The Wilderness Chapter 6: Young Black Voters in Atlanta | Crooked Media
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October 17, 2022
The Wilderness
The Wilderness Chapter 6: Young Black Voters in Atlanta

In This Episode

Can Democrats keep Georgia blue? We hear from young Black voters in Atlanta about Stacey Abrams, Raphael Warnock, Joe Biden, voting rights, and the future of democracy. Organizer Nsé Ufot, political commentator and strategist Symone Sanders, and pollster Terrance Woodbury join Jon to discuss what they had to say.

 

New episodes of The Wilderness drop every Monday. Subscribe to The Wilderness wherever you get your podcasts.

 

If you want to learn more about how you can take action in the fight for our democracy, head over to Vote Save America and New Georgia Project: https://votesaveamerica.com/midterm-madness/
https://newgeorgiaproject.org/

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Tiffanie Mackey: We would have neighbors and churches and different communities come out.

 

Jhana Grant: And so we try to program the talent around the interests of the people in that community.

 

Tiffanie Mackey: And play music and have dancing, and pass out food and water.

 

Jhana Grant: Party At The Polls is like a fully nonpartisan program. We’re not pushing any agendas. We don’t connect to any specific candidates. For me, it’s really just the culture and like the action of voting. Let’s hang out together, let’s party together. And if we happen to have to stand in line for two hours, we have this great vibe, you know?

 

Tiffanie Mackey: Which is why that line criminalization within SB202 was such a huge blow, but we’re still trying to navigate that even beyond some of the limitations we have.

 

Jon Favreau: Tiffanie Mackey and Jhana Grant are organizers with The New Georgia Project, which helped register and turn out tens of thousands of mostly Black, Brown, and young voters in the last election. This year, Tiffanie says their work has been a lot harder because Governor Brian Kemp and the Republican state legislature passed a law known as SB202.

 

Tiffanie Mackey: If I could describe voter suppression, it is subtle and not subtle all at the same time. So, what that bill has done is, limit drop boxes in certain communities. So that puts more pressure, of course, on Election Day, where we have long lines at the polling precincts…So we serve as a presence at those precincts to, one, offer them information but we also have to follow SB202. We have to do that outside of 150 feet from the precinct. We can’t pass out water within those parameters otherwise, we could be arrested and so could the voter we are trying to give that water to.

 

Jhana Grant: I’m going to be fully transparent and honest with you. Like I had no idea that votes a suppression was this insane in Georgia. Like, I am a green card holder, so I can’t vote until I’m naturalized. But voter suppression is so real – it’s so crazy. We have to get out there’s these things they’ll block the roads. And then, a lot of the voters could no longer go to the precinct that they used to vote at. They’ll do these things to stop people.  It was really eye-opening for me personally. Another person on my team is from London. Also Black. We had to have like a heart-to-heart about it. We hear ’em talking about it all the time, but like now we’re really seeing it.

 

Jon Favreau: This is Georgia in 2022. Brian Kemp who signed the new voter suppression law is running for a second term in a re-match against Stacey Abrams, who founded the New Georgia Project and Fair Fight – two organizations that helped register more than 800,000 voters in the lead-up to 2020. In the end, those new voters made all the difference.

 

[news clip]: Georgia has certified its election results. It happened about an hour ago. And President-Elect Joe Biden is the winner of the state’s 16 electoral colleges votes.

 

Jon Favreau: But it was Black voters who put Democrats over the top. They’re a third of Georgia’s population but made up more than half of all Democratic voters in the November election. And in the January Senate runoff, Black voters absolutely shattered all turnout records. This year, control of the Senate could once again come down to Georgia. The race between Senator Raphael Warnock and ex-NFL player Herschel Walker might end up being the closest and most expensive in the country. The winner of the governor’s race will either be the first Black woman in American history to ever hold that office, or a man who has signed laws that ban abortion, discriminate against LGBTQ students, and make it harder to vote. Once again, Black voters could make all the difference. But as we head into November, the open question is whether Black voters – especially younger Black voters and Black men – will turn out for Democratic candidates at the same levels we’ve seen in the last few elections. And the problem isn’t just suppression but exhaustion – the same feeling of disconnection from politics that we heard from voters in Pittsburgh, Orange County, and Las Vegas.

 

Nsé Ufot: We are watching Black voters as an electorate become more sophisticated. And as they become more sophisticated, as they tap into the power of their vote and understand those consequences, they have more expectations and more demands that are not being met by candidates and campaigns and the major political parties.

 

Jon Favreau: That’s Nsé Ufot, an activist who’s currently the CEO of the New Georgia Project and deserves a lot of credit for what happened in her home state last election cycle.

 

Nsé Ufot: And so there’s a gap between the rhetoric about the importance of Black voters and their role as like the base of the Democratic Party. And the investment in actually mobilizing and defending the vote.

 

Jon Favreau: I wanted to learn how big that gap is and what Democrats can do to close it, so I stayed in Atlanta for a few days after our last Pod Save America live show in August and sat down with one final group of voters. They were young Black men and women between 21 and 35 who identified as moderate Democrats. Very few of them were particularly excited about politics or Joe Biden, but just about all of them showed up to vote for him in 2020. Afterwards, I got together with one last group of experts that included Nsé.

 

Nsé Ufot: I tell people I’m a southerner twice was born in Southern Nigeria and immigrated to Southwest Atlanta. And yeah, tried to be smart about moving young people and people of color to action if that’s in these streets – or in the polling booth.

 

Jon Favreau: Also joining us were two other strategists who know Nsé and each other quite well.

 

Symone Sanders Townsend: Greetings, I am Symone Sanders Townsend, and I am a host on MSNBC of my own show Symone. I worked on President Biden’s presidential campaign as a senior advisor and chief spokesperson to the vice president. Before that, I’ve advised all kinds of gubernatorial campaigns, state legislative races, all mt races I’ve done races on reservations. And in 2016, I served as Senator Sanders, press secretary for his first presidential run.

 

Terrance Woodbury: Hi, my name is Terrance Woodbury. I am a pollster and partner at the research firm HIT Strategies. Prior to starting hitch strategies, I was a researcher at Brookings Institute. Prior to that, I liked to joke that I worked every job on a campaign except the candidate. But in doing those jobs, I often noticed that all decisions were being deferred to the pollster. And I wanted to look behind the curtain and see who was pulling those polling strings. And when I look back there, I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me. And I’m glad to be here with friends.

 

Jon Favreau: When we come back, we’ll hear from Nsé, Symone, Terrance, and nine Black voters from Atlanta.

