Departures Podcast with Anand Giridharadas, author of ‘The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy’

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Every day in the media we are told that the United States is irreparably polarized. That lines have been drawn, political opinions have been weaponized into tribal identities, and that apart from an ever-slimming section of undecideds, we are locked into this dreadful stalemate. That’s why it’s so refreshing to read a more optimistic take on how people can still be persuaded, how hearts and minds can still be won over despite the algorithms and toxicity of our public discourse.

Today we’re very honored to feature a special guest, the author and journalist Anand Giridharadas, whose new book, “The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy,” presents a very thoughtful take on what it takes to make change in US politics at the local level.

We spoke to Anand the morning after the 2022 US midterms, which brought a surprisingly stronger performance from the Democrats than expected in key races, though certainly not universal. In his discussion with Robert Amsterdam, Anand highlights some key takeaways from this election, discusses his research of “deep canvassing” in campaigns, and gives some insights into why so many candidates focus on “mobilizing the faithful rather than wooing the skeptical.”

In a space that is usually consumed by anger, rage, and contention, Giridharadas’ book offers positivity, making an important argument for candidates, parties, and movements to broaden their outreach, not by diluting their principles but by communicating effectively to include the interests of a wider community as opposed to exclusion.