Air Date 10/26/2022
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at the 2022 election and the political dynamics at play as the GOP continues on its path of ideological anti-democracy, and Democrats work to register new voters and get out the vote.
Clips today are from Democracy Now!, How We Win, the Thom Hartmann Program, Deconstructed, and CounterSpin, with an additional members only clips from The Takeaway and CounterSpin.
And stay tuned at the end for the listener who explained in a paragraph what it took me 20 minutes to describe in my comments in episode 1520.
Democracy Demands We Participate Black Voters Mobilize for Midterms Amid GOP Voter Suppression Part 1 - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-21-22
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: The midterm elections, less than three weeks away, will determine the balance of power in Congress, and Black voters could play a key role. Black voters helped Democrats flip two Senate seats that gave them control of the Senate in Georgia’s 2020 special runoff election. Democratic Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock of [00:01:00] Georgia now faces Republican challenger Herschel Walker. This comes as Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp is fighting for reelection against Democrat and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams in a rematch, after he signed into law new restrictions that disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color. It was one of many voter suppression efforts in Republican-led states.
In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s election police unit — that’s right, he has set up an election police unit — has arrested people for voting. Florida law allows formerly incarcerated people to vote unless they were convicted of murder or felony sex offenses. Those arrested say Florida officials encouraged them to vote, and didn’t know about the exclusion. This is police bodycam footage of Tampa resident Tony Patterson and his arresting officer, recently obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
POLICE OFFICER 1: Apparently, I guess you have a [00:02:00] warrant.
TONY PATTERSON: For what?
POLICE OFFICER 1: I’m not sure.
POLICE OFFICER 2: It’s for voter stuff, man.
POLICE OFFICER 1: For voter —
POLICE OFFICER 2: It’s — what it is, it — I think the agents with FDLE talked to you last week about some voter fraud, voter stuff, when you weren’t supposed to be voting maybe.
TONY PATTERSON: This here is crazy, man. Y’all putting me in jail for something I didn’t know nothing about. Why would you all let me vote if I wasn’t able to vote?
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Talk about your plans in Florida. In that video we played in the introduction, astounding story of what the governor has done in having arrested — with his election police, arresting people who were attempting to vote. They said, these men who were in prison and came out, that they can register, and if they qualify — because they didn’t know they did, because they had served time in jail — they will be allowed to vote. And then they were handcuffed and [00:03:00] arrested for voting. Your response?
BARBARA ARNWINE: Well, they were handcuffed and arrested for voting while they had in their hands their voting cards. Now, if you’re sent a voting card by your county registrar, wouldn’t you assume that that means you have the right to vote?
So, the fact that DeSantis — you know, people here call him DeSatan — has decided that he wants to use and play the race card by having mostly Black — look at who he’s arresting. It’s not just, you know, whites, because more whites have been affected by these felony disenfranchisement laws than Blacks, but he’s mainly arresting Black people, that he’s playing the race card because he wants to be president. Doesn’t that say something ill about the concept of our democracy, the concept of who we are, that we want a —
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: We have —
BARBARA ARNWINE: — person who is using race? [00:04:00] Because it worked before, right? With Trump. So they’re saying, “OK, we’ll do it again.”
Battling the Big Liars with Dan Pfeiffer - How We Win - Air Date 10-19-22
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: You heard it in our cold open: Biden makes abortion rights bill a top priority if Democrats strengthen their position in Congress. And when I say "strengthen our position in Congress", that means elect a couple of more senators to make Sinemanchin less relevant and carve out the filibusters so that we can actually pass this stuff.
A very important reminder, um, you know, Roevember's coming, There's some people who kind of think the wave of enthusiasm from volunteers over the repeal of Roe has waned. I don't think so. I think, it is, if anything, building. What are your thoughts on that?
JENIFER FERNANDEZ ANCONA - GUEST CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: Yeah, I agree. I think it's a great time to hear Biden say this. I am really glad that he reminded us and all voters to think about how they felt that day that the Supreme Court [00:05:00] decision was announced. Because - we know this about voters - time is not our friend. People have short attention spans and so it's really important, even though people across the country are really feeling the impact of this, it's really important to talk about it as well. And as we know, and I know we'll talk more about some of the polar coaster that has been happening as well, but the media always wants to keep things interesting, and so there's been a big push to say, Oh, well, we had this big surge about Dobbs, but that's going away, and now it's back on the Republican's turf of inflation. I don't believe that's true. I think that it is a different kind of midterm than we've ever seen. And so the chance to have a new story that reminds people what is at stake, that reminds people this is a real contrast election where our freedoms are on the ballot and the GOP wants to take all of our freedoms away, is a good thing. [00:06:00] So I'm really glad Biden did that, brought attention to it and hope that... Those are the kind of stories that we need to keep pushing right now to keep the narrative on the point that has Republicans on defense rather than a narrative that has us on defense.
Bernie Sanders Knows How Democrats Can Win Featuring Bernie Sanders - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 10-13-22
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Senator Bernie Sanders is on the line with us. Senator Sanders, of course, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, one of the most powerful committees in all of Congress, two-time US presidential candidate, for 11 years every Friday on this program.
Senator Sanders, welcome back. You wrote a brilliant piece for the Guardian titled "Democrats shouldn't focus only on abortion in the midterms. That's a mistake." Can you elaborate?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Yeah, I can. Tom, it's great to be with you, and keep up the work you're doing.
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Thank you.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Look, here's the issue. This is, in my view, the most important midterm election in our lifetimes. And if people think, you know, no one's running for president, it's not that important, they don't have to vote, they are dead wrong. This [00:07:00] election is about whether we preserve American democracy, whether women have the right to control their own bodies, whether we move aggressively to deal with the existential threat of climate, whether working families in this country get a fair shake. That's what this election is about.
And what I wrote about is that yes, of course, we have got to be as vigorous and strong as we can to override the terrible Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade. And we have got to make it certain that it is women in this country who control their own bodies, and not state government.
But in addition to that, what we have also got to do is make it clear that if you are a working class person, if you're making $12, $15 an hour, if you can't afford healthcare, if you can't afford to send your kid to college, if you can't afford childcare, if you're sick and tired of corporate greed, you can't vote for Republicans because they are [00:08:00] on the wrong side of all of those issues. And it bothers me that Democrats have not been as vigorous as they should in taking on Republicans on these economic issues.
Just one more example. It is no great secret that Mitch McConnell and other Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, we need to expand Social Security, improve benefits by doing away with right now the limitation on taxation for Social Security. Right now you make a million dollars, you pay the same amount if you make $140,000. That is totally absurd. So my point was, Tom, that yes, we've got to make sure that we defend the woman's right to choose, that we fight for American democracy. But I think the way we can win votes is making it clear how reactionary Republicans are on economic issues.
