Amanda Marcotte on the Trump Transition and the Reshaping of America

December 21, 2016

There’s no question that Trump and his incoming administration have plans to take the country in a very different direction on a plethora of issues. To help us sort through what to expect, we welcome writer and political journalist, Amanda Marcotte. Marcotte currently blogs at The Raw Story and is a political contributor for Slate, Salon, and The Guardian.

With Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Marcotte says we can expect drastic changes on a multitude of issues, and in areas such as immigration and climate change, Trump will not even require congressional approval. Labor rights, healthcare, and abortion rights, while vulnerable, will take more of an effort from Trump and Republican lawmakers to change. Marcotte urges progressives not to give up hope, as she lays out where Trump’s agenda can be most effectively resisted.

This is point of inquiry. 

Welcome to Board of Inquiry. A production of the Center for Inquiry. I’m your host, Lindsay Beyerstein. And my guest today is Amanda Marcotte, a politics writer at Salon. 

She’s the author of a series of reported pieces about how the federal government will change under Donald Trump, including the Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency and immigration policy. Amanda, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump made the Supreme Court a bargaining chip for voting for Trump. That unified and otherwise diverse coalition of voters. How did that work? 

So it’s interesting to think about it, because I don’t think Mitch McConnell was necessarily thinking about Donald Trump when he started this strategy, but it ended up working out for Donald Trump. So, you know, back in March, I think it was March. Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court passed away suddenly. And usually when a Supreme Court justice dies or retires, the president announces the new pick for the court to fill the court almost immediately. And they get confirmed almost immediately because it’s really critical that you have nine votes on the Supreme Court to break any ties instead of doing that. Though Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, just decided to hold the seat open for the rest of the year. This is unprecedented in American history. Obama never nominated Merrick Garland for the seat and they simply didn’t even have a confirmation hearing for him, even though they are constantly, constitutionally obliged to do so. So this is kind of like the warm up to our future in terms of Donald Trump, which is just a flagrant refusal to follow constitutional law. Right. 

And most people don’t have the working memory of what’s normal. So from like we’ve forgotten from four years ago, like when all the normal stuff was. 

Exactly. And what happened was this allowed Republican voters to believe that they were going to be able to get that Supreme Court pick if it if a Republican won in November. And when that Republican became Donald Trump, that was a really strong would have a motivating force for a lot of Republican voters. You know, he wasn’t really all that popular. He’s probably the least popular presidential candidate. For your average for Republican voters in history, which is to say there are Republican voters who love Donald Trump. Obviously, they nominated him. But like I would say, a good half of the party is does not like him wishes that it was somebody else. And what convinced a lot of those voters to hold their nose and vote for Trump was the hope of getting conservative onto the Supreme Court, which would make it a five four majority conservative again. 

And there are two more elderly judges that everyone is saying might not make it through the next four years. So it was an even bigger prize in a way. 

Yeah, there’s a chance that it’s going to end up being a six three majority conservative court very easily. I mean, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in her 80s and she’s already a cancer survivor. Stephen Breyer is up there in age as well. Justice Kennedy, who is a conservative but can be the swing vote to the liberal side periodically, is getting up in age as well. So there is a strong chance that Trump is going to be able to pick two, even possibly three Supreme Court justices in the next four years. 

And let’s give a brief like thirty thousand foot overview of the biggest things that are going to change if Trump wins the slot machine lottery and gets all these justices on the Supreme Court. 

Well, the most dangerous things that the most immediate threats to the country’s health and safety are the way that the Supreme Court is supposed to dismantle both environmental law and labor protections. There’s a huge number of labor court cases coming up in front of the Supreme Court, for instance, or potentially coming up in front of the Supreme Court. A lot of states are facing challenges to a lot of states are facing challenges to laws that make it easier for unions to organize in workplaces. And I won’t get into the nitty gritty details too much here. But basically, there’s a bunch of cases kind of percolating through the courts that will allow states to basically keep unions from fund raising in workplaces. Right. Are actually like well, to get into the nitty gritty details a little bit, if you work in a union shop in a lot of states and you don’t join the union. They can still charge you a fee because they’re still negotiating on your behalf. And unions depend on those fees to sort of work. And they also depend on those feet to sort of strong arm people into joining the union. Right. 

