Pantsuit Civics with Ben Sheehan and Pantsuit Politics


Welcome to episode thirty four of how we win all over the country people are staying home staying safe and still doing extraordinary things. We're giving you the tools that you need to make a difference right now right from your living room or your bedroom wherever you are. The Best Antidote to anxiety is action. And we'll get through this by taking action together today. We're looking inside the constitution with actor and author of the new book. Omg WT after the constitution. Actually say Benxi and but before we do that. Our show is infused with a grace filled conversation with Sarah Stewart Holland and best silvers. The host of the wonderful pantsuit politics podcast. I'm Steve Pearson and Mariah Craven and this is how we went. Sarah Beth is so great to have you joining us for this. Thank you so much us First of all. How are you both doing during the pandemic? How your family's Sarah you WanNa Start Yeah We're doing really good. My kids are really good ages for this like they're not teenagers. They're not desperate to be out of the house. They're not babies and toddlers. They're not totally dependent So they're at a really good age. It's been fun to sort of be at home with them and learn alongside them when it's not incredibly frustrating. It's one or the other. It's either a delight or a trauma. Just the only options. And so it's been nice to be with my family and we've had beautiful spring weather in Kentucky which is also helped and we are healthy. Which is the most important thing? So no major complaints here. That's good what about you? Beth do you have a lot of major complaints to Offset Sarah Sunshine? We'll now it would just sound spoiled when and if I had some complaints now I would be in the space of profound gratitude. My a miniature schnauzer thinks that this is the best thing that's ever happened to her. She has all her people around all the time. There's always a lap available so she's living her best life. My kids are about the same age as I have two girls four and nine and they are pretty content just hanging with us. They do begin talking the moment they wake up and they don't stop talking until they go to bed And I am quite the introverts in my ears are a little tired but other than that. I am very grateful. We have everything we need. Were healthy we've had some nice weather so Staying at home is if that is the sacrifice that our generation is ask. We can handle it right like hang out on the couch. That's your your civic duty right now so we wanna talk about the week that was with you guys and I sect. What's been going on in your Your outlook on it all but first before we do that. You all been rocking pantsuit politics podcasts. Since Two Thousand Fifteen. How did you get your start? How'd you guys meet and decide to do this? We went to college together at Transylvania University in Lexington Kentucky. We were Sorority Sisters. Which is just kind of a funny part of the story especially for people who only after college But TRANSYLVANIA was a school that was eighty percent Greek when we were there so we both ended up in in one chapter together. It was kind of like there were four sororities at transient and it was like the Harry Potter sorting hat. He's very obvious where you belonged. And so we were both five us. We had a good college experience. Mesa. Grill indoors yes. That's pretty much. What happened I think everyone would agree? Find US griffin door so we both got there. We had really different experiences because as will become clear as we talk more we have very different personalities so we were kind of on parallel tracks in college. We knew each other. We cared about each other but we were not the best of friends. We went off to law school. I stayed in Kentucky for Law School. Sara went to Washington DC. Sarah went into politics immediately out of law school. I did the private firm thing and then we reconnected on facebook because facebook is not all bad. Do you want to pick it up there Sara? Yes so fast forward. My husband would not stop harassing me. About starting a podcast. You just start podcast interesting. I was at the time. A Mommy Blogger. And he was just insistent. That podcast was the future and I needed star podcast and so I thought at first that I would do like an interview show with all the women I knew from politics but I did want it kind of sat there. I really like answering questions. Not asking them the truth and so I was still the blog at the time. Beth was on maternity leave with her second daughter in reached out and said would you ever be interested in a guest post and I said absolutely. That's just less content. I have to create and so she Wrote a couple of blog posts. One called nuance which was incredibly. Well received among my audience that was just basically like hey we don't. We don't have to stake these black and white claims over every social media controversy and then decide like we know every single thing about that person based on how they feel about the lion. People are complicated and so I thought oh well maybe this could be a good podcast and I said Hey. Would you ever want to do a podcast? And she said what's a podcast and I said don't worry I've got that perfect it out and so we decided to just start talking. We thought I we would just do Kentucky politics but got a national audience pretty quickly and and you know it went from a hobby that we would do in our late late at night after our babies were asleep to really just a mission. Not really quickly. That's an in the sort of timing of the Internet. It's not like we were overnight viral successes but I think quickly in the grand scheme of life for sure so he said in two thousand fifteen. Let's talk about politics with grace and then down the escalator donald trump as to spend a wild ride. Ever since that's that's must have been so challenging like okay so we're going to approach this with you know grace and listening and knowing that we don't know everything and incomes. Donald Trump is. It just seems like you're biting your tongue off during every single episode since then. It certainly feels like that. Yes well I think the hardest part for me has been. We started off saying look. We're bipartisan you. Know because I was a republican until last year and seeing the Party so transformed immediately just as I was