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The Argument

The Argument

The other side is dangerously wrong. They think you are too. But for democracy to work, we need to hear each other out. Each week New York Times Opinion columnists Frank Bruni, Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg explain the arguments from across the political spectrum. Their candid debates help you form your own opinion of the latest news, and learn how the other half thinks. Find the best ways to persuade in the modern search for common ground.

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Episodes

Whose Statue Must Fall?

Is America finally going through a social revolution? Or will empty gestures and virtue signaling by corporations and elite institutions drown out demands to overturn the country?s economic inequities? This week on ?The Argument,? Opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie joins Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg to debate whether the recent changes symbolize a true turning point, or whether institutions are merely placating a powerful movement that they in some ways fear.

Then, the columnists turn to rethinking memorials across America: Who deserves a statue? Whose statue should be torn down? And, going forward, what do we want America to commemorate as its collective inheritance? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-07-02
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Place Your Bets on Biden?s V.P.

Joe Biden has vowed to pick a woman as his running mate. But of the many qualified contenders, who should win the veepstakes? Michelle and Frank have different ideas as to whose name on the ticket could help push Biden to victory in November. Then, editorial board member Jesse Wegman joins Ross and Frank for a Supreme Court battle: has SCOTUS usurped Congress when it comes to legislating America?s culture wars? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-06-25
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Which Opinions Are Out of Bounds?

After The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton which called for a military response to civic unrest, readers and employees alike were in an uproar. In the two weeks since our last episode, a debate about what makes an idea worth amplifying has taken place inside the paper. This week, Frank, Michelle and Ross disagree about the publishing of the Op-Ed, and debate where the lines should be drawn around ideas too abhorrent to be presented in the public discourse. Then, a conversation about the reckoning across industries at the executive level. Is this #MeToo, 2.0, or something different? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-06-18
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Can Riots Force Change?

All across the U.S., thousands are taking to the streets to protest the repeated police killings of black Americans. Images of unrest blanket mainstream and social media: militarized officers shooting demonstrators with clouds of tear gas; buildings and cars engulfed in flames; broken windows and looted store-fronts that leave community facades undeniably altered. This week on ?The Argument,? what role can riots play in achieving social upheaval? Ross, Michelle and Frank disagree about the efficacy, and detriment, of riots as a tool for social change. Plus, a conversation about where the country and its leaders should go from here, and props to Atlanta's mayor. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-06-04
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Credibility and Converts: Revisiting Tara Reade and Jane Roe

As reporting on the sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden digs deeper into his accuser?s credibility, where does that leave the Democrats, the press and the #MeToo movement? The columnists debate Tara Reade and the court of public opinion around survivors and the accused. Then, what does Norma McCorvey?s "death bed" confession mean for the pro-choice and pro-life movements? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-05-28
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Did de Blasio Bungle the Crisis?

When New York?s coronavirus rates began to skyrocket in mid-March, they seemed like a portent for the rest of the country. But at this point, New York City has five times as many Covid-19-related deaths as the entire state of California, with just a quarter of its population. How much blame for New York City?s devastation should go to Mayor Bill de Blasio?s slow response and early downplaying of the danger? Has Gov. Andrew Cuomo earned the praise his briefings have brought him, given his questionable policy choices? debate who deserves blame for New York?s catastrophic mishandling of the crucial first weeks of the coronavirus. What mistakes led to the dispersion of the virus from the Empire State, and what lessons can be learned as other states start to reopen? Then, as the luxury of dining out becomes a distant memory and grocery aisles remain unpredictably stocked, what has quarantine done to the act of enjoying a meal? Plus an ode to humble staples that bring spice to life. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-05-21
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Bill Barr?s Junk Justice

Is Attorney General Bill Barr?s dropping all charges against Michael Flynn an utter breakdown of justice? Or is it absurd to fixate on Flynn and dredge the Russia investigation up again amid a pandemic? Ross returns to debate Frank and Michelle over just how alarmed Americans should be by recent actions of the Trump Justice Department. Plus, what, exactly, is Obamagate? Then, when it comes to coronavirus, are we too quick to blame the sick? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-05-14
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Who?s Afraid of Justin Amash?

Who would a third party candidate help in the 2020 presidential election? Would adding a Libertarian like Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan to the race hand President Trump his re-election? Or could Amash appeal to would-be Trump voters and goose up the Democrats? chance at victory come November? With Ross still on parental leave, Frank and Michelle are joined by the Republican strategist Liz Mair to discuss the power third party candidates hold in presidential races. Then, Michelle and Frank hop on a Zoom call to talk about the positives and pitfalls of our new era of video conferencing in both work and play.