And those fees cover their work in organizing the contract. That’s going to get you paid more money. So that’s something people get out of this. 

Yeah. Yeah. And it’s the free rider problem. It’s not that people who don’t join the unions don’t enjoy that. You know, it’s not that there are even necessarily anti-union. It’s just if you can get a union to negotiate your contract for you without paying them for it, you’re going to do that. Right. So there is a chance that the Supreme Court is going to basically force not just public sector, but possibly even private sector unions to not charge those fees, which would severely deplete their resources that they need to sort of advocate on the behalf of workers. So that’s like one item agenda item that was huge for a lot of conservatives. 

Another and that’s even crazier down the road because people forget how big unions are in terms of being the backbone of the Democratic Party’s electoral machine. So if the unions die, Democrats die. 

Exactly. Exactly. I mean, there’s a the Republicans are so much better at playing the long game in politics than Democrats. It’s not even funny. They are they really are eyeballing the sort of all the sort of institutions that organize for the Democrats and they are quickly dismantling them. And I would say the attacks on Planned Parenthood are another good example of this. You know, it’s not just that they are opposed to abortion rights and access to contraception. It’s that Planned Parenthood is a community organizer in a lot of ways. 

Not only that, but ACORN that was destroyed as collateral damage or not really collateral damage. It was essential to their strategy, I think, in the last round of not the feticide one, but the one before that. 

A pimp round of attacks on Planned Parenthood was a huge Democratic organizing factor, too. 

Yeah, exactly. So they there’s like a long term Republican conservative plan to sort of just attack every community group, every community organizer, every kind of unions, any kind of institution or organization that helps get out the vote for the Democrats. And at the top of the list is is unions. And unfortunately, with Donald Trump being able to create a conservative Supreme Court majority, we may be seeing the end of labor as we know it in this country. Another big agenda item for the court is environmental protection there. So Barack Obama, when he was in office, you know, he was not gifted with a Democratic majority. So he had to do a lot of like like inter intricate technocratic stuff through the EPA. And they have brought authorities to sort of regulate pollution. Anything that in the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, which were both passed in the 70s, has given the EPA a lot of leeway in defining what is a pollutant and sort of creating their own regulations without having to go through Congress. Right. So Obama used that power to really kind of clamp down on coal and other kinds of greenhouse gas pollution type energies going through our power plants, our national power system of power plants. And it’s we’re talking billions and billions and billions of dollars that it is this industry which it started kind of when you think about how many power plants are in the country. Right. And what Obama did was he and the EPA worked out something called the clean. Our plan, and it’s basically this like, extremely complicated plan to sort of reduce emissions from power plants using a number of strategies. And it will affect the coal industry. Above all, it’s it’s basically innertube to phase out coal based energy in this country, or at least as much as we can. It needs to happen. Coal is disgusting and dirty, and it’s warming up our planet, right? Yeah, but the coal industry is opposed to it. And Donald Trump made opposing any effort to cut back on coal based emissions a central part of his campaign. And I think a lot of liberals just didn’t even notice it. For whatever reason. But like every place, like over and over in his speeches, Trump promised to protect coal interests. You know, he framed it as protecting coal workers, but he means the coal industry interests. Mike Pence kept hitting the point about coal during the V.P. debates, which I think a lot of liberals were like, why does he keep talking about coal? Well, this is why. 

And Hillary Clinton fumbled on coal a couple times during the campaign, too. 

Yeah. She was not putting forward a strong, unified voice, but how the Democrats were going to help the people that might be displaced by coal. No ending as a big resource. 

