Episode Five

Checks & Balances

The path from monarchy to democracy relied on a vision of government based on the principles of separation of powers, checks and balances, and the rule of law. From hyper partisanship to corruption to executive overreach, much of what the framers hoped to avoid has come to pass, and yet democracy survived. From Watergate to today, what drives the tipping point between democratic resilience and decay?  When government is broken,who needs to fix it?


Julia Azari

E. J. Dionne

Beverly Gage

Julia Azari is Associate Professor and Assistant Chair in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University.  Her research and teaching interests include the American presidency, American political parties, the politics of the American state, and qualitative research methods. Her research has been supported by the Marquette University Regular Research Grant, the Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library Foundation Travel Grant, and the Harry Truman Library Institute Scholars Award. Prof. Azari is a regular contributor at the political science blog The Mischiefs of Faction. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog and in Politico.

E.J. Dionne, Jr. is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, and university professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University. He began his career with New York Times, where he spent fourteen years reporting on state and local government, national politics, and from around the world. In 1990, Dionne joined the Washington Post in 1990 as a reporter, covering national politics and began writing his column in 1993. His best-selling book, Why Americans Hate Politics was published in 1991. He has been named among the 25 most influential Washington journalists by the National Journal and among the capital city’s top 50 journalists by the Washingtonian magazine. His most recent book is One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported with Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein.

Beverly Gage is professor of 20th-century American history and director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. Her courses focus on American politics, statecraft, social movements, and government, broadly conceived. Her first book, The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in its First Age of Terror, examined the history of terrorism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focusing on the 1920 Wall Street bombing. Her next book, G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the American Century, will be a biography of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. In 2015, she was elected to serve as the first chair of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate.