"In the 500-channel universe, writing about television is the greatest job in the world," says Contributing Editor Glenn Garvin, who serves as a TV critic at reason.com. "It's a license to write about literally anything you want. A documentary on Lincoln is a chance to explore the imperial presidency. A gangland melodrama like Boardwalk Empire is an opportunity to examine how progressive efforts to invoke the power of government on behalf of morality midwifed the birth of organized crime." Garvin, 62, is no stranger to politics, either. Beginning on page 18, the Miami Herald staffer paints a portrait of the democratic socialist who wants to lead the free world ("The Sanders Surprise").
Johan Norberg is a Swedish author documentary filmmaker, and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Perhaps best known for his 2001 book In Defense of Global Capitalism, his writing focuses on trade, entrepreneurship, and individual liberty-ideas he became passionate about by reading history. "For 9,975 years the number of poor increased on the planet, and then, over the last 25 years, the number of poor was suddenly reduced by 138,000 every day," he explains. "And it so happens that this was at the moment and in the regions people got a little bit of freedom." In "Bernie's Right-America Should Be More Like Sweden" Norberg, 42, discusses the real history of the Scandinavian socialism Bernie Sanders so admires (page 26).
If a former reality TV star secures the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, it won't be the first time a political neophyte translated fame and fortune into electoral success. "Before Trump, There Was Pappy" (page 54) is Books Editor Jesse Walker's telling of the life of Texas politician W. Lee O'Daniel, who did just that in the 1930s and '40s. "Never underestimate the power of popular culture," Walker says. "It has scrambled everyone's political expectations before, and it's sure to do it again." Walker, 45, is the author of The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (HarperCollins).