Dane County Wages, Food Friday, Constitutional Stories With Peter Sagal

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Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! hits the road to find out whether the U.S. Constitution has what it takes to keep up with modern times. He’ll tell us what he discovered. Plus, Veronica Rueckert and Gene Purcell learn about the fermented tea, kombucha, during this week’s “Food Friday,” and get up to date on the news of the day.

Featured in this Show

  • NPR Host Details Search For U.S Constitution Knowledge On A Motorbike

    A few years ago, Peter Sagal, quick-witted host of NPR’s popular “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” hit the road on a customized red, white and blue Harley-Davidson.

    The Harley’s patriotic colors spoke to his mission: He wanted to ride across the country to find out if the U.S. Constitution was alive and well in America, 225 years after its founding. The search is the focus of his show, “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal,” which airs on PBS.

    Sagal covered more than 2,000 miles by motorbike to find out how the Constitution lived in towns and cities across the U.S. He said he wanted to know what people thought about it and what part it played in their lives. In short, he wanted to know if the Constitution still has what it takes to keep up with modern America.

    “We took the motorcycle, a 2013 Road King, and rode around the country and talked to people who, intentionally or not, were caught up constitutional issues,” said Sagal.

    Among the people that Sagal and his team of producers spoke to were Chris Perry and her partner Sandy Steer, whose case, “Hollingsworth v. Perry” eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court and became part of the jurisprudence that is establishing in an ever-growing number of states the right to same-sex marriage.

    “For these people and many people like them in different issues, the Constitution is not just a historical document you can see under glass in Washington; it’s alive and well and active,” he said. “This is what we wanted to talk about.”

    Sagal likens the Constitution to a religion. In fact, he said he sees it as the centerpiece of what he calls a civic religion. Just like a devout Christian might not know the teachings of St. Augustine, for example, the U.S. is filled with many people who might not know the Constitution by heart or even understand jurisprudence. And yet, he said they firmly believe that the Constitution confers certain important rights, like settling disputes through peaceful means.

    “By the end of the process, I began to appreciate the fact that what motivates and illuminates this country is that ‘religion’ — this religious belief in the Constitution and the rights it guarantees,” he said.

    One of the most memorable moments Segal describes in his cross-country trip was attending a naturalization ceremony in Chicago. What struck him most, said Segal, was “the incredibly diverse mélange of people from places as far-flung as Mexico and Somalia. At the end of the ceremony, they were as American as you and I.”

    With no shared cultural heritage or ancestry, what makes such a diverse group of people Americans?

    Sagal said he believes it is this shared civic religion, this idea that every person has certain rights, like the right to self-government, to redress, the right to form and un-form governments of our own will, and so forth, and that we are committed to a democracy that is messy and inefficient and often unsatisfactory, no matter its costs.

    “They all accept the gift of freedom in exchange for responsibility to be citizens,” said Sagal. ”They believe in the Constitution as a force in its own good. And I think they’re right.”

    “My joke is it’s like ‘the force.’ Even as we speak, it is surrounding us, it is binding us together. Ultimately, we all believe in it, however much we may disagree on its particulars,” he said.

  • Dane County Second In Nation For Wage Increases

    The same Census that ranked Wisconsin 35th in private sector job growth also ranked Dane County second in the nation for private wage increases. A business reporter explains why Dane County stands out as a place to be in the private sector.

  • Kombucha 101

    Natural health advocates have increasingly been touting the benefits of live cultures for the digestive system. Today, we learn about the traditional drink, kombucha, and why the fermented tea is picking up popularity.

  • Peter Sagal: Finding The U.S. Constitution On A Motorcycle

    Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” shares stories from his 2000 Mile motorbike journey to explore how the U.S. Constitution lives in modern-day America.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Cynthia Schuster Producer
  • Peter Sagal Guest
  • Mike Ivey Guest
  • Vanessa Tortolano Guest