David Riordan (Part 2) – American Democracy Under Threat: A Data-driven Exploration of Our Political Culture and the Underlying Stories That Create It and Shape Our Future

David Riordan Democracy under threat

A frank, hard-hitting conversation with TV producer David Riordan about the dangers democracy faces in this country, the fact that we are in a state of transition whether we like it or not, and the power of shifting our narratives to create change and a sustainable future. David has long been fascinated by the power of story, and has set up Vital Signs of Democracy, a platform that tracks and analyzes the narratives told and reported in the U.S. today—narratives that are foundational to our culture, our culture wars, our politics, and our future. 

Is there hope for American democracy? The good news is that studies show 65-70% of the population actually agree on and support the core principles of democracy—so if we could shift our narrative to reflect the majority view, we might be okay. The other news is that neither democrats or republicans, MAGA conservatives or progressives, have stepped up to represent this majority. David explains that we urgently need an alternative narrative from what we have to move forward—and we all need to ask what kind of country we want America to be. Recorded November 16, 2022 (on the heels of the 2022 midterm elections).

“If you don’t like the story that’s driving you, you can change it.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • Is our democracy under threat? We seem to be in love with the story that we are heading into dystopia (00:50)
  • Since the Civil War, we’ve believed in our democratic political system (02:45)
  • It used to ebb and flow, back and forth; liberals would be elected, then conservatives, in both Congress and the Supreme Court (05:14)
  • What is happening, different from political turbulence in the past, that is putting our democracy under threat now? (07:05)
  • Are the guardrails of the political system still working? Did the 2022 midterms bring us back on course? (9:30)
  • Beginning to work in a healthy perspective is going to depend on what both parties learn from this last election (10:59)
  • The Overton window, a range of ideas and values that are acceptable to discuss (14:17)
  • What are the two parties going to learn from this midterm election? (15:29)
  • The quality of the candidates matters: what the voters have said is we want more reasonable candidates (16:36)
  • What part of America is Make America Great Again referring to? (18:53)
  • Trump, the white, nationalist, Christian-driven narrative, and the fact that we are now a multicultural society (21:32)
  • David’s adventure through red states with progressive Evangelicals, “We cannot imagine living in your progressive narrative as much as you can’t imagine living in our America.” (23:42)
  • What is it we’re doing as progressives that so frightens people? Could we change the narrative to where people feel included rather than excluded? (27:00)
  • The “unify message”: can we find common ground so each side can talk to each other? (28:27)
  • What can be done to stop the polarization? (31:43)
  • The abortion conversation, Roe vs Wade, and the part it played in the last two elections (32:16)
  • We have to decide, as a country, what America we want to be going forward, and establish a template to work with without getting into the weeds of logistics (37:39)
  • Trump is selling the story that a minority view should dictate what the country will do instead of the majority view that democracy is based on (42:11)

Resources & References – Part 2

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David Riordan democracy under threat

David Riordan is a transmedia producer who has years of experience creating and producing documentary television series, interactive entertainment, and participatory AR/VR experiences. Before founding Story Studio, David was the Vice President of Media for Ken Wilber’s Integral Life, where he was responsible for strategic planning, talent development, and content and conference development. He was also the producer for Random 1, a documentary television series on A&E Networks and the Executive Producer for the award-winning documentary film Lost in Woonsocket.

Previously, David was the VP of Production at Time Warner Interactive, Disney Interactive, and Philips Media. He has won numerous awards from major interactive societies including seven Interactive Academy Awards. David also directed the documentary film The Future of Christianity, co-created Google Ocean on Google Earth, and directed the Ken Wilber Biography Project. David Riordan, Wikipedia. The Evolution of Intelligence: Storycatching the Now and Future.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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