DeRay, De’Ara, Kaya, and Sam dive into recent overlooked news including food insecurity, voting rights for ex-felons, election polling, and pandemic learning pods. Johnetta Elzie joins again to update us about developments around the current protests. Then, DeRay sits down with Sarah Iannarone, who is running for mayor in Portland, to discuss the police-state response in that city.
DeRay [00:00:01] Hey, this is DeRay, and welcme to Pod Save The People. On this episode, it’s me, Kaya, De’Ara and Sam, as usual, talking about the news of the week that you might not know about. So we talk about food insecurity, voting rights. Then I’m joined by Sarah Iannarone, who is running to be the next mayor of Portland. And we talk about all that’s happening in Portland and what can be done. So my advice this week is that we ought to know what triggers us. We know the things that we see in the news that we see online or that when people say it, it just takes us to a different place. I’ve started to be much more aware of those in my own life, and because I’m owning that, they do something to me. I’m able to just plan, so the other day something happen and normally would put me in a tizzy. But I was like, you know what? I get it. I am going to be worked out for a second and then I’m just gonna move on. And I haven’t always been able to do that.
DeRay [00:00:49] And I’m telling you, therapy works. Therapy saves lives. My therapist is amazing. You know, we have to make sure that therapy is more accessible to more people.
DeRay [00:00:58] Let’s go.
De’Ara [00:00:59] Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I’m De’Ara Ballenger @dearaballenger on Instagram and Twitter.
Sam [00:01:08] And I’m Sam Sinyangwe @samsway on Twitter.
Kaya [00:01:10] I’m Kaya Henderson @endersonkaya on Twitter.
DeRay [00:01:13] And this is DeRay @deray on Twitter.
De’Ara [00:01:16] We wanted to kick off today with just talking a little bit about some things that aren’t necessarily top of mind given, you know, the world being on fire. All the things that’s been happening obviously around Covid, all around the uprisings, anticipating what’s going to happen in this election. But just kind of taking a step back and considering what some other impacts of Covid will be, particularly on cultural institutions, on businesses. Obviously, one of the things that DeRay brought to us was there’s an NPR article that says a third of museums may close for good. And so I’m just thinking about the impact that that has on cities, on students, on artists is just something interesting to think about.
DeRay [00:02:01] You think about all the panels we went to, all of you think about all the like, forget the movie theaters, which is like an obvious one.
DeRay [00:02:08] But all those, like crammed in spaces, we would be in. Will they ever return?
Kaya [00:02:13] Conferences.
DeRay [00:02:13] Yeah. Like and you know, there was a lot of stuff that happened at those con. There were a lot of relationships that got formed, those conferences, information sharing. You know, Zoom can do a lot I dont know if Zoom’s replacing all that stuff.
Kaya [00:02:24] Zoom cannot do what people did at conferences because half of the the conference, the real deal at the conference happened not on the panel, but in the conversations that were happening off panel. Right. Like off topic that.
De’Ara [00:02:38] That’s actually my favorite thing to do at a conference is the non conference-in which it basically is hanging out. But just thinking about the convention, like, you know, like typically at a Democratic convention, you know, I didn’t go to the stuff, I was doing all the hanging out, the wheeling and dealing at the happy hours, etc..
De’Ara [00:02:57] So, yeah, I mean, I think it’s like the human condition to sort of just get used to what your routine has become. But, yeah, just like remembering like what it’s like to be around crowds of people, what it’s like to feel the energy and that inspiration, particularly from like minded folks in those environments.
DeRay [00:03:13] The reason that I think this is interesting for us to start with is the question of who benefits from this, like who will be harmed by this, like the lack of meeting spaces, the lack of like a flattened ability to meet new people and like who will benefit? And it seems like in some ways, people who already have access, people who already have influence, they’ll just maintain it. And then people who are trying to make new relationships, people who are like trying to build influence and sort of bill power, it will be even harder to do or to be perverse incentives to go viral on the Internet, because that is like the new meeting place are like the only meeting place. So I don’t know, I just, that was on my mind.
Sam [00:03:51] Yeah. And just like the skill sets that you would need to sort of build community digitally are a different set of skill sets than you would need to do it in sort of physical locations. And so what does that do if you don’t have a social media platform, if you don’t want to use or you haven’t use social media or if you like, don’t want to do all these virtual meetings and, you know, be on all the virtual meetings, you would actually meet people in person and build in like how many people are being excluded because the process by which we’re building now is just different than it has been.
Kaya [00:04:21] I mean, I think the whole social fabric is up for grabs, right? If you’re not meeting people, not just at conferences, in church. I actually think there are a lot of people who will not go back to church regularly because, in fact, it’s much more efficient to do church on Zoom or on Facebook Watch or what have you. And there are a lot of churches that aren’t actually seeing financial fallout. Their faithful are still contributing. I actually wonder whether you’ll take the four hours or so that some of us spent on any given Sunday or whether you’ll, you know, do it in the hour while you’re at home washing your dishes and doing your laundry. I think church is
Kaya [00:04:59] Going to be tremendously changed after this.
De’Ara [00:05:02] So there’ll be a lot more folks like me at Bedside Baptist.
Kaya [00:05:07] Bedside Baptists. But if you don’t go to museums and you don’t go to movie theaters and you don’t go to concerts anymore, and there isn’t Shakespeare in the park or free city concerts, how do our young people, for example, who might not otherwise be exposed to culture, where do they get culture? My news is more school news. This opinion piece out of the Chicago Tribune by a guy named John McLaughlin is a commentary called “Micro Schools and Learning Pods: A Pandemic Solution for Teachers and Students.” And I chose this piece because the idea that this author is supporting is this idea that instead of what we currently do, which is send millions of kids into a place to meet a handful of teachers, that in fact, you could flip the script and have kids staying in place and have teachers moving around as a creative idea to address what pandemic-schooling might look like in the coming year. He talks about micro-schooling, where you move the teachers to serve the students, and he talks about using community centers and meeting rooms and apartment buildings, libraries, rec center, Sunday school facilities, parks where teachers would actually travel with assigned hours at different locations to be able to see different young people. And that does a couple of things. One, it means that young people can meet in smaller groups. In fact, the teachers are available, the content and the curriculum is available. And kids can just go to school. They just need to go in smaller groups. But in fact, this way you can meet more of the kid’s individual needs if you have a teacher who is kind of moving around. So imagine that Miss Ballenger is at the Shady Pines community room, you know, on Mondays from eight to ten. And then she’s at a rec center on Tuesdays from three to five. And she gets to have individual meetings with her students and check in on them and provide them with the help that they need. They also, of course, will be schooling virtually, but it provides the sort of in-person high touch and completely personalized environment that many of our young people need. And part of, I think the reason why Mr. McLaughlin is even suggesting this is because there’s a lot of conversation about what are called “pandemic pods.” So groups of families are organizing their kids into smaller groups of students so they can learn together under the one parent who is good at home schooling or a couple of parents who are rotating responsibilities or a hired teacher. In fact, a lot of families are actually hiring teachers. There have been in the last few months a couple of services that have popped up. They will find you a teacher who’s willing to work one on one or in a small group with your kid for the price of a teacher salary. And there are families, wealthy families, who can afford that. And one of the big questions, I think that is happening as parents, rightly so, try to figure out what to do with their kids. Right. Because I think we all agree that this spring folks did the best they could. But what happened this spring with distance learning was not an ideal situation for our young people. And so as parents scramble to figure out, you know, how to keep their kids safe and how to keep their kids socially engaged and learning. There are lots of people who are trying to figure it out for themselves. But what people are worried about is gaps widening between the haves and the have nots. What do you do with kids with disabilities? Are they invited into these pods? How do you make sure that you reach kids who have behavioral issues or do they just get put out at a pod? How do you manage all of these self organizing groups? And what Mr. McLaughlin is sort of suggesting is that school districts actually could figure out ways to do their own pandemic pods and micro schools. And I think the big question for us is, can school districts actually be flexible enough to accommodate some new ways of learning, new ways of implementing education for kids? Because, you know, the previous way just can’t work under these circumstances. And I think right now, with this first wave of the pandemic, everybody just wants to get as back to normal as possible. And there is no back to normal. And so I think what you’re beginning to see is people being innovative and being inventive around what some other educational options might be. And the question is, you know, can districts actually devolve some of the power, some of the control, to allow parents, individual schools, families to do something different. 90 percent of kids in the United States go to public schools. Once we realize that we can’t just go back to normal, only then will we start to innovate and start to figure out what some new school models might look like. While some of these examples are fraught with all kinds of issues of inequity and logistical management and all kinds of things, I think that we’re going to see more and more alternative, I guess I would call them arrangements, to ensure that kids get educated.
