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Ari Berman

Political Correspondent & Author
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Biography

Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation magazine, America's oldest political weekly, and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute. Berman has been described by best-selling author David Sirota as "one of the best writers around today." He's written extensively about American politics, political campaigns, civil rights, and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have also appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, and he is a frequent guest and political commentator on MSNBC, C-SPAN and NPR.

His new book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, will be published in August 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. There have been countless books written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the Voting Rights Act and the effort to limit voting rights from 1965 to the present day.

The Village Voice called Give Us The Ballot one of “fifteen books you need to read in 2015” and the Los Angeles Times named it a top non-fiction pick for the summer. “Berman does a superb job of making the history of the right to vote in America not only easily understandable, but riveting,” wrote Publishers Weekly in a starred early review. “This is the best kind of popular history—literate, passionate, and persuasive, balancing detail with accessibility.” Frank Rich of New York Magazine called Berman “the best-versed analyst on voting-rights issues.”

Berman’s first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in October 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and in paperback by Picador. Herding Donkeys earned widespread acclaim upon publication, and was lauded as "a well-reported tour de force" (The Wall Street Journal), "a worthwhile document of an American political revolution" (The Christian Science Monitor), and "lively [and] instructive" (New York Review of Books). John Heilemann, co-author of Game Change, called the book "one of the most important political stories of the new century," praising Berman's "reportorial verve, keen eye, sharp pen and wealth of fresh insight."

Berman is a regular commentator on television shows like MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry; and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He's also a frequent guest on NPR programs like "All Things Considered," and "On Point."

He's lectured extensively before college campuses (Harvard, Northwestern, NYU, University of California-Berkeley), civic forums (Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Clinton School of Public Service, New York Public Library, Town Hall Seattle) and think tanks (New America Foundation, Center for American Progress, Century Foundation).

He graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and political science.

Topics

The Fight for Voting Rights

Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the staggering amount of money in our political system should be a cause for great alarm. The 2016 election will shatter all previous fundraising records, with candidates raising untold millions from billionaire Super PAC donors. Fifty years ago, because of poll taxes and literacy tests, African-Americans were systematically denied the right to vote. Now, because of the “wealth primary,” the vast majority of Americans are being denied the rightful value of their vote. Based on his extensive reporting in the field of money and politics, Berman will explain the threat to democracy posed by the disproportionate influence the wealthy and powerful have over our political process, and the adverse impact of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Just as importantly, Berman will detail how to fix this broken system and explain how citizens can get involved in the important fight to get money out of politics.

Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement: From Selma to Shelby County

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 enfranchised millions of Americans and is the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. And yet fifty years later we are still fighting heated battles over race, representation, and political power, with lawmakers devising new strategies to keep people out of the voting booth and the Supreme Court declaring a key part of the VRA unconstitutional in the 2013 decision Shelby County v. Holder. Berman, the author of a groundbreaking history of voting rights since 1965, will describe how the VRA transformed American democracy and why it’s under attack today. He’ll detail how the lessons from the voting rights struggle can be applied to new battles for civil rights in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.

Democracy for Sale: How to Fix America's Broken Political System

Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the staggering amount of money in our political system should be a cause for great alarm. The 2016 election will shatter all previous fundraising records, with candidates raising untold millions from billionaire Super PAC donors. Fifty years ago, because of poll taxes and literacy tests, African-Americans were systematically denied the right to vote. Now, because of the “wealth primary,” the vast majority of Americans are being denied the rightful value of their vote. Based on his extensive reporting in the field of money and politics, Berman will explain the threat to democracy posed by the disproportionate influence the wealthy and powerful have over our political process, and the adverse impact of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Just as importantly, Berman will detail how to fix this broken system and explain how citizens can get involved in the important fight to get money out of politics.

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