New York Times, Yale Law School, Slick discussed on Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Slick ended up voting for the bill but he did not seek reelection Tarango joins me now he recently wrote a profile of the park and for the New York times hi hi there thank you for having me thanks for coming in well so tell us more about who he was before he got sick. yeah I already was the the way I described it was a very sort of energetic but somewhat anonymous foot soldier in the progressive movement he was an activist in a number of issues immigrant rights mass incarceration trying to reform the the federal reserve you wanted to be a lawyer from a young age and after reading it to kill a mockingbird he's he said I'm going to be a lawyer in the name of social justice and he went to law school he was clicking I believe it was the summer of two thousand twelve occupy Wall Street he was looking for a federal judge in New York at the time and he was sort of drawn to occupy Wall Street in lower Manhattan and and I think from there he decided he'd go into activism full time and this is a guy who grew up with privilege right and he went to Columbia and then Yale Law School and felt really conflicted about that the fact that he had so much given to him yeah he grew up the son of Israeli immigrants who were history professors and he grew up in California in Claremont in Pasadena and so you know solidly middle class intellectuals sort of family upbringing he was always he says very aware of like white privilege and always felt discomfort with that and so I think that's what's driven a lot of his his politics and his activism over the years and then he is diagnosed three years ago with a alas and she's very young to be diagnosed thirty two when he was diagnosed the average age at diagnosis is fifty five now. and so how does that change his approach to his activism. I think you he was diagnosed in October two thousand sixteen and it's really powerful the way described in the book it came right at this what he calls this fairy tale period this very brief fairy tale period of his life they just had a baby they had moved to Santa Barbara his his work was flourishing his wife Rachel king's job as an English professor at UC Santa Barbara was was a flourishing as well and then of course he suddenly diagnosed and my book you mean his new memoir called eyes to the wind it was just published right yes it was out a couple weeks ago. and I think you know once he went through the initial anger despair all of that I think he made a real decision that I'm gonna can he's going to continue the work he's doing and it was the moment on the plane with Jeff flake and and this the have that video went viral that sort of gave him the realization that he could go even more with the activism and uses personal story almost as a platform and I think it's driven almost as much you know he wants to leave a legacy for his son who may not. you know he he may not see him grow up. although Stephen Hawking lived for decades with fail us so it's possible he could serve absolutely possible he the day after I met with him last week he had the tracheotomy in and got the breathing tube in that my understanding is went fairly well and so there's a lot of hope and a lot of possibility that you live for many many years well there are a lot of people who are sick can learn a lot of activists why has he become the guy that democratic presidential candidates need to meet with well I think you he very deliberately said I'm gonna use my disease as a platform and just put it out there and he also I think shifted his tactics a bit and embraced civil disobedience so you saw him at the capitol getting arrested during the cabin on nomination and then you saw him testify at the first Medicare for all hearing this year and in Washington and with that in the people around him and his network he's just been very deliberate about putting it out there and and you know the people have criticized him and his group for sort of exploiting his illness and they make no apologies for it they will use every modern media tool at their disposal to get their message out and the result has been that most of the major candidates have come to sit down talk to him about Medicare fraud the series of videos he has a political action committee these are videos he creates are his team creates absolutely they'll I think there's been five so far there's more planned they've been either in Los Angeles or in in Santa Barbara okay let's play a clip from one of them here he is speaking with Bernie Sanders it's a stunning indictment of our country that people are forced to invest hundreds of hours of their time and turn themselves into professional advocates in order to ensure the survival of their children does that kind of citizen advocacy give you hope or does it make you mad because people should not have to do it in the first place. well both but I think the fact that people are standing up and fighting for justice right now. will create the moment in the not too many years from now where people will not have to do that were health care will be understood to be a right and by the way that was a computer interpreting on these ways because he can no longer speak. what is the power for Bernie Sanders to be on that video how many people side how many people potential Sanders supporters would see that video yeah that's a good question I don't know that many people thought I think for someone like Bernie Sanders and also Elizabeth Warren those are the two candidates that ideas I I I feel the closest to in terms of their views being aligned on Medicare for all and so for them it was just important to come there and and talk about this issue with someone who is getting so much attention nationally and health care obviously of prime importance to him his medical costs must be extraordinary extraordinary he has great insurance he said and he had about nine thousand dollars a month out of pocket for a lot of the home health care this is before the tracheotomy last week after that it could go up to fifteen to twenty thousand because after the tracheotomy you need twenty four seven care he said he has good insurance in his wealthy patrons that are helping but he's trying to to speak out for all the people who don't have those resources available to them and most people with a lesson as I understand it do not get the tracheotomy because it's too expensive the after care is too expensive oh wow and so then that definitely shortens their lifespan that's my understanding at because after you get the tracheotomy then you need twenty four seven home healthcare and insurance doesn't always cover a lot of that. so it was with warn you mention her she's mentioned him actually in her speech as she also sent a debate yeah he mentioned him in the debate. so he he has become quite a powerful figure as representative I mean it's kind of ironic that he's he's comes from this group of people that is privileged and can't afford this care and these extraordinary out of pocket expenses and yet he has become the symbol for people who cannot absolutely he's using his in some ways he's using his experience to say look I'm lucky I have good health insurance I have the resources to cover the things that insurance doesn't cover but most Americans don't and this is such a prime example of in his view the failure of the system and so yeah he goes from being a relatively anonymous activists to now being mentioned in the the presidential debates personally what's going on in his household how are they handling this that's a great question he you know when I met with him it was it was a beautiful experience he he has a sense of humor and all of that but obviously it's it's a devastating thing what I thought one thing that was interesting in the book he talked about how he turned to meditation and he talked about how he turned to some spiritual teachers like there's a Buddhist thinker name Pam a children whose quite well known and there came a lot of solace early on and now he says that kind of fell away and when he gets really angry about his disease he he focuses on his his issues he says he focuses on racism and capitalism trying to fight that but he to it's a very busy full household they have a three year old son named Carl they have a daughter on the way the activism you know and then the disease in the the attention that that requires every day too so it's a it's a very full household to full of life.

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