The cover art for the podcast "Gaslit Nation" with Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa

Gaslit Nation

The American Crisis: The View from Flyover Country, Part 1

In episode 5, Gaslit Nation looks at the decades of American crises that gave rise to Trumpism and paved the way for Russian interference in our democracy.

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In this special two-part episode of Gaslit Nation, Andrea interviews Sarah about her New York Times bestselling book The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America. While the first three episodes of Gaslit Nation recount the 2016 election like a crime scene, connecting the dots on RussiaGate, this two-part interview focuses on the decades of American domestic crises, from income inequality to shrinking newsrooms, that gave rise to the Frankenstein monster of Donald Trump. The Kremlin and its partners could not have succeeded if our social fabric wasn’t already fraying, creating the conditions for emboldened corruption and bigotry masked as populism.

Here’s a quote from Sarah’s book that captures this growing specter across America and the world:

“When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. Think about that for a moment. She goes on to make this point: This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatize those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.”

We also discuss recent developments on the road to autocracy, including the persecution of Bruce Ohr — the latest target of Trump’s slow-moving Saturday Night Massacre — and the death of John McCain, a lifelong public servant who left behind a mixed domestic record but was a consistent advocate for human rights in the former Soviet Union, as journalists struggling under these kleptocracies and vulnerable democracies have noted.

The episode also shares the story of the disillusioned Russian who went to fight in Ukraine only to discover “cutthroats and bandits” in the militias serving Putin’s ongoing invasion, which has claimed over 10,000 lives by conservative estimates. These militias are part of a larger, global tactic for intimidation and control: “fight clubs, neo-Nazi soccer hooligans, and motorcycle gangs serve as conduits for the Kremlin’s influence operations in Western countries.” Trump and Bannon, with their hate speech that empowers racists and actual Nazis, follow a similar strategy in the U.S. to get their base riled up to intimidate the political opposition. And now Trump warns of violence if the GOP loses big in the midterms, trying to pin it on the Democrats — part of a broader attempt to use whatever means necessary to tilt the election to the GOP.

However, not all hope is lost! We also have a special interview with Marisa Kabas of, your personal assistant for helping create the blue wave in time for election day  November 6th. Marisa breaks down which races the Democrats have a chance of winning in both the Senate and the House in order to take back Congress.

Finally, have you heard about Paul Manafort?! We celebrate his verdict and what it means for our democracy and the way forward.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Gaslit Nation here.

We here at Gaslit Nation are grateful to our sponsors. Right now you can take advantage of a free gift from Audible just by visiting or texting “Gaslit” to 500500 and signing up for a 30-day trial membership. Here are two great Audible titles we recommend checking out, especially in time for the midterms: The All New Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate By George Lakoff and On Tyranny Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century By Timothy Snyder. If you can’t get enough of Sarah’s voice, which is like a punch in the face of truth, there’s also her book The View from Flyover Country Dispatches from the Forgotten America 

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