Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield

Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield

Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big and devoted many resources to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone. And of course, change can be negative as well as positive. In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology.


December 8, 2023 39 mins

Audio Chapters

0:00 — Kevin McCarthy announces resignation as MAGA plots revenge against America

06:25 — Republicans openly boasting about "purging" the government of anyone who disagrees

11:23 — White nationalist activists glory in Elon Musk's rule of Twitter

15:09 — Mike Johnson says he's blurring J6 rioter footage to protect people from prosecution

20:31 — “Right privilege” and Republicans' freedom to lie constantly and never be conf...

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Audio Chapters

0:00 — What's next for George Santos?

09:24 — Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis debated, did anyone care?

14:41 — Rep. Pramila Jayapal attacked based on misunderstanding of her words in CNN interview

19:27 — McDonalds attracts controversy for changing burger recipes

23:26 — Jussie Smollett loses fake hate crime appeal, has to go back to jail

28:25 — English electrician charged with having sex with over 100 corpses

33:15 — KISS ...

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The Republican party is completely and utterly dominated by a small faction of political and religious extremists with policies that are incredibly unpopular, such as privatizing social security or criminalizing birth control.

And yet, in spite of this fact, Republicans are still able to win many elections, even outside of their stronghold of the old confederacy. Sometimes, as in the case of Donald Trump, they can even w...

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Audio Chapters

00:00 — "Right privilege" and America's broken politics

08:36 — Is the distinction between overt and covert racism worth anything?

14:32 — How much do run-of-the-mill Republicans know about their party's policies and aims?

21:26 — What the American left has lost since Obama 2008

29:22 — Why it's important to distinguish between conservatism and reactionism

35:46 — Multiple messages are necessary in political communication


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We're off this week at Doomscroll because Lisa is preparing to film her very first standup special! In the meantime, we thought you'd enjoy listening to Lisa’s first comedy album, “Alive for a While,” which she recorded in London in 2019. It’s not safe for work, just in case you were wondering.

If you're in, near, or visiting Madison, Wisconsin from somewhere else, come out and see Lisa on December 14th at Comedy On State. There wil...

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The best ideas are timeless: Treat others how you want to be treated. Help people less fortunate than yourself.

Unfortunately, many of the worst ideas are also timeless as well. And antisemitism is certainly one such idea.

While many different people have been targeted by antisemitic conspiracy theories, the Rothschild family of Germany has a particular favorite among the world’s lunatics for centuries and more recently by the QAnon ...

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Audio Chapters

0:00 — Intro

01:09 — Elon Musk sues Media Matters for telling truth about Twitter's monetized hate

11:32 — Republican appeals court judges void part of Voting Rights Act

18:22 — Sean "Diddy" Combs settles Cassie Ventura rape lawsuit

32:45 — Good news: Retailers getting more likely to give employees Thanksgiving off

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It’s our first-ever Flux podcast crossover as So This Just Happened co-host Kali Holloway joins in the fun!

Audio Chapters

00:20 — Utah Sen. Mike Lee refuses to retract ludicrous conspiracy theory about vaping pen

08:13 — Right-wing CPAC conference losing board members after sex assault claims

13:53 — Georgia HS football coach fired after baptizing players at practice

18:45 — How the "Church of Satan" is hilariously pushing back on Chri...

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Mormonism occupies an important place in the conservative religious realm and its adherents exercise significant voting power in the Republican political coalition in states like Utah, Arizona, Idaho, and even California. In today’s political media environment, Mormons are influential both as content producers like Glenn Beck and as content consumers, where they share many similar tastes with White Evangelical Protestants.

But the c...

