Midterms on Our Terms | Crooked Media
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November 03, 2022
Dare We Say
Midterms on Our Terms

In This Episode

Twitter is dead, Elon Musk is unhinged, and TSwift Era’s Tour has initiated a gay frenzy. This week Josie, Alycia, and Yasmine turn the conversation towards the midterms and talk to four activists and politicians who are doing the real work and ask their fellow GenZers to get involved!

Show Notes

Tiffany Dena Loftin + The Debt Collective
Lauren Rankin + Bodies on the Line
Chi Ossé
Nithya Raman




Yasmine Hamady: You come to my office, you look around and you see three different people, but they’re not Alycia, they’re not Josie. And what the fuck is Yasmine Hamady doing right front and center? I’ll tell you what. It’s me, da da da hi everyone! It’s Yasmine Hamady. And you’re listening to Dare We Say. You’re probably wondering, uh Yasmine? Where’s Josie? Where’s Alycia? Well, spooky season got a little bit of the best of us, and they’re no longer with us. Yeah. They’re actually in area 69, what is it called? Area 51? [laughter] Area somewhere, but they’re not here and therefore we’re taking auditions to fill their place. So please submit to www.hahaha.com/dare if you want to join the Dare We Say podcast. So.


Caroline Reston: I feel compelled to say that’s not true. We are not taking auditions. 


Yasmine Hamady: Okay. So and that everyone, you heard a woman’s voice and that it–


Ari Schwartz: We don’t own that domain either. 


Yasmine Hamady: And we don’t. And then you, another heard another person’s voice. Okay, I don’t know. 


Fiona Pestana: I’m just not sure how you would even spell that. 


Yasmine Hamady: And then you heard three people’s voices, and you’re probably wondering. Uh, Yasmine, who is that? Well, you guys, I care about you. Yup, I’m your mommy. So let me take care of you and help you dissect who the fuck these people are sitting next to me. Shall I introduce the most some of the most important people in my life? Okay, I’ll tell you. Fine. I’ll fuck it. I’ll tell you. Here we have our showrunner, Caroline Reston. 


Caroline Reston: Hi. I’m really excited to be here. And I’m happy it’s at the uh afternoon because my laryngitis gets like a lot better, so I would have sounded like a groggy frog. 


Yasmine Hamady: I wish you did. I feel like it’s more sexy in the morning when you wake up and you’re like [makes groggy sound]. 


Caroline Reston: I can put it on. I’ll put it on. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah, please do. And then we have– 


Caroline Reston: Hi [in a groggy voice]. 


Yasmine Hamady: –Our amazing associate producer, Fiona. 


Fiona Pestana: Hey, what’s up? Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. 


Yasmine Hamady: Of course. And then we have our other producer here, Ari. 


Ari Schwartz: Happy to be here. Happy just to be invited, honestly. 


Yasmine Hamady: Later on, we’re going to hear a very special midterm segment we recorded. But first, while Alycia and Josie are gone, we’re just going to kind of dissect a couple of things that’s been on our mind when we were brainstorming what we could talk about naturally, two topics came to mind, you know, sweet and salty, which one’s better? So we picked the sweet, Taylor Swift. And the salty, Elon Musk. And so these are two very polarizing people. Some people love them, some people hate them. I, I, for one, would die on the hill for Taylor Swift. I would– 


Caroline Reston: I thought you were going to say for Elon Musk. 


Yasmine Hamady: For– [laughter] could you imagine? I would die for Elon Musk. Taylor Swift announced her era tour. This is huge. Why is it huge, you guys? 


Caroline Reston: Okay, well, I’m just going to jump right in. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah jump right in. 


Caroline Reston: I am wearing a Taylor Swift. I also wore this outfit yesterday. 


Yasmine Hamady: She did. 


Caroline Reston: And I wore it again. 


Yasmine Hamady: She hasn’t showered in 24 hours. 


Caroline Reston: No, that’s– 


Yasmine Hamady: It’s true. 


Caroline Reston: That’s inaccurate. 


Yasmine Hamady: Okay. 


Caroline Reston: I shower every day. People, also really quick thing, like morning showers are disgusting, anyway. 


Ari Schwartz: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.


Yasmine Hamady: Oh that’s another Ick or Yum. 


Fiona Pestana: Interesting. 


Yasmine Hamady: Morning or night shower. 


Caroline Reston: Yeah morning shower is like how disgusting is your fucking bed? 


Ari Schwartz: Absolute gross. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah that’s real. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. Especially someone who like actively pees and poos in her bed. Like I have to– [gasp] 


Fiona Pestana: Whoa. 


Yasmine Hamady: It’s a joke. [laughter] It’s a actual, it’s a literal joke. You guys ah like, look at me, I’m decorum. 


Caroline Reston: Okay, well, speaking of the Taylor eras tour, like, okay, so I feel like everyone kind of thought, like, saw this coming, that there is just no way she was just going to do um a Midnights tour because of like the four fucking million albums that came in between this and Reputation. 


Fiona Pestana: Literally. 


Caroline Reston: But. Okay. So I’m really excited about the Eras tour because like, truly, like if I, if we were stuck with a concert that was just like Marjorie from Evermore like that song, I would be like, I honestly don’t know if I would go. 


Yasmine Hamady: I 100% would. 


