person who gets the most votes Is necessarily the winner so that Already creates one problem second Problem is everything I taught about

This in the book is controlled at the County level So what happens with Haze until then in 1876 is you have one County official who Says they think one person one another County official thinks says the other Person won there's no centralized system Uh it would be as if we allowed every Airport to control safety in airplanes Our airplanes would not be safe our Airplanes are safe because the FAA and The national Transportation safety board Have strict Universal guidelines for What makes for a safe plan and therefore Our planes generally don't fall out of The sky our system is very complex it Has complex rules and has too many People who have authority in too many Different places complexity makes it Easier for someone to make an argument That the wrong thing has been done we Should simplify the system in Brazil They had a very close election And uh it's very hard for bolsonaro who Lost that close election to claim there Was fraud because there's a central Authority run by the Judiciary that Counted the votes and it's just simple It's not about which states it's not About who the county officials were did He claim or no he has not acknowledged That he lost right so to push back on Your on your statement undefeated Monopoly and risk because anytime I lose

I walk away claim claiming there was Fraud and cheating involved and I refuse To believe otherwise I just think that Uh Accusations of fraud is a narrative That's disjoint from the reality of Whether there was enough yeah yeah I Agree but I think we make it we we make It a little easier for that narrative Sure by having a complex convoluted System and I wonder if there's other Improvements that take us into the 21st Century that allow for electronic voting There's all kinds of improvements that Are seems our system is dragging their Feet on uh ranked just voting all that Kind of stuff let's make this clear we Claim to be the greatest 21st century Democracy and we still vote like the 19th century we're not even in the 20th Century most people when they went to Vote they actually like you know checked A box and put a piece of paper in a box Right I mean that's not 21st century we Can move millions of dollars maybe Billions for you Lex in bank accounts From from our keyboard thank you for From our keyboards billions of rubles Billions of pennies pennies uh why can We move money safely and not vote in the Same way yeah and at the same time so There's security there in the movement Of money and then there's the actual Engagement most of us depending on your

Age demographic uh click like on Facebook or Twitter or Tick Tock uh tens Of thousands of times a year uh I think I think this kind of mechanism Constantly and a like is a vote so You're constantly voting voting voting Voting we love voting we love giving our Opinion on that stuff it just seems Obvious that uh gamifying this system Which is essentially what the election Is making it fun to be engaged in Different issues and there's also be a Case Um no I don't understand these things Deeply but it always seemed to me that Issue-based voting Should be the future it seems like too Complicated to vote for singular people Versus on ideas which you know on Twitter we don't necessarily vote for People we vote for ideas if you like a Tweet or not you like it and so on Um that too seems to be like a Possibility for improvement well there's Certainly a way to improve polling we Could measure public opinion better we Still pull as if we're in the early 20th Century they still actually call people It's amazing to me I was talking to one Pollster they uh will call a hundred People and get one person but they still Do that that makes no call landlines Right uh yeah well they try to get cell Phones too they but they do call

Landlines but one could create a system That would be far better in the way You're describing it seems to me Lex to Actually assess what people like and Don't like So your book your work in general your Perspective on history is uh I would say At least from my perspective Non-partisan thank you yeah you do Exceptionally good job of that uh Despite the attacks and the criticisms That said you personally just the way You speak my judgment and you can push Back on this I think you leave lean left In your politics on the political Spectrum maybe you can push back on that Can you make the case for either Perspective on your own personality as a Fan of yours that uh that you do lean Left or you don't lean left I think it Depends on the kinds of issues we're Talking about I do tend to lean left on The social and cultural issues yes so I'm a Believer a firm believer uh I Didn't believe this when I was younger I've come to believe that uh people Should choose their own lifestyle and That we should get out of the way I'm a Believer deep believer as a father of a 20 year old woman that my 20 year old Daughter should have the right to make Any choice she wants with her body Uh and if she were to get pregnant at a Fraternity party at College uh she

Should have the right to decide whether To have a child or not so on those Issues that would code me left left of Center uh I'm actually reasonably Conservative on fiscal issues I don't think we should spend money we Don't have Uh I'm skeptical I've long been Skeptical of cryptocurrency and things Like that I know some of your listeners Will disagree with me this part is part Of my own ignorance of cryptocurrency But I'm conservative lowercase C and the Way I think about fiscal issues I worry About that I am a believer that there are certain Areas where the federal government Should play more of a role And there are other areas where things Should be left to the localities and so Sometimes that can code me one way or Another but I think I sound sometimes a Little more left or Center because on The social issues like definitely well That because well I mean there's other Explanations not to be grilling you too Hard no it's fair uh because you're also An exceptionally uh respected and Successful professor in the University System where sometimes there is a lean Towards the left and the other aspect is I think your viewpoints on Trump Uh where you're a strong critic yes Donald Trump yes

