Democrats and Socialism: Strange Bedfellows?

Monday, August 24th, 2015

The Donald Trump saga isn’t the only interesting story making the rounds in national politics. The other narrative gives us a chance to brush up on our political history.

You probably know that Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is drawing larger campaign crowds than his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. You may also know that Sanders is a socialist.

What does that mean, and can he be considered a socialist and a Democrat at the same time?

Sanders, a New York City native who moved to Vermont in the mid-1960s, has been in Congress since 1991. He is only the third socialist ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

What are the differences between Democrats and socialists? That’s a topic that’s been debated before, but when MSNBC host Chris Mathews asked Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz that question a few weeks ago, it started a lively conversation about political philosophy, socialism, and Democrats.

For those who study history and political theory, the question goes beyond sound bites and talking points. It’s a question and a comparison of socialism and democracy, not just Democrats.

KET Associate Producer Lillie Ruschell explored the topic with Stephen Voss, a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky, and Ph.D. candidate Charles Dainoff.

The Hard Facts about Soft Job Skills in Kentucky’s Workforce

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Kentucky employers, meet Ryan Sullivan.

Ryan is a young Lexington entrepreneur who started his own lemonade stand business three years ago. He was 11 years old.

Recently Ryan and his partner, Charlie Boone, banked $300 for a week’s work. They had sales of $157 in one day alone.

We met Ryan and Charlie the same week the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce issued a new report on the state’s workforce challenges (PDF download). One of the more interesting findings in the study is that Kentucky employers are having difficulty finding workers who possess employability skills. These so-called “soft skills” include things like communication, problem solving, attendance, personal responsibility, and the ability to work with others. Some 27 percent of the employers surveyed said their applicants or their new hires lack those skills.

The Chamber says the problems revealed in the report are so severe that the next governor should conduct an immediate review of the entire work force development system.

In the meantime, maybe Kentucky employers could ask lemonade entrepreneur Ryan Sullivan to teach a few lessons about initiative, resourcefulness, and good customer service.

KET Associate Producer Lillie Ruschell recently caught up with Ryan and his partner Charlie on a hot, summer day at their drink stand near the KET studios in Lexington.

The Colorful History of Fancy Farm

Friday, July 31st, 2015

You don’t have to wait until tomorrow to get in the Fancy Farm spirit. Just dish yourself up a plate of barbeque and watch this video from Renee Shaw that explores the fascinating history of the annual political picnic. It includes some great stories about notable Fancy Farm appearances through the years by the likes of Alben Barkley, Happy Chandler, George Wallace, and Phyllis George Brown.

KET’s coverage of Fancy Farm begins tonight at 8 with Comment on Kentucky. Host Bill Bryant will talk with Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service, Joe Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal, and Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Then tomorrow KET’s live coverage of all the candidate speeches begins at 2:30 p.m.

You can also visit Renee’s blog to see what University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss says about some voting trends that could play into this year’s gubernatorial race.

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