Future Hindsight is a weekly podcast that takes big ideas about civic life and democracy and turns them into action items for everyday people. Host Mila Atmos shares in-depth conversations with citizen changemakers, helping listeners realize the power they have to make real change.
Season 16: The Social Contract
3:58Our all-new season is all about something that we most often hear about in terms of its brokenness: the social contract. We will be asking big questions about how we live together, what we owe each other, what we can ask of governments, and how we can repair what’s broken, renegotiate what never worked, or what’s not working anymore.
Introducing Some of My Best Friends Are...
45:12Subscribe to Some of My Best Friends Are at http://podcasts.pushkin.fm/futurehindsight This week, we're sharing an episode of Some of My Best Friends Are... The show is hosted by Khalil Muhammad and Ben Austen, two best friends who grew up together on the South Side of Chicago in the '80s. Khalil is Black; Ben is white. They invite listeners into their conversations about the absurdities and intricacies of race in America. Mixing anecdotes, entertaining storytelling, and thoughtful debate, Some of My Best Friends Are... helps listeners make sense of our deeply divided country. In this episode, Khalil and Ben tell each other for the first time about trips they each took to prisons abroad. Ben traveled to Finland and Norway. Khalil traveled to Germany. They ask: How did the Nazi occupation influence Germany’s modern day prison industrial complex? How is the prison guard and inmate dynamic in Norwegian facilities different from America? They dish on what made these trips so monumental and talk about whether America could ever replicate the models they observed.
Legislating for Change: Jessica González-Rojas
34:22Intersectionality As an Assemblymember, González-Rojas works to address a variety of intersectional issues facing her community, ranging from housing to healthcare. Her prior experience as a reproductive justice advocate has trained her well for intersectional lawmaking, which is often siloed by the political process. This approach serves the people most marginalized and helps create dynamic bills that tackle multiple areas of injustice to help constituents. Excluded Workers’ Rights Excluded workers are not protected by many of the labor laws that govern most sectors, which include undocumented, part-time, and contract workers. They perform critical duties in our economy and have little recourse against various forms of exploitation and discrimination. During the COVID pandemic, excluded workers were labeled ‘essential’, and should be protected because they protect us and our economic system. Reimagining Public Financing New York City has publicly subsidized elections, but New York State and most of the rest of the country do not. An easy way to help democracy is to pass sweeping campaign finance reform to level the playing field and remove wealth from the equation. This allows a new crop of diverse voices and perspectives to succeed in elections, creating stronger, broader, legislation to help all Americans, not just rich ones. FIND OUT MORE: Jessica González-Rojas serves in the New York State Assembly representing the 34th Assembly District, which includes the diverse Queens communities of Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Woodside and Corona. She is an unapologetic social justice leader fighting for the values of dignity, justice, and equity. Jessica has dedicated her life – on both the local and national level – to fight for immigrant rights, racial justice, and gender equity. For 13 years, Jessica served in leadership at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, the only national reproductive justice organization that is dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for 29 million Latinas, their families, and communities in the United States. She has been a leader in progressive movements for over two decades. Jessica successfully forges connections between reproductive health, gender, immigration, LGBTQ liberation, labor and Latinx civil rights, breaking down barriers between movements and building a strong Latina grassroots presence. Jessica is a long-time leader in community and electoral politics. Prior to running for State Assembly in 2020, she was elected to the New York State Committee from 2002-2006. She has received proclamations from the New York State Senate, New York State Assembly, New York City Comptroller and New York City Council for her local and national advocacy. You can follow her on Twitter @votejgr.