And you know it. You know, if I’m being honest, I would say that’s because they really don’t know what they’re going to do with the people by coal. The problem. One of the reasons they don’t know is the Clean Power Plan is extremely localized. Right. Every power plant has a sort of different strategy that they have to undergo in order to reduce their emissions. So it’s incredibly hard in that particular case to come up with broad solutions for the people that are going to be displaced from their coal jobs. If we can, in fact, reduce coal production in this country, which, again, I repeat, we have to do, you know, I don’t want people to lose their jobs, but saving our planet is more important right now. 

Yeah. So let’s move on to the big issue on everybody’s mind about the Supreme Court, and that’s abortion. What’s abortion going to look like if Trump gets his way with the Supreme Court? 

Well, that’s a really good question, because the answer is I don’t know. There are a couple of possibilities right now. It looks like abortion rights are pretty secure in back in over the summer, the Supreme Court ruled in a case called the whole women’s health versus health. And in this case, they basically erased 15 to 20 years of work on from the anti choice movement interest in cutting back on abortion access in this country. 

So to sort of basically said that all those so-called woman benefiting regulations, or most of them the states had slapped on abortion clinics, were not really to benefit women and not really necessary and therefore interfering with their constitutional rights. 

Yeah, they set fire to a new standard, an abortion regulations, which is to say that if you’re going to write a regulation of an abortion clinic, you have to be able to prove that it’s medically useful and necessary to protect women’s health. You can’t just, you know, say that you need to build a million dollar surgical suite in an abortion clinic that that doesn’t do surgical abortions. Right. 

You can’t just say we need a moat around abortion clinics because we said it was good for women. 

Exactly. Exactly. And that was kind of where the anti choice movement had basically put all of its eggs in this particular basket of passing a bunch of regulations, claiming they were health regulations and using them as red tape to shut down abortion clinics. Now, all their eggs were in that particular basket. And now it’s very like now they have to go back to the drawing board and think of a new legal strategy with which to attack abortion rights. 

And it’s it’s actually going to be tough, I think, for them, unless they get a huge upset on the court and they can go back and just rewrite history, right? 

Yeah. The only thing like the one the Hail Mary here is whether or not they can actually get a court that’s willing to overturn Roe versus Wade and not, I think, is unfortunately more of an open question than I would like it to be. Right. You know, Donald Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe. The reason this is so alarming is that overturning prior decisions is not something the Supreme Court does. 

What’s the name for the Latin principal that that makes them reluctant to do that? 

I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it right, but it’s stare this diocese or disses or something like that. It’s it’s basically means like the law, like the decision stands or I think if, you know, listeners wanted to think of it in English terms, it’s usually referred to as judicial precedent. Right. Yeah. And it’s the notion that once the court rules on something, that’s that’s the rule. And that’s. Something that’s sort of been a problem for anti-abortion activists for a long time, because Roe versus Wade decided that it kind of said two things that are precedents that are hard to overturn. One, that a woman’s right to medical privacy covered abortion and that to that, a fetus before viability, which is the time that it can survive outside of the womb, has no no legal rights, is not enough of a person to kind of be included into our, you know, social contract over of protection of persons right. In life. 

And so those two things are property and all the things that legally go with being a person. 

Exactly. And so that’s a unless they can get the court to say that they were the court, the old court was wrong. It’s very difficult for them to sort of overturn Roe versus Wade in any meaningful way right now. And. You know, the open question now is, will the court do something nearly unprecedented and simply say they were wrong in the past and not just the distant past, but like, you know, 40 years? Yeah. Forty three year old law, like court decision is not that old, actually. 

And if they do that. Does that set a precedent as to the court just being capricious and being like, you know, every term. Oh, sorry, we were wrong last term. 