De’Ara [00:10:35] I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this. This is fascinating. I went to you know, I grew up in D.C. Woo! Woo!
De’Ara [00:10:41] Your second home and went to private school. And I wasn’t necessarily part of the socio economic class that was predominant at that private school. And so I was thinking I was like, you know, if this was happening, then, you know, I’m sure a lot of those parents that could afford to do so would figure it out, would actually hire the teachers from our school and do whatever they needed to do logistically to make sure that their kids were not falling behind and getting the education that they need.
De’Ara [00:11:12] So I think continue to talk about education in Covid and what things are going to happen or not happen. And I just feel like it is these types of innovations and these types of like good solutions that aren’t necessarily on the table. It just seems like there’s more of the let’s figure out how, given what we have our current system, like, how do we just implement these CDC guidelines without really thinking about kind of new ways to innovate around Covid and new ways to think about actually like is this an opportunity to make education better, to reimagine it, to reimagine how we get smaller classrooms, etc. It’s just, again, still a little scary, frustrating to see that this idea seems more of an anomaly or more on the sidelines than it is actually a part of, like mainstream conversation about a potential solution.
Sam [00:12:06] You know, this is fascinating to me as well. And trying to figure out as we think about pods or sort of smaller learning communities. How, on the resource side of things, do you equip teachers or hire enough teachers? Like how do you on the teaching side of things manage this? Because, I mean, we’ve had these conversations about classroom size and look for a long time and there are limited resources. And so, you know, you have really large classrooms because you only have so many teachers. You only have so many resources. And like, how do you break that down even further into much smaller communities that still get the learning and the attention and the focus that they need and like the individualized education that they need? Like, how do you scale that model, given the existing resources and in many places resources are even being cut because of Covid. It’s like how do you manage logistically building up the capacity to actually implement the model? It’s something I have questions about.
DeRay [00:12:58] I think I think the pod thing could be really fascinating. I think that the individualized education you think about I think about the number of students I taught who needed some sort of support after class. Like, we just see whether it was, you know, five minutes gone over the equation or 20 minutes sort of redoing division, whatever it was. And If there are going to be so many teachers who have capacity, you know, I know a ton of teachers who are like ready to be back, like they want to be back in the learning environment, even if the learning environment is virtual. And it just will not be in most schools, it won’t be a full school day. Like, no matter how virtually we figure this out, it won’t it just won’t be the same number of hours. And I think that there are so many teachers who understand that this is they think they want to do not only the right thing, but they are willing to do above and beyond. Now, the question becomes like, how do we create access for kids and parents who wouldn’t even know to, like, hire a teacher? You know, like I think about, Kaya, you said that and I think I’ve ever known. I’m like, you’re right. I guess somebody can hire a teacher, and I look it up and it’s like people are paying one hundred dollars an hour. That’s wild. Right. So, like, I think that is something that’s on my mind. The second is like, will there be a district that can innovate that can actually, pull, you know, districts are not very good at, like, you know, nimble. And part of that the lack of nimbleness in the districts is like they are so big and they are always planning for every student. And that is the right way to do it. It is just a hard thing to actually do. So most people think about planning. They are not thinking about the population of students with disabilities. You know, I think about when I ran Human Capital every time when we started school, we had to get a map from facilities of every school with a working elevator because there were all these teachers who had to be in a place with an elevator. And there were all these students, so you know, so was like the way we planned was just so much deeper than anybody ever saw on the outside. If school systems can’t do it, will there be a consulting group that like does it pro bono? Like, how will we like. I go back to what you said, Kaya, that like if this was actually a commitment, we would marshal all the resources of government to figure it out. We would have the planning department, Recs and Parks, facilities, like trying to make this work. And what you find is that education is left on an island to figure this out alone. And that’s not fair.
Kaya [00:15:18] I mean, I’ll say one, I think there is a huge opportunity to redeploy staff in new and creative ways. You know, one district, I think I might have mentioned this before, where the best fifth grade teacher is doing all of the virtual instruction is teaching all of the courses. And then the other fifth grade teachers are actually following up with small groups of young people. Right. And so you could get to some different redeployments if we think about school differently. But I do think that what is unfortunately most likely to happen is the wealthier families will pull their kids out of school. That’s actually going to exacerbate a school funding issue. Right. Because when your enrollment drops, then your school budget drops. And so we’re already facing all kinds of cuts as a result of the pandemic unless there’s significant funding for school in the next stimulus. And so the kids who are going who probably would benefit the most from these smaller pods and this more individualized and creative instruction are going to be the ones who are most likely to be affected negatively, because as is always the case, wealthy people have options. They will pull their kids out there. I mean, it’s actually not a lot to hire a teacher. The average U.S. teacher’s salary is sixty thousand dollars a year. So you could imagine that’s 5000 dollars a month. So if you had, you know, five families who could each pay a thousand dollars a month or 10 families who could pay five hundred dollars a month, they can hire their own teacher for their 10 kids. There are now services that are hiring teachers. And for teachers, it’s great to I don’t have to deal with a whole bunch of people. I can get paid my same salary and just deal with 10 kids for a year. And so I think we’re going to see a complete and total disruption in education delivery over the next little while.
Sam [00:17:17] My news is about Florida, where just over a week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to intervene to block a ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that actually put on hold an effort that would have allowed people with felony convictions who owe fines and fees to start registering and begin to be able to participate in voting in the state following the passage of Amendment Four in 2018 and the subsequent effort by the state legislature in Florida to pass a law that was essentially a poll tax that would have blocked folks who owe outstanding fines and fees and court costs from being able to vote. So this is a continuing saga. So just a couple of weeks ago, the federal district court ruled that because the system of actually figuring out how much you owe and fines and fees, there’s no statewide database that has that.