For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-05-07
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When Science Is Partisan

How can a president who shows disdain for science manage a crisis that requires faith in it? Frank and Michelle debate the federal government's coronavirus response with Yuval Levin, a former policy adviser to President George W. Bush and the founding editor of the conservative journal National Affairs. They talk the fallout of a pandemic hobbled by junk science, understaffed (and under-heeded) federal agencies, and a commander-in-chief lacking management skills. Plus, anti-vaxxers, America's science illiteracy and "President 4chan." For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-04-30
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Does New York Survive the Coronavirus?

How will the coronavirus change New York City ? and what does the city?s response to the pandemic say about the rest of the country? In a special episode, Frank Bruni talks one-on-one with Ginia Bellafante, who writes The Times?s Big City column. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-04-23
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The Biden Accusation

What should we make of an allegation of sexual assault lodged against Joe Biden? Frank, Ross and Michelle weigh evidence that supports and casts doubt on Tara Reade?s account, discuss the news media?s handling of Reade?s story and debate the similarities and differences between her accusation and other recent claims of sexual misconduct leveled at powerful men. Then, is the pandemic giving socialism in America a new gloss? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-04-16
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Fighting Trump's Falsehoods

What?s the right way for the media to cover President Trump?s daily public briefings on the coronavirus pandemic? Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and the new co-host Frank Bruni debate whether the president is using journalists as foils, the ways in which his briefings have become a substitute for canceled campaign rallies and how his public pronouncements about the virus have become vectors for misinformation. Then, when everyone in America is socially distancing, how far apart is far enough? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-04-09
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The President vs. the Governors

How is coronavirus ? and President Trump?s response to it ? hitting blue states and red states differently? Ross, Michelle and David debate. Then, how should Joe Biden change his campaign strategy around Trump?s coronavirus fumbles? Frank Bruni joins in the argument. And finally, a bittersweet goodbye. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-04-02
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What's The Best Fix For a Recession?

As the coronavirus pandemic sends financial markets into a tailspin, strains gig economy workers and threatens the survival of businesses large and small, the columnists debate what policymakers should do to avert a virus-induced economic recession. Ross shares his own account of an increasingly American experience: feeling sick and waiting days for the results of a coronavirus test to come back. And an escapist recommendation worth a binge. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-03-26
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How Do We Vote in a Pandemic?

Coronavirus is causing change in daily life all over the world - but what should we be doing? And how long is this going to last? Editorial board health writer Jeneen Interlandi joins David and Michelle for a conversation about best practices amid the pandemic. Then, how do you hold a presidential election in the middle of a public health emergency? The columnist duo discuss voting in the time of coronavirus, and David recommends you give your future self the gift of recollection. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-03-19
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The Pandemic vs. The President

Is President Trump's underreaction to the coronavirus a reason for more draconian measures to lock down the pandemic? Would more efforts to control the spread by the Trump administration help or hurt the country's preparedness for the impact? Ross Douthat and David Leonhardt debate this, and Western society's descent into dangerous decadence, in this live podcast recording at The Times Center in New York City.

For background reading on this live episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-03-12
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How Biden Came Back

Super Tuesday has left the Democratic primary race with two clear front runners: Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. The columnists debate how we got here, and what this week's voting results mean for the rest of the 2020 race. Then, as the coronavirus epidemic approaches pandemic status, how alarmed should we feel and what can be done to limit the spread of the disease? Plus, Michelle suggests you walk through fire.

For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.

2020-03-05
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Trump Emboldened

Less than a month after the end of his impeachment trial, are we witnessing an emboldened President Trump? The columnists discuss Trump?s cascade of norm-breaking following his acquittal by the Senate ? and what it portends for the run-up to the November election. Then, would a proposed executive order aimed at ?making federal buildings beautiful again? be an aesthetic win for democracy, or mark a descent into architectural kitsch? Plus, feeding cheetahs. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.

2020-02-27
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Could Bloomberg Buy the Nomination?

Michael Bloomberg?s 2020 presidential candidacy is getting a boost from massive ad spending, but has it successfully hacked the attention of voters and the media? Will his newfound ascendancy survive a fuller airing of his record? Opinion writer Charlie Warzel joins Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt for the discussion. Then Charlie offers a grim explainer of (and some hopeful solutions to) the death of personal privacy in the digital age.