Yes. Yes. Once that’s in, it’s going to be tough now. Yeah. I mean, that’s one of the problems. What we are looking at and I say this knowing it sounds hysterical, but unfortunately, it’s true. We are looking at under Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, the dismantling of our our democratic norms in this country and our traditions. And that started with not filling their constant Senate, not filling their constitutional obligation to offer a confirmation hearing for the president’s nominee onto the Supreme Court. You know, and from here on out, it’s just I fear that few things are going to stand in the way of conservative activists and Republican politicians just kicking aside any law or tradition or precedent that they don’t like anymore, that, you know, that gets in the way of their political agenda. And unfortunately, you know, I would have a few years ago if you’d asked me, would the court just out now overturn prior precedent? I would have been like Matt. Unfortunately, we live in a different America now. Now, that said, you know, John Roberts does the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts does fashion himself like a proper, you know, Paul, a political figure, a proper justice. Right. Yeah. 

He doesn’t he might like to see himself as the bulwark of civilization and history. 

Exactly. And he he might be disinclined to let his court just start running wild. So we will see. But I unfortunately, I have to emphasize. 

Let’s really hope they have a lot of good wishes that he doesn’t die. 

He is a healthy guy. Healthy guy, though. I can’t believe John Roberts is what we are resting or our folks or Gerson on right now. But unfortunately, that’s the fact of the matter right now. 

But that’s what the optimistic that’s the optimistic view that John Roberts is the bulwark. The pessimistic view is that our challenge is nuclear war. 

So everything after that sounds reasonable. Yes. Yeah. I mean, yeah. 

Like, besides just the court, like, we are facing a lot a lot of a lot of problems in the future. 

Already picking at the Chinese on Twitter. Yes. 

And yeah, we we’re looking at destabilization in Syria with Aleppo falling. We’re looking at destabilization in Turkey, which is, I think, a NATO member. You know, the Russian ambassador apparently got shot in Turkey just right before we were recording this. So I did not heard about that. Yeah. So there’s some real problems right now, and it’s not entirely certain where our president elect stands on the question of Russian foreign aggression. 

It’s really not sure where he stands on any given hour of any given day. But anything. 

Yeah, no. And and there’s there’s a not insufficient amount of evidence that he might actually be supportive of Russia’s. You know, aggressiveness, warmongering is use whatever term you want, you know, some media critics said something that I really liked, which is that Donald Trump is like a cub reporter. 

Whoever he talked to last is the most important person in the world. 

Yes. Yeah. And I think it’s because he has no attention span whatsoever. The man can’t read books like it’s it’s we’re in so much trouble. 

I’ve been sick lately and I’ve come to have empathy for this whole sort of very limited short term memory. I understand the challenges the man is grappling with. Yeah. 

Unfortunately, you know, I’m not trying to be ablest here, but I think that our president should be someone of sound mind and preferably sound body. But sound mind is far more important. 

Definitely. And what’s up next for we’ve talked about the Supreme Court. How about how about cabinet stuff? What’s what’s on deck for the EPA? 

OK, so this is incredibly terrifying, too. Again, I cannot emphasize enough to your listeners that a huge part of Donald Trump’s win was this notion that he was going to be the last bulwark against any efforts to stop climate change or at least slow it down. And so his movements around that particular issue have been alarming. He put global warming denials in charge of his transition team. The part of his transition team handling anything involving energy or the environment. 

Guys like my ring a bell who will be familiar to any skeptics who’ve been following climate change denialism. 

Exactly. And he put in charge of the EPA. His his pick for it to head the EPA is Scott Pruitt. Now, Scott Pruitt is the attorney general in Oklahoma. He is the head of a team of attorney generals in different states, mostly Republican states, who are challenging the Clean Power Plan. So that goes back to what I was saying about the court having to face down these challenges to the Clean Power Plan that would reduce carbon emissions from power plants across the country. Scott Pruitt is the head attorney on this assault. So this is incredibly terrifying to anybody who cares about the future of this plant. He’s the head attorney on a lawsuit whose entire purpose is to stop the Clean Power Plan and to let polluting industries, particularly power plants that are run on coal, just kind of continue to emit greenhouse gases at ridiculously high rates. Right. He just that’s that’s what Scott Pruitt wants. Well, now Scott Pruitt is going to be the head of the EPA. He is Donald Trump’s pick for the head of the EPA, a guy who is currently suing the EPA. 

