Julián and Sawyer welcome their former presidential campaign colleague Maya Rupert to unpack some of the year’s most memorable news stories, from some of the most inspirational (involving women of color at the top of their field) to a few of the wackiest (did JFK Jr. really come back?). Even Q-Anon conspiracy theories can’t keep the team from reflecting on an impactful 2021.
Follow Maya online at @MayaRupert.
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Maya Rupert, Julian Castro, Sawyer Hackett
Julian Castro 00:13
Hey there. I’m Julian Castro.
Julian Castro 00:16
And welcome to OUR AMERICA. Well, today we have a very special holiday episode, we’re going to be reminiscing on some of 2021’s top news headlines from this year, we’re going to talk about stories that brought people hope, stories that maybe scared us a little bit. Stories, we forgot about stuff that seemed like it was a big deal when it happened, but like, hardly anybody remembers it now. And of course, we’ll talk about some of the weirdest political stories of 2021. And to do that, we’re welcoming one of our closest friends of the pod, Maya Rupert, I’m so happy to have Maya here with us. She served as my campaign manager during the presidential race, just did a fantastic job. We also had worked together at HUD before that. So I already knew how great she was before we worked together on the campaign. And then after that, she worked as a campaign manager, served as a campaign manager for Maya Wiley, who ran for New York City Mayor earlier this year. She’s a great writer. In fact, I hope she’ll tell us a little bit about what she’s doing right now. Because I know that she’s writing right now as we speak. Maya, thanks so much for joining us.
Sawyer Hackett 00:16
And I’m Sawyer Hackett.
Maya Rupert 01:25
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to do this with y’all.
Julian Castro 01:29
Well, you know, I’m happiest because you’re here to help keep Sawyer in line, I try every week, but since your his former boss,..
Sawyer Hackett 01:35
I think it’s fair to say that Maya was both of our bosses. And neither of you listened to me enough. I’ll see what we can do.
Julian Castro 01:46
Maya, seriously, we’re really happy to have you. And just tell you know, I know right now that you’re kind of on this sabbatical, your writing just what are you working on right now?
Maya Rupert 01:55
Yeah, I’ve gotten very, very lucky. The good folks at Community Change, I’m doing a fellowship with them. So for the next year, I’m just getting a chance to sort of do some reflecting on the work I think we’ve all been doing and doing some writing, which has been great. I actually just put a piece out recently, that was with Teen Vogue, where I actually got to talk a lot about the campaign and more specifically about, you know, my sort of path to becoming a campaign manager, and the fact that I think a lot of women, especially women of color, especially Black women should consider those roles a lot more, but for a lot of reasons, we don’t necessarily think of ourselves in those kinds of roles. So I kind of got to reflect a little bit on, you know, some of my experiences there. And, you know, some of the ways that I will say, honestly, Julian, you helped me so much by being the kind of candidate to not just hire Black women, which I think we tell people a lot of times to do, but to really empower and to remember some of those issues that will still come up for a lot of us, who’ve been kind of, you know, professionally socialized to think of our skill sets a little differently, to really move into that a role like a campaign manager or that kind of strategy role.
Maya Rupert 03:13
It’s a process. And you know, I was always really grateful to you for that. And I got a chance to reflect a little bit on that piece that I did recently, and I’m doing some more of that just kind of talking a little bit about, really, how we’re looking at kind of the industry of politics and how this is how we pick our leaders. And it’s how we get people to, you know, talk to us as voters and that industry needs to be more inclusive, and we need to be more thoughtful about what we’re building, because that process is really important. And so yeah, so I’m getting to think a lot about that stuff to write about some more of it. I’m working on a book proposal that talks a lot about just sort of race and politics and us being a little more honest about some of these tough conversations. And it’s been, it’s been great. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve gotten to just kind of sit still and think and I’m just so, so grateful for this moment.
Julian Castro 04:07
Oh, you have such an exciting and insightful voice in your writing. I saw that Teen Vogue article; I think we shared it on Twitter. I hope folks will check it out because it had a lot of great advice, especially for up-and-coming young women of color who are thinking about going into leadership positions, you know, whether it’s in politics or somewhere else. I hope folks will check it out. And I look forward to reading what you’re writing next.
Sawyer Hackett 04:31
Well, Maya we’re so glad that you could join us for our holiday episode here. We you know, wanted to use this last episode for the holidays to sort of review all of the big headlines from the year it’s been, you know, a crazy year we’ve had a global pandemic. You know, this attempted insurrection we swore in the new president. There’s just a lot of news. So we wanted to take some time break down some of the headlines and remember some of our favorite stories from the year so we have a few categories for some of the biggest political stories of the year, we’re just gonna go, each bring our own story to the table for each of these categories. Julian, do you wanna kick us off and with one of the first categories?