Caroline Reston: I mean yeah, that’s a lie. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah that’s a literal lie. 


Caroline Reston: Did I, did I wait in a four hour line yesterday to pre-register for the tickets. Yes. I would still go, but I would not be like stoked about it. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: So what I love about the Eras tour is like this is why Taylor’s like branding group are like such geniuses. 


Fiona Pestana: They’re geniuses. 


Caroline Reston: Because I feel like we’re in an era, no pun intended, of like nostalgia. 


Yasmine Hamady: Mmm. 


Caroline Reston: And there is like a looking, we’re all looking back to like the early 2000s and there’s a lot of like rewatch podcast, there’s a lot of like reboots happening um shout out Saved by the Bell and that’s like what people want. They want the OGs of their earlier life. So that’s why I love that this is an era tour because imagine not hearing Red on this tour. It would just be horrible. 


Yasmine Hamady: See, that’s the thing. And like and the art behind it shouldn’t even say what song she’s doing, what album she’s doing. She just had the art of each one. 


Ari Schwartz: Mm hmm. 


Yasmine Hamady: So you have Fearless. You– I literaly just got goosebumps saying Fearless. You have Speak Now and I do have to say Speak Now is coming next, for her, for Taylor’s version. 


Caroline Reston: Oh yeah. There’s like a million Easter eggs for that right? 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: And there’s a bunch of Easter eggs. And I just feel like Taylor Swift is one of the best um songwriters and artists of our generation. I know people will be like, what? Yasmine no, but like, truly, I think she is. Her writing is, you can’t top Taylor Swift’s writing. You can’t. I’m sorry. 


Fiona Pestana: Totally. I mean, I I don’t even identify as a Swiftie. I understand–


Yasmine Hamady: You– I don’t identify. 


Fiona Pestana: I don’t. Um. But I am a Swiftie ally. And– [laughter] when people say like–


Caroline Reston: That’s a great way to characterize it.


Fiona Pestana: No, exactly. When people say that Taylor Swift is one of the best songwriters of all time. I mean, just look at the fan base and the community that she’s got rallied around her, like mostly because of the words that she’s putting out into the world. It’s like really incredible that she’s able to, like, build this sort of community of people who, like, care so much. So it’s going to be, like, really epic seeing her go to football stadiums for this tour. It’s going to be–


Caroline Reston: Mm hmm. 


Fiona Pestana: –Nuts. Like, I wouldn’t see, like, an Evermore Folklore thing at Sofi Stadium in LA– 


Yasmine Hamady: Could you imagine? 


Fiona Pestana: That would be crazy. I would want to see that, like in the comfort of my home, like crying in my bed. Um. But this is going to be epic. And the openers. Oh my God. 


Ari Schwartz: [indistinct] 


Caroline Reston: I love the idea of like the juxtaposition of like the Taylor crowd versus like the L.A. Rams crowd. Like what’s happening in that individual seat. 


Fiona Pestana: Totally. 


Caroline Reston: From each like event is, you know, probably crying for two very fucking different reasons. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah, they contain multitudes.


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah but one is a better reason and one’s not. Um. And I do have to say with Taylor Swift she I think for a Red Taylor’s version. For everything that she’s gone through and I do want to say she’s like been through the ringer but like in the public eye, she really has. Um, she’s been dragged, she’s been disrespected publicly. She’s been um she had her songs like taken from her that she’s written. And I feel like also like she’s talked about falling in love in Hollywood at a young age with like older men. Talk about grooming, cough, cough. Something’s happening now in the industry. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: You know. 


Caroline Reston: Yeah. I feel like though, like, yeah, she’s been put through the ringer and she’s been through a lot. But I also feel like I mean, one of the biggest things about Taylor Swift for so long is that she’s like, has the biggest audience of all time yet, is like not speaking out on any issue. And, you know– 


Fiona Pestana: True. 


Caroline Reston: –Now that’s definitely changed. But one thing like and I know it’s something we want to touch on is like the I don’t think their opening act, there was like special guests on the show with her like is an overwhelmingly like queer. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 


Ari Schwartz: Mm hmm.


Caroline Reston: Like queer music, queer audiences, queer bands it’s like Muna, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Haim. Also Gracie Abrams. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 


Caroline Reston: I looked up is J.J. Abrams daughter. 


Yasmine Hamady: Abram’s daughter, I know really–


Ari Schwartz: No way.


Yasmine Hamady: I really like her. She’s really talented you guys. I have goosebumps, she’s–


Fiona Pestana: Wow. 


Yasmine Hamady: –really fucking talented. 


Fiona Pestana: I had no idea they were related that’s crazy.


Caroline Reston: Yeah. And I sort of feel like Taylor and like this is I never describe myself as a stan. I’m a huge fan, but I don’t like ride or die for anyone because everyone has faults guys. Um.


Yasmine Hamady: That’s not true. 


Caroline Reston: You don’t? 


Yasmine Hamady: I don’t have any flaws. 


Fiona Pestana: Whoa. 


Caroline Reston: I could name four. Um. [laughter] No. But I feel like sometimes Taylor hides behind the people she surrounds herself with and lets them speak for her. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: And I sort of feel like with her openers, especially on this tour where she’s becoming more outspoken, like she is sort of doing that. Like I was just like doing research before this and I was like, did Taylor ever say anything about Roe v Wade? And I looked it up and she did say something, but it was so like– 


Yasmine Hamady: –Nonchalant. 