publicly putting myself out there as like a version of the Republican Party that could be really collaborative with Democrats. It just all has kind of blown up in my face And so trying to figure out how to talk to the audience about that how to process it myself has been the most challenging part for me and so what was it for you. What did it mean to No longer be a Republican. The label started worrying me as we began to travel more and I realized that there was just not any space to be a republican but dissociate from trumpism because it was so much just eclipsing everything else in the party and I kept telling myself well. The most important reason that you register with a party is your state and local races. Right Kentucky's a closed primary state. I wanted to vote in primaries in this tip of Kentucky that is very read right outside of Cincinnati Ohio so I told myself I wanNA build these primaries. I'm just going to keep my registration and try to be an advocate for a better version of this party but then when I started looking at my local races and seeing that there weren't Republicans on the ballot who were doing something different than trump. It's not like I could vote for the non trump option That's when I decided that just enough you know and the National Party was doing things that were so embarassing. Trump was being trump every day and so I thought there has to be room for game elsewhere and still and still away for me to participate in primaries and and do the work I wanted to do and I saw in candidates like amy McGrath. Who is running against Mitch? Mcconnell now Something that feels much closer to my own. Politics may have some differences here and there but the spirit of it being inclusive respecting people's individual life choices and circumstances and identities Having a relationship with business that makes sense. It is a much better fit for me at this moment in our history. And it's it's weird but I hope that it's Walking mytalk because I've said to people the labels shouldn't matter so much so the label should matter so much from either. Well yeah I mean I grew up in DC in a political family. And I remember a time when we used to be able to really disagree on some you know Policies but have civil conversations about where we wanted to go as a country. And and you know I've just seen that completely erode as well Before trump obviously trump was able to come into office by the current GOP. But certainly. Now it's it's just tough that I my heart goes out for you know. My my father is a democrat. He worked for the Johnson Administration. But he's from Oklahoma and all of his friends are Republicans and a lot of people that I grew up with. They're all Republicans and I have just an immense deal of respect for these people and I feel bad that their Their party is no longer in existence. Really so any who. Let's talk about what's been going on this week. I WanNa hear what has stood out to you too and Mariah first of all happy Earth Day. It's a fiftieth anniversary of earth. Day and the earth seems to really like what's happening right now with this all staying at home right. I'm really excited about our because I realized recently when I was talking to my middle son. Who's eight years old that you know? He still thinks about and has had climate change and global warming defined for him as not littering And I feel like you know this time at home with them and home. Schooling is a real opportunity to talk with him in a more in depth way than we usually get to do about climate change about the Earth about our responsibilities towards the earth. I have like sued many activities planned day and I'm really excited about that opportunity because I realize like oh man. He is still getting that message. That I think has has been the one we syndicates for. So long which is just don't litter Just don't make a bad choice as opposed to Try to make good choices as well. We have a long conversation about that here today. my daughter's you know pop in. Sarah and I are recording things and I was working on some research about the Migratory Bird Treaty. Act And I could tell that my older daughter Jane was really interested in it and she wanted to understand more about this. This idea exactly what Sarah was talking about like if I intend to hurt a bird verses people who don't intend to hurt birds but they take actions that are careless or cheap And with total disregard for birds kill millions of birds instead of the one that the person with bad intention might kill so we did a little experiment this morning that stimulate but simulated an oil spill in a nine by thirteen cake pan with olive oil and water and seeing their faces. Like get okay. Nobody meant to spill the oil. But look what happens. Look how hard it is to clean up. Look how dirty your pick me. Pop got you know when it got some of this oil on it and how hard we had to work to clean it up. Now let's imagine that's ocean life. I really sunk in with them and I thought this is. This is probably the best way we could be using this time that we have right now. That sounds like a really cool experiment and I think a lot of teachers are going to have some interesting conversations with resumes for for people as their students come back having having gotten a little homeschooling Can you tell us what the migratory bird actus since you mentioned it? Yeah it's a very old law that we entered into with Canada. Initially because the snowy egret was becoming extinct from hunting and so the law went into effect to protect several species of birds the Audubon society was very instrumental in getting the law passed and then an evolving. The law to include lots more species has been really successful There are pretty stiff penalties in place for companies that violate best practices. Because you know when the law went into effect it really was about hunting but now the risk to birds are oil. Their power lines All kinds of legal activity that if done carelessly is very dangerous for bird populations and the trump administration has written a rule. That's gone through notice and comment period that they say clarifies the law. And now they're clarification. Is that if the bird is incidentally taken. That's the terminology. You didn't mean to kill the birds you just did. In the course of otherwise legal activity you can't be fined under the Migratory