WNYC Studios and The Nation present THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY

WNYC Studios and The Nation present THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY

A Seven-Part Podcast Series Exploring the Emotional Landscape of the Election through the Voices of Voters on Long Island

Hosted by The Nation’s KAI WRIGHT

Podcast Debuts Today

(New York, NY – September 22, 2016) – WNYC Studios and The Nation today launch THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY, a seven-part podcast series featuring the voices of people trying to hold on to their piece of the American Dream and others who are looking to attain it.

In a Presidential election cycle big on negativity and short on discussion of issues, the country is facing anxiety – over the economy, national security, and indeed, what it means to be an American. Hosted by The Nation’s features editor Kai Wright with reporting by WNYC and Nation reporters, THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY is set in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, the deeply purple region of a blue state where Donald Trump won the GOP primary with 73% of the vote.

Many of Trump’s key issues – immigration reform, law and order, economic opportunity – play well here. A longtime bastion of “white flight,” Long Island has gradually seen more and more immigrants from Central America – and it has resulted in sharp tensions, even violence. The county has a high percentage of police and firefighters who acutely feel the personal effects of 9/11 and the change it portended. And the loss of manufacturing jobs and an increase in drug addiction has eaten away at the social fabric that provided a sense of community and security. 

THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY introduces listeners to residents who are grappling with the intimate effects of these issues:

  • Patty – A respiratory therapist who voted for Obama in 2008, but is this year supporting Trump. Over the past 15 years, Patty has grappled with divorce and her son’s drug addiction, and is being forced to move from her home due to suffocating taxes. She feels illegal immigration is bringing the problems of the cities to the Long Island suburbs.
  • Patricia – Patty’s mother, who moved her family from New York City to Suffolk County in 1958. After 50 years, she worries she can’t afford to stay in her home any longer due to the increasing property tax burden. A lifelong Democrat, Patricia is supporting Donald Trump this time around.
  • Tom – A Republican and retired NYPD sergeant, Tom didn’t take Trump seriously at first. But now he thinks that at a time when America’s national security is truly threatened, the candidate’s hardline immigration stance is exactly what the country needs. 
  • Leni – Originally from the Dominican Republic, Leni is a proud American who says she can’t imagine a better place to live. But she is experiencing the other side of the coin as her fiancé is caught up in the deportation process following an arrest for a false driver’s license.
  • Joselo – An Ecuadorian immigrant and the brother of an individual killed in an anti-immigrant hate-crime in 2008. Joselo is now an advocate for immigrant rights and has led many anti-Trump demonstrations.
  • Sister Margaret – A Catholic nun and prominent activist for immigrant rights who runs the North Fork Spanish Apostolate in Riverhead.

Through the stories of these individuals, THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY provides a window into the polarizing economic, social, and political ideas that have people on the edge of their seats during this unprecedented election cycle.

“The ascent of Donald Trump and, to some degree, Bernie Sanders has put a spotlight on a portion of the electorate – the white working class – that the media hasn’t spent a tremendous amount of time on, until now,” said Karen FrillmannEnterprise Editor, WNYC and Co-Executive Producer of The United States of Anxiety. “New York is a blue state, but many die-hard Trump supporters live just an hour away from New York City on Long Island. What motivates these voters? Why are Trump’s messages resonating with them – including former Obama supporters – so strongly? And how are the newer arrivals to the area – primarily immigrants from Central America – faring as they transform the demographic balance of a region that had been static and unchanging for decades? This dynamic is playing out all across the country, and WNYC is thrilled to partner with The Nation to cut beyond the headlines and hear the voices of people grappling with these realities. ”

“What we’re reporting on are the millions of voters in the U.S. who are feeling that this uncomfortable pressure can be solved by blaming ‘others,’” said Wright, co-executive producer of the podcast. “What are the economic factors, the psychological and social factors, and the political factors that have brought us to this point? No matter who wins the election, there is no denying the deep rifts that exist in the way we define what it means to be an American. This podcast is a listening tour to better understand this moment.”       

THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY includes reporting by WNYC reporters Arun Venugopal, Matt Katz, Amanda Aronczyk, and Jim O’Grady, as well as The Nation’s Julianne Hing, American Communities Project director Dante Chinni, and D.W. Gibson, author of the prize-winning book The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21stCentury. The podcast was created by the same team that brought listeners THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD, a podcast series about gentrification in Brooklyn that told “compelling stories that resonate with any listener” (The Guardian).

New episodes will be released each Thursday through the election.   

THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY is available on wnyc.org and thenation.com, iTunes, and all other places where podcasts may be downloaded. Each Thursday (except October 20th), WNYC will air the podcast at 7pm ET on 93.9 FM / AM 820 and wnyc.org and All Things Considered host Jami Floyd and reporters from the podcast will interview guests and take calls from listeners.


WNYC Studios is the premier producer of on-demand and broadcast audio. Born from the team that created some of the most critically acclaimed and popular podcasts of the last decade, WNYC Studios is leading the new golden age in audio with high-quality storytelling that informs, inspires, and delights millions of intellectually curious and highly engaged listeners across digital, mobile, and broadcast platforms. WNYC Studios creates some of the most beloved audio series, including Radiolab2 Dope QueensThe New Yorker Radio HourFreakonomics RadioDeath, Sex & MoneyHere’s the Thing with Alec BaldwinNote to SelfOn the MediaThe Takeaway, and Studio 360. Their programs include personal narratives, deep journalism, interviews that reveal, and smart entertainment as varied and intimate as the human voice itself. For more information, visit http://wnycstudios.wnyc.org


Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015, and its tenure as America’s oldest weekly magazine. A critical, independent voice in American journalism, The Nation provides a platform for investigative reporting and spirited debate on issues of import to the progressive community. Through changing times and fashions, The Nation and TheNation.com offer consistently informed and inspired reporting and analysis of breaking news, politics, social issues and the arts—never faltering in our editorial commitment to what Nation Publisher Emeritus Victor Navasky has called “a dissenting, independent trouble-making, idea-launching journal of critical opinion.”