Why Labor May Determine the Next President (with Nicholas Kristof)
As President Joe Biden joins United Auto Workers picketing in Michigan, Andy talks to New York Times Opinion writer Nicholas Kristof to test Andy’s theory that working class people will be the battleground voters in 2024. They discuss how the Democratic Party lost blue collar workers and why highly educated progressives fail to connect with rural voters. They also look at how populism is playing out in the headlines when it comes to the potential government shutdown and funding for Ukraine.
Keep up with Andy on Twitter and Post @ASlavitt.
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Nicholas Kristof, Andy Slavitt
Andy Slavitt 00:18
This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. So glad you could join us today, get a hold of me. email@example.com, I’ve had this emerging point of view, as I’ve been watching the landscape of the lives, we’re all leading here in the US and the political changes that we’re seeing, you know, stepping back from a second from I’m a Democrat, I’m a Republican, this is I’m conservative, I’m not, but just sort of looking at overall trends. I’m sensing a sea change going on, I think others are sensing it as well. And it is really a shift that both parties are making, towards fighting for working people, and putting corporations on the sidelines, the doing the different ways, you know, Republicans anti woke ism, they’re so for low taxes, but there’s a lot of rhetoric, and of course, a greater appeal, as we’ve seen the last few elections, to people who are non college educated, maybe rural, maybe white, maybe even increasingly non white. And Democrats, I think I’ve always been able to lay claim to the they’ve got policies that really benefit. This group, and I think have sort of always fallen on the policies around social safety net and minimum wage. And now with Biden’s latest wins around manufacturing, that they can say, you know, this is where we’re focused. But I think a couple things are shifting in this. One is that, increasingly, Democrats are the realization that they may intellectually have some appeal to policies and may lay claim to the policies that support these communities. But they in no way are effective at making an emotional connection and emotional appeal. The Republicans are, and Republicans are sort of an opposite position. They are maybe emotionally resonant, they’re showing that they’re listening better, but their policies still really reflect you know, lower corporate taxes. And, and many things that are anathema to these communities. So I think there’s a political shift going on, and it’s towards a sort of populism, on both sides, fighting for the both emotional resonance identification of working people against corporations. This is very much on display with the UAW strike. We saw yesterday, President Biden jumping on the picket line, we’ve seen President Trump trying to hold sessions with workers and thing both parties trying to out labor one soft, like, Can you picture that 20 years ago, in during the Clinton Administration or the Bush administration into a picture two parties, they were both trying to identify with organized labor. So that’s a change. And so I wanted to call someone I thought would be one of the best thought leaders we have in the country with thinking through major, major political and policy shifts, social shifts in our country. And that’s Nic Kristof. Many of you know, Nicholas Kristof, as the Op Ed columnist for the New York Times for many, many years. He is sort of a, you know, in many ways a liberal lion, and is championing causes that are certainly resident on the left. But I wanted to also challenge him about not just why he has been right, but where he has been wrong. And not just where he’s been wrong. More importantly, where some of the liberal thinking has gone astray. You’re testing this perspective around globalization, which has been a hot button, driver, testing, even notions around some of the social policies around Medicare around abortion, and labor and some of the shifts. And then, of course, you’ve got all this great theory. And then you got the reality that here in this country in Washington, DC right now, Speaker McCarthy can’t even have a successful debate within his own party, within his own party, about keeping the government funded. In fact, he can’t even have a consensus about how to put forward something that he knows would never pass to make the Democrats look bad. And as a result, as we’ll talk about, they’re headed for a government shutdown. There are other things that are part of the sea change the Republican views of the war in Ukraine, something else that may be a little bit beneath the radar, how Republicans are viewing one of the greatest Republican achievements of the last 20 years of fact, one of our country’s greatest achievements over the last 2030 years. And that’s something called PEPFAR, which is how we basically have saved lives in Africa with extraordinary intervention led by George W. Bush. So we’re gonna get into all of these topics. I think it is a terrific, terrific person to have this conversation with. And it’s just so important. By the way, as we in the interview one more thing. If you’d like Nic Kristof, like I do. You should know he’s got a new memoir coming out. I think it doesn’t come out until the spring. So chasing hope you can preorder it, you know, I probably will do that. Here’s Nic.