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Jon Favreau: Alright, so my last focus group was with young Black voters in Atlanta, and they had more to say about politics and said it with more passion than any other group of voters I talked to. Again, these were mostly Joe Biden voters, and they all said they’re likely to vote in the midterms. But wow, were they disappointed with our political system at every level and that includes the Democratic Party. Later, I had a fascinating conversation about the group with our panel. Nsé is one of the best organizers in the country, Symone has worked at the highest levels of American politics, and Terrance is a pollster who focuses on young voters and Black voters. So, a perfect group for this, and as a bonus, they’re all friends.

 

Nsé Ufot: We’re so proud of you Symone, down here in Georgia and in like BlackGirlandia.

 

Symone Sanders: Thank you, guys. I appreciate ya’ll. Georgia is watching.

 

Jon Favreau: And we’re so proud of you at Crooked! Your old family at Crooked.

 

Symone Sanders: I appreciate you all. Yeah, I am in Nebraska right now, actually. They are naming the street I grew up on after me today so that’s why I am here.

 

Jon Favreau: That is so cool!

 

Nsé Ufot: Nice!

 

Terrance Woodbury: That’s gonna be so good.

 

Nsé Ufot: That’s awesome!

 

Symone Sanders: Thank you I am very excited.

 

Jon Favreau: I started by asking Nsé, Symone, and Terrance what they’ve been hearing about the Georgia midterm races.

 

Nsé Ufot: I’m deeply concerned that with was 77 days left to go that we’re still talking about the mythical, moderate, white voter that will vote for a Warnock and a Stacey as opposed to talking about, a deep investment and a prioritization of young voters and Black voters, because we know that we need at least 30% of the electorate to be Black voters, if we plan to be competitive.

 

Jon Favreau: It’s like you were sitting in the focus group with me. [laughter]

 

Symone Sanders: She talks to the people. So she knows!

 

Nsé Ufot: Well, and you should know. Yeah, we literally knocked on a million doors in six months. We know what voters are saying.

 

Jon Favreau: Symone, what are democratic campaigns doing right when it comes to mobilizing Black voters for these midterms and where is there room for improvement? Shall we say?

 

Symone Sanders: I think some of the things that Stacey has done should be a model for other campaigns, particularly her conversations with Black men. It’s a series that she does and has gone to different spaces and places, across the state. And this is an electorate much like the rest of the electorate, right? Like you need to talk to Black women, you need to talk to young Black voters at large, but Black men can be a key part in turning the tide. I’m preaching to the choir here, but when it comes to Black men and specifically Latino men in the democratic party, those are not reliably democratic voters I’m not saying they’re Republican voters, but they’re independent voters that the democratic party can necessarily rely on. And I do think that investing early and often is key. And I do feel like some of the entities have not invested early and often, but they gon’ invest right now.

 

Jon Favreau: Uh, Terence, Symone was talking about the sort of like less reliable voters, especially Black men. This group there’s some women in here, but predominantly men, how important is it for Democrats to keep these kinds of voters? If they want to keep Georgia blue?

 

Terrance Woodbury: Men of color have become amongst the most important swing voters in the democratic electorate. When we look at what it took for Joe Biden to win in 2020, he in fact, didn’t do better than Hillary Clinton did with Black men, Latino men, API men, any men of color where Joe Biden did better was with white men, white seniors, white college educated. And let’s just be honest, Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock are probably not going to do better than Scranton Joe did with white seniors in Georgia. And so while Joe Biden was able to win Georgia with 83, 84% of Black. Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams are gonna have to hit Obama numbers, 91, 92, 93%. And we’re seeing the same thing as we continue to nominate diverse candidates across the country in places like Florida, Wisconsin, they’re gonna have to hit Obama level numbers with men of color. And so we gotta figure out how to talk to them about some of these issues, just because they are more moderate. Just like some of the folks that you had in your focus group doesn’t mean they’re not our voter.

 

Jon Favreau: So I usually start by asking voters, in all these groups, which issues are most important to them and their community. Let’s take a listen. What are some of the biggest issues affecting Atlanta in your view?

 

[clip of Voter 1]: The gun policy. There hasn’t been a strict plan as far as trying to make guns off the streets. And I mean, so far this year, I think they’re exceeded number of, you know, deaths because of gun violence here. So I definitely think that’s something that need to be addressed to me personally. Um, cuz I’ve lost someone due to gun violence as well.

 

[clip of Voter 2]: I’m. Cars getting broken into seems to be a thing here, had my car broken into six times. Cause not to scare anybody here, but it seems to be a issue that I’ve noticed.

 

[clip of Voter 3]: I’m gonna say the revenue. I wanna know where the money going. Cuz I state regulates a lot of revenue for movies and people coming in town, the hotel tax, supposedly they had a plan in action. Um, I guess with the infrastructure of everything that they’re building around town, but its like we still got potholes, everywhere streets are still tore up. So it’s like, where is this? All this money going? And y’all bringing in millions of dollars.

 

[clip of Voter 4]: I work with youth I’m into, uh, community and economic development. There’s a huge issue with kids, just running around with nothing to do, nowhere to go. The children are the future. The money’s not going to them.

 

Jon Favreau: How do you all feel about the cost of living in Atlanta?

 

[clip of Voter 3]: It’s super high. Not as high as California but still high.

 

[clip of Voter 4]: But it’s still high and minimum wage of 7 25,

 

[clip of Voter 5]: But you see the gentrification happening real fast.

 

[clip of Voter 6]: I feel like COVID has made it worse in a sense.

 

[clip of Voter 3]: I feel like the government took advantage and nobody paid attention to what they was doing.

 

[clip of Voter 6]: Cause when you really think about it, Atlanta was one of the only cities that was open and we’ve been branding the Hollywood of the south or Black Hollywood. So everyone trapped in the house. Oh, I need to get out just holding in rage and just everybody, came in and came down to Atlanta and it seemed like crime went up, costs went up. Everything seemed to go up. As soon as everybody just shifted down to Atlanta.

 

Jon Favreau: And so you live and work in Atlanta. You’ve been knocking on doors for a long these answers line up with what you’re hearing from voters about the issues that, uh, matter most to them?

 

Nsé Ufot: Absolutely one. Let me just say it that I love my city. Um, and the people in it two they’re absolutely right. But I think the thing where the gap for me, the misstep for me is that people are not connecting these to actual decisions that have been made. Brian Kemp decided to open this state up on June 1st, 2020, despite the fact like everything that we’ve known about COVID. these are decisions that are made that Georgia is now a guns everywhere every state that Brian Kemp and the Georgia GOP in a most cynical move in advance of these midterms, uh, got rid of concealed permit, carry permits in the state of Georgia. And so you no longer need a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Georgia. These are the predictable consequences of policy and political choices that are made by our current Republican leaders. And so that’s where the gap is.

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah, Symone. I mean, cost of living has come up as the top issue in every single focus group I’ve done. This is the first where crime and gun violence were mentioned quite a bit. And I noticed – we interviewed Stacey Abrams for Pod Save America a few weeks back in Atlanta. I brought up her comment about Black men needing to vote for her. And she went right to public safety.

 

[clip of Stacey Abrams]: Those challenges are safety, justice and opportunity. On the safety side, its making sure we make our communities safe, but that we also hold police and law enforcement accountable, that we don’t have to choose one or the other. That on the justice side, that criminal justice reform is critical because Georgia has had and continues to have one of the highest mass incarceration rates in the nation. And as people are returning citizens, they deserve to be reintegrated into society and to have real chances at success.

 

Jon Favreau: What do you make of that? And how do you think democratic candidates should handle that issue?

 

Symone Sanders: To be very clear. I think that we got caught up in a conversa — that we, I’m talking about the media apparatus. Okay. Got caught up into a conversation about defund the police a couple years back, and it would make you think that Black and Brown people don’t wanna be safe in their community. Like my mother wants to be able to call the police. She, when she calls them though, she wants them to, when they show up to not treat her as she is the assailant. Okay. And so I think public safety is an issue across the country. If you heard in that focus group that talk about the, these kids essentially don’t have anything to do. Jobs programs make a difference. And so, that is where the rub is. And so how do you bridge the gap? So that they understand that – Well, if, if we really wanna do something about the guns, we gotta vote for Stacey Abrams.

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. And I also think the media, there’s this artificial division between kitchen table economic issues and cultural and racial issues and social issues. Something like gun violence, as you mentioned, is deeply intertwined with economic issues as well. So after talking about issues, I asked the group how they’re feeling about politics, uh, and the state of the country. Uh, here’s what they said.

 

[clip of Voter 7]: Disheartened hardened.

 

[clip of Voter 4]: I’m concerned, but I’m optimistic. I think the future generations are gonna be a little bit more mindful about the choices that they’re making. Politics is really interesting right now, but I think we’re starting to shift away from, oh, my vote doesn’t matter.

 

[clip of Voter 7]: I’d probably say dissatisfactory with the country. Just not satisfied with everything. Okay. I just feel like. Congress, let us down. Like the government let us down just the way we are headed this really not the land of the free technically.

 

[clip of Voter 6]: I’ll say ticking time bomb. But I feel like as a people, there’s this clear lack of empathy. There’s lack of trust. There’s social media, where people don’t think for themselves and everyone’s staring at their phones 12 hours a day. I struggle to see how things get better significantly.

 

[clip of Voter 3]: So I’m just going to be like, I’m kind of fuck this country. [laughter] I don’t care. I don’t care at, at this point I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care. And my hope is in the future, cuz my son he’s gonna be 15. So I feel like I have hope that the future generation behind us and even with us, the country’s gonna take a shift. But as of right now, the old heads and where we at right now, like, fuck y’all.

 

[clip of Voter 6]: This might sound a bit radical, but for Black people to get what we truly want, we’re gonna have to tear the system down. I don’t think there’s altering of the system.

 

[clip of Voter 1]: Cause I feel like we African Americans, we don’t really have a say so into certain things or, and I could kind of come back to your point of where you say, we feel like our vote no matters because we may say we want these things done. And if you look at government, they always say they’re gonna do things for us. And we still, lower poverty community still the same decades later. It’s very important to still have government in place. It just need to be a total reform of it. Okay.

 

[clip of Voter 7]: Like I used to actually feel a little passionate about politics. I mean, Barack Obama, of course, like I was actually there in Washington, DC when he was inaugurated. And that, like, it made me feel like I was a part of something, you know? Yeah. But then nowadays it kind of feels like taking out the trash. Like it’s something that you, you gotta do every day.

 

Jon Favreau: So Symone, I have heard this kind of anger and despair about politics and other focus groups. What I found interesting here, and this was to Nsé’s point at the beginning of the conversation is that all these voters still seem to think politics and voting are important, right? There is this level of sophistication and expectation. I talked to uh, disengaged Democrats in, in Pittsburgh, uh, mostly white voters and they had similar anger and were dispirited about politics, this was like, we’ve gotta vote that taken out. The trash line really got me that

 

Symone Sanders: Black people can’t afford not to.

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah.

 

Symone Sanders: And I think that that is the, um, when, when, first of all, I love focus groups because I think focus groups allow people to have that dialogue and talk. And you, there is no filter of the bubble in the box on the piece of paper. This is what people are saying. And I do think that it is important for, the media apparatus strategists across the country to understand that, when we say things like our democracy is under attack, when we say things like we are living in a climate crisis, people of color, particularly Black people in America are hit first and worse by all of those things. Buffalo – Just how Uvalde is jarring and Sandy Hook was jarring for every single person in every, especially if you were a parent, Buffalo was like these Black people were in a grocery store on a Saturday afternoon. And the reason that they lost their lives is because they are Black. So that is the world in which Black people live in. So we also know that we can’t afford not to vote for a number of reasons. I think the question on the table, is what have we gotten for our vote? That’s what you hear from folks. I am somebody that believes in the system. It, it really tears me up inside to hear Black voters, young people, anyone saying, I just think we have to tear the system down because from my perspective, the system always has a contingency plan. Heck there’s something called a designated survivor. There is always a contingency plan. And if I think that our efforts could be and would be better spent from trying to change the system from the inside out, that’s just my perspective. I know people differ.

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. Nsé, how do you persuade someone to engage with the political system when they think that system needs to be torn down as the young woman Careasa and, a young man named A.K., both basically said in that group.

