Another Conversation: Truth, Myth & Democracy

The Mark Twain Library and the Redding League of Women Voters are proud to present the third installment of our series “Conversations: Truth, Myth & Democracy.” In this virtual discussion we welcome Dr. Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute and Dr. William Galston of The Brookings Institution on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in another philosophical conversation moderated by Western Connecticut State University’s Dr. Daniel Barrett.

This virtual discussion is between two leading public intellectuals and continues the conversation we began at the Mark Twain Library in the spring of this year with the intention of better understanding the polarizing climate we are living in. Where our first two conversations concentrated on how we got to this place – in March between Dr. Jelani Cobb and Dr. Jason Stanley, and April between Civil War historians Dr. Ty Seidule and Dr. Charles Dew – this upcoming conversation brings together two scholars with measured approaches to what we can do about the current crisis.

“This seemed like the logical conversation to have at this point in our series,” said Mark Twain Library Adult Program Coordinator Elaine Sanders. “These two academics provide a knowledge and a tone that moves our overall conversation in a direction where we can build on an understanding of where we have come from in order to move forward.”

The Conversations program is a grassroots effort that continues to examine the underlying meaning of our democracy and how democracy matters even when we have very different ideas about what it should look like. In this third installment of our ongoing conversation we hope to learn from Drs. Levin and Galston how to effectively build ourselves back up to a place where we can work together and respect one another as a country and as a community.

“I am looking forward to engaging these two pre-eminent scholars and political actors in a dialogue regarding the widespread loss of trust in core institutions, political polarization at all levels of society, and breakdown in the ability of politicians and citizens alike to focus on solving problems instead of pointing fingers,” remarked Dr. Barrett. “As with the prior Conversations, the discussion will surely be lively, informative, and profound.”

This series of conversations was inspired in part by the polarization and divisive nature that has become more the norm than the anomaly. The intent is to better understand the world we currently live in by inviting renowned historians, philosophers, social psychologists and journalists to share their knowledge and exchange ideas about what, why and how issues are pulling us so far apart.

“Truth, Myth & Democracy” follows a number of collaborative conversations organized by the Redding League of Women Voters and the Mark Twain Library that began in the fall of 2019 with a handful of then in-person talks with professor Charles Dew about his memoir. That event inspired a series of programs in 2020 – both live and virtual – from author talks to film discussions such as that of Ava DuVernay’s powerful documentary “13th.”

This particular program is the third in a series that focuses on addressing the difficult issues of truth telling and myth busting within our democracy by bringing much-needed community conversations to help promote education, informed dialogue and civil discourse. The series is brought to you in association with Easton Public Library, Weston Public Library, Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library, Ridgefield Library, The League of Women Voters of Ridgefield and The League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County.

Register for this Conversation online at: www.marktwainlibrary.org or call the Library at 203-938-2545 for information.


Dr. Yuval Levin is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He also holds the Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Public Policy. The founding and current editor of National Affairs, he is also a senior editor of The New Atlantis and a contributing editor to National Review.  Dr. Levin served as a member of the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush. He was also executive director of the President’s Council on Bioethics and a congressional staffer at the member, committee, and leadership levels. In addition to being interviewed frequently on radio and television, Dr. Levin has published essays and articles in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Commentary. He is the author of several books on political theory and public policy, most recently A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream (Basic Books.) He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Dr. William Galston holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in The Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, where he serves as a Senior Fellow.  Prior to January 2006, he was the Saul Stern Professor and Acting Dean at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, founding director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), and executive director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal, co-chaired by former Secretary of Education William Bennett and former Senator Sam Nunn.  A participant in six presidential campaigns, he served from 1993 to 1995 as Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy. Galston is the author of nine books and more than 100 articles in the fields of political theory, public policy, and American politics.  His most recent book is Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy (Yale 2018).  A winner of the American Political Science Association’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award, Galston was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.  Galston has appeared on all the principal television networks and is frequently interviewed on NPR. He writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Daniel W. Barrett is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Psychology at Western Connecticut State University. He graduated with a BA from Wesleyan University, earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Arizona State University and served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Health Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Barrett is author of the 2016 textbook, Social Psychology: Core Concepts and Emerging Trends. His research interests include suspicion, persuasion, social influence, and cross-cultural psychology. He lives in Redding, CT.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

The Mark Twain Library is owned by the Mark Twain Library Association. It was founded in 1908 by Samuel Clemens – Mark Twain himself – one of Redding’s most celebrated residents. Visit www.marktwainlibrary.org, for more information.

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