Happy Thanksgiving: We're Grateful for Canvassers
Happy Thanksgiving, Gaslit Nation listeners! Sarah and Andrea are hosting a feast of interesting (and terrifying) commentary from folks around the US as they welcome winners of the Gaslit Nation Get Out the Vote contest onto the show. Our special guests – Valerie Carzello (@ScullyBully) of South Burlington, Vermont, Catherine Snyder (@catherinecritz) of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Brian Covey (@hidvorak) of Seattle, Washington discuss their experiences as activists in the 2018 election, the outcome of the midterms in their states, and their dreams for the future. Sarah and Andrea are very grateful not only to the contest winners but to everyone who helped get out the vote in this record-breaking midterms, which not only resulted in important wins for progressive candidates but demonstrated a massive rise in civic engagement that will extend well into the future.
Our contest winners stayed on the line to discuss the latest news, including the wildfires in California and the terrible response of the Trump administration to climate change, the latest in the Khashoggi case and the relationship of malevolent millennials MBS and Jared Kushner, and voter suppression in Georgia and the rest of the US.
Since it’s Thanksgiving, Sarah and Andrea would like to thank everyone who has made Gaslit Nation a surprise hit. We would not be able to keep the show going without you. We are an independent, largely donor-funded podcast, and we are offering extra material to those who subscribe at $10/month or more. (You can sign up here.) We're about to post a Q & A session where we answered reader questions about authoritarianism, activism, art, and Axl Rose, so check that out if in you’re in that donor group! We look forward to doing more Q & As and bringing you more bonus features in the future.
We will publish a special Gaslit Nation Featurette next week then we'll be back to our regular episodes in December. Have a great holiday break!
A special note: Since the audio of this episode is less than ideal, we'll post a transcript of this episode on our Patreon page.
AC: Nothing says Thanksgiving like coming home, gathering with your loved ones, re-watching old movies, naps, pumpkin pie, and being at the mercy of your parents’ terrible wifi. I love my parents dearly, but their wifi – I’m reminded yet again – isn’t great. We have a group panel on this episode recorded over the internet and our audio quality isn’t up to its usual standard, so just chalk it up to us getting into the best of spirit. Happy Thanksgiving!
Andrea’s Mom: Happy Thanksgiving and I love our wifi!
Andrea’s Dad: Happy Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to discuss politics around the Thanksgiving table.
SK: Hi, I’m Sarah Kendzior. I’m a journalist and scholar of authoritarian states and the author of the book “The View From Fly Over Country.”
AC: And I’m Andrea Chalupa, a writer, journalist, filmmaker and activist and the beleaguered tech support for Gaslit Nation. And my gifts have been definitely put to the test for this episode which is the Thanksgiving special where we have our wonderful canvassers from across the nation who we are extremely grateful for on this show with us today and um, yeah, so why don’t we go around and introduce ourselves starting – we’ll work our way around the country. So let’s start low. Arkansas, you’re up first.
CS: Alright. Hi, I’m Catherine Snyder and I’m in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
VC: I’m Val Carzello. I’m an Emerge graduate. I’m in South Burlington, Vermont, which was originally Abanaki country. I’m a former State Senate candidate. I’m a military wife. I work full-time at the University library here and my degree and expertise is in psychology specializing on media and the impact on women and girls.
BC: Hi, I’m Brian Covey. I’m a tech support dork in Seattle which was originally the land of the Duwamish and Pacific Coast Salish people.
AC: Wonderful. So I am Andrea, as I said at the start of the show, and I reside in Brooklyn, New York which was originally the land of the Atlanta Bay. We are honoring native Americans this episode because it is the Gaslit Nation Thanksgiving special. Sarah, what about you? St. Louis, Missouri.
SK: I am in St. Louis which had a number of tribes – the Osage Tribe, the Chickasaw Tribe, the Cahokia Mounds across the river which is the old Mississippian civilization. And of course the Trail of Tears went through Missouri with forced Indian relocation. So, yeah, I think we all share this common tragic history and so, yes everyone, welcome to our Thanksgiving show, Gaslight Nation-style.
SK: So Andrea, do you want to explain why our guests are here and, you know, what this initiative we did was all about?
AC: Yes, so Sarah and I launched Gaslit Nation with the sole purpose of creating a Golden Girls kitchen table for people to gather around leading into the Midterms ‘cause we knew that it was going to be ugly out there and we were right. I mean that was an obvious one. But we wanted to create encouragement and help people make sense of what was going on because, as we’ve seen, the war in the mind. They really want to take away our hope and demoralize us and really flaunt their abuse of power in our faces and try to remind us again and again that there’s absolutely nothing we can do and that they’ll just keep sinking lower and lower and we just have to live with it. And we pushed back against that in a huge Blue Wave which saw historic voting and a massive number of seats in the House that haven’t been seen since Watergate. To do our part, Gaslit Nation called on our listeners all across the country to do the most effective way of getting out the vote which is going door to door. Otherwise known as canvassing. There’s no stronger way to make a connection than appearing on a stranger’s doorstep, showing that you care, you’re willing to break your comfort zone and to do that. It can be very intimidating. But that’s just how much is at stake and that’s how much you’re willing to fight and that alone just makes a statement. Showing up like that always makes a statement. So, we had a contest going. We asked our listeners to send us pictures on Twitter where they were canvassing, going door to door, and we selected three people that did that. And we wanted to have a nice little sample of the country, sample of issues that they’re working on and that is our panel here today.
We want to say to everybody that participated – Sarah and I plan to do this again in the future. There’s going to be ballot initiatives and other elections in 2019 and of course 2020. So, if you didn’t win during the Midterms of 2018, you could win next go around. And so we’d encourage you to continue to play. [laughs] Is it even – the Roulette Wheel of Gaslit Nation, whatever you want to call it, but yeah, we’re really honored and thrilled by every single person that posted a photo of themselves canvassing because every single one encouraged me to keep canvassing and I ended up knocking on 400 doors or more because of it, so thank you everyone. We were in that fight together. We did spectacularly well. We should all be so grateful and proud. I’m really excited to talk to Brian in Washington State because you had a ballot initiative to combat global warming, the big crisis of our time so –
Brian: It’s true.
