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Populism, Polarization, and Threats to Western Democracy: Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan, was an elected politician, served as a senior British government minister, was a visiting fellow at Yale University, and is now the host of a highly successful podcast and outgoing president of the global anti-poverty charity, GiveDirectly. By any measure, he is a man of many parts.
In our podcast, Stewart raises the alarm about threats to democracy in Europe and the U.S., explains his detailed understanding of common ground, and discusses the stark difference between skills needed to win political office and what’s needed to govern well.
We ask him about the parallels between U.S. and U.K. politics and how other democracies view America’s current political division and dysfunction. We discuss his new memoir about his years in the U.K. Parliament and government, “How Not To Be a Politician.”
Read the Episode Transcript
Rory Stewart was a member of the British Parliament for almost a decade. During that time, he served as Secretary of State for International Development, prisons minister, minister for Africa, development minister for the Middle East and Asia, and minister for the environment.
He also ran against Boris Johnson for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Earlier in his career, he served briefly as an infantry officer and then as a diplomat for the British government in Indonesia, the Balkans, and Iraq. He founded and ran the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan, and was the director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.
From 2000 to 2002 he traveled six thousand miles on foot across Asia, including Afghanistan. Stewart has written four books: The Places in Between, The Prince of the Marshes, Can Intervention Work? (co-author), and The Marches. He is a visiting Fellow at Yale’s Jackson school, hosts The Rest Is Politics podcast with Alastair Campbell, and is president of the nonprofit GiveDirectly.