Well, at least Donald Trump, the guy who was qualified for the task. Donald Trump said him, too, which is. Yeah. 

And I mean, a lot of people are kind of confused about like what’s going to happen to these federal bureaucracy is what can somebody who is opposed to the the purpose of a federal bureaucracy? And I would I would say that Scott Pruitt is just straight up opposed to the EPA even existing. He opposes the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and he just opposes all efforts to regulate emissions and especially greenhouse gas emissions. And so what can a guy like that do? Well, I think I you know, I wrote a piece, it’s law and kind of before they pick Scott Pruitt, but I was pretty sure that was who they were gonna pick him or somebody else that they had their two interviewees. But I was pretty sure they were going to pick for it anyway. I looked at back at what happened in the Bush administration because the Bush administration had a very similar situation, which is it took them a few tries, but they eventually got ahead of the EPA who was opposed to any efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. And the Bush administration actually had to be sued by a coalition of environmental groups and states, forcing them to start regulating greenhouse gas emissions. And what they did was they basically just used a lot of like a lot of tactics, like procedural tactics to avoid enforcing the law that they are there to enforce. It’s a really complicated set of situations. And the good news about it is it’s it’s difficult to sort of pull off. Right. You have to it takes a long time. You have to go through this huge rules making process. But the bad news is it’s possible. It’s incredibly possible with a certain kind of strategies that the Bush administration perfected. I would say to run the EPA. In such a way that the EPA won’t do its job. 

And what about immigration? I mean, Immigration and Naturalization is as much about letting people in as it is about keeping people out. How is that going to function under Trump? 

That is a really big open question because, you know, oh, there’s a few things that could happen here. Like, first of all, Congress could just pass a law that reduces immigration dramatically. Right. Yeah, that is one possibility. I don’t think that’s going to happen because there are a lot of Republican opponents to doing that. But I will say that Trump is tied very tightly with some alarming white nationalist groups, including a group called Fair. And they put together a blueprint for him that went so far as to like literally demand the repeal of the 19th. They didn’t say it in so many words, but that was what they meant to repeal the 1965 law governed. That kind of still governs our immigration law right now that basically. Prior to nineteen sixty five, they were there were quotas based on where you came from. Right. So white Europeans were allowed to come in at any rate that they wanted. But people from Asia and Africa and South America were severely restricted in their and fair, literally CISM. 

Its website. It was better back in the good old days when only white Europeans came to us. 

Exactly. Yeah. That’s that’s their belief. And these are the people that I believe Trump is listening to, because for one thing, the guy that they put in charge of his immigration policy, Kris Kobach, on his transition team, is one of the has worked with fair and worked in immigration law for, you know, his entire life. And he’s actually one of the guys who’s behind. He helped write that papers, please law in Arizona that required that allowed law enforcement just to demand anyone’s papers to prove that they were a citizen, the United States, or had a green card and come back was the guy who cited the legal precedent regarding the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War as something that would help him and his agenda, right? Yes. And so I’m not entirely sure how much Trump can get done without Congress. But, you know, he can start passing executive orders. That can make life very difficult for Muslims and Mexican Americans and other people like that that have been targeted by his campaign. He can also use. Just like at the EPA, he can use his power that, you know, what the president’s job to do is enforce the laws that are written and that includes immigration laws. So he could, in theory, start appointing a bunch of people in two federal bureaucracies that could start monkeying with the system and making it more difficult for people to move here legally. And that’s, I think, one of the things that is important to understand about Trump’s, the people kind of setting Trump’s immigration agenda. Like Trump, he mostly campaigned on the idea that illegal immigration is wrong, that people who move here and overstay visas or cross the border illegally are the problem. Right. Right. But in fact, the people that he’s kind of tight with that are trying to sort of write new legislation and new model legislation around immigration are trying to restrict legal immigration. 

