Katrina vanden Heuvel on How Geography Influences Politics
Katrina vanden Heuvel has been The Nation's editor since 1995 and publisher since 2005.
She is the co-editor of Taking Back America--And Taking Down The Radical Right (NationBooks, 2004) and, most recently, editor of The Dictionary of Republicanisms, (NationBooks, 2005)
She is a frequent commentator on American and international politics on MSNBC, CNN and PBS. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
She is a recipient of Planned Parenthood's Maggie Award for her article, "Right-to-Lifers Hit Russia." The special issue she conceived and edited, "Gorbachev's Soviet Union," was awarded New York University's 1988 Olive Branch Award. Vanden Heuvel was also co-editor of Vyi i Myi, a Russian-language feminist newsletter.
She has received awards for public service from numerous groups, including The Liberty Hill Foundation, The Correctional Association and The Association for American-Russian Women. In 2003, she received the New York Civil Liberties Union's Callaway Prize for the Defense of the Right of Privacy. She is also the recipient of The American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee's 2003 "Voices of Peace" award. Vanden Heuvel is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, and she also serves on the board of The Institute for Women's Policy Research, The Institute for Policy Studies, The World Policy Institute, The Correctional Association of New York and The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.
She is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University, and she lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Question: Where are you from and how did it shape you?
vanden Heuvel: New York City, born here, raised here with one side trip, when I was little, to Washington DC. My father worked in the Kennedy Justice Department, and how has New York raised me? I mean, I’m a citizen of the world, in many ways, because New York, to me, is one of the great cities of the world, and it’s a city which brings together so much energy. It’s a bit of a problem when New York City is your default city. The second city I know very well is Moscow. Not Moscow, Idaho. Moscow, Russia, and I have to say that Moscow competes with New York in the sense of energy and pace and power and finance and culture, and so those are the two cities which have shaped me. I’ve spent, I’ve lived in Moscow off and on since 1985. I was always interested in politics, broadly defined. I’ve never thought of politics as simply electoral politics. So I was interested in journalism as a way to, if I might sound grand, I was interested in journalism as a way to change the world, or to make the world better, to make the world more just. And, to me, advocacy journalism, where you’re very honest and upfront about your values and principles, is what attracted me to my work today. I think I might have become a lawyer, and I might have gone into electoral politics, but this brings together a lot of what I care about.
Question: Why didn’t you go into politics?
vanden Heuvel: Some of it is my father, a man I admire more than anyone in the world, ran for office several times. He ran against John Lindsay in 1960. He ran against Frank Hogan, a famous District Attorney in New York, and he didn’t win, and our politics is a winner take all game, and I think that needs to change. But I also saw through my father how change comes from outside. Someone very close to my family founded the ACLU and growing up and listening to what he, through that organization, had done to change the politics and culture, civil liberties of this nation, showed me that you can make as much change outside the system as in. So, to me, that’s what probably turned me off of electoral politics, thinking there are other ways of making change.
Katrina vanden Heuvel talks about the impact two cities have had on her life.
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