As a podcast born from the madness of the 2016 election, it only makes sense that we do an election special. Tune in to hear a special shade tree segment, our thoughts on voting plans and electability. Anju pops off. It’s pretty much Miranda and Puja’s favorite. Finally, we close with a dramatic reading you won’t want to miss. We had to bring the humor. You know what they say, laugh to keep from spiraling–we mean crying. Both.
Listen to Season 4, Episode 2
Season 4 is on Spotify
If you have been with us from the beginning, you know that we started this podcast as a reaction to the 2016 Presidential Elections. And if you knew that, you knew we were going to cover the 2020 Election. And of course we start off with “Shade Tree” segment (the first one of the season). Miranda kicked it off with a twofer: Influential People who say stupid shit and the laziness of the electorate. Anju urged people to pay attention to local elections, while Puja went through all the voter suppression tactics that have taken place since 2010.
25 states have enacted new voting rights restrictions centered around PHOTO ID, Early Voting Cutbacks, and Registration Restrictions. And the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision from the Supreme Court, the pre-clearance formula was deemed unconstitutional, rendering a majority of the Voting Rights Act ineffectual. Other voter suppression tactics include the voting purges initiated by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. During mid-terms Election we saw Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp cheat his way to the Governor’s mansion. Not to be outdone, 2020 added USPS scandals to prevent mail-in voting and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals brought back poll taxes in FL for returning citizens.
During the second segment, we discussed how to be an informed voter. Anju talked about the importance of studying the ballot and provided resources to review measures proposed by your jurisdiction. Miranda advised going one level deeper and begin a civics education. Using Ballotopedia as a resource, Miranda will research what roles are up for election, how long the terms are, and the experience of the candidates. Propaganda identification and avoidance was what Puja focused on, in an attempt to help you identify misinformation campaigns. There is at least one instance of Sinclair Media reacting to public pressure and yanking a false pandemic story.
In the final segment, we discuss “Electability” and what it actually means vs. what people think it means, and how it translates to enforcing the status quo. We closed with a dramatic recreation of the best “say my name” moment of 2020, Representative Pramila Jayapal asking her colleague to pronounce here name correctly.
Transcript of Season 4, Episode 2
Miranda: What are y’all drinking? I feel like that’s what we need to start. We just need to jump right into it. Let’s be honest with ourselves. I’m drinking a Moscow mule. I feel like there’s a joke there.
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Announcer: You’re listening to the Jilted Indian Podcast, a show that examines the immigrant and 1st Gen South Asian American experience through politics, history, and pop culture. Join our hosts as they explore all the ways they don’t fit in, reclaim their connections to their Indian heritage, and eventually say, “Fuck it, we’re starting a feminist commune”. Here are your hosts.
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Anju: Hello and welcome back, Jilted Indian Podcast listeners! This is Anju.
Miranda: And Miranda and we come with love and courage to present our 2020 election special.
Puja: What seems like an election cycle that began November 10th, 2016, has – at the time of this recording – 52 days to come full square, circle, whatever is going to happen.
Miranda: Full spiral.
Puja: During these four fraught years, we have seen massive corruption, scandal, incompetence… And on top of all that, so much rests on this election. So we thought since we– this podcast was born out of the angst of the 2016 election, we are, you know, celebrating our birth kind of, or perhaps heralding our death with an election special. So, in this episode, we’re gonna call out some people, some habits and tactics, and you know, we’re going to kick things right off with everyone’s favorite segment, The Shade Tree. So who we callin’ out today?
Miranda: The Shade Tree? I thought it was bright in here.
Puja: It was, it was too bright.
Miranda: Well. Can I—Can I go first?
Puja: Please do.
Anju: Of course.
Miranda: You know how, like, some people won’t stop talking? You know, despite how problematic everything they’ve been saying for the last four years has been… Some people just don’t shut up. Like Susan Sarandon, Anju’s favorite person.
Puja: Anju, are you gonna take that slander?
Anju: I mean, that’s– On the one hand, I’m surprised she’s my favorite person but, on the other hand, you know what? It’s not inaccurate. I do hate her guts. So there you go.
Miranda: Um, how many times has Susan Sarandon said, like, problematic things? During the last four years. And, actually, prior to the 2016 election. She was a problematic voice. And you would think that, while we have an apocalypse-like situation with this current occupant, you’d think she’d shut the fuck up. And not say shit to, like, influence people against voting for the candidate most likely to prevent said apocalypse. You know what I mean?
Puja: I wanted to bring up the fact that not only is she just saying stuff, I mean what was the last four years about? People need to sit and listen. So you just saying this meant you never sat and listened in that four years. You just out here again, you know, showing that you are incapable of learning. And, you know, nobody has time for that anymore. And I hate to see the conversation turned to dismissing a woman’s opinion and voice. I don’t necessarily agree with that. But when it’s just coming from such a place of unoriginality, expected ignorance… What are you adding to the conversation? And for that reason alone, I agree she needs to shut up. I just want to point out that we have nuance in when we tell women to shut up here.
Miranda: When we’re telling a woman to shut up, it’s because she’s foot-soldiering for the patriarchy and for white supremacy.
Miranda: Let us be very fucking clear. When we tell a woman to shut the fuck up, it’s because she is foot-soldiering for the patriarchy and for white supremacy.
Anju: I mean, feminism isn’t supporting all women, no matter how problematic and destructive their bullshit is. That’s not what feminism is.
Miranda: Correct. Correct. And she is– I don’t even want to say what she’s saying. All I need to say is please shut the fuck up. She along with, you know, I don’t know, a number of people who aren’t quite aware of their privilege, talking about the same things that people talked about back in 2016. Which is, “What 3rd party candidate are you going to vote for?” “What other person are you going to vote for?” You know, “It’s your voice. You use your voice in the way you want.” And people of color are going “Nooo! No! No. This is not the election to do that shit.” And I think that’s a very controversial topic. But you cannot post a black square on Blackout Tuesday and then go “You guys, I’m gonna vote for the candidate that I feel I connect with the most.” No! You need to actually think of other people and their perspectives and what happens to them if you decide to waste your vote. Waste your vote. On some person who has no shot of winning. We need an adult in the White House, not the perfect one, not the perfect candidate. There is no voting for the perfect candidate. We need a competent adult in the White House and you’re using your platform to keep people from saving marginalized people in our country with a candidate that will, I don’t know, not put kids in cages? Somebody help me.
