What should the relation between political theory and empirical political science research on democracy be like? Should we ‘compromise’ on ideals when we assess the quality of real-existing democracies? What role should democracy scholars play in public discussions, and what are their responsibilities? Michael Neblo, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University and a specialist in both empirical and theoretical political science, accepted to discuss these questions in our first podcast. This interview took place at the University of Zurich on June 24, 2015. It is a contribution to our 2015-2016 events series “Democracy: Bridging Facts and Norms.” Interview and jingle by Alice el-Wakil. Music “Sunday Lovers” by Monday Night Fever.