Julián and Sawyer start the new year off by revisiting some of the headlines you may have missed during the holidays, including Sen. Joe Manchin seemingly derailing President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. They also commemorate the one year anniversary of the January 6th Capitol Riots and discuss its overall impact on our democracy.
Keep up with Julián on Twitter at @JulianCastro and Instagram at @JulianCastroTX. Sawyer can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @SawyerHackett. And stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
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Julian Castro, Sawyer Hackett
Julian Castro 00:13
Hey there, everyone. Happy New Year, Happy 2022, good riddance to 2021. I’m Julian Castro.
And I’m Sawyer Hackett.
and welcome to OUR AMERICA where we tackle some of the week’s leading political headlines impacting your community. This week, we’re gonna catch you up on a few topics that you may have missed during the holiday break. And there was a lot going on for sure. And we’re also going to talk about what’s making news today, including the incredible surge in COVID cases nationwide.
Yeah, so across the country. You know, we’re beginning 2022 off with another surge in the Coronavirus with the Omicron variants spreading very quickly. And with public health experts fairly concerned. As of Monday, the nation was experiencing more than 400,000 new cases each day, which is double last week’s rate already. The Washington Post is reporting that it’s expected to soon hit more than a million cases per day, which you know, is setting records. And, you know, while the Omicron variant has proven to be less deadly, is putting less people in the hospital than the Delta variant. The speed at which it’s spreading across the country has contributed to hospitalizations jumping 31%, in the last week, deaths across the country have jumped more than 37%. And you know, more than 1500 Americans are dying each day from this virus. So this is largely being driven by you know, a good portion of the population that’s still unvaccinated, which make up roughly 25% of the country. Last week, the CDC shortened the isolation and quarantine period for new infections, down to five days, in the hopes that Americans will take these precautions, seriously. And then, just this week, on Monday, the FDA authorized booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, to hope sort of expand protections as we begin the school year. And, you know, speaking of schools, a lot of these schools are making the painful decision to revert back to temporary, you know, remote learning. I know that, you know, a lot of parents are really concerned about sending their kids back to classes, teachers are concerned, and many of them are missing school. So, you know, it’s kind of a strange situation out there. It seems like, it’s, you know, we’re starting the new year 2022. But it feels a lot like March, you know, 2020 with this new Omicron variant. How are things looking in Texas?
Julian Castro 02:36
Yeah, well, I mean, you know, you saw the wave of Omicron cases. Spike up in New York and DC. And now it’s made its way, of course, to the rest of the country, including Texas, I mean, San Antonio, where I’m at is getting closer and closer to record numbers, and the hospitalizations have gone up. I think you’re right that, from what we can tell, the number of hospitalizations and deaths from Omicron don’t seem to match the Delta variant and the first strain before that, but it’s still it causes so much disruption. I mean, man, who would have thought that almost two years after the onset of this pandemic, we would be where we’re at right now. You know, with so many people that are still having to miss work, kids that are going to miss school folks that are ending up in the hospital, unfortunately, the death count that continues to rise. I see this as a parent as well, you know, Erica and I have two kids that are in public school. We have our 12-year-old daughter Carina and then our son Christian who just turned seven, over the holiday break on December 27. They’re back in school this week, like a lot of kids are, but you also have a ton of school districts out there that have put off school and also universities, I know some of the universities for the entire month of January have gone virtual. So even when folks are vaccinated, even when they have their booster, even when they’re protected, basically, so that if you get this Omicron variant, probably, you know, you’re going to have milder symptoms, still very disruptive.
Sawyer Hackett 04:18
And it seems to be spreading so fast that you know, even if folks are vaccinated, of course, there’s still the risk that you can get the virus, the likelihood that that’s going to put you into the hospital is very, very low, the likelihood that it’s going to, you know, kill you is almost zero. But, of course, it’s far more contagious than some of the previous variants. And I think one of the major concerns with the schools is that, you know, they might not have the staff to be able to have teachers in the classroom or teachers just even hosting these virtual learning sessions. I mean, schools are going to have to close because they don’t have the staff to teach the students.
That staff shortage of course that’s mirrored in the hospitals. It’s mirrored in a lot of businesses, right, that caused a major problem in the public sector and the private sector. And you’re on the bright side, you want to kind of in the spirit of 2022, right and putting 2021. Hopefully behind this, you want to look on the bright side. Look, we didn’t so many ways we do have a much better handle on this situation than we did two years ago. And we have stronger leadership in Washington. And hopefully we have more of these governors that have gotten with the program, and understand, you know, the need to encourage people to get their vaccines and boosters and so forth. I think that’s the bright side, it’s not health wise, it is not going to be as deadly not going to be as harmful. Even if you don’t end up in the hospital. It’s still disruptive to a lot of people’s lives, to their businesses and to our you know, in our public sector as well. So it’s not like there’s still no cost to it, because there definitely is.