Andy Slavitt 05:45
One of our favorite guests. Welcome back to the bubble. Nic Kristof.
Nicholas Kristof 05:48
Great to be with you.
Andy Slavitt 05:50
So fun having you and we have a lot to talk about, which I think we’re both gonna have opinions on. Let’s start with this very interesting development as it relates to the strike of the United Auto Workers. You know, it wasn’t that long ago, that I think people would have said, Boy, we have a very corporatist country. We have a country that, you know, center, left center, right, Bush Gore, a lot of power in the lobbyists and so forth. And, you know, putting aside whatever you think of these two men, the leading Republican and Democratic candidates for president are both trying to out labor and out working person themselves with Donald Trump. Foregoing the debate and his his spectacle du jour is going to be speaking to auto workers. Yesterday, Joe Biden was on the picket line with workers. What do you make of this, Nic?
Nicholas Kristof 06:46
So I think that Americans generally have, have come around and realized kind of what I’ve also realized over the years, and that, you know, I mean, looking back, I think that I had a certain disdain for labor unions, that I think was characteristic of a lot of educated professionals. And we saw the corruption, we saw a certain amount of racial discrimination, gender discrimination. And, you know, if you will, we perceived, I think you incidences Luddites, and the critiques had something to them. But I think what we also saw was that as economic inequality increased, and you saw just all the catastrophes that flowed from that, we realized that one of the best forces to fight inequality was labor unions. And one of the and that if you didn’t have labor union, featherbedding, you had corporate featherbedding. And so you know, I’ve changed my views quite dramatically over the last 15 years or so. And I think an awful lot of other people have as well.
Andy Slavitt 07:49
Are we in a race to populism? Is this 2024 election going to be about trying to outworking person the other side? And does this is this a sea change of towards some sort of progressivism or populism?
Nicholas Kristof 08:02
No. And I don’t know. But I guess I, you know, it seems to me that what makes the difference is not the rhetoric, but is the policies and you know, if you look, what would make a difference to working class Americans is things like daycare, and things like pre k for all, you know, fixing some of the health insurance gaps and realizing that dental care is part of, of medical care, higher wages and higher wages. I mean, you know, the fact that minimum wage hasn’t remotely kept up, the federal minimum wage hasn’t remotely kept up with increases in productivity. I mean, I’m very focused on this sort of the surge in addiction and deaths of despair, because I’m speaking to you right now, from Oregon. I see this around me. And it just strikes me as outrageous that we have more than 100,000 Americans dying right now annually from overdoses. And and if you include alcohol and suicides is more than a quarter million a year, every year, and so many other people aren’t dying, but are greatly suffering so many families are, and yet we haven’t, you know, been able to tackle this effectively. And I think one way we can tackle that is to give people a sense of hope that they can live better lives, and that it’s going to come through some capacity to earn more incomes, which in turn relates to labor unions where we started.
Andy Slavitt 09:18
Yeah, well, look, you’re talking about different and better policies, whether it’s social safety net or minimum wage. But if you believe like I suspect both of us do, that, culture influences politics and politics influences policy. Is it appear that parties both parties for other differences are kind of getting the message that there are enough people, whether they’re living in despair, or whether they’re just trying to make ends meet and living too close to the poverty line? And watching enough people do really, really, really well the dominate the political power in our society. This is going to dry I have some sort of transformation, that if the only way to end up in better policies is if this is the sentiment in the mood of the country, or one way to end up there that forces both parties in that direction.
Nicholas Kristof 10:14
I’d like to think so. But I’m, I’m still a little bit skeptical. You know, I think that it’s true that Republicans increasingly perceive themselves as, you know, beneficiaries of the white working class, and so they make all the right noises. On the other hand, well, Democrats have policies that would help. I think, frankly, that, you know, as Democrats have become more the party of the educated, that there has been a certain amount of disdain for people who were less educated, I think that has been compounded by the degree to which the white working class has often supported Trump. And I just see with it like the song, you know, Richmond, North Richmond, I thought that there was much too much of this liberal push to, to kind of wag fingers at it. And that, you know, we should be reaching out to folks who were really frustrated by the way labor was going.