AC: Big crisis that’s not going away unless humanity unites and does something about it. So why don’t you talk us through what that is.
BC: Sure. So, this is actually the second time Washington has voted on a climate change – an attempt to handle climate change at the state level. A couple of years back there was a measure called, it was measure 772 which was basically done in the straight up try to pull support from the other side of the aisle. It was written to be revenue-neutral and to try to get folks from the other side on board with it. It didn’t, it didn’t pass unfortunately so this time around we did a slightly different take on the measure which was just unabashedly Leftist. There was a huge effort to get pretty much the largest coalition that has ever worked on a State measure together and they spent literally years working on getting this together, working out the differences between the various folks in public health and the Sierra Club and involving people of color to make sure that some of the people in those communities that are most directly affected by climate change and by the pollution that comes from carbon, to try and basically make sure that as much as possible we worked out our issues on the left and then put it on the ballot without really much – nearly as much of an attempt to sort of bring folks from the other side. Because this went through the legislature, it was a pollution fee. It was essentially modeled after a carbon tax but only, sorry – because it didn’t go through the legislature, it was a pollution fee rather than a carbon tax. But, essentially, it was going to set – for every ton of carbon that you emitted, you would end up paying $15 and that money would then be reinvested in jobs programs for the communities that were being affected, clean energy tech, and essentially make the carbon emitters sort of pave the road to a cleaner future.
AC: Yeah, reparations basically.
BC: Yeah, that would be a good way of putting it. Yeah. The bad news is we didn’t actually get it passed (laughter) because Big Oil dumped 30 million dollars on the state, because it turns out they are very invested in the idea of pollution being a thing that remains free. And it was frustrating, obviously, that it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. However, I think it’s still worth doing and there are people who are way smarter than me and who spent way more time thinking about this and working on this. So, I actually got involved with this because of my brother, who lives about an hour north of Seattle. He’s a real inspiration to me in terms of the issues that he works on and showing up at City Councils to, you know, work on housing equity. And he has been – had a much stronger relationship with the ballot initiative and gotten more support late in the game. But I was actually visiting with him last night and he mentioned that one of his electors in his neck of the woods, she won – she ran on the carbon measure. She won with 50.5% of the vote and he was very pleased and mildly surprised when, interacting with her after the election, he’s like “so what are you going to do, you like barely squeaked out this win” and she’s like “I ran on this. This is an important thing. I’m going to go full speed ahead.” So, despite the fact that she theoretically could play it safe and try to make sure that now she’s gotten into office, protects herself, she’s going full steam ahead. So I don’t know what the next run at this looks like, but just because Big Oil won this round doesn’t mean that we don’t come back and take another swing later.
A: Exactly. So, Washington State is a blue trifecta so couldn’t this be something that you’re state government passes, since it came close?
B: Yeah. Theoretically I think… I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this because, yeah, we just recently managed to make ourselves a Triple Blue State. Theoretically the legislature could go ahead and step in and do this. I just don’t know... I’m having a hard time figuring out how much interest there is – above the grass roots level, like on an individual level, I think there are certain legislators who definitely want to push something like this. But I also think there are just a lot of people who are very invested in the status quo. And as much as – I mean, I listened to the episode that you guys did right after the elections and I think it is going to definitely make things easier in these states where we’ve managed to pretty much turn the whole state government blue, but I think we still have our work cut out from us because Big Oil dumped 30 million dollars on the State in one month and that is a huge hill to climb up. So we also had like the – so we had three really big measures up this year. There was a gun control measure that was bitterly opposed by the NRA. There was an industry funded statewide ban on essentially sugar taxes which was funded – the ban was funded by the soda industry. And there was the climate change measure which the oil companies spent a crap ton of money to make sure didn’t get passed. So I think we have a lot of work cut out for ourselves, but that said, working on this measure, it was fun. And even though we didn’t win, it was a heck of a lot better than just staring at the Internet and watching everything go to hell in a handbasket.
BC: So, I would say even if, even if, there’s a journalist that I have learned a lot about in the last 2 years or so. His professional name was I.F. Stone. He was an investigative journalist from the ‘30s through the ‘70s. There’s a really great quote from him that’s a little long so I’ll paraphrase but basically it says like look to get involved in these kind of fights, you have to be willing to lose and lose and lose so somebody potentially 100 years down the line is the one that wins. And he goes a little farther and says you actually have to enjoy losing, like you can’t let it get you down, because these are important fights and even if you don’t win, you’re setting the stage for whoever does win in the long run. And that is something that I have pulled a lot of strength from in the last couple of years. So, I mean, it was disappointing – basically what happened on election night in King County, which in the biggest county where Seattle is located, they reported their returns like right out of the gate. So I was like hey this thing is totally going to pa– oh, oh, oh, and then the rest of the State voted and it was like yeah not so much.
But the process of voting and knocking on all those doors and meeting everyone was fun. Like, it genuinely was fun because like, they’ve got the whole process so dialed in. You don’t get sent to random doors. Like, there’s an app on your phone and it sends you to the specific doors of people that, maybe there’s, they know they’re likely to vote for it, but they don’t tend to vote very often, so you just go and knock on their door and say like “hey, we’re really interested in seeing this thing happen, please come out and vote” and it seemed like it was an incredibly bunch of pleasant conversations. So, regardless of the outcome, I think it was a totally worthwhile thing to do. And having people from the State Legislature who are willing to fight like this is the kind of thing that, down the line, turns into a victory even if we didn’t win this time. So...