And, you know, you still have Republican leaders, prominent Republicans playing these games with vaccine and mask mandates. You know, in Texas. I saw a report the other day, that Governor Abbott has not once urged the public to get a booster shot, not once has he gotten taken to Twitter or anything like that.
Julian Castro 06:15
He gotten his booster probably first, you know that the first day or so. Before regular people could.
Dan Patrick tested positive today, or at least he tested positive the other day and announced it today. But yeah, neither one of them have been pushing the state to get a booster shot. And you know, only 20% of the country has gotten a booster at this point. But in Texas, the numbers are extremely low. And so if Omicron does surge in Texas, it’s because the state is so under vaccinated, it’s going to be just this huge bubble of people that get it.
Yeah, I mean, this Texas, Florida, you have some of these states, especially with Republican governors, who stock in trade is to defy the Biden administration, to make themselves look as nonchalant with regard to COVID as possible, because they think that’s what’s going to help them win in the Republican primary in 2024, they have been a model of what not to do when it comes to protecting public health, especially in a time like this of a pandemic. You know, over here, it’s projected that we’re going to hit the peak in Texas, I think mid to late January of the Omicron variant. So these next couple of weeks are going to be tough weeks for Texas.
Yeah. And I think you’re gonna see just this renewed push, again, by the administration to get folks vaccinated. Obviously, the FDA is pushing to get, you know, these boosters approved for young people pushing to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible. But I think you’re also going to see a lot more stringent mandates, you know, maybe on domestic travel or maybe in some sort of private businesses. But I think the Biden administration knows that they need to get this under control as fast as possible that, you know, they have the State of the Union around the corner. And they’re going to use that as another way to push people to get vaccinated. Because really, it is, you know, and we’ve said it a million times, but right now, it’s a pandemic among the unvaccinated because those who are vaccinated, aren’t, you know, being hospitalized, they aren’t dying from this virus, but the people who aren’t and eventually it’s going to reach you, if you have not been vaccinated, it’s going to reach you, you know, you can get really sick from this thing. And Omicron may not be as deadly, but it can still put you in the hospital and it can still kill you if you have not been vaccinated.
Julian Castro 08:31
Yeah, I mean, and I don’t think that we can stress that point, or public officials out there. I can’t stress that point enough that if you’re unvaccinated, this still could be a deadly virus, or at least put you in the hospital and especially if you’re older, you know, or in a more or immunocompromised or more vulnerable for whatever reason. It’s nothing to play around with. And people are not out of the woods if you’re unvaccinated. So I you know, credit to President Biden and the administration for and many governors across the country and elected officials for hammering that point day in and day out. It’s It is disappointing that only 20% of Americans have gotten their booster shots because the evidence is clear that you know that even if you gotten those two first vaccines or you got one J&J, the efficacy of that does begin to wear off and you are more susceptible to this Omicron variant. So people should get boosted and make sure their family and their friends have gotten boosted and you can tell that this is just a much more transmissible strain of the Coronavirus. I can’t tell you how many people just I’ll give you an example. You know Erica and her workplace just in the last like three days. Five different people notified their supervisor that they had COVID and wouldn’t be coming into work, right? That didn’t happen, you know, at least that that’s just one snapshot. And I’ve heard of that in other contexts too. It’s like, you know, it’s just spreading like wildfire. And so if you have not gotten it yet, you’ve been lucky, but you’re unvaccinated. Watch out, because you probably will get it this time.
Sawyer Hackett 10:22
Well, and it spreads so fast that, you know, we also have the shortage of tests, you know, both like PCR and antigen test, but also the at home tests that people can go buy from there, you know, local drugstore, is people are coming in contact with people who have had the virus at such a high frequency that people are testing more than ever, and we’re running out of tests. And like, you know, I mean, of course, you want to be careful with how often you’re using one if you don’t have symptoms, or something like that. But you know, I live in a big apartment building in DC, and I get an alert on my phone every time. I think it’s like an apple program, every single time I come near somebody who may have tested positive, you get an alert. I’ve gotten that five times in the last week. And so I mean, I don’t think that I’m interfacing with these people, but they’re, they’re around me, they’re near me. And if I had to test every single time that I got one of those alerts, you know, that’s a huge, that’s a huge chunk of tests that people are people are using for those.