Sam [00:18:15] That information is held by the clerks of the courts at the county level all across Florida. So if you owe fines and fees in one county and in another county, the one county won’t know what’s owed and the other county and vice versa. So essentially, the state can’t tell you how much you actually owe. So therefore, couldn’t really figure out whether in every case, whether somebody could or couldn’t vote as a consequence of that law.
Sam [00:18:37] And so the district court said, because the system is so haphazard, it is not designed in a way that is clear.
Sam [00:18:43] And because so many people who owe fines and fees simply do not have the ability to pay them. That that law that was passed by the Republican legislature, there was an injunction that permanently put that law on hold, therefore allowing folks to vote, then the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in, which was a bunch of Trump appointees, and basically blocked that injunction from going into effect, which meant that the existing law still stands until a further ruling, which is scheduled to happen on August 18th, which is already the date of the primary election in Florida and very close to the November election.
Sam [00:19:21] So this is not still not resolved. The Supreme Court did not decide to step in and block the 11th Circuit from continuing to put folks voting rights on hold. And so what that means right now in Florida is about the one point four million people whose voting rights were restored by Amendment Four, about half of those folks are now currently in limbo because they owe some type of fines and fees, but probably don’t know how much exactly, because the system is not built in a way that could easily tell you. So it’s just a complete mess. We’re talking about about 700000 people in the state who should be eligible to vote but are currently seeing their.
Sam [00:19:59] Rights deferred and denied until a subsequent decision, which might even happen after the election.
DeRay [00:20:05] So I just want to chime in with, like the landscape.
DeRay [00:20:07] There are eleven states where someone who has been convicted of a felony either lose their voting rights indefinitely for a set of crimes or it requires a governor’s pardon in order for the voting rights to be restored or they face an additional waiting period after the completion of a sentence like parole and probation or require additional action that the person must take before voting rights can be restored. So these are the most restrictive eleven states. They are Alabama, Arizona, Delaware. Sam already talked about Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. You probably remember in Virginia, there been some governors who have done executive orders, but the law is actually still bad. Remember that in the United States, there are only two states where someone who’s been convicted of a felony never loses their right to vote even while they’re incarcerated. And those two states are Maine and Vermont.
De’Ara [00:21:01] This is infuriating. I don’t even know what to do, Sam. At this point, it’s like I know that I know there are all these campaigns to to actually pay the fees. But given we don’t know what the fees are and how much they are like, that campaign is like sabotaged. And I also just feel like the larger picture of this is that we do not have an impartial judiciary. Our democracy is literally like in the balance. And we keep seeing it repeatedly with cases like this where it’s actual, like citizens denied very basic rights, having worked at the U.S. State Department and going to other countries and us just holding ourselves as like the best country in the world. And we should be so proud. But we are, in a sense, a developing nation. We’re a nation that doesn’t have an independent judiciary, which if you actually look at what that means and understands what that means. That means this is a very dangerous place to live.
Kaya [00:21:58] This made me think two things. The first one was rap RGB up in Saran Wrap and make sure that nothing happens there at all because literally, like, she is the linchpin between us and set in chaos. And then my second thought was just thinking about how important voter suppression has been to the disenfranchisement of Black people connected with the origins of the prison industrial complex. Right. These two things go hand in hand. And in 2020, even in the most obvious, egregious ways, the system, whatever the system is, works to continue to ensure that prison works against us and that it not only works against us, all of our general liberties, but it perhaps steals the most important right that we have. And that is the right to vote. And it keeps showing up in new ways. Talk about innovation. I mean, these people have cornered the market on innovating ways to keep us away from the polls.
Sam [00:23:08] Just to your point, De’Ara, there is an effort to get folks to donate to help pay off the fines and fees. WeGotTheVote.org is where you can go if you want to donate to that campaign led by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. You know, just to be clear now, this is a huge, huge, huge issue affects so many people, hundreds of thousands of people at the same time, you know, this is not cause to despair or to sort of throw our hands up and say there’s nothing that we can do. We can pay off those fines and fees. There are folks continuing to organize in Florida and canvas and phone bank to make sure folks who are eligible, who don’t owe fines and fees, know that they’re eligible and that they can vote. Again, we’re talking about anywhere from five hundred seven hundred thousand people who are eligible right now who don’t owe fines and fees, who are in the state in a state that I mean, the elections in Florida are decided by 100000 votes, usually at a statewide level. So there’s still a lot of work to be done. And, you know, this case is still being decided. There’s a hearing that’s scheduled on August 18th.
Sam [00:24:13] So I’m hopeful that this will ultimately be decided in favor of expanding voting rights. And ultimately, like what we’re talking about is repealing a Jim Crow law that was passed in 1868. This shouldn’t be controversial. It shouldn’t be something that is a partisan issue. This is about basic voting rights. This is about repealing one of the worst laws that has ever been passed with regard to voting rights in our history. And so, you know, this has to be something that we continue to pay attention to organize around and ultimately get folks voting rights restored.
De’Ara [00:24:45] Thanks, Sam, for turning my anger into action. I appreciate that.
De’Ara [00:24:50] My news is actually from The Wall Street Journal, which talked about some new polling data. Well, it kind of averages out all the polling data from all the U.S. polls around the election. And the thing to understand about polling is, I mean, as someone that worked on the 2016 campaigns, I don’t trust it ever.
De’Ara [00:25:07] However, for the point of conversation, the closer you get to the election, particularly the 100 day mark, the more accurate the polling is supposed to be in terms of predicting who’s going to win the popular vote. Now, in the case of Hillary Clinton, didn’t matter that she won the popular vote because she didn’t win in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
De’Ara [00:25:27] So anyhow, so this this article was I mean, it’s good in terms of it’s very positive for Biden.
De’Ara [00:25:33] So up until now, like Biden and Trump have been like really, really, really close, like just a few points either ahead or behind each other. But the national average is now showing that Biden is up like almost eight points, which is a lot and it’s a lot given that we’re 100 days out from the election. And so and also, just keep in your mind, like Hillary actually like she wasn’t even up this much at this point and we had just come off of the national convention.
De’Ara [00:26:00] Remember those years ago when we had this huge convention? It was on TV. It was many days. It was like it felt like a movement, felt like a very positive direction given where we are.
De’Ara [00:26:11] Now, the convention isn’t gonna be until, I think the 17th of August. All in all, like Biden is in a really good place. Again, everything with a grain of salt because these polls be wrong.
De’Ara [00:26:22] However, I think let’s do some other things I wanted to take from it. So this is important.
De’Ara [00:26:31] So Biden leads right now in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. And that’s important because Biden is leading 352 electoral votes to Trump’s 186.
De’Ara [00:26:42] That’s really good news. That’s really, really good news.
De’Ara [00:26:45] Now, my concern is, you know, there’s all this chatter and all this talk about Biden appointing a Black woman vice president. So what I don’t want them to do them be in the Biden campaign is to pick this Black woman. And then there’s a drop in these numbers and all of a sudden it’s the sister’s fault. So I just want to throw that out, throw that out there, because I feel like that is what is going to be the case. I don’t necessarily know if there’s correlation between what the Biden campaign is doing and with these numbers. A lot of these numbers are based off of folks perception of which candidate would basically handle Corona the best. And so I think in the minds of a lot of Americans, that would be Joe Biden, obviously, because we are living in what happens when Trump when Trump handles Coronavirus.