Julian Castro 05:08
Yeah, look, I mean, 2021. First of all, I can’t believe that we’re at the end of the year. I mean, this year flew by, when I think the first thing I think of when I think of 2020 and 2020, when, of course is COVID, unfortunately, but this was a year, like you said, that had a lot of changes politically. There’s so many stories to choose from when we think about what was the most consequential or important, but you know, I’m going to choose one. Like I know, we all are that I think has far reaching consequences. Joe Manchin says no, you know, he basically, you know, Biden jokingly said, that when you have a 50/50 Senate, that every senator, you know, was like a president, and there’s nobody that’s played that role. For those of us who are progressive, unfortunately, more than Joe Manchin, you think about how much the administration has accomplished, you know, the American Rescue Plan and the infrastructure package. But I also think about the opportunity that we’ve had in 2021, under a Democratic president, Democratic House, with Nancy Pelosi, as a speaker, and with a 50/50 Senate, how much more I think we could get done, if we didn’t have this issue of usually Joe Manchin, sometimes Manchin and Sinema, that would not so far, had not agreed to make these investments that would be absolutely transformational, in our nation’s history, and especially for the most vulnerable people in our country.
Julian Castro 06:42
I mean, these are the kinds of things whether you’re talking about universal pre-K, or childcare or resources for eldercare or hundreds of billions of dollars for affordable housing, because we’re so far behind and so many people have gotten priced out of decent, affordable housing, the kinds of difference it would make, and we haven’t been able to get there. Because, you know, Joe Manchin says no, I think the lesson of 1993 and of 2009-2010, the last times that we had this situation under Clinton and Obama was that you got to throw the conventional wisdom out the door. You know, no more, you can only get one big thing done. You got to take advantage of these opportunities to get the kind of social investments, economic investments in place that will help the people that don’t have money for the lobbyists that often get the shaft and DC that are a second thought we had a chance to do that in spades this year, only some of it has been done. A lot of it has not because of Joe Manchin.
Sawyer Hackett 07:44
Yeah. And it’s, you know, especially after, you know, we won in November and then we ended up going on to win those two Senate seats in Georgia. I think people’s hopes were really high about what we could achieve. And of course, we did, like you said, we did get some big things done early on. But, you know, we haven’t seen we haven’t seen any progress on police reform. We haven’t seen any progress on immigration reform. We haven’t seen any progress on, you know, common sense gun violence legislation. And all of that is sort of being held up by this 50/50 senate we have and a couple Senate holdouts who you know, want to exercise what power they have in this weird dynamic of a 50/50 senate. But, Maya, why don’t you? Why don’t you take the lead on your most consequential story of the year? What’s next for you?
Maya Rupert 08:28
I would say the most consequential story, even though it sort of is just happen and it just became a story was the abortion case, Dobbs versus Jackson women’s health. This is the 15-week abortion ban that Mississippi has passed that if the Supreme Court upholds it, we know there are going to be a lot of other states who enact very similar bans, and in a lot of ways will effectively end Roe versus Wade will end illegal abortion for a lot of people across the country. I will say I mean in in sort of a frustrating way. As consequential as this is, as a practical matter. There are a lot of folks that are currently living in places that effectively do not have access to legal abortion for reasons that are, you know, that have been happening for a very long time. A lot of clinics are getting shut down. If you’re living in a community where there’s one clinic and it’s an hour away, and there’s no you know, public transit and you can’t get time off work in order to do it. That’s not, you know, a real effective access to abortion as it stands. But I mean, I think that the you know, the arguments have a lot of people really, really thinking that this is going to be upheld by the Supreme Court. I think that’s hugely consequential for a couple of reasons. One is the sort of practical for women for people who need abortions for anybody whose ability to kind of you know, move through the world on a path of their choosing. That is impacted by their ability to determine when and if they get pregnant, this case will have huge and incredibly, incredibly significant consequences for them just on the sort of practical basis.
Maya Rupert 10:13
15 weeks people know they’re pregnant after 15 weeks, just you know, this will end Roe versus Wade for a lot of people. But I think the second piece, what this tells us is, this is a state of rule of law. This is the state of stare decisis with a Supreme Court that is willing to take Roe versus Wade, which courts have called sort of super precedent, right, this has been the law since the 70s and massively rethink it. That means that there are a lot of communities whose rights and ability to access all sorts of things depend on the Supreme Court are in a position right now where there’s sort of fear that just reverberating through communities, because that means that, you know, this is a court that that doesn’t have the same respect for that, that long standing precedent. And that means that a lot of things could change. And I think that, that reality is one that we I don’t even think we fully grappled with. And it’s going to have lasting impacts for people.
Maya Rupert 10:17
Well, you’re right, definitely right about that, Maya. I know, this is an issue that you’re intimately familiar with, you worked at the Center for Reproductive Rights, you have been an advocate on reproductive health issues. I think you’re right about the lasting consequences of this. And in so many ways, it seems like that has not fully sunk in yet, for a lot of Americans that this right that has existed for almost 50 years, is about to be stripped away, it looks like by the Supreme Court or severely limited, so much so that it’s going to become essentially meaningless in a lot of places.