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Senator, the the right wing Republicans have been plastering the [00:09:00] word "freedom" all over everything. You know, freedom works, freedom this, freedom that. I remember Franklin -- I don't remember it literally -- but, Franklin Roosevelt famously said an old judge once said, A necessitous man is not a free man, that you're not free if you're hungry or homeless. Do you want to elaborate on that and how Democrats might be able to take that word "freedom" or the concept, and elaborate on it?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Yeah. What Roosevelt talked about -- and he talked about it in 1944 in the State of the Union address that didn't get a whole lot of publicity because it was in the middle of World War II. But what he said was a very profound statement. He said, Yeah, in so many words, he said, Yeah, we have a bill of rights, we have a constitution. You have freedom of expression, freedom of speech. You can vote for whoever you want to vote for. Freedom of religion. All of that's very, very important. But are you free right now if you are working for starvation wages, trying to figure out how you can feed your kids? Are you free if you get sick and you can't afford to go [00:10:00] to a doctor? I. What does freedom mean if you're a single mom, you can't afford childcare and you are having to figure out how you keep your job and take care of your kids? Are you free if you are a senior citizen unable to heat your home in the wintertime? And the truth is right now, Tom, unbelievably in the richest country in the history of the world, 60% of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. And what that means, it's not just economic anxiety. This expands to emotional anxiety. If you're worried about how you're going to pay your rent next month because your landlord has substantially increased your rent, you can't afford to buy food because food prices are going up, can't afford to fill up your car with gas because gas prices have gone up. You are living under tremendous anxiety. And that often translates, by the way, into physical illness; stress causes illness.
So I think what Roosevelt is saying is very [00:11:00] profound and important. Freedom is not just the right to vote. Yeah, that is enormously important. Freedom is not just the right to express your point of view. Enormously important. We all defend the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. But what Roosevelt was talking about is that economic rights are human rights as well. And we've gotta fight for those.
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: We have a handful of major corporations that are showing the largest profits in the history of the world. We have the largest producer of oil in the world openly taking the side of Vladimir Putin: Saudi Arabia openly taking Putin's side. And it's almost as if I -- I don't know if this is a paranoid fantasy on my part or not -- that Donald Trump or Jared Kushner, who's gonna deal with the Saudis, reached out to Mohammad bin Salman and said, "Hey, help us screw the Republicans. Let's jack up gas prices." Reached out to the CEOs of the biggest oil companies, one of whom was Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and said "Hey, help us really damage the Democrats. We need to jack up inflation really hard [00:12:00] here."
Whether I'm presenting a conspiracy theory that's nuts or not, just the fact that this situation is as fragile as it is and as vulnerable to that kind of manipulation should be something our government should be looking at, is it not?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. And what do they say, Tom? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that you're crazy, right?
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Yeah, or that they're not out to get you. Right. Exactly.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Look and you know, one of the issues that you just touched on, which I think we don't talk enough about, the Republicans talk about inflation, inflation. Well, inflation is a huge issue. We've got to understand what causes inflation. And part of that indisputably is the level, the unprecedented level of corporate greed that we are now experiencing. So are gas prices too high? Yeah, they are. Look at the profit margin of Exxon Mobil and the other major oil companies, and they're enjoying record-breaking profits. Are food prices too high? Yeah, they are. Take a look at what the major food [00:13:00] companies are doing now in terms of their profit levels: extremely high. Are prescription drug costs too high? Absolutely. Take a look at the pharmaceutical industry and the kind of enormous profits that they are making right now.
So I think one of the things that Democrats should be campaigning on is the level of corporate greed that now exists. In my own view, I believe we should initiate a windfall profits tax
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Like the Brits just did.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Like what?
THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: The Brits just did. They just did this in Britain, the conservatives.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: The conservative government in England imposed that. We would go further. But you got to tell the corporate world that in this really difficult moment in American history -- you got the war in Ukraine, you got supply chains that are broken, you got major labor shortages in parts of the country -- that at this particular moment, you know what? You cannot have these outrageous profit [00:14:00] margins, because you're raising prices to a level that working people can't support.
Battling the Big Liars with Dan Pfeiffer Part 2 - How We Win - Air Date 10-19-22
DAN PFEIFFER: I'd say a couple things. And there is some dispute within Democratic circles about how we should think about polls in terms of GOTV. Cuz polls can do three things. They can make people. They can make people depressed. Or they can remind people that we have a lot of fucking work to do. And that's how I would look at this New York Times, and... Don't want you to take any one poll too seriously, but I think if you look at the bulk of the polls, you look at where the money's being spent, how the money's being spent. You look at the messages from the campaigns and the body language of the campaigns. Here's one thing that I think is absolutely without a doubt, is [that] this race has tightened up and it is gonna be, it is very, very close, in lots of places and it was always going to be that way. It was never, Republicans are never gonna win by a ton, like the polls looked like last year and early this spring. Democrats were never gonna cruise to victory in these states, like the polls may have looked this summer. John Fetterman was never [00:15:00] winning Pennsylvania by 15 points. Raphael Warnock was never winning by five points. That was never gonna happen. These races are all happening in states that were decided by a point in 2020, and a point in 2016, and a couple of points in 2012. Most of the Senate will be decided by states where the final margin was less than one half of 1% in 2020. So we have reverted to the inevitable means. So, the way I look at this poll or the other poll is we can win and we have three weeks to go win. Whether the polls say we're winning by a little or losing by a little bit should not change anything that anyone is going to do. It should be a reminder that we have agency here, there is - in the country and in the states that are gonna decide the Senate and the House - there is a progressive, pro-truth, pro-democracy, anti-MAGA majority, and it's, we just have to turn them out. And if we turn them out, we will win. If we don't, we will lose. And that's the math no matter what Nate Cohn or the Needle or some other Nate says to us.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: I've really, uh, like I should know better. [00:16:00] I've worked on enough campaigns to know that at this point I need to just shut off those models and just keep my head down and do the work. But it's hard not to look at them. But as you said, these are all within what we are lovingly calling the margin of effort right now.
DAN PFEIFFER: That's right. That's exactly right.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: Speaking of the margin of effort, I know you and the Pod Save America guys all are super busy and help out with campaigns a lot, especially as it comes up to GOTV. Uh, where is your focus in these last few weeks?