And I guess the question I want to ask Is you as a historian does that color Your perspective of History Can you do you ever catch yourself where Maybe your uh criticism of Donald Trump Might affect how you see the Civil War Like as you were completely diving in And looking at the Civil War are you Able to put aside your uh sort of the Current day political viewpoints no I'm Not I think we have to be honest that None of us are objective we strive to be Nonpartisan I really liked when you said That because I think it's an aspiration No one is objective we all have our Biases you know some people like Chocolate some like vanilla and it's Just that's just the reality right and Um as far as I know there's really hard It's very hard even to biologically Explain that and so Um my view Is that what a good historian what a Good scholar does I don't care what the Field is is you're self-conscious of Your biases And you try to recognize them as you're Doing your research And you make doubly certain that where Your research seems to reinforce your Biases that you actually have the Evidence to make that argument But I still believe even doing that that Someone with a slightly different

Perspective might read the same evidence In different ways that's what makes History vibrant So I I wrote this book in part as I say In the introduction because I was Self-critical watching Trump and the Things I quite frankly find deeply Dangerous about Donald Trump and about What happened on January 6th and I found I had not thought deeply enough about The roots of that in our society Because I don't believe Trump or any one Figure creates these kinds of movements That come out of a deeper history uh Just a small side tangent I do believe Your work is non-partisan but it's also Funny That there are a lot of people on the Right that would read your work and say That you're partisan and I think I think The reason that can happen sometimes not Strongly though I think you do a really Good job uh is like certain the use of Certain words also uh that I try to be Cognizant of that I try not to use words That trigger people's uh tribalism it's Kind of interesting so you have to be Also aware of that maybe when you're Writing history when you're writing in General is if if you're interested in Remaining you can put on different hats You can be carefree and just stay in Your opinion of criticizing Donald Trump Or or Joe Biden uh or you can be

Nonpartisan deliberately and that takes Skill probably and avoiding certain Triggering words and to me it's about Choosing your battles right so I tried To write Because I want everyone to read and I Actually think people on the left and Right have a lot to learn from this History so many people have said to me Around the country this is history I Wish I had known before Um but there are moments when I use Words that I know are controversial Because I'm trying to show there's a Fact base behind them so white supremacy Does exist I've had people say I don't Think that's I think that's a Politically correct term or it's a woke Term it can be used in the wrong ways One should not go around calling Everything one doesn't like that uh but The Confederates were white supremacists And I use that word because I think it's An accurate descriptor and we need to Recognize that that is a part of our History but that does trigger some People and because that that language is Used to mean other things currently so The the Press will take on certain terms Like white supremacists then label Everybody white supremacist uh like a Lot of people that basically are in the Right or something like that they use This outraged language and that actually

Ruins the ability to use the language Precisely exactly for historical that's Exactly right that's exactly but you do Have to unfortunately we do have to no Actually people disagree you might Disagree with this but I I tend to try To avoid like take on the responsibility Avoiding that language Um like if the Press is using a certain Kind of language I try to avoid it yeah What might what I try to do is sometimes Avoid it but where I think the language Is necessary yeah to be precise but also To contextualize So I don't call the confeder all Confederates white supremacists but I Point out where white supremacist ideas Have influenced them Right and I point out where certain Individuals are doing things that Resonate with that but I'm against these Kind of blanket labels and categories And you also have to speak about Vice Supremacism in that context in a nuanced Way so people use white supremacist Without thinking what that means and They just use it as a slower word like This evil person but white supremacist Is also just an ideology that a lot of People have believed throughout Supremacy what a white Black Supremacy whatever Supremacy uh Believing that some people are better Than others some group is better than

Another and there's been Nations built Around these kinds of ideas and a lot of Human history is built around those Ideas it's not just evil people believe In this we in in the United States of America believe this kind of ideology is Not productive it's unethical but those Ideas have been held by a lot of people And not like Fringe groups right uh but Majorities of Nations right I'd say the Same about anti-semitism And there are many people who are not Anti-semites but don't recognize that They're carrying around or promoting Anti-semitic ideas or anti-semitic myths Is the thought that's been held by a lot Of people and you need to be convinced Out of it Um that that requires conversation and Being empathetic It's not just calling somebody Anti-semite and you're evil because if You've ever said something that's kind Of a dog whistle against Jewish people You have to be open-hearted to that These These are ideas that you have to Contend with that that you have to Um ultimately I think Heal The Division behind those ideas by Having empathetic conversations with People as opposed to again throwing poop I just like saying poop all right oh I Got a challenge for you Given that you uh

Have been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump Can you say one thing you like and one Thing you don't like about Donald Trump And perhaps can you do the same for our Current President Joe Biden one thing You like when you think you dislike so It's harder for me to do the one thing I Dislike because there's so many things I Dislike but the one thing I like uh About uh Donald Trump Um He believes that um America Should be a better country he I disagree On what he thinks it should be but he's Not someone he's not a declinist he's Someone who believes the world could be Made better I disagree with what he's Trying to do I disagree with how he's Trying to do it but I like the fact that He thinks it can be better his whole Argument for himself is that he can make Things better I don't think he can but I Think things can be made better so I Like the second half of that sentence When he says I can make things better Take the eye out I like that can be Better because there are too many people On the left and the right Who think that the you know that we Can't make things better we have to Accept them as they are or they're Getting worse uh I I think a world