Sawyer Hackett 11:49
Well, I’ll just say before I give my new story, but Maya’s you know, advocacy on this issue, her expertise on this issue, she brought that to the campaign as well. And I know that, you know, Secretary, you were the first presidential candidate, I believe in history to ever bring up abortion rights on the debate stage. And I think that’s a testament to Maya’s work in our campaign and her constant push on that issue. So my most consequential story of the year is about the January 6 insurrection. But more broadly, it’s about the rise in authoritarianism that took place in this country over the last five years, you know, spearheaded by Donald Trump, I picked this story by Adam Serwer called an incompetent authoritarian is still a catastrophe, which, you know, talks about how Donald Trump although it was obvious that he had these authoritarian tendencies for much of the administration and even in his campaign. I don’t think it resonated with a lot of Americans that he actually truly is a wannabe authoritarian, a proto fascist, whatever you want to call him. I don’t think that’s sunk in for a lot of people until the insurrection, until they saw an attempted overthrow of the government, the attempt to overturn the election results. And I think it really shook a lot of people in this country and woke a lot of people to the reality that, that this is a rising thing, a rising trend in this country that we have to combat and it’s not going away. And even though Donald Trump is incompetent, and you know, idiotic and does stupid things. It doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous, because it’s taking place right now. So that’s my most consequential story.
Julian Castro 13:26
Oh, first of all, Adam Serwer is a great writer. I love reading his stuff. I think that’s definitely what happened on January 6, continues to reverberate, this is not only going to affect what happens over the next three years or so while Donald Trump thinks about running again in 2024. And the GOP has been totally reshaped in his image. But also beyond that, because it feels like, you know, we could be on this slippery slope when you think about what January 6 really meant, the willingness of whole segments of the population to buy into a big lie from this authoritarian like figure. I mean, there’s nothing to say that that guy’s the last guy that’s going to come around, that has the ability to do that. Donald Trump is a unique character, who was able to get away with more than anybody that we’ve seen in our lifetime when it comes to line and his authoritarian tendencies and executing on that, like they did on January 6. He set a blueprint really for people in the future.
Maya Rupert 14:30
And what happens if the next person is slightly more effective?
Sawyer Hackett 14:33
Well, Andy’s taken a number of steps I mean, Republicans have taken a number of steps at the state level at the local level to prepare for potentially, you know, trying to subvert the election results next time around. And I also don’t think just as an aside here, I don’t think the media is at all prepared to cover Donald Trump and anti-Democratic candidate in 2024. Jay Rosen, who is a media critic from NYU did a thread about this the other day, essentially just highlighting I mean, the media hasn’t really changed all that much in their approach to Trump. I think their coverage got a little bit more brutally honest towards the end of the administration, but I don’t think they think they’re ready to cover an anti-democratic figure in politics. I just don’t think that many changes have been made in newsrooms to accommodate that.
Julian Castro 15:15
No, absolutely. You know, you want to talk about the weirdest political news in 2021? And then the most inspirational story out there. And you know, I’ll start in terms of the weirdest. This was early November, then again, around November 22, which, of course, was the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This is Story reporting on about 100 Qanon followers, at a gathering in Dealey Plaza, which, of course is in Dallas is the site where JFK was assassinated, who were there because they believed that JFK Jr. was going to reappear and that he would possibly be on the ticket with Donald Trump in 2024. I mean, now I’ll grant you that the whole thing is kind of wacko, right? Qanon. But this was particularly like who I would love to be able to have a conversation with one of these folks who is actually out there and ask him like, what the hell are you thinking? You really believing that JFK Jr. is gonna come back? Do you really believe that? Or is this all bullshit? You know? I mean, because that’s how weird and unbelievable it is. But that’s my vote for the weirdest political news of 2021.
Maya Rupert 16:38
Well, speaking of bullshit, I’m happy to go next. And my vote for the weirdest story, once again, came recently. I don’t know why I’m so married to the recent stories for the entire year, but Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted that 600,000 people die every year from cancer, and yet, we have not shut down the economy. We have not had school closures. And I will be honest, the first time I heard people talking about this, I thought it was an SNL sketch that I just missed. Because I didn’t see the tweet, I saw sort of Reddit like sort of people responding to it. And I just completely blew it off until I actually saw it because I just could not believe that with her whole chest. That she’s sort of put this out and I couldn’t understand if it was, she is genuinely so thoughtless, that she didn’t make the connection, that there would be no reason that we would need to show you know that obviously, cancer is not transmissible, that’s the reason that these are being treated differently. Or she thought so little of the people who vote for her that she thought they would be that thoughtless, or if she is genuinely just that kind of outrage monster who knows how to work it so well that she just wanted the attention, right? That sort of like, you know, a child on social media, just wanting people to pay attention to her. You know, I can’t wait for some folks in Georgia to put her out of a job.
