W.J.T. Mitchell is a writer and a professor of English and art history at the University of Chicago. He’s in Rochester as a guest of the University of Rochester, discussing his piece, "American Psychosis: Trumpism and the Nightmare of History.”

He joins us to share his perspective on the age of Trump in the context of capitalism and democracy.

Are modern politics really more uncivil than most of our historical politics? Are we in a unique time in our history?

We talk to the leader of a national institution that aims to bring civility back to politics. Carolyn Lukensmeyer is the executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. She says this is a dangerous time for discourse, and our children are taking cues from us.

We sit down with her to see what she thinks will lead to change.

A new film explores the murky truth behind what really happened at Chappaquiddick. Nearly 50 years after Senator Ted Kennedy crashed his car off a bridge, killing Mary Jo Kopechne, Chappaquiddick brings a riveting story to the screen -- and it's a story that still resonates, with themes of privilege, abuse of power, political ambition, and more.

The director, John Curran, is a Pittsford native, and he's our guest in studio.

Oprah mania swept the Democratic Party in the past week -- but not everyone feels the same way about it. Some polling indicates that if Oprah Winfrey jumped into the presidential race, she'd instantly lead the field. Is she the answer for the American left, and for voters desperate to beat Donald Trump in 2020?

We discuss it, and we examine how longtime party workers feel about how Democrats should be building for the next elections. Our guests:

  • Beatriz LeBron, leader of the 25th Legislative District of the Monroe County Democratic Party, and newly appointed member of the Rochester City School Board
  • Anthony Plonczynski-Figueroa, leader of the 21st Legislative District of the Monroe County Democratic Party, and co-founder of La Cumbre, Latinos United for Progress 
  • Yversha Roman, leader of the 26th Legislative District of the Monroe County Democratic Party, and member of Women Elect 
  • Jamie Romeo, chairwoman of the Monroe County Democratic Committee

Whatever happened to Obama-era pop music? According to the New Yorker, it's already dated, even embarrassing. Matthew Trammell argues that music reflects the cultural and political mood, and already pop music has moved on from the buoyant, fizzy hits like Katy Perry's "Firework." Is that fair?

Our guests discuss the ways music does, and does not, capture the current mood. In studio:

Is there a way to remove the stain of partisanship from politics? A local developer says yes. Howard Konar is the founder of a nonprofit called Common Ground, and he has written a book that aims to go beyond politics, and offer basic principles.

Konar joins us to discuss his views and how centrism might be the cure to our polarized political culture.

Adam Serwer, correspondent forThe Atlantic Monthly, joins us to discuss his recent piece titled "The Nationalist's Delusion." The piece has been hotly debated since its publication, and many prominent writers of color call it a landmark in analyzing America's history with white nationalism.

Here's a question for you: As you prepare to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, are you dreading discussions about politics with friends and family? According to a new PBS NewsHour poll, 58 percent of American adults dread having to talk politics around the dinner table.

So what can you do to keep conversations civil or avoid talking about politics altogether? Or is discussing issues that divide us important in these settings? Our guests weigh in:

  • Melanie Funchess, director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Eric Caine, M.D., profess of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Congress is debating a new tax plan that would bring changes for many American families. So how does it work? Who would benefit, and who would pay more? Our guests:

Another election season has come and gone. While national media outlets report that a“surge” of women ran for office in major races since last year’s Presidential election, the gender gap in politics remains. And so we have to ask: “Where are the women?” That question was the title of an article written and researched by WXXI’s Tianna Manon for City Newspaper. It’s a question surrounded by a number of issues - some of guests address on this edition of Need to Know.