De’Ara [00:27:36] So just lots of things to think about that I just wanted to bring to the pod because I feel like this election will really be here before we know it.
De’Ara [00:27:43] 100 days. It’s really close. This is when elections really get hot and heavy, when the campaigns usually turn it up. When if you’re working on a campaign, you’re working seven days a week, 16 hours a day. Obviously, that’s not the case given Covid, you know, campaigns are having to pivot and work differently. Everything’s virtual. The Biden campaign is still hiring folks like as we speak. So I just wanted to just bring this up and center this because I feel like we’re going to obviously start talking more and more about the elections and where where we can be helpful, but also where we need to have a little bit of perspective when it comes to things like polling, when it comes to things like talking about communities of color and potentially this Black woman V.P.. So you just wanted to bring it to the pod.
Sam [00:28:23] So this has been sort of interesting to see the poll numbers continue to sort of diverge with Biden. So it’s seemingly growing a bigger and bigger lead over time. And Trump sort of getting a little bit worse than his overall average, but his overall average was never at anywhere near 50 percent anyway, juxtaposing what’s happening in the polls with what’s sort of happening in so the public discourse where Biden has been like he’s doing speeches and, you know, he’s doing events and he just did something with Obama. But it really hasn’t been sort of at the level of salience or sort of hasn’t broken through in the way that I think Trump has continued to sort of break through and the news continues to be about him and how he’s mismanaging a whole range of different crises happening simultaneously, how Covid continues to be a problem and get worse in many places across the country, and how the U.S. continues to be an outlier. And like that’s the story that I think is driving. So much of this is just people are looking around and seeing that things are definitely not getting better. Even Republicans now, when you look at the polls, there’s been a huge shift recently where Republicans used to say that things are headed in the right direction, which is common under Republican administration. Usually people of your own party will say things are getting better or things are good, but now it’s sort of flipped dramatically whereby Republicans now agree with everyone else that things are going in the wrong direction. So that’s like the good news. I think that Trump will continue to be himself. And I think, sadly, that’s not good for us in the short term. I don’t think that voters will suddenly be convinced that he’s a competent leader. Now, after everything that we’ve seen over the past almost four years. But what does worry me is that when you disaggregate that polling data by race, the majority of or very close to the majority of white people in poll after poll continue to say that they support Trump. Despite everything that’s happened, despite all of these crises, it appears that, you know, this administration and they’re very explicit sort of racist appeals, white supremacist messaging and policies resonate with a large proportion of white people. And that is troubling and sad to see. On the other hand, there are particular demographics that are starting to break away. So white suburban White women in the polls are starting to break away more from Trump than they have in past elections for Republicans. So I think if trends continue going in this direction, it will be good for Biden. But I am not willing to say that this is done and done, especially after what we’ve seen in 2016 and especially given all of the voter suppression that that is not being accounted for in this model.
Sam [00:31:06] So if you’re polling folks who are registered voters and say that they’re likely to vote or are confident that they’re going to be voting, then they’re counted in that poll as support for Biden. But if they don’t end up showing up at the polls or if they show up and the line, is six hours long in Democratic counties and in Black communities. And if mail in ballots are systematically suppressed or not, people are not able to participate by mail.
Sam [00:31:30] That alters the numbers beyond what you’d see in the polls. And that is a very real possibility given what we’ve seen Republicans do in the past.
Kaya [00:31:39] De’Ara, to your point about not trust in these polls. I thought one of the most interesting pieces of this article was the reference to then Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988. He had the biggest 100 day deficit of any eventual winner. He was behind nearly 20 points in the poll. But what happened? Michael Dukakis made a series of missteps that could easily have been. And there was a huge hard-hitting ad campaign attacking the Democratic nominee. And so I think it just goes to show I mean, right now, Biden doesn’t even have that significant of a lead over over Trump in the way that Dukakis had over George H.W. and George H.W. eventually won. So you can’t trust these polls. All you can do is get your people out there to vote and make it happen. The one sort of good, I guess, silver lining of this potential cloud is I’m thankful that this Supreme Court just a few weeks ago voted to make sure that the Electoral College representatives have to vote whatever their popular vote surfaces. And before that was not happening. And so I do trust the popular vote a little bit more than I trust the Electoral College. Especially now that they have to march in line with what the voters on the ground want.
DeRay [00:33:10] That’s really interesting. You know, the only thing I add is, A, we can’t trust the polls because Lord knows Hillary was gonna win. And then we all, here we are. The other thing is 100 days is a long time. And Trump is gonna play this game to the wheels fall off. So when I think about Operation Diligent Valor, which you probably don’t even know that that’s what it’s called, where Trump is sending in the troops into Portland and Chicago, that is the name of it. It’s called Operation Diligent Valor. The Washington Post reported that an official said that he is doing this so that he can get viral content for the Internet, that he is sending in federal troops to get content from ads, right, and to like shift the public narrative. And, you know, I think that we can not count him out until the day after Election Day, and it’s clearly lost that if he would endanger people’s like if he will literally send federal troops across the country to tear gas and shoot people so he can get content for the Internet. This man will do anything with a whole media platform behind him, not only the ad platform, but Fox like we will have to make sure that we you know, in that poll, Sam, that you talked about with a big number of white people supporting Trump. It also was a shocking number ofBblack people read rid of come from that 10 percent, like, what are you what are you doing? Right, and like. I think that this is another thing about the poll, this is what we saw with Trump last time, he was so wild, so racist and so sexist that those people weren’t telling the pollsters the truth, right they were lying. They said they were voting for Hillary. They said they weren’t like he you know, and then all of a sudden he wins. And here we are. So so that’s the only thing I have to add there.
De’Ara [00:34:54] Please, please do not wait for somebody to have to convince you to vote in the right way. Like, you actually just have to depend on yourself and your community and activate your community to do so. This whole paradigm around us like having to be convinced that this candidate, that Biden is the right candidate for us. Like unfortunately, like that’s just not the world we’re living in. And also that this campaign does not have the apparatus to do that. So we’re waiting for that to happen. If you’re waiting for, you know, a red carpet to the pole, it ain’t happening.
DeRay [00:35:24] Vote for somebody you love. Right. Vote in the name of a community you care about because like this election is so much bigger than than just Biden that, like, we got a lot on the line. So my news is I’m gonna start with something that it just is fascinating to me and and then talk about hunger is you probably know the way we’re facing a coin shortage. This is one of the biggest coin shortages in American history that pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are at such a shortage across the country that the U.S. Mint is actually calling for people to start circulating coins again. And the reason this matters in terms of equity is that when there’s a currency deficit, retailers and restaurants are urging people to pay with cards. Right. And there are a lot of people who don’t who only have cash. A lot of people who don’t have cards or don’t have exact change for everything. So we might be pushed into a cashless economy. And so many you know, we covered 20 episodes ago the danger of a cashless economy for people who just don’t have access to cashless options. And I thought that was really interesting. But the other thing is one of the consequences of Covid is that this article is in CBS News. One in 10 Americans don’t have enough food, double the rate before the pandemic.
