Can American democracy survive in a system where more money means more power? Award-winning journalist Andrea Bernstein tackles this question with insight from her book American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power. She creates a vivid portrait of two emblematic American families, following their rise to power and their journey to the White House. In conversation with Stranger associate editor Eli Sanders, Bernstein presents a story of survival and loss, crime and betrayal which stretches from the Gilded Age through Nazi-occupied Poland to the rising nationalism and inequality of the twenty-first century.
Bernstein draws on hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of unseen or forgotten documents, revealing how the Trumps and the Kushners grew rich on federal programs that bolstered the middle class, and then sheltered their wealth from tax collectors. She asserts that, wielding half-truths, secrecy, and media manipulation, these families blurred the lines between public and private interests and then leveraged political, prosecutorial, and judicial power to avoid legal consequences. Sit in with Bernstein and Sanders for a sweeping exposition on two American dynasties who encouraged and profited from a system of political dark money that has threatened to upend American democracy.