AC: No absolutely. And it came close to passing and so it’s something that the representatives in your state should obviously take as – to pay attention to given how close it came.
AC: I hope the same grassroots army, the people that were organizing that ballot initiative, then turn it into a bill and find their sponsors and push it through, ‘cause now is the time to do that.
BC: Yeah. The gun control measure, of those three that I mentioned, the gun control measure is the one that did pass and I think that’s because it was a literal life or death issue for a lot of voters. They understood that this is a thing that is causing preventive deaths. And people came out and voted for it, despite a similar amount of money that was spent by the gun industry.
So, what I’m spending a lot of time doing now is just trying to figure out like, how do we help people understand hey, climate change is also life or death issue. It’s the kind of thing you need to vote about and even if it means that your household ends up spending $10/month more because the oil industry, they like their profits, so if we pass a measure like this they are probably going to pass along those costs along to households. Even if that impacts your family $10/month, climate change is going to kill people. So, hopefully $10/month –
AC: Yes. We’ve seen that in California with the fires.
BC: Yeah, hopefully $10/month is the kind of thing that people, when you put it in those terms, they understand and they would be able to get on board with in the future. So...
AC: Yeah. I mean it’s not only an abstraction anymore it’s – Sarah and I were talking about this, you’re seeing climate refugees in the fires in California and then Hurricane Maria.
SK: Who’s from Arkansas? We have someone from Arkansas, right?
CS: Yeah. I am. Catherine.
SK: Hi. Alright, Andrea, can I take Arkansas?
AC: Take Arkansas.
SK: So you’re from Fayetteville, is that right?
CS: I am, yes. And I – so Northwest Arkansas, so we have the Cahto and the Osage indigenous people. I had to mention that as well.
SK: Right. And so, yeah, tell me how that is ‘cause I haven’t been there but I’ve gone through enough and, you know, you are my neighbor like, I always think of Fayetteville as kind of a blue dot, kind of akin to Columbia, Missouri, you know like a college town. And what’s been a pretty Red, heavily gerrymandered state. You know, you’re also where Bill and Hillary lived, back before they took off into politics. What was your experience like canvassing there and, you know, trying to get out the vote. Why don’t you tell us about that?
CS: Yeah, so Fayetteville is a little little West of Dodd. I do a lot of work with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We had several guns sense candidates in Northwest Arkansas. Our representative, our state representative that brought guns on campus, college campuses and then parks and public places, was sponsoring a bill. So we had a wonderful woman running against him. And so we rallied together to do a lot of canvassing and phone banking. And she beat him by 10 points. He was a four-term GOP incumbent and she beat him by 10 points. So that was pretty amazing.
CS: Yeah, and he had, you know, a lot of money coming in from the NRA for ads and stuff. So, we worked like every weekend. We did like phone banking, and canvassing and stuff. I also canvassed for a few others candidates in the area, as a well as I did a couple of days – I went to Texas and canvassed for Beto, which was pretty great.
I mean, I loved it. I loved canvassing. I loved talking to people. People were really grateful that you came to their house to talk to them.
CS: I would say that our, our race that we focused the most on, which was the one that we won, people were really riled up about him. He had gone against what the University, what law enforcement, what everyone wanted and pushed the bill through anyway. And it was a really messy bill. It had no – there were no talks about like, storing guns in dorms, and it was just. It [inaudible], it could be in the stadium for the football games, and it was just really messy.
SK: Right. No, I think it’s always, you know, that’s always the tough issue I think in both of our states with gun control because, you knowm it’s different than when you’re in places that just sort of want abolition of guns, like that’s not going to happen here. It’s much more about common sense, about, you know, laws that prevent violence, prevent both accidents and intentional acts of violence. What do you think about Arkansas’ general direction? You know because a lot of folks forget that both of our states used to not be these sort of, you know, die hard Red States. People think of Arkansas as a Red State or Missouri as a Red State and, you know, we weren’t. You know there were these previous traditions. Arkansas, of course, was voting Democrat you know back in the 1990s. Do you think it could ever go back in that direction? Like does this inaugur some kind of change? Or is that just still a ways off?
CS: Um, I think that the people that – we had really great candidates run in a lot of the offices and I think that the work that they did was really valuable and it really pushed us ahead for 2020 and beyond. So most campaigns that I worked with or who knew I was doing that grassroots work, they were going everywhere and talking to people, making those personal connections and finding out what was important to them. I mean, it was hard because I wanted to win them all. I wanted us to sweep it. But I, without a doubt, know that progress was made and the people I know that worked on campaigns, we’re ready to, you know, start working on 2020. So I do feel like that – and I also think we have had over 12,000 people kicked off our [inaudible] to Medicaid. So, I think that’s going to have a huge impact, you know, for the next election. But I really feel like the connections we made and the progress it’s – we’re just going to keep going and do, you know, in 2020, to do it more organized and even reach out to more people. So, I’m hopeful.
SK: Yeah, no I think it’s wonderful. All of your doing. Like, it was inspiring for me and Andrea to watch and, you know, for our listeners to watch. I don’t know. I feel like people really – they rose to the occasion. You know, people are always kind of asking me “what comes next?” And I can predict the Trump Administration, but what I can’t predict is how, you know, regular folks and citizens are going to react to these very repressive and very difficult conditions which I think are, you know, especially difficult in states like ours. So it’s really great and it’s inspiring and it gives me hope for my kids to see folks like you getting out there and doing all of that work, which is absolutely exhausting. It takes a lot of out of you. But, you know, which brings results. So, thank you.
AC: So you had a cute little girl with you canvassing. Who was that?
CS: That was actually my son.
AC: Oh, your son, oh I’m so sorry. [laughs]
CS: No, it’s fine. It’s fine.
AC: You had a boy with you.
CS: We had been to Sam’s earlier that day and they were selling Christmas pajamas. And he wanted some, so yeah, so he insisted on wearing those to go canvassing. And those are actually kind of his canvassing pajamas, because we went canvassing a couple of times in his pajamas.