The Power of Voting: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
37:10Youth Vote Power Young people wield a lot of power when they vote. A whopping 73% of youth who were registered to vote by NextGen turned out to vote. This type of turnout can change the outcome of an election. Because voting is a habit, investing in youth leads to long-lasting change in the electorate. Letting young people know the power they have can make a tremendous difference. Voting Rights and Immigrants The current battle over immigrants is not just about immigration. It is also about race, power, and voting. Purging naturalized citizens, preventing DACA recipients from becoming citizens, and undercounting in the US census are all efforts to enact racist policies and to suppress votes. Keep the Door Open When Cristina first organized undocumented workers in Texas, she was met with hostility from pro-labor unions. Over time, they realized the work she was doing benefited everyone, and are now her allies. Leaving the door open for others to change their mind and work with you is a valuable tool that can yield positive results. FIND OUT MORE: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is a civil rights leader and former 2020 U.S. Senate candidate. She has spent the last twenty years taking on some of the most powerful special interests in her home state of Texas, organizing construction workers, immigrant mothers and young voters to build a government and economy that works for all of us. Today, Cristina is the Executive Director of NextGen America, the nation’s largest youth voting rights organization. NextGen has registered and mobilized millions of young people to the polls, with the goal of harnessing the power of young people to reshape the political outcomes of our country – not for an election cycle but a generation. Previously, Cristina founded two of Texas’ largest voting and civil rights organizations. She founded Jolt, a statewide organization focused on mobilizing the Latino vote, when she was six-months pregnant and in the wake of the 2016 election. Under her leadership, Jolt mobilized tens of thousands of young Latinos and developed some of the nation’s most creative strategies to engage young Latinos, like #Poderquince that supports young quinceañeras to use their sweet 15 birthdays as a platform to register and mobilize Latino voters. You can follow her on Twitter @cristinafortx.
Building Progressive Power: Lala Wu
33:42The Power of State Legislatures State legislatures pass the laws that affect our daily lives. When Democrats won the ‘trifecta’ in Virginia in 2019, they controlled both chambers of the House and the governor’s office. Immediately, they passed voting rights legislation, abolished the death penalty, improved the criminal justice system, abolished no-knock warrants, and more. Purple District Network Sister District identified a gap in resources for legislators from purple districts. The Purple District Network focuses on providing support by sharing best practices, governance techniques, and strategies for being effective. They also give lawmakers access to alumni of their program, allowing for mentorship, networking, and strategizing across state lines. Redistricting Flipping and holding districts is key to progressive strategies in 2021-22, especially because of the redistricting process after the 2020 census. Democrats were unable to take any state legislatures back from Republican control last year. However, several states do have bipartisan redistricting commissions, which will make redistricting fairer for Democrats; and there are several competitive upcoming state races. FIND OUT MORE: Lala Wu is a Co-Founder and the Executive Director of Sister District. Since its founding in 2016, Sister District has raised millions in small dollar donations directly for candidates and reached out to voters through doors, calls, texts, and postcards on behalf of over 100 state legislative candidates in key swing districts. Lala has successfully led the expansion of the organization's volunteer infrastructure to over 50,000 and has also led the development of strategic partnerships with local and national organizations such as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List, Human Rights Campaign, Vote Save America, and more. Prior to Sister District, Lala clerked for federal judges in the Northern District of California and the District of Massachusetts. She was also an attorney at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco and Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP in Denver where she counseled renewable energy and real estate clients on land use, regulatory, transactional, and litigation matters. Lala graduated from U.C. Berkeley, School of Law and Barnard College of Columbia University. While at Berkeley, she served as Co-President of the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative and successfully represented a Chinese asylum-seeker through the California Asylum Representation Clinic. You can follow her on Twitter @_lala_wu.