DeRay [00:36:35] But when we zoom into Black and Hispanic adults, they report that Black and Hispanic adults are experiencing the worst hardships, as you can imagine with this report finding that about one in five adults of color say that they have struggled to afford food, while almost one third in one quarter of Black and Hispanic adults are behind on their rent. You think about the long standing consequences of these things will happen.
DeRay [00:36:59] You think about like malnourishment. You think about the inability to sleep, to, like, function, like all those things that will happen because of hunger and that like what is the government’s response, right. That it can’t just be a stimulus check and we should actually be scaling up food relief programs. We should be scaling up food stamps like never before. We should be advertising food stamps on the news. Like if the government actually cared and was equipped in a moment like this, we would meet the need and we would walk into the need as opposed to making people come to us. So I heard people you know, somebody I was somewhere a couple days ago and somebody was like, did you know, hundreds of millions of people committed fraud with unemployment? And you’re like, okay. The most they got, even if they didn’t tell the whole truth, was not a lot. It just wasn’t. And that, like, people need and deserve it. So if we can spend more. You know, I think I saw a report and Kaya it was like Delta Airlines got more in the relief.
Kaya [00:38:02] Yes.
DeRay [00:38:02] Than the Education Department.
Kaya [00:38:04] Yeah.
DeRay [00:38:04] So I’m completely fine with people doing whatever they needed to do to get more money in this moment where the government is spending more money on private corporations than the people like you should be fudging the numbers a little bit. Like at all. You know, it is people have to do what they have to do to survive. And one in five, experiencing an inability to buy food is just untenable.
Sam [00:38:27] That is one of so many indicators now that just goes to show that our entire economy and society is really like hanging on by a thread. Right. Like, this is very, very tenuous and the whole thing can implode at by the crisis that is ongoing and by decisions made by the government.
Sam [00:38:48] So, for example, the extra six hundred dollars a week in unemployment benefits expired. Right. In the end, if you look at Republicans right now, they do not look like they are willing or interested at all in reauthorizing that program to make sure that folks who are unemployed, and now we’re talking about historic levels of unemployment, that folks have the basic resources they need to make ends meet up to put food on the table and all of that. You add in the housing crisis, the rent crisis and even the landlord crisis. So, you know, renters don’t have any money to pay rent. Landlords then don’t get any money to pay their bills. And like the whole system is tenuous right now. It is very, very, very fraught. And so thinking about the government should be, like you said, DeRay, stepping up to fill the need to actually make sure that folks have what they need in terms of basic needs, food, money, shelter. And instead of that, the government is shirking their responsibility.
Sam [00:39:48] Republicans don’t see mentioned at all in meeting that need. And if anything, what they are trying to do is police their way out of this. And, you know, if there is unrest, if. Folks are feeling like there is a huge crisis, that the government should be doing more.
Sam [00:40:03] They just send in the police or send in the federal troops.
Sam [00:40:06] It is escalating sort of day after day and the need is sort of getting worse and worse. And I hope that at some point we will see legislation to meet that need. But it has yet to happen. And I think the other part that is important to note is it’s not like they aren’t meeting anybody’s needs.
Sam [00:40:22] They are spending a whole lot of money, about five hundred billion dollars on giveaways to big corporations, another 600 plus billion dollars in giveaways to the PPP program, which 95 percent of all Black businesses were not eligible for, according to the most recent estimates. So, again, they spent a historic amount of money. The money has all gone to wealthy corporations and individuals, almost all of them White owned businesses and White people. And folks are still struggling outside of that.
Kaya [00:40:53] Sam, that is this is my outrage, right? Like, we have decided that businesses are more important than people from even you know, we can’t reopen schools because we are prioritizing bars and restaurants and gyms and tattoo parlor is being open to bailing out the airline industry or bailing out all these big corporations that actually are fine without the govt, they may not be fine, but they are alive. Right. And we are literally talking about life and death for regular people and everywhere else in the world.
Kaya [00:41:28] When you look at Covid response efforts, every place else in the world prioritizes human life first. And we prioritize business over and over and over again.
Kaya [00:41:39] Oh, and Congress is about to go out on recess, so they might not get to this.
De’Ara [00:41:45] I just paid taxes. We all just paid taxes.
Kaya [00:41:50] Hey, now say that.
De’Ara [00:41:51] Where is my money going? So I think part of this is like, what if our driving force was really figuring out an accounting for these tax dollars and really being serious about it?
De’Ara [00:42:02] Like as serious as the Republicans are with not paying taxes or saving money. How can we as the people like how can we have accountability on the government, like in terms of our tax dollars being spent in that way?
Sam [00:42:17] Yeah, and there’s no accounting. There’s no accountability. We’re just learning about all of these Trump linked businesses and firms that have gotten money through the PPP program. I think Tesla and like Elon Musk got some money from the government relief efforts.
DeRay [00:42:31] Kanye West.
Sam [00:42:31] Yeah. Kanye West got like why? Why is the money going to them like this, this is really this is redistribution from the poor back to the rich.
Sam [00:42:41] Right. Even more money for the rich. Exacerbating existing inequities. To a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. And again, it’s a tinderbox. And like you can’t say that they didn’t cause this.
DeRay [00:42:53] Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save The People’s comeing. The Michelle Obama podcast’s will debut exclusively on Spotify on July 29th. Her series will bring listeners inside the former First Lady’s most candid and personal conversation, showing us what’s possible when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to open up and a focus on what matters most.
Kaya [00:43:10] Joining the former First Lady will be an array of special guests, including her peeps Marion and Craig Robinson, Conan O’Brien, Valerie Jarrett, Michele Norris and Dr. Sharon Malone. Episode subjects will focus on the relationships that shape us from siblings and close friends to partners, parents and mentors, to our relationship with ourselves and with our health. Listen free at Spotify.com slash/Michelle Obama.
DeRay [00:43:36] Pod Save The People is brought to you by the new podcasts from narrow pro-choice America. It’s called The Lie That Binds, and it’s a deep dove into the history of how the radical right weaponized abortion to hijack our democracy. The series helps listeners make sense of how we got here and how we get out of this mess.
Kaya [00:43:51] The Lie That Binds impacts the terrifying rise of the anti choice movement from its surprising roots in school segregation to the election of President Donald Trump. Abortion rights are dwindling in many states, despite public opinion swaying strongly in favor of reproductive freedom. If you’re wondering why that is, this is the series for you. It features NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, along with leaders, activists and experts like Stacey Abrams, Loretta Ross, Wendy Davis, Imani Gandy and so many more.
DeRay [00:44:22] Don’t miss this one ya’ll. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts.
DeRay [00:44:27] And here’s an update from Netta about what’s going on with the protests and the unrest across the country.