Puja: I thought we had all come to the conclusion that we are going to center experts. This happened because people fell in love with a cult of personality and individuals who– You know, these populist fascists that appealed to whatever basic, single issue that unites these people. (Racism.) And when the people who knew about these things were trying to speak up, people instead were busy getting their feelings hurt about being called part of a racist institution. Being called out or gathered in or asked to recognize privilege and things like that. But it seems like Susan Sarandon and people who just put up black boxes don’t recognize that they haven’t changed. And, so when they are dismissed, it’s because we’ve moved on and we don’t need your voice.
Miranda: Or we can’t count on you.
Miranda: We cannot count on you. So who do I pull under The Shade Tree? Drag under The Shade Tree? I drag all the Susan Fucking Sarandons of the world under The Shade Tree and under The Shade Tree they will fucking stay. Because the way you talk and the effect that your voice has can be exponential and influential and you don’t get to take that back. You don’t get to take that back. You don’t get redemption. And I– The saltiness is already coming out. We’re only like 5 minutes into this episode.
Puja: We should have drank margaritas.
Miranda: Yeah, maybe. Like something stronger than a Moscow mule. But what about you, Anju? Who are you dragging under The Shade Tree?
Anju: Um, my shade is for a collective national attitude that says that only federal elections matter. Specifically the presidency, but I think now people at least realize that the Senate and the Congress is also important. But I would just like to point out that… All elections matter. The closer an election is to where you live, the more it affects your actual life. We have elections every year, not every four years or even every two years. And turnout in this country for municipal elections is abysmal. Abysmal, y’all.
Anju: Like 15 to 27% of eligible voters cast votes in their local elections and the vast majority of them are rich, white, and over 65. So we’re letting rich, white, over 65 year-old people make decisions about the policies that affect everyone else when you don’t show up and you don’t vote.
Miranda: For example, most recently, we had a runoff election for who’s running for Senate in the state of Texas. In the Democratic primary. Right? And the difference between the two candidates, Royce West and MJ Hegar? It was in the 10s of thousands. Am I correct? I believe it was something absolutely marginal. Texas– The people who showed up to vote were split. And it, I think, it barely broke a million voters. Am I correct about that?
Miranda: I think I’m correct about that.
Puja: Texas is known nationally among voting rights organizations or, you know, get out the vote groups as a state of non-voters. It’s not that– People are registered, they just don’t show up.
Puja: You know. And even the number registered is– It’s such a small percentage of the eligible voters. And I think we will all agree that, you know, people expressing valid rights not to vote, that’s their First Amendment right as well. It’s their– Voting is a right. You know, we can’t really judge people on how they choose to express that right. We can advise them not to use it to harm us. But we’re not here to judge how people vote because that will literally set us off. So Anju is making some points that, you know… Locally, you don’t want to spend so much money on, you know, the local stadium, you gotta vote locally. That’s not every four years
Miranda: Correct. Yes.
Anju: I was telling them before we started recording about an anecdote from when I was in college. I used to bitch about this road that I drove down to get to school every day and it was a mess. It was just riddled with potholes for like 8 years, I drove up and down this– I mean it took me 7 1/2 years to graduate. But even before that I used to drive this road a lot. Riddled with potholes the whole time. And all it takes is, like, showing up and voting to make the City Council aware that this is a thing you care about and then maybe they’ll actually spend money to fix it. You know what I mean? Like, things that are that small and that simple and that directly related to your everyday life, we have an actual ability to affect. Especially when so few people vote at the city level, your vote means even more. So just show up and do something about it.
Miranda: Ugh. So nonvoters of local elections, under The Shade Tree you go. Puja?
Puja: Oh gosh. We need a Shade Orchard for my topic. OK, so buckle up, buckaroos and buckarettes. We are talking voter suppression. By no means is this list exhaustive. We will have resources in the show notes for everything we’ve talked about and it will include a link to a podcast called the 5-4 podcast. And that details a lot of Supreme Court decisions and the politics behind it and the effects of them. It is worth your listen. So especially the episode called Shelby County v. Holder. So let’s get started. You know me, guys. I have a timeline. I have a list. Let’s get started. So since 2010, according to the Brennan Center, 25 states have enacted new voting rights restrictions. Since 2010, 25 states. And those things have been centered around photo ID, early voting cutoffs, and registration restrictions. Hmm. Guess what kind of neighborhoods and people they target?
Miranda: I’m gonna guess there’s melanin involved. Am I close?
Puja: Yeah. Yeah and, you know, based on zip code as well. You know? So those areas get voting locations shut down and never reopened. You know, reduced hours. And so… Things like direct match to the DMV records versus the voter rolls. Knowing those systems don’t correspond with each other. So one may leave off your middle initial, one may require it, and if you don’t match, you can’t vote. It’s stupid things like that. Cut to 2013. We have Shelby County versus Holder. If you know anything about the Voting Rights Act that was passed with the Civil Rights legislation, you know this is the crown jewel of it. OK? This said, because the South cannot be trusted – and some counties in the North – cannot be trusted to allow people of color to vote. They said “OK, you have to go through a thing called preclearance. And how we decide what preclearance is, we have a formula in this thing. And what that means is, anytime these states or counties, if they want to change their voting legislation, it has to be approved by Congress.” OK? That’s what that was. John Roberts and the 5-4 majority said, “You know what? That formula is unconstitutional. You can’t use it.” And didn’t specify that it was just for Shelby County, Alabama, maybe. So the nine states that were under preclearance requirement for the last 50+ years were– Guess what they were. Somebody just guess. Guess ’em.
Miranda: It’s too easy.
Anju: Confederate states?