Without hope is horrible and I think What he has offered his followers is a Kind of hope so underneath his message Is an a kind of optimism for the future Of this nation yeah it's a narcissistic Optimism but it's still an optimism yes That that he he's promising that if you Elect him again he will make things Better And I think people need to be told and We need to believe that we can make Things better so that part I accept and I reject those who say We can't make things better my whole Historical career is about showing that History gives us tools to make things Better So I like the idea of trying to make Things better and giving people hope and Reason to believe that things can be Better what's the main thing you dislike About Donald Trump I I think he has uh No concern or care for the welfare of Anyone other than himself So assuming I'm a basic human psychology Perspective And I I think he doesn't even care about His children I think he's just I think It's it's him I think he's gone into a Rap and Holly might not always have been This way I did watch him a long time in New York City when I was growing up in New York and I think he's been in this Path and I think it's an extreme it's a

Clinical kind of narcissism So do you when you analyze presidents And you've written about presidents you Don't just look at policies and so on You look at the human being of course You have to Leadership is about human being policy Matters it's one part of the equation But it's not the only part what about uh Joe Biden uh what do you like and what Do you dislike about so what I like About Joe Biden is in contrast to Trump I think Joe Biden really right now in His career Sees his role as The Shepherd of Democracy he really believes that it's His role as president to make our Democracy more stable And more vibrant I think he really Believes I think that's why he's doing What he's doing right now and he comes From that system the political system That basically the the process of Democracies he's worked there for many Decades it's all he's done yeah that's All he knows that he and he wants that To propagate For Better or For Worse and He's not an extreme Democratic partisan At all he's actually he's actually a Pretty middle-of-the-road guy on most Issues um some people don't like him for That but I think he is about he is about Democracy Um what do I dislike about Biden I think

He does not have the capacity Right now to provide the language and The public discussion of where our Country should go He doesn't have a he doesn't have a Language to inspire and build Enthusiasm for the future That'll probably be one of my I mean Because I'm a sucker for great speeches And so for me that's definitely a thing That stands out for several reasons one In a time because we've been facing so Many challenges like the pandemic It just seems like a like to me it seems Like an easy like layout There's so many troubles we're going Through that just require a great Unifying president or the great like Just if I were to speak uh candidly About kind of the the speaking ability Of Obama for example Obama would just Destroy this right now both on the war In Ukraine on the pandemic all of it the Unified there's a hunger for unification I believe maybe people disagree with That because they've they've I think People have become cynical in that the Divisions that we're experiencing are Kind of already really baked in they're Really they're really planted their feet But I don't think so I think there's a Huge hunger maybe a little bit of a Quiet hunger for a unifier for a great Unifier I agree I agree and I think

What's what a great speech does is it's Like a great piece of music or poetry it Helps you see something in yourself and Feel something you didn't feel before it Doesn't overcome all different I don't Think that speeches are unifying but I Think what they are is they're Mobilizing and you can mobilize people To the same mission with different Points of view Do you think Trump derangement syndrome Is a medical condition Um also is there such thing as uh Biden Derangement syndrome what I mean by that I said it's a it's a funny kind of Question but why are people so deeply Outraged Seemingly Beyond Reason at their hatred Or support of Donald Trump but hatred in Particular I've seen a lot of friends And people I respect Like lose their mind completely yeah So I'm not sure it's a medical condition Or not because I'm not a medical doctor So I you know my kids say I'm the wrong Guy in the doctor I'm I'm a doctor so Let me take you from here no uh P the Fact that you get the doctor sign after Getting a PhD is a ridiculous hilarity To me hilarious ridiculous so as as the Wrong kind of doctor I'll say I'm not Going to comment on whether it's a Medical condition but I do think you're On to something

Um I think there is a way in which Um these men become Touchstones of anger and there's all Kinds of anger and anxiety that people Have And I've seen this in other historical Periods you you Center it on one person Uh in a way that's John Wilkes Booth in Lincoln He actually didn't have a personal beef With Lincoln It was that all the things he feared Were were manifest uh in that and I Think that's an old story and then it's Made worse by social media And the way we're bombarded and it's It's like It becomes a drug I mean they're people I know who hate Trump or Biden so much And just watch them It's not that they don't watch them it's That they do watch them right and it's Just sort of and it triggers you and and You get hateful and then you feel like You've done something by shouting out Your hate or typing in and and so I Don't know if it's a derangement Syndrome I think it's a it's a way in Which our energy gets channeled and Expressed in totally useless ways yeah That's an interesting psychology which Reminds me I need to explore that Because I've noticed that believe it or Not it's easy for me to believe but