Caroline Reston: I mean, I don’t want to be like damned if you do, damned if you don’t like judgment, like judger person. 


Yasmine Hamady: Sure. 


Caroline Reston: What’s the ju– judge? 


Ari Schwartz: Judger person works. 


Caroline Reston: A judger person. But it’s like I I’m a big fan and I didn’t even realize she had said something about it. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: But it’s like the people she’s surrounding herself with are so loud and are so vocal. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: That it’s sometimes frustrating. It’s like, why? Why? But also I love all of these bands. So– 


Fiona Pestana: Right. Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: It’s exciting and uh tough at the same time. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah Muna was like, gay for Tay, gay for Tay. You know, she’s an ally also I just feel like there is something to be said about some of her lyrics that like, I would love to bring up. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: Like. 


Fiona Pestana: Show us the receipts.


Yasmine Hamady: For example, someone tweeted, in the stadium screaming, [starts singing] they don’t know how much I miss her. [stops singing] I just want to say it’s her. It’s not you. And what’s that song called? 


Ari Schwartz: Uh. Very last night, very first– 


Yasmine Hamady: The very first–


Ari Schwartz: –very first night I think, yeah yeah.


Yasmine Hamady: The very first night, which is on Reds, Taylor’s version from the Vault. It’s an incredible fucking song. Red is my favorite album. Taylor is such a good songwriter that there’s no way she would have put you at the end of the song and in every line it doesn’t go. It’s her, but I feel like because this was written back in 2012, times were a little bit different where she couldn’t just outwardly say her. That’s my theory. 


Fiona Pestana: It’s interesting, though, that she’s like leaving these Easter eggs and won’t just, like, explicitly say something with her chest. Like, really, the only things that she says with her chest are promotions for herself and her music more than like what Caroline was saying. Anything like political or real or like. But of course, at the same time, like, we shouldn’t be bullying people into, you know, divulging their sexuality when they’re not ready. It’s just, like, interesting that when you have a platform that’s so massive, you should be using it for more than just your personal gain, which I feel like she’s trying to do with this tour as well. Um. Like with having these openers that are so queer, that’s kind of like haha hint hint like I know the audience that I’m attracting and I know that I’m a part of it too. Um. I just wish she would say more things than that. 


Ari Schwartz: No, I think um, you know, I’m a big Swifty. Uh, I also was part of like the generation where all of a sudden everyone hated Taylor Swift. 


Caroline Reston: Mm hmm.


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Ari Schwartz: So I missed out on, like, multiple eras. 


Caroline Reston: What era was that? 


Ari Schwartz: I think I– 


Caroline Reston: I’m the elder in this group [indistinct]. 


Ari Schwartz: I was there for, like, first album, second album. 


Yasmine Hamady: Mm. 


Ari Schwartz: So Fearless. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah yeah yeah. 


Ari Schwartz: And missed– 


Yasmine Hamady: Speak Now. 


Ari Schwartz: –like, Speak Now and Red. And– [banter]


Yasmine Hamady: Whoa! I was–


Ari Schwartz: –sort of I’m back in in 1989, so I’ve also missed like I missed a bit in there. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Ari Schwartz: And had to like circle back and truly Speak Now and Red are her best albums. So I missed out on the best albums in her whole–


Yasmine Hamady: Well. 


Fiona Pestana: It’s okay you made it back.


Yasmine Hamady: I think that she’s making it back. 


Ari Schwartz: I think, you know, as someone who really loves her and loves her music and you know identifies with it a lot. Um. I do find it frustrating as someone who like is queer the way she sort of incorporates queer motifs pretty constantly throughout her work. But it it verges. It does feel like it verges at points on queer baiting, and she makes a lot of money off of it. And it I find it somewhat frustrating and and heartbreaking and I love and support her and, you know. If she is queer, we will welcome her with open arms when she’s ready. 


Fiona Pestana: True. 


Ari Schwartz: We will. We will. Um. But I think, you know. For the time being. It does feel like she’s capitalizing on her queer audience. 


Fiona Pestana: Totally. 


Caroline Reston: Yeah. Remember, you need to calm down? That video was fucking wild. 


Fiona Pestana: Oh, my God, that was crazy. 


Ari Schwartz: It was not great. 


Fiona Pestana: She was like, wait, let me hire every gay celebrity to be in this. And then she did the same thing with her tour. [laugh]. 


Caroline Reston: Yeah exactly. 


Fiona Pestana: But– 


Yasmine Hamady: All I’m saying is, listen to the very first night. Just listen. 


Ari Schwartz: Yeah. I mean, you can’t bring out the women’s national soccer team [laughter] on stage and be like, oh, I’m 100% straight. 


Yasmine Hamady: My best friend Eva, I want to give credit where credit is due. She has said she has spoken out in the past about things that she’s been dragged through. I’m sure that there is. I don’t know. I don’t want to say that you owe someone something. But like, [sigh] but like–


Fiona Pestana: It’s hard to be a pop star. 


Yasmine Hamady: It’s hard to be a– I think I think– 


Caroline Reston: It’s so hard to be a pop star. 


Yasmine Hamady: I think the gist of it is– 


Caroline Reston: It’s so hard to– 


Yasmine Hamady: It’s hard. 