I stopped by my neighborhood CVS, I don’t know, like, three days ago, four days ago, they had a handwritten placard on the pharmacy window, no more at home tests available. Same thing at Target. Same thing at a Walgreens, you can’t find them. And you know, this is a legitimate failure, I think of our entire effort. It’s hard to understand how there’s such a shortage of these at home tests, when in other countries, that has not been the case, not only have they been more available, they’ve also been cheaper. And, you know, to their credit, the administration is going to mail 500 up to 500 million tests. That’s not going to cut it overall, at least it’s a good start. But this really should have been done earlier. And I think the President has acknowledged that too, the Biden administration has been leaps and bounds more effective and better on combating the Coronavirus than the Trump administration was, but this is one area where I think everybody acknowledges. You know, there could have been there’s room for improvement.
Sawyer Hackett 12:24
So before, you know, we had our little holiday break, I think the last time that we talked, we sort of touched on, you know, the state of build back better and the infrastructure, conversations. And you know, we obviously had a lot of late breaking news into the end of the new year on that, you know, the week before Christmas, Senator Joe Manchin said that he.
Don’t remind me. Man, you remember how everybody felt when he went on Fox News? That seemed like it was more than what was a two, two and a half weeks, three weeks, whatever. That seems like it was a year ago,
I would have loved to start 2022 off by never saying Joe Manchin’s name ever again. Like I would just love to never have that conversation. But given that Build Back Better, you know, it’s still out there hasn’t been passed, and it has a number of investments that would help us actually, you know, control this pandemic and make sure that people are, you know, can get the childcare they need or can get the health care that they need during the pandemic. I mean, I think it’s just crazy that we’re dealing with this again in 2022. But yeah, I mean, Joe Manchin came out on Fox News and said that he can’t support the Build Back Better bill, he, you know, is citing these consumer prices, inflation, the federal debt, all this stuff. And, you know, said I can’t support this bill, and you know, it pretty it sparked kind of this wide condemnation across the Democratic Party, which I don’t think we had seen really before, including from President Biden, who said, you know, I don’t think he said this explicitly, but pretty much implied that he had not negotiated in good faith that he was not being completely honest about what his expectations were, he was making all these crazy demands. At the last minute, the White House and Manchin seemed to indicate that they were coming close to a deal as a Friday. And then on Sunday, he comes down in Fox News and tanks the entire thing. Now, it seems it’s not completely dead. This thing is just still..
Julian Castro 14:18
Are you gonna dredge up all of this stuff. This is 2022 Sawyer, everything is possible. We have a whole new year, whole new possibilities. Now you’re right. I mean, look, and the thing was, I mean, you understand why Biden was mad, you know, Manchin at different times, had said he would support I think like a $2 trillion package, a $1.8 trillion package. Yeah, I mean, all of whatever it was, and Biden has been around the block more than once on these kinds of deals in the Senate 36 years, in the middle of negotiations eight years as Vice President so it’s not like he, you know, he’s an innocent that doesn’t understand how legislation works for him to come out with that statement that he did that took direct aim at Joe Manchin, you know that he was sending a strong message. But you know what I think after that in the couple of days after that he and the Progressive Caucus and the Democratic caucus more broadly, they regain their footing. And I think they put it in the right perspective of okay, look, you know, Manchin has said specifically that he supports certain programs, and he’s laid out certain ways that he’d be willing to fund it in other ways that he has a problem with, let’s roll up our sleeves one more time and see how we can figure out how to get this done. At the end of the day, is it better to get a package that is 1.6 trillion or 1.5 trillion, or whatever it is, then nothing? Yeah, of course, it is. Now, that flies in the face of what progressives wanted in the first place, and that’s why, you know, the squad and others, they warned, folks that this is what was gonna happen if you voted for that infrastructure package first. But here’s the thing. I mean, politics is always about the reality of the moment that you’re in. And the reality of the moment that we’re in is, I think, calls for getting as much as you possibly can at this point. And then, you know, not forgetting that, learning that lesson. But then also making sure that you come back and try and complete whatever you don’t get done. You come back in the future.
Sawyer Hackett 16:28
Right. I mean, you’re absolutely right. And I don’t want to harp on the past, and I think we should start 2022 off by looking forward. I will say, though, it really just got under my skin, you know, how loudly progressive said when the infrastructure scheduled, said, you know, this is exactly what’s gonna happen. You know, I wrote it on Twitter, I know that you did, too, like, you’re going to take a hacksaw to the President’s agenda, they’re going to demand huge cuts at the last minute, they’re going to screw with our timelines, they’re going to do all these things. And everyone said, oh, you’re being an alarmist. Oh, you’re just being pessimistic. You just want to get your way 100%. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It turns out that they were right. Once again, progress for right. And leadership, Senate leadership, House leadership was wrong. I mean, it’s just a fact. Anyway, we don’t have to keep harping on the past.