There's people watching this right now Who really hate me And they're watching because they hate Me they hate the way I look the way the Way I speak the mumbling the all of that And they're still watching and I'd like To say that as I nervously try to Explain myself I like to say that that's Not a productive way I get it I understand there's a kind of because Because I What is it it's this is it the same Psychological effect when you see a car Crash and you keep staring yeah it's Some kind of thing that pulls you in Totally but I feel like it's that Feeling what this is probably slightly Different but you kind of want to you Want to maybe feel something and there's An anger in you already frustration from Day to day life life is hard and you Just want to channel that anger towards Something but I just the internet really Makes that easy for some reason and it Makes sense of your life that's the Problem it it for people whose lives are Chaos Hating you and blaming you gives order To their lives yeah if it makes you Happy please continue It seems to bother you though doesn't it Yeah I hate of any kind not towards me Just the people because I I think about Them and I I tend to think that most

People are amazing human beings and that Have a capacity do great things in this World and so I just think That's not a productive way of being Like psychologically for anything Whatsoever everybody has quirks that you Can hate but you just focus on the Really positive stuff and you celebrate That stuff and that feels good that has A momentum to it I guess the hate has a Momentum to it too and that's what I'm Trying to highlight if you follow the Momentum of hate that's going to maybe Feel good in the short term but it's not It's gonna [ __ ] you over more and more In your life and that's you have to be Cognizant of that as you interact with The internet I agree with everything you Said but I think people who do things That are influential and serious there Always are some people who hate them I suppose that but I wanted to show the Difference between philosophical Disagreement that borders on hate and Like uh what's called like hate watching Where you just which is what I would say TDs is which is your almost enjoying How much you hate this person you're Sitting in their hate and you forgot you Lose all reason you lose everything Your Capacity to think as an individual to Empathize with others use all of that You're in this muck of hate and you and It somehow it helps you make sense of

This particular difficult moment in your Life but otherwise it just it seems like A shitty way to live but disagreement Definitely I like disagreement but I Guess what I'm saying is and I and I Think this is your message too right is That um don't let the fact that people Don't like you or even that some people Hate you stop you from doing the right Thing think about how you can perhaps Trigger them less but don't stop what You're doing I I see too many this is Why I bring this up too many of my Students too many young very talented People who are afraid to take risks Because they're afraid that someone will Hate them and that can't get in your way Uh the reality is most people or there Will always be at least one person That will get they will have you back And they will support you and just focus On them as long as you're doing the Right thing uh focus on them for the Strength but in general I'm exaggerating Here but because most of the time 99 of People are supportive on the Internet It's just something about the human Psychology Um really stands out to you when Somebody criticizes well it's easy on The internet this is historically Different from where we were before and As a society it's very easy now to say Hurtful things to people and not have to

Even deal with them looking at you in The face one of the things that one of The things that encourages politeness is The fact that we're looking at one Another And I don't I we are naturally Programmed not to want the other person To be to react to us in certain ways but When we don't see their face It's very easy to say all kinds of Things uh let me actually comment on That point there's a lot of people on The internet that say that I don't uh Sort of push back on points or criticize People or ask the hard questions enough First of all oftentimes I disagree with That assessment but also I don't think you guys realize how hard That is to do when you're sitting with a Person I don't care about access I don't care About them being famous just on a basic Human level it's really hard to ask a Hard question From a place of except when I'm sitting Here you see me really ask me no this is A super fun I mean when there's Brilliant people like you there's Nothing to push back on that's it that's That's that's easy but there's a basic Human thing Uh that doesn't I think it's almost Easier to be a journalist like Journalists do this well where they they

Don't have a empathy for the person They're just asking the hard questions Uh so where were you at this time last Night because that's very suspicious It's in contradiction to what you said And they're just doing factual stuff and It if you actually truly have a Conversation within the human being you Empathize it's very difficult uh because They have a story they have a vision of Themselves that that they're the good Person and to call somebody a liar while Having empathy basically imply that They're a liar that's damn damn hard uh So anyway but I'm I'm well set I agree Trying to figure this thing out can you Make the case that the January 6th Storming of the US capital is the big Deal and can you make the case that it Is not a big deal I think the case is overwhelming that it Was a big deal and I opened the book With this before going back to the end Of the Civil War because I think it Echoes that moment Um you had a group of people who Um literally tried to stop The peaceful transfer of power And were intending and his overwhelming Evidence of this if they had caught the Vice president or the Speaker of the House To do bodily harm to them or to kidnap Them so this was a coup d'etat that is a

Definition of a coup d'etat when you try To capture and prevent elected officials From doing their job that's a huge deal That had happened before in our country In States I talk about this in Louisiana In Tennessee and places like that after The Civil War but it never happened in The capital that's a huge deal that is If I might say that's like third what we Would think of as third world behavior In our society and no offense to those From other parts of the world I'm just Trying to make a point is how we see That as happening somewhere else not Here that's a big [ __ ] deal Uh the case that is not a big deal I guess the case to make there is that They didn't succeed The case that is not a big deal is not That their intentions were not bad I I Don't see how you can Define defend Their intentions the cases uh that the Case there's not a big deal so they're a Bunch of clowns And uh yeah they broke in uh but in the End once they got in there they didn't Know what to do which is true And so you know I think a professional Couplotter would say these were the Amateurs And that they had no real chance of Succeeding because once they got into The capital they had no plan what to do Next what were they going to do you know