Bird Treaty. Act Anymore and that's just disastrous. Because as my nine year old understands killing one bird intentionally does not have the kind of impact that killing two hundred thousand birds unintentionally has. What's not trump to the standard of understanding? That has okay. So it's just. It's it's one rollback in a series of rollbacks. Obviously that's really dangerous and that can't get a lot of oxygen in the midst of Corona virus election season and everything else that's going on but it's very consequential. Thanks for that breakdown. That was really helpful. And it's a it's a good reminder that Earth Day or a good reminder that one of the down. Many many downsides of this administration is that they have actively rolled back so many regulations and laws that were intended to to protect the environment. The air the water. Yeah But they seem hell bent on on and let us drawing those and as you know to pull out old school lake off. Let's call them protections and not regulations to because we all can agree no matter what our political leanings that we want clean air for our kids to breathe and clean water to drink. You know so. These are protections to ensure the health of our families not as Republican talking points like to put it. You know business killing regulations so just saying it's also helpful to remember that like president. Nixon signed into law like a lot of the laws that the trump administration and Republicans have such an issue with now where where enacted under a Republican president. It's maddening maddening is the right word. Yeah well what else is going on that? We may have missed or what. What do you want to talk about from the last week? That's really stuck out. I think one thing I've really been thinking about is the oil futures market which is not a sentence. I have ever said before but you know doing research for our newspaper this morning. I read a really great article in the New York Times that said. Hey you know I know. We're all obsessed with the shortages in a medical equipment and it's really important but what's happening in. The oil market is most likely some of the the the more common economic impact. Which is we're just going to have more demand than supply or more supply than demand A lot of things. Not just with oil Because the economy has shut down We really probably need to start thinking about the The inflation and the impact of that when when we start opening our economy back up that we're going to have lots and lots of things not just oil that we have way more than we usually do. Yeah in your podcast. That just dropped today. I think it was as we're recording on Tuesday You talk a lot about that. Like what it's GonNa look like to come back to our new normal to get people back to work and stuff. I thought it was a really great exploration of that. Because we don't really know what it's GonNa look like. But what are some top lines for that because a sure we all have thoughts there well kind of guiding light that I've been operating under is just remembering. This is a really rare opportunity to pause and think. How do we WANNA build this back instead of? Let's rush to do everything exactly as we had it. It's kind of like a because I have small children. I think of it as like. We built a tower with blocks and fell down. All the blocks are here on the table. We don't have to build the same tower again so a lot of things that I think haven't been working particularly well can be addressed as we start to phase in a new economy and I think this is why the work that y'all doing swing left is so critically important because it has become really painfully clear. What the priorities of Republicans are in drafting legislation like the cares act and looking at re authorizations and adding additional funds and I think right now putting money into our healthcare systems putting money into testing capacity is essential to business as putting more money into the paycheck protection program. I support that too. But if we don't have the testing capacity doesn't matter what else is happening in the economy So those priorities matter a lot I also just think we could be using the paycheck protection program and others like it to do some of the work that would be more restorative for our economy like prioritizing women and minority owned businesses As those funds are received businesses that have historically struggled with access to capital. I think should be front of the line As the government makes these investments to try to get people on their feet again. Yeah I think this is a really It's so hard to know the tone to take with all of this Because so many people are devitt like having devastating Ron virus experiences but this is an opportunity to look at our country and see very starkly. Like where we've where we've really let a lot of groups of people down and how that has deadly consequences when global pandemics which will given the way that our world is will probably be more prevalent moving forward but healthcare is the prime example. People being forced to live paycheck to paycheck so that when they miss one paycheck their entire lives fall. Apart is the other thing. And then we're seeing how or access to healthcare and you know crappy environments have made black and Latino communities incredibly vulnerable to this to this virus So if we make these laws and only use them to to rescue big business and to keep people. You know still living check to check. It's a real missed opportunity for our country to to really improve now. I think that you know one thing we've been talking about a lot is that corona virus has just accelerated the path of change. And what that's done has revealed exactly what you're talking about. Which is all the structural inequalities the gaps in our social safety net the institutions that are struggling under the weight of change. And you know it's not that it's revealing that we didn't know it Any of these problems existed that but it's just We keep using the word Like clarifying like like boiling it down to its essence. Just much quicker. I think then We're used to seeing you know and I thought that Andrew Yang's campaign accelerated you be I and the idea of universal basic income quickly while man did we do. We go even faster In the face of Corona virus in the I did the government should just hand out checks. I think there