That’s right. And that’s why I think I think, you know, that’s an important, you have to put down that marker. And that needs to be a lesson learned, right? For these folks. I mean, the ones who said, oh, that’ll never happen, you’re being alarmist in the future. And then at the same time, okay, well, with what you have now, try and get everything that you possibly can to serve all of those middle class and lower income Americans that would be so well served, you know, hardworking people in the country that need what is in Build Back Better.
Right. And it seems like it’s not completely dead. I mean, mansion, I think Biden and mansion have been negotiating throughout the, you know, the holiday break, I think, Manchin, it was indicated this morning, in press reports that Manchi is open to re engaging on the climate and the childcare provisions that he had problems with. He wants the White House to either remove or scale back the Child Tax Credit provisions in the package. So at least there might be a path forward. But the Senate has an extremely busy January, we have to pass Build Back Better, we have to, you know, address voting rights. And that means, you know, a renewed conversation about the filibuster. And you know, this this past week, we got some really sad news about the passing of Senator Harry Reid, who was just sort of this larger-than-life icon of the Democratic Party. But I saw that you put out a tweet about Harry Reid’s passing and your reflections on him, and I knew that you had a chance to meet with him a few times. So I just wanted to hear, I guess, your reflections on his life and what he meant to democratic politics.
Julian Castro 18:53
A true public servant. I mean, when you think of Nevada, and politics and elected officials, public service, you think of Harry Reid, somebody who was beaten, loved maybe as much or more than any other elected official by their staff. I mean, he produced his whole generation, a couple of generations probably of young up and coming staffers produced quite a political machine there in Nevada. I used to think of him as like the last political boss at the statewide level, I mean, that in a good way, they were able to produce a lot of great democratic victories, and also mobilize the Latino community there in Nevada, like it had never been mobilized before. I mean, he saw the importance of the Latino vote in his own elections and for Nevada and the country before a lot of people did. And he went out of his way, also, I think, to reach out to young Latinas and Latinos to help them move up the ladder in politics and policymaking. You know, I felt that in my own career when I was HUD Secretary I remember a quick conversation in the hall with Denis McDonough, who was then the Chief of Staff of for President Obama. And he said, oh, by the way, Senator Reid said that he wanted you to go to Nevada to go and deliver address at the Nevada Democratic Party dinner.
Julian Castro 20:17
And, you know, I went out there. And, you know, had a good time talking to the folks out there and had a little bit of a chance to speak with Senator Reid. And then a couple years later, after the administration was over, he called me at this point, I was at the LBJ School in Austin. And say, I’d love to have you come and address the environmental conference I do every year, things like that, you know, where somebody goes out of their way to try and reach out and recognizes your value, and makes you feel important. There’s so many people that have stories like that, and much beyond that as well. But I think Harry Reid will be remembered as a true public servant, somebody that had a servant’s heart, somebody that helped make Nevada better, and also our country better. I think it was fitting that just before he passed, they renamed the airport there in Las Vegas for him.
You see a lot of reflections about his life and people, citing the fact that he was a fighter, you know, because he was a boxer, he had this pugilistic nature to him. But you know, more than that, like he was a fighter for like the little guy. He was always the one standing up for the little guy. He had this. He had lines in the sand that he would draw when it came to a certain policy or negotiating with Republicans that he just would not cross. And He wouldn’t play these games. He wouldn’t, you know, capitulate to Republican, bad faith every single time that he felt he had to make a stand, he would make a stand, and most of the time he would win. And, you know, one of the things he did I think his last op-ed before he passed was, you know, written back in September, but he’s written a number of times about it was changing the filibuster. And that’s right. It’s he was passionate about because he knew, I think he understand this moment that we’re in better than most people, better than most people in the Senate. And he understood that where the Republican Party was headed was a dangerous place. And that if we won’t, if we aren’t ready to make the changes necessary to continue our democracy to stand up for the little guy like he did, you know, we’re going to be lost as a party. And so I’m looking forward to having that conversation about voting rights, you know, in the month of January as the Senate comes back into the new year.
Julian Castro 22:31
Yeah, hopefully, folks will take some inspiration, both from Senator Reid and from the late Congressman John Lewis. Yeah, and get that done. We’re gonna take a short break, and we’ll be right back.