Steal stapler from Nancy Pelosi's office They didn't seem to have a plan and what Ended up happening they they left the Building would that that would be the Case that's not a big deal because their Intention was not to overthrow their Intention was to protest because if the Intention was to overthrow would be much More organized I think the evidence is Pretty overwhelming that they intended To to stop they were there to stop the Certification of the election they were There to prevent Donald Trump from Having to leave office they just didn't Have a good plan this was the Keystone Cops So you're saying there is some POS like Statistically some possibility that this Would have Succeeded at halting the basic process Of democracy you could imagine a Scenario where it might have if they had Gotten lucky sure if they had if they Had caught the vice president But what could have if they caught the Vice president they couldn't go on and Certify then he has to be there yeah but Don't you think that would resolve Itself through police action and so on My question is how much how much is this Individual Hooligans And how much of this is a gigantic Movement that's challenging the very Fabric well it's not a gigantic movement

But it was a small coup d'etat that Could have actually made the transition Much more difficult was there a scenario Where Donald Trump stayed in office Legitimately no but was there a scenario Where they created a great deal of chaos That further undermine our democracy Actually yes here's how it would happen Right they capture Pence right they Either kidnap him and try to Ransom him Or they which is what they were trying To do with the Michigan governor Governor Whitmer or they kill him and Then Donald Trump says okay well there's No vice president so you can't certify The Senate would choose someone else to Be vice president but Donald Trump says No that's not legitimate I think it's Possible Donald Trump would say Something like that absolutely I disagree with you he said that morning That Penn should not certify he said That morning but there's a difference Between sort of Twitter rhetoric no no He said it at a rally sure rally Rhetoric and there is a threshold it Feels like a big leap he asked people Around him in the Oval Office how he Could make that happen he tried to get a New person appointed attorney general Who would do that he tried to find legal Justification for it I I think the Evidence is overwhelming that Trump was Supportive of efforts after the election

Didn't go the way he wanted to keep him In office And and whether that's legally Actionable and whether one thinks that Means he's a bad president or not isn't A matter of opinion but facts are facts Yeah I just wonder if it's possible for Him to have stayed president in this in This kind of context you know he seems Like a heated just like you said Elections can even be violent uh they're They're heated people are very upset When Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 I was in Cambridge Massachusetts Uh the amount of anger Uh I was just get the energy I was Getting from people I mean that I if if There was any way to channel that anger I think people would be in trouble but Let's but let's anger yeah I agree with That and that is right and elections are Violent as I said but this is different This this is the person in the office of The presidency using the power of the Presidency to try to stay in office to Imperil people's lives to distort our Government on a scale we had not seen Before and and these are not opinions of Mine we have the documentary evidence we Have the testimony from people about This we can differ over what you think Of his presidency as a whole We can differ over whether you think he Should be held legally responsible those

Are matters of opinion but the facts are He sat on January 6th watched it on TV Did not send ever Ever did he ever send any protection for Congress that is his job And throughout asked continue to ask how This could the certification could be Prevented to you that's not incompetence That's malevolence absolutely If I watch my children Getting harmed and I don't do something About it I'm watching it and in fact I Take action that tries to help those who Are doing the harm you would not just Say I'm an incompetent president you Would apparent you would say it was a Negligent parent and you'd call parental Support to take away my children I was troubled by the way the Press Covered it that they politicized the Crap out of that Um And not not just the Press but also Congress itself it just seemed like Impeachment and all this that just Seemed to be a kind of circus that Wasn't interested in in democracy or Non-partisanship I don't so it's very difficult for me to See the situation in with clear eyes Because it's been colored by the Press I Got it's very difficult for me to know What is even true Members of Congress

Including our members of Congress from Our district and others right Their lives were threatened They've been traumatized I have a lot of students at least a Dozen who are staff members More than half are Republicans Part of what traumatized them Was that the president did not do his Job to not protect them yes as a child Would be traumatized not only if harmed By someone but if Mom and Dad don't do Everything they can one of the things That makes people feel safe is they know Their parents they know their personal Authority can't always keep them safe But they want to know the person's Always trying I agree with you that They're listen I'm a I'm somebody that Believes in this kind of idea of family Especially people I work with that that To me is a high ideal to protect but That's a little bit different it's his Job that's a little bit different than Protecting democracy those are two Different things protecting the your Employees and protecting democracy is an Ideal no you could say he didn't protect Either but I think the criticism that he Didn't protect the employees is one Thing but the employees in this case are The ones carrying out democracy so it's Like saying the general who doesn't Protect his soldiers is maybe not

Protecting his employees he's also not Protecting the war effort right it is His that the people we're talking about The people who are actually doing the Work of democracy at that moment the Most basic function of democracy which Is certifying votes And their lives with I I I'm telling you I had I had students one who works for Senator Romney for example who spent Hours in a closet Hearing people outside looking on her Phone when is the president sending People to protect us so we can do our Job and she was not happy with the way The election turned out but she was There to do her job because she believes In democracy to serve as the senate in The Senate's rule what should have Donald Trump done without turning him Into a different human being he should Have immediately It the just as we were watching things Get breached the moment they had that The members of the house and the senate Had to evacuate their respective Chambers he should have immediately gone On TV and Twitter and every space he Could and tell his supporters to leave And say what he never said This is Un-American what you're doing This is unacceptable we never use those Words this is Un-American this is Unacceptable I am completely against

