Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

The Tribalization of Politics with Ian Reifowitz

Air Dates: September 9-15, 2019

When Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, pundits and leading news outlets heralded the arrival of a “post-racial America.”  Some Americans, however, didn’t see it that way.  Ian Reifowitz discusses the exploitation of race in the Obama years by one of America’s prominent conservative opinion makers, Rush Limbaugh, in his latest book, The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump.

Reifowitz is professor of Historical Studies at Empire State College of the State University of New York.  He is a Contributing Editor at Daily Kos and his articles have appeared in numerous outlets, including Daily News, Newsday, and the New Republic. In addition to his latest book, Reifowitz has also authored Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity and Imagining an Austrian Nation: Joseph Samuel Bloch and the Search for a Multiethnic Austrian Identity, 1846–1919. 

In this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Reifowitz defines tribalization as the “[establishment of] a divide based on resentment and hate of one group in our political system toward the other.” He links Rush Limbaugh’s divisive goals when speaking about the Obama presidency to the larger theme of white identity politics that has fueled divides seen in today’s American socio-political landscape.   

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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