Puja: Yeah. It’s Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Miranda: Can I say something?
Miranda: OK, I have a point. “Keeping up with the Kardashians” just announced that they’re going to end their show soon. I just want to point out that they lasted longer than the Confederate Army.
Anju: Lots of things lasted longer than the Confederate Army.
Miranda: A lot of things lasted longer than the Confederate army, but these are the states.
Puja: Anju’s college career lasted longer than the Confederate Army.
Anju: This is true.
Miranda: And I feel like it is deeply embedded in the heritage of these States and the people who have run them.
Anju: But John Roberts decided that racism was over and, therefore, we no longer needed preclearance.
Puja: Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the dissent pretty much was, you know, the equivalent of screaming into the void. If a dissent could do that. You know? It’s just like, OK, you don’t live in this timeline. Cut to four years later, the effects of gutting this, right? So all these things to do what? Purge voter rolls. So what’s the thing we all know about? That frickin’ inter-state crosscheck attempt by that swap monster from landlocked Kansas, Kris Kobach, and his purging of voter rolls in Kansas that went nationwide. Remember that? So that said “DMV, one-to-one match.” That’s that, “if you haven’t shown up to the polls in the last one election, you’re off the roll.” Even if you re-register to vote, they’re going to hold up your application. This is in Kansas, right? And, of course, in everywhere else I just named. When you have Republican leadership at the Secretary of State or the governor’s office, this occurred. That is proven, there are statistics to back that up. What also happened here was the ACLU sued him and this whole voter purge process. And they sued it on privacy matters and data integrity and the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy. So it wasn’t some “You’re suppressing voter rights.” It’s like “How you’re administering this little ramshackle program is making people’s personally-identifiable information very vulnerable.” OK. So it’s like, “OK, you know, you get kicked off of voting and your identity gets stolen, yay.” And that– you know. OK, calm down, Puja. Calm. Down.
Miranda: I was going to say my Moscow mule is gone now.
Miranda: And we’re not even that far into this episode.
Puja: Yes. So the next thing– I mean, I could give you the stats but I’ll put him on the show notes about the exact breakdown by minority group. How that rule– What that rule did. It’s like, one in six Latinx voters , off the rolls. Right? So 2018, we come to Brian Kemp versus Stacey Abrams for the governorship.
Miranda: Oh my fucking god, that asshole. Yes.
Puja: Okay, breathe.
Miranda: Please do go on.
Puja: Oh, god, breathe.
Miranda: The Shade Orchard.
Puja: Breathe. The Shade Orchard. So. On a single day in July of 2017, Brian Kemp, as Secretary of State, removed 560,000 Georgians from the voting rolls. They had been flagged because they skipped – quote, unquote – “too many elections.” In 2014, also in his capacity as Secretary of State, Brian Kemp sued Stacey Abrams’s new Georgia project group over them registering people to vote. So Brian Kemp cheated to become governor of Georgia by closing polling locations, by reducing the hours. And of course, the goons that live there – the deplorables – did voter intimidation. Lines were out the door. People were waiting hours to vote.
Anju: Machines didn’t work.
Puja: Yeah, machines didn’t work, and that’s aside from concerns about hacking. I know we all remember that people were like, “OK, this county used this election software and this election software has ties to Cambridge Analytica.” You know?
Anju: It’s known in Georgia that Russians were poking around the election software, that there were vulnerabilities in the software, and Brian Kemp as Secretary of State covered it up and refused to do shit about it.
Puja: <Sigh> God. OK.
Miranda: OK, OK. Blood pressure check. Are we all good? Are we alive? Is your heart, like, hurting? Are we clutching our heart?
Puja: I mean, by the end– By the end of this segment, we may all have combusted.
Puja: So the next big voter suppression thing that can go under The Shade Tree is Louis DeJoy. And what he has done to the United States Postal Service. The mail delays. Now they’re send– Now some people are reporting that they’re getting false mail-in ballot information with USPS art and it had, you know, whatever, headers and things like that on it. And people are saying the information’s wrong. And also they are dismantling mail sorting machines and destroying parts before they can be restored. They are cutting hours. What that means is, if there is mail leftover to be delivered, the post office does another shift. Or they resend somebody out. Now they don’t do that.
Anju: They used to.
Puja: They used. Now they don’t do that. They’re also cutting– They’re cutting overtime, they’re adjusting shifts, they’re destroying machines. They are also putting other methods of slowing down the mail, such as requiring all mail to be sorted, not at the local branch but at a central branch, and then sent out to be delivered. So all these things from somebody who supposedly knows supply chain. And how to keep things moving and productive. So this is definitely a deliberate act to prevent people – during a pandemic – from using mail-in ballots.
Miranda: And also just keeping them from voting in general. Like, there’s nothing we can trust, we can’t this or we can’t that. And it’s just part of the rhetoric. And, I mean, every gap in our educational system, in who we are as a society, is being used at this very moment and we are being manipulated with our soft spots. They’re being poked at. And this is one of them. You know? We’re survivalist beings. If something is even deemed as even slightly trustworthy, we’re going to begin to question it. That’s just how we are as human beings. And, if you’re not capable of critical thinking, if you are not used to critical thinking, having a scout mindset, looking at all the possibilities of what is an actual—You know, what’s actually going on in this situation, you might be influenced into not voting at all. And that’s the point.
Puja: And, yeah, or just be so ground down in the bureaucracy of it that you don’t find it worth your time. Like, you’re just so fatigued and fed up but by the time it gets around to proving you are entitled to vote, what’s– You know? After being dehumanized and given the run around, how are you supposed to then get in line and then it’s one more thing, right? It’s the death by 1,000 cuts. It’s the boiling frog. All of these things and I’m not done yet. The final thing: Literally yesterday– We’re recording this on, you know, September 12th. Literally, yesterday, the news came out that the 11th Circuit federal court said that Florida is within its rights to require the newly restored voting rights of the incarcerated, right? The formerly incarcerated. The state of Florida is within its rights to deny them the right to vote if they have outstanding fees and fines on their record.