Run for Something: Amanda Litman
32:20Helping Diverse First Time Candidates Run Since its founding, Run for Something has helped elect 515 young, local officials across 46 states. A third of those elected officials are between 25 and 30, 10% are between the ages of 18 and 24, a third are women of color, and 11% are LGBTQ. Electing young diverse candidates compounds on itself. After transwoman Danica Roem was elected in 2017, many other trans people decided to run for office. Local and State Races Run for Something focuses on local and state elections because of their impact on people’s daily lives. Members of state legislatures have control over election administration, school boards have real power over what children learn, city and municipal officials have real control over police reform, and more. Winning local office is often easier to achieve than state or national leadership and has more direct impact on constituents. Better Governance Electing younger, more diverse candidates has resulted in better governance. Jessica Ramos of New York State has introduced groundbreaking legislation to combat wage theft; Florida State Rep Ana Eskamani helped more than 30,000 Floridians access unemployment insurance; and Texas State Rep James Talarico helped lower the price on insulin in his state. FIND OUT MORE: Amanda Litman is the co-founder and executive director of Run for Something, which recruits and supports young, diverse progressives running for down-ballot office. Since launching in 2017, RFS has identified more than 75,000 young people who want to run, endorsed nearly 1,500 and elected nearly 500 across 46 states, mostly women and people of color. Politico named Run for Something (and Amanda) one of the 50 ideas driving politics in 2018. Bloomberg called her one of the people to watch in 2019. Fortune named her to their annual 40 under 40 list in 2020. Before launching Run for Something, Amanda worked as a digital strategist — she served as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the digital director for Charlie Crist's 2014 Florida gubernatorial campaign, the deputy email director for Organizing for Action, and an email writer for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. You can follow her on Twitter @amandalitman.
Electing New York Women: Brette McSweeney
34:41Pro-Choice Democratic Women Eleanor’s Legacy specifically helps pro-choice Democratic candidates for several reasons. First, due to a long-standing Republican majority in the state legislature, New York State had not codified Roe v. Wade protections until 2019. Second, not all Democrats are pro-choice, and Eleanor’s Legacy only supports candidates who are pro-choice. Lastly, clearly stating your values and building your brand always helps in politics. Importance of State and Local Office Controlling state and local office can mean huge differences for everyday voters. When Democrats took control of the New York State legislature in 2019, they significantly expanded access to voting, immediately protected abortion rights, began to address climate change, and protected survivors of childhood sexual abuse. None of these laws would have been passed if Democrats hadn’t won in local elections. Healthy Political Landscape Although things are improving politically in New York, there is still work to be done to create a truly healthy political landscape. For instance, voter turnout needs to climb beyond the usual 20%. Just as important, more women need to be elected to executive roles. The gains made by women in local and state offices are promising. However, electing a woman mayor of NYC would go a long way in creating a healthier political landscape. FIND OUT MORE: Brette McSweeney is the president of Eleanor’s Legacy, the only statewide organization in New York focused on recruiting, training, and funding pro-choice Democratic women candidates at the state and local level. She was a member of the New York Leadership Council for Hillary for America in 2016 and the deputy New York State director for women’s outreach in 2008. Brette is a graduate of Georgetown and Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter @blmcsweeney.
Black Women’s Political Power: Glynda Carr
31:47Normalize Black Women’s Leadership Normalizing Black women’s leadership means that it is as plausible to have a Black woman represent a majority-white district as it is to have a white man represent a majority-Black district. Supporting Black women candidates in all districts will allow more qualified, more diverse candidates everywhere. Political Power of Black women Black women are the building blocks of successful political coalitions on any level of government. They were instrumental in Obama’s election, the “Blue Wave” in 2018, and in 2020. They are the best return on our voting investment because they also organize their families, neighborhoods, churches, unions, and other social groups. Black women have immense political power. Participating in Democracy Voting is only a starting point for participating in our democracy. Organizing for a cause, proposing legislation, and holding power accountable are all ways to be governing partners for our elected officials all year long. By being active participants, we create an environment to innovate our democracy and shape public policy. FIND OUT MORE: Glynda C. Carr is at the center of the national movement to grow Black women’s political power from the voting booth to elected office. In 2011, she and Kimberly Peeler-Allen co-founded Higher Heights to address the dearth of organizing resources for politically active Black women and the lack of support for prospective candidates seeking elected office. Through her leadership, the organization has developed several innovative programs and efforts that have quickly solidified its reputation as the political home and go-to resource for progressive Black women. Carr is the co-creator of #BlackWomenLead—a powerful coalition movement that is creating an environment for Black women to run, win, and lead—and the Higher Heights-powered #BlackWomenVote, a nonpartisan voter-activism campaign that serves as an independent and trusted voice for Black women’s political concerns. Her work to date has helped to elect 11 Black women to the U.S. Congress, including one to the Senate, and increase the number of Black women holding statewide executive office, including helping to elect the first Black woman to serve as New York State attorney general. You can follow her on Twitter @GlyndaCarr.