Caroline Reston: –go on your private jet, 20 million times more than anyone else. 


Yasmine Hamady: We will not drag Taylor Swift on this episode of this podcast is what I will say.


Caroline Reston: Also, but but in her defense on the private jet, that bitch cannot go on commercial. She would get ka– killed. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: She literally would. No, she would. 


Caroline Reston: But she didn’t need to take a 20 minute flight. 


Yasmine Hamady: Okay. But I do have to say, there’s another person who’s um uh not exactly a pop star and not exactly um an ally. Um. And this person’s name is Elon Musk. And as you all know, and if you haven’t known, that means you live under a fucking rock or you don’t have Twitter, which also means you live under a fucking rock. He just bought Twitter that he he also just fired the top three execs. And there has been [sigh] talk that he’s firing 75% of the Twitter staff as we speak. And, Fiona, you’re very passionate about this, Fi, what do you think? 


Fiona Pestana: I think– 


Caroline Reston: They love it. [laughter]. 


Yasmine Hamady: There– 


Fiona Pestana: Oh, my God. Thank God. Elon bought Twitter. Thank God. Um, I mean, I’m really sad. Like, I don’t know. I feel like I understand why Elon has so many stans, because I understand the whole like, yeah, it’s great to have like an electronic car that isn’t you know, gas guzzling and bad for the environment. I also understand being like, we need an alternative for when the earth is, you know, destroyed by climate change. Not that I’m saying that we should all move to the moon. I think that we should by– be divesting our resources in much better places. I just understand, like, why he has a fan base at all. I just don’t think that he needs to have like the power of owning Twitter like that because the people who have owned Twitter in the past haven’t been like iconic tweeters. I mean, people follow Jack just because he founded Twitter, not because, like he’s saying, unhinged things and does other stuff and then decided to buy it. Like, I think that this is just such a crazy exercise of privilege and just being able to be like, Yeah, I have all the money in the world and I want to be the person who’s in charge of like one of the most democratic, uncensored social media platforms ever. Like, it’s just I think this man has too much power at this point, and he is a meme. Like he’s kind of a joke of a dude. And I love Twitter and I just like, don’t want the sanctity of Twitter to die in his hands. So I don’t know. That’s how I’m feeling about it. 


Caroline Reston: Yeah, I feel like Elon taking over Twitter is kind of the metaphor for like American democracy. 


Yasmine Hamady: Mmm. 


Caroline Reston: Because literally, like, Twitter really uh got popular when it was used as like a grassroots org like an organizing platform for like revolutions in like Egypt and Tunisia and all these other places. And it was a way for people to communicate and organize and like enact political change in a really serious way. And that’s like I the way I see it is like that’s when Twitter really started getting um like people started really realizing the power of this platform. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: And, you know, as that happens, it becomes more and more popular. You know, politicians start tuning in, they start realizing this is the best way to communicate. And what really started off as like a platform kind of for the people to talk is now owned by a single billionaire. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: Who now can control speech however he wants is just like feels so like– 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: –sadly right. 


Yasmine Hamady: No completely. 


Caroline Reston: Not right in like yeah but like right as in obviously this was going to happen. 


Yasmine Hamady: And he his whole thing is he’s obsessed with free speech. He wants free speech, free speech, free speech but by you single handedly one man owning a platform for free free speech. You’re automatically not allowing free speech. Does that make sense? And I feel like he he’s already talking about bringing back Donald Trump online and like he’s not censoring Kanye and all of these alt right, horrific individuals. And I don’t, in free speech, there’s no room for hate speech. I really don’t give a fuck about what you think. You know in the Constitution. Free speech. Well, they weren’t, that was written by like a bunch of old white men during a time where people had no rights and there were slaves. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: Yeah. 


Fiona Pestana: I’m not saying he’s like apolitical, but he’s very much like, we should just let everybody talk. And it doesn’t matter, like if they’re saying right and wrong things because everything is subjective. Like, he tweeted something that was like all the Democrats and the Republicans are hating on me right now. And he’s like, that feels really good that it’s coming from both sides. Like, obviously that means I’m doing something right. And I’m like, No, that means that you’re the rare unifier, bro. Like, everyone hates you. [laughter]


Caroline Reston: Yeah, he’s of the like, Joe Rogan era of, like, libertarian and also, like, not to be rude, but I don’t fucking care. He needs a fucking tan. I’m so sorry. [laughter] I’ve been looking at all these memes of him recently, and not only does it, it just, like, hurt, my eyes cause it’s Elon Musk. It’s just like it’s tough. He is tough to look at. 


Yasmine Hamady: I also feel like Grimes. Grimes, my girl, like I love you so much. What the fuck are you doing with this guy? 


Fiona Pestana: Well, she’s not with him anymore. 


Ari Schwartz: They’re not together anymore. 


Yasmine Hamady: They’re co-parenting fully. And she’s– 


Ari Schwartz: Well, they have– 


Caroline Reston: They have a child? 


Ari Schwartz: –kids. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Ari Schwartz: They have two. 


Caroline Reston: This man has children? 


Fiona Pestana: Yes. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 


Fiona Pestana: So many children.


Ari Schwartz: Oh my god, he’s literally– 


Yasmine Hamady: XAE12 


Ari Schwartz: –He has so many children. Also, his his dad has children. It’s like a a Woody Allen situation. 


