Jill Long Thompson on Character in a Democracy
Play • 40 min

A few fun disclaimers. I am a graduate of the Kelley School of Business MBA program where Jill Long Thompson teaches. My wife is a graduate of the Master's program at the School of Public and Environmental Affaits (SPEA) where Jill also works. And yet, we did not know each other before I reached out to her about the podcast.

But I did know of her because she is widely known in Indiana for a long record of distinguished public service. She served three terms in Congress representing Indiana’s fourth district. She has been a nominee of the Democratic Party for Senate and Governor. She served as the Under Secretary of Agriculture under Bill Clinton and as the CEO of the Farm Credit Administration under Barak Obama. More recently, she teaches at Indiana University and is the author of The Character of American Democracy: Preserving Our Past, Protecting Our Future.

The conversation focuses on the way character and ethics are fundamental for democratic governance. We talk a bit about the ways character and ethics are important for leaders. It is interesting to hear how she believes character and ethics are not independent of public policy. The kind of character leaders have influences the policies they recommend and the performance of governance. But we also discuss the importance of character for citizens.

This is an episode with practical importance and real world applications. Jill gives a few insights from her time in public service including a personal account of the Honorable John Lewis at the end of the episode. This is an important conversation for those in leadership positions in the public or private sector.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Plate Glass Apology." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp. Thanks to Indiana University Press for my copy of The Character of American Democracy.

Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 70 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed E.B. White's On Democracy. It is a great companion to reflect on the role of character in a democracy. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

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