Julian Castro 18:15
Yeah, it’s like every other day. It’s like one more outrageous thing from that crowd, especially from her and I guess, Lauren Bowbert, you know, but we’re having this conversation that these folks, you know, I’d have to vote for the last of those that you mentioned. I mean, for the reason of trying to fundraise, right? It’s like outrages their industry now. And the more they do it, the more they fundraise, it seems like
Sawyer Hackett 18:39
so for my weirdest story, I picked our good friend Cancun Cruz about his trip to Mexico, in the middle of the winter power crisis, you know, with 5 million Texans out of power, you know, hundreds potentially dead already that he fled the state of Texas, and left his dog and went to Cancun, with his wife. But the weird part of that story to me was this article that they got a hold of his wife’s text chain, his wife’s group chat with her friends, I guess are neighbors, where she talked about how their house was freezing and we’re going to go stay at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun, and we’d love for you to join us and it’s going to be lots of fun and like, I thought it was so strange that like in 2021 like, this is the kind of journalism that we need, like inside group chats from the Senator’s wife and also that her friends are willing to throw her under the bus like that. I mean, it’s just insane.
Julian Castro 19:40
Because somebody leaked that to the New York Times somebody leaked that text chain.
Sawyer Hackett 19:45
Somebody she feels comfortable enough to text to invite to come to a trip to Cancun was like no, screw this lady. I’m sending this to the New York Times. I mean, like geez, know, your friends. That’s rough.
Julian Castro 19:58
Like one thing was clear in 2021, The Onion had to up its game. And I don’t think it’s caught up with how strange things have gotten in politics. But like, we’re gonna take a quick break. And after we get back, we’re gonna talk about the most uplifting stories of 2021, the most inspirational. And we can’t forget to talk also about the stories that we’ve already forgotten about. They were a big deal, but like, who even remembers them now? We’ll be right back. Sure, there were a lot of weird stories. And of course, there were the big important stories in politics in 2021. And no doubt that 2021 with COVID, with the economy recovering, had a lot of sober and serious moments. But it also had a lot of moments that were uplifting, that were inspirational. And we wanted to talk through some of those. I’ll start off my top vote was Michelle Wu, getting elected mayor of Boston, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, had served on the city council in Boston, I think for three or four terms, in her mid-30s. She’s the first woman, the first woman of color, first Asian American to serve as mayor, I think she’s the first non-White guy to serve as the mayor of Boston. I spent a lot of time in Boston during law school, and it’s a wonderful town, a wonderful city, it has its own history, right, of challenges with race relations.
Julian Castro 22:02
And you know, so much of what challenges urban communities these days, but you know, it’s become like this richly diverse community, with all of the opportunities and also all the challenges that you find in 21st century America. I found her election inspirational, because I think she really reflects the future, you know, where we’re headed as a country, a country that continues to see demographic change, a country that says that. No, no, we really mean it. No matter who you are, you can achieve anything. We know that that hasn’t been true, right, in the history of our country. But I think that through her election and the election of so many others, like her, of different backgrounds, they give, especially younger people hope that they can actually pursue their dreams and have success. And so I found that very inspirational. You know, I also like a lot of her politics, and I hope she’s able to be effective, and make some good changes there in Boston. You know, she just took office, so we’ll see how it goes.
Maya Rupert 23:12
She is really something I’m so excited. I’m so excited for her leadership, and there I have a lot of friends from the Warren team who had worked on that campaign and were really instrumental in that victory. So I was just proud of a lot of you know, a lot of folks that that I saw sort of step into really great leadership roles and lead just a really fantastic campaign along with her over there. I’ve joked with a lot of people that as a Lakers fan, Michelle Wu was the one thing that’s having me root for Boston, but yeah, no, I’m just I’m so excited to see what she’s gonna do. It’s really is such an incredible moment.
Sawyer Hackett 23:56
Maya, do you want to share your most inspirational or uplifting story for the year?
Maya Rupert 24:00
Sure. I was really, really happy. This is it’s kind of an odd thing to describe it as happy but I was I was really, I will say I was really incredibly proud of a couple of stories that came out, specifically when Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles both in sort of independently, but it happened around the same time decided to not compete in events that they had coming up citing their own mental health concerns. And I was I mean, I think, you know, the sort of conversation that happened around that, for a lot of people was about, you know, shouldn’t athletes be such intense competitors, you know, don’t they, you know, it’s when the competition comes up. It’s game time and you put everything else aside, and is this you know, I think a lot of people sort of talked about it from that standpoint, but there was another conversation that was happening that I got a chance to see. And I wonder if y’all did as well but that a lot of for women and girls of color, talking about how many times they have sacrificed their own mental health and moments, particularly when they have the opportunity to sort of make history and the pressure that comes with that, and so many people sort of rooting for them that they went forward with something that they didn’t feel comfortable with, or they did not feel mentally healthy enough to actually do, but they did it anyway.