Andy Slavitt 11:13
You know, it’s interesting, what you say, is it sort of like, both parties could do better? In almost the opposite ways. Yes, Democrats could do better culturally, and without identification standpoint, and Republicans could do better better by actually doing something of substance. You know, they’ve got the we’re with you parked down. Exactly. But all the policies, you know, in effect, are do the exact opposite.
Nicholas Kristof 11:36
Yep. No, I think that’s exactly right. And that, you know, Democrats don’t realize the degree to which they sometimes come across as condescending. And, but they have policies that would really make a difference. And another hand, you know, you’ve got Republicans who talk the talk, but they don’t remotely walk the walk.
Andy Slavitt 11:56
Yeah, ya know, it’s interesting. I asked someone once, who is a conservative who was spent, he was among a group of friends that are spending the weekend with him, I didn’t know very well. And he said, I, I hate educated person. He said, I hate Democrats, I hate liberals. I hate progressives. And I said, why? And he said, Because of progressive or liberal is someone who just thinks they know better about what’s good for the rest of us. And from a cultural standpoint, like I can go through policy, by policy by policy, about why would Democrats have done it better for the economy, what Democrats have done it better for the world and so forth? And his perspective was, you know, it doesn’t sell it just doesn’t sell. There’s another element to this, Nic, which is the extent to which globalization, which is something that was pushed for, certainly by the Clinton administration, by the Bush administration, certainly into the Obama administration, is something that when you look at the impact on working class people, it’s been a sort of Senator left center, right, kind of globalism, free trade, let China in. And you end up in a spot where I think large parts of the country are kind of reacting to that. And as a result, maybe somewhat belatedly, both parties seem also to be responding.
Nicholas Kristof 13:23
Yeah, I, you know, I sort of complicated feelings about this. On the one hand, I do think that the world largely benefited from globalization, and that certainly the American Pie got bigger from globalization. But our promise is to divide that pie more thoroughly, and have the winners compensate the losers. That just did not happen. Right. And I think that one of the problems was that those of us on the left who, you know, we believed in, in that compensation, we thought of it in terms of income streams. And we thought that the losses were fundamentally income, and that there were an awful lot of blue collar factory workers, who what they lost was not only that income, it was their sense of identity, their sense of purpose, their sense of who they were. And we one of the things we weren’t very good at was job training. And that’s, you know, that’s a hard thing to do. But there have been some programs that have actually worked pretty well at it. And we didn’t, we just didn’t even try and we let communities crumble. And now one of the and one of the things that I found was really fascinating was when, in the 2008 2009 financial crisis, auto plants were going bust in both Detroit and the Canadian side in Windsor, Ontario. And the US remedy was basically unemployment, compensation, long term unemployment. And on the Canadian side, it was job training. And you know, you look at the consequences and those Canadians end up much better today. And on the US side, we gave them an income but we did I fit them into the economy again, and we all lost.
Andy Slavitt 15:04
So now you take this sort of, I don’t know, if it’s a seismic shift, but this sort of shift that’s going on this progressive shift towards many of the things, troubling Americans that want change in this country. And, you know, if nothing else, you’ve got someone and Donald Trump, who takes the temperature of the populace, kind of like the Chinese rulers, do, they kind of know when to sort of change their tune. And hearing him talk about abortion now, the guy who effectively ended abortion in this country did legal abortion, isn’t that incredible? It is incredible. And it’s so predictable. It’s just so hypocritical. And, and I think he’s pretty confident and get away with it. Likewise, you know, Medicare, you know, he signed in proposed budgets. It’s all his years as president that we’re cutting Medicare. And of course, now he’s like, Hey, during this election season, we can’t be cutting Medicare. And so this is the guy who is adopting these positions. Part of it, he benefits from not really feeling like he has to run in the primary, he’s just sort of running in the general from the start, which means he doesn’t have to tap back.
Nicholas Kristof 16:16
And, you know, all that makes me think it’s even more important for Democrats to not just have great policies, but also to do better on the outreach and to look at those ways in which we managed to turn people off. And you know, sometimes it’s the way we talk about faith centers, the way we talked about language. They’re just all kinds of ways in which we come across as condescending without, without understanding that and we, you know, we think we’re being incredibly inclusive, and we’re being inclusive toward many groups. But in the process for that inclusiveness. We’re so nice pissing off other folks. And it’s very hard thing to navigate. But I don’t think we’re doing a great job at it. Yes.