Miranda: I need all of them to have painful urination for the rest of their lives. I need all of them to have painful urination for the rest of their lives.
Puja: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You know, I’ve opined about, every time you pee, it should be a different painful sensation. So I agree. The other thing about it is… This is a poll tax! This is already deemed unconstitutional 60 years ago when we tried to escape the clutches– Well, when we thought we were escaping the clutches of Jim Crow. This is a poll tax on a right guaranteed by the Constitution. This is a bar on a guaranteed right as an American. Because why? Because why? Because the for-profit prison system primarily incarcerates brown and black bodies.
Miranda: I was going to say white supremacy is a much more concise way of saying it.
Puja: Oh, well, yes. Yes. Yes. Sorry, I wanted to get into the nuance and– We should have given a note up top. “We’re going to rant” and so…
Miranda: If they opened it when it said “election special”, they knew what they were getting.
Puja: Yes. So that is what I put under The Shade Orchard is the tactical and chronic attacks on the voting rights of people of color and the poor in this country. And the young, frankly, because what they’re doing to college students and where they’re required to register is disturbing.
Miranda: Yeah. That’s one hell of an ice breaker.
Puja: We broke a glacier down. Sea levels are rising.
Miranda: Uh, yeah, yeah.
Anju: We’re contributing to global warming.
Miranda: Yeah. So your vote has a long term effect. And I mean, long term effect. So, I know I’ve said this before, but if you voted for a rando that was not going to win. Or if you voted Republican ’cause you vote down-ticket and you’re conservative. Or if you voted in a way that– It’s just wild to me because, like, people who are like, down-ticket, they’re all– You know, they may be down-ticket conservative so they’re down-ticket pro-capitalist. But the thing about it is… Ruining the Earth fucks with capitalism! You guys don’t even understand your own system. Like, real quick, real quick… You’re pro-capitalism, yet your decision to vote down-ballot conservative and not pay attention to climate change – because for some reason conservatives are against climate change? Well, guess what? That fucks with your capitalism. Those capitalistic companies cannot take advantage of the resources that they are siphoning out of our earth to the Earth’s detriment. So you don’t even know what you’re voting for. That’s the nutty thing to me. And, I think, from here we can go on to talking about the importance of having an actual voting plan.
Puja: Yes. So the thing to remember about a voting plan is you need to be aware where your polling place is. Like we said, there are efforts to move them. The best place to check is your Secretary of State’s website. You need to know when your polls are open. You need to be prepared to wait in line and you also, this year and maybe for years to come, be very cognizant of social distancing and other health concerns while you’re out there in person because… The other thing is, take a friend. You know? The more people that we go to the polls with, the better.
Anju: And also, of course, if you don’t want to go in person, make sure that you request a mail-in ballot – if you can – as soon as possible.
Puja: Yes, and pay attention to groups that are providing help to fill those out and research them thoroughly. ‘Cause sometimes, that’s where they are making sure that your ballots are incorrect, and the state could also put undue burdens on completing those, so… You may need help with them. Just be careful and wary of who’s helping you with it.
Miranda: Yes, and I was going to say you do not actually have to mail in your mail-in ballot. You can walk it to a local elections office. So do your work ahead of time to find out where that is.
Anju: And, also, I would say call and make sure that they got it. That’s what I did when I called the election office to make sure that they got my parents’ applications ’cause I wanted to make sure that they would get their ballots in time.
Miranda: So there’s all these helpful things in place. Things that make you, I don’t know, trust the process. So…
Anju: Or, if you don’t trust the process, at least things you can do to, you know, keep your eye on it.
Miranda: Yes, exactly.
Miranda: So, um, I’m glad we talked about this because I think this leads us to talking about– OK, now. Now that you have a plan… What can you do with your actual vote? How can you vote responsibly?
Anju: Right, so this segment is where we talk about how to be an informed voter. The things that you can do to make sure that you know when you go into your polling location, or when you’re filling out your mail-in ballot, make sure that you know what your races are. You know who you’re voting for. You have the correct information to make your decisions. So that you can make the best decision possible, right? So, for me, that involves… I want to know what’s on my ballot. I want to know which races that I can vote for. And I want to know who’s on that ballot, what they stand for, and who I’m going to vote for. So we’re going to provide links for all these things in the show notes. The first thing I wanted to give you guys is Vote.org, which is kind of a handy one-stop shop where you can check to see if you’re registered, you can register online or – for Texas where you can’t register online – you can request registration– Which, technically, by the way, it’s too late for that. ‘Cause the cutoff in Texas is earlier than everywhere else. It’s August 31st, so hopefully you’re already registered. And you can also request a mail-in ballot there and you can also – when we get closer – you can look up what your polling location is. And also, it allows you to set reminders as we get closer to the election, which is pretty handy. And then I like looking at my ballot. I use Vote411 for that which is run by the League of Women Voters. You can put in your address and it pulls up the races that you can actually vote in. Which is handy. And then the League of Women Voters puts out a voting guide every election. It’s a whole, like, booklet that has every race that’s in your jurisdiction– Not specifically just the ones that you can vote for but usually it’s, like, by city or whatever, or county. It’ll have every race. They do questionnaires that they send to the candidates and have them send back the answers and they’ll print out the answers. So you’ll have every person who is running in a specific election, in a specific race, and they’ll have their answers to these specific questions. Plus, like, a little bit about their background, their education, things like that. So that’s a really good way to get information about who these people are and what they stand for so that you can make your decision about who you want to vote for.
Puja: And if you have the accessibility to join these virtual candidate meetings and things like that… You can also look at the, you know, local organizations or civic groups that you donate to or that you support, even national organizations, and see what they’re saying about what they need from candidates. What promises they need to be kept and things like that. So when you attend these virtual things and if there’s a question and answer or you can submit questions before, hold these candidates accountable. Find out more about what their actual beliefs are in before you cast that ballot. If that’s how you want to feel comfortable and you don’t trust anything, that’s how you take control of your own education here.