Fiona Pestana: Oh my gosh.


Caroline Reston: Well obviously his dad has children. 


Ari Schwartz: No, his dad has. Sorry, [laughter] I meant to say, his dad has kids with his stepdaughter. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. Yeah.


Fiona Pestana: Oh, that’s fucked.


Caroline Reston: That’s so weird. 


Yasmine Hamady: He said he has been he came from a very tough background. And I’m like being a white man in South Africa, in a very privileged place. That must be very tough. 


Fiona Pestana: Hmm yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: That was very tough for you. 


Fiona Pestana: So hard, especially now that he is, you know, a billionaire. 


Yasmine Hamady: And I don’t want to discredit him. He’s a he is a brilliant man like I. He’s very smart. But that doesn’t excuse horrific horrific actions that he’s being taken. 


Ari Schwartz: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: Do you think this spells the beginning of the end for Twitter? 


Ari Schwartz: Oh, 100%. Well, I don’t know. Have any of you read the article in The Verge by um Nilay Patel that’s basically outlines the issue with uh– 


Fiona Pestana: No. 


Ari Schwartz: –un unmoderated free speech– 


Yasmine Hamady: No go on. 


Ari Schwartz: –Online. So basically– 


Caroline Reston: TLDR [indistinct]. 


Ari Schwartz: TLDR is uh content. Sites like TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram incentivize people to post good content, not bad content. But the second you take away the incentives and the disincentives, um you also lose advertisers. And people don’t want to interact with your site anymore. So like when you get rid of content, moderation and people can post, you know, slurs and uh just horrible offensive bullshit uh online, then no one wants to fucking advertise on there anymore. 


Fiona Pestana: Right. 


Ari Schwartz: And it’s just becomes a hell site um and it’s just a not a, not a business. It no longer is a functioning business. 


Fiona Pestana: Well that’s why they’re bringing in the subscription model with–


Caroline Reston: Yes. 


Fiona Pestana: –The checkmark. 


Yasmine Hamady: That is–


Ari Schwartz: Right. Which is dumb. 


Fiona Pestana: Right, yeah, dumb. 


Yasmine Hamady: And he’s he’s so just and also like all of these people who are so hurrah Elon Musk, like AOC tweeted about something about it. And then she’s getting so many she already gets so many hate comments and death threats by just being alive. But like so many people are coming for her neck and she’s like, you understand, like people who can’t afford to pay for a $20 like Uber ride to to do their laundry is like, I’m going to pay that $20 blue check thing for Twitter because that’s, I’ll ride for Elon Musk. Like you can’t. Like what honey? Pay your rent! Buy food you don’t need to buy a $8 or $20 check mark. 


Fiona Pestana: Yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: Also it takes away the significance of a check mark. Not that there even should be a check mark, but there maybe there should be a checkmark. Maybe I’m just saying this because I want a checkmark. 


Caroline Reston: I was gonna say, I would buy it. 


Fiona Pestana: I would [laughter] I would love a– 


Caroline Reston: No, no. 


Fiona Pestana: –Blue check, but I feel like part of the fun is getting it from merit. Like. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Caroline Reston: No one gets it from merit. Everyone gets it because their PR person gets it for them.


Ari Schwartz: Yeah. It’s all, it’s like a Hollywood star. 


Yasmine Hamady: That’s not true. Hollywood and everyone is in there for merit. [laughter]


Caroline Reston: Yeah, it’s a meritocracy, for sure. 


Yasmine Hamady: If you can’t tell. I’m fucking kidding. 


Caroline Reston: All right. Twitter’s dead. 


Ari Schwartz: Twitter is dead. 


Fiona Pestana: I love Twitter. 


Caroline Reston: I, long live Facebook. 


Ari Schwartz: Well– 


Yasmine Hamady: I don’t have a Facebook anymore. 


Ari Schwartz: Long live Facebook marketplace. 


Fiona Pestana: Oh. That’s true. [banter]


Yasmine Hamady: You know what I’ll say? [pause] Long live Tumblr and I’ll stand by that. 


Fiona Pestana: Oh, that’s true. 


Ari Schwartz: Long live Tumblr.


Yasmine Hamady: You know what, I think we can end it right there. So whether that’s waiting four hours like poor Caroline yesterday in the Eras tour Ticketmaster line, hotline, hotline.hotlineblingDrake.com or deleting your Twitter because you’re and you’re just not live laughing and loving with Elon Musk regardless, there’s one common denominator Tumblr. Thank you so much for listening. And we’ll be right back. [music break] As I mentioned earlier today, we’ll be talking to four incredible grassroot organizers and politicians from abortion clinic escorts to the first Gen Z city council member. Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride. Woo! [laugh] 