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Audio Chapters

0:00 — Republicans are literally fighting each other now

03:53 — The banality and absurdity of evil

08:32 — Right-wing groups devising plans to seize power and militarize cities

19:10 — Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk and other reactionary figures loudly embrace antisemitic rhetoric

28:02 — Reminder: Ayn Rand's hero was a child murderer

31:43 — Marlon Wayans shows how to support trans people as a comedian

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Audio chapters

00:44 — House Republicans are continuing tearing each other apart, which is nice

04:51 — Trump and his aides promising fascism and incompetence simultaneously

11:39 — Ex-Trump WH executive's right-wing dating site is a failure

14:08 — Tim Scott finally puts presidential campaign out of misery after humiliating girlfriend reveal

23:49 — Republicans tangle in yet another kiddie table debate over boots & a border wall with C...

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Truth, as the saying goes, is stranger than fiction. And nowhere is that more the case than in describing the very bizarre combination of political and religious beliefs that has come to be known as TESCREALism.

The ideas behind TESCREALism — humans merging consciousness with machines and supposedly knowing what's best for trillions ...

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Audio Chapters

0:00 — Abortion access and legalized pot win big in 2023 elections

12:28 — Ex-senator Rick Santorum admits Republicans don't want people to vote

16:14 — Right-wing lack of empathy flows from their limited epistemology

21:06 — Democrats almost win Mississippi governor's race

28:44 — Britney Spears is finally her own person

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Audio Timecodes

00:25 — Donald Trump rages on stand in NY fraud trial

05:08 — Does Trump attorney Alina Habba have America's dirtiest job?

11:55 — Is Biden losing supporters over his Palestine-Israel policies?

17:44 — How right-wing media makes Republicans more likely to vote

21:10 — Trump says he wants to create a government-run "American Academy" university

26:19 — Twitter as a dating service is Elon Musk's latest hare-brained idea


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We’re living in a time between times, a moment of dramatic technological change when the future is up for grabs. With the right kinds of policies, humanity is on the cusp of ending or significantly diminishing perpetual challenges of our species like hunger, climate disruption, and poverty. But if we make the wrong decisions, we will be handing over our future to people whose first priority is themselves—oligarchic billionaires who...

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Audio Timecodes

0:00 — Mike Johnson’s first bill is to let oligarchs cheat on taxes

08:51 — The mystery of why Mike Johnson has rarely talked about his adopted black son

17:27 — Mike Johnson let his biological teenage son know about his porn viewing habits

23:16 — How religious fundamentalism encourages sexual abuse by mislabeling healthy sexuality

29:17 — New Jersey high school roiled by fake nude images of students

35:33 — The power of...

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00:57 — Mike Pence ends doomed presidential campaign

03:17 — Someone named Dean Phillips is running as a Democrat against Joe Biden

08:47 — Crazed evangelical Mike Johnson becomes Speaker of the House

15:22 — Matthew Perry, "Friends" co-star, dies at 54

19:48 — Private equity billionaire says people don't work as hard at home

24:32 — Airline employee asks to stop work on flight after getting high on shrooms

29:03 — "The Simpsons...

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Politics, as the saying goes, is warfare by other means. Unfortunately for our country, however, the radical right is much more adept at the art of politics. Reactionaries’ ideas about science and religion are horribly at odds with reality, but their understanding of how to do politics is far superior.

Over the decades, far-right don...

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Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) has become the most far-right speaker of the house in modern politics. In this episode, Kali and Matt dissect Johnson's record of vicious extremism against LGBT people, abortion rights, and social safety net programs.


00:00 — Christian supremacist Mike Johnson becomes Republicans' Speaker of the House

11:47 — Accused Maine shooter reportedly followed and liked content from Musk, Shapiro, and others


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00:26 — Republicans keep failing to elect a Speaker of the House

06:39 — Israelis angry at Netanyahu for boosting Hamas and missing terrorist attacks

10:13 — Latest "Biden bombshell" for Republicans turns out to be a dud

13:49 — Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell become latest ex-Trump attorneys to plead guilty to crimes

19:32 — Britney Spears tells people not to read too much into her new memoir

26:40 — Tim Scott's presidential cam...

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