Miranda: Yes. I want to add to that, that it is 100% OK if you don’t know everything. We’re not saying you need to know everything, we’re saying be proactive in finding the answers. So you have something that you are obviously motivated by. You have issues that are close to your heart. Do you know exactly how those issues play out? What offices and what roles are involved? At the municipal level? At the state level? At the federal level? Do you understand how some roles have terms versus some having lifetime appointments? And that those appointments are chosen by who you elect for term appointments. Like this is not some small deal. At all. Getting educated about civics– I mean, we, unfortunately, are cursed in that, like, civics are taught by the gym teacher who’s looking for a teaching credit in school to teach. You know? Not that gym teachers can’t be great civics education professors or teachers. I’m saying, it is not given enough precedence, along with– You name it. Like, taxes are not taught in school. The things we actually need to function in society are not taught in school. So it really is on us right now to become educated about who is involved in what we care about? In addition to what Anju was talking about, the League of Women Voters, there’s also Ballotpedia. I think is how it is, ballotpedia.org. And, if you go there, choose your state. There is all sorts of information on federal elections, state elections, local elections, on policy, on laws. Have you ever gone to an election, ladies, and saw that you were voting on a particular law or ruling or…?
Anju: Constitutional amendment.
Miranda: Yes. There’s the ability to vote for those things and those are on the ballot, not just on Election Day. There are elections that occur, as we’ve said, on other years, at other times. And it’s for– You know, what we’re asking you to do is to stay aware all the time. To be actually active in the way your city is run, the way your state is run, the way your country is run. Anju?
Anju: I also want to point out, you don’t have to memorize this information before you go into your polling location. You can– I always take a cheat sheet. Write down the races and who you’ve decided that you want to support in those races and then take that sheet into your polling location with you. So that’s a thing you can do, you don’t have to have it memorized, and that way you’re prepared when you get there. The last thing I wanted to talk about ’cause this is important. In the vein of what I was saying earlier about local elections matter. In 2020, we have the opportunity to flip the Texas State House, which is really important because, obviously, the governor’s mansion and the Texas Senate are both already controlled by the Republicans. And next year, after this year’s census counting, they’ll be redrawing the districts for the next decade. So, if we don’t flip the state house, that means Republicans will control both houses and the governor’s office. And they will gerrymander the shit out of the state for the next decade and we will have lost all the ground that we’ve gained and it’ll be pretty much impossible until, probably the end of the decade, to try and fix that. So. We only need nine seats in the state house. It’s really, really doable. I think there were, like, 22 seats that were lost by less than 10 points in 2018. So very possible to do that. We’re gonna include a link in the show notes for a website called FlipTheTXHouse.com which will show you exactly which house races they’re targeting to flip. And see if there’s one near you. It’s in most of the major municipal areas – DFW, Houston, I think there might be a couple in Austin. So, yes. By all means, pay attention. That’s really, really important. Not just for local but, also, like, it’ll help to determine the makeup of Congress for the next decade.
Puja: I think that one thing we all need to be very aware of in being informed is that there are active attempts to inform us that do not come from good intentions. Right? So I’m gonna talk a little bit about propaganda. So, couple things. Propaganda is becoming very sophisticated. Things you have to be aware of are manipulated images and videos. For example, Fox News recently doctored video of the protests in Seattle. There was that incident with the National Archives deleting a sign from one of the protesters for the Women’s March because it had vulgar language on it. So things like that are manipulated to give you a certain narrative, to prove a certain narrative. And the thing about propaganda is that it serves to persuade or antagonize you so that you have strong feelings about something. It triggers you. And that triggering of you sets off all these emotional alarm bells within you that then stop or inhibit your rational thought process. So, for example, if you believe a presidential candidate is sacrificing children so somebody can drink their blood. That, because you care about children, this news is horrifying to you. So then you want to do something to help these children and anything else about the situation, telling you that it’s false, that this is not happening, does not matter because you need to save these children. That’s what I’m talking about. On the other side of the coin, when other people hear “Defund the police”, they think a certain way, right? Instead of listening to what that means, you let your fear – that strong emotion – prime you to be receptive to things you already have a bias towards. So that’s how propaganda operates. So manipulated images. Do not trust Facebook. Whereas other social media platforms are actively seeking to ban false news, to highlight what is fake news, Facebook is not. They allow conspiracy theory websites to be included in their verified fact check group, so their little crazy videos look to be verified fact to the people who are susceptible to believing them. And then, the final thing, is that like Russia and North Korea, there are foot soldiers speaking in absolutist language. Right? So Russia and North Korea, I bring them up because they have state TV. And with state TV in America, we also have things like OANN. We have Fox News and all that stuff. So, absolutist language. I strongly urge everybody to go to public libraries. Their websites, their resources, have fantastic things about them and public libraries are literally doing so much work in helping you recognize what is propaganda and what is fake news. Go to any public library’s website. There is a section on it. And we will definitely include some in the show notes. So I want you to be an informed voter by realizing what is serving to misinform you.
Miranda: Yeah, critical thinking. Critical thinking. Like, my– Um, how many of y’all have got into a fight with somebody you’re related to because they fell for some bullshit propaganda? Like they– It’s especially harmful for, you know, people who are not first language, English is not their first language. Or maybe they’re new to technology. Like, please talk to your relatives. Like, I’m– I’ve– I can’t. You know? Like, my mom and I got into a fight recently over some shit she saw. And I’m just like, “Why can’t you think for yourself?!” Like, it’s just so funny. ‘Cause my mom is a sweet, innocent person. Like she’s not– She is– It is so manipulative and awful. And it’s just not what that generation used to know. And add to it immigrants, you know? So I love that you brought that up. We need to talk about this, you know, thorn in our side. This topic called Electability. There is a quote from a New York Times article. The New York Times has made me angry more often than I like as of late but this is actually, like, a valid statement. So. And it’s, like, supported by political science research. So. When people talk about “electability”, it’s often code for reinforcing existing ideas about presidents. Namely that they are white males who can win white male voters. But history shows us that the candidate who understands the current moment, not the last campaign, usually wins the race. How apropos.