 

Nsé Ufot: Yeah, I think that one, we talk about it as a false choice, um, that you can absolutely pursue reform while thinking and imagining systems that don’t even exist right now that would actually serve our families and actually serve our communities. Um, two, we often talk about it in terms of it’s less important about what’s going on in the white house, and it’s much, much more important about what’s going on in your house. I think that, you know, we have seen a lot of success with that sort of conversation thread, and that is why you can have people that are deeply disappointed in the ways that they’ve been abandoned by lukewarm mealy, mouth ineffective leaders. And still tell you that they’re gonna show up to vote and still tell you that they’re optimistic about the future or actually that they’re optimistic about future generations taking the baton and moving it forward. I’m an Atlanta public school graduate, I live and work and organize in Georgia, so I can be forgiven for the liberal use of king quotes. And so there’s the arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends towards justice. And often time when that’s invoked, people are using it to talk about the work. What are you doing to bend the arc? Right? What does your work look like? What does your activism look like, et cetera? In this moment, we are definitely focusing on the fact that it is long, that it is extraordinarily long, that there are things that we are fighting for, for ourselves and for future generations that we, that may not be realized in our lifetimes and they’re worth pursuing. And again, I think three, it is lastly, just the idea that we are not electing messiahs, right. That people will disappoint you. I think one of the things that sort of was unarticulated is the disappointment in the Democrats, the disappointment in Biden, the disappointment in Harris, the idea, the people know that the Republicans are basically a criminal caucus in this moment, masquerading as a legitimate political party, that there’s not a statesman among them right. In this moment. Folks know that. But what they’re disappointed in is that they are not seeing the dems fighting and people are feeling abandoned.

 

Jon Favreau: Terrance, you’re a democratic candidate campaign, elected official. You hear this, you hear this disappointment. You want to identify with this anger and despair. You also wanna make the argument that, with democratic leadership, things can get better. Things are maybe getting better. How do you strike that balance as a, as a candidate or a campaign?

 

Terrance Woodbury: Yeah. We’ve been encouraging a lot of the democratic candidates and organizations that we work with to, to pursue a message of unfinished business. That points to the progress that has been made but acknowledges that it is not enough. And so one thing that we realize that we are, we know that the only way to get to get, these voters back into the voting booth is for them to see some return on their investment. They believe that nothing has happened. They believe that no progress has been made. Not some progress, you heard them, nothing has happened. I’ll tell you one issue, that was not said in that room, Jon, and that is racism. And this is why we do this is why we race-match. So many of our focus groups, because what a lot of those Black voters were hinting at when they talk about grocery stores and ticking time bombs was the racism that they may have not felt comfortable bringing up to you in that room. And we hear it in every single focus group, in groups that we did on behalf of New Georgia Project at the end of the 2020 cycle, that a part of what they were fighting back in 2020. Yes. They voted to defeat Trump, but they were also voting to beat back the overt racism that he brought into our politics. And frankly, this administration, Democrats and Joe Biden have made significant progress on all of these issues. We know that student loans are, are a top issue, amongst young voters of color. And while he had not forgiven student loans, until, until we got some, some relief today, no one had to pay federal student loans since the man’s been president. We know that racism is a number one, two or three issue for Black voters. Well, this administration has delivered justice to the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery, not waiting for local prosecution, but pursuing federal hate crime prosecution by charging the Buffalo shooter. We talking about grocery store shootings, Merrick Garland justice department charge the Buffalo shooter with domestic terrorism and federal hate crimes.

 

Nsé Ufot: Terrance, I wanna be clear. The bar is clearly in Hell – if we’re talking about people being charged as progress and people know that.

 

Terrance Woodbury: It’s not just people being charged. It is, we, we were.

 

Nsé Ufot: Move-

 

Terrance Woodbury: Right, but we were marching for justice, right? For Breonna Taylor, for George Floyd, for Arbery. And it’s happening. I wanna be clear, not because of Merrick Garland and Joe Biden it’s happening because Black voters in Georgia delivered power into the, into the right chambers. And that’s how we have to reorient that you don’t have to wait to be saved, but because you voted things are happening.

 

Symone Sanders: I think in some places that that message could work. I think the issue is, is that on one hand, we’re saying you did your job, you delivered power, and this is what the Democrats have delivered for you. And then on another hand the president had to issue an executive order about George Floyd because Congress couldn’t get it done. The president has had to take executive action to protect women’s abilities, to travel across state lines, to get the healthcare that they need. If that healthcare is an abortion, because Congress didn’t, didn’t get it done. The care economy pieces are not in the inflation reduction act because Congress couldn’t get that piece done. Perhaps we oversold. And I think that is very fair to say, you know, the bar was perhaps we oversold coming in, say we were gonna go and do all these things to be very clear, monumental things have gotten done. But people were expecting more.

 

Jon Favreau: When I did this podcast last season it was around 2020 and the person who, the one person I interviewed, who warned me about over promising to voters, Stacey Abrams, [laughter] and she said it is, she goes, and then she said, especially Black folks who are trying to get by and just trying to live and struggling and you over promise.

 

[clip of Stacey Abrams]: They feel duped. Our ambitions have to met with our capacity to deliver because for the people who are the most easily dissuaded from participation – its when you promise them the moon and can’t deliver a single grain of sand.

 

Nsé Ufot: One. The issue is over promising. And then two, the other issue is that we are not being honest. There was a failed murder plot to kill the vice president of the United States and the speaker of the house. Folks died, right? And then January 6th, insurrection is running for Congress, right? I think that there’s an urgency that Black voters feel. Right? I’m super proud of the American rescue plan, right? And the fact that, you know, over 80% of American households got some emergency economic relief when they needed it the most. And it was Georgia voters that made that happen, that they sent Warnock, that they sent us off to the United States Senate and made that happen. And that was important, but there are absolutely other things that people wanna win. And the things that we can’t win, people want to see their leaders fight. Right. And, we have to be honest about what we are up against what we’re facing, and they’re not people think that Brad Raffensperger who didn’t crime, that one time, right by not participating in Trump’s criminal conspiracy to steal the election is an okay candidate. He’s endorsed Senate Bill 202. It has changed over 50 of Georgia’s election laws. It has created five new crimes. Three of them are felonies. They’ve taken voting related behavior, like handing out water. And now those are crimes that new Georgia project volunteers and staff can go to jail for. Why are we not talking about the fact that they are playing for keeps and we are still operating from a conventional playbook, right? We are not having honest conversations about what we are up against and this really nice, polite conversation that we are having as if this is a normal election is ridiculous. He had a candidate for governor in Arizona talking about big dick energy for Ron DeSantis. And I’ve seen Ron DeSantis! [laughter]

 

Jon Favreau: After the break, I have a very honest conversation about Joe Biden with the Atlanta voters.

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Jon Favreau: Welcome back.  Like all the other focus groups I’ve done this season, I of course wanted to know what these voters thought of Joe Biden. And this group had a lot to say.  For context, I conducted this group right after the Inflation Reduction Act was passed. Some of the voters liked that he passed it, some had no idea what it was, but none of them were that impressed. For those of you who voted in 2020, why did you vote?

