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Open to Debate

Open to Debate

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America is more divided than ever—but it doesn’t have to be. Open to Debate offers an antidote to the chaos. We bring multiple perspectives together for real, nonpartisan debates. Debates that are structured, respectful, clever, provocative, and driven by the facts. Open to Debate is on a mission to restore balance to the public square through expert moderation, good-faith arguments, and reasoned analysis. We examine the issues of the day with the world’s most influential thinkers spanning s ...
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Smart, witty, and thoughtful political conversations that break from the limits of the 24-hour news cycle and the 280 character limit. Listeners will come away with a deeper understanding of the history and implications of the issues that shape us and our environment, anchored in discussions about public policy, and supported by research. Open to Debate is a space for agreeable disagreement based on the belief that such exchanges are essential to the health of our democracy.
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The U.S. has provided more than $75 billion in aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia. Some Congress members question whether we have done enough to help, and they say increased funding sustains strategic interests and demonstrates support of democratic values. Those who say we should stop funding the war, argue that Ukraine can’t win and additio…
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The Alberta New Democratic Party leadership race is underway. In June, the party membership will select a new leader to replace Rachel Notley and square off against United Conservative Party premier Danielle Smith. Let’s meet the candidates and get a sense of what they’re about as we ask: Who wants to lead the Alberta NDP? On this episode of Open t…
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Religion has long shaped human civilization, and many have wondered whether it’s good for society. Those who argue “yes” say it offers a sense of identity and belonging and provides a moral compass to do good acts. Those who argue “no” say that religious beliefs are a source of historical and conflict and discrimination and can hinder social progre…
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The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new guidelines to address childhood obesity, affecting over 14 million children, including recommendations for weight loss medications and surgery. Those who consider the guidelines good medicine say that it is a step forward in recognizing obesity as a condition requiring a range of medical inte…
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With one billion active users across more than 150 countries, TikTok is by many measures one of the world’s most successful video apps — and half of Americans use it. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that could ban the social media company in the U.S. if its parent company, Bytedance, does not divest from it and requires TikTok to be …
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Taylor Swift achieved her billionaire status because of her talent, work ethic, and support from her fans. But some question whether any individual should be able to accumulate so much wealth. Those arguing they should point to philosopher Robert Nozick, who says if someone acquires wealth through just means, they are entitled to it. Those arguing …
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American women are, on average, paid 84 cents for every dollar men make, according to the Department of Labor. This wage gap has persisted despite near-record rates of women’s participation in the labor market, with wage gaps even larger for women in minority populations, and it’s estimated that pay parity will not be achieved until 2052. Should po…
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Trans rights are under attack throughout Canada. Policy changes in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have already constrained rights and other provinces, most notably Ontario, may be set to follow. At the same time, the Conservative Party is set to go all-in on the culture war ahead of the next federal election, and to throw trans people und…
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In a high-stakes presidential election year, in partnership with the Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Open to Debate is taking a look at more than a decade of the Citizens United Supreme Court case. The 2010 landmark decision that ruled the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government…
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During Black History Month, we reflect on a debate that confronts America’s complex history with racial and social inequality. How can we ensure fair treatment for all in the workplace, on campuses, and in our personal interactions? Is it possible to imagine a future beyond race? As we honor this month of remembrance and celebration, we revisit a c…
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Iran’s regional role has changed post-October 7, but is Iran a bigger global threat than we think? In partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, National Security Council and State Department veterans will debate in our Unresolved format Biden’s Iran diplomacy, Iran's use of proxies in the Middle East, its nuclear ambitions, and whether Ira…
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In January, former New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent died at the age of 87. Outpourings of grief, respect, and gratitude followed throughout the country, culminating in a state funeral in Ottawa. Broadbent’s legacy is the product of decades of tireless work as an elected representative and as an ambassador for the left at home and abroad. Hi…
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Couples have arguments over many topics. However, it’s through resolving conflict that both people in the relationship feel heard and seen. Psychotherapist, relationship expert, and New York Times-bestselling author Esther Perel says conflict when navigated skillfully can lead to growth, resilience, and a stronger bond. In this conversation with Jo…
