AIF Blog

The Impact of History on Today's Decisions

Feb 21, 2018

Historian and author Jon Meacham speaks with journalist John Dickerson at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2017.

Our current political time looks most like the 1930s, says historian Jon Meacham. With one of every four American men out of work, populist groups on the right and left were on the rise during the Depression. Citizens were questioning democratic capitalism. "It was a genuine moment where we were reassessing whether our institutions and systems could deliver for enough people to create political stability," says Meacham. We came out of that thanks to the "masterful" leadership of President Roosevelt, says Meacham. "I do think we're in the same kind of questioning phase today where an enormous number of people believe that the system is not repaying its part of the covenant."

In this episode of Aspen Ideas to Go, Meacham speaks with John Dickerson, co-host of "CBS This Morning," about how history guides political leaders. How can the mistakes of past presidents inform President Trump's decisions? How did past presidents use history to help them make big policy decisions? And how can lessons from history help us through America's current divisive atmosphere?

Discover more about what's discussed in this episode.


"Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here.

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