 

[clip of Voter 6]: I voted because I thought that there’s no way it could get worse and it somehow did. I thought Trump was for like a better word to jackass. I think we can all agree to that. Um, and I didn’t realize this until after, but he was honest and I keep harping onto that because if you tell me how you really feel, I can then operate off of that. If you tell me that you’re racist. Well, I know I can stay the hell way from you. I don’t want you to act like my friend get near me and then do whatever you please. And so. He was honest, Joe Biden. I voted for him again. I felt like it was a lesser of two evils in a sense.

 

[clip of Voter 2]: Yeah.

 

[clip of Voter 4]: So I wanna start by saying, unfortunately in this country, people think they have far less power than they do the way we stood together and voted for Joe Biden was flipping states. Is that not hard to do in any other scenario? Like we were that desperate to get Trump out, that we were like, let’s actually do our job as citizens to create the life that we wanna live in our state and our country.

 

Jon Favreau: I feel like I know the answer to this just from what everyone’s been talking about, but does anyone think Joe Biden has been doing a good job?

 

[clip of Voter 6]: Fuck no!

 

[clip of Voter 4]: No.

 

Jon Favreau: What do you wish Joe Biden was doing better?

 

[various voices]: His job / He just passed a pretty dope bill / Yeah that bill was dope.

 

[clip of Voter 4]: So that was dope, but it took him a really long time to do anything. So it’s of course doing it now. I don’t know how long it’s gonna take him to do the next thing that he’s supposed to do.

 

[clip of Voter]: He aint do nothing but piggyback off Trump like, did you not see the bill? The infrastructure bill that Trump did had it by way by Barack? The only thing they doing is every president piggybacks off each other. So you saying that is dope. I don’t see any difference in what he did.

 

Jon Favreau: So there’s a, there’s an infrastructure bill that was passed last year. The one that just passed last week is a healthcare and climate bill. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2050. It will also let Medicare negotiate for cheaper drugs and also the Affordable Care Act. It keeps the subsidies bigger in the Affordable Care Act for the next three years.

 

[various voices]: Well, Trump had already had that bill in place. So what, what’s the difference? / Not the climate change though. / He didn’t have / Yes, he did mentioned greenhouse. He actually took that away. He took that away. / Oh, he took it away. He took it away. He was like, Nope. He took that away. / Oh, okay. My bad. [laughter]

 

Nsé Ufot: I love my city.

 

Jon Favreau: Terrance, um, knowing that the provisions of the inflation reduction act are super popular. And I did not channel my best inner pollster when I described it. I described it—

 

Symone Sanders: You didn’t, I was like what is subsidy?

 

Jon Favreau: lame was, I was I was caught off guard that I was gonna have to describe it. And I just sort of, I anyway, lower healthcare costs, lower energy bills, lower prescription drug costs. But we know that these provisions won’t take effect until after the midterm. How, how should Democrats talk about this bill on the campaign trail, as you mentioned earlier, we’re also having this conversation on the day that Biden is announcing student debt relief. I wonder how that would play with this group of voters, particularly because as I continued on the conversation about Biden and his policies and accomplishments, a couple people said more stimulus checks, love the stimulus checks, want more stimulus checks.

 

Terrance Woodbury: Look, we, this is the sentiment express in those focus. Groups is not unusual or, or, or uncommon from what we’ve been hearing. In fact, I was in focus groups with Nsé in Georgia and I heard, uh, sometimes these, these quotes could be so prolific. My hood didn’t get any better under Obama. It didn’t get any worse under, under Trump. So tell me what Biden got to do with me. And this is a part of what we now have to solve for. When we poll Black voters and 73% of Black voters say that their lives have not improved since Joe Biden became president. But in the same poll, we give them a list of progress that has been made. Things that have not been fully implemented yet like 70 billion to replace every lead pipe in America. I mean, we haven’t ripped up the pipes in Flint, but they recognize that this president has done something that the three previous presidents could have done. And so, and so we give them this list and 90% say that this progress either has improved their lives or will improve their lives. The same 90% say that they haven’t heard of any of it. It’s universally helping them universally improving their lives. And they’re universally unaware of it. And so this is a messaging problem.

 

Jon Favreau: And say, I’m thinking about what you had just said, which is. we are facing an existential threat. This is not an ordinary election. These are not ordinary political times. There is the threat of political violence. There’s the threat that the whole thing comes down. And then Joe Biden and Democrats are just doing the best they can and they’re passing stuff and they’re, and they’re trying to improve people’s lives and lower costs. How do you sort of close that gap between a president, a democratic party that are doing the best they can to improve people’s lives on one hand and the existential threat to democracy on the other hand, like how do you connect that?

 

Nsé Ufot: I think it’s the battlefields in which they choose to engage. You talk about 70 billion to replace lead pipes. I don’t know anybody on this panel today who would go to Flint, Michigan today and drink water out of the tap. And so that’s what people are talking about. Like, I want to put my cup under my faucet today. And if that is not happening, then you are telling them to like prepare for a future where things might possibly get better. And that is no different than how people have experienced political leadership before. So how is this different? Right. So the battlefield in which they choose to engage, it is a rhetorical one, right? They do need to continue to highlight their wins and they also need to be seen as fighting. Right. The idea that we could not get the John Lewis voting rights act passed when all of those people cried crocodile tears on the floor of the house when he died and talked about, you know, him taking a break to the face on the Edmund Pettus bridge for the right to vote. And like people invoking these really violent images and the sacrifices that Black voters have made to move this country forward and then would lie down and tell us that the filibuster is an institution worth preserving over the right to vote while the constitution is being shredded. What I’m saying is that, um, that people are not seeing the fight that people are not seeing. Again, the, I, the idea that we are being honest about what the stakes are and what they can do to make it happen. It’s still my colleague, the gentleman, the gentle lady from the great state of West Virginia, from the great state of Arizona, that there’s a commitment to collegiality. And there’s a commitment to talking about things in a particular way that is literally going to be the death of us.

 

Jon Favreau: So we moved on from, uh, national politics to state politics. I started off asking about voting rights. Uh, you just brought up John Lewis and the Voting Rights Act. Uh, let’s take a listen. Let’s talk about politics in Georgia. Do you think it’s easy enough to vote in Georgia right now?

 

[various voices]: Oh, that’s a loaded question. / Ooh. /I think it depends where you, it depends.

 

Jon Favreau: Actually, then let’s split it up personally. Have you found it difficult to vote at all? No. But go ahead. What do you think about for Georgians in general?