Maya Rupert 25:24
And that these women choosing not to and choosing themselves was a really important moment I think for a lot of people and I saw this really rich discussion that happened around mental health in competition and sports, but more broadly about mental health and all the things that we do, and we, you know, really push ourselves to do. And we don’t think about our mental health, the way that we do our physical health. And, you know, if somebody said they had the flu, there’s only so much that can be done. But if someone says, you know, I need to take a step back, because I know what this is going to do, you know that mentally what this is going to do to me that it feels like people get a chance to sort of vote on it. And that way too many times, women of color, are willing to just sort of put that aside to not have that fight. And it was a really powerful moment that both of them decided not to.
Julian Castro 26:17
Yeah, I also thought that was a, you know, inspirational and watershed moment for bringing attention to how seriously we should treat the mental health of not only athletes, but people in every single walk of life and to listen to especially women of color, when they bring those concerns to the fore. And just think about, you know, historically, how many times especially women and even more so women of color have been written off. And here you have these two amazingly talented, accomplished women of color that who nobody can, I mean, both Naomi, Osaka and Simone, I mean, nobody can question their ability, they’ve already proven themselves a long time ago. And so I thought that made it even more powerful. But the challenge for us I saw really is, hey, those very same concerns, they apply to people in every walk of life. You know, whether they’ve had those accomplishments or not, if they affect people at that level, that means they affect folks at every level.
Sawyer Hackett 27:28
That courage to speak up at that moment too, is probably I mean, it couldn’t have come in a more important, consequential year. I mean, so many people are experiencing anxiety or depression, you know, in 2021, or 2020 who never felt it before, never understood it before. And their courage to speak out in that moment, I think was really important.
Maya Rupert 27:47
During the campaign, you talked about this a lot about that, we need to sort of erase the difference between mental and physical health care that we need to stop talking about, obviously, we were talking about it from a policy standpoint about how it gets covered. But I do think that there is a we make a distinction that doesn’t have a difference in people’s daily lives, that there’s something sort of justifiable about your physical health, that isn’t justifiable about your mental health. And that is, I mean, it’s such a damaging thing that we do. And you’re right, I mean, we do it across the board. You know, we do it in politics, God, we do it in politics a lot. I think, people trying to, you know, carve out some kind of space for dealing with really, really tough things and needing to sort of take a break runs right up against that idea in politics, that it’s like we’re always going, we’re always working, we’re always on. And it is I mean, it’s a really, it’s not a sustainable way to live.
Sawyer Hackett 28:44
So my most uplifting story, which you know, it’s uplifting, but it comes as part of a dark bigger story is Officer Eugene Goodman, who was a you know, who is a Capitol police officer who was on scene on January 6, he’s a former Army veteran, you know, been at the capitol for many years, I think he was the deputy Sergeant of Arms of the US Senate for a while. But on January 6, he, you know, famously tricked all of these rioters these insurrectionists, who were attempting to storm the Capitol, you know, potentially kidnap and hurt members of Congress, he willingly lured them away from the chambers, you know, for minutes at a time while people were evacuating the chambers. And he probably saved, you know, dozens of lives in the process, or at least dozens of injuries in the process. And then, you know, when the tapes came out later, we also saw that he, you know, stopped Mitt Romney in the hallways and potentially stopped him from going down a hallway where there was rioters and turn him around and escorted him away from danger. So, you know, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the Distinguished Public Service Award by the US Army, and then later had the chance to escort the Vice President, future Vice-President Kamala Harris to her inauguration, you know, later that month in January, so that was an extremely uplifting story as part of a very dark chapter in our history. But that brought me a lot of hope.
Julian Castro 30:13
It was wonderful to see Congress recognize officer Goodman and all of the Capitol officers, police officers and other law enforcement who responded that day. And you know, all of us have gone to the Capitol, we spent time there. I know, Sawyer, you work there for a time. I mean, these folks, they take a lot of pride in their work in whether it’s keeping people safe there at the Capitol or helping to give directions to folks that often are law, whatever it is, right. But it seems like for a lot of them, it’s often a thankless job. The fact that he stepped up and his colleagues stepped up at this very, very critical moment for American democracy, where in a very real way that was on the line that day, because it was the intention of those rioters, those insurrectionists to stop the peaceful transfer of power. We owe him a debt of gratitude and his colleagues. So it was good to see, it was good to see him honored. So we have one more category left. I almost forgot about it. Because that category is what were those news stories that seemed like a big deal at the time, that now we’ve kind of forgotten about, like, every year you have these, right, especially when all of us follow the news in real time on Twitter, or, you know, cable news when they’re making a huge big deal. For me. I’m surprised at how much Trump’s second impeachment has receded into the background. People think the guy was impeached, but they always remember like, the first time that he was in […] oh, yeah, he got impeached, they will know the guy was impeached twice. And the second time was, I think, what February of this year, you know, after he left office and all that, that’s a huge deal in the scope of American history, that you have a president impeached a second time with everything that goes along with that, that whole Senate trial where the evidence was put out there.