there are so many areas that will be. We'll see this impact. We'll see that as well. Everything gets faster and things get more intense and things. Start to crack under the pressure There'll be lots of areas that were having these conversations around and I just conversations But actual action and change well speaking of action and change. Let's We always talk about reasons for hope. So let's go around the virtual table and and share reason for hope Who WANTS TO GO? I know one okay. Well that's fine. I feel really hopeful as I look at how people are engaging even through the ugliness of the fight that we have about the economy right now. I see more people pushing back on facebook against bad information That I've ever seen and people who are typically not politically active. I see standing up to say no. This virus is really. Don't you're talking about my friends and nurse you know. People's willingness to share their personal stories. Which is the only way to bring in someone to political participation? Who hasn't been there before right. There has to be that sort of Hook of look at how this directly impacts your life and I think for I hate the situation wherein I wish we were not here. I never WANNA sound like Sally Silver Lining. I totally agree Mariah. It's so hard to know what tone to take but as as we think about what makes me feel hopeful. It is seeing people who I think will come into the political process in a big way who've been missing from it for a long time and will come in with a lot of passion about what their priorities are and it's really great point about the personal stories too because that is how we connect with each other certainly how we connect with Voters and volunteers to bring them into the organizing that we do. And and you're right. I'm hearing a lot of people sharing their experience with this and making it really. Poignant in real so Thank you Sally Silver Lining. That's so cute. Never heard that before. What about you Sarah? I think that in the way current virus can reveal structural problems. It can also reveal spiritual deficits and having the time even in the middle of a crisis. Well especially in the middle of a crisis. Because you know just because we don't have a good language in America for the power that suffering can bring As far as growth and insight and self awareness doesn't mean that we don't experience that and so many people are experiencing that They're seeing because time has slowed down and the world has sort of stopped in a lot of traditional ways and because crisis always sort of give us that moment to to reflect and think and take a breath even if it is a bit ragged and you know. I know that sounds you know to start talking about the. The power of suffering is a weird place to talk about hope but I just think they live hand in hand and I think that lots of people in their individual lives are seeing things for the first time Struggling through thanks for the first time and Preparing to make major changes in to see that In the course of the every day that they were too tired or too busy or too overwhelmed to see what was missing or what they wanted. More of and I'm really hopeful that people will come out of this experience With those lessons and with those insights and ready to make changes nice well sad What gives me hope. Today is actually something that I heard on pantsuit politics. Which which is this idea. And I believe that if I if I recall correctly you all were talking about the protests and this idea that with our citizenship becomes a lot of freedom and so many rights but also a responsibility to each other to do what we can to keep each other save and when I see the protests. I see that people are saying you know. Open things back up now. You know I see people who are scared and frustrated this is truly a sign of the country that we live in that you go out and protest during a stay at home order and nobody arrests you or anything like that So you know. Let's have some perspective But I see people. Who are you know? Really frightened about their their bottom lines which an get so many so many people are but you have to remember in even in that fear to to take care of each other here in California. We had a protester in like a full has met suit so some real caution and mixed messages happening there. Mis Mixed Message. Yeah hopefully they'll they'll start staying at home but you know if fear understandable but let's have some perspective and And treat each other as well as we can these days. Yeah Great Advice. I mean to say really quick about the protest. Even though we're in our reason for hope thing it makes me crazy that the media is so obsessed with these small protests when for better part of three years we've had hundreds of amazing protests and rallies events with thousands and thousands of activists on all kinds of really important issues that don't get covered by the media so any who That's a whole topic. We could get into another time but Well but that segues into my reason for hope actually which is that even during this time that is so tenuous and uncertain and were all affected by it in different ways. Activists are really staying. Active and in our circles are organizing community. We have seen people who don't WanNa get complacent they understand what the stakes are even starker. Now be you know what what Besser Mariah all just said you know. We're we're looking at things through a new scope and we see how important it is to do things. I protect our healthcare intellect. People who are going to have a response to this like you know. Brian Kemp in Georgia's opening up Tattoo parlors and massage parlours sounds great. Moghul get a massage and a tattoo Georgia but We were thousands just a mere thousands of suppressed disenfranchised votes away from having a different governor. Stacey Abrams there so you know. These elections have major consequences. And I'm seeing this community of volunteers who don't want to stop. There was a big day of action here in California Making phone calls Virtual Day Day of action thank you four congressional race. Nca Twenty five people making phone calls. It was awesome. We had about five hundred people signed up for it. So that's really exciting and We meet people where they are. Everyone is getting through this the best that they can. So if you're listening to this and like I'm just