In This Episode
- 2021 is done, and we are excited to tell you all about what you need to know throughout 2022. In our first episode of the year, we talk about the big story our hosts will be keeping an eye on this year.
- Stories include: the ever-evolving pandemic, the upcoming midterm elections, the future of the criminal justice system, and the political landscape of trans rights in America.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, January 4th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, welcoming you to history’s first perfect year.
Gideon Resnick: Honestly, fuck you. [laughter] Sorry. I’m just going to say, how dare you.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s going to be beautiful.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s going to be amazing.
Gideon Resnick: I want all of you to stop right now.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, happy New Year WAD squad. We are finally back from the holidays.
Gideon Resnick: We are.
Josie Duffy Rice: True.
Gideon Resnick: And you know, because you can hear us.
Tre’vell Anderson: Lucky you.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 2021 is done and we are excited to tell you all that you need to know throughout 2022. So today we are doing things a little differently.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yep. We’re going to spend all episode talking about the big story we’ll each be keeping an eye on in the new year.
Gideon Resnick: I will get us started with this story – this is a little bit of a cop out since it’s a catch all. It’s something that we’ve talked about quite a bit last year, but it is the pandemic.
Priyanka Aribindi: Booo.
[voice clip] We don’t know everything we need to know yet.
[clip of President Biden] I know COVID-19 has been very divisive in this country. It’s become a political issue.
[clip of Dr. Fauci] Overhyping COVID? It’s already killed 780,000 Americans.
Gideon Resnick: As we’ve been talking about, there was a new variant identified towards the end of last year: Omicron. We spent more time learning and discussing what that was all about. And it was yet another reminder of the fact that we are unfortunately not done with this. We can’t put it quite behind us. And I think you can look at basically every single aspect of life this upcoming year and pretty obviously point out how anything we think about is going to be impacted by the course of the pandemic. And it could be good. You know, we’ll see.
Tre’vell Anderson: Probably not, but that’s OK.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right, right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Talk to us about some of the things you’ll be thinking about as we continue to cover the virus.
Gideon Resnick: I have a lot of questions. The thing that jumps out to me that I think we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about for months is does the U.S. get to a point where like this isn’t a daily active concern, where we’re not talking about it, thinking about it all the time? If there is a change there, does that impact the way the public views the Biden presidency? Does it influence how they vote in the midterms if people are feeling better about where the pandemic is at and in their daily lives? Does the world get to a point where, like this isn’t dictating how we live every day? Can you travel internationally? Is there vaccine distribution and equity? Does that get better? Does the way that the planet is going to have to combat climate change, do people collectively learn from the failure of what we’ve done here so far and try to fix that, which would be the other seemingly insurmountable global challenge? That I’m not sure about. But yeah, those are just some of the things that keep me up at night.
Josie Duffy Rice: Hmm. Sounds very chill.
Gideon Resnick: Uh huh.
Josie Duffy Rice: These are great and very depressing questions. But as you look back on 2021, what else are you thinking about in the new year? That actually just wasn’t enough to be thinking about at night Gideon, so we need you to have more things that you’re thinking about.
Gideon Resnick: Well, look, I mean, I guess it’s like the question is like, does this ever fade into the background for us. And by us, I mean humanity collectively, right? It maybe has for a lot of people, but I’m wondering if there ever is going to be something that is like the moment that Priyanka was talking about at the end of last year, the summer of 2021, where it at least felt like things were looking up in the US, right? Over time that certainly changed and brought us to the end of last year. Take a listen:
[speaker] What happens here is they get their vaccine [crowd noise] . . . they’re very grateful that we’re here.
[speaker] Wow! I’ve missed you all.
[speaker]. . . was right so we’re going to take our masks off.
[speaker] Thank you to science.
[speaker] Want to get to some breaking news now that has just come into us . . .
[speaker] Omicron’s here.
[speaker] Just when we thought we could breathe a sigh of relief, here we are.
[speaker] Everybody should put the mask back on.
[speaker] That’s just going to be our new normal.
Gideon Resnick: Ugh.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a whiplash. In terms of I did not like this montage.
Gideon Resnick: I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. This is, this, I apologize for doing this to everybody. But you know, you asked and I answered. So yeah, this is not a particularly insightful observation as to where we are heading in 2022. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. But I think it is going to dictate basically every other thing that we think about in life. And I hope that it is good for everybody and that we can move forward.
Tre’vell Anderson: Crossing our fingers.
Priyanka Aribindi: What an attempt to make that positive.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I tried. I tried.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know.
Gideon Resnick: OK, so because the pandemic is going to be looming over our politics this year, unfortunately, Priyanka tell us about what you are going to be paying attention to in 2022.
Priyanka Aribindi: All right. Aside from Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s wedding, which I am assuming is happening this year.
Gideon Resnick: Sure.
Priyanka Aribindi: I, not unlike many of you listening to the show, at Crooked Media here, making this show, will inevitably spend most of my time this year thinking about the midterm elections. I know that is also a very obvious answer, but it’s true. There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs, as well as 435 seats in the House. And while Democrats narrowly control both of those so far, a lot has been speculated about whether or not that will stay the same come November.