Sawyer Hackett 30:41
Your brother was an impeachment manager..
Julian Castro 32:26
Yeah, the impeachment manager, you know, they made a good case. But it just seems like with everything else that happened. We remember January 6, and of course, COVID, and the economy recovering, you know, that second impeachment? I’m not saying it’s totally forgotten about, but for what it actually represents, how big a deal something like that is in American history, compared to how much we think about it now. That’s my vote.
Sawyer Hackett 32:53
Well, also, it had some reverberations, too, because, you know, he was acquitted four days later, after the impeachment. And, you know, at the time, Mitch McConnell stood on the Senate floor and said, I don’t remember what he said exactly, but it was something along the lines of Alright, well, let’s move on from Trump. We’re done with him, never again. And then, you know, here we are, he’s still pretty much the leader of the Republican Party. Nothing’s changed.
Julian Castro 33:15
They’re done with him until, you know, he gets all his primary people elected in 2022.
Maya Rupert 33:22
I thought at the very least, I completely agree at the very least, that it would have been, well, now moving forward, he can’t act in the way that they have absolutely allowed him to act as the sort of leader of the party. He’s gonna very well, looks like he’s going to run again, and can be successful despite two impeachments. I mean, when you think about that, and how many presidents have been impeached? That should be disqualifying. And it isn’t.
Julian Castro 33:51
Yeah. I mean, I, you know, I guess to these guys, that it’s either a badge of honor to some folks for him in the Republican Party now, or, you know, they just skipped that over in his resume.
Sawyer Hackett 34:01
I was just gonna say it reminds me of how quaint the debates we had in the 2020 Presidential Primary, Democratic primary where you had to, you had to make the case for why we should actually impeach Donald Trump versus oh, is that politically toxic for Democrats to do? It’s just so crazy that that was even an issue at the time.
Julian Castro 34:19
Yeah. I mean, you think about that, we’re still what a year, you know, 11 months, whatever away from the 2022 midterms. By the time we get to that, I mean, the impeachment of Donald Trump’s going to be a non-factor. And there are a lot of other things that are going to be big factors, I think like him continuing to run his big mouth and the hate that he keeps spewing and his people remembering his incompetence on COVID and other things. But Democrats will let some Democrats were so worried about what it would mean, in the end, I mean, people who moved ahead did the right thing. He deserved to be impeached twice. I mean, he deserved to be convicted too, but you know, at least impeached.
Sawyer Hackett 34:58
Maya, what story do you want to make sure people don’t forget this year?
Maya Rupert 35:04
I really feel like this would have been such a bigger deal in any other year. But this summer, the Pentagon released a report talking about 144 reports of UFOs and saying that for 143 of them, they are unable to explain. And based on that the […[ actually created a task force. It’s the unidentified aerial phenomena task force to study what could be a real threat, they say to national security, and I feel like there’s UFOs would have been a bigger, at least, and longer lasting headline. And not just there’s UFOs because I think for a while there had been people saying, you know, yes, there are these things and they seem unexplainable, but they could be a number of things, but it sort of the report definitely is not saying extraterrestrial, but it’s very noticeably not saying it in a way that is this feels like the first 15 minutes of like a movie where everyone who’s watching it it’s like, wait, why didn’t you guys take that more seriously? That seems like a pretty big announcement.
Julian Castro 36:17
Maya, like you seem really into this. Do you want to admit like that, that you’ve been to area 51 or something? Are you like hanging out in Roswell in the summer?
Maya Rupert 36:27
Honestly, I mean, I think I might have talked about this was one of you at least before aliens was never my big thing. Truthfully, I was always much more taken by Bigfoot stories. I feel like I might have sent you videos before.
Julian Castro 36:42
I guess you said those to Sawyer. I might not have hired you if you sent them to me.
Maya Rupert 36:50
That’s what it just is chilling. But no, seriously, I mean, aliens to me, that idea of you know, extraterrestrial life, for it was sort of always a thing, but just never something I put that much energy or attention into. But I feel like this kind of legitimacy being led to it.I definitely thought this would have taken us a few more weeks of analysis to get past and I feel like it kind of went out there. It was barely a blip. And then we were talking about something else.