Puja: Yes. So I think electability, how we should think about it or how we can think about it, it changes with each generation. What the values are, what the norms are, what the country needs at the time– Except this time, that ain’t coming into anybody’s thought process in the 30%. But it’s, you know, to the victor, writes history. So whoever wins, it’s like “OK, that is electable.” That’s what’s going to win. Right? So. When we talk about electability, we should interrogate what, you know, what we’ve said earlier in the “how to election” and “how to be a responsible voter”. Interrogate the candidate, interrogate the campaign. So real quick, before we dive deep into this. What are a couple of things you always look out for when you are evaluating a campaign?
Miranda: Well, I’m gonna go ahead and say I don’t think any single person is just sitting around not thinking about what matters to them. So from the foundation of what matters to you. From the foundation of what you feel our gaps in society are. And I hope and encourage you to look at that through an equitable lens.
Miranda: It’s not just about what you need but what our society needs. You know? People who are pro-capitalism? Meh, be pro-capitalism. Does your capitalism benefit society or hurt it? Is everyone thriving in your capitalistic society? If the answer is no, well then there’s something wrong with your capitalism. That is inarguable. Your ideologies ought to benefit society. If you’re thinking about how a vote outcome works. So I’d have to say, we’ll start from what matters to you. Start with what matters to you. And then use that to begin your journey in discovering what candidates and campaigns are about. This has, again, has to be tied to “What is your education of civics?” What is your understanding of municipal government? What is your understanding of state government? What is your understanding of our national and federal government? Those gaps need to be filled. Or, I hate to say it, but your words are empty. Right? You know how people, like, take on the rhetoric of a campaign or they take on the rhetoric of a candidate and they’re missing all of that foundation underneath? They’re missing all of how our country and states and, you know, local governments actually work. We’re missing that education. So I have to say start with what matters to you. What are these candidates saying about what matters to you? Now zoom out. What’s the big picture? And how does what that candidate is saying about that thing that matters to you, how does it fit into the full picture? And is everyone included? That’s what I think of. What I don’t understand, I seek to understand better. So it’s not about knowing and being a knower and being right. It’s about learning and being curious and finding out and questioning. Like, yes, propaganda’s out there. Manipulations are out there. It doesn’t mean do not trust, but rather what does the data say? Follow the data. That’s what I have to say about that.
Puja: There is nothing wrong in admitting you don’t know something and being an active learner because that’s how you can easily determine whether or not you’re being lied to. Again, you’ve researched it. You’ve verified it with reputable sources. Not, you know, the Q place. Not the 4 place. Not, you know, your uncle’s weird, you know, paramilitary militia group on Saturdays when you go deer hunting. It’s not– It’s not those things.
Miranda: Your gym teacher who taught government who didn’t care about what you learned.
Puja: And, you know, if you’re looking at platforms and you’re looking at campaign promises, you also have to look at, you know, the impact and intent of all of those things. And maybe move beyond being a single issue voter. So when we talk about, like, electability, you have the conundrum of a lot of people courting single issue voters, courting, quote unquote “independent voters”, even though the data shows that there’s always a lean. And it’s always Republican. You know, you look at these things. You make a decision. And if the decision is “This person will do what I want to be done, will ban the books I want banned”, then that’s electable to you. But if somebody else looks at that person and says “They are a terrorist to free speech and expression”, that’s not electability to them. So, you know, everything is organic. And I think the lesson here is we need to be – even though it’s very hard – patient with people who are learning. I’m not saying being patient with bigots. Patient with people who are learning, genuinely and curiously trying to do this. We have love for you. We want you to be a better citizen and voter, where you’re not going to be shamed. And if you’re shaming people who are learning, fuck off.
Miranda: But we also struggle with that. Because, look, I have shat on 3rd party and vote protesters for four years. OK? Almost four years. I have shat on these people. Please understand too the frustrations of marginalized communities who are crying out for you to see them and for you to see their struggles and for you to see their inequity. So I’m saying, with that, I am with you, Puja. Like, I am with you. Yes, we are all learning. But sometimes your knowledge gap is someone else’s torture. Does that make sense?
Puja: Yes, it’s a common theme of mansplaining. You think you know everything and you don’t. Just approach everything with an open mind and pretend you have impostor syndrome and always, like, how I feel when I’m in a room. “I’m the dumbest person in the room. Oh my God.”
Miranda: Just pretend you’re a woman.
Miranda: Yeah. Sorry, I didn’t expect to laugh in this conversation. No. No, for real, like, scout mindset. Julia Galef is her name. She’s actually coming out with a book next year called “Scout Mindset.” You do not have to know everything. But please understand, an apathy toward not knowing that leads you to a certain decision can mean the suffering of groups that you claim to care about. So on the topic of electability. And I just gotta get some bitterness out of my system here. The images of Kamala Harris. This malleability, the civic-mindedness, this ability to adapt that Kamala has. I think of the glitter rainbow jacket at the gay pride parade. I think of her dancing with people, doing the freaking electric slide with people. I see these things in my mind. Oh my God, remember when her campaign suspended and she met all of the people in her campaign in various offices and just talked to them and thanked them and showed them her gratitude and appreciation? This is who this is, you know? May I state plainly that this is not who she is as a VP candidate. This is who we missed out on as a presidential candidate. And I also want to point out that feeling of my heart plunging to the ground when I saw Liz Warren speaking at the DNC. Right?
Miranda: #Stillbitteraboutit. She had these colorful block letters placed in the cubbies in a classroom and what did they spell?
Miranda: BLM. I fucking cry thinking about that moment. And I saw the reactions to it, one of whom was Saeed Jones, Ashley Nicole Black. Black Twitter was like, “We could have had Liz Warren.” People of color are trying to tell you who we could have had. If you could just see. So there’s that, right? But everyone’s like, “But what will white men vote for?” Fuck that. I’m trying to say, “Fuck that.” Look at what white males did to our country in 2020. 200,000 people dead. Like Conan O’Brien said, I’m ready for the all-female reboot of America. Men have fucked it up for a good while. Can we change shit up now? Can you question your beliefs now? Please?