AC: That’s the right strategy.
CS: Yeah (laughter)
AC: I probably said girl because I was projecting myself in those pajamas. They looked so comfortable. [laughs] Where did he get those pajamas?
So I want to say for the turnout date, just to sort of emphasize, you know people like you and we’ll get to Valerie in Vermont in a second just to round out this discussion here on getting out the vote – how it’s all of us. It’s all of us that did something instead of nothing, that chose hope over despair. It’s the millions across America who did that who made this such a historic election. And here is Michael McDonald, an associate professor at the University of Florida who specializes in American elections. This is what he tweeted: “Turnout update: Now at estimated 116.2 million votes cast in the 2018 general election, or a turn-out rate of 49.3 percent. This is the highest midterm turnout rate since 1914’s 50.4 % and the first midterm election to top 100 million votes. Wow.
RC: That’s amazing.
VC: That’s awesome.
AC: That’s what you guys did, and Sarah did, and everybody did that because we all showed up and that’s what made the difference.
CS: You know I felt like that a lot of our canvassing, like, we were pretty much saying to people “you have got to go vote, like this is such an important election.” I think like Brian said you’re targeting people that [inaudible] – it’s just getting them out there to vote.
[music and advertisement break]
AC: That brings us to Vermont, the bright blue paradise of Vermont. Valerie, tell us what you were working on and a bit of your background and what you’re thinking next for your efforts?
VC: So I was a long time Dem volunteer. I started with Sue Minter. She was going to be the second woman governor of Vermont. This was in 2016 and I was working really hard. I did about 200-300 hours for her. I did mostly phone banking because everyone hated phone banking so I volunteered to do that at the time.
AC: Good for you.
VC: Thank you.
RC: Ooh yeah.
VC: Um and I was kind of jealous of everybody going out canvassing because I wanted to go out and get exercise at the same time, but seriously, it was hard to get anyone to phone bank so I did that. The thing that I started noticing about our progressive paradise was when I was working for Sue Minter, I was going and making phone calls and people were saying things like “I just don’t like her. There’s something about her I don’t like. She’s kind of cold.” [laughs] I was saying “Okay, that’s what you said about Hillary” because I was making phone calls for her, too, obviously, at the time. And women are still saying in Vermont like “I’m planning to vote how my husband votes.” It was getting bizarre. And I obviously had this preconceived notion in my head that we were very progressive because our upper tier is all progressive men, so after the election went sour, then my first meltdown, you guys, I listened to your first episode and I was like “oh god”. It brought back my PTSD from that night because my husband was about ready to deploy to Kuwait and I had made the assumption that he was deploying under President Hillary Clinton. That night, I learned it was going to be under President Trump.
VC: I had a meltdown. My dad was there. And I was saying “I can’t have him deploy under Trump. This is going to be terrible.” I had a really, really bad winter. I did the Women’s March and then I was like “well, what do I do now? What do I do now?” So, then I joined Emerge to get more women involved in politics, just to calm my brain. And then I thought, well I might as well run because i’ve been doing all this work for other people, what’s wrong with doing it for myself? So, I became a candidate with four months notice and they said “don’t run for State Senate in Chittenden County in Vermont unless you have $30,000 or $40,000. And I was like “well, I have 50 bucks [laughs]. So, I raised some money but my Literary Ladies Book Club actually became sort of like a resistance club and helped me make campaign materials to go door to door with so...
AC: Oh that’s so cool.
VC: Yeah. So my slogan was “Fun, Fierce, Feminist” and I went door to door with that. And I did not spend $30,000. I only spent $700. And I also didn’t win, but that’s okay. [laughs] But even when I was door knocking, I was noticing, in bright blue progressive Vermont, men were like “oh God you’ve gotta take feminist off that, you’re alienating other people.” And I was like “you don’t understand, I’d rather run and lose a thousand times than take that off my postcard, no.” And I also noticed that while people were being kind to me and inviting me in and asking me and my friends if we wanted pie, some of my Emerge sisters that were door knocking that were women of color were not having that experience, even in Burlington, Vermont. And then we also recently had Kiah Morris who was a House member, she’s also from Emerge – she had to leave her House seat because of racist threats and harassment.
So that was really disappointing and I’m starting – I had an illusion that we were something, I’m starting to think we’re not. It was very eye opening for me personally.
AC: Oh wow, that’s really interesting because you, you know, Vermont has that reputation. I mean, you gave our country Howard Dean.
VC: Yeah exactly.
AC: Yeah and then you gave us another close presidential contender, Bernie Sanders, so you guys really carry that label of being ahead of the times. But then in closer examination you visit Vermont and you’re like… everybody’s white. [laughs]
VC: Everybody’s white.
AC: It gets to the point where, like, even SNL did that skit where the Klan had to move somewhere else and so they chose Vermont.
VC: So, Shelburne is really close to me and I couldn’t take contention with anything they said in that. The thing is, I broke down, because I was thinking of Bernie and Howard Dean and the progressive men, and I was thinking “but it’s men, we’ve never sent a woman to congress.” Vermont is dead last behind Mississippi. We do pretty well as a state assembly but we still don’t have gender parity, so that’s why I’m passionate about getting into the Senate. But when you look at the maps from 2016 – sorry I’m going to nerd out for a sec – but if you look at the maps from 2016, for Sue Minter, the State’s mostly Red with a few blue dots. But when it came to the Progressive men, the State went for them. And then we had Christine Hallquist who, I thought was going to be the first trans governor in the whole country – but the map looks similar for Christine, where it was Red for Christine but then it went Blue for Lieutenant Governor, who was a male progressive, and then they skipped right to, now we have a Republican governor. We’ve had one this whole time. So they go for Progressive men and Republican men and they tend to skip the women at the high levels of government.
