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Listen: America From Scratch the Podcast

by Marissa Blahnik
May 14, 2018 | I ❤️ PBS

"America From Scratch" is a web series created to get people talking. Each video debates a provocative question about how America might be different if it were founded today. The comments on each video have inspired us to keep the conversation going with a podcast.

Every two weeks, the "America From Scratch" podcast brings together smart people to dig even further into a topic.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Episode 1: Should we have a president?

Summary: Can local politics save democracy? You already know what your family thinks about the President, but can they name their State Representative? Toussaint Morrison, Josef Lorenzo, Kate Cimino and Rebecca Noecker break down why we spend so much time talking about the presidency, why local politics matter, and why potholes aren't partisan.

Episode 2: Should 12-year-olds vote?

Summary: How old is old enough to have a voice in our democracy? Is 12 too young? Should there be a cap at 90? We asked our YouTube audience and the response was... hard to miss. Host Toussaint Morrison, producer Josef Lorenzo, Teresa Nelson of the ACLU and almost 12-year-old Brianna Smith weigh in on the question, should 12-year-olds be allowed to vote? We even tackled some of the MANY viewer comments.

Episode 3: Should the United States of America have states at all?

Summary: There are 50 and they define us as a united, but often separate, country. The question for our experts, should the United States of America have states at all? Professor David Shultz of Hamline University, Science Policy Director of Fresh Energy J. Drake Hamilton, Professor Peverill Squire of the University of Missouri, intrepid producer Josef Lorenzo and consummate host Toussaint Morrison battle it out on the latest episode of America From Scratch.

Episode 4: Should we rewrite the U.S. Constitution?

Summary: It’s a document that is worshipped, challenged and amended, but does it need to be rewritten altogether? This week our panel debates whether it’s time for the U.S. Constitution to be scrapped entirely or just reinterpreted with a modern lens. Host Toussaint Morrison and producer Josef Lorenzo are joined by Marissa Luna of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota and John Hinderaker of the Center of the American Experiment to continue the thought experience that is "America From Scratch."

Episode 5: Should the U.S. government have a 50/50 gender quota?

Women make up about half the U.S. population – and half of this podcasting roundtable – but gender representation in the U.S. government lags behind more than 100 other countries. Toussaint Morrison, Kathryn Pearson, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, producer Josef Lorenzo, and Joetta Wright, educator, actor and Toussaint’s podcasting partner on “Double Consciousness,” discuss what could be different if we were building "America From Scratch" today and required an even gender split.

Episode 6: Should your data have rights?

Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of…private data? As the EU adopts the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, it’s time for us to ask what protections should be in place in the United States. Toussaint Morrison sits down with Josh Cutler, formerly with Microsoft Live Labs and now CTO of Rambl, Jennifer Epperson, editor of Blacks in Technology, and "America From Scratch" producer Josef Lorenzo to discuss the idea that if the constitution doesn’t protect our data privacy rights, should we change the constitution? And what would that like?

Episode 7: Should we elect our Supreme Court Justices?

The announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement made us stop and ask: If we were making "America From Scratch" today, would we elect our Supreme Court Justices? Host Toussaint Morrison is joined by Suzanna Sherry, Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School, Jacob Hillesheim, Rewire journalist and educator and producer Josef Lorenzo to talk nominations and term limits.

Episode 8: Should we have mandatory military service?

The military isn't for everyone, but should it be? Over 60 countries around the world require their citizens to serve, but the USA is not one of them. If we were to start our country over again, would we require mandatory military service? Host Toussaint Morrison is joined by Tanisha Fazal, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and Colonel Neal Landeen, Retired Deputy Director of Logisitcs, Engineering and Force Protection for the 10th Air Force, to discuss.

Episode 9: Should we make voting mandatory?

Voter turnout in the U.S. consistently makes headlines, but not for the reasons you'd want. In the U.S., only 55 percent of eligible people cast a vote for president in 2016. Host Toussaint Morrison brings the podcast to the Minnesota State Fair to discuss compulsory voting with a live audience. He's joined by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, Joseph Mansky, elections manager for Ramsey County and moderator David Gillette.

Episode 10: How could America be different?

In this season one finale of the "America From Scratch" podcast we look back on the first season of the YouTube series with a little help from our friends at the Minnesota State Fair. Host Toussaint Morrison is joined by producer Josef Lorenzo, writer Katie Moritz, executive producer and director of, Maribel Lopez, and series creator David Gillette. What would you change about America if we were starting from scratch today?

Marissa Blahnik
Marissa Blahnik is the managing editor of Rewire.
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