not ready to do something that's totally fine too. You know just navigating this this Reality that we're in and doing it with your family and friends is is step number one. But there's a lot of great stuff to do and that takes us to our to do list Mariah. What do we do what was it? Thursday Tomba are lettering party. It was awesome. We did a virtual letter writing party With swing laughed folks from all over the country. Got On zoom wrote letters while Stephen I- chattered away and questions and got some really great future guest ideas so that was awesome. Sound Fun Seren Beth. Yes it does yes. I think that's amazing. I wanted to add on to what you were saying about your activists and in relation to your letter party and to to to lists in general. I'm a great conversation with an activist on aboard at where she was saying She noticed on her on there. I think it was their local Party. Facebook page if she shared like really action oriented This is where you can donate money or positive news articles or shared what they were doing. What the local party was donating money to or what they what action they were taking. They got so much better engagement. I mean I think if you're an activist and if you're looking to make an impact This is a really important moment because people are watching to see what groups what organizations what brands whatever are out there trying to make change and create positively and that will leave an impact for a very long time great tip for all the people who are pivoting to online activities out there so thank you for that sheer positive posts. Yeah so Well so are every week. We do a to do list for people as you just said to give them specific actions to take and that's the whole point of our show so We are going to encourage everyone to write letters to voters. Because it's really fun and easy you can do it from your living room. You can go to swing left dot org slash letters as always. We'll have that Lincoln on our page and right from home or you can use the action finder on swing left and find some events near you and I have some exciting news here. We're breaking our new besties Sarah in Beth from your favorite pantsuit politics. Podcast are going to join us for a letter writing party. So that's going to be Sunday may twenty fourth. We'll have the link on our page Also happens to be my birthday just saying I'll have like hey frio everyone will eat their own little mini kicks on the zoom. I didn't say many. I'll have a gay created so Sarah Beth. Thank you for joining us for that party. That's going to be really really fun. Thank you yeah. I can't wait also to do this week. Make sure that you subscribe to to podcast this week. Pantsuit politics and how we win and you're already subscribed ask a friend. Those are two things to do agree but really two things to do. That's that's totally doable. Beth and Sarah. I guess we will Talk to you again soon. Enough on May twenty fourth if not sooner but thank you so much for joining us and And thank you for all the great work that you do. We really appreciate your grace filled conversations and the approach that you have to politics thank you thank you. Thanks for having me. Thanks for the work that you all do. We LOVE TO DO LIST. That whole approach really. That's how I'm getting through all of this and clean out that closet. Thanks we'll see you on the twenty four. Thanks Guy Things by Ben. Sheehan is a former award winning executive producer at funny or die he founded. Omg W T F to teach voters about state executive races during the two thousand eighteen midterms in two thousand sixteen. He helped register fifty thousand voters through digital videos as the executive director of. Save the day his new book. Omg OMG W T F. Does the Constitution actually say is available for your stay at home reading now? Ben Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. I wish that we could be in person. I actually got to meet been when he was recording his book at our the studio that we record our podcast in here in Hollywood cool. Also get the audio book to read along. Yeah that was really fun. I know we had great plans to sit down and do this. Podcast interview and become best friends forever and so I kind of feel like we did come become pretty good friends. We were on the past two best friends forever but I feel like we really established a report in the in the time that we had derailed like. You haven't reached out once since this all happened. So you're pretty much dead to me but we'll see anyway. You started out as an actor and executive producer at Funnier die. When did you first get involved though in registering voters helping win elections? Were you involved in politics growing up so I grew up in Washington. Dc and I was basically. My parents were involved in politics from a young age or they were. I've been around since I was since I was very little my mom worked in the United States Senate and I remember when I was six years old and she took a Napkin at dinner one night and drew two houses and wrote the number four thirty five in one house and the the number one hundred and another house and taught me about the difference between the Senate and the House so I sort of soaked this up from from an early age just by the luck in growing up in DC and the proximity of it. But I studied political science in college in in sort of have been paying attention for for a long time and so when I was funny or die I would always try to gravitate toward the political projects and then when I was doing save the day with just Weeden. Those were all political videos that we were doing in the lead up to the election and basically in every job I've had I've always tried to find a way to work politics in now. We're surrounded by it constantly so it's less of a less of a Labor to shoehorn in it and but I just happened to grow up in around. It studied it and tried to work it into whichever whichever job I thought. That's a cool origin story. It sounds like you learn the skill of breaking things down to easily understandable bite size pieces from your mom on Napkins. Yeah and I learned a little bit of that from my My Dad is well. He coaches people on public speaking everyone from Democratic presidents to two executive so it was sort of a combination of learning this information from my mom. And then finding a way to sort of distill it but also