AC: And that’s why people, women and women of color, people of color are always telling reminding white men, you know, why there’s just so much – you have to be really careful if you’re going to claim that you’re an ally, because there are a lot of people that claim to be allies but actually aren’t. And, actually, my sexual assault came from a so-called white progressive male. [laughs] So, yes, it is an issue that you absolutely can’t back down from. And you can’t take Feminist off the ballot and you have to just keep saturating that space and just get in their faces.
AC: It’s the only way things change.
Alright, so, I learned alot from each of you guys. And what’s next for you in terms of – like what would you love to sort of – like what are your dreams for our country?
VC: I’m going to run again very soon. Vermont has a 92% voter registration rate. I’d like to get every citizen registered to vote at the age of 18 across the country no matter what. I’d like schools to teach civics, media literacy and the importance of community involvement, and that politics doesn’t just matter on a national level. It’s local politics that matter. That women have representation at every level of government and society, that America changes how they view political experience and respect people running from all backgrounds, that your life is your experience and your voice. Continue to dismantle rape culture. I’d like to live in an America that my colleagues and I don’t have to go to work at the library and worry about getting shot. The amount of trainings I’ve had to do for active trainings just for working at the University, I think I’m at 3 in the past year.
VC: And that’s just a small list of what I’d like. Vermont is really unaffordable for housing. You know, a 900 square foot apartment costs $2400 here and I know people in New York are going to be like “that’s cheap” but it’s not cheap for us.
VC: Especially because we have that Republican governor that vetoed paid family leave that the State Assembly passed. He vetoed the minimum wage that the State Assembly passed. And our Clean Lake Initiative, for some reason.
VC: So, I have a lot of dreams for this country.
AC: That's excellent! And so keep us posted on your run when you do go back out there. Because we would love to stay in touch with you about that experience. I think what's really driving this blue wave as we saw, it was a lot of these local races that were giving a big boost to the upper ballot races. And so it's quality candidates, first and foremost, that drive the grassroots and get people out to the polls. And so everybody that has anything to offer, to the crises, the impending crises that are about to hit all at once it seems – just get out there, take running for office as a platform for your ideas whether you win or lose. So all those ideas: media literacy, 100% voter registration, all of that, like that's going to be your platform. You're going to make a lot of noise for that. Feminism. And that's going to be essential and plant a lot of important seeds in your state. And it sounds like they really needed to be planted.
AC: I'm really impressed by that and I'm excited about it, so definitely stay in touch with us as you continue that journey.
V: I will. Thank you. Follow me on Twitter,. Ha ha.
AC: Yeah, we will.
AC: What's your Twitter? Why don't you let everyone know your Twitter.
VC: I have two. I have one where I'm super professional. That's @voteval. And then I have @scullybully. And that's s-c-u-l-l-y-b-u-l-l-y. And I tweet mostly from that one because right now I'm not an active candidate.
AC: We will follow. Ryan what is your Twitter handle by the way? [laughs] I've gotten to know you over Twitter.
RC: Yeah, indeed. Yeah, so the funny thing is, my Twitter handle, @hidvorak, which I think a lot of folks when I'm online think it's because of the Czech composer, but really it's because I type on a weird keyboard layout made by an American dude who pronounced it wrong. So yeah, that's my Twitter handle. I have an astonishing number of people blocked and who have me blocked, ‘cause I've been on the internet for quite a while. And I got into it with some Gamergaters a few years ago, so...
AC: Good for you.
RC: Well… actually, yes.
RC: So, I guess my dreams are – oh man, I practiced this and I'm going to totally, like, stumble over it no. Like, I really want America to take a really hard look at itself. I think a lot of people in this country think we've already [inaudible]. Like, you know, John Roberts, he's like “oh, you know, we don't need the Voting Rights Act <trill> [laughs]
RC: The thing I want for the nation as a whole is let's take a look at ourselves and realize we've done some horrible things. We've done some really terrible things that we have never really fully reckoned with. And you can love your country and recognize that it's flawed and that it needs to improve and that it needs to be better. That's—my dream is that we will keep pushing and we will–– you know, for next two years, we keep pushing. And even if, if we don't win, we keep pushing. And if we don't win, we keep pushing. We eventually, we will win. We will eventually become that place that we, we sat out and a lot of people already think we are. So that's my dream. Just keep pushing so someday we can actually be the place that we all think we are.
AC: I love that, I love that so much. And that's everything. You brought that up earlier as well when you quoted that journalist about how what we fight for now can benefit generations to come. One hundred years from now, they'll figure out the solution of, you know, something we may have planted for them. And that reminds me of an Orwell quote from 1984, that Sarah and I discussed one time. Not on this show, privately, because we're nerds and we talk about all this stuff privately. [laughs] But the show is pretty much what talk about when no one is listening. You know, far-right stalker. You know, except all his money is tied up right now. [laughs] in ongoing investigations. So there’s this quote in Orwell's 1984 and I'll read it right now. It’s:
"We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future.We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But how far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It might be a thousand years. At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little. We cannot act collectively. We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual, generation after generation. In the face of the Thought Police there is no other way."
AC: We are the dead!
RC: That's right. Nothing to lose.
AC: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
AC: Yeah we're gonna get it, we're gonna get it. So, we're gonna get it eventually. It's getting better. Yes, we have a president with Andrew Jackson hanging up in the Oval Office and yeah. We are going to remove him in 2020 and that has to be an even bigger wave to send an even stronger message.
SK: Yeah. Not before. I mean, maybe we'll be removing Pence if we get lucky.
AC: Get Pence out of there, my gosh. Catherine, what are your dreams for our country?