Simply, you know, this week marks the anniversary the one-year anniversary since the attack on the Capitol on January 6, the insurrection that took place. You know, this past Sunday, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who leads the House panel that’s investigating the January 6 insurrection, said that they have testimony from Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, about having asked him Donald Trump to intervene as his supporters for ransacking the Capitol. You know, that committee has been working overtime to collect information to prepare, you know, subpoenas, if necessary. It was also reported that allies of Donald Trump planned a campaign of harassment and intimidation against election officials and weak Republicans calling for targeting their homes, targeting homes of Secretaries of State and other election officials. This news is all coming you know, just days before the one-year anniversary of the attack, President Biden and vice president Kamala Harris will deliver remarks on Thursday to mark the anniversary. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is sort of invoking this year anniversary as a renewed call for voting rights legislation, you know, highlighting that, that this attack is sort of part of a larger effort from you know, Republicans up and down the ballot, to sabotage our elections, to subvert our election results, to keep people from voting, and is calling for a debate on changing the filibuster rules if Republicans are blocking voting rights. So you know, this week is I think, a dark week for many people, especially in the capitol that, you know, that was a horrible day for our democracy and for our country. But I do think it might lead to a conversation this week about you know, what it means for the future of our democracy, what we need to be doing right now to protect it, so that this kind of thing can happen again.
Julian Castro 24:54
What we all hope it leads to is the passage of the Freedom to vote act of the John Lewis voting rights Advancement Act. And also, in November, the election up and down the ballot of people who actually will foster democracy, who are pro-democracy, because at this point, I mean, we’re basically talking about one party, the Republican Party, that is essentially an anti-Democracy Party that believes in subverting the will of the people, just about by any means necessary, including what we saw on January 6, which was violence, insurrection at the seat of our nation’s democracy, our capitol. And, you know, the thing that I can’t believe is if you’d asked me a year ago, right, like, this just happened on January 6, oh, what’s going to happen? I thought that there would be universal condemnation of Trump and up and down, elected officials in the Republican Party would swear him off for good. He would be a pariah. You know, people would hope this would be the wakeup call, right? The epiphany that some folks always thought Republicans would have at some moment, and they would start going in a more, you know, sane, and sober direction. If anything, it’s gotten worse over the last year, because now they’re putting into practice all of these anti-Democratic ideas, the conspiracy theories, the false audits, the legislation in state houses across the country, that undermine access to the ballot box, the gerrymandering that cuts off the ability, especially if people of color to effectively elect candidates of their first choice, the ability of somebody like Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Lauren Boebert, or Paul Gosar, to raise millions and millions of dollars, by being totally anti-democracy, and getting crazier and crazier about it. And not to mention the fact that Trump is still, if you believe the polls, the front runner for the 2024 nomination, if he decides to run for President, again, this is not a patient. If you think about the Republican Party, as a patient that has gotten healthier, it’s a patient that is getting sicker and sicker and sicker. And unfortunately, that sickness infects all of us, if we don’t push back with concrete legislation, and by our votes to stop it, to stop that anti-democratic movement.
Well into your point, I mean, Trump is planning on holding his own press conference. On Thursday, you know, he’s expected to, you know, say the same sort of shit that he’s always been saying just doubling down on the big lie on these false claims about voter fraud. And, you know, you’re also seeing this kind of reverberate throughout the Republican Party. Last week, former Vice President Mike Pence referred to the attack as one tragic day in January. Yesterday, I tweeted this screenshot of a conservative columnist or conservative figure, Erik Erikson, who said that the media is obsessed with January 6, and that it was, quote, It was a bad day, but it doesn’t outweigh crime, inflation, COVID school closures. I mean, these, they’re all just exactly what you said. I mean, you would expect them to have moved on. Instead, they’re doubling down on it. They’re sticking by him. They’re downplaying the significance of this. I mean, this was one of the worst days in American history. It was an attack on the seat of our democracy. And they’re saying, Oh, it was a bad day. It’s just a bad day in January. I mean, it’s pathetic.
Julian Castro 28:47
Well, in the scariest part of that is that that’s not coming out of nowhere. When you have politicians that are running on that kind of platform, especially when you see politicians at the ground level, people running for state representative, let’s say, that are interacting with their community at their doors, talking to him, that are going to the neighborhood association meetings, that community association meetings, they feel like that they’re picking up on that and that there’s support for that sentiment among the people that they’re running, whose vote they’re chasing the people they’re running to represent. That has always been the scariest part to me. These politicians don’t make it up. I don’t know where they’re, I wouldn’t give them that much credit. They’re responding to what they know, or they believe, I think, based on experience will sell. And so there is a constituency out there, that really is this far gone. As much as I hate to believe that about any fellow Americans, a sizable chunk of people hold these types of views. Polling has showed that a significant number of Republicans don’t even believe that Joe Biden is the legitimate President of the United States. I mean, where do you go from there?