DAN PFEIFFER: Couple different places. You know, obviously focused on the Senate and those key states there, but very, very interested in trying to help out and draw attention to the down-ballot races, particularly the Secretary of State races all across the country but in Arizona and Nevada in particular. They're gonna be incredibly close and you have election deniers on the Republican ticket who have basically run with the promise to keep votes from being counted. And then, you know, there are House races that are very well within the margin and whether we keep the House or we lose the [00:17:00] House by... We have the ability to keep the House and if we can, if that happens, that is huge. But if we lose it, there is a gigantic difference between losing it by a couple of seats and losing it by a ton of seats. A couple of seats, and we have the opportunity to go and get it back in 2024, because the House map now has more seats that Joe Biden won than Trump won. And so with presidential year turnout, we can go back, if we lose it by 40 seats, like we won it by in 2018, or 64 seats or 63 seats, like Republicans won it in 2010, then it's gonna take us a very, very long time to get it back. So, everyone asks me, like, Where should [unintelligible], there is no wrong answer here. We gotta win everywhere. Pick the race you're passionate about. Pick the volunteer event or the phone bank that fits with your schedule and dig in.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: So I was pitching, um, obviously last week we had Senator Cortez Masto on our show. And obviously Nevada is a super important race, pivotal to holding the Senate. And, uh, I had a great pitch to my wife this morning, [00:18:00] going out and canvassing in Las Vegas and Silk Sonic is doing a residency there, too. So we could go see Silk Sonic and help save democracy. What a great weekend that would be, right?
DAN PFEIFFER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you can get out to Vegas and you can catch a, you know, you can't canvas at night, so you might as well canvas during the day and catch a show at night.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: You may as well see Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars at night and save democracy by day. Come on.
DAN PFEIFFER: That would be hard to turn down.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: Um, you mentioned all of the MAGA Republican election deniers running all over the country. There's over 300 of them. And we know the, whatever the results are, it's gonna be really close. I kind of don't want to go there with this question right now, but I think it's important that we start thinking about this. How do we prepare for the hundreds of little wannabe Trump's refusing to accept the results if they don't win?
DAN PFEIFFER: Well, I think actually, you know, an ounce prevention goes a long way or whatever the saying is, that we can prevent that [00:19:00] from happening right now. Right? We just win these races. And if we're gonna prepare... so it's like I'm almost hesitant to get into the view of what 2024 looks like if these folks win, because I'd rather just beat them in 2022. But I think that no matter what happens, we have to be prepared for the fact that the Republicans will do everything they possibly can to ensure the Republican wins no matter what the voter says. And the way in which they go about that insurrection is gonna be very different than the last time. This is not gonna be about the Vice President or about, like, what happens at the Capitol or anything about that. What the Republicans realized is the reason they could not overturn the election is because when the votes were counted, Joe Biden was ahead. And so what they're gonna do now is not try to throw - and so they tried and fail to do it, cuz it's very hard to do - is to throw out, already counted, already certified votes. This time they're just gonna stop the votes from being counted. And so that's gonna mean that all of us in this election and in 2024 have the opportunity and the responsibility to, [00:20:00] you know, run for office for some of these local positions like Recorder of Deeds, to be poll watchers, to be advocates, and to try to protect the integrity of the vote, cuz they're gonna be trying to throw them out. And I am, as someone who's first major political experience was working for Al Gore in 2000 and spending, you know, 37 brutal days in Florida at the end, I know how this works. I know how, no matter what the integrity of the election is, if you come out on the bottom side, you almost ... the results almost never flip. And so we have to ensure that every single vote gets counted. And that's gonna require investing and organizing, volunteering to be poll watchers and supporting legal efforts.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: Yeah, absolutely. Poll watchers, Poll workers, like, there's extreme intimidation and as we all know poll workers tend to be older and so younger people need to step up and take on that role. And yeah, it would be nice to, uh, it'd be nice to overwhelmingly win and make it harder for them to cast [00:21:00] out on it. But I think it is gonna be close. And when we look, especially at House of Representatives, it's gonna come down to a couple of seats. It's, you know, it's really, every seat's gonna make a lot of difference. So that's kinda dark. And the other thing, um, we're gonna have some close races that we'll have a legitimate cause to call for recount and stuff as well. And that's gonna, it's gonna be a little messy. So yes, let's get out there and do everything we can to make sure that it's a clear victory.
Senate Races That Could Tip The Balance - Deconstructed - Air Date 10-14-22
GEORGE CHIDI: When you turn on the television right now, you cannot escape the advertising. Some of this is outside money. I think there’s been a huge ad buy by Karl Rove’s guys, to say: If you care about inflation, you need to vote for Walker, because inflation is bad, and Hey! Warnock voted for checks for people who are in jail, like the bomber in Boston.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: And what are Warnock’s ads?
GEORGE CHIDI: Warnock’s [00:22:00] ads — and he’s actually starting to sign his name on some of this stuff, so it’s not outside money — have been basically: Walker’s a liar and Walker is insane. Walker is violent. Walker can’t count his kids. Walker threatened to kill his wife. Walker lies about charitable stuff. Just like: Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. Walker cannot be trusted. I think they’re penetrating.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Walker’s response to that seems to have been: Hey, Warnock’s supposed to be a pastor. What happened to grace and forgiveness and redemption? How’s that working?
GEORGE CHIDI: There’s a reason why there’s a 10-point gap between Abrams and Warnock in the polls. And that’s the measure of how many people are actually buying that lie. I mean, look, the question everybody in the country has got is: Why would anybody vote for Herschel Walker, knowing what we know now? [00:23:00] Georgia, where you’re inundated with this stuff, why would anybody vote for him? And the answer is actually pretty simple. His stupidity is a feature, not a bug. He is a guaranteed I-will-push-the-“R”-button-when-it-lights-up senator who will not innovate, because he’s not smart enough. He may do crazy, stupid things. He may say crazy and stupid things. But he is the most reliable Republican vote that we could possibly have — and that’s a good thing. And I’ll vote for him. That’s it. Like they don’t care about any of this. All of the moral questions? Republicans are not moral actors when it comes to voting. It’s simply a matter of interest.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Which I could defend from a kind of moral perspective. In other words, to take their side of this question, you’re voting for a party and a [00:24:00] policy rather than endorsing the character of a person. From their perspective, if he goes in and presses the “R” button — and I think Democrats, in a lot of races, they’re voting for the Democrat, and they’re voting for Democratic policy. That person is going to go in and they’re going to press that button. And they wouldn’t switch and vote for Herschel Walker, because some damaging information came out about Warnock; the vast majority of them wouldn’t. But I’m curious what your guess is of what percentage of Republicans that is. And how many people are there still in our politics, who are still taking character into account when they are making these decisions? Used to be huge: ’70s, ’80s, you would lose by 30-40 points in a race like this, if you’re Herschel Walker.
GEORGE CHIDI: Yep.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: I’m curious where we’re at now on that.
GEORGE CHIDI: So my best guess is like that measure is the gap [00:25:00] between Abrams and —
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: About 5 to 10.
GEORGE CHIDI: About 5 to 10. I think that’s who’s left. And here’s where I’m going with this: So during the primaries — and this is important — like, the Republicans had the highest primary turnout this year basically ever. So did the Democrats. Voters are activated! I think that the era of relatively low turnout primaries and general elections in Georgia is over. Too much money’s been spent getting people registered to vote. Herschel Walker won something over 800,000 primary votes. It was about 60 or 70 percent of the primary electorate. And it’s twice as many as anybody else in modern history has won in a primary, contested or not, in Georgia for a Senate race. That’s gonna be about [00:26:00] half, maybe a little less than half, of the Republican voters who turn out for the general election — which is to say, half of Republican voters are perfectly prepared to pick crazy. And honestly, it’s because I think that they are so disenchanted with actual politics, that putting a thumb in the eye of a political machine, even if they lose, is a better and proper expression of their politics than it is winning and trying to govern well.
RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Speaking of governing well, how’s the Georgia war over actual voting and counting the votes going?
GEORGE CHIDI: So the one question right now is going to be about challenges to voter registration. Local judges and local election boards are doing a pretty good job right now of knocking those challenges down, virtually all of them are being thrown out. But there is a deliberate and concerted effort [00:27:00] by conservative, hard right, third party actors. It’s not the state GOP. It’s groups like to True the Vote out of Texas. And when I look at who’s staffing that stuff here, it’s MAGA — it’s the worst kind of grifter alt-right. But they’re showing up to elections boards all over the state, and it’s just rolling dice. They’re looking for election boards with a MAGA majority on it who are willing to subvert the law. To his credit, Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State, is doing a very good job — and so is his staff — in beating back the most spurious of these claims that people are being registered improperly.
Democracy Demands We Participate Black Voters Mobilize for Midterms Amid GOP Voter Suppression Part 2 - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-21-22
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Barbara Arnwine, your hashtag is #10MillionMoreBlackVotes. How are you doing this?
BARBARA ARNWINE: Oh, we’re doing it in two ways. One is [00:28:00] we’re registering new voters. There’s something like 6 million unregistered African American voters in this country. And we’re also saying to those who are registered, the 35% who don’t vote, that you’ve got to show up and show out every election. Don’t only vote presidential. Vote in the midterms. It’s so critical. Vote the whole ballot; don’t only focus on the top positions. But no matter what you do, vote. No matter what you do, make sure you’re registered. No matter what you do, vote.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: And can you talk, Kimberlé Crenshaw, about how you’re linking these two issues, the banned book tour, From Freedom Riders to Freedom Readers, and why that’s so critical when we’re talking about voter turnout and voter registration?
KIMBERLE CRENSHAW: Well, Amy, it’s no secret that our democracy is in crises — the efforts [00:29:00] to suppress Black voting, the efforts to gerrymander districts. This is all part of a democracy that’s in deep trouble. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the same people who are trying to gerrymander our districts are trying to gerrymander our history. The same people who want to change the outcomes of elections want to change the story of us, the material, the books that tell the full story about America.
So, we’ve decided that because there is no daylight between racial justice and a fully multiracial democracy, we were going to join this tour to provide the information, the books, that those who are anti-Democrats don’t want us to know. So we’re passing out 6,000 books, titles that have been banned in many of the states that we’re in, ranging from the autobiography of Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old who integrated schools in New [00:30:00] Orleans, to classics like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye or Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.
People need to understand what is behind this effort to ban what they call critical race theory. What they’re essentially doing is banning the telling of our history and its contemporary consequences. We think when voters know exactly what they’re trying to do, they will show up, and, as Barbara said, they will show out.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: And so, can you talk about the response? I mean, you’re right now actually in Jekyll Island, Georgia, headed to Jacksonville. Georgia is — to say the least, all eyes are on this state, when you have this race between Herschel Walker and Reverend Raphael Warnock. Reverend Raphael Warnock just won two years ago but now will run for a full Senate term — all of the attention on [00:31:00] this. Can you talk, Barbara Arnwine, about the significance of this race and some of the other ones that you’re tracking?
BARBARA ARNWINE: Well, obviously, African American voters are key to all these races, because — and, you know, we’re nonpartisan, and we believe that if African Americans vote, they’ll vote correctly, because they’re going to vote what’s in the best interests not only of their community, but the entire nation. That’s one thing we know about African American voters: They think broadly. Especially African American women voters have a real sense of social justice for all. So, it’s really important to mobilize this bloc.
And what we’re seeing already in Georgia is an incredible, unprecedented, historic turnout of African American voters. They are 37% of the current early voting percentages. That’s an increase, [00:32:00] significantly, from being 29% in the 2018 midterm elections. So, African Americans are hearing us. We’ve been going to communities that have the lowest voter turnout and saying, “Your vote matters. It doesn’t matter if all the candidates don’t come to see you because they don’t consider you high propensity voters; we consider you the most important voters. Register. Vote.”
So, yesterday, when we did our votercade and we went through some of the poorest, most depressed areas in Brunswick, you should have seen the people. This was like what we’ve been seeing everywhere. They came out. They were clapping. They were giving the power fist. They were yelling. They were screaming. They were so excited that somebody considered them important. Somebody was coming directly to them and saying, “Vote. It matters.” It was just beautiful.
That is the experience we’ve had in Richmond, where we were [00:33:00] on motorcycles driving through the city with the Buffalo Soldiers in a long, six-block-long motorcade. It’s been amazing. When people see the John Lewis buses, they honk on the freeways at us. They honk as we roll, because people get the message. They’re so happy to see somebody saying “vote” in a positive way, not about candidates, just about the fact that as Americans and the fact that we care and love our democracy, that it demands that we participate, that we vote.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Kimberlé Crenshaw, you are in Georgia. That other key race is the rematch between the longtime voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, the governor, for the governorship of Georgia. The significance of this race? And you’re visiting these sites of white supremacist terror, [00:34:00] from the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to — talk about the places that you have been.
KIMBERLE CRENSHAW: Yes. We visited Wilmington, which is the site of a racial coup in 1898. And one of the reasons that was just so significant to us —
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: In North Carolina.
KIMBERLE CRENSHAW: — at the African American Policy Forum — yes — was that, when we had the January 6th attempted coup, there were a lot of pundits, including our president, who said, “This is not who we are.” And it is evidence of the fact that when our history has been erased, we don’t know that we’re heading in the same direction. In fact, violent coups are exactly who we’ve been.
But when we went to Wilmington and looked at the site where the coup began, where a newspaper was burned to the ground and countless numbers of African Americans were [00:35:00] killed and a duly elected biracial government was deposed, there’s no marker there. There’s no placard. There’s no “this is what happened.”
And that same sentiment, that erasure of our history, is what is behind these book bans and behind the effort to challenge The 1619 Project. It is, in fact, an effort to make racism unspeakable. And our position has been that when racism is unspeakable, then democracy — a full multiracial democracy — is unachievable. There is no daylight between the two. Even though when people think and talk about “Is our country going to the edge? Can it happen here?” A lot of people say it can’t, but that’s just telling us that they don’t realize that Black history and American history are one and the same. It has happened here. And unless we understand its legacy and its implication today, it’s on the way of happening here again. [00:36:00] And that’s what we cannot allow to happen.