Andy Slavitt 16:56
And to cerebral or to cerebral? why don’t why don’t they read our website and see how good our policy is? They’re missing the point. And meanwhile, you know, you’re not going into the communities and neighborhoods and relating to people. All right, hang on, hold that thought, Nic. We’re gonna do quick break, I’m gonna come right back with Nic Kristof.
Andy Slavitt 17:38
Let’s talk about another irony, we just talked about how we’ve got a massive deficit spending producing guy running on the Republican ticket. You’ve got a Congress, which he’s egging on, that doesn’t even know how to do anything. But head for government shutdown. Before they by the way, they’ve even talked to a Democrat, this is not a dispute, to be clear between the Democrat and Republican about keeping the country open. That’s not even. We’re not even at that stage yet. These are Republicans who don’t even believe let me submit this right, because I can barely say it. There are Republicans that don’t even believe that other Republicans should put forward a fake set of policies that would never pass and are super conservative. They believe that’s going too far.
Nicholas Kristof 18:24
Yeah, I mean, it reflects the whole drift of, of politics away from governing toward this performative art. And I think that there, you know, there are some Republicans who have completely mastered that performative element to it in ways that just kind of break my heart. And I guess it’s also worth noting that historically, the advantage that Republicans sometimes had in some parts of the country had to do with national security, they were perceived as tough on national security, and on economic governance, on being, you know, fiscal conservatives and kind of making things work. They’re just so pathetic now on both and when you look at national security, and what is the Republican position on Ukraine or Russia, you know, who knows, and, and meanwhile, they can’t keep the government open, which is a pretty basic responsibility. If you’re running the House of Representatives.
Andy Slavitt 19:21
Yeah. I want to come back to Ukraine and talk about JD Vance in a second. But he made me think about something in the in the house, which is like it felt like in the first two years of Biden’s term, Joe Manchin was the power senator. Now it feels like it’s Matt gates,
Nicholas Kristof 19:37
Because we have a speaker who has let himself be taken hostage by Matt gates and by a few other people, and you know, he’s a speaker is a willing hostage of that tiny group.
Andy Slavitt 19:50
Well, it is part of it, to be fair to everybody. It’s a reflection of having such a close margin. First in the Senate, still in the Senate and that when the House that anyone who decides to grandstand and can pull in this case, you know, just five or six people with them has an incredible amount of power. And historically, I think that’s, you know, we’ve had these situations before, but you’ve been able to co opt the five or six people just as by the way, we were able to get mentioned to compromise and push forward, right, the big climate legislation inflation Reduction Act, because there’s things that they want, because there are coalition’s that work together. It may be that’ll happen here. But what appears to be different here is, you know, there are kind of kamikaze pilots on the Republican extreme here, who would be more than happy to see a little crash and burn in a reckoning. And maybe that is also reflective of what they believe to be the mood of at least their districts, but but certainly a part of the Republican base.
Nicholas Kristof 20:55
Yeah, I must say that I’ve I mean, that handful of a half dozen people, they are kind of more wacky a tail in Congress than we typically had as a tail on Congress on either side. I, I have heard from members that the other Republicans are just increasingly outraged at them and think they’re going to lose some, some seats because of the antics of those folks in there. That is not impossible that the governance wing of the Republican Party will, you know, actually tried to take some steps to work with Democrats to actually get things done. If if the alternative is HS, you know, are embarrassed and lose a bunch of seats.
Andy Slavitt 21:40
Yeah. And look at it. That’s what happens with you like, needless right, they just don’t care. I would imagine, like if I put myself in the shoes of these small groups, who don’t historically have power, get these moments in the sun. And by the way, I would also include this sort of problem solvers caucus who I think are also trying to take advantage of the moment it happens. It’s how politics works. But I can’t think of a better speaker for that group than Kevin McCarthy. Like, what more could they ask for? Like, he’s worried that they’re going to kick him out. But in some ways, having a guy that you can kick out is all you need?