Sawyer Hackett 37:11
That’s what Twitter does to news stories, like there’s a few issues that shouldn’t get the Twitter treatment. And like the Navy saying, hey, we found aliens LOL. My story that I think we all sort of collectively forgot about is that Donald Trump got COVID. And this was unearthed again, just this month in a series of Washington Post stories. Two different stories about how Trump tested positive for COVID days before he joined, you know, joined Joe Biden on stage for a presidential debate that he tested positive three days before. And then only a few days later, he was in Walter Reed on supplemental oxygen and using this weird special drug cocktail to survive. He was you know, pretty much incapacitated. But the story that they wrote about the other day is just absolutely bonkers. And I don’t think the media is giving it the treatment it deserves. You know, they say from the day he tested positive until his hospitalization, he came in contact with more than 500 people, which doesn’t include the rally goers that he met with because he held several rallies in that period. He met with staff, he briefed the press on the plane and probably gave a couple of different reporters COVID, he appointed a Supreme Court justice and held a press conference in the Rose Garden with her. And then he met with Gold Star families. And said after he got COVID he said, he blamed them. He said, they tell me these stories, and I can’t say back up stand 10 feet away, you know, I just can’t do it. And I went through like 35 people and everyone has a different story. He is blaming Gold Star families for him getting COVID meeting with all of them. And then joining Biden on stage at a debate. I mean, it’s just so reckless, so irresponsible. I almost think it’s illegal. I mean, it’s just wild that the story has already been brushed from the headlines. It’s bonkers.
Sawyer Hackett 38:11
Yeah. I mean, which is so in keeping with the Trump era, right? It was like one scandal just get supplanted by the next so many embarrassments. So many scandals, so many ethical violations. Remember when he threatened the nuclear war on North Korea over Twitter, basically, I mean, that was his strategy. Right? Too much for you to keep track of. It’s another example of that. That in the fact that I think we all have these days, like a shorter attention span than we’ve ever had before.
Sawyer Hackett 39:49
While I hope people you know, remind the public about this kind of story, if he does run again in 2024, because I think it’s telling of who this man was like this was before the vaccines had been developed or approved. This was when we were losing, you know, 510 1000 people a day to this virus. And this selfish asshole went out there, debated Biden onstage knowing he contracted a deadly virus.
Julian Castro 40:15
Didn’t he go try and shake Biden’s hand at the end of the debate?
Sawyer Hackett 40:20
Yeah, pretty sure Biden dissed him.
Julian Castro 40:23
What else can you conclude, except that he was trying to give COVID to Biden, you know, maybe hoping that, that would give him an advantage or something or meat hurt him or something. With Trump, there’s no bottom to the selfishness, you know, that you find. So we want to end on a little bit of a lighter note. Since we have Maya here, we thought that we spend the last couple of minutes talking about some anecdotes from the 2020 campaign. So look, the 2020 campaign. You know, sometimes it seems like it was 10 years ago. It actually two years ago at this time.
Sawyer Hackett 41:27
It also feels like it was just yesterday. It feels both like it was just yesterday and it feels like it’s 10 years ago.
Julian Castro 41:35
Like the Facebook memories pop up, right, that have the pictures from being in Iowa, or wherever, the other day something in California. And one of the ones that popped up was I guess my anecdote, something I’ll always remember was visiting people asylum seekers, on the other side of the border, we went down I want to say like in September, October of 2019, to Matamoros, Mexico, which is on the other side of Brownsville, Texas, to go visit with asylum seekers who were staying on the other side, because of Trump’s remain in Mexico program, which that had, like basically, Trump said, if you want to claim asylum, instead of being able to stay here in the United States, so your asylum claim is adjudicated, you got to wait in Mexico. Well, you had 1000s of people who were waiting in Mexico, in these in squalor basically these, this tent city, and I visited one of them, it really left an impression on me because of the way that people were living because of the desperation in their eyes. And because it couldn’t have been clearer that that was just the wrong thing to do. And also, because I almost passed out, it was so hot that day, and I somebody I had no water, you know, these are like the candidate creature comforts of running.
Sawyer Hackett 43:07
And there’s probably 500 members of the Mexican press.
Julian Castro 43:10
The Mexican press, yeah, like they get all up on you and stuff. And, you know, haggle about it, and do an interview, whatever, all of the eyes, like 30 seconds away from passing out from the heat and everything else. And but you know, in the end, it was a very memorable visit. We got to escort a group of people who wanted to make their asylum claim who had different disabilities, and I think a couple that came from the LGBTQ community, and we’re making an asylum claim. And so we walk them across the bridge to try and make that claim. And I thought about that, because unfortunately, that remain in Mexico policy is still in place. Right now, a court ordered that it be put back in place under the Biden administration, Biden had tried to stop it, they’ve been ordered to put it back in place. Unfortunately, they actually also expanded it a little bit, my hope is that they’re going to find a way to end that as soon as possible.