For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.

2020-02-20
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Are We Headed for a Bernie Sweep?

Is Senator Bernie Sanders on an unstoppable path to the Democratic nomination ? and if so, can he defeat President Trump in November? The columnists discuss the results of the New Hampshire primary and what they portend for the next contests in the race. Then, should Valentine's Day be canceled once and for all? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

Editor?s note: For full transparency, Michelle Goldberg?s husband is currently consulting for Elizabeth Warren?s 2020 presidential campaign.

2020-02-13
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What Did We Learn in Iowa?

What does the debacle of the Iowa caucuses mean for the trajectory of the 2020 Democratic race? The columnists discuss the Democratic electorate's neat split on the ground in Iowa, Bernie Sanders's path to the nomination, and whether the Hawkeye State still deserves its first-in-the-nation status. Then, how worried should we be about the Wuhan coronavirus ? and what does its spread say about China?s global standing? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-02-06
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Trump's Best Case Against Impeachment

President Trump hasn't tried to mount a logical case against removing him from office. But what if they did? Ross Douthat channels an argument the White House could instead be making instead. Then, Ezra Klein, the founding editor of Vox and author of the new book ?Why We?re Polarized,? joins Ross and David to discuss the roots, implications and future of America?s current era of partisan polarization. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-01-30
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Why Endorse Two Candidates?

Which 2020 Democratic contender would be the best nominee to take on President Trump? The New York Times editorial board gave its endorsement to two candidates -- Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar -- and the columnists disagree with it. Katie Kingsbury, who leads the editorial board and hosts "The Choice" podcast about the endorsement, joins the columnists to make the case for the dual endorsement. Then, David pitches his colleagues on an unorthodox thought experiment meant to help deflate America?s partisan tensions.

2020-01-23
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Introducing 'The Choice' from NYT Opinion

Since 1860, the New York Times editorial board has been endorsing a candidate for president (they went for the tall Republican that year). Historically they've made their decision after off-the-record interviews with the leading candidates, followed by intense internal debate over who would make the best leader for the era's particular needs. But this year the board is breaking its own rules and showing the work behind their endorsement. They're sharing all the conversations that led them to make their decision. "The Choice," a limited-run daily podcast from The New York Times Opinion section, brings you inside the boardroom every day for a different primary candidate's endorsement interview. You'll also get a daily bonus episode of the board's deliberations after the candidate leaves the room, and go deeper into a different key issue in the 2020 race. In our series finale, you'll hear the board debate all the candidates and make their final decision. Host Katie Kingsbury will join the columnists on "The Argument" next Thursday to make the case for the candidate the board endorses. Until then, tune in to "The Choice" to help you make your own. Produced by At Will Media.

2020-01-17
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Could Bernie Sanders Win It All?

Has Bernie Sanders been woefully underestimated? The columnists discuss the Vermont senator?s rise in 2020 polling, his current spat with rival progressive Elizabeth Warren and whether Sanders has been given short shrift by Democratic Party insiders and the national news media. Then, as Michelle talks through the next column she's writing: Technology was supposed to solve the world?s problems, but it seems to have made more unsolvable ones. Is tech why the future looks so grim? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-01-16
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Does Trump Have an Iran Strategy?

After an American drone strike killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran and heightened tensions in the Middle East, does President Trump have a plan for what comes next? The columnists discuss the nightmare phase of the Trump presidency, an ominous turn in modern international conflict, and the potential for relative stability. Then, the political scientist Lee Drutman joins the columnists to make the case for how America can and should move past its two-party political system. And Ross visits a pet store with a pro-family policy. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2020-01-09
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What We Got Wrong in 2019

In the last "Argument" of the year, the columnists gather 'round for a little holiday self-flagellation. After a look back on their biggest pundit mistakes of 2019, we hear from listeners about their political New Years' resolutions, and share some of our own. Then Michelle convinces Ross to give Damon Lindelof a second chance after all those hours he wasted trying to figure out "Lost." For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-12-26
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Impeachment Edition

After weeks of public hearings, debate and charges against President Donald Trump at long last, has impeachment actually changed anyone's mind? This week on ?The Argument,? the columnists talk polling, persuasion and public opinion on impeachment. Then, what do the results of last week?s British elections portend for Democrats in the U.S. ? and what does Brexit mean for the future of the U.K.? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-12-19
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Why Is the Democratic Primary So White?