Tre’vell Anderson: And we’re going to leave all of that to the pundits and the TV shows and all of that. That’s why you actually listen to this show.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, exactly. I’m not going to repeat any of the speculation here, but I will say this: midterm elections usually get pretty shitty turnout, but the last ones we had in 2018 saw 53% of voting age citizens turning out to vote, and that was a record for the past 100 plus years.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s amazing and depressing.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, incredibly, it doesn’t seem that high, guys. I feel like we can do better. But that happened because regular people all over the country were motivated to go the extra mile, not only to vote, but to donate their time, their money, their energy, to help other people do the same, to talk to people about what’s at stake and why candidates and policies are important to them. And guess what? We got to do it all over again. I know November seems like a while from now, but it’s also not that far away. And that is why here on WAD, we will be talking to candidates and experts around the country about the issues, their plans to combat them, and what we need to do to help. We’ll be doing it all year long.
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, I just want to say that I do think we should all get a six-month break where we don’t have to hear about anybody who’s been elected to office.
Priyanka Aribindi: Don’t we all wish.
Gideon Resnick: Right, right, right.
Josie Duffy Rice: Just like every couple of years, just like a six months where like, whatever, and then we can get back in it.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’d be great.
Josie Duffy Rice: Anyway, that’s not possible, and it’s really important that you pay attention to elections now until you die.
Gideon Resnick: Good save.
Josie Duffy Rice: So it’s not, so we’ve been talking about local elections and midterm elections, but how can people get involved in their own local community? Because as we’ve talked about a lot on here, that’s really important and it usually doesn’t get as much attention, right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I really want to plug the team at Vote Save America because I think they do a really good job making this accessible and easy for people and just keeping it all in one place. They’re really on top of it. They source kind of the best ways for us to maximize volunteer hours, donations, whatever we have to give, and they compile everything in one place. You can find where near you campaigns to volunteer for, what the issues are in elections, you know, what the deadlines are to register – all that information you would ever want and need in one place. It’s been a really invaluable resource to me, and I know so many other people have used it in the past. I highly recommend using it and sending it to people you know. Especially if you’ve moved in the last year, use it to double check that you’re still registered to vote. And if you’re not, fix that early. As you know if you’ve listened to this show, it’s not getting any easier to vote most places. So highly recommend getting on that early. We will be on it over the course of this year. I know we will all be kind of interviewing candidates and talking about these issues, so just buckle up for that.
Gideon Resnick: Phew. More hope? [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: I promise we’ve got more of what’s in store in 2022 with what Josie and Tre’vell are watching. Hopefully it is a little more hopeful then what we have presented. But first, we’re going to take a quick break for some ads.
Gideon Resnick: We are back for our first WAD of 2022, and all of us are sharing the story that we are keeping a close eye on this upcoming year. Josie, what are you watching?
Josie Duffy Rice: There’s so much stuff worth our attention, and the joy of our modern times – and I mean joy very sarcastically to be clear – means that we probably can’t even predict the specifics of whatever absurdity awaits us in 2022. Who even knows? But if there is one story I’m sure to be watching, I bet you guys will all be shocked to hear that it is the current battle over the future of our criminal justice system. I’m not really into sports.
Priyanka Aribindi: Shocking.
Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t do much, I don’t have any hobbies. This is my hobby. OK, this is what I do.
Gideon Resnick: I like that the decision that you’re presenting was sports or the criminal justice system.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m just like other people watch the Super Bowl, I guess, and I like, whatever. I do this. So my life is super chill and lighthearted.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all right.
Josie Duffy Rice: But yes, that’s what I will be watching.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s OK. OK, so the past several years have been pretty strange and tumultuous. How have they set the stage for where we are now?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean, I think since George Floyd’s murder, right, these years have had moments of real promise, and then they’ve also had moments of real disappointment. So for context, two years ago very few people had even heard of the concept “defund the police”, right? It wasn’t something anybody talked about. And then in the months after George Floyd’s murder, criticism of police and prosecutors and prisons reached a new high. And a lot of people really started to imagine what a future could look like, where we depended less on law enforcement to ensure public safety. But the thing is, while the rhetoric and the polling changed, the policy mostly did not.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Josie Duffy Rice: And there are some steps taken here and there. I mean, here in Atlanta, for example, we have a new program called PAD that sends non law enforcement first responders in situations where a law enforcement officer isn’t warranted or wanted. So there are some good things happening. But despite all the fear mongering by police departments around the country, they have not even been a little defunded. In fact, they’ve been more funded, max funded, refunded, whatever however you want to call it. They’ve managed to get more funding over the past year. And meanwhile, certain types of crimes have increased over the past year, including in many places, homicides. Many critics are now kind of blaming this rising crime with defund or Black Lives Matter. That is who they’re saying is responsible for this rise in crime. There is, I should say, zero evidence of that. Absolutely zero. None. Zip. Zilch. And if I were a betting woman, I’d say that the same thing that led to an increase in some crime was probably the global pandemic that shook up every facet of every person we know’s life.