Electing More Women: Amanda Hunter
35:29Qualifications Women need to highlight their credentials early and often, particularly in economics. Voters do recognize that women understand kitchen table issues and that they mostly shoulder the emotional labor of a family. Effective campaigns use action-oriented language that illustrates how women are effective leaders in a crisis, will be accountable team leaders, and listen to experts and constituents. Finally, women who appear likable are more electable. Addressing Sexism Voters expect women candidates to call out sexism. It’s a chance for a woman to show how she can stand up for herself and, in turn, for her constituents. Gender bias against women is common among both men and women. Confronting these biases—such as ending the double standard in what we perceive as required qualifications—will make it possible for more women to run for office. Building a Pipeline of Women Candidates Electing a woman to the White House requires building a pipeline of strong women candidates in public office nationwide. Writing grants and working with groups that promote women make it possible for more women to win elections. When we see more and more powerful women in politics, gender stereotypes are less likely to be reinforced. FIND OUT MORE: Amanda Hunter leads the Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s nonpartisan efforts to advance women’s political equality and increase women’s representation. With extensive communications experience, Amanda brings her strategic insight to the Foundation’s work. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Amanda was the Foundation’s Research and Communications Director. In this role, she was responsible for promoting the Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s mission to advance women’s representation in American politics by leading all research and communications efforts. Previously, Amanda served as Director of Marketing and Communications at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, America’s first museum of modern art, and as Senior Press Representative at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, leading media relations efforts on events like The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and Kennedy Center Honors. She also served as Deputy Communications Director at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade association for record companies. You can follow her on Twitter @ahuntah.
Diverse Women in Politics: Kelly Dittmar
35:23Motivations and Perspectives The goal of promoting women to run for office is not simply to achieve parity in Congress or in State legislatures. Rather, it should be to recognize that women offer a variety of perspectives and lived experiences that men lack. In addition, women have faced more barriers than men to be elected and are generally more motivated to get things done. Confronting Our Biases Toughness, experience in national security, and negotiating tactics are often thought of as ideal leadership qualities, which are viewed as inherently male characteristics. Although female leaders do often possess these skills, championing women also means that we need to confront such biases and value traits like compassion, cooperation, and consensus building skills. Women’s Interests All women, like all men, are motivated by a large number of factors in forming political opinions. Our senses of identity are not solely based on gender, which is why there is no such thing as the “women’s agenda.” Women see the world through racial, social, and class identities, which often conflict with and supersede gender identity. However, these factors do intertwine with gender in public policy decisions. FIND OUT MORE: Kelly Dittmar is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University–Camden and Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. At CAWP, she manages national research projects, helps to develop and implement CAWP’s research agenda, and contributes to CAWP reports, publications, and analyses. She also works with CAWP’s programs for women’s public leadership and has been an expert source and commentator for media outlets including MSNBC, NPR, PBS, The New York Times, and The Washington Post She is the co-author of A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen’s Perspectives on Why Their Representation Matters and author of Navigating Gendered Terrain: Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns. Dittmar’s research focuses on gender and American political institutions. Dittmar was an American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellow from 2011 to 2012. Dittmar earned her B.A. from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI and her Ph.D. from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. You can follow her on Twitter@kdittmar.