And and he’s trying to recapture a majority white America for the future through our immigration policy, that they’ve got a vision of European people, of European descent and white people being majority in this country forever. And Fair’s agenda is to accomplish this through immigration policy. 

Yeah, and and, you know, Trump’s he’s hinted at his the fact that he also is against the kind of legal immigration we have now with his attacks on Muslims. So we’re in a very dangerous situation. The one thing that term can do. Like, as soon as he steps into office, though, that shouldn’t scare the pants off of us, is he can repeal something called DACA. And that’s something that you’ve probably heard Democratic politicians talking about the Dreamers, a.k.a. people who who are undocumented, but move to this country when they were underage, when they were like, you know, anything from a baby to 16, 17 years old. Right. 

So they could choose to be brought here. They were brought here as as minors who couldn’t control their own lives. So they have no responsibility for ending up here. Exactly. The law reflects that, that this is the only country they’ve ever known. 

Yeah. And a lot of the people a lot of the people that these so-called dreamers, they don’t even speak the language of their native country. They are not culturally acclimated to their native country. I mean, in a sense, they are they are basically just as American as you or I. Right. 

And imagine what it’d be like wherever it is that you come from. And we have very diverse and very diverse group of listeners. But if you were born here, imagine just being teleported back to the land of your ancestors. In my case, it would be Norway. That would be incredibly traumatic. 

Yeah. With no place to live. Maybe not even family back home. Right. 

Not speaking the language different. Maybe never having been there before. 

Yeah. And that’s the case that a lot of these dreamers are in. What the Democrats wanted to do is pass a law that just sort of made them citizens. Right. Just that would be the easiest thing. But that hasn’t happened. Happened yet. And in the meantime, there is a program called DACA. And that’s basically deferred action, which is to say if you get DACA status, you’re basically kind of have to register with the government, that you’re one of these people and they won’t deport you unless you commit a crime. That’s like the that’s the sort of premise of DACA. And a lot of people who have DACA status, it’s sort of it’s it’s functioning as a sort of citizenship for them. Right. It allows them to have jobs. It allows them to go to school. A lot of these people were afraid to work. Now they can work. 

A lot of these people were working in low paid jobs, taxes and being getting educations or in general now being productive members of society. And you could pass a bill that would just whisk them away to some distant country that they may never have been to before. 

Yeah, exactly. He doesn’t even have to pass a bill to do that. All he has to do is step in office and basically issue an executive order ending Dhaka. And I am afraid that he is going to do exactly that. And when I say that this is going to have a profoundly negative effect on our society. Let me say that there are almost eight hundred thousand people that have dorkiest status in this country. And in some parts of the country, they are school teacher because they are nurses. 

They are presumably demographically very young women. You have families of their own now here. 

Yeah, they’re almost all exclusively in there, like teens and 20s. And they just taking and if they do have children, their children are citizens. They were born here, right? Yeah. So we’re looking at eight hundred thousand people whose lives could be very well up ended in. 

The scariest part of that happens if you’re an American who’s an American whose parent is just going to be deported. Do you have any rights to say, can I sponsor my parent back? 

Yes, you can in some circumstances. I think for minors, it’s so little. I don’t really know the law on that. I think for minors it’s a little more difficult. But what does happen in practice when someone when a parent gets deported is nobody notifies the child? Nobody ever does anything for the child. That’s horrifying. There’s horrible situations where kids will be at school and they’ll come home and their parents will have been deported while they were gone. And nobody stuff of nightmares. Yeah, and nobody follows up on with them. They’re just sort of lefts. 

You know, they end up in foster care a lot of the time if people are concerned and want to take action. What would you say? I mean, it gets the whole Trump agenda. 