Puja: Yes, please. Please. I think the other part of electability that we have to interrogate other than what the media tells us is having to do with that, exactly. So the stories coming out of the primary season regarding The Squad. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts ran unopposed. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez handily beat her male opponent in her primary back in June. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the only two Muslim women in The Squad, have fought and won their primaries. And what the media had said about them, initially, was that they’re not going to win. They are engrossed in the celebrity of being in The Squad and they don’t care about their constituents. Well, their continued acceptance by their constituents evidence the progress and the progressiveness of members of this party. So when you’re talking about electability but you are a quote, unquote “pundit” in DC at a think tank or you’re a pollster at a college in New Hampshire, you don’t know what’s going to happen on the ground and what connection these candidates have to their constituents. There was Marie Newman, who just, you know, beat the moderate in her Chicago congressional primary. And there was evidence of progressive candidates beating people who have chaired committees in Congress for decades, at this point. So when people are trying to tell you what’s electable – what electability looks like, who’s the preferred candidate – interrogate– I’ve said it so many times, interrogate, ask questions about that person’s perspective and what they’re saying. Because they said these women are going to have a tough time and they won. Handily. Ilhan Omar had a little– She had to fight for it but she ended up winning anyway. So when you’re talking about electability, that is not a monolith. That is why you have candidates who distance themselves or embrace the incumbent president when it comes time to run in midterms and things like that. So I just want to say that, don’t listen to what people say when they tell you what’s acceptable. We’ve learned that the patriarchy feeds media, feeds their, you know, need to stay in power, so they dictate tastes and norms and electability politics. You do you. The power is with the people. And so, all we’re asking everybody to do with this entire election special is please critically think about it. Because lives are literally at stake. So, that being said, Anju, I know you have a thought and many thoughts on electability.
Anju: I have a few thoughts. First of all, let’s be real. This whole conversation about electability is just about enforcing the status quo. That’s what it is. And it’s about trying to game the system by trying to figure out what other people want instead of just fucking deciding what it is that you want. And let us all do that and then– That’s how the election is supposed to work. We all decide who we think would be best for whatever position and the most number of people, that’s what you go with. When you’re trying to fucking game the system, it breaks it. Like, that’s not how it’s supposed to work.
Miranda: Yeah, social pressure’s a hell of a drug. Let’s not think for ourselves.
Anju: And it doesn’t get us the best person for the job or the best policies. It gets us to the middle of the fucking road. It gets the lowest common denominator, is what that gets us. So it’s a terrible way to run the country. Don’t do it. And also, my biggest issue, really, with electability is, like, DONALD FUCKING TRUMP IS THE PRESIDENT!
Miranda: Uhhh… Yeah.
Anju: Who thought he was electable in 2016? I mean, we were all basically laughing about it until it happened, right? I don’t understand how we– The lesson the Democrats took away from that was that we needed to argue more about electability and go for the safest possible choice to go up against him. Like, how is that the lesson we took away from that?
Puja: Well, and also the lesson that the mainstream wing of the party is talking about is, you know, “Don’t ruffle feathers. Don’t do this. The people want this.” And you’re constantly seeing people who are for M4A, people who are for a Green New Deal, people who are pulling the rest of the party more left are being elected and that’s shaking foundational power. So expect there to be an internal power struggle, as well, in terms of what electability is.
Miranda: Yes, and you know what? Can we please stop handling this like a disgruntled customer at Sprinkles cupcakes? Can we stop treating the election like somebody got a batch of cupcakes they were not happy with in Highland Park, Dallas? Can we handle this in terms of what our society actually needs? What will actually lead us to a more equitable society? And can we stop looking at everything through the eyes of white, male, land-owning men? Can we actually make it about the people who live here?
Puja: Yes, and stop buying into the clichés that worked in the past with previous generations. Do you guys remember? One of the metrics for who would win is which first lady had the better chocolate chip cookie recipe. That was a predictor in the 90s and early 2000s of who would win. How do I know this? Because I remember watching Hillary Clinton talk about a fucking cookie on an interview. And I thought to myself, when she ran for president, if she could look back and see what she had to do to get to this point, she had to bake a fucking cookie. She’s a Rhodes scholar and it came down to shit like that. So things like that determine electability. The generation in charge determines what those social values are. Right? One of the things with Kamala Harris is that, when you see her being presented in the media, it’s not wife. It’s not homemaker. It’s not mother. It is prosecutor. It is senator. It is leader. And that–
Puja: That is something that’s a step in the right direction.
Miranda: I don’t think there’s anything left to say and this episode is over. Goodbye.
Anju: Wait, hold on, there’s something I want to say.
Miranda: I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Anju.
Anju: To add to the electability conversation, also, is the fact that I remember reading that, actually, at the local level, in the state and municipal elections and stuff, they were saying– There’s actually a phenomenon where women and people of color are more likely to win rather than the status quo of the white men. Like, the white, male incumbents were actually kind of scared. And it’s hilarious that that’s what’s playing out in the down-ballot elections and then, at the top of the ticket, we’re still like, “Oh no! We need to have a moderate, white man, otherwise we won’t be able to win.” I realize this whole rant was really for the primary, but you know what I’m saying.
Anju: Delayed, but.
Miranda: Personally, Anju. Personally. #StayScared is my motto of 2020. #StayScared. Now, did I veer from it and go “What will everyone think?” Yes, because fucking shame and shit, OK? Survival. But stay scared. Just stay scared. Stay scared, mediocre men.
Puja: Yes. Yes.
Miranda: Stay scared forever.
Puja: My last thought before we close out with a dramatic reading is that, I think when we talk about electability and we ignore identity politics, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Because the people who are getting elected, as you just mentioned, are people who are not traditionally given the reins to power. And so, when you talk about identity politics, hey, guess what? That’s part of electability too.
Anju: Also, what the hell is identity politics? White people politics is still identity politics, yo.
Puja: Exactly. White supremacists– That’s an identity now. It’s an identity now, an acceptable one.