Nicholas Kristof 22:19
Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, I think that the media landscape also helps them that this, you know, this fringe, it remember, John Liu liberatory, a as wacky member of Congress way back in late 70s, early 80s. And I don’t, I don’t tell us about it. He was a complete wacky fringe guy. And then, but he kind of made a mockery of himself, and it was promptly pushed out. But if he existed today, he’d be all over the news. And he would get positive reinforcement from it. And I think that that is partly why some of these wacky members are as wacky as they are that they actually can make a calculation that they will benefit by being completely extremists and as you say, nihilists.
Andy Slavitt 23:09
So do you think we end up in a shutdown?
Nicholas Kristof 23:12
My guess is we probably do. And
Andy Slavitt 23:15
How is that likely to play? I mean, what do you see remind us of the moves that are likely to happen? What the escape route is?
Nicholas Kristof 23:25
Yes. I don’t know what the escape route is. I mean, except, I guess that, my hope is that a lot of mainstream Republicans, especially those in seats, that that are swing districts, that they realize that this is just deadly for them, and that they become so frantic to actually reopen government that they’re, that they’re willing to, you know, to take stuff. I mean, that the problem with that theory was my more optimistic theory is that a lot of them are in districts where if they do that they may be challenged from the right in the primary, and so that’s not going to help them, you know, stay in Congress. What do you think?
Andy Slavitt 24:06
Yeah, I think that there is a majority to keep the government open. It’s called all the Democrats and many of the Republicans. I think, Kevin McCarthy, it’s an interesting situation. Because, you know, if if his job basically is to keep the majority in 2024. You know, the calculus is, if I shut down the government and I’m seem to be responsible for it, that doesn’t seem to hurt my chances. That’s right. If I cut out a bunch of the right and do a deal with the Democrats, there’s a world in which that doesn’t help my chances. So I think there are more capable of people than that guy to do the job. Having said that, he’s in a very tight box. And we’ll see what kind of magician he is. Just try to get out of it. Okay, you talked about Ukraine before and I was really interested in this other tank. which is just in the head scratching world of progressive action by Republicans, there’s also been this, if not a full out embrace of Russia, a certainly a embrace of isolationism and a skepticism about Ukraine. And you know, as articulated by JD Vance, and I think I’d let you know, five other Republican senators, a dozen or so republican congress people, you are kind of laying down a marker to say, you need our votes to continue to support Ukraine, and you currently don’t have them. Now, I will say that I think you and I probably both agree that there are important questions that Congress should ask and should be able to ask around accountability around the progress of the war around the hearts and minds of the American public. So I you know, what, at least I’m not saying is, hey, take it on faith, give Zalewski everything he wants, no questions asked. So what are we what do you think we’re hearing from at least this? Call it a big enough group to block set of Republicans? And, you know, certainly Donald Trump seems to be in that in that category as well. And Republican voters by polls, seem to think we’re doing too much for Ukraine.
Nicholas Kristof 26:21
So, you know, there has been this constituency around for a while, you know, that we should do the, you know, we should worry about nation building at home. And I think that the there are elements in the Republican Party that now trying to drive that for political purposes. And, you know, they have a certain conjunction of values with Putin, etc. I’ve got to say that I’m in I’m back in Oregon right now. But I was in New York for a un weekend talking to various European leaders, and that they’re just terrified that Trump is reelected, and that Trump and Republicans and support for Ukraine and Europe would know at that point, I don’t know your it’s hard to see how you could sustain Ukraine. And it’s, and just the possibility that that might happen, I think is what is driving Putin forward, things aren’t going that well for him right now. But if he can outlast Europe, and outlast America, until the end of next year, and Trump is elected, then he’s got a strategy, which is Zelinski and Ukraine will fall apart, and he will be able to control Ukraine. And you know, more people will die as a result of that possibility that Trump is back in office with the support of, of, you know, a fairly modest number of people in Congress who want to cut off aid.
