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Published on: May 26, 2015
Episode 68: Praising Political Realism and a Riga Recap

Good evening, listeners! We have an excellent episode for you this week, as our host Richard Aldous speaks with Jonathan Rauch about a new kind of political realism before welcoming Andrew A. Michta back to the show to discuss last week’s Eastern Partnership Summit and Polish elections.

First, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow and senior writer for National Journal Jonathan Rauch joins us to discuss his recent report that pushes back against the idea that political machines, back-room dealings and big money are necessarily detrimental to American governance. He argues that the real crisis in Washington today is not one of leadership, but of follower-ship, making it difficult to pass even majority-supported legislation. To that end, he suggests that the problem we face today is not one of too much politics, but rather too little, and that the popular and even idealistic political reforms often championed today will only work to slow down the political process even further.

Then, Andrew A. Michta, the M. W. Buckman Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, returns to the show to review last week’s meeting of European leaders in Riga. He says that while leaders walked away from the meetings with brave faces firmly on, the agreements reached won’t have satisfied the hopes of the six former Soviet republics involved. He discusses how those involved danced around the 800-pound gorilla—Putin’s Russia—and points to economic stagnation and electoral unrest as forces working against potential European enlargement. Then, he provides insight into the mood in Warsaw following what was in many ways a surprising election for Poland, and says the outcome encapsulated a trend common across the region—young people with little memory of Communism swaying results.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and follow our host Richard Aldous @RJAldous, Jonathan Rauch @jon_rauch, and Andrew A. Michta @andrewmichta on Twitter.

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