Anyone storming the capital like this go Home now please or you can use his own Language but tell him to leave yeah and Immediately as soon as we know he was Watching for hours and we have testimony From his own daughter from Ivanka saying She tried time and again to get him to Say something earlier on and he didn't He watched it He can still criticize All the politicians he can criticize Everyone he wants but he should have Told him to leave all you should do in That moment is basic a protecting Democracy protecting the capital Leaf Tell them to leave and do everything he Can to find any kind of force he can Give to go protect the capital I wonder how difficult it is to lose a Presidential election It's happened so many times we know I Understand that but it's uh Especially when like what is it you know Uh 80 million people vote for you or Like some like millions and millions and Millions of people vote for you it's Crazy it's crazy this democracy thing is Crazy George H.W bush yeah won a war in The Middle East right he had 90 approval Rating and then a year later lost the Election to someone Bill Clinton he Thought had none of the experience he Had someone didn't have he believed Didn't have the right moral character

And Bush did everything he could to help The next president get started well and They became good friends yeah George W Bush If didn't love Obama That's considered one of the smoothest Transitions George W bush ordered every Single person in his administration to Do everything they could to help the new Admit that's that's what a leader does Yeah humility is one of the things I Admire in leaders Well that felt heated Speaking of which uh can you just Linger On how how do you think we can heal the Divide in this country do you think it's Possible there feels to be a strong Division I think we can heal the Divide I think Um as you said there's so many Opportunities with new technology to Bring people together just as we're Using it to tear them apart Um I I have the best job in the world Because I get to teach so many students Uh of 300 in my class in the spring in a U.S history class and what I found with My students is they're mostly not Democrats or Republicans They mostly care about the same things Every one of my students seems to care About climate change I thought you're going to say Tick Tock But okay yeah second second to that

Climate change you know and and I think They um I think they offer a a new future for us And here's what I'll say as a historian We go through cycles of division and Cycles of less division less Partisanship one moment when it seems People agree too much on the mainstream Encourages people to go to the extremes When people see the extremes they want To come back to the middle and that is Where my students are most of my Students want uh lower inflation They agree with Republicans on that but They want more more to be done about Climate change they're they're in the Middle on these issues and and I think Giving them more more opportunity so What's the best way to heal our Divisions honestly Get the old men out and the young women And men in because they ultimately don't Have that same division in them like Deeply baked in not only that they they Were they they find it disgusting in the Way you and I do yeah that's true what's The right way to have conversations I Mean just just to stay on that with People on the left and the right Uh yeah I mean I don't know how often You practice this you care about Politics how often do you talk to people Who um who voted for Trump or who are Republicans it's hard I try but it's

Hard 75 of people I talk to Are not those people do you have people Who are trying to support it in your Extended family Thanksgiving no I don't in my extended Are they are they no longer No longer in my family yeah I have taken them out of the photos yeah You just erase yeah I do uh but I know P I have friends yeah who fall into that But it's it's still a minority of my Friend group so I want to you know be Clear that I'm not as good at this as I Should but I think we do have to reach Out but but I also I I'm less interested Honestly in Re-fighting old battles with old dogs I'm more interested in finding ways to Get a new crop of people Educated and involved and engaged Without imparting the same the same Partisanship on them so I I will support I mean this I have to I will support and Encourage especially any student of mine But any young person who is smart has Good ideas I don't care whether I don't Ask whether a Democrat or Republican and I have given money to some young Candidates who are not Democrats Um so that that's the way I I think it's It's a generational change And I think it's reaching out uh and Trying to Get people to see beyond partisan

Divisions who are in their 20s and teens Rather than that's why we do our podcast That this is democracy Zachary and I do That my son and I because we're exactly That you will never hear an episode Where we take one side or another our Goal is to explain the issue whether It's uh the challenges of democracy in China Or it's climate change or whatever it is Or its memory of war in our society and To explain the issue and then offer People an optimistic pathway that's on Either one side nor the other so Actually to push back a little bit on Young people I do see that uh this is The exhaustion with the sort of Partisanship but I've also and this I Think is the case throughout history and I see it now especially in the in the Teenage years Especially if I'm being asked with boys There's a desire for extremism in Various directions all kinds of Extremism like just extreme Awesomeness or extreme anything just Extreme and F the man that tries to make Me behave this kind of energy and that's Why you can take any ideology basically Any extreme ideology stops being Exciting whether you're a Marxist or a Communist you're not just going to be Like for socialized health care you're Gonna be like no no no no let's go full

