Episode 6. Brian Harrison

What Voting Means To Me

20-05-2020 • 55 mins

Dr. Brian Harrison is a political scientist specializing in American politics and public opinion. He most recently published “A Change is Gonna Come: How to Have Productive Political Conversations in a Divided America.” Brian sat down with Mara to talk about how his experiences growing up in Iowa, his time in the second Bush administration as a political appointee in the Department of Homeland Security, and his career as a political scientist have shaped his understanding of American democracy. He tells us what it was like growing up with the presidential candidate pizazz of Iowa politics, and recalls a fateful encounter with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley that left a lasting impression. Brian and Mara discover they had a shared penchant for dressing up as Republican presidents for Halloween growing up, and they dig deep into the nature of political disagreement in American politics. Brian cautions that—while we should not expect everyone to “come together” in a kumbaya moment of unity—deliberative democracy requires that, at times, we find ways to have meaningful conversations with those who disagree with us. Inspired by the authenticity of elected officials like Harvey Milk, Brian still sees each and every vote—no matter the election, big or small—as an opportunity.