Political Animals: New York Talks and Events Around the Midterm Elections

By Alison Durkee

The November midterm elections are fast approaching, and there’s never been a more important time to be politically engaged. Get versed on political issues, learn more about the elections process, and hear from top political figures at these upcoming talks and events.

As Tuesday, November 6, approaches, familiarize yourself more with the tactics being used to keep some Americans from exercising their right to vote at a talk on how voter suppression is damaging our democracy on October 25. On November 2, journalist and activist Masha Gessen (above) will moderate a conversation that goes one step further by examining the mechanics of democracy and positing that there might be a better way to do politics than our current system. Jewish voters can learn more about the importance of their vote at an event October 25, which will discuss history, the political landscape, and the Jewish vote. A political scientist and an investigative reporter come together on October 15 to examine “Blue Wave” or “Red Wedding”: Trend and Mirage in the 2018 Midterm Elections. Once Election Day arrives, New Yorkers can head to Housing Works Bookstore Café for a special Midterms Live event that will live stream the results and provide commentary and refreshments.

The major story from the country’s last major election, of course, was the election of President Donald Trumpand the interference from Russia that may have helped get him elected. Learn more about America’s cybersecurity problem and how to fend off future attacks at a talk on October 23, or delve deeper into the relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a talk with historian Stephen Kotkin October 18. On October 17, consider the current rise of populism in Western democracies that contributed to Trump’s winand what it means for the left.

Issues of race seem to outlast all administrations. Learn more about the large and complex issue of race in America at a series of talks taking place October 14, or hear about politics and aesthetics in the age of Black Lives Matter from activist and writer Angela Davis November 5. Beyond Black Lives Matter, those wanting to learn more about activism can attend a talk October 12 offering practical ways to make a difference, which is geared toward those who are fired up but are getting burnt out or are unsure if they’re making an impact. The 92nd Street Y will also offer a talk October 16 with four designers on graphic activism and how poster art can spark social change.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Given the political climate of the last few weeks in particular, it’s also an important time to consider women’s rights and their place in politics. Examine what’s held women back from taking a greater role in political leadershipand how to make sure that changesat a talk October 15, or learn more about the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment and how that movement is being led by women of color October 29. On October 15, celebrate a major female political figure, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at a book event for Jane Sherron de Hart’s new biography of the Supreme Court justice (there’s a second event on October 16.)

New Yorkers will also have upcoming opportunities to hear directly from political figures of both genders. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will appear in conversation with Paul Krugman at the 92nd Street Y on October 14, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright will take part in a conversation with former Vice President Dick Cheney October 16. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro will also appear October 16, as the rising Democratic Party star discusses his new book, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up From My American Dream. For a look at a lesser-discussed political role, meanwhile, hear from past U.S. Surgeons General about their roles as “America’s Doctor” at an event October 15.

After the midterm elections have ended, New Yorkers will also have the chance to hear from former FBI Director James Comey as he appears in conversation at the 92nd Street Y December 9. December will also bring former First Lady Michelle Obama to New York on her book tour for the upcoming memoir BECOMING; Obama will take part in an “intimate conversation” at the Barclays Center December 1 and 19.

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