 

[clip of Voter]: Okay. So personally, I didn’t have an issue, but I had friends that were within a group chat and were like, okay, who’s voting where y’all voting today. Just trying to make sure everybody was good that day or early voting, whatever. So. I was never unregistered, but I had two people in that chat that were unregistered, and then it was a whole bunch of confusion about where they were supposed to go to vote.

 

Jon Favreau: Does anyone else know anyone who has had a difficult time voting in Georgia?

 

[clip of Voter]: Oh, yeah, my father did. So he lives in Southern Georgia in the smaller county. And he told me during the time when they was voting for the presidency, anybody that was in line after eight o’clock cuz the line was very long, they turned people away. They said we’re not doing anymore. It was predominantly Black in the neighborhood he lives in. And he’s told us that after a certain time they was telling people that you can’t vote no more.

 

[clip of Voter]: Yeah. I’ve basically had an inverse experience to them. I had it very easy. I come from a predominantly white area where everyone typically votes Republican and they made sure that we were all settled and they had a nice building for us with AC and all types of snacks.

 

Jon Favreau: Nsé I also asked these voters if they had heard about the voter suppression law that Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans passed last year, most had not the ones who had didn’t really know what was in it, but they all clearly believed it’s harder for Black voters to cast a ballot. What, what are groups like New Georgia project doing to help vote folks overcome voter suppression?

 

Nsé Ufot: Yeah. All of the things, what I will tell you is that, we’re in court, right? So we’ve filed impact litigation to try to stop some of the provisions from Senate bill 202, because the Republicans have cut 100 days from the absentee balloting, the vote by mail timeline, right? We are there’s the popular education sort of voter education, but also getting very annoying about telling people to request their absentee ballot and then doing an aggressive ballot chasing program. They’re 3000 polling locations in Georgia. And we, we aim to have eyes and ears at over half of them because there are five new crimes in Georgia’s election law. We are working with a number. So the national association of criminal defense lawyers, the NAACP legal defense fund. Because there are thousand Georgians currently who are being investigated for voter fraud, which carries within a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a hundred thousand dollars in fines for each voter. So trying to get very smart and very strategic because also while the candidates are enjoying historic fundraising quarters, consecutively, um, the work of the people who actually move Black voters to vote, um, has been criminally underfunded in this moment. So trying to raise resources and remind people of how we actually won in 2020 and how we actually won in 2021. And again, even with having literally once in a generation. Brilliant candidates like leader Abrams and Senator Warnock. There is an ecosystem. There is a formula, um, to how we move people to vote. Um, and it’s not just awesome speeches and great commercials with cute puppy dogs. You got to organize.

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. So, last clip we finally got to the midterms. I asked about the state’s two biggest races, uh, two of the biggest races in the country, Georgia governor and Georgia Senate. Let’s listen. What does everyone think of how Brian Kemp is doing as government?

 

[various voices]: He sucks / He sucks / He was behaving so irresponsibly / sore loser.

 

Jon Favreau: Um, what does everyone think of Stacey Abrams?

 

[various voices]: She’s / I don’t trust Democrat or Republican, cuz I don’t care if you, for the people and you putting up your hand and this, that, and the third Black power this we gonna get this together. Girl, you still part of the machine. So next. / How do you feel about Stacey? They’re good until they’re not. / Right. / We’re hopeful. We would be optimistic if she was put in position, but I’m sure we would be very disappointed, even more disappointed if she got in and didn’t know how to act.

 

Jon Favreau: So then I asked who planned on voting in November. Everyone raised their hand. I asked who planned on voting for Stacey Abrams. Most raised their hand, a few were undecided. So I asked how they’d make up their minds. Let’s listen to what one voter said. And then what they all think about the Senate race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.

 

[clip of Voter]: I would prefer her to do something more for the people, especially like this homeless situation, maybe an executive action to get something with the homeless. I don’t really care about her saying that what she’s gonna do to defund the police and all that stuff or whatever she’s saying, because it’s something I already heard before. It’s something to heard before her and before Kemp and all of that. So she hasn’t really proven to me that she’s someone I would wanna vote for right now. I need to see more of her policies. I don’t care that she’s Black. That’s not the reason why I’m vote for her. I’m not vote for her cuz she’s Black lot people. So I need to see exactly where her plan is and what her policy for me to really be like, okay, I can get behind you and support you on that until she can prove different. Then I don’t know who I’m gonna vote for at this point.

 

Jon Favreau: How do you think Raphael Warnock is doing, your Senator?

 

[various voices]: Yeah. / He hasn’t done enough. And that’s the reason why I forgot he was my Senator. [laughter] / Right. So I definitely did vote for Rapha Warnock cuz he was Black. I mean that was Black. Um, but I don’t know about Herschel Walker and apparently he’s very, so apparently from the campaign, I don’t know how true this is, but Herschel Walker is just making up things like I was in the FBI and I did, I don’t know how true this is. Definitely appreciated. We’re not bringing that to light, but I want you to use your air time on how you’re going to fix some issues that we need fixed. / It’s telling us why we shouldn’t vote for Walker rather than telling us why we should vote for him. Unfortunately. Cause they, they got Herschel looking crazy on no…

 

[clip of Voter 3]: To my eyes. Don’t have a bad history. Like. Woman beater, drugs, all this other stuff. Like, no, I’m not finna vote you in my guy we, fell out real quick. [laughter]

 

Jon Favreau: How many people plan to vote for Warnock again this November? Over Herschel Walker?

 

[clip of Voter 6]: Oh, oh, that’s for sure.

 

[clip of Voter 2]: Oh yeah, I’m gonna vote for.

 

[clip of Voter 1]: Oh yeah.

 

[clip of Voter 2]: I’ll maybe.

 

Jon Favreau: Symone, what stuck with me is the voter who said about Stacey. They’re good until they’re not, you know, there’s clearly no love for Kemp or Walker in this group, but it seems like there’s so much distress to the political system that at least some of these voters aren’t yet ready to take the leap of faith on StaceyAbrams, which like, you know, she talks about in her message all the time.

 

Jon Favreau: What do you think she does to overcome that? To sort of close that deal?

 

Symone Sanders: Look, I think that Stacey needs to stay out there and be, I know she recently released ad called Truth.

 

[clip of Stacey Abrams]: Brian Kemp wants to bash me for my honesty and lie about my record. But my parents taught me to tell the whole story. And that’s the truth.

