Alexander Heffner

Alexander Heffner is host of The Open Mind on PBS and co-author of A Documentary History of the United States.

 

Recent Articles

The Super State Strategy

Grassroots organizers Ethan Todras-Whitehill and Catherine Vaughan of Swing Left discuss their plans to restore democratic accountability.

The Open Mind explores the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, and the arts. The American Prospect is re-publishing this conversation. These are two leading organizers in the movement to rebuild and preserve American democracy: Ethan Todras-Whitehill is the cofounder and executive director of Swing Left, and Catherine Vaughan is the chief strategy officer of Swing Left. She was previously the CEO and cofounder of Flippable, an organization to support candidates running for state office. This year Swing Left recently launched a Super State Strategy for 2020 designed to organize victories across the White House, the U.S. Senate and state in 11 so-called Super States so that volunteers and donors can multiply their impact up and down the ballot. Alexander Heffner : What are you hoping to accomplish by January 2021? Ethan Todras-Whitehill : I think obviously we’d like to see a new occupant of the White House. I think everyone would agree that’s the most...

Authoritarian Past and Future

Yale University professor of philosophy Jason Stanley discusses his book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them

The Open Mind explores the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, and the arts. The American Prospect is re-publishing this conversation. As we witness the rise of authoritarianism in the United States and around the globe, Yale University philosopher Jason Stanley has authored How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them . Donald Trump’s rendition of these tactics, according to Stanley, “uses emotion to circumvent reason, to overwhelm reason, wanting us to get the situation in which there’s such fear and suspicion that the only happiness is winning over his enemies.” A lexander Heffner : How would you describe your peak concern right now about the demagogues’ not just survival, but permanence in the United States? Jason Stanley : I think my peak concern is with the idea that political opponents are traitors. And so if political opponents are traitors, then people are wanting to think that any tactic is legitimate to suppress them:...

The Story of Climate

Science Journalist Jon Gertner discusses his new book The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future.

Sandy Virgo/AP Photo
Sandy Virgo/AP Photo An aerial view of melt water lakes on the edge of an ice cap in Nunatarssuk, Greenland, June 22, 2019. The Open Mind explores the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, and the arts. The American Prospect is re-publishing this conversation. As climate change becomes increasingly important to the electorate, science journalist Jon Gertner has authored the new book The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future . He explores the history of an ice sheet that he says is critical to understanding the present and future climate crisis. Alexander Heffner : For those who might not be familiar with Greenland, give us an overview. Jon Gertner : Most of Greenland is covered by an enormous ice sheet, which is covering I think about 80 to 84 percent of the island. This ice sheet is a remnant of the last ice age and there are only really two remaining ice sheets left on earth. One is in Greenland...

Deferred Dreams of Brown and Grutter

Educators Ronald Crutcher and Lorelle Espinosa discuss a landmark report on race and ethnicity in higher education.

The Open Mind explores the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, and the arts. The American Prospect is re-publishing this conversation. The Trump administration and the re-energized conservative Supreme Court majority may be on the cusp of banning affirmative action. Yet a landmark American Council on Education report, Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education , concludes the grave need for greater equity. “There are myriad factors that inform educational access and success such as income, wealth, geography and age ... yet it remains the case that race is a prevailing factor in many educational outcomes.” University of Richmond President Ronald Crutcher and ACE Vice President Lorelle Espinosa discuss. Alexander Heffner : What today is most defining that latter question of whether or not you will succeed in the higher ed setting? Ronald Crutcher : If you don’t pay attention to disparities with respect to race, that is if you pretend or everyone is...

Impeachment and the Righteous Republicans

Historian Brenda Wineapple discusses her new book The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a New Nation.

The Open Mind explores the world of ideas across politics, media, science, technology, and the arts. The American Prospect is re-publishing this conversation. Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, and the righteous Republicans led the first ever impeachment in American history. After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated—the first U.S. president to fall victim to assassination—the country entrusted its survival to an accidental president, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee who had forged a unity ticket with Lincoln for reelection. Despite Lincoln's assessment that Johnson was, in his words, “a good man,” the new leader abandoned the promise of emancipation and enfranchisement. Historian Brenda Wineapple, author of the recently released The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation , discusses this history and its contemporary relevance. Alexander Heffner: Why did Lincoln think that he needed to pacify his motivation to end slavery and...