a lot of that. I learned it at Funnier. Die Creating things for people with short attention spans. I'm including myself and and really honing in on. How can I convey this information in the shortest and least boring way possible? Well I would say it worked because your projects have gotten over a billion views at did you go in with the x with a billion view expectation. What does it feel like to make that kind of of an impact? Well no I did not go in with the expectation of that a lot of that is due to the fact that when I was at. Funnier die we got to work with our. I got to work with people of note with large followings so many of those user through that and then I got to work on a few music videos as well that God very high high view counts. So it's it's kind of weird to sit back and think that the projects I've been involved with in some way it had that sort of viewership but the ones that I'm I'm proudest of are the ones that sort of take important information and distill it down and whether it's getting an ema band there's a video. I WORKED ON WITH ADAM. Mckay where we took a Antonin. Scalia dissenting opinions on same sex marriage. Turn the most flowery parts into an emo song and I wrote this song and the band cohesion. Cambria recorded it and they got requests when they were on tour actually performed the song. But stuff like that where you sort of take these weird angles and turn the news and politics and information around and make it in a way that sort of surprises people and help them digest. The point of that may have to play some of that on the podcast. We'll probably get kicked off all the platforms if we do but so of all the areas of politics all the stuff that you learn from Your mom and how to talk about it from Your Dad. Why did you decide to write a book about the Constitution? So when I was doing. Omg WPF stuff in two thousand eighteen and enduring the election cycle in the midterms. This stood for Ohio. Michigan Georgia Wisconsin Texas and Florida and we were specifically focused on state executive races Governor Secretary of State and Attorney General and had had these events and friends of mine or or peers would come up and asks me questions about rex. Tillerson or jeff sessions and it would kind of dawned on me a few minutes or a few seconds of the conversation that they think that I'm talking about. Us Secretary of state or US Attorney General and they actually were unaware that their state had those those positions at the state level. And this other situations happened enough where I realized that there's a real sort of blind spot for a lot of people in their in their twenties and thirties. When it comes to how government works and I was curious why that was and I sort of looked at my own privilege have being exposed to this information but I the light bulb really went off when I looked at the data on civics education and it turns out that today only eight states require a year of civics or Government Education K through twelve and these cut started after the nineteen sixties really started after two thousand two with no child left behind where there were all these federal financial incentives for schools to perform well in reading and math that was continued in two thousand ten with a group of governors agreeing to common core so you had all these incentives and tests around reading and math and so other subjects that weren't included were sort of starved. And Shrunken. So now we're at the situation. Where only eight states have this and I graduated. High School in two thousand and three a lot of my friends graduated during this time and we didn't really get a lot of civics education so I wanted to really start at the beginning and in the one class of government that I took in school. We were lucky enough to get pocket constitutions and I've kind of went back out of curiosity and looked at it and I found it completely inaccessible. The Grammar Tone. The punctuation the capitals. I mean it just. It was like a different language so I thought if there was a way to digest this and make it simpler than we could at least start with the foundation of our federal government and help give this information to all the people who didn't get the civic classes that that they should have fun fact. I actually carry a pocket constitution in my laptop bag with me everywhere. I go and it's so tiny I can't read it. It's just kinda there so I think I'm going to swap it out for your book instead. I know you guys did that. Makes it even harder with the dense grammar and capitalization and then you have to use a magnifying glass to to get to it? It makes for very inaccessible. Union experience. I don't know why it's there are just so in case something terrible happens to me. And they've gone through my possessions. It'll be like wow. Steve carried a constitution with them. Really the only reason it's there so it's a prop to probably just bookcases on everybody. Inner being interviewed every new show right now. Those books are props just blank pages on the For for people like Steve who may be carry around the contribution? Maybe they've they've browsed it. A little bit What is something that they're going to learn from your book about the Constitution? That's probably gonNA blow their minds a little bit. We'll one is that we don't actually have the right to vote for president. This is something that we've always assumed. And we're we're taught from a young age but we didn't vote for president until really eighteen eighty and the responsibility for choosing electors or really choosing the method of how electors are chosen falls with with the state's the state legislatures and since eighteen eighty every state has allowed the citizens of the state or though the residents. I should say to hold a devoted statewide popular election. And then that determines who the electors are pledged to but this is not something that we have a constitutional right to do as much as we. We may expect that I would say largely the fact that even while Congress can override a election laws when it comes to the Times places and manner of choosing representatives and senators to a large extent. this is. This is something that states make decisions on. And we've been seeing this a lot with the with the primaries where different states have different methods of voting in primaries voting in general some states