How We Vote! with Andrea Hailey - How We Win - Air Date 9-21-22
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: We've seen a lot of increased engagement by volunteers. Certainly in polls for Democrats lately, an increase in voter registration, especially by women since Roe was overturned. So there's a lot of momentum, positive momentum for Democrats. There is still a lot to overcome. You've been working on -- you mentioned your family facing voter suppression as one of the impetuses for you to get involved in civics to begin with. Voter suppression efforts by Republicans have ramped up. It's making it harder for some citizens, of course, mostly Black and Brown Americans, to register and vote.
How do we support our citizens and ensure that everyone has equal and unfettered access to the ballot right now? 2020 was a challenge. It's gonna be even harder than that in the midterms in November for people to vote.
ANDREA HAILEY: I think yeah, on the heels of historic turnout in the presidential election where we saw the highest turnout in this country that we've seen in a hundred years, when [00:37:00] we should have been celebrating this big achievement of democracy, instead we saw voter suppression bills crisscross the nation. And we saw many states pass voter suppression bills that will make it challenging for programs like ours to get people from that registration moment all the way to the ballot box.
And I think that we have to recognize in this country now we have two types of people. Take it out of the partisan lens. We have people who believe in a healthy and thriving democracy, and people who believe in some other style of government that is not a democracy, where everyone can't have their voice heard.
STEVE PIERSON - CO-HOST, HOW WE WIN: I'll call it fascism. But you may not be able to do that, but I will.
ANDREA HAILEY: So I think the way to counter that is to continue to show up. To show up in the presidential cycle, the midterm cycle. Usually there's 15% drop off in midterms, I don't think we're going to see that this election cycle; I think the American public is awake and the only way that we can keep the momentum and keep a healthy democracy is to make sure that we're all doing our part. Wake up every day thinking, what can I build, create, or do? How do [00:38:00] I, who can I contact to make sure that they're registered today on National Voter Registration Day?
How do I make sure that I have my vote plan together for how to participate? In states that have passed these laws, you really wanna make sure that you have a plan to.
I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, for instance, and we are not a great state when it comes to voting. And so my team saw me stand in seven- to eight-hour lines as the head of vote.org, at my local polling location. And like many Americans, I had to go back to work. I couldn't just stand there for all the seven hours. But luckily I had made a plan to vote early, so I went out there days in advance. And when I couldn't vote because the lines are too long, I went back home, I went back to work, and then I showed up the next day hoping that maybe the line would be a little shorter the next day. It took me three days until I had the opportunity to vote. But if I had just shown up on election day, then the chances of me getting voter suppressed in real time would've been greater. So I think that -- and not actually getting to cast my [00:39:00] ballot would've been greater because, that would've been it.
So I think that for a lot of people out there, you just have to register and you have to encourage everyone you know to know the laws in their state. Go to vote.org. Check out when you can start early voting. Look to see if you can vote by mail depending on the state that you live in. And then think about what you could do. Talk to your employer about giving paid time off to vote to everyone, and signing up for our electionday.org program. I think all of us have a role to play. Like we said earlier, everybody is an influencer. So making sure that you really take on that responsibility of being the boat captain for your community, your block, your neighborhood, making sure everybody has the information that they need.
I think enthusiasm is the only way we keep a healthy democracy. Volunteering to go to polls and work as a poll worker is really important. So that we can keep those polling locations open and the people who need that kind of access have it. So I think those are the things we can do.
But I think we all just have to realize that it's protecting our democracy. Everything you do won't feel like enough, but all of it is [00:40:00] important. And so we're all going to have to really lean into the moment and think about some of the things that I just named and make sure that we're doing them.
Julie Hollar and Jim Naureckas on 2022 Midterms - CounterSpin - Air Date 10-21-22
JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Well, that's absolutely what I was moving towards, Julie, because, you know, we have a journalism that says that when it comes to elections, the job is to say what politicians are saying and maybe their strategy for saying it, but the coverage is candidate A versus candidate B. And if they don't mention something, well then we're not gonna talk about it, right? Because neither of the big party candidates mentioned it. And I feel like we've come to expect that for election coverage and as you're just pointing out, it's such a narrow definition of what this opportunity for reporting could look like in terms of what we talk about. And you know, Matt Gertz from Media Matters was just pointing out that Republicans have this not-at-all veiled plan to gut Social Security and Medicare if they win Congress.
This [00:41:00] is something that people care deeply about that affects virtually everyone in the country. This is an important story, but if candidates don't talk about it, then reporters aren't gonna talk about it, because it didn't come out of a candidate's mouth. And it's such a narrow understanding of what electoral politics mean and the opportunity for journalism that's offered by elections.
JIM NAURECKAS: There are huge issues that are going undiscussed for the most part in the campaign and in the campaign coverage, things that affect everybody vitally, but neither party sees them as political winners and therefore they don't get talked about. The COVID pandemic is one such issue. Neither party is making it a big part of their campaign, despite the fact that this is an ongoing pandemic that has killed a million Americans and continues to kill Americans, shows no sign of going away. And there's neither [00:42:00] a strategy being advanced by the party in power or a strategy suggested by the the opposition party to deal with this. It's just not being talked about.
Another issue that is getting weirdly little discussion in the campaign journalism is the Ukraine War, which the United States is putting vast resources into this. It's basically a proxy war with the other major nuclear superpower on earth with the possibility of nuclear war being discussed in kind of bizarrely casual terms in the foreign policy opinion press. What are we doing to prevent nuclear war from happening? That's not an issue that either party is really focusing on.
JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Well, I wanted to say that I think listeners understand that there are always issues in play in an election, but at this point, we're not talking about [00:43:00] just issues, as life changing as they may be. We're talking about the process itself. We're talking about whether or not it matters when you go to vote, whether you have some say in how politicians treat your bodily autonomy, whether you have some say in how politicians vote on possibility of nuclear war or the use of, I think it's now $16 billion or something that the White House has spent on the Ukraine war.
Whether or not we have a process that allows us to have a say in what's being done in our name, that's what's on the ballot.
JIM NAURECKAS: There's a lot of talk about the January 6th insurrection. It's important to keep in mind what was going on there. That was an attempt to stop the House from certifying the 2020 presidential election. We are now going to be choosing the House of Representatives that will preside over the 2024 presidential election, and the [00:44:00] Republican ideology now is that the Republican party should have blocked the certification of the 2020 election and declared victory for Donald Trump because of a sort of faith-based understanding that he was the rightful president and should have been named so.
So that is what we're putting the pieces in place for that to be re-litigated in 2024. And I would say that is the most important thing at stake in the 2022 midterms.