Hammer and sickle yep I'm gonna wear red And then the same with the white Supremacy or uh just a red pill this the Way you you see you the way you see Society the way you see the world the Extremism is there and part of that it's Kind of uh to steal that perspective and It can be productive that energy if it's Controlled and especially if we have Institutions that keep it a little under Like control one of the criticisms I Have with with a lot of people have I I'm I'm actually much more moderate than That criticism of universities as they Give a little too much power to the 18 Year old who just showed up with their Marxist like books and so on and they They want to burn the whole thing down That's beautiful but the whole process Of the universities get different Viewpoints educate uh more make that Person's Viewpoint more sophisticated Complex nuance and all that kind of yeah I think you're right but I think that's More talk than action in my experience There is especially among young men You're absolutely right there is a Valorization of the tough guy Because most men 18 and 19 are still not Fully comfortable in their masculinity However they're going to Define it and So a way of of Performing that is being Extreme in one way or another and and I've definitely seen that but I think

It's it's more often than not rhetoric And actually There's a very strong power of peer Pressure and Conformity that works on Young people and the positive side of That now is the peer pressure among them Is not to join one party or the other It's to say this is this is terrible Look at how our parents are screwing Things up and they're right and I think We can lean into that and get a lot of Positive creative action uh out of that On universities you brought this up a Few times and and I think we have to be Careful I think you and I agree on this Um it's not that universities are free Of bias the universities especially Large universities whether it's UT MIT Yale whatever we're talking about right Uh they're large complex Empires And most universities people in the Arts Tend to be a little left of center at Self-selection Those in engineering tend to be pretty Much in the middle and those at Business Schools tend to be right of Center And so I think we need to be careful not To to generalize Um you know at the University of Texas There's as much influence from the Business school and the athletic Department as there is from the Humanities uh so it's not a left-leaning Campus and that's also true at at Yale

You have the School of Management and You know you have a huge uh medical School right people who are very Professional uh and less political on a Lot of these issues so so I think we Have to be careful I think there's Certain pockets of things But some of that you're never going to Avoid right Engineers are always going To be the people who hey now what do you I'm sure who who who want to generally Find some objective measure and avoid Political interpretation right they want To find their objective measure I'm Surprised of how most people in like Robotics don't seem to they're afraid of Humans they run away from you precisely Precisely and and the Arts people are Always going to be more touchy-feely and The business people are always going to Like markets I mean my own personal Opinion on this is uh this is just me Talking Yeah and it's I don't know if it's Grounded in data but just my own Experiences it seems a lot of the things That people criticize about universities Comes from administrations from the Bureaucracies the faculty and the Students are even with biases are really Interesting people and all of their Different I wouldn't call them biases But different perspectives add to the Conversation it's the administrator too

Much of course you need just like with Institutions you need some but too much It becomes too heavy-handed and Um somehow that has been getting a Little bit out of hand at a bunch of Universities just too much too much Administration and I don't know what the Mechanism is to let to make it more Efficient but that's been always a Struggle maybe the public criticism is The very mechanism that makes Universities the administration smaller Absolutely we have we have those issues And off you can also say Athletics has Gotten out of control sure yeah Like you said you co-host a podcast with Your son Zachary called This is Democracy what it's been Has a million question I can ask but uh Just that pops the memory what's been a Challenging or maybe an eye-opening Conversation you've had on it Oh we've had a lot of eye-opening Conversations our most recent episode Um is an episode on the German right as As I'm sure many of your your listeners Know there was a group uh called the Reichberger I think they still exist in Germany they were actually led by a Former German Prince uh and Um they had been planning to assassinate The bundes counselor and we're Organizing all sorts of other efforts They do not believe that the current

German government is legitimate they Think the last legitimate government was The Nazi government they see the whole Post-war period is illegitimate this is The German far-right correct and we had On uh a member of the German bundestag Of their Parliament who's been involved In the investigations or in the Oversight of the investigations and Talking with her about the depth of These issues and the challenges they Face in Germany it's certainly not a Huge part of German Society but it's a Significant number of people probably More than 20 000 people who are part of This Um to me brought home How much of what we thought was the past Is still in the present and I think That's a recurring theme in our in our Show and our show is optimistic it's not About woes to the world it's actually About taking issues we take a topic each Week that's in the news we go back to Understand the history and we then use That history to make better policy to Talk about how to make better policy Today and in this case it was clear that Even in Germany there's a lot of Unfinished work in explaining to people And helping those for instance in the Former East where a lot of this group Has its support Why this government is legitimate why it

Operates the way it does and addressing Their concerns it it was strikingly Similar to some of the problems we have In our own yes that there's a Far Right Movement in Germany so you look at all Different parts of the world as well we Do we we did an episode recently on uh China on the effects of zero covid and The protests in China uh we've done a Number of episodes on the war in Ukraine Our our role each week is to have on Either a policy maker a scholar or an Activist who can help us understand an Issue and get Beyond partisanship so What's been eye-opening are some of the Details but what's also been eye-opening Honestly is how easy it is to have a Nonpartisan conversation It's not hard Uh we open every episode with a poem That Zachary writes he writes an Original poem I'll brag on my son he's The youth Poet Laureate in Austin right Now and he writes a poem on each topic What's the style of poetry usually you Know he's dark is he no he's usually He's he's often ironic ironic like with A bit of humor yes okay and he likes Word plays so he's not like a rebellious Dark uh teenager that's just no he's a Creative know-it-all Strong words he would probably disagree Um but what's interesting I was like You're the you know it all oh no