Netta [00:44:32] Hey, what’s up, everybody? It’s me, Netta. And thanks for tuning back in. So much happened over the weekend. I’m honestly still a little tired. And while it was hectic, I did manage to take a really nice drive up through Maryland yesterday. And just the view, the greenery, just spending time in nature, everything is just so stunning. And before my sister came along, I was an only child for 11 years. Plus, an introvert. So it’s nothing like that good quality, quiet time to recharge. And I desperately needed that. But while on the drive, I wrestled with all of the thoughts in my mind and I landed on the fable of the boiling frog as an all too perfect of an analogy of what we’re going through today as the fable goes, “if you drop a frog into hot water, they’ll jump out. But if you place it in room temperature, water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog won’t perceive the imminent danger. And slowly cooks to death.” Despite numerous warnings in 2015 and 16, America has become the frog, courtesy of the occupant in the White House. What started with the flouting of presidential norms is culminating in an all out assault on dissent. I was out in Lafayette Park when the occupant in the White House sicked an alphabet soup of federal officers on protesters. The tear gas, the flash bangs, the heavily militarized police force were so reminiscent of what we saw on the streets of Ferguson now, almost six years ago. Only this time, there were far more young white kids in the street with us. And when there were no protesters in the street, we retreated to closed intersections, courtesy of federal officers with assault rifles. D.C. became an occupied city, and after witnessing the uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore to Baton Rouge under Democratic leadership, I’m not surprised at what’s happening right now. The brutal repression of dissent is bipartisan with criterium poll numbers, Trump is now resorting to blatantly racist appeals to white suburban voters, the very same voters who handed the GOP their collective asses in election after election, post 2016. According to the president in Joe Biden’s America, if we eliminate systemic racism and police violence, Black and Brown people will move to the suburbs and anarchy will ensue, after we defund the police, of course. But this is Trump’s America. And protest against racism and police violence have predictably been met with. Guess what? More racism and more police violence, because that’s all this administration knows. However, I want to be clear that the occupant in the White House is not the first. Just the latest in a long line of oppressive rulers that make up the American Cultural Project. A cultural project that has a blood stained foundation of the enslavement and genocide of black and indigenous people. The exploitation of Chinese workers for the transcontinental railroad. The war on drugs. The erosion of our civil liberties after 9/11. The profiling of Muslims as terrorists. And the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. And after watching ICE terrorize immigrant communities since their inception, we’re now watching Department of Homeland Security officers snatch white protesters off the streets in Portland. Beat a veteran with a baton and batter concerned citizens advocating for equality with new 20-20, tear gas and rubber bullets. It’s important to call the thing a thing. The actions of these federal officers is now appalling. It is illegal. I’ve been teargassed more times than I can remember, and the gas that filled my system this year felt more potent and toxic than before. It grips the lungs in series the skin in unimaginable ways. And every time you see a canister of tear gas fired at protesters, you’re witnessing an act banned by the Geneva Convention. Even in the zero sum game of war, teargas cannot be used in the line of battle. Despite its regular use on our streets. Every time you see authorities destroy water and other medical supplies, you’re witnessing a war crime. It’s important that we recognize these acts as such and call them out. Fortunately, Portland hasn’t been all doom and gloom. When government fails to protect the people “we keep us safe” ecomes an organizing necessity. Last week in Portland, we saw the wall of moms put their bodies in harm’s way, forming a wall between heavily armed police and protesters. The wall of moms were later joined by the dads with leaf blowers who brought their lawn tools to the protest to blow clouds of tear gas away from protesters. And on several occasions the police were turned away. But the price of freedom and liberation is constant vigilance. In addition to Portland, Trump announced a surge of federal officers to cities like Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Philadelphia and others. People who want the fighting to stop will encourage people to stay off the streets and not give the occupant in the White House the visuals of protester and police clashes that become the stuff of campaign ads. However, silence in the face of dictatorship gets us further from not closer to equality. Seing some mayors do a soft embrace of Trump sending federal agents into cities under the guise of crime fighting brings us back to the central demand of many Black Lives Matter protesters. The near insurmountable inequality that grips poor communities of color and the abundance of resources that surround wealthier and Whiter communities. When it comes to us, we get what we’ve always received, overpolicing and under resourcing, a cocktail of shuttered schools, food deserts, unsafe housing and unstable employment was always a ticking time bomb. The only resources pouring into communities with the most need are increasing resources to police those with the most need. This heavy handed approach has failed before, and it’s destined to fail again. The winners seem to be the law and order types. They get new military toys to terrorize the people with and the nonprofit and academic industrial complexes that get grant money for studies on what went wrong and pilot programs that will never be fully funded. In conclusion, I want to lift up the protesters in Louisville who have kept the pressure on elected officials in pursuit of justice for Breonna Taylor after the cameras left over the weekend during an action in the city. Eighty nine protesters were arrested. Chad, a friend I have mentioned here before, was among them. He and I met when he and his friend Ryan drove to St. Louis for Ferguson October back in 2014. And while Chad was able to make bail, the fight for justice in Louisville and nationwide continues. Thanks so much for listening. And I’ll see you guys next week.
DeRay [00:51:48] Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come. So I got some Magic Spoon. I got some Magic Spoon. So I love cereal
DeRay [00:51:56] And cereal for me was never just a breakfast thing. It was I like whenever I need a snack whenever I. The problem is cereal though, is that it’s a lot of sugar. And the good thing is that Magic’s Spoon is not a lot of sugar. Magic’s Spoon is actually zero sugar. It’s eleven grams of protein and only three net grams of carbs in each serving. I have some Magic Spoon. My favorite is the cocoa flavor. It’s light.
DeRay [00:52:20] It is actually a little bit too good to be true because it’s a gluten free, keto friendly, soy free, low carb and GMO free. There are three other flavors too fruity, frosted and blueberry. I like them, but the cocoa one.
DeRay [00:52:32] You know, I’ve always I used to always love the cocoa. But you can’t eat cocoa for breakfast and for lunch, you know, and a snack.
DeRay [00:52:38] But Magic Spoon, you can.
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Kaya [00:53:08] Let me tell you that I am a new true believer in Sun Basket. Whether you don’t want to head to the grocery store or you just don’t feel like cooking or a you whatever, you want to try some new things. I am a true believer that Sun Basket is the thing that you should try. I got my two boxes of Sun Basket ingredients this week and I have been cooking Sun Basket meals and I’m totally down with Sun Basket.
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DeRay [00:54:37] Kaya, was it hard to make?
Kaya [00:54:39] Not hard to make at all, literally. I made the steak chimi cherry with harissa, roasted sweet potatoes and Swiss chard in 20 minutes. Throw some of the stuff in the oven, throw the rest on a pan. And literally it is completely and totally quick and easy. It was the easiest food I have ever cooked.
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DeRay [00:55:36] And now my conversation with Sarah Iannarone, who’s running to be the next mayor of Portland. Sarah, thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the People.
Sarah [00:55:43] I’m happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
DeRay [00:55:46] Now, I’m excited to talk to you because you are running for mayor in Portland, Oregon. And Portland has been the top of everybody’s mind now because of the ensuing protests in the Trump administration sending in federal troops. Can you talk to us about what is going on and point to it now and then and then can you help us understand why do you want to be the mayor of this city?