Yasmine Hamady: The midterm elections are next Tuesday, 11/08. No, let me let me repeat that. November 8th, I actually already filled out my ballot because I’m booked and busy and want to make sure my vote gets counted. It’s the least I could do. It’s literally the bare minimum of what you can do to positively change this country. And in the immortal words of Whitney Houston, I believe the children are the future like I actually do. And for how loud we are on social media, we are embarrassingly silent. Like, I’m looking at you, my little white liberal boys in the Silver Lake Los Feliz border. I’m looking at you, barista boy. You can talk that talk about being a liberal and progressive. But it’s one thing to talk it. It’s one thing to do it. Do you know that 40% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 say they’ll definitely vote in the midterm? And that’s amazing. Live, laughing, and loving that. But that’s less than half of the eligible voters from our generation. And according to the early voter numbers coming in, the future is looking a bit fucking bleak. Voters aged 30 and younger account for just 5.4% of ballots cast so far. You guys. That’s a low number. Procrastination is just not the moment. It’s not the vibe. It’s not. Let me tell you what’s at stake. Let me let me walk you through this so you actually at least try to give a shit. The Democrats have control over the House of Representatives. If Republicans take the majority in 2022, they might just might be able to successfully steal the election in 2024 if they don’t like the results. And the Senate legislation keeps dying because not enough congresspeople want it. Electing one or two more Democratic senators would help us make more progress in our legislative initiatives. Imagine not having to rely on Manchin and Sinema for anything. Some governor spots are open for grabs. I’m looking at Miss Stacey Abrams. We need her or Mr. Beto in Texas. We need him. The first thing a new Republican governor might do is make it harder to vote in places where President Biden had some of his narrowest margins of victory in 2020. Plus, your local elections matter, too. Your city council members. Yeah, that traffic light. It’s not working. We have a say in that. You have a voice. You don’t have to be Nancy Pelosi to make change happen. You don’t. And voting is a step in a set of actions that we can do to take to help our nation slowly get better. Another part of that set of actions going on the ground and organizing and advocating for movements you feel passionate about. And so in this episode, we talked to people who believe it too. They’re normal people, just like you and me, who became organizers and politicians making real impact on everyday lives. Honestly, I’ll say it they’re doing more work than some of our leaders of this country in the Democratic Party, too. We talk to them about why they want to get out and vote so they continue fighting for their causes. [music break] Tiffany Dena Loftin knew college was going to be expensive, but when she got to UC Santa Cruz, she wasn’t prepared for just how expensive. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: They decided to increase our tuition my first year of college, my first semester, 38%. 


Yasmine Hamady: No. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: I got the pell grant. But that still didn’t cover enough of the increase that was happening. So I had to take out more loans and my mom couldn’t pay for a laptop and I wasn’t going back and forth to the computer lab every day. I was like, I have student loan debt. And also, wait a minute, why has tuition gone up 130% in 20 years? Why in the hell are we paying for education in the first place? 


Caroline Reston: Yeah. 


Yasmine Hamady: Mmm. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: Why are these young folks graduating with thousands upon thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of student of debt? 


Yasmine Hamady: Um. Good question Tiff. College is literally so expensive. I have so many friends who are stressed out about paying school loans for the rest of their lives. And I’m asking these questions too. Tiffany wanted to fight for the answers she wanted, and she has been. She most recently served as the National Director of Youth and College Division at the NAACP. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: I have a huge, extensive background in organizing for labor unions and the education space. 


Yasmine Hamady: She works with a debt collective, a debtors union fighting to cancel, well, debts. Gen Z cares so much about this. Like if you’re going to raise us into thinking that college is going to be the only thing that you can do to be successful, maybe don’t make it impossible for most people to pay for that access. So since then, Tiffany has been organizing around labor and education, helping to achieve things like Biden’s student loan forgiveness announcement in August. Besides that, she’s been looking at how the government impacts her organizing efforts. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: I run a coalition with the debt collective, shout out to the debt collective. 


Yasmine Hamady: Wooo. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: Of a bunch of youth and people of color organizations that are politicizing the student debt issue. We’re actually running the track records of all the candidates. How have you talked about student loan debt? Most people might not know this. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: But there are 22 governors who wrote a letter to Joe Biden right after he made the announcement that student debt was going to get cancelled uh or a piece of it, rather. Telling him not to do it. 22 governors. 


Yasmine Hamady: Wow. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: 16 of those governors are up for election this year. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: So I’m like, woo, I live in Florida and you don’t even know that your Governor told Joe Biden not to cancel student loan debt anymore. 


Yasmine Hamady: If we don’t get those people out of power, then cancelling student loan debt will be nearly impossible. Quite literally, nearly impossible. And people will continue wondering whether they’ll be paying off their student loans until their great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren go to college. That’s if the climate doesn’t end them first. If we vote wisely, we can slowly chip away and make systematic change. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: If we can politicize more the issue of student debt through the midterms, my hope is the same way that I was talking about in 2000 and um 7 and 2011 when I said that I didn’t believe that cancelation could actually happen. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: My hope now is in the next ten years. What do we not believe now that we could move the next ten years? And between now the midterm, we’re going to cancel student debt. Between the midterm and the presidential 2024. We’re going to tell people that education could be free. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: We’re going to keep critical race theory. We’re going to do all of those things. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yep, yep. Clearly, Tiffany’s got big plans, and she’s just a regular person who cares. And anyone, even you can be that. Take inspiration from more regular people who care. We talked to four grassroot organizers about the causes they’re fighting for, how they’re impacted by the midterms, and what we can do to make changes beyond voting on November 8th. [music break]


Lauren Rankin: The ramifications of what could happen and what may come out of the midterms could quite literally and this is not hyperbole could decide what happens to abortion in your state. 