We do have a lot of followers uh and Most of them comment on him they don't Comment on me so I'm the junior partner You're the Yoko Ono of the partnership Correct I'm scared but what I will say And this is a really optimistic thing That I deeply believe if you frame Things properly you open with a poem you Open with questions not with partisan Positions uh even when we have someone On who's a known Republican or Democrat We can have a very non-partisan Conversation I mean of course we get Criticisms but we're almost never Criticized for being uh partisan one way Or the other it's not hard to do this You just have to make an effort to avoid The the partisan claptrap that we can All fall into focus on the humanity what Is your brilliant popular son Zachary Taught you about life Always taught me so much in his 18 years As has our daughter who's 20. two things Stand out he's taught me that um a new Generation has so much to offer And I don't just mean because he's smart And engaged as our daughter is too I I Also mean that you realize when you have A child That even though you're doing the same Things with them they see the world Differently and legitimately and it Reminds us that the world can be seen Legitimately in different ways

And it's not that he and I disagree on Major political issues it's actually the Small stuff that he sees differently Like in the details you see that you can Have a very different perspectives Exactly you have a very way different Way to draw to create a painting of the Same scene and then the other thing he's Taught me Um is as I said about the Poetry the Importance of the Arts I've always been A a lover of the Arts but it had always Been in some ways parallel to my Historical scholarship we need to do a Better job of integrating as as as the Greeks did right the Artistry all the Things we do we separate them as Disciplines but they're all deeply Connected this is what I like about your Podcast honestly is that you integrate All these things you'll have people on With AI you'll have a guy doing arm Wrestling you have all these things Together right and it's it's that these Worlds come together And there's a lot to gain by bringing The Arts and the sciences and all this Together it's an obvious thing to say But we forget yeah and it somehow it Becomes bigger than the individual Parts Um what gives you hope about the future You looked at especially with this book And just such a divisive Part of our history and the claim the

Idea that you carry through the book That that division still permeates our Society so what gives you hope I try to End the book on a very hopeful note Because I am hopeful I'm hopeful that These divisions were made by people and Can be unmade by people I do not believe That what I describe in this book The Division the the hate that we see today As well I don't think it's inevitable I think it can be actually corrected Quite easily And corrected easily by addressing the Challenges in our institutions the ways In which this history has been embodied In our institutions even though we're Different And uh through our own recognizing of it The gift of the last few years I don't Care whether you're a Democrat or Republican the gift of the last few Years is that we've been able to see the Horror around us and once you see the Horror you can do something about it What's dangerous is when the horror is There and you don't see it and it's Hidden it's been unmasked I don't care Where you stand I think I I I probably Spoken in about 25 30 cities about this Book every audience I've asked how many Of you have been shaken by the last four To five years and everyone everywhere Has raised their hand That's a gift that's Consciousness

Raising I grew up in a time in the 1980s Uh when we were concerned everyone was Apathetic that was what was was being Said we had lower vote voter turnout Than we have now people didn't seem to Care My students when I was a young person I'm still a young person I was a very Young Professor in the early 2000s my Students all wanted to work for banks They just wanted to make money the best Students wanted to go work for Goldman We're not in that world anymore there's Been a Consciousness raising Knowing there's a problem naming the Problem gives us a chance to fix the Problem And I think that's where we are as a Society now young people are excited to To solve the problem do you think the Individual Like if the young person is listening to This do you think the individual has Power in this absolutely I think the Individuals a huge amount of power now There's a demographic reason we've got All these old people who held on too Long look at the president look at Senate and look at any any institution And they're all we're reaching a Demographic Cliff unlike China we have a Large population that's coming up So there those who are watching now who Are in their 20s they're going to get to

Move into leadership positions much Faster than their parents did let's go Just yeah so that's one and then the Second thing is just what we're doing Here I mean social media when used Properly gives a platform to young People You know they don't have to go through The New York Times Like I Do Right This is why I do the podcast with my son Find other ways uh you reach millions of People And and this can be done you don't need To wait for the old guys to give you the Check mark that it's okay Just uh put on a suit get a haircut and Start speaking nonsense into microphone And uh yeah well also I mean have a very Neat place That's why I love you uh all right Jeremy you're an incredible human being Thank you for talking once more time Thank you for writing this important Book I I hope you keep writing and uh I Hope to keep uh talking to you because You're The Shining Beacon uh of Political hope I have here in Austin That would get uh that we get to enjoy I Want to thank you for having me on and Thank you for your show I think what You're doing is is so important and uh I Really deeply respect what you do Thanks for listening to this Conversation with Jeremy Surry to

Support this podcast please check out Our sponsors in the description and now Let me leave you with some words from Abraham Lincoln Nearly all men can stand adversity If you want to test a man's character Give them power Thanks for listening and hope to see you Next time

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