 

Symone Sanders: And it goes on to talk about things that people cited in the focus groups that they cared about, like crime and public safety and what governor Kemp has not done. And I think the active debunking, but as we also heard in that focus group, people were like, well, we’re the, he’s just telling us why Herschel Walker is bad. And Reverend Warnock isn’t telling us why he’s good. And so Stacey Abrams has to do the active debunking, but also the campaign has continued to do the act of advocating for not only is Brian Kemp bad for you like this is why disinformation is a very powerful tool. And I heard a lot of misinformation and disinformation from that focus group. Like Stacey Abrams wants to defund the police. [laughter]

 

Terrance Woodbury: You saw my face?

 

Nsé Ufot: I was like, really? When? When did that happen?

 

Symone Sanders: It’s not true. But the people in that focus group, this is what they believe to be true. And that’s why this is one concerning, but two it’s illuminating because okay, if this is what you believe, and we know that this is not line up with the facts. What we can do is communicate with you, to you, with the facts.

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. So Terence, this is the age old question, right? You know, some of these, I know Democrats have been wisely, I think trying to make this election a choice between visions and point out the extremism of the Republican party. How do you do that? But also sell a vision to some of these voters who are saying, I want to hear what Stacey’s gonna do. I want to hear more from Warnock about what he’s gonna do. Like how do you strike that balance as a campaign?

 

Terrance Woodbury: Yeah. You know, we are electing politicians to lead multi-billion dollar budgets and determine a trillion dollars of expenditure in the US Senate. We expect them to be able to walk and chew gum. We expect him to be able to tell us why they should vote for them and why the other guy is bad too. We’re also looking at two of the most sophisticated candidates in the country here, I’m very reluctant to tell Stacey Abrams what she needs to do to get elected cuz I think she’s amongst the most effective communicators in the democratic party and I’m, and I’m getting paid to do that for Raphael Warnock. [laughter]

 

Symone Sanders: Aint giving way the secrets!

 

Terrance Woodbury: But that said, we do have to make this a contrast, and there is an existential threat that Republicans are facing. And, and it’s a contest of ideas, a contest of a vision forward. But one thing, I will hasten and warn those who are going to inject a lot of money into this Georgia politics. You gotta be careful how you criticize Herschel Walker to Black voters, because there’s a risk of, we did some focus groups and showed some of the exact same ads they’re showing on TV. And some of the questions we got back was. Well, who’s saying that about him, who wrote that. Because who the messenger is and who would, and who is drawing the distinction. And the contrast about him is going to be important to Black voters. And frankly you don’t need a bunch of messengers for Herschel Walker, just push play on him.

 

Nsé Ufot: And I’d be honest there’s nothing that a campaign can build in the next 76 days that will compete with the apparatus that we have. We have 18 offices across the state, right? Over 500 people on staff that are in deep relationship in deep community with leaders and, or like ordinary folks. Who are having, who are moving beyond the sort of transactional nature of the vote for my guy vote for my gal conversation and talking about, okay, we are in trouble and we need to figure out how we are gonna get ourselves out of this.

 

Jon Favreau: That’s great. Nsé, Terrance, Simon. Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you for the time. But this was a fantastic conversation, so I really appreciate all of you. Thank you.

 

Terrance Woodbury: Thank you.

 

Symone Sanders: Thank you It was great. Thank you.

 

Jon Favreau: Right. Take care, everyone.

 

Symone Sanders: See y’all.

 

Jon Favreau: The conversations I had with Nsé, Symone, Terrance, and the voters in Atlanta really stayed with me. Afterwards, I thought about something that Tiffanie Mackey told us – she’s one of the organizers we heard from at the beginning of the episode.

 

Tiffanie Mackey: There’s a book called Miner’s Canary, and it’s essentially talking about power over and power under and listening to the alarms that are happening in different communities across the country. And so I think that in the long game, it looks like not being as reactive and more proactive. So I think there are a lot of things that we could kind of pay attention to those alarms in and then create solutions around them so that we can create sustainable change.

 

Jon Favreau: We’ve heard these alarms throughout this season from communities who should be at the heart of the Democratic coalition. Black voters. Latino voters. Young voters. Voters who struggle to pay for school or housing, who live in places where the nearest abortion clinic is now hundreds of miles away, where gun violence has always been a problem. They’re voters who are being asked to save a political system that they don’t think is working for them. As Dan Wagner told us—

 

[clip of Dan Wagner]: They are looking at the political process right now through deep anxiety, because they’re going through a historical collapse in their standard of living as a result of inflation and rising home prices. And they’re thinking about how their families are going to get by. And politics is last, not first.

 

Jon Favreau: Again, I get how this can be frustrating. I saw the replies to my tweet about the undecided Biden voters I talked to this season: “How could anyone be undecided right now?” “Don’t they know how bad Republicans are?” “Don’t they know how much the Democrats have accomplished?” “Don’t they understand what’s at stake?” Well, remember what we heard this season.

 

[clip of Yanna Krupnikov]: I think it’s important to constantly acknowledge that in a person’s day, you have to think about, um, you know, they have a finite amount of attention and a lot of this attention is going basically to just figuring out how to live their lives often in, in, during really difficult circumstances.

 

[clip of Alex Wallach-Hansen]: The vast majority of people in our community are not waking up with a preformed and prefigured analysis of politics and connecting it to their lives and how they see the world, because they’re…not connected to any way where they touch power and see it show up in their lives. And so when kind of like political establishment people, the media, when they tell this story of, oh, voters in Pennsylvania have been persuaded by the Republican party message or have been persuaded by the, you know, the politics of fear and hate and division, that may be true for some people. But the vast majority of people who are voting are just showing up and picking between two people on that given day.

 

[clip of Katie Porter]: You know, there’s also a timing issue here, which is whenever people say, oh, nobody knows what’s going on. These students, they they’re trying to get through their day. They’re trying to go to their job. They’re trying to get to class on time. They’re trying to pay off their loans. They’re trying to save up for a house. So, I think it’s really incumbent on me to make sure we reach these voters. It’s our job to, to find these folks and to connect with them. It’s not their job to find us their job is just to find their ballot. It’s my job to make sure I find them.

 

Jon Favreau: Katie Porter’s right. That’s her job, and the job of every Democratic candidate. The voters we’ve heard from this season are sick of politics and most politicians, but they respond to leaders who show up, listen, and communicate in creative ways that break through the noise. Candidates who focus relentlessly on the issues that matter most to these voters – who aren’t afraid to ignore dumb political consultants like the one who told Katie that she shouldn’t talk about housing. These voters and millions like them have lost faith in nearly every institution – government, media, big corporations – and they’re looking for leaders who aren’t afraid to hold those institutions accountable when they mess up and screw people over. They’re looking for leaders who can actually make these institutions work, or else they may take a chance on demagogues like Trump who promise to tear them down. It’s one reason voters gravitate toward candidates who haven’t spent forever in Washington – candidates who don’t look or talk like typical politicians, who actually seem like normal people because they are.