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Whoever wins the 2024 election will soon face a critical decision about extending four trillion dollars in tax cuts expiring next year. Whether taxes will be raised, or cut is in question, against the backdrop of 34.1 trillion dollars in federal debt. For the past few decades, the Republican Party has embraced the belief that lower tax rates and le…
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Everybody loves a quadrilogy. In March of 2020, host David Moscrop and guest Amanda Watson discussed how we were managing our lives during the early days of the pandemic. Twice more the two discussed the pandemic, anxiety, and managing life during what felt like the end times. Now, Watson is back for a fourth time, at the dawn of 2024, to ask “What…
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Right now, climate engineers are working on new technologies, called solar geoengineering, that would reflect the sun’s rays away from Earth as a way to cool the planet. Those in favor argue it would be inexpensive and effective, and could buy us time to get carbon emissions down before the worst impacts of climate change. But others argue it would…
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The American Dream – the idea that anyone can achieve success in the U.S. through hard work and determination – is under scrutiny, and some worry it’s no longer achievable for the broader population. Those who agree say increasing healthcare, education, and housing costs create difficulty in having financial stability. Those who disagree argue that…
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Debate is a form of conflict that is played out through civility, and the capability to exchange ideas with people we disagree with. But what leads leaders and countries to fall into conflict? In this conversation with Retired U.S. Army General David H. Petraeus and historian Lord Andrew Roberts, guest moderator Xenia Wickett speaks with them about…
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After the 2020 election, former President Trump discredited the election results. The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s federal indictment on four charges are tied to his claims. The defense claims proof is needed he had planned to commit a crime and he conducted himself under legal advice. The prosecution argues his actions showed c…
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With polarization rising within our society and two wars encouraging division, people are feeling more afraid to engage with people who have differing perspectives. How can we solve that issue, build deeper connections, and get to know someone? New York Times columnist David Brooks says you help them feel seen and understood. John Donvan sits down …
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Today, humanity is thriving, but there are fears the good times will not last. Will tomorrow be better than today? Those arguing “yes” say people have better access to resources and technological advances are making us more prosperous. Those arguing “no” say there are widening socio-economic disparities, our globalized world is bound to collapse, a…
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In response to a surge in migrants and asylum seekers at America’s borders, the Secure the Border Act of 2023 aims to enforce stricter limitations on immigration, migrants, and more. Those arguing for passage say it is a necessary response to improve national security and modernize border security infrastructure. Those against it are concerned abou…
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From AI-generated paintings to writing scripts and novels, AI is challenging our endeavor to create, innovate, and connect. Will the human touch be obsolete? Those arguing yes say since AI-created art can’t experience human emotions, it will lack depth, and it will come at an economic cost for human artists. Those arguing no say it’s another tool i…
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Canada’s housing crisis continues with no end in sight. Shelter – a fundamental human need – is unaffordable for millions, and the surge in property value has created two classes, homeowners and non-homeowners. These two classes are often at odds, with competing interests. Those who wish to enter the market often prefer lower housing prices, while …
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The centrist group No Labels is planning a bipartisan nominating convention, leading to speculation that they may promote a third-party candidate for voters who don’t support Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Those who agree say a third-party ticket will affect the election by helping Trump get more votes and diluting opposition. Those who disagree say vo…
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How can you have meaningful conversations in increasingly divided times, whether it’s against the backdrop of American politics or the Israel-Gaza war? To author Mónica Guzmán, it’s by asking yourself, “What am I missing?” John Donvan sits down with Guzmán to talk about her work at Braver Angels, staying hopeful in times of conflict or during world…
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Artificial intelligence is already shaping the way we work, consume, and communicate with one another. It’s also shaping the way we govern ourselves – or, perhaps more accurately, the way we are governed. While we might imagine ways AI could shape better democratic processes, right now experts are worried about how such technologies can be used to …
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Are we the true authors of our actions – or are we guided by a preordained fate? From the days of Greek philosophers to the present, the notion of free will and the question of whether humans can make their own choices is as captivating as ever. Those who think that free will exists consider it foundational to a rules-based society since it holds i…
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