JULIE HOLLAR: And when you think about January 6th, and you think about the way that when we were covering the coverage at the time, there was this sense like, wow, media are finally getting a little bit of a spine, and they're finally starting to call a spade a spade and they're finally starting to call out lies and things like that. And I think what you're seeing, definitely seeing in recent months, that reverting back to the both sidesism. And I think that when Janine, you're asking this question of [00:45:00] why you think about what was happening in the Republican party around January 6th, where there was a real schism and a lot of the leadership, the non-Trump leadership was saying, This is not okay. We can't do this. And then the momentum swung back towards Trump, and that suddenly became the mainstream of the party. And once that became the mainstream of the party, then with corporate media's insistence on giving credence to reporting both sides, like the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the mainstream of the Republican Party -- when the mainstream of the Republican party became election denialists, it became virtually impossible for the media to continue to call them out forcefully in the way that they had just begun to do around January 6th.
JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Well, let me ask you about another aspect. There's so many, so many things to keep your eyes on, and yet money is always one of them.
There was a quote in the Guardian from Chisun Lee from the Brennan [00:46:00] Center -- also I would note a long ago CounterSpin cohost -- but Lee said that it does seem to be getting worse that outside spending in this federal midterm cycle is more than double the last midterm cycle. Since Citizens United, just 12 mega donors, eight of them billionaires, have paid $1 out of every $13 spent in federal elections.
And now we're seeing a troubling new trend that some of the mega donors are sponsoring campaigns that attack the fundamentals of democracy itself. There's just a way for both of you that corporate media are just not going to talk about money and the influence of corporate money and power in elections. It's always like, as if suddenly when we're talking about elections, it's the school board and the posters and marches and boxes and the idea that donors have power is a story, but it's [00:47:00] a separate story.
JIM NAURECKAS: You should always keep in mind, when you're especially watching broadcast coverage or TV coverage of the elections, that elections are a huge, huge profit center for TV news. The inflow of money to buy around-the-clock propaganda in support of one candidate or or another, that money is going straight into the coffers of the corporations that own the TV news programs. And so they have no interest in turning that spigot off. It would be a financial disaster for them if there was some way found to keep mega donors from pouring money into the political process.
JULIE HOLLAR: I would also like to point out that there are independent news outlets that are doing a really great job of digging up some of this information about the dark money, donations both [00:48:00] within the Democratic and the Republican parties. The levers, one of them, that is one of the purposes of independent media. I mean, that should be the purpose of all media, of course, but that's one way in which independent media really do the job that media should be doing of following the money and holding power to account.
How Midterm Campaigns are Framing Crime - The Takeaway - Air Date 10-20-22
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: I'm continuing my conversation with Rena Karefa-Johnson from FWD.us and Ames Grawert from the Brennan Center for Justice. Now, we've been trying to think through how candidates in midterm elections are using messages about crime and public safety, like in this ad in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin in New York.
POLITICAL AD: Then without warning, he turns violent--
You're looking at actual violent crimes caught on camera in Kathy Hochul's New York, and it's getting much worse on Kathy Hochul's Watch.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: Rena, talk to me about the politics of that commercial.
RENA KAREFA-JOHNSON: We've seen these ads, unfortunately, because there have been tens of millions of dollars going into them, and they're rouge they always look the same. [00:49:00] Usually, there's a brief or vague reference to a certain policy in New York. It's often bail reform that's scapegoated or it's a certain individual candidate or gubernatorial sitting governor's "soft-on-crime" stance. Then we transition into deeply racist and racialized and I think shameful images of Black people, almost always Black men doing something violent that is supposed to scare us, and then the end is "Vote for me because I'm going to be tough on crime. I'm going to bring us back to those lock-them-up law and order policies."
I think it's really important and great that you brought us to talk about New York, because some of the data that we have in New York about criminal justice reform is some of the strongest data that we have in support of criminal justice reform in the country. We have seen in studies that [00:50:00] 98% of the people released under the new bail reform law, were not rearrested, not even convicted, were not rearrested for any violent felony. This idea that criminal justice reform is what's driving this scary increase in crime, it's just patently false. It's just not true.
More broadly, the idea that doubling down on mass incarceration or mass criminalization is the answer is absurd, honestly, given the data that we have. There's no question that incarceration if it's at all effective in reducing crime is among the most expensive, least effective, and most cruel ways to do that. If that is what made us safe, the United States, as the most incarcerating nation in the history of the world and a nation with unprecedented police budgets, a nation that really has over-relied on jail and prison for far too long, would be the safest country in [00:51:00] the world, and we know that that's just not true.
AMES GRAWERT: Just as a background, between 1990 and 2014, crime across the United States, but especially in American cities, plummeted precipitously. The national murder rate dropped by around half. You went from, in New York City, a place that saw 2,000 murders in a single year in 1990, 1991 to around 400. That's an incredible transformation in the way our cities look, the lives that people can lead in our cities, and the lives that people can lead in any part of the country.
It is one of the most profound transformations in the state of our country over the last quarter century, and we don't have a perfect accounting for what caused it. My colleagues at the Brennan Center wrote a paper in 2015 called "What Caused the Great Crime Decline", trying to answer this very question. They found that a powerful explanation for declining crime was improving economic conditions. It did not explain [00:52:00] the entire decline, but it explained a great deal of it. They also found that rising incarceration rates did not explain the decline in crime. I think that's a really important point. People think that the growth of mass incarceration is one reason that crime dropped after 1990, and it just doesn't appear to be true.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: If you had a magic wand that could introduce either some new framework, some new data, some new knowledge into the public conversation about crime, what would you inject? What would you bring? What gift would you give us, from your standpoint, for having these conversations?
RENA KAREFA-JOHNSON: I'm a mom. I'm a Black woman. I live in a predominantly Black community in South LA that has seen an increase in gun violence. I care deeply about safety, and I would argue much more so than a lot of these candidates that are using conversations about crime as deflections from talking about what actually keeps us safe and as a [00:53:00] political football to score easy points.
I think that we should be talking to asking ourselves who we're calling credible in the conversation about safety. I think that it's the people that are talking most about the solutions and less about punishing that are the people that we should be pointing to and uplifting, both in our personal lives, but specifically in those who we elect to be caretakers for our communities.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: Ames, same question for you.
AMES GRAWERT: What I would introduce is a certain degree of humility in the face of very complicated social phenomena and an appreciation for the nuance of this very complicated issue. There are no simple answers here, and everyone that tries to advance a single-cause explanation for something as complicated as violent crime, every time they do that, they're both making it harder to talk seriously about solutions to public safety and stumbling into some pretty big traps that are laid by the data themselves.
So you'll see people say [00:54:00] that a rising crime in 2020 was a city issue. It's not. We actually saw murder rates increase in the suburbs, in rural areas. They'll say it's a blue state issue or a blue city issue. It's not. We saw murder rates increase by similar percentages in "red states", in "red cities". We'll see people try to blame criminal justice reform, as Rena said, or "progressive prosecutors, and every time these explanations are advanced, they're both wrong and they distract us from having these tough conversations about what solutions we need and what investments we need to make to build an enduring and legitimate form of public safety that is that works for everybody.