The Democratic Party?s electorate is highly diverse, but its top-polling presidential contenders are all white. What gives? The columnists talk Kamala Harris?s exit from the race, Cory Booker?s failure to launch and the polling ascendancy of their white opponents. Then, ?ok boomer? is more than just a dismissive meme. From culture to politics, the columnists talk why we can?t escape the baby boomer generation. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-12-12
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Should College Be Free?

Should public colleges be tuition-free? Should student loan debt be forgiven? The columnists discuss Pete Buttigieg?s criticisms of his more liberal Democratic rivals? plans to reduce the costs of higher education, and debate the cost and funding of higher education. Then, birthrates around the world are falling. Anna Louie Sussman joins the conversation on the causes and implications of what she defined in her recent Times op-ed, ?The End of Babies.? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-12-05
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Are Public Impeachment Hearings Working?

Are the impeachment hearings moving the needle on public opinion? Times columnist David Brooks joins Ross and Michelle to discuss the Democrats? impeachment strategy so far. Then, is America?s tipping system immoral? The columnists discuss a recent column of David?s that takes issue with how gratuities impact service workers. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-11-21
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Will New Candidates Shake Up the 2020 Race?

Why are Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick flirting with jumping into the 2020 presidential primary this late in the game? The columnists debate what the pair?s maneuvers say about the state of the race and whether either stands a chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. Then, the anonymous author of a controversial Times op-ed is out with a new book about the resistance inside the Trump administration. The columnists discuss whether that resistance has been effective in constraining the president. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-11-14
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Is Mayor Pete the Answer?

Is Pete Buttigieg the best Democratic candidate to take on Trump? The columnists size up the South Bend mayor?s rise in Iowa and a new Times poll terrifying those who fear Trump?s re-election. Then: California is beset by catastrophic wildfires, growing income inequality and a decrease in overall livability. Are the state?s woes a leading indicator of America?s bleak future? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-11-07
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Should Facebook Be Fact-Checked?

Should Facebook be more strict when it comes to fact-checking political ads? The columnists debate growing concern over the social media giant?s role in American politics. Then, the writer Tara Isabella Burton joins Ross and Michelle for a Halloween-inspired discussion of astrology, witchcraft, the decline of religious observance and American millennials? growing interest in the occult. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-10-31
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How to Win Impeachment

Impeachment seems destined to end with President Trump?s acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate. But is there anything Democrats can do to change that outcome? The columnists debate the Democrats? impeachment strategy so far. Then, they discuss the increasing rise of deaths from drug overdoses, alcohol and suicide. What?s driving these so-called ?deaths of despair,? and what ? if anything ? can be done about them? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-10-24
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The Other Candidates Are Coming for Warren

Under attack from Democratic rivals, can Elizabeth Warren hold on to her new front-runner status in the 2020 presidential primary? The columnists discuss the fallout from the fourth primary debate, where all the attention was on the senator from Massachusetts, and where the race could go from here. Then, ?The Argument? celebrates its first birthday! After a full year of disagreeing with each other weekly, the columnists reflect on moments in their careers where their own minds changed. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-10-17
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Is the Threat of Impeachment Emboldening Trump?

Is the threat of impeachment making President Trump more erratic ? and more dangerous? Jamelle Bouie joins Ross Douthat and David Leonhardt to discuss Trump?s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria and his defiance in the face of Democrats? impeachment inquiry. Then, with the conservative-leaning Supreme Court back in session and a slew of big cases on the docket, should Democrats answer Republicans? constitutional hardball with court packing? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-10-10
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Will the G.O.P. Turn Against Trump?

As evidence mounts that Donald Trump abused the power of the presidency, could members of his own party start to turn against him? The columnists debate Republicans? response to the impeachment inquiry, Trump?s proliferating scandals and Attorney General William Barr?s efforts to undermine the Mueller report findings. Then, whose armrest is it anyway? The columnists debate airplane etiquette. Warning: Sexual violence is briefly mentioned in the final segment of this episode. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-10-03
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Get Ready for Impeachment

Is the impeachment of Donald Trump finally just a matter of time? The columnists discuss how the president?s attempt to pressure a foreign government to undermine a political rival quickly turned a progressive pipe dream into an inquiry backed by most House Democrats. Then, the other 2020 primary: three eclectic Republicans running to unseat the incumbent president of their own party. What do their quixotic campaigns say about the state ? and the future ? of the G.O.P.? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-09-26
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Can We Talk About Biden?s Age?

