Podcasts
May 28, 2024

Transition Lab Season 2 Trailer

Welcome to season two of Transition Lab, hosted by Valerie Boyd, Director of the Center for Presidential Transition. During the first season, we introduced the public to the inner workings of a presidential transition by featuring former White House chiefs of staff, members of Congress and other government leaders who worked behind the scenes to ensure the continuity of government from one U.S. president to the next. In the second season, Transition Lab will explore the relationship between presidential transitions, effective government and a strong democracy. We’ll examine the peaceful transfer of power and why it matters, and we’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of modern transitions with experts who have done this work before.

Join us every other Tuesday on your favorite podcast platform. 

 

Transcript


Valerie Boyd: Welcome to season two of Transition Lab, I’m your host Valerie Boyd, Director of the Center for Presidential Transition. During the first season, we introduced the public to the inner workings of a presidential transition by featuring  former White House chiefs of staff, members of Congress, and other government leaders who worked behind the scenes to ensure the continuity of government from one U.S. president to the next. 

The final episodes of that season were taped during the turbulent events of January 2020, when President Donald Trump refused to recognize the election outcome and a violent conflict at the U.S. Capitol ensued. In the final episodes of season one, you can relive the tension of those moments by listening to our interviews with leaders in both the Trump White House and the Biden-Harris Transition Team. 

Today, our nation is still debating those events, and our divisions seem stronger than ever. That’s why we wanted to take a step back at the beginning of this season and ask a series of questions about our current moment: How does our current levels of polarization compare to previous points in U.S. history? How has the tradition of the voluntary transfer of power, started by George Washington, shaped our nation and our role in the world?  And what, if anything, might reestablish our confidence in election outcomes? 

This season, we speak with expert scholars and practitioners in transitions, democracy, and history to search for answers to these questions.  

Presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky tells us about America’s first transition of power and the powerful precedent. that was established when George Washington ceded power to John Adams.  

Lindsay Chervinsky: This was the age of Napoleon and monarchies, and people tended to hold on to power for as long as possible. So, this announcement, especially after Washington had already given up power once…really shocked people that someone could be so disciplined as to walk away from the highest seat of authority. So that in and of itself, as like a concept, was revolutionary. 

Valerie Boyd: Esteemed journalist Judy Woodruff shares stories from her reporting on her series, “America at a Crossroads,” and theories on why America is so polarized. 

Judy Woodruff: The main reason that I wanted to, have this, this project for this year and last year, 2023 and 24, is because I wanted to understand why America is more divided, at least it seems to me to be more personally, divided than in any time since I’ve been covering politics, which is now 53 years…What’s at the source of that? What’s driving it? And are people comfortable with it?.  

Valerie Boyd: Professor Archon Fung, a scholar of democracy at Harvard University, talks with us about democratic fragility, and how we can strengthen our institutions ahead of this fall’s election,  

Archon Fung: Democratic institutions are more vulnerable than we kind of thought they were up until the mid- 2010s…But I think a big part of the key to solving the puzzle is more direct engagement.  

Valerie Boyd: Join us every other Tuesday to hear from these guests, and many others about their experiences and real-time developments in the world of transition.  

The Partnership for Public Service is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to building a better government and a stronger democracy. Our CEO, Max Stier, started the Center for Presidential Transition® in 2008, when he recognized that no organization—either within or outside government—was dedicated to the effective transfer of knowledge and services across presidential administrations. Since that time, we’ve developed a bipartisan network of experts who have managed this process before and a comprehensive library of resources based on their work. 

The Center continues to support all of the central players in a transition: the incumbent administration, which must simultaneously prepare for a second term and plan for a potential successor; the major candidates, who must get ready to govern while they campaign; and the career leaders at federal agencies who deliver essential services and provide institutional knowledge no matter who wins the presidential election. 

Transition Lab presents a variety of views, and not every listener will agree with every guest—but stick with us. We’re looking for what continues to unite us and where we go from here. How can the public feel invested in our leaders working together so that—no matter who wins the 2024 election—we have a government that works well for all of us?