Sawyer Hackett 30:03
And I was listening to NPR report about this new poll, I guess that says that the largest majority in history believes that democracy is that threat. But the biggest chunk of the people who believe that which I think includes both you and I are Republicans, they think democracy is at risk for completely made-up fabricated reasons by Donald Trump. I mean, this is the kind of thing that he’s sewing amongst his base amongst, you know, voters out there.
That’s his forte, right? That’s what he’s great at. I mean, he is now you know, you’re gonna give this devious guy his credit, that’s what he’s great at doing the marketing of these ideas, the marketing of his own brand, then he’s been successful at that. That’s what when I saw that, you mentioned that he’s making remarks on January 6, and I saw that pop up on Twitter, I guess, a snapshot of the press release that he sent out since he’s still banned from Twitter. So he didn’t tweet it out. That’s for sure. And I it’s the same thing. I mean, he understands the moment and he understands the people that he’s trying to appeal to, and the fact that he would even do it on that day, right. This was so classic Trump not running away from it, but running toward it. And almost throwing his finger to the other side. And that’s what these guys, you know, a lot of the folks who support them, they love that. They love owning the libs, I swear. That’s their whole agenda now, it’s not policy. It’s not an etiology necessarily. It’s just whatever owns the lips.
So what do you make of Senate Democrats, Senator, you know, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invoking January 6, sort of in the renewed call to protect voting rights to pass voting rights legislation in the month of January?
What smart, and this is the moment they got to get it done. There’s not much time on the calendar. Once you get into the spring, everybody’s hunkered down in their own primaries and getting ready for the general election. I mean, politics becomes like very, very slow paced and guarded, because nobody wants to rock the boat. So this is the moment. I mean, there’s not much time left, using January 6, in a positive way to remind people of the stakes to get the freedom to vote ag pass, and the John Lewis voting rights Advancement Act passed credit, Majority Leader Schumer, and all of those folks who are working to try and get a pass, and I hope that Senator Manchin and Senator cinema, and everybody else is listening. And that they do that carve out, I’m also glad that President Biden has put a little bit more muscle than he had been putting into the idea of a carve out. Because for a long time, he really would not step on the gas there. Now, he’s putting more effort into that, and that’s gonna be absolutely necessary to get it done.
And I think a lot of us have been frustrated that we spent eight, nine months negotiating this, you know, bipartisan infrastructure framework, just letting Republicans sort of dictate our agenda and keeping things from being addressed. And we kind of put voting rights in the back burner in that whole process, because we knew that it involved a carve out to the filibuster. And we knew that if we upset Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that maybe they wouldn’t support. It wouldn’t support anything on voting rights wouldn’t support the Build Back Better agenda. But, you know, I think now that build back better has sort of been stalled by Senator Manchin. And voting rights is back at the top of the agenda. You see, yeah. You see President Biden coming out and saying he supports a carve out, Chuck Schumer saying that we’re going to have that debate on the filibuster rule change if Republicans block voting rights legislation, which they’re obviously going to, Joe Manchin has been in negotiations with Senate Democrats with the White House, on the carve out has been talking about it. So he’s not 100% against the idea, it appears. But yeah, I mean, I think we expect it to fail. I think we expect us to have that conversation about the filibuster. We need a full court press from Joe Biden, who has, you know, kind of been quiet about the filibuster changes for a long time, we need a full court press from the entirety of the Democratic Party to say, this is the moment,, we have to protect democracy. This is our only chance. We’re about to go into the midterms. If we lose the House and the Senate, you know, democracy is at stake here. It’s on the line.
Julian Castro 34:32
Oh, I mean, that’s a downright terrifying future. Imagine if Democrats lose the house, they lose the Senate, they lose the ability to protect democracy. At the same time the Republicans across the country, in city halls in state houses in DC are anti-democracy and trying to subvert the will of the people and preparing things for 2024 when Trump runs again, the only thing that could get worse than that is if Trump actually somehow were to prevail in 2024. It’s just it’s a nightmare scenario. And that’s why they need to seize the moment now. And January 6, should be that very powerful impetus to get it done.