Is Joe Biden?s shakiness on the stump a sign that he?s just too old to run for president? Or is it just proof that some of his critics are ageist? The columnists debate the state of Biden?s 2020 campaign. Then, has ?cancel culture? run amok? Or is it a deserved consequence for conduct society shouldn?t tolerate? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-09-19
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Can Republicans Escape Racism?

Is the Democratic Party prematurely winnowing its crop of presidential candidates? The columnists discuss the narrowing 2020 field, and whether the D.N.C.'s arbitrary criteria is stripping ideological diversity from the Democratic debates. Then, can American conservatism exist free of racism? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-09-12
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Are Democrats Throwing Away the Senate?

Are Democrats already blowing their best chance to take the Senate back from Mitch McConnell next year? This week on ?The Argument,? the columnists talk the state of the other 2020 race(s) worth paying attention to. Then, a conversation with Times editorial board member Binyamin Appelbaum about how much we should blame economists for the rise of income inequality. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-09-05
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One-on-One With Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson, the primary candidate infusing spirituality into the Democratic debates, sits down with Ross Douthat to discuss her journey to faith, her writings on illness and disease and how religious and spiritual language have inflected both the country?s history and the current political climate. Then, Michelle Goldberg joins Ross to debate Williamson?s candidacy, record and New Age messaging. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-08-22
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Is Josh Hawley the Future of the G.O.P.?

Is Missouri Senator Josh Hawley the future of the Republican Party? Ross Douthat sits down with the first-term lawmaker to discuss the conservative case for cracking down on powerful tech companies and reducing the price of prescription drugs. They discuss who the 2017 Republican-passed tax law really helped and whether conservative economic populism can exist free of President Trump?s racism. Then, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt join Ross to debate Hawley?s ideas. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-08-15
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Does Trump Help Fuel Mass Shootings?

How much responsibility does President Trump bear for violence motivated by racism? The columnists discuss gun control, the recent shootings in El Paso, Tex. and Dayton, Ohio and their connections to Trump's dehumanizing statements about immigrants. Then, several 2020 Democrats took shots at Barack Obama?s legacy during last week?s presidential debates. Were they just trying to undermine Joe Biden?s appeal, or does the breakup with the most recent Democratic president signify something deeper? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-08-08
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Is Impeachment Finally Happening?

Did Robert Mueller?s testimony before Congress bring Democrats any closer to impeaching President Trump? The columnists debate the fallout from the former special counsel?s testimony. Then: You asked, the columnists answer. Ross, Michelle and David tackle listener questions about climate change, Puerto Rico?s political crisis, student debt-forgiveness and more. And finally, David?s recommendation of the week is the last straw. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-08-01
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Why Isn?t Trump Trying to Win the Center?

Presidents running for re-election often appeal to the political center. So why isn?t Trump? Op-Ed columnist Jamelle Bouie joins Ross Douthat and David Leonhardt to discuss Trump?s refusal to moderate and his possible pathways to win a second term. Then the columnists debate whether Democrats should be fighting about busing and desegregation in 2019. Finally, Jamelle recommends a collection of recipes sure to curry favor with adventurous eaters young and old. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument

2019-07-25
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Will Trump's Racism Sink the G.O.P.?

Trump's racism presents an existential challenge to Republicanism. Has he fully transformed the G.O.P. into the Party of Trump? The columnists argue about the limits of Trumpification and how it has stripped away the Republican mask of economic libertarianism in favor of grievance-based politics. Then, fellow Op-Ed columnist Farhad Manjoo joins his colleagues to debate the case for pressing the pronoun ?they? into wider use. Is "they" the solution to society?s prison of gender expectations? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.

2019-07-18
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What Is Nancy Pelosi Thinking?

Can corporate America be a force for social liberalism? Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt debate the corporatization of Pride Month, Nike's about-face on the Betsy Ross flag and the political efficacy of ?woke capitalism.? Then they discuss the tensions roiling Democrats in the House of Representatives. By lobbing criticism at progressive members of the caucus, just what is Speaker Nancy Pelosi playing at? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.

2019-07-11
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Is Biden Doomed?

Was Kamala Harris?s debate-stage takedown the beginning of the end for Joe Biden?s frontrunner status? Columnists Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt take stock of the 2020 Democratic primary so far. Then, are the presidential candidates moving too far to the left? How can the party build a winning coalition? How should they weigh economic versus cultural issues? And which candidates will be able to pivot for a general election audience? For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.

2019-07-03
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