Yasmine Hamady: That’s Lauren Rankin, a writer and a reproductive health and rights expert. She used to be an abortion clinic escort. In fact, she wrote a book called Bodies on the Line: at the Frontlines of the Fight to Protect Abortion in America. Her experiences outside of clinics really sounded like a battle. 


Lauren Rankin: The most common experience I saw for folks walking in was terror and confusion at grown men holding a bullhorn and literally screaming at them. You’ll still be the mother or just the mother of a dead baby. 


Yasmine Hamady: Wow. 


Lauren Rankin: You’re going to rot in hell. Um. They’re going to rip your baby limb from limb. You’re going to die in that butcher shop. Things that you just don’t expect to hear, period. But from a random stranger, while you’re going into a health care facility and coming out, you could see on their faces the relief that it was over and um that they didn’t have to go through that again. And I don’t even mean the abortion. I mean facing those people. 


Yasmine Hamady: And that is frankly fucking terrifying to hear. The rights to your own body are on the line. The I can’t wrap my mind around that. This isn’t just a person with a uterus’s issue. This is an everyone issue. At the bare minimum, we should let people get their doctor appointments in peace without a bunch of rude virgins with misspelled signs berating you. Obviously, abortion has always been a massively politicized issue, even though it shouldn’t be. Especially with the overturning of Roe and the ensuing strict abortion bans happening across the country. People are losing health care access before our eyes. It is happening very fast. The midterms are going to directly impact the future of reproductive rights for all people. 


Lauren Rankin: If you’re asking someone, do you believe in abortion? You’re asking them something very different, then do you believe it should be legal? And the vast majority of people in this country believe. Yes. If you believe that there is no other option in this midterm election except to vote for the Democratic Party, and I’m not even saying that as someone who’s like, rah, rah, vote blue, whatever. I’m saying– 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Lauren Rankin: That there is a very clear dividing line at this point. 


Yasmine Hamady: But Laura knows that this fight goes way beyond the midterms. 


Lauren Rankin: Abortion is about so much more than who you vote for. It’s a community issue. And the people who I was walking into the clinic, I don’t know who they voted for. I don’t know what they believed. I don’t know what sports team they liked. I don’t know what their favorite color is. None of that mattered. And they’re not trying to make a political statement by having an abortion. They’re just trying to get health care. 


Yasmine Hamady: So these are activists on the ground, clearly disheartened by the political establishment. But activists can turn into politicians too. Think of AOC and Ilhan Omar. It’s important to elect officials who know what’s going on, on the ground because they’ll know how to fight for their communities when they have the political access. That’s who I trust, because I know they’re in it for the right reasons and the long haul, not for just, like, weird cringey political clout. 


Chi Ossé: The best government is a government that works for those that are on the outside. 


Yasmine Hamady: That’s Chi Ossé, a council member from New York City’s 36th District representing Bed-Stuy and North Crown Heights in Brooklyn. We went to college together, actually, and he’s exactly the kind of guy you want in office. 


Chi Ossé: I think when we have elected officials in office that understand the urgency um that activists have and also um are open to to, you know, opening their doors and allowing activists in the room to help them with legislation and budgets. 


Yasmine Hamady: His activist and politician journey began during 2020. At that point, he was a party promoter doing some modeling for friends and writing songs in the city. A Brooklyn Dream Come True. Bushwick is shaking in its boots. And then the police murdered George Floyd. 


Chi Ossé: I decided to leave my quarantine to go protest. And um I was seeing police brutality uh at that protest that I went to. At a protest I was there to protest against police brutality, which was– 


Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 


Chi Ossé: –completely ironic. Um. But it also gave me this passion to continue going out every single day. Um. And I was organizing with people that were on the ground um and started uh putting together some of the largest protests that happened in New York City at the time. And a lot of our attention was being honed in to uh our city government in terms of how uh our city council had the power to vote on a budget um that affects how the NYPD operates. They present laws that could uh reform the NYPD. And I saw that my council member wasn’t doing what I was chanting and demanding in the streets. So I took the leap of faith and decided to run myself. 


Yasmine Hamady: Truly a leap of faith. He’s literally our age. 


Chi Ossé: I’m the first Gen Z elected official in New York City. Very proud of that. 


Yasmine Hamady: Now elected, he approaches politics with his activism being the foundation of his values. 


Chi Ossé: There is a lot that I had to learn that that went beyond what I initially set out to do when I was marching and chanting on the streets. But the core message has always been clear. And, um you know, I think many people interpret Black Lives Matter in many different ways, shapes or forms. But I try to look at it uh through my own work as an elected official in a community that, you know, has a sizable Black and Brown population. And I try to bring that that message um to the work that I do every single day. 


Yasmine Hamady: And that that gives me so much hope for the future of our government. He knows the midterm stakes from every angle as an activist fighting for a more just world, as a politician looking out for his constituents. As a member of Gen Z and he knows that our generation needs to show up more. 


Chi Ossé: You know, I think only 36% of Gen Z eligible voters show up to vote in these elections. And um if we really uh go out and show the right that we’re here, um I think that we could protect our democracy and even protect abortion rights, nonetheless, LGBTQIA rights that um are– 


Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 


Chi Ossé: –On the line. 