And, you know, we talked about the passing of Senator Harry Reid before the break, but, I’m just imagining how he would handle the KEARSON cinemas and the Joe mansions of the world in this moment, knowing how important it is to pass voting rights. Do you think that he would, he would be, you know, just quiet and letting them do their thing? No, he would be twisting arms, he would be putting them in back rooms. He would be intimidating. He would be doing everything possible to get this done, because he knows how important it is. And he said it. He said it many times. You know, Kyrsten Sinema came out a couple of different times and said, oh, well, if we change the filibuster, that means Republicans will then come into office and they’ll pass voter suppression legislation at the national level. What does she think is happening right now? Does she think that this is not going on at the state level in every single state, Republican state house in the country? I mean, why Should those voters be suppressed? Have their voting rights undermined? Because she is worried about what Republicans might do when why is that a good approach to governing, we have to govern and with what we have, we have the majority, we have the White House, we need to pass this right now, we shouldn’t dictate our agenda based on what Republicans may or may not do in the future. It doesn’t make any sense.
Julian Castro 36:26
Yeah, I mean, that’s just fails to see the urgency of this moment that we’re in and how anti-democratic the Republican Party has been. It’s I mean, it’s just different than it used to be, different in kind.
Well, and speaking of which, I mean, you know, one of the leaders of the Republican Party of today is Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who, on Sunday, Twitter permanently suspended her personal account on Twitter. You know, after the company said that she violated their COVID-19 misinformation policies, she tweeted some chart or something falsely claiming that there’s an extremely high amount of COVID-19 vaccination deaths, that vaccines are contributing to death, which obviously is completely made up. Twitter said that she had a fifth strike, which I guess, you know, there’s a five strike.
Maybe you got a problem, if you’re getting people like that five strikes instead of three.
I also love the term permanently suspended, like they can’t say that she’s banned, or that she’s expelled from the platform, but she’s permanently suspended this, like corporate jargon, to just like, give just a little bit of a loophole in case they need to make some change.
I am legitimately surprised that Trump has not been allowed back on Twitter not because I think by any means that that guy deserves to be I mean, he’s a danger to our democracy. But I don’t have that much confidence in the corporate will of Twitter or Facebook or other social media companies. And so I thought that probably they’d, you know, suspend him for six months. And then that would be that, they come up with some reason to let him back on. And it wouldn’t surprise me if down the road, they do that. Or then they do that with people like Marjorie Taylor green, once we’re out of this pandemic, and the issue of false information about vaccines is not germane. In the same way, we need a better way to be able to ensure there’s accountability when it comes to these kinds of dangerous false lies that are spread on platforms that have become essential to daily communication and have the power to spread misinformation, disinformation, and create actual consequences to our democracy and to our public health because of it.
Sawyer Hackett 38:54
Yeah, and I don’t think you know, any of us in a liberal democracy, don’t think it’s a great thing that a corporate, you know, social media company should have as much power as it does to de-platform people at a whim. There’s no democratic process or anything like that. But at the same time, you also have to have, you have to have rules, you have to have guidelines, and those need to be made clear. And when people cross those lines, of course, they should be de-platformed. Especially when they’re causing misinformation. That’s going to kill people. As in the COVID situation. So yeah, I mean, I think they’re probably going to let him back on. I think they have to let him back on if he’s going to be the nominee for the Republican Party in 2024 for which, it seems likely.
Yeah, that might be there out.
De-platforming. It’s shown works. I mean, these people like these, you know, crazy right-wing politicians like that in Trump himself. He started his own little media company; those platforms are never going to take off. They’re never going to get any traction. They’re never going to build the same sort of audience that Twitter has built. And so we, I think, need to regulate these companies make sure that they’re doing they’re following democratic processes. In all of these things, but at the same time, when people are crossing the line, and you know hurting people in the process, they absolutely should be D platformed. And more of them should be mean, Marjorie Taylor green should be the first of a very many Republicans who are spreading this sort of misinformation on their platforms every single day.
Julian Castro 40:15
Here’s the scary thing, right? She still has Facebook; she’s still got I’m sure. An email list that would be the envy of so many politicians out there, because she’s racked up a lot of money through her craziness. And a lot of email addresses, she’s able to pump out her message to her email list, which is probably wouldn’t surprise me if it’s, you know, well over a million people now, not more than that. So for anybody that suggests, well, this is Oh, she got banned. And that’s the end of the road. Well, I’m not really, there are plenty of other avenues that she’s spreading these falsehoods with. And that’s just that’s part of the problem is that everything is part of the great communications ecosystem we have today. And it provides a lot of opportunity for people who are maybe trying to, you know, engage with ideas that are different from their own. And also people that are running for office that don’t have a lot of resources, but they can use one or two of these platforms effectively to build up their name and build up their base of donors, small dollar donors, but with folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene, and a few others, and of course, with Donald Trump, it really is dangerous, that you don’t have a consistent application of these standards across platforms that are so powerful, because Twitter is not the only one. There’s also Facebook, there’s also YouTube, there, you know, huge email lists, and other things, too.