Andy Slavitt 27:49
Interesting, just as Alinsky comes over here to shore up the allies. You’ve got this very interesting notion you point out, which is that your strategy in this war is weighed out the next election, hope for Trump. God knows you got instead of two metal again, yep. Right. If you’re if you’re Russia,
Nicholas Kristof 28:09
Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I mean, this, this next election, it’ll be both Russia and China, interfering in the election on behalf of, of Trump. And, you know, and that’s sort of goes to a certain amount of hypocrisy. And so if you talk to, you know, like the JD Vance’s and a lot of other conservative Republicans are so focused on China and the threat from China, and they want to do everything possible for Taiwan, except the one thing that would really matter, which is supporting Ukraine, you know, if we want to affect Xi Jinping, his calculations about whether or not he is aggressive toward Taiwan, one of the best ways we can affect those calculations is to make sure that Ukraine succeeds. And that Russia that its aggression does not pay and yet it’s just so hard to make people see that.
Andy Slavitt 29:00
let’s take one final break and come back with Nic Kristof. So, look, we’re be critical of the Republican Party right now. But there was an era not that long ago. And you’ve recently written about this, when, arguably a Republican administration and a Republican President created one of the most impactful long lasting achievements that is probably as reflective of who we want to be of our ideals of anybody. And that’s something that it’s a household name to everybody. It’s called PEPFAR. I wonder if you can just explain to people what PEPFAR is. And the leaders who made it come about?
Nicholas Kristof 30:01
PEPFAR is the it stands for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And in, you know, in the late 90s, and early 2000s, AIDS, I think people today just don’t quite understand just how devastating it was there was talk that 100 million people were gonna die from age, it just wiped out generations of, of school teachers, of nurses of doctors and professionals, engineers, in southern Africa, in particular was devastating economies farmers couldn’t, didn’t have the strength to go in their fields, you’d go through villages and, and because parents and grandparents were dying, so there were these households of kids who were left, forming, looking after themselves. And then, in his State of the Union address, in 2003, President George W. Bush announced this monster plan of PEPFAR, which was going to fight AIDS around the world and pour billions of dollars into it. And he came up with this and you know, with a small number of advisors, Michael Gerson, who was his lead speech writer, and a prominent evangelical was a crucial figure in that Condi Rice played an important role. And he proposed it as an expression of American values. And that money just transformed the tide of AIDS around the world. It operates in more than 50 countries, it paid for treatment, it worked with multilateral organizations like the Global Fund. And, you know, I first sensed how transformative PEPFAR was when some years later I was traveling in southern Africa. And in Le su two and Malawi, I met confident makers, and they were complaining that the coffin making business had collapsed, because people weren’t dying as much anymore because of President Bush’s aids plan. And, you know, right now, the estimates are that it saved 25 million lives, making yet just, I think, the most important humanitarian initiative ever.
Andy Slavitt 32:12
And we’re talking about what was the initial commitment of something in the order of 10s of billions of dollars, which is a life saved standpoint, and a scale of impact scale, has got to be one of the biggest bargains imaginable. And look, you’re not a person who’s always full of praise for George W. Bush, am I right?
Nicholas Kristof 32:30
That’s right. I mean, I spent eight years whacking him, you know, column after column after column mostly because of the Iraq War. And you know, I must say, I didn’t give them adequate recognition for PEPFAR. I wrote a lot about PEPFAR. But I kept, I kept whacking him. In retrospect, somewhat unfairly, because a share of the PEPFAR money a third of the prevention money was going to abstinence only programs, which I thought was ridiculous were which were, you know, indeed, unproven, and later said, he showed that part of it to be effective. So, you know, I think my critique that was right, but it missed the larger point that here is this extraordinary program that turned the tide of AIDS. And and I don’t think that in general, we, in the left, you know, we we rightly hold Bush accountable for hundreds of 1000s of people slaughtered. And in Iraq and the devastation there, we don’t adequately appreciate the extraordinary thing he did in saving 25 million lives.
Andy Slavitt 33:32
So the reason you’ve written about PEPFAR recently, is because it is due to be renewed. And it is not at all clear that a Republican House, which is should be, should be quite proud, quite proud, deservedly so of this achievement, doesn’t appear to be supporting what’s going on.