Sarah [00:56:07] It’s hard to get a clear picture, especially when outside reporters come into town and haven’t been on the ground here, not just for the last 50 or 60 days, but for the last few years and last few mayoral administrations. What you’ve got is an entrenched police force that defies authority, that defies reform, that continues to beg for increasing budgets even as crime rates are down. And you’ve got entrenched politicians who have very little interest because they’re backed by the downtown business community, because they’re backed by big money, special corporate interests in reining in these police. And so what you have in the wake of George Floyds murder is obviously the same types of protests that you saw in cities all around the U.S. But it was happening right on the eve of a very big, important budget vote. Where are city commission, which is pretty unique. It’s a pretty antiquated, weak mayor commission form of government. But really, you just need three out of five votes to pass any policy you want in Portland right now. And so what the people of Portland were demanding was this drawdown of the police budget by 50 million dollars. Now, that’s not even a 50 percent draw down. The city of Portland police budget is a huge portion of our general fund. What they said was you have been increasing police budgets year over year and we want to take that money and reallocated to services like Street Response, which is on armed responses to people in mental health crisis. We need to make sure that we have this housing crisis that we have, that people have a safe place to sleep every night. And we’re looking at this Covid crisis and saying, how are we going to make sure that our families are fed and our workers not evicted even as we’re looking down this economic crisis? And so there was this moment in time that our electeds missed where they could have taken action that would have been symbolic, would have been effective, and would have made a real commitment to saying, we see what you’re protesting for in the streets. And Portland, as a progressive leader, is going to take a leadership position on this. Instead it didn’t happen. And so what you’re seeing now is a failure of our local politicians to not only address the community concerns, but to amplify. So for 50 days before Trump’s forces, special forces, secret police arrived on the ground here, you had our mayors, police force. He’s also the police commissioner, tear gassing and brutalizing demonstrators in the streets. And not just demonstrators, journalists, medics, legal observers gassing them night after night batons. I mean, we have had elders who come out with, you know, broken noses and we have students who are coming out of these protests with broken arms. All of these from the Portland police and not the feds. So when you asked me what’s going on here, that’s a back story that often gets missed when you’re looking at national conversations about what’s happening in Portland right now.
DeRay [00:59:11] Now, why, Mayor, so you talked about the former government of Portland is different. You know, I remember the first time I came to Portland, I saw that the mayor sort of seems to be sort of the head of the council, essentially been in the councils where all the power is. Why not a council member? Why, Mayor, what do you hope to do in this role that is different or better than before?
Sarah [00:59:31] Just for a quick primer. And people can look this up. You know, Google the weak, mayor commission form of government to look how it’s antiquated and very lacking in equitable representation. It’s a carryover from the last century. But how it works in a nutshell, is that you have five people who are elected. Every single seat is at large. There’s not a single district, [00:59:52]Rep. [0.0s] So these are five very big races. Six hundred and fifty thousand constituents in the city of Portland. And what you are, is you are not only an executive, but you’re the administrator of a bureau. So you could be a nurse, which we have, who ends up administering a parks bureau with millions dollar budget. And so the reason that I would run for mayor in that commission form of government, there are two things that the mayor can do that the other commissioners can’t do. Number one is they assign the bureaus to the various commissioners. So of all the bureaus, emergency bureau, police bureau, housing. The mayor decides which of those people on the council oversee that bureau. But the second one. Is the mayor sets the budget. And we know that when it comes to things like housing, criminal justice and public safety, climate justice, that budget is your moral document. You can pass any policy out of that council that you want, but all of these unfunded emergencies and resolutions aren’t going to get us anywhere. So even prior to the current uprising, my team released, which was one of the most progressive municipal public safety rethinking that we had seen. And the point was to draw down this police budget and reallocate the money to community led safety responses and wellness responses, largely through decriminalization lens, through a racial justice lens and ultimately through a public health lens. And keeping Portlanders safe based on data, not just funding the bottomless pit of militarized policing, which we know that they will continue to spend as much money as you give them on these weapons that they’re deploying in our streets.
DeRay [01:01:41] I want to talk about some of the work that you did before running for mayor. Can you talk about what that work was and what you learned in some of the other roles that you had?
Sarah [01:01:51] Yeah, I really appreciate you asking me that question, because who we’re electing to office right now matters and why we’re electing progressives to municipal leadership positions matters. So for the last 10 years, my job was at Portland State University and I facilitated best practices, exchanges for leaders of cities all around the world with Portland’s leaders. We had a reputation for being a transit forward city. We had a reputation for being a climate forward city. We had a reputation for livable neighborhoods. But what I saw over 10 years of doing that work was that the story that Portlanders were telling ourselves about ourselves and the stories that we were telling with the rest of the world was starting to falter. These livable neighborhoods, they weren’t really accessible to everyone. Gentrification was tearing apart communities that had once been strong. We were looking at a homelessness crisis that was increasing even as people were moving to Portland because it was this supposed livable city and we were expanding freeways even in the midst of a climate crisis. So the cognitive dissonance for me, as I’m telling this story to say a governor from Korea or, you know, a regional council member from Australia and thinking, how can I keep telling this story to the rest of the world when I can’t even tell this story to myself and believe it? Now, in addition to that, I’m a mom. I founded a small business, a restaurant, sells brunch, a very important thing in my neighborhood. And I’ve been on the ground in Portland as a engaged neighbor, a civic advocate, if you will, working on policy, including safe streets, vision zero, police reform, housing, homelessness solutions, especially. And every time I saw the power of the people we would build, we would organize and then we would go to council only to get voted down. And I thought, we can’t just keep going to council to get voted down. We have to bring this organizing power onto the council, because the worst thing that we can do while we’re facing these nested sets of emergencies is not have the power of the people behind us. I want to mobilize and unleash that power so these folks can go out into their neighborhoods, in their communities and build community safety hubs, food pantries, emergency shelters for the thousands of people we have experiencing homelessness in Portland, not continuing to tell them, no, no, no, no, no. So ultimately, when you look at that educational background, practical background, activist background, it’s a lot different from the financier, you know, trust funder who’s backed by the business association we’ve got an office right now.
DeRay [01:04:44] Want to ask you about what the national news is saying about Portland and what is true in Portland. One of the things that I’ve seen a lot is this idea of the outside agitator, the Antifa, coming in to destroy the city. What is your read on who is outside? How do we talk about Antifa? I’m trying to get to what is actually happening in Portland vs. what those reporters at, you noted who have spent no time in community but are writing big national pieces, what they’re saying.