She’s not just this right-wing nut job. I mean, of course, she is a right-wing nut job, but that’s not her, her statue within the Republican Party. She is the Republican party. I mean, she is one of the best fundraisers in the party. She’s one of the people who she opens her mouth and she gets, you know, clicks in national publications. She is a huge figure. And you know, the people who are up there with her are the same sort of, you know, right wing conspiracy, misinformation driven politicians who are leading today’s Republican Party, the act, the Trump acolytes, who, you know, are willing to spread his big lie who are willing to spread misinformation about the COVID, about COVID-19 who are pushing people not to get vaccinated at a time when we desperately need people to be getting vaccinated. So yeah, I mean, I think this is a conversation we’re gonna have to keep having because I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. But this is just the latest, I guess, episode and in right wing craziness on Twitter.
Julian Castro 42:49
Yeah, that’s Chapter One of we don’t know how many chapters during the year 2022. A lot more to come.
So I think after the break, we’re gonna talk about our new year’s resolutions. So we’ll be right back.
Welcome back to OUR AMERICA. So as I said, at the beginning of the show, Good riddance for 2021 and Happy New Year 2022. With this world of possibilities, hopefully a lot of good news to come in this year. And every time at this beginning of the year, people around the world make New Year’s resolutions. Look I gotta confess, Sawyer, I’m not one of those people that is, you know, faithful about making new year’s resolutions every year. But every now and then I do. And after the two years that we’ve been through in 2020, and 2021, there are some things that I want to make sure that I do this year. First of all, I want to be able to achieve that work life balance. One of the silver linings of the last two years was getting to spend so much time with family. I’d been on the road like 70% of the time at HUD and then the campaign trail and then once March 2020 hit it was that was turned completely on its head it’s like 99% at home and it’s still mostly there thankfully with my family. Now as things hopefully after this, you know Omicron variant passes and you know, we get through this wave continue to open up and we continue to get back to closer to what was normal. I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to exactly the way we were before. But you know, you have those that draw on your time to go travel to business meetings or board meetings or whatever it is. In my case, I want to make sure that better balancing things in 2022, then perhaps I had been in 2019, 2018, and so forth. That and then of course staying healthy. And also hopefully traveling internationally.
What’s on your wish list for travel?
Ah, you know, I’ve never been to Spain. Never been to places like the south of France. I’ve heard Costa Rica is nice. Like there are many different places. I’d love to get out, too. How about you? What are you resolving to do in 2022?
I’ve got yeah, I’ve never really been a big resolution person either. But I do love the idea of New Year’s because I think it’s a good chance to sort of evaluate what your year look like, plan some goals for the future. So sort of vaguely, my resolution is to be more present. I’m always somebody who’s sort of looking ahead to the next thing, the next trip, the next week, the next goal, I want to be more present in what I’m doing. Day to day.
Julian Castro 46:00
You’re always on Twitter, checking out like the latest post.
That’s one of my practical resolutions is to get the hell off Twitter for a while. But yeah, and then my other resolution is, you know, not neglecting, not neglecting my health, I’m a healthy person all around, eat well, you know, I work out and I do all those things. But both physically and mentally, I want to be somebody who’s more health conscious, I need to go to the doctor, haven’t been in a couple years.
You and me both.
I want to monitor. I want to monitor my mental health. I know, you know, in this pandemic, I think a lot of people are experiencing, you know, anxiety and stress more than ever before. I think that I’m one of those people. And so I want to just keep an eye on it more, be more conscious of it, plan some time to just sort of step away from Twitter, step away from all the chaos, all the bad news, and just have some me time. And then practically, you know, I want to do I want to cook more. I love cooking, I want to be more of a planner. And I want to do some more writing, because I like writing. It stresses me out because it’s involves sort of getting in your own space and just sitting down and plugging in. But I like writing. I’m fairly good at it. I want to do some more of it this year.
Oh, those sound-like great resolutions that we’ll have to check in like six months down the road and see where you’re at and where I’m at.
Yeah, maybe we’ll be each other’s will be each other’s sponsors. Yeah, we’ll make sure we’re holding each other accountable to those goals.
And whatever your resolutions are, good luck, buena suerte with those in 2022.
Yeah, and as always, you know, folks can leave us a voicemail. Maybe share your resolutions for the next year. Give us a call at 833-453-6662 that’s 833-453-6662 and as always make sure to subscribe to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. And make sure to follow us on Twitter at @JulianCastro, @SawyerHackett and at @LemonadaMedia. We’ll see you next week. Happy New Year.
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.