Julie Hollar and Jim Naureckas on 2022 Midterms Part 2 - CounterSpin - Air Date 10-21-22
JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Let's just start with the reality that we have Republicans who are off the chain nightmarish. They want bad inhumane things and they want to use institution-destroying processes to get them. And then we have Democrats who are [00:55:00] not just ineffectually countering that, but who are many of them up to the same stuff, beholden to the same status quo, supporting change, squashing actors. So that's the reality.
And Jim, it fits poorly. That reality fits poorly into corporate news media's standard election template, which is "Republicans versus Democrats, they're so different and can't we find a happy medium?"
Now, I'm not saying that media have never talked about the GOP's anti-democracy or that they've never talked about donor power in both parties. But when it comes to elections, it just seems that they're still mainly using a template that was always inadequate, and now seems like completely beside the point.
JIM NAURECKAS: Yeah. I liken it to trying to report on geography without [00:56:00] acknowledging that the world is round. If you wanted to have geography coverage that would not turn off flat Earthers. So you describe Australia as being on the other side of the world according to some people. Because you don't want to to turn off the part of your audience that subscribes to the flat earth theory. And we really do have a political party that is dominated by a flat-earth theory that the 2020 election was stolen, that Donald Trump really won, and that the electoral process should be rejiggered so that the people who they believe win elections should be declared the winners of elections, and not the people who actually get the most votes. And that is, you know, literally the end of democracy to have that political philosophy put into power. And how you have political coverage that treats that party [00:57:00] as one side of a debate, you really can't do it and be coherent in any way. You are misleading the public if you act like that philosophy is compatible with democracy. But that's what they're doing.
JULIE HOLLAR: The way that they end up then covering this stuff is always as a bank shot. So I was looking at some recent coverage in The Washington Post and the New York Times. And the Washington Post a couple weeks ago had this headline that was something along the lines of Democrats are shifting to a darker, more apocalyptic midterm message. How the Democrats are shifting to talk about the dangers to democracy. This is coming off of the Biden speech about the MAGA threat and everything. And the framing of the story is: this is a messaging shift. What are the pros and the cons? What do the strategists think? And it's so detached from the real world implications of it, that it just hurts your [00:58:00] brain. I mean, the piece is pretty long, and the reporter does spend a paragraph or two acknowledging that most GOP candidates won't commit to accepting election results, that the party is actively attacking abortion rights.
But then, you know, the real focus of the story is this really detached strategy, which is what election coverage -- FAIR has been covering election coverage for many years -- and this is always focus on strategy, or focus on the horse race, focus on the messaging, and so little focus on the policy implications. And it's always a problem, but it's extra problematic when the implications are the end of democracy.
The New York Times yesterday on the front page, they were reporting on a poll that they'd just done, and their headline was, "Most voters say democracy under threat, but few feel urgency." It was like total victim blaming. They were reporting on this poll where they asked people about whether they thought democracy was under threat, and most people said yes. [00:59:00] So then there was another part of the poll that asked what the top priority was for the election, the top issue. And more people said something related to the economy, like economy, inflation, things like that, than said democracy. So the Times called people apathetic for not putting it as their top priority.
But first of all, for a lot of people, the economy right now is more immediately felt. That threat to democracy is something that feels a bit more in the future, whereas economic threats feel more immediate.
But I think it's also really important that we point out that the media, they have no small responsibility for how people prioritize things in elections. You know, what is important? Well, is the media just telling you like, well, Democrats say that there's a threat to democracy and Republicans say there's a different kind of threat to democracy from Democrats. This is media completely falling down on their responsibility to give people the information that they need to make informed choices about democracy.
JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Absolutely. Jim?
JIM NAURECKAS: [01:00:00] The media are so unwilling to accept responsibility for the fact that their job is to inform the public about the broader trends in society, the things that you can't observe just by talking to your neighbors or looking out your front door. You rely on media outlets to gather information about what's happening and tell you about them.
And they are so often distorting the picture of reality. I think crime is a great example. You always see stories about the midterm politics saying that Republicans are going to tie Democrats to the high crime rate. Unquestioned assumption there is that there is now a high crime rate. The fact is that crime went down last year according to FBI statistics. We're not in a crime wave. The crime is ebbing. And historically crime is at about half the rate that it was in 1991, which I don't think people look back on as a road warrior-like [01:01:00] post-apocalyptic landscape. And historically we are seeing relatively low crime rates. But because Republicans would like to tie Democrats to high crime rate, that is what the media are describing the crime rates being. And once that frame has been put into place, it's very hard to get out of it.
JULIE HOLLAR: And crime is also, it's very click-bating. Especially you get in the New York tabloid news, it's just constant crime coverage. It's very easy for them to report on, just like reporting the police blotter.
Something that caught my attention a few weeks ago was this prison strike in Alabama, which probably not that many CounterSpin listeners will have heard about because it got so little coverage in national media. But this prison strike went on for three weeks. It just ended, I think yesterday. Which would be Tuesday, the 18th, I believe. Alabama -- I mean, when you look into this story, it's mind [01:02:00] boggling. Alabama was sued by the DOJ, actually under Trump, for having unconstitutionally inhumane conditions in their entire state prison system.
The DOJ brought a lawsuit against them because they were not changing. They had already been informed that this was unconstitutional. They weren't changing it. They were sued. They still haven't done anything. And prisoners actually were on strike for three weeks, a work stoppage. They don't get paid to work. They stopped work for three weeks. There was just virtually no media coverage of this.
And I bring this up because Jim spoke about crime, and you think about the impact of the criminal justice system on the lives of people in this country. It's immense. And you never hear stories about this. You know, you get a one-off here and there. The Time's actually reported on the DOJ lawsuit a few years ago, and then you didn't hear from them again until there's a strike. They report on it at the beginning of the strike, you don't [01:03:00] hear any follow up on it.
And I just try to imagine what kind of midterm coverage we would have in a media system where mass incarceration were treated as a problem anywhere near as urgent as these imaginary crime waves that the media are hyping. And think about the kinds of policy conversations that we could have and the kinds of politicians who could actually have a shot at winning.
I feel like our democratic possibilities are really constrained by the media narratives, the stories that media tell us about ourselves, the people that media talk to, to tell us these stories about ourselves. And specifically, when we start talking about elections, what kind of policy conversations we can have.
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with Democracy Now! discussing the Florida election intimidation police force. How We Win looked at the energy generated from the overturning of Roe. Thom Hartmann spoke with Bernie Sanders about the need for an economic message for the election. [01:04:00] How We Win looked at the election from the campaigners' and strategists' perspective. Deconstructed discussed how hyper-partisanship has made the morality of individual candidates a non-issue. Democracy Now! explored campaigns to register and educate Black voters about racism in politics. How We Win explained the importance of targeting youth voters. And CounterSpin discussed the nature of mainstream reporting during election cycles.