Tre’vell Anderson: That little thing.
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, that had some impact. But still, law enforcement has been really successful at convincing people that in fact, the conversation about reimagining policing led to an increase in crime, and I’m pretty nervous about what that means for the near future.
Priyanka Aribindi: So what do you think led to the failure of enacting real change in 2021 then?
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, this is really how criminal justice policy, and policy more broadly, is made in America. Often our policy decisions are shaped by fear, not imagination. They’re shaped by punishment and not by safety. So I think it’s safe to say that that’s why traditionally we have shoved millions of people in prison, many for excessively long sentences, rather than address their material realities, right? But it doesn’t have to be this way. America has spent decades building this goliath of a failed system, and if you look over the past few decades, both parties are squarely to blame for mass incarceration. They’ve made one fear-based terrible policy decision after another. But in 2022, I’m hopeful .and I’ll be watching to see whether we’re finally ready to think more critically about the ways in which our mass punishment infrastructure has failed us and absolutely failed the people who have languished under it for so long. You know, the question isn’t whether we can, but whether we will.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right.
Josie Duffy Rice: So Tre’vell it is your turn. What are you going to be looking for in the new year?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, first and foremost, I’m hoping that 2022 will be the year we finally get a new Rihanna album.
Gideon Resnick: Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: Or, Ree-anna, I should say that’s how she says her name. But beyond that – surprise, surprise – I’m still pushing the trans agenda. So I’ll be keeping my eyes on the yet-unfolding political landscape as it relates to trans rights. Last year was already a dumpster fire from sports bans restricting trans youth from playing on the sports teams that align with their identities, to attempts to legally outlaw gender affirming and lifesaving care for trans folks and beyond. So as we look to this new year, activists and advocates are already gearing up for what they predict will be an even worse onslaught of attempts to codify transphobia and legislate transphobic discrimination. Here’s ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio in conversation with journalist Tuck Woodstock on their podcast Gender Reveal:
[clip of Chase Strangio] We’re now in this moment where the courts are much more conservative and the escalation of attacks are much higher and more frequent, and we’re dealing with two contexts. You know, the context of mostly youth in sports, as well as health care access for minors. And we’re up against a lot of challenges in these spaces. And I really believe that the other side’s arguments are sort of patently absurd. And yet we are losing many of these fights.
Tre’vell Anderson: And so to put this into perspective, Strangio, who’s been on the front lines of these legal battles, notes that 13 anti-trans bills actually passed in state legislatures last year. And this comes after he and the folks at the ACLU were able to stop almost every other anti-trans bill leading up to it other than 2016’s North Carolina bathroom bill.
Priyanka Aribindi: On our last show of 2021, you talked a lot about hopeful moments in the trans community and the opportunities they’ve had to share their stories. So is that making any impact on the ways that the public sees trans people and how they feel about these kinds of laws?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, public opinion is really a mixed bag of foolishness. I don’t know if you can really trust the American people today, but you know we’ll get to that later. And by that, I mean, a Gallup poll from last year noted that while Americans overall support trans people in the military, for example, significantly less people believe trans folks should be able to play on sports teams that align with their identities. So more people are comfortable with us risking our lives in the name of nationalism then there are folks who believe women and girls who are trans should be able to compete against other women and girls in sports.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And I mean, I think we probably have our own opinions about why that is. But what do you attribute to that disconnect, Tre’vell?
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I got a long list of attributions. But in large part, I think it’s due to the ways conservatives and the religious right have exploited the lack of knowing and understanding by the American public. So many people still don’t have personal experience with a trans person, or at least they think they don’t have any personal experience with the trans person, and so when people espouse dangerous and disgusting rhetoric about trans people being predators or mentally ill or otherwise confused, that leads to the emotional, psychological and physical violence that many of us experience, both from everyday people, and the institutions that are supposed to protect us. And that rhetoric, which is finding legal footing because of how conservative courts have become over the last few years, is in part responsible for 2021 being the deadliest year on record for trans and gender nonconforming people. So this year, I’ll be covering as many of these legal battles as possible in hopes of equipping us all with the necessary information we need to start for some ,and continue for others, showing up for trans folks.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and I am excited to hear you do it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Me too.
Tre’vell Anderson: And it’s going to be great. Those are the headlines that we’re all looking toward in 2022.
Priyanka Aribindi: But one more thing before we go: if you’ve got a particular story you think we should follow in the New Year, message us. That’s actually how I found good stories before. People have slid into my DMs and been like, Hey, are you going to talk about this on WAD.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: So keep doing it. It’s great! You can find us all on social, on Twitter, Instagram and more. Please do.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Follow us on Instagram to see pics of our unprecedented in-person recording, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just 2022 on checks like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[all together] And welcome to the New Year!
Gideon Resnick: We hope it’s more joyous than how we presented it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Crossing our fingers.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s going to be great, guys. It’s going to be real good.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s the perfect year, as we said.
Gideon Resnick: Perfect. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.