Sarah [01:05:12] This is so critical. And this isn’t just critical for Portland, but this is critical for communities where Donald Trump may be trying to do what he’s doing here. Right. We know that his targets and his sights are not set just on Portland, but on progressives, ostensibly at least liberal, democratically led cities all across this country. This is why people like me, my campaign director Gregory McKelvey, who started out as a Black Lives Matter organizer, had been actually in the streets since twenty seventeen, talking about a few things healthy, inclusive democracy as the antidote to the rise of authoritarian nationalism. It’s why we’ve been mobilizing in the streets for years against the incursion of the outside agitators from not just Washington State to our north, but around the US that are these White Nationalists, Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer who come shielded by the Constitution, saying these are our rights to bear arms and this is our right to free speech. But we’re gonna come to your city to foment hate and to incite riots. We decided that we needed to come together as a community in this everyday antifascism, I’m probably the only mayor in the U.S. who has a campaign bumper sticker that says “every day antifascist always.” Because in 2020, opposing fascism should not be a controversial position. So we have tried through things like very convivial engagements. We even have a marching band that dresses up like bananas in Portland fashion to say under no circumstances will we allow hate in our sanctuary city. And so I have been one of those people who shows up dressed like a mom alongside people who are nurses and doctors and professors and small business owners and preschool teachers, bike shop owners to say, no, hate is not welcome here. And we’ve been doing it again and again. These are the same folks who’ve been fighting for climate justice. And every time we go out the Portland police oppose us. The Portland police stand with their backs to the White Nationalists and they oppose the people who are coming together to oppose White Nationalism, to oppose racism, to fight for climate justice in our city. And so that’s a very important backstory that doesn’t get told. Fast forward again to this most recent uprising in the wake of Ahmaud Arbrey and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. And what you see is a city fed up with leadership that continues to use its armed forces against the will of the people, as opposed to standing beside us and pushing back against the hate. Pushing back against the bigotry, exclusionary practices that these people would have our city undertake. And so we have been fighting for a long time on this front. And it just keeps getting worse because we know that the response to protest about police brutality, police brutality isn’t the solution to that. And so Portlanders are saying enough and they’re not backing down until the incumbent mayor decides that he’s going to stop unleashing the cops on us and going to stop allowing them to teargassed and beat us in the streets.
DeRay [01:08:32] Now, now, what is the fix though with regard to the federal troops, is it that the current mayor can just pull back the Portland police and that wall thinks something? Can the Portland police intervene to stop the federal police? Like what actually can be done on this one about Portland in Portland?
Sarah [01:08:46] This is such a challenging question and you’re not the first to ask. And again, I wish that he had started 50 days ago as opposed to waiting for Trump’s army to arrive here, because it’s going to be very hard to extricate at this point. There’s quite a standoff down there in front of that federal courthouse now. If I were the mayor, what I would do is I would stand with my people not just for a photo op like our mayor did last week where he did this weird stunt going in voluntarily, getting gassed, but standing with the people day after day, telling my police force, you are not going to tear gas. Those protesters, you’re not going to abet or work with those federal agents in any ways. And in some respects, I want you to stand with them and make sure they’re safe against the feds, because what we had in the streets as recently as Saturday was one of my friend’s dad, who’s an elder retiree, got beat by Portland police while he was out peacefully demonstrating. There should be zero tolerance for that in Portland right now. And ultimately, until the mayor gets his police under control, we can’t even begin to look for solutions on the federal front because Portlanders don’t feel safe in their own city, even from their own police. I just don’t know how you get out of it until the Portland police are held to account and gotten under control.
DeRay [01:10:10] Now can you just update everybody about where the election is right now? Is there a runoff? Is there a primary? Like it looks, the primary already happened. There is a runoff. The top two people go to runoff in November. What’s the timeline for you?
Sarah [01:10:24] So this is a critical point in the process. We’ve been campaigning for over a year. We just had a primary in May that took the field down from 18 or 19 candidates to the top two made it through. And despite us having to run a grassroots campaign in the middle of the shelter in place, orders from the governor due to Covid we were able to make about a month long pivot from all in-person grassroots canvasing, doorknocking to all digital and squeaked through that primary so there will be two names on the ballot this November, mine and the incumbent mayors. Now, we have an opportunity in the next three months and I just want to give a great plug to vote by mail for those of you listening around the country, because voting from home is one of the best things that you can do. We vote from home here in Oregon. But what that means is about three weeks before Election Day, voters will get that ballot. They’ll sit at their kitchen table in their circle, one name, his or mine. And so I’ve got about a three month window right now to work through this tie. In our last polling, we’re tied with the incumbent and his approval ratings keep plummeting. But we’ve got to get the word out that we have a truly progressive who’s viable because of this grassroots fundraising campaign, she is running to unseat what has largely been a very exclusive position because of the money that it takes to become Portland mayor. So we’re building that momentum. But what we need on the national front is people who understand why having a progressive mayor in Portland is so important to visit our website at Sarah2020.com and make sure that they look through those policies, that they help us seek endorsements, if they’re involved in organizations that endorse mayors in these races it will be very helpful to help us rally in terms of what does it mean to support a progressive in Portland who would not probably had things been done right, have allowed us to get into this situation with Trump’s feds in the first place because she’s on the ground with her people. She’s connected to those people. And in fact, the US in many ways needs Portland to succeed because even though we box outside our weight class, we’re a model city on the global stage. And so when I hear people calling me from Kenya or Brazil or Thailand this week, it’s because Portland has met with them to discuss their smart growth plans or their climate justice plans or their public safety reform plans. And so this is an important site for progressive innovation, for civic innovation, in making sure that we are fomenting a healthy democracy. Right. And not fomenting unrest and discord in our city.
DeRay [01:13:09] Now, one of the last questions I wanna ask is what are the other issues that Portlanders are paying attention to? So obviously, top of mind is everything related to criminal justice and policing, and not only because of the current crisis, but I know personally, because I’ve been there and been with organizers that that’s been a hot topic. But what are the other things as mayor you would focus on?
Sarah [01:13:27] So when we started this campaign last year, the top topics were climate justice, that rethinking of public safety I mentioned, and housing for all with a undergirding of good government reforms like accountability, transparency, elections, participatory budgeting, civic access, even through things like municipal broadband. But what we’ve seen come to the fore as it’s coming to the fore in cities all across the U.S. is Covid. The Covid recovery and response is on the minds of Portlanders. The small business that I founded back in 2006 actually went under due to covered my daughter, my ex husband both lost their jobs. So how we’re going to keep Portlanders housed and fed for the next 18, 24, 36 months, depending on how long this economic crisis lasts, in addition to the health crisis, is at the front of people’s minds. Because we had come to this election, though, with the eye toward resilient communities and the eye toward the climate crisis. A lot of the plans that we proposed are more important now than ever. So we don’t need to pivot off that, making sure that whatever infrastructure investments we are making are putting Portlanders to work, creating wealth for Black Portlanders, Indigenous Portlanders and Portlanders of color, making sure that we’re shoring up our community for the crises that we face ahead, looking at innovations in housing for all and the transition from homelessness to housing stability and the various ways that community organizations, nonprofit organizations, churches can be a part of that more broad tent coalition to bring safe sleep online for every single Portlander. And ultimately thinking about our future as tied up in justice and resilience. Because if you’re not building a municipality, when you’re not working at that very reasonable, accessible scale, to have a community resilience model at the core of what you’re trying to do, then you’re not going to meet your goals. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about police or. Form or housing costs or voting, you have to have that connected, resilient community at the heart of what you’re doing. So ultimately, even though it’s going to be challenging. I see the moment, whether it’s the Covid crisis or the civil rights uprising that we’re having now, where if we come together and we put this amazing, brave, fierce community of which I am so proud to be a part, to these tasks, I believe that we can once again be a model for other cities of what good can come when you let community lead on your most pressing challenges.
DeRay [01:16:14] Okay, well, I’m about to donate now and we consider you a friend of the Pod and can’t wait to have you back after election night.
Sarah [01:16:20] Thank you so much for having me on and keep up the good work and thanks for everything you’re doing. And I hope you’re taking good care, too.
DeRay [01:16:28] Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcast whether it’s Apple pocasts or somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week.