like Utah and in Washington and Oregon already have statewide vote by mail. That's that's that's the common means. A voting other states still had their elections during a pandemic. So I would say the combination of just not having a constitutional right for for residents the people of the country to directly vote for president. That's nowhere in the constitution. The fact that states have so much power when it comes to voting. And I know you've you and your organization have have have dealt with this a lot with with with with your work and you talk about last week's podcast so those are two things that really jumped out at me that we've just sort of always assumed when it comes to elections but that actually. I had no idea. That's a little bit scary. Thank you and arm. Wasn't it wasn't until the seventeen th amendment in nineteen thirteen? That people had the ability to vote for a for senators until nineteen thirteen senators. Were chosen by the state legislatures because it was sort of the state governments having representation in the federal government and then it was the people's house where people could vote for directly for president for for representatives as long as they could vote for their state representatives than they had the ability to vote for their US representatives. And that's determined by the state. So I just to sum it all up. There is a lot less democracy at the outset. Then we expect but we've made strides in this because now people elect senators directly. We've made changes to the Electoral College. We've prevented people's voting rights from being taken away based on race on sex on many different things ability to pay tax. Our poll tax eighteen year olds. Now have the right to vote. So we've made a lot of strides. I think in the last few hundred years that have expanded democracy but when you go back and look at the source material. It's clear that we have more democracy in many ways now than than we did at least when it comes to certain federal elections nerd question. Do you have a favorite amendment? I do I have. I have one is a cheetah. It's not a nerd question. I heard for asking it. Like what's your favorite amendment. I'd say all of these questions probably have some categorization of Edging into NERD territory. But I would say I think the ninth amendment is really interesting and it basically says there are rights their fundamental rights. That people have that aren't in here and what's in here can't be used to deny the rights that we basically forgotten. The these are James Madison's way of preventing people's fundamental rights that they forgot to include in the constitution from being trampled upon applied to things like travel and personal health decisions. Things like that. So that's a pretty important catch all and if it were very forward thinking one and then the the fourteenth amendment is just. They're so much in there. That was the second reconstruction amendment that established a birthright citizenship. Equal Protection Law. I mean there's there's so much in the in its different sections. I would say those two amendments. If I were to pick a favorite those those would be would be one into what's your favorite amendment Mariah. Probably like some some people. Maybe I don't know. All of the amendments off the top of my head and what I love about the whole. Og W T F Cannon. Let's call it is that. I you know I'm like one of those adults I don't know when I took civics class. I know I took a government class my freshman year in high school but I remember being so completely overwhelmed as a young adult about how local and National Federal Government worked and I was at journalists coming out of college. I like people were allowing me to go on. Tv and report things. And I had no idea what was going on and I don't think very many people Really do and so. That's why this is so helpful and and just like at and something that you should I think go and since then I've learned a lot but I have to refresh my brain which is like full of holes by this point every so often and remind myself of what all of this is is about. And and what's going on well. I think that there is a tendency to sort of be embarrassed or be ashamed and this and this goes for everyone. There's some part of our brain that tells us that we should know this and that we should be embarrassed or ashamed for not knowing it but the truth is that aid is just not a priority in our education system and it makes me think a lot about the speech that George Washington to get really nerdy and throws history. That George Washington gave his final a state of the union before Congress in seventeen ninety six and he basically pitched the idea to Congress of creating National University that prioritized civics and government education. Because he thought it was the most important subject and that we need to teach everyone how government works so that they can then run the government that he and his buddies just set up for everyone and compare that to today. We're only eight states require a year of civics and government education. You know we we. We put this pressure on ourselves or or beat ourselves up for for not knowing this but it wasn't taught to us and it and it should have. It should be the most important thing or tied for the most important things that that we learn. So you know my my hope. Is that this. There are so many great organizations that are putting civic education back into schools like the Mikva challenge generation citizen but there are also the people in their twenties thirties forties. Who who either got very little of this didn't get it and hopefully this book act access a refresher to kind of information. It's a really great great point and This the sad thing is you're right. We shouldn't feel shameful forward. It's it's been a big gaping hole in our education for a long time but The people who should feel shameful about it are the mini elected officials We have so many members of Congress. Now who didn't study civics in school and who don't know the constitution in would probably do very well to read your book as well so those people should feel total. Shame if you're a sitting member of Congress and our president and that guy too yeah there are definitely some elected officials both at the federal and state and also say the local level that kind of bank on us not knowing this