CS: I’ll just say everything that everyone has mentioned. You know, dismantling the white supremacy and taking that hard look and acknowledging things and changing things. So, I have two young sons and a daughter. So my, you know, what I teach them now is that this is what you're going to be doing. This, I'm––as white males, as white privileged males, your job, this is your job to stand up for these sorts of things. You know, my––I leave a lot to go to DC and canvas or whatever, but like my teachings to them is that this is all of our responsibilities to keep doing it and to keep going until things are the way they should, until we are all, until we all have affordable health care. We all not scared to go to school because of a shooter. And you know, every boy can play out in the street and not worry about getting shot. And I think yeah, we just keep going to 2020 [inaudible] make progress and do even better. Yeah, I'm hopeful. It's been a very eye-opening couple of years, I would say.
AC: Yeah and thank for that. And thank you, everyone, for sharing your stories. We're very inspired by your grit and your courage and your persistence. And we will be right there alongside with you.
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SK: I mean I guess I want to talk about the fires, you know, the California fires, which are on everybody's mind. You know, at the time that I'm talking about this, there’s at least a thousand people missing and I believe presumed dead. You know, they're finding incinerated bodies. It's an incredibly grim scene. You know, we're seeing climate change refugees. We're seeing all these nightmares that were foretold for decades, that were predictable, and to a certain degree, preventable, coming to life. And, of course, we saw this last year with Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico, you know, which is another scenario where the death toll was initially reported to be much smaller than it ended up being. And it was enormous. And this weekend I was in Miami. I was there for the Miami Book Fair. And I really notice whenever I'm in a coastal city, especially one so surrounded by water, how much more attuned people are to the threat of climate change, how immediate it is for them, how it affects their day-to-day living, in a way it doesn't for Missouri. They're thinking about where they're going to live. They're struggling with even the concept of long-term plans. What does that mean? And, you know, I got together with a friend of mine who came from Puerto Rico. You know, she'd been living in Puerto Rico until Maria, and like many people in Puerto Rico had to flee to Florida for safety. I'm just beginning to see the repercussions on this in my own life. And with California, you know, it's very frightening. It's very frightening to have a leader like Trump for a number of reasons. You know, he's a white supremacist, he's a kleptocrat. He's probably a sociopath. We've gone through this. We have like 13 episodes of Gaslit Nation to give you everything he did wrong. 38:32 The climate change scenario is horrifying in a different way because this is s time where we really needed the like the cream of the crop, you know, the absolute best people around, people who would take on the challenge head on, know what to do about, hire people in the administration to tackle it. And instead, we have the exact opposite. We have people who are, you know, denying the death toll, denying the that this is a systemic issue that will reoccur. I don't know where to go from here. I'm glad the Democrats are active on this issue, whether it's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or Pelosi, or them working together. I'm glad that they are taking climate change head-on and going for a Green New Deal. It's a frightening time and I guess y'all are in different places and maybe you have your own perspectives on this.
RC: Yeah, the interesting thing here in Seattle, trying to get, trying to get that bill passed—, for a lot of people after the election, a lot of people I talked to after the election were like “well, we should absolutely do something, this just wasn't the right thing to do.” And that's a totally understandable thing, that's a totally understandable position to take except that, guys, we are 30 years, 40 years, passed that kind of like optimization strategy. Like, the house is burning down, literally. We have to do something now. And doing something is better than nothing. But I don't—yeah, I haven't figured out how to make that convincing to somebody who doesn't already believe that the house is burning down, right?
AC: Yeah, I mean it's no longer an abstraction. It's not like it's some far-away future. We're having these killer storms. We’ve experienced it in New York City with everything going dark and a massive killer hurricane. And I applaud what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing and we desperately need a Green New Deal or a green jobs plan, like aggressively. And people have to remember, her tactics, whatever she's doing, that gets people a bit nervous because, I think the Left has had some major successes and we've stopped this horror show as much as we possibly could and we did do a lot of great work in the last two years. Several cabinet members were forced out because a lot of the noise that we made. So, we have a lot to applaud as an overall movement and I think people get queasy in their stomachs when it comes to more radical Left making desperately noise for climate change and really pushing Pelosi on that. Because people don't want to relive the trauma of how divided we were in 2016. But I don't think it could possibly —I don't think we're going to get back to that because I've seen a lot of really smart Bernie organizers uniting with a lot of really smart Hillary organizers. And it's those efforts, those conversations, that have made a big difference in the last two years. And I think what she's doing, what her group is doing, is essential. And we have to remember Martin Luther King was considered a radical in his day. He was called impatient. And now's the time to be impatient. And now's the time not to compromise on measures we should have put in place decades ago. And we're not going to get there at this point by being polite and waiting your turn. That simply hasn't worked. And that's what made the crisis worse.
RC: This second run at the bill here in Washington, like, the unite the Left and just get the Left together to all vote for it did better. I don't know if I said that earlier but like, this measure came closer to passing than the previous one, which was carefully constructed to appeal to both sides. So, yeah, I think step one is definitely like get everybody on the Left on board and then start pushing.
AC: Yeah, exactly.
SK: And this also shouldn't be considered radical, you know? It amazes me that what she's doing is considered radical. It's science. It's common sense. It's necessary. You know people her age, people our age, we have to live with repercussions of this for decades to come. And of course, you know, our children, our grandchildren, will face the brunt of it. But you know, I think it needs to be looked at more through the lens of human suffering and what can we do to stop it? And that requires collective action. That requires us working together. And I do think the Democrats, no matter how they brand themselves or which candidate they voted for in 2016, I really do think they get that. I think, actually, the majority of the country seems to grasp that, in part because we are seeing these tangible repercussions in terms of natural disasters over the last decade. It's the Republicans. It's fossil fuel corporations. It's dictators who are aligned with both of those. That's, you know, where there’s no willpower and that's unfortunately who holds, you know, structural power nowadays to make these kinds of decisions that impact life for all of us. So I just hope that this isn't seen as some radical proposition but just as necessary, as pragmatic. And you know, something like Andrea said, you can't just be patient and wait for it to happen. We were patient for 30 years and, you know, look how that turned out. So...