Nicholas Kristof 33:54
You know, Republicans should be shoving this in our face, they should be saying, Look at this incredible thing that we did that you you Democrats, you liberals couldn’t do and didn’t do. And instead, PEPFAR the authorization for it expires at the end of this month. And it appears it may not be reauthorized, and that’s because of this madness that is infected parts of the party and there were critiques partly from the Heritage Foundation, and they it said that PEPFAR was responsible for funding for for abortions indirectly. And, you know, this is nonsense. Of course, we have the Hyde Amendment that in the US has federal funds can’t go to pay for abortions. And so some PEPFAR money goes to some organizations who use other money to support abortions, but it’s not it’s not PEPFAR money. And it just is sort of extraordinary that the same party that birth this extraordinary humanitarian program is now Finding it in its current form. And that as a result, it may not continue.
Andy Slavitt 35:06
Yeah. So that’s you said about we’ll provide a link to your your column on the on the show notes that provide even a little bit more depth. But yeah, just a whole a whole set of things that would I think, standard political thought would not have predicted, you know, what’s going on with labor? How this government shutdowns playing out PEPFAR, you know, Ukraine, there is a lot of other stuff, obviously, going on four trials for Donald Trump, a trial, the debut of Senator Menendez and indictment of Hunter Biden, a new office of gun violence out of the White House, which I don’t know what they’re going to do, but by God, it feels like that is a really strong move, a new focus on mental health, just something you’ve written a lot about coming out of the White House. Anything else in this whole picture, that you think we should be paying attention to either those items, or anything else?
Nicholas Kristof 36:08
So I think, you know, this broader question, which we sort of did discuss a little bit about, you know, the collapse of, of America’s working class. I think that is just such a central issue, that there are these pathologies that are linked. And we don’t fully understand how they’re linked or why they’re linked. But it pains me it bewilders me to see Republicans making hay on this, and Democrats struggling. And I think that Biden, you know, I do think that Biden gets it with his his background. He Biden tells a wonderful story. Maybe my favorite Biden story is he tells about, at one point, his dad was working for a car dealership, and there was a Christmas party. And so the, you know, the elder Biden and his wife, were at the Christmas party and the owner of the car dealership, throughout silver dollars on the floor for the employees to scramble at. And Biden’s father and mother just were so repulsed by that they walked out and in Biden quit the job. And the president tells that story to sort of convey the importance of dignity. And I think that word dignity is something that maybe we don’t talk enough about. But I think it’s very much related to all these issues that are going around. It is one reason lack of dignity is one people are one reason people self medicate. I do think that Biden kind of gets that, although I think he does have trouble communicating that.
Andy Slavitt 37:52
Well, Democrats can work on emotional resonance. Because, you know, I think the last 30 years shows us that it shows me at least my one perspective, they’ve got much better ideas, they actually not implement them better. They actually want to do something to fix the world, instead of complaining about it. But they there’s no doubt they need to work on emotional resonance with people who are going through challenges. Not just good policies, but actually a way of showing that you get it. Yep. So thanks for being in the bubble. For those of you who have a few more minutes, go listen to about to have a conversation with Nic and premium about loneliness, which is something we’re gonna get into. Nic, thanks, again for being in the bubble.
Nicholas Kristof 38:34
Great to be with you.
Andy Slavitt 38:48
Thank you so much to Nic, for that far ranging interview. We also had a fascinating conversation on premium. For those of you who listen to those episodes. It was even deeper than our dad joke conversations have been if you can believe that. We were talking about loneliness. My first question to Nic, has he ever been lonely? And then we got into it. And it was just very interesting topic that he’s thought about. We’ve all thought about to some degree. Next week, we have an episode about what will probably be one of the most important factors in the upcoming election, but also, possibly what’s going to shape the next couple of decades. And that is the new band of lawmaker that is under 45. There are 1000s of them around the country, 1300 of them that have been organized into group Democrats and Republicans, by the way, and their views are more aligned with one another, it seems than they are with their party sometimes. And how are they thinking how are they thinking differently and what role will young people play in the 2024 election? is what I want to talk to my guess next week. I’ve got Layla Zaidane on. Layla is from the millennial Action Project. And I gotta tell you, she is a an incredibly impressive person who has done some serious thinking about this and all the issues that are connected. And so that will be next week. David Leonhard coming up later in the month. That will be fun. He always is fun. And that’s all I can think to say right now except, see you next week.
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