information because they can do things like a gerrymandering districts both local state legislature and. Us House they bank on people not knowing this. Because if we don't know this information then we can act as a check technically. We're their bosses. We we hired them for their jobs. We pay them their salaries benefits and expenses. We decide if we want to hire them again. Every two four and six years and if we don't know how to evaluate if they're doing a good job or even what their job is then they can kind of stay in power and they're banking on us or or some of them are banking on us to a large extent to not know this so that we're not you know bosses breathing breathing down their neck so they are definitely members of Congress and all levels of government? Who Don't know this information but there are some people who do and are banking on us not knowing it so this is this is the time with everything going on to really educate ourselves so that we can make wise decisions and informed decisions all the way up down our ballot speaking of that. Let's end with the same question we ask everyone else. What gives you? The most hope gives me the most hope. Is that a lot of people I can tell between just between social media between your organization between all these other organizations that have formed in the last few years. That really fundamentally understand that there are some things that are are systematically broken and systematically wrong and we're not sort of looking for the the shortcuts and the kind of you know bandaids on a broken arm. We're really looking to make deep fundamental change and I mean look at what you and your organization did in two thousand eighteen. You were you. Were such a crucial part of a flipping. The House and you did it. And you led the charge and this organization didn't exist four years ago so the fact that a group of people can get together and have this resounding effect and we can connect a quicker and in more meaningful ways than ever and there's a real desire to sort of take a generational approach to fixing these problems and asking the question. Why is it like this? Why has it always been like this? You know the more swing less than out there and other organizations like it the more hope I get because I think that this what we're going through right now is horrible but if there can be a silver lining. It's that we can come out of it fixing the the big problems that we honestly should have fixed a long time ago. Thanks for the reminder to for people to get involved too that's so important and part of being involved as knowledge And the rest of it is taking action and voting and I would just say that if there's one thing that listeners can can do is just to educate themselves just on who their representatives are even just knowing your two senators at the federal level. You're one US representative your state. Senator Your State representative. That's half the battle right there and following them on social media signing up for their email lists and really sort of following their activity. Because it's hard to hold people accountable if we don't know who they are and what they do. Mariah craven always says down. Ballot is where it's at true. Thanks for giving me credit for that. Thank you ben per such an awesome conversation and I hope I'm people check out your your book and get educated informed inactivated. Well thank you so much. We mentioned our letter writing party that we did last Thursday and how much fun it was. We're really excited about my letter writing slash birthday party are my birthday are letter writing. Party on May. Twenty fourth with the pantsuit politics podcast. It's going to be really great. We wanted to share some recordings from that letter writing parties. Some of the great people who Shared what it felt like for them to be part of that. Yeah can't wait for people to to hear what it was like to in the zoom room with US writing letters. Let's take it so I'm going to be starting small doing through letter writing parties for my flip before nine through and I'm GonNa pick writing letters in my own. Do My Post Clark right now. I'm working furiously on. This mask switched. Maybe it'll keep people alive. Then they vote so this is a lot of fun. It's been a good month. Plus since our last Cleveland area activist group got together to write letters so it was cool to write letters again people from all over the country almost good to hang out like Dan so this is a lot of fun on. This is the first activists might done since crisis said. This is the first time I actually get the energy to do it. So this is fun my wife and I had really the time to do this and Were to keep on truckin about at the Republicans want to do so. Thank you to everybody. Who's on this call math? Thanks for the new season. Mariah's cool hang out guys Let's say you all the time. And thanks while the other actors out there doing the work We all appreciate very much. Your Cleveland Ohio Group here in Fresno we got together. I remind and wrote letters together when this happened I was kind of lost and then I saw that we could use virtual little writing and I got very happy. This is only my third time doing this like this and I will just continue to do more because we need to check out all Republicans because they should just not really interested in any sort of governance and just get people in there who actually canton and thank thing here. We just keep going things to everyone who joined us for that virtual letter writing. Party and thanks everyone for joining us today and for stepping up and taking action. This is how we win. We win when we all GET INVOLVED. We want hear from you. Let us know how you're staying busy during the coronas pandemic? What's bringing you hope tweet to us? I'm at Blues. Boy Steve and Mariah Mariah is at mariah underscored craven or email us at podcast at swing left dot org thank you so much to our friends at dim cast. If you haven't yet please subscribe rate and review us on apple or wherever you get your pods. Share US on social media and use the HASHTAG. How Win Twenty twenty and you can always check out our page at swing left dot org slash podcast and then you can also sign up to volunteer their we so appreciate you being here with us and we'll be back with more next Wednesday.

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