In the tension-filled political week before the midterm elections, we were particularly grateful for a relatively new podcast called “You Might be Right,” a mostly weekly, sometimes biweekly show that features two former governors from Tennessee talking about a wide variety of issues.
The particularly refreshing part of this show for us is that Governor Bill Haslam is a Republican and Governor Phil Bredesen is a Democrat, and they talk to each other about complex issues in the most civil terms without attack or easy soundbite.
In the first months of the show, produced at the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, guests have been invited to explain their positions on opposite sides of such topics as the Affordable Care Act, Charter Schools, the National Debt and the Affordable Housing crisis. The governors ask questions, talk about the issues, and occasionally reflect on their own leadership experiences, leaving listeners with lots to think about and no easy answers.
The Affordable Care Act discussion, for example, which aired on October 26, gave the governors an opportunity to question Nancy-Ann DeParle, one of the architects of the Act during the Obama administration and Larry Van Horn, a Vanderbilt professor, who has been a noted critic of it.
At its conclusion, one of Phil Bredesen’s comments deftly summed up his reaction to the discussion, making a key point about the nature of the podcast at the same time. “Most problems benefit from picking and choosing a little bit from different ideologies. And I think both of us have had the experience of doing that. So, I looked at both of these not in terms of one is the right answer and one is the wrong answer, but what can we glean from each of them, which can be useful in solving the problem.”
The show’s title is based on the late Senator Baker’s belief that solid answers to vexing problems emerge when listening to someone on the opposite side. “In politics, the competition for ideas, the competition for the right to serve is fundamental and it is political. But it must be accompanied by a decent respect for the other fellow’s point of view. Because if you don’t do that, the whole system falls, it collapses, if you don’t admit that the other person may be right from time to time.”'
New podcasts are generally posted on Wednesdays, with access to episodes here. We like the fact that transcripts are also available as it’s sometimes tricky to tell which governor is talking if you don’t come from Tennessee and have a solid familiarity with their voices.
Listen and see what you think of this B&G Report Recommendation. And if the spirit moves you, suggest other podcasts that might be of interested to those of us who are dedicated to state and local government.
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