 

[clip of Malcolm Kenyatta]: If we wanna change the Senate, we have to change the Senators. And I think that’s true for all of these positions. Like what the hell are we doing? Our candidates should be like working mom. You know, it should be the actual people who we are trying to reach because there is a fluency there that you cannot learn.

 

Jon Favreau: It’s on us to find and support these kinds of candidates. But it’s also on us to reach these voters. Remember, we have agency here. It’s not all that easy or fun to persuade undecided voters, but that’s the only way we win. Maybe you think we should focus more on turning out new or infrequent voters, who tend to be disproportionately young, low-income, and not white. I agree, but you should know that these Americans also tend to be more moderate, less ideological, less partisan, and less likely to follow politics – basically, they’re similar to the voters we heard from this season and getting them to register and turn out will also require the difficult work of persuasion. The grassroots organizers we’ve talked to, they get this.

 

[clip of Tram Nguyen]: It drives me crazy when campaigns purely focus on turnout. Um, people are not light switches that can be turned on and off. We actually have to persuade people and have real conversations with people about what they care about.

 

[clip of Melanie Arizmendi]: Everyday matters. There’s so little time and we have to make sure we talk to everyone that we can, and the only way to do that is to go on canvas, you know, to real, see, have a real conversation with. A lot of people…  they’ve given up, you know, they don’t, they don’t think it’s gonna help to go vote. And I think we have to tell them why it’s so important to go vote.

 

[clip of LaShawn Mcbride]: I’m not scared of a conversation that might not be so positive. That’s okay. Cuz that’s real. We are real people talking to real people on the other side of the door.

 

Jon Favreau: If we truly want to save democracy, we can’t be afraid of difficult conversations with people who might disagree with us. Because guess what? That’s what democracy is.

 

[clip of Shenker-Osorio]: Life is the world’s largest group project. And yes, we all hate group projects. Group projects are terrible, but that is the reality. Life is the world’s biggest group project. We are not going to make it through this thing if we do not recognize that we got to figure this shit out collectively, and people’s ability to recognize that and see past what right-wing authoritarian governments have always done, which is to pick some other two. And the cast changes, you know, it’s the Jews, it’s the Roma, it’s the refugees it’s Black people, it’s immigrants, it’s trans kids, whatever. It’s all of the above. People have an ability to recognize and see that. And when they do, and they point their finger in the correct direction, they will choose each other. And so that is what gives me hope.

 

Jon Favreau: In just a few more weeks, we’ll find out what’s changed in America over the last two years. It’s possible that historic patterns will hold; that voters will turn against the party in power, and – with some help from new gerrymanders and voter suppression laws – give Republicans control of Congress and state governments across the country. It’s also possible that this midterm election will be different, and that enough of 2020’s pro-democracy coalition will show up to put another check on the MAGA movement. And of course we could get a more muddled outcome that’s somewhere in between. But no matter what happens on November 8th, we’ll wake up on November 9th to a world where the threat to American democracy is still very much real and urgent. And we’ll have to keep fighting a battle that I think we all now realize isn’t gonna end anytime soon. What gives me hope is that we’ve been here before. One thing that struck me about the voters I talked to in Atlanta is that even though they were the most disillusioned with our political system, they were also the most committed to voting, and the most likely to say that politics is important – or at least that it shouldbe. Maybe that’s because they were thinking about how long and hard their grandparents fought for the right to vote – and why it meant so much to them. There are lessons for us now in the struggle for voting rights and civil rights – lessons about courage and perseverance; and most importantly, lessons about what it takes to build a successful political movement; about how to get people to show up and join and stick around.

 

Jhana Grant: I think that music has been such a big role in civil rights in general. If you go through the civil rights movement, like there’s all these soundtracks that kind of align with the times. And so it just only makes sense that music and like activism go together so yeah that’s the vibe that we’re trying to go for. And so to me, you want to feel enlightened. You wanna feel like fun, like you’re doing something enjoyable. You don’t want it to feel tedious and like a chore. So the idea is to let people feel welcome, to let them feel like it’s a space where it’s not so serious. It’s just a part of civic engagement. It’s a part of anything else you would do, like going to the club. Or going to have a drink with your friend or, turn it into a vibe that feels fun and easy and all are welcome. It’s not an intimidating space. It’s like a welcoming space. That’s the idea behind it. The feeling of hopefulness and inspiration is why we do it. That is the only hope I see is like taking the difficulty and the stress and the like tediousness out of the process. And girl, that’s gonna take a minute.

 

Jon Favreau: So yeah, the fight to save democracy will take a minute. Maybe years. Maybe our whole lives. Which is why this movement can’t just be fueled by moral outrage and righteous anger. The only answer to a politics of fear and grievance and division is empathy and grace and solidarity. When you’re calling a voter or trying to register one, when you’re making a pitch to someone who isn’t sure what they’ll do on Election Day, remember that you’re not trying to win a debate with that person. You’re trying to win them over. You’re trying to get them to choose a version of this country where we treat each other with respect and dignity, where we take care of each other; where we choose each other. And if we want people to choose each other, we need to make this group project appealing. We need to make it inspiring. And just like the songs that welcome voters to the polls and keep them in line for way too long, we have to sustain this movement with a sense of joy. In the end, it’s our only way out.

 

Jon Favreau: The Wilderness is an original podcast from Crooked Media. Season 3 is produced by Dustlight Productions. I’m your host, Jon Favreau. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Sarah Geismer, Katie Long and me. Special thanks to Alison Falzetta and Andie Taft for production support, and to Mike Kulisheck from Benenson Strategy Group who helped us with our focus groups. From Dustlight, our executive producer is Misha Euceph. Arwen Nicks is our executive editor. Stephanie Cohn is the senior producer. Tamika Adams is the producer and Franchesca Diaz is the Assistant Producer. This episode was sound designed by Tamika Adams. Valentino Rivera is our senior engineer. Martin Fowler is the composer. Thanks to our development and operations coordinator at Dustlight, Rachael Garcia and to Chrissy Maron for archival legal review. If you want to learn more about how you can take action in the fight for our democracy, head over to votesaveamerica.com/midterms.