VC: So, over the summer when I was in a parade for my campaign in Vermont, the heat index hit 112. And none of us know how to deal with that. We don't have air conditioning. I was dry-heaving behind my “Vote Val” sign at the end of the parade. So, it––you can feel it here. If we go a winter without snow, it decimates our economy. Every state is impacted in some way. And I think the media's probably making a bigger deal about, you know, I think they wanted a contentious cat-fight, so to speak.
VC: That doesn't exist. I don't think it exists. I think Pelosi actually even applauded the people that were protesting. So, I think they’re just trying to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to that. I think we're all on the same page.
AC: Yeah, it's like misogyny is undermining our security yet again in the media. [laughs] It hasn't learned. They haven't learned from 2016.
VC: I agree.
AC: Okay, so I want to talk about the Khashoggi murder because the CIA is going to be releasing a report soon and the findings saying that, yes, it was Jared Kushner's sleepover buddy, MBS. Another spoiler millennial reference. And that's probably why Jared’s probably had an easy time relating to him and spent all those late nights until 4 AM carving up the world together. As people do at slumber parties. [laughs] So, Jared Kushner's friend killed a journalist, a writer for the Washington Post, who was residing in Virginia and was on his way to get some information at the Saudi embassy in Turkey so he can get married, marry his fiance. He had assurances from someone very close to MBS saying he would be safe, they would leave him alone, and then instead he was trapped. And that was a deliberate trap set to murder him because he had been effective at being critical of the regime and its many human rights abuses. I don't think MBS would have ordered that hit, as the CIA is saying he did, if it weren't for the President of the United States speaking out about how journalists are the enemy of the people and encouraging violence against journalists. I think that was a big green light that MBS probably thought he could do that and get away with it.
If Hillary were in office, he would have thought twice. He would have known there would have been some serious repercussions.
SK: Yeah, I mean I agree with you.
VC: I agree.
SK: Yeah you know worldwide, not just with Saudi Arabia, but with Russia or Turkey or any other dictatorship or proto-dictatorship who feels they can act with impunity, you know, because they can. But I think this particular relationship, you know, as you say, the sleepover party millennial massacre buds we've got going on with Kushner and MBS, is unique. And it again frustrates me enormously––and I know I'm a broken record about this––that Kushner is still in a position of power and he's still able to flex that muscle from an executive position that he should have never been given in the first place. That we know about his illicit details, we know about his security clearance lies, we know he's probably given away or stole state secrets. And now we know he's probably, you know, at least aiding, inadvertently or purposefully, in a murder of a journalist for a US outlet. And yet, still he stands. And I think that’s always the question that sort of looms over my mind, you know, with Mueller, is why has he not been indicted since he's in such enormous danger? And I'm curious if that will maybe change now with the House Intel Committee falling to the Democrats. But yeah, you know these are dark days for Freedom of the Press, internationally and domestically. You know, I think with full digital culture and with a transnational autocratic alliance, which is what we have, you can't really separate what happens in the US from other countries and of course in Trump, you have somebody who is actively pro-dictators and anti- our traditional allies. Anti-Canda, but pro-Kim Jong Un. [laughs] But, you know, it's a brand new world. But, yeah, I don’t know, what do you guys think?
VC: I think he's insulting the military again today. So, he's always insulting our military and propping up dictators.
AC: Yeah, it is an insult to our military to prop up these monsters. And that's probably why Trump hasn't gone abroad. Not only is he absolutely lazy and ridiculously out of shape, and that's what like living off McDonald's will do to you [laughs] and just screaming at Fox News all day. But it's probably the reason why he hasn't gone abroad, hasn't gone to war zones to visit our military. Because number one, he's a coward. Number two, he doesn't appreciate service, he doesn't understand it. And number three, he probably knows that they don't want him there. I can imagine. Because these are people that are risking their lives. And their families are sacrificing so much for them to be over there for the security of our US interests. And it's probably best for the morale if this mistake of a president doesn't go over there.
VC: And they aren't paying benefits to military families either.
AC: They're not?
SK: Yeah, they've been withholding for the GI bill, they've been withholding funding for the VA. They've been giving it over to his Mar-a-Lago cronies to mismanage it. You know, it's one thing after another. They’re still not doing things for PTSD and other mental health issues that previous administrations had also not risen to the challenge of caring for veterans and it's shameful. And of course we have troops currently stationed at a Texas Whataburger or whatever to ward off a fictitious migrant hoard that they are now saying is a few thousand people in Tijuana. I mean, none of it makes any sense and it's incredibly degrading. It's the troops of props and I just hope military folks get a better leader in the future because this is just, it's grotesque. And you know I think in the future, there may be times when people are going to have to make a difficult choice between what they are bound to do out of their sworn obligation to defend the country and what their president is doing and whether––are those the same things? Is what Trump wants people to do actually in the interest of protecting the United States and its citizens? And hopefully we won't reach that point in terms of new wars. But, we shall see. It's grim times.
CS: So, I'm wondering if, like, people, like McConnell… Do people ask him––do people ask him what they think about his treatment of the troops? Like, I mean I feel like it should be more of a media question to them and [inaudible] making him answer it or, you know, covering for him.
SK: Yeah, that's a really good point.
AC: Yeah. Well, now they want to privatize the VA, so McConnell will be forced to speak a lot about that, I imagine.
SK: But it's true that it's just not asked about a lot. That's the kind of question that should be brought up at these press briefings. I mean, if we're going to use them, use them for something other than listening to Sarah Huckabee Sanders lie for the billionth time. And that's a question of public interest. And honestly, I'm not sure I've ever seen it posed to them. So, we should, you know, when we're highlighting this episode, we should put that on Twitter and encourage them to do that. But, I'd like to hear the answer.