That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from The Takeaway, which dove into the effort to politicize crime against Democrats. And CounterSpin further explored the eternal tendency of mainstream media to find the middle point between two parties. To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more [01:05:00] information. And now we'll hear from you.
The prolonged fight - V from Central New York
V FROM UPSTATE NEW YORK: Hello Jay, This is V from Central New York. I know it's been a long time since I've called in. Unfortunately I kinda lost track of the show for a couple of months as work was pulling me a little bit harder than usual, but recently I've been catching up on past episodes and I wanted to call in about episode 1516 and I think that it is a great time to speak about it. For those of you who do not know, it was the show on the GOP appointed judges, the attempt to take over the judiciary.
As we move towards this coming midterm election, I wanna remind you and many of your longtime listeners about a call that I placed, I believe it was before the midterms of 2018 or possibly [01:06:00] right after, and I made the statement that progressives had to be ready and willing to fight a prolonged battle against these forces for 10... well, I believe I said at the time, three to five election cycles, possibly even six, using two year increments as a cycle. Meaning, we had to be engaged for not only the midterms but also the national elections so that we could move this country in another direction.
Unfortunately, many people did not take heed to that. Fortunately, many did. While I am optimistic that this election will show much improvement over the last four years, I am not 100% confident on the [01:07:00] outcome. But I will say this, for those of you who despair that this election may not go as you want it to—do not despair, because the changing winds are upon us. Even though this election may not come out the way you want it, do not give up. Do not give up.
People often forget Dr. King had his greatest failure, Albany Georgia, before he bounced back and had one of his greatest accomplishments. That is where we're at right now. I am listening to a lot of podcasts and people talking on the streets, and the one thing that conservatives seem to understand is generationally they have lost the argument. [01:08:00] They have lost every argument. generationally. It may not show up in the polls yet, it may not show up in the elections yet, but they know they are beaten. And all research suggests that if they don't do what they're doing now after 2024, they won't have a chance to do it.
So stay strong, keep your head in this, and move forward. Thank you, Jay for the content. You've done great work these years, my man. Keep it up. Peace.
Doing the work - Wendy
VOICEDMAILER WENDY: Hi Jay, this is Wendy. In the last bit where you talked about the neurology behind discomfort and normalization, you basically scientifically defined, “doing the work”. When marginalized people speak to their allies and accomplices about how to do the work, it’s just telling our people to just get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Marginalized folk live in discomfort from the jump because of society’s oppression. So we want our people to get in on that so they can then, in turn, have [01:09:00] uncomfortable conversations in their other circles and continue the chain of discomfort until those conversations are no longer uncomfortable. Like you explained, this human phenomenon can be used in different ways. The right wing media network and their corporate funders are doing the work of normalizing hate, so we have to do the work of having uncomfortable conversations with our loved ones so they can do the same with their other loved ones. It sounds easy but we all know how difficult it can be to have these conversations in safe ways. Thank you for the work you do!
Final comments on doing the work to normalize all humans
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: First off, thanks to V for that message, we always love hearing from him. And now I have one more quick listener message to share, but first, a refresher. Before vacation, so a week and a half ago or something back On episode 1520, I described my experience watching season three of Star Trek Discovery, which introduced a trans character and a non-binary character who were in a teen romance together.
I explained that it didn't make me angry the way it did for some people, but I did have some kind of visceral reaction to it that I had to [01:10:00] sit with and contemplate for a while before I understood it. Basically, I concluded that these characters being simply different, in a subtle but noticeable way from almost every other television character in history, particularly regular network television, caught my attention in a way that was a bit distracting and triggered mild discomfort. And I explained that this isn't the kind of discomfort that's caused by bigotry, but is rather the kind of natural discomfort with something new that can lead to bigotry.
For me, there was a slight discomfort because it was literally unusual, but that discomfort went away over time, just as everything is new until it isn't new anymore and becomes standard and boring. My conclusion was that this is the real point of representation in media—not just to make the marginalized feel represented, but to literally normalize more kinds of people to the general public. People of more colors, [01:11:00] shapes, sizes, gender identities, and sexualities need to be represented in media so that viewers can be made to feel temporarily uncomfortable, not because we enjoy causing discomfort, but because it is through that process that a new comfort can emerge in which a much wider range of people can all be considered fully human and normal.
So I said all of that, it took me almost 20 minutes to get around to a point, and I was clearly still struggling with what exactly it was I was trying to say by the end, but then afterward, Wendy wrote in and explained it in just a couple of paragraphs.
VOICEDMAILER WENDY: Hi Jay, this is Wendy.
In the last bit where you talked about the neurology behind discomfort and normalization, you basically scientifically defined, “doing the work”. When marginalized people speak to their allies and accomplices about how to do the work, it’s just telling our people to just get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Marginalized folk live in discomfort from the jump because of society’s oppression. So we want our people to get in on that so they can then, in turn, have [01:12:00] uncomfortable conversations in their other circles and continue the chain of discomfort until those conversations are no longer uncomfortable.
Like you explained, this human phenomenon can be used in different ways. The right wing media network and their corporate funders are doing the work of normalizing hate, so we have to do the work of having uncomfortable conversations with our loved ones so they can do the same with their other loved ones. It sounds easy but we all know how difficult it can be to have these conversations in safe ways. Thank you for the work you do!
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Ah yes, doing the work. I remember that now. Honestly, I got so comfortable with being uncomfortable years ago that I haven't had to go through that process in a while. I started diving deeply into race and racism around 2011, and learning about trans folks came just a couple years after that, and there was discomfort during both of those learning periods, but I kind of thought I was done with all that, and that's why it took me by surprise.
I was like, what is this feeling? I haven't felt uncomfortable experiencing or talking about race or gender in years. [01:13:00] So having a new opportunity to go through those steps again was honestly kind of refreshing. It was also a reminder of what it's like for most people who are coming to these concepts for the first time and who think that their personal feelings of discomfort are an indication that something about the world has gone wrong, as opposed to there just being something new to them that they need to learn to get comfortable with. I felt that twinge of discomfort, which was probably very mild by comparison and thought, "wait, is this what it's like to be a normal person? No wonder they're so angry all the time."
We need to continue doing the work, as Wendy described, and have those difficult and uplifting conversations. Be ruthless on systems, but easy on people. That discomfort people have with the relatively new discussions about gender don't stem from bigotry, they stem from our internal systems of, pattern recognition and our lifelong developed sense of normalcy. So it's our [01:14:00] job to not shame people for the unavoidable discomfort they feel when experiencing something new, but we do need to make sure that discomfort develops into acceptance and then comfort rather than being allowed to metastasize into bigotry.
So thanks Wendy for that message. It really helped clarify, it just brought my miasma of thoughts into a finer point that can be said in a sentence. That was very much needed.
As always, keep the comments coming in at (202) 999-3991 or by emailing me to [email protected]. That is gonna be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Brian for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show [01:15:00] co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app.
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So, coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC. My name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left Podcast coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.