Historian Nancy MacLean stumbled upon the work of James M. Buchanan when she was on the hunt for the ideological roots of the school voucher system. The Nobel Prize-winning economist was at the forefront of a push to popularize libertarianism.
MacLean took a deep dive into Buchanan's influence on Washington and the current state of politics. She found that his belief in tearing down institutions and undermining the power of the popular vote has taken hold in the modus operandi of the Republican Party and big political influencers like the Koch brothers. MacLean documents this takeover in her new book “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” (Viking/ 2017).
Host Frank Stasio speaks with MacLean, the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, about her newest book and the impassioned responses she has received since its publication. MacLean speaks at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham tonight at 7 p.m.