Yasmine Hamady: It’s so annoying. I hear people my age bitching and moaning about the system but doing nothing about it. Like if you don’t vote and take the basic thing that you can do to change our democracy and change our world, you don’t get a right to complain. I’m sorry. You don’t like what the fuck? Please care. The more people vote, the more people’s voices are heard and the more the people’s collective voices become impossible to ignore. We are strength in numbers. I can’t say it enough. [music break]


Nithya Raman: You’re expanding the number of people who are going to be holding elected representatives accountable. That’s what’s going to make the change in L.A., you know. 


Yasmine Hamady: And that’s Nithya Raman, an L.A. city councilmember for District four, representing neighborhoods from Silverlake to Encino. Not my district, exactly, but a couple of boys on my roster live there, and I definitely care about them, sometimes. And she began as an organizer working to fight homelessness. 


Nithya Raman: In my neighborhood. I saw that there was a lot more tents than there were a couple of years prior, and I didn’t see a lot of city officials really going out there and doing something about it, you know, learning about the issues, really making sure that the city was solving the problem. 


Yasmine Hamady: She co-founded the Selah Neighborhood Homeless Coalition to Combat the housing crisis. 


Nithya Raman: When we opened up volunteer opportunities for people to help on the issue of homelessness, hundreds of people came out to volunteer like we couldn’t– 


Yasmine Hamady: Yup. 


Nithya Raman: –Keep enough volunteer slots every week for all of the people who wanted to sign up. And that’s when I realized people’s anger around homelessness. Frustration around homelessness really comes from a feeling of helplessness and their inability to do something about it. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yes. 


Nithya Raman: And I was like, Well, if we had elected representatives who were like, Here’s what we need to be doing, here’s what your role is in that solution, and here’s how we move forward towards it and really articulating that vision clearly that we could have a city that wasn’t being broken apart by homelessness, but really united in fixing it and working toward towards a common goal. And that’s really what pushed me to think about running for office. 


Yasmine Hamady: She knows that being involved in your community and fighting for it’s cause is the first step. She’s real for that. But for now, after working in politics, she knows that voting truly does make change too. 


Nithya Raman: I think we forget how much power we have. 


Yasmine Hamady: Mm hmm. 


Nithya Raman: And we forget how much we’ve changed the country’s response on major issues. We have had real impact on what they’ve done. 


Yasmine Hamady: Yeah. 


Nithya Raman: And I think we should take credit for it. And I think that’s why we need to be thinking about our participation in midterms as really, really important, because when we speak, it is to me it’s clear that they hear us. Um, not enough, not fast enough, you know, not at the, at the scale that we want. But they do hear us and we have made change. And I think we need to be more cognizant of how much power we have. [music break]


Yasmine Hamady: We have a voice, you guys. And there are so many ways to exercise that voice, obviously, through voting and through doing work in our communities. The organizers we spoke to have so much advice for Gen Z who want to take action beyond the ballot. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: This is actually the season where you all can take the most amount of risk, period. You should be afraid of nothing. You should be worried about nothing. You should be concerned of nothing. You should have no anxiety about what’s going to happen. Um. You should just do. You should just fight. You should just organize. You should just dream. 


Lauren Rankin: Go out in your community, find that group, and then pick something that you’re really passionate about and just take leadership. And people are looking for that leadership and guidance. And I think if you present yourself sincerely, people will will accept you and and make space for you in their lives. 


Chi Ossé: Whether it’s joining your block association, your community board, helping a neighbor bring their groceries up their steps and chatting with their neighbor about, you know, this upcoming election. Volunteering for a local elected official in your city council, township, district, whatever. That’s how you create some of the most um tangible change that you can see on the day to day level. And I think building that that sense of community is how we can build um collective power that reaches to the top. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: Imagine being in a box that’s pitch black, and your dream is to figure out how to get out of the box. Instead of imagining, trying to get out of the box. Imagine what’s on the outside of the box already. 


Yasmine Hamady: Uh. 


Tiffany Dena Loftin: That when you break out of that box, right, you’ll be able to flourish in this world of freedom and have this dream of how things should actually be. 


Yasmine Hamady: So let’s break out of these boxes. Vote on November 8th. But since voting isn’t everything and there’s so much more you can do on the ground, go into your community because that’s where real change happens. Go to VoteSaveAmerica.com for all the voter info you need. I’m sending you so much love and there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Well, that’s our show. Whether you love us or hate us, you’re still fucking here. So thank you, everyone, for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review. We’ll see you next week. [kiss sounds] 


Josie Totah: Dare We Say is a Crooked Media production. 


Yasmine Hamady: Caroline Reston is our showrunner, producer and mommy. And Ari Schwartz is our producer and show daddy, Fiona Pestana is our associate producer and Sandy Girard is the almighty executive producer. 


Josie Totah: It’s hosted and produced by me, Josie Totah. 


Yasmine Hamady: And me Yasmine Hamady. 


Alycia Pascual-Peña: And me, Alycia Pascual-Peña. Our engineer and editor is Jordan Cantor. And Brian Vasquez is our theme music composer. Our video producers are Matt DeGroot, Narineh Melkonian, and Delon Villanueva and Mia Kellman. 


Josie Totah: Lastly, thank you to Jordan Silver, Gabriela Leverette, Jesse McLean, Caroline Heywood, Shaina Hortsmann, Deisi Cruz, Danielle Jensen, and Ewa Okulate for marketing the show and making us look so damn good.