RC: It’s been really super frustrating to just sort of watch how, like, every time Paul Ryan would pull out that, “Well, I don't really pay a lot of attention to the President's tweets.” I'm like “come on now.” [laughs] Like, fundamentally, it's really frustrating to be on a side that's trying to use facts and like, we're trying to bring facts and truth and there's an asymmetry. The other side just has to say stuff that's plausible. And that's––that really sucks. But at the same time, you know, like okay, that doesn't change what we do. We just keep, like, saying things that are true, and if somebody else hears us and doesn't believe us, that's a them problem. It really is.
VC: Don't ask Lindsey Graham, he'll dive into his office before he even gets a sentence out of his mouth. [laughs]
RC: [laughs[ Yeah, you know, wow.
AC: We have to start planning now on how we're going to get rid of him and Susan Collins. I mean, we should really do a Kentucky episode, Sarah, where we just––what's the plan, what are you guys working on? Because you can't fuck this one up. The eyes of the world are on you.
RC: I have a lot of conversations with some friends of mine who are still sort of hoping for that last, you know, Mueller will be the silver bullet that will fix everything. And I'm like guys––
AC: Oh, you should listen to is Gaslit Nation.
RC: [laughs] Exactly. I’m like, “we are going to be dug into this for, like, probably decades because there are a lot of levers of power.” But, even before 2016 happened, like, all of the fiction and stuff that I paid attention to, it's all of the, like, hopeless struggle against the impossible odds, sometimes ending very badly for the heroes, which, like, I joke about. Like, reading HP Lovecraft prepared me perfectly for 2016 in some horrible, horrible way.
AC: Yeah that's why––[laughs] I agree with you. That's why I'm always referencing my film Garreth Jones, about a Soviet genocide in 1933 that starts right when Hitler comes to power and everyone is fooled by the Kremlin's information about how great Stalin is, you know, I agree.
RC: Yeah, I mean, it's going to, it's going to be a big ol’ fight, but it's going to be a fight that's worth it.
AC: Yeah. We're in it. It's going to take a generation to pull out these roots.
VC: My friend Nate Orshand just moved from Vermont to Kentucky and he was doing doorknocking for Amy McGrath. And he worked 8 hours a day on that. And I think that’s what we need to do for Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins.
AC: Oh I will move to––I will Airbnb for a month in Kentucky for canvassing. I will have so much fun.
CS: Will you come help us with Tom Cotton in 2020?
AC: Yes, my pleasure.
RC: I send $5/month to a ridiculous number of candidates all over the place right? Like, I mean, I'm in a Blue State, so yes, I make contributions to the locals here. But you know other folks need supplies. So, I will send my money to other Red States. Like, Amy McGrath, Stacey Abrams, all of them. So when 2020 rolls around, hit me up and act blue. We'll get fired up.
AC: That's why the US can never break apart into these separate government, I mean separate countries - these secessionist movements these Kremlin bots like to fuel and their efforts like to fuel. We can never do that, because if you were to send donations to Arkansas, Kentucky, and there were these separate, I’m sure if they fell under the Right Wing, as they currently are, they would be outlawing [laughs], you know––we would be George Soros to them.
RC: Yeah. That’s right.
AC: Like, we already are, but they would do what Putin did and outlaw foreign––whatever that's called––meddling, I guess, through these donations.
Sarah, you wanted to chat a bit about the recounts.
SK: Yeah, I'm still catching up on the news since I was traveling most of the day, but, you know, we've seen Stacey Abrams not exactly concede - just sort of realize what the outcome of the race was and that it was technically not in her favor. But she's vowing to fight. And she has an initiative in Georgia––who remembers what the name is? Fair and Free?
Everybody: Fair Fight Georgia.
SK: Fair fight Georgia. Yeah. “Fair Fight Georgia, a new pact which will pursue accountability in Georgia's elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting roles.” And I was so happy to see that she was doing to this, to see in her speech, you know, the tenacity, the courage. Because you know it's about Stacey Abrams, it's about Georgia, but more broadly it's about voter integrity nationwide. And a refusal to just bow down and accept a very unfair system, a system that's riddled with flaws. If you go back and listen to the fourth episode of Gaslit Nation, we have an interview with computer scientist and election integrity expert, Barbara Simmons, in which she breaks down the problems with voting machines as well as foreign interference. You know, we have a wide scale problem of corruption, embodied in people like Brian Kemp, you know, another member of the Republican party, who clearly don't care about the will of the people or the integrity of the election, but are openly pursuing a one-party state and abusing the electoral system to enhance their personal wealth and their personal agendas. And it's grotesque. And if you don't fight back early and you don't fight back hard, they become emboldened and they continue to act with impunity. And that's really been the lesson of the last few decades. It's been the lesson of 2016 with Trump and all of the people who falsely thought, you know, checks and balances would, you know, keep him in line or that he couldn't win and all these things. And also I think with early concessions from Al Gore from how 2000 turned out, how other contested races that seemed a little shady among Democrats have turned out. You know, Abrams is standing strong. You know, in Florida, the Democrats put up a good fight as well. And I think we're kind of seeing a turning of the tide. We're seeing people saying, you know, I'm just––I'm not going to take this anymore, even if it means putting myself on the line, even if it means tarnishing my political future if people think I'm too radical, I’m too out there. I'm just going to to do the right thing because it's the right thing. And I think that's what Stacey Abrams is about. I'm really excited to see where she'll go in the future because we need people with that attitude because this is such a severe––it's such a severe crisis. It's not the kind of crisis you want to handle after the terrible result, you want to handle it before, which is why I've been droning on it for 2 years. And given that I will now stop talking and allow someone else to weigh in.
VC: I don't think it will tarnish Stacey at all. I think it'll elevate her. That's the kind of fight we need right now.
AC: I hope everybody across America gets a Thanksgiving table discussion like ours [laughs], where everybody's pretty much in agreement and everybody's committed to the fight.