Anju: It was always an identity! It was just an identity that reinforced, again, the status quo and we just don’t think of it as “identity politics” because it was just normal.
Puja: Right, exactly. And so it’s, like, being an evangelical pro-lifer, that’s an identity. You’re a single issue voter. Right? So it’s– We’re now seeing identity move beyond a fake political promise, is what I’m saying, in terms of electability. It’s moving on to personality and things like that and your personal history.
Miranda: Excellent point. Because I think the question you need to sit with for a very, very long time is “Am I a foot soldier?” And am I actually part of a marginalized community and am I speaking for people who already have power? What am I doing to give myself power? What am I doing to give other people like me power? What am I doing for a more equitable society? If you behave and you’re stuck in that generational trauma, assimilation bullshit? You might be a foot soldier. Be willing to see all truths. Be willing to be open to what the truth might be. Or you can be me and yell at your mother about gay marriage. You know what I’m saying? Like, or yell at your parents. But, like, stop being a foot soldier. Stop repeating the rhetoric that was programmed for you to repeat. Critically think. It’s not too late to make up for the shitty education that has been rooted in nationalism and neglect, really. You know? It’s not too late for us to be better.
Puja: Silver lining. All this angst, all these things that’s happening in terms of our national politics, which could all be fixed if there was a constitutional amendment that said “You can only, you know, do electioneering for six months for a presidential race on the election year.” And so we can stop four-year long election terms. But, in terms of that, I think the constant changing of the zietgeist and things like that? We can’t just listen to what is electable, we have to look. You can just look at history and see what’s changed. Who was getting elected versus who is getting elected, how we would think about those people’s politics now. So understand that when people have talked to you about electability, they’re trying to keep power out of people’s hands. So, speaking of power. If you know what a BPE is, some little BPE action was happening on the floor of Congress. So, Miranda, would you like to expand upon this moment? Double history by brown women in this episode. Would you like to expand?
Miranda: Absolutely. So you know how we like to, like, keep and collect all of our amazing moments by brown women. In the middle of a hearing involving William Barr, who is hardly what you can even call an American anymore. So I believe it was a congresswoman from Arizona, Debbie Lesko, who was trying to address William Barr and, in that address, incorporating words that Pramila Jayapal said. Well, she mispronounces Pramila’s name. And, in the middle of Debbie talking, Pramila just, like, cuts her off. And we even have the transcript here. Anju, would you play the role of Pramila Jayapal?
Miranda: And I will try to be this woman who couldn’t care to pronounce anyone’s name right because of her privilege as a foot soldier in America. As reported in NBC News, white mispronunciations– Did I mean to say that? While mispronounciations– The type was blurry, OK? “While”, not “white”. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. My eyes, I’m 40, leave me alone.
Anju: That’s , like, the definition of a Freudian slip.
Puja: I was gonna– Yeah, I was gonna say, “Freudian, Freudian.”
Miranda: OK, let me start over. According to NBC News, “While mispronunciations can happen, Twitter users have pointed out that Lesko’s error was directed toward a colleague. Given the professional relationship, proper pronunciation is expected, if not required. And many people of color have said that they found this moment all too familiar. And that they respected Jayapal’s decision to speak up. Mispronouncing a name can be a form of racial microaggression.” And you all know what that term means. If you’re a listener of our podcast. So what we wanted you to know is what was said and, you know, you can look for the video yourself with a simple Google search. Or you can hear us do a dramatic reading. Anju, would you play the role of Pramila Jayapal?
Anju: Of course.
Miranda: OK, I’m going to be <struggles to pronounce Debbie Lesko> I can’t say her name. It’s just hard. Debbie Lesko. <affecting frail voice> OK, Mr. Attorney General? Is that your understanding of what happened there? Do you agree with Ms. Jayapal that there was no takeover? It was just–
Anju: Jayapal. If you’re gonna say my name, please say it right. It’s Jayapal.
Miranda: <still doing frail voice> Jayapal. <returns to normal voice> OK, that was it. End scene.
Puja: I think we need to cut, not– You know, call upon Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key and remix that with an anger translator.
Miranda: I 100% agree because I feel like Pramila was very calm. And very clear. Not mean or anything.
Miranda: But, like, you all know every brown woman was like– Had different words. So, Puja. Would you be the white congresswoman in this situation?
Miranda: Debbie Lesko and I’ll be Moshi, the brown didi anger translator. Ready?
Puja: And scene. <affecting high-pitched, frail voice> Mr. Attorney General? Is that your understanding of what happened there? Do you agree with Ms. Jay-a-pal that there was no takeover? It was just—
Miranda: Wait, can I mispronounce your name too? Dabbie? Listen here, Dabbie. Keep my honorable name out of your white supremacy apologist dirty ass mouth. If you can’t say my name right, don’t fucking say it. You got that, Dabbie? Dabbie. Dabbie. I’m sorry, you have a Sack-low..? Dabby Sack- low. If you’re going to say my name, colonizer, you’re going to say it right. It’s Jayapal, bitch.
Puja: <still doing high-pitched, frail voice> Jayapal. <returns to normal voice> I feel like I’m doing a Susan Collins impersonation when I do that voice. God, we’re such fucking nerds.
Miranda: Was that harsh? Is it too harsh? Do I need to, like—
Miranda: Be nicer? I called her a colonizer.
Puja: No. I think it’s fine. You’re speaking for generations of people who had to go by Sanya instead of Sonya. So, you know… We hear the cries.
Miranda: End scene. And that was it. That was it. Good job. Applause.
Anju: Yay! Well done, ladies.
Miranda: Take a bow. Take a bow.
Anju: On that note, thank you all for joining us for our election episode. We hope you get out there and vote, if you haven’t already. In our show notes, we’ll have the links for all the different resources that we provided. We also want to give you the election protection hotline, in case you run into any trouble when you go to vote in person. And that number is 866-687-8683. This has been Anju.
Miranda: And Miranda with the Jilted Indian Podcast. We come with love and courage and hope you go in peace and power. Thanks for listening.
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