Arthur Brooks has held many roles in his life: professional French horn player in Barcelona, leader of the American Enterprise Institute, and now a professor of happiness at Harvard. The author and social scientist has a new book on the subject, “Build the Life You Want,” co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, coming out in September 2023. Arthur joined David to talk about the science of happiness, the relationship between new technology and waves of populism, how America’s dignity gap influences its politics, and the need to rebuild human connection.
Aug 17, 2023
John Podesta was looking forward to retirement when he got a call from the Biden administration asking him to serve as the senior adviser to the President for clean energy innovation and implementation. A long-time advocate for the environment in the nonprofit and political sectors, he decided to jump back into the fight. John talked to David about his childhood on the Northwest side of Chicago in a close knit family, how anti-Vietnam activism led to his involvement in politics, why he worries more about America today than he did in the 1960s, and his leadership role on environmental protection and climate during the Biden presidency.
Aug 10, 2023
After seven years as the host of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” John King is stepping away from the anchor desk and returning to his reporter roots, traveling the country to talk to Americans across the political spectrum ahead of the 2024 presidential election. John joined David to talk about his start in journalism at the Associated Press and his move to television, his multiple sclerosis diagnosis and his decision to speak out about the disease, and the challenges of working in the news industry during the time of Trump.
Aug 3, 2023
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Adrian Perkins decided to forgo the traditional job at a top-tier law firm, instead opting to return to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana as a candidate for mayor. After one term, punctuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Perkins fell short in his reelection campaign, but he hasn’t lost his dedication to his hometown. On the latest Axe Files, Adrian talked about his “superhero” mother, his time in the military, his tenure as mayor of Shreveport, what motivates his service, and his mission to inspire young people.
Jul 27, 2023
As a child, Sen. Tammy Baldwin suffered a months-long illness, leaving her with a preexisting condition that made obtaining health insurance impossible. The experience inspired her to pursue public office, first locally from her home in Madison, Wisconsin, and later as a member of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Baldwin joined David to talk about healthcare, tackling the mental health and opioid abuse crises, GOP culture wars, and working across the aisle to pass the Respect for Marriage Act.
Jul 20, 2023
Historian and writer Jon Meacham’s most recent book, “And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle,” dives deep into Lincoln and the why behind the actions of America’s 16th president, from personal to political. Jon joined David to talk about Lincoln’s anti-slavery roots, what Lincoln can teach us about the current political moment, the moral decisions we face as a country, and what qualities make a great American president.
Jul 13, 2023
This week The Axe Files team is sharing an episode of CNN’s The Assignment with Audie Cornish. One year after Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, we were wondering: what is happening to people caught up in the web of changing law? It’s been a tumultuous and uncertain era for reproductive rights, so this week The Assignment checks in on the activists at the frontline defending women who are being criminally prosecuted under state laws that restrict or ban abortion. Amanda Allen, Senior Counsel and Director at the Lawyering Project, and Dana Sussman, Acting Executive Director at Pregnancy Justice, speak to Audie about their work in this post-Dobbs world.
Jul 6, 2023
Lifelong Republican Bill Gates was working as a lawyer and serving on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona’s most populous county when the 2020 election upended his life. Maricopa County became a hub of the Stop the Steal movement, and Bill, who defended the safety and legitimacy of the election, became a top target. Bill joined David to talk about navigating vicious attacks from those within his own party, the toll it took on his mental health and that of his family, and his hopes for the future of the Republican Party.
Jun 29, 2023
This week, we’re revisiting a 2018 interview with Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition activist who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in April 2023 after speaking out against the war in Ukraine. Vladimir was just 10 years old during the Russian Democratic Revolution in 1991. Witnessing a revolution was a formative experience that led to a lifetime of pro-democracy activism. In 2018, Vladimir sat down with David to discuss Putin’s Russia, the importance of the Magnitsky Act and what it’s like to put his life on the line for democracy.
Jun 22, 2023
Since leaving office in 2016, former President Barack Obama has been a careful observer of the ebbs and flows of democracy around the globe, speaking out on the subject and building coalitions through the Obama Foundation. President Obama joined David to talk about the state of democracy at home and abroad, how the economy and technological advances impact politics and polarization, the weaponization of the word woke, race, and his advice to the GOP.
Jun 15, 2023