Sawyer Hackett 44:12
It was a humanitarian crisis that they created on the border. I mean, there was just hundreds of these camps. And people with no shoes, no water, no food. And, you know, I don’t think it’s going to look the same way. You know, now that it’s coming back under this court order, but it’s not any, you know, more humane to keep people in a different country while they’re trying to claim asylum, you know, here in the US. I’m going to let Maya close this out. So I’ll tell my story first here, I’m going to go with a little bit of a more lighthearted one. This is actually after you had ended your campaign. We were out on the campaign trail for Senator Elizabeth Warren and Maya served as a senior advisor to Senator Warren after you ended your campaign but it was after the Iowa caucuses which were just this crazy shit show of, you know, they didn’t have results and things weren’t coming in and we were like, should we speak? Should we hang out? Should we leave, we ended up getting on a plane to go to New Hampshire and the Warren campaign had like, you know, charted this plane for their staff from Iowa and you surrogates her, and then the press to come to New Hampshire. And we took this plan, I think we probably left at like, maybe one o’clock in the morning, two o’clock in the morning, we were all just exhausted. But we were all excited to be done with Iowa, there were strengths everywhere, everybody was kind of hanging out having a good time. And I at one point, I walk up to the front of the plane, and you and your brother are the only people in the front of the plane while everyone’s hanging out partying in the back and you two are just snoozing, just sleeping in the plane. It was like three in the morning, and you both had your hands, arms crossed across your chest mouths open head back, you were in full sleep mode. And Maya, I’m pretty sure was taking a selfie of her with you two in the background. Or maybe somebody was taking a selfie of them too and you in the background. But I have a picture of it on my phone that I’m going to hold against you in case.
Maya Rupert 46:16
I will say that was not me. I believe I was the one saying do not take, no picture.
Sawyer Hackett 46:23
Maybe I miss remember that maybe I was the one taking the picture. And you were the one telling me now.
Maya Rupert 46:30
That was an intense few days, I was exhausted when we got to New Hampshire. But that was those good. Alright, so my story is actually the first official day of our campaign. And I feel like, at some point, I would really love to do some kind of like to get more people. And I’ll just do like an oral history of how we got to from, you know, an exploratory to that launch event. That was incredible and such a great day. But so much energy and so much work. I know went into all of that. But I remember on the actual day, you were coming out to speak and I remember like I was you know doing some stuff backstage. And then as soon as you went out, I was like, okay, he’s gonna go talk. So I left and I went out into like the audience to actually watch it from there. And I feel like at this point, one of the things I love about the campaign is like, supporters, everybody, it really does feel like family at this point. Like, when I meet somebody that like, supported you, I’m like, I feel like, okay, I’m your manager, like, I work for you, too. You know what I mean? Like, it’s like, it all just feels like one big family. And I remember just, like standing next to people who were crying, like, I was crying like hugging complete strangers, because people were just taken by this moment that there was just so much love and like, he’s ours.
Maya Rupert 47:55
Like, I remember someone like literally said that, like, like, he’s ours, like, she was so proud of like, you know, you’re doing this and you’re doing this for them, you’re doing this for this community. And I just I feel like that it would be impossible to replicate that same feeling of getting a chance to just see how much excitement and hope was just there that day and was so like, at the end of that speech, just people feeling so ready. And I don’t do New Year’s like, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I always do like wishes because I think they’re more hopeful. And that is one honestly that I kind of keep with me going into 2022. And beyond that, like, I want to figure out a way to replicate at least that feeling in people where they had that moment of hope and, and somebody is running for me. And it was just a really it was just such a cool moment to have gotten to experience with the crowd as opposed to like sort of being backstage and everything that I actually got a chance to like, watch you and like remember why I was so excited to be working for you.
Julian Castro 48:53
Yeah, it was wonderful to get to announce at home, right? There’s nothing like doing that launching any campaign but especially a presidential campaign where you were born, where you grew up that community, for me, that community that I represented, still lived in. It was very, very special day for sure. And yeah, I was super happy that you were part of it and Sawyer as well. And Maya, thank you so much for joining us for this episode.
Maya Rupert 49:23
Thank you. This was so much fun.
Sawyer Hackett 49:25
We got to do this again sometime.
Julian Castro 49:28
Sawyer is always, you know, hopefully, folks got a kick out of some of the stories that we went over. Hopefully we’re gonna have a whole new slate of even better stories in 2022. But before then we hope that you’ll leave us a voicemail sharing those stories that you care about the most right now at 833-453-6662. You can also subscribe to Lemonada premium on Apple podcasts. Happy Holidays and we’ll see you soon.
Julian Castro 50:23
OUR AMERICA is a Lemonada Media Original. Our Producer is Xorje Olivares, with executive producers Jessica Cordova Kramer, Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Julian Castro. Mix and scoring by Veronica Rodriguez. Music is by Xander Singh. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @JulianCastro, at @Sawyer Hackett and at @LemonadaMedia. If you want more OUR AMERICA, subscribe to Lemonada Premium, only on Apple podcasts.