What are the top things that they can do right now to actually make their voices heard in the most efficient and rational way? In light of the way the government actually works. 

Call your congressmen and call your congressmen. Call your congressmen. I would recommend, like setting even a weekly date, like every week you just sentence aside, timed to call your senator or your representative there. Almost nothing is more effective in terms of getting your voice heard. And people often very skeptical of this, that calling your congressmen, especially if they’re already a Democrat, they’re out of power. Right. 

Or if they’re Republican and maybe they won’t listen anyway. Yeah, exactly. People say that, too. 

You hear those excuses. But when you look at what happened with the Tea Party in 2008 to 2010, you can definitely see that, like all the all that the Tea Party really did as an organizing strategy, which is encourage each other, you know, these conservative people to go to town halls where their representative was having a town hall call the representative, and that’s literally all they did. And they were incredibly effective at slowing down and stopping huge portions of the Democratic agenda. 

So they basically took a few hundred thousand super committed citizen lobbyist, trained them up and set them loose to rewrite our laws. And they had amazing success. 

Yeah. And they basically we they passed the Affordable Care Act. But it wasn’t in the form that the Democrats really initially wanted, for instance. And a lot of our health care system problems right now are due to that fact. So, you know, I, I think that listeners, it’s really surprisingly easy to call a congressperson. You would be shocked at how easy it is. You just call them. You give them your name. You tell them where you live. And you you know, I would recommend having a list of manageable items that you wouldn’t ask for. Don’t just dump on them. Right. 

You can’t focus. Focus. Be nice. Don’t yell at that person. That person’s job is to is to field your questions. 

They take constituent service seriously because they know that that’s exactly where their job is coming from. So they’re not going to be mean to you no matter what. Just be polite to them so that your message gets through. 

Yeah, exactly. And I and even if they are Republicans, that can be very effective. I have a lot of friends in Texas. They called Ted Cruz’s office about a number of issues, and all of them reported that Ted Cruz’s people were very nice to them. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. 

And why is it important to actually just get on the phone and have them hear your voice as opposed to e-mailing or other kinds of communication? 

Emails get thrown away. Letters are a little bit more effective. But phone calls, for whatever reason in any congressional staffer will tell you this for whatever reason, phone calls are meaningful to politicians in a way that letters and emails are not. 

The only other thing that’s more effective isn’t in-person because old people are still in charge, I think might be the bottom line here. 

Yeah. And I mean, also, if you took the time to make a phone call and you kind of overcame your sort of natural disinclination to talk to strangers. 

That says to that politician that you really meant it and you’re probably talking to your friends and telling them how they should vote based on that sentiment, too, if you got up the nerve to call your representative. Exactly. 

That you know. And I think hopefully what will happen is that at the start of the legislative set, like when Congress goes back into session, there is going to be more opportunities to interact with your representatives. You know, and unfortunately, they’re not doing town halls, you know, tours like they were when they were trying to pass the Affordable Care Act, because going to a town hall is an extremely effective way of making your voice heard. But, you know, if you hear one, I would say definitely go. And, you know, again, list of agenda items. And I’d say for listeners of this particular podcast, like, you know, at the top of your list should be being against Scott Pruitt, the EPA. I think one of the things that is can be so demoralizing for us is that we know that whoever even if Congress shoots down this Trump nominee or that Trump nominee, he’s just going to come up with somebody just as bad. Right. So I know this. 

The Republicans control both houses, and that’s something people should always remember in their calculus about anything these days. 

Yeah. And that’s going to be very demoralizing. And I understand that. But just because you can’t stop something doesn’t mean you there isn’t value in slowing it down because that’s a political price and it hurts them just a little every time they. 

Have a loss and momentum means something. It does. A whole string of losses, they’re gonna be just a little less bold as to who they put forward next time because you extracted some pain from them. 

And we have to remember that Donald Trump is something of an unknown factor. Right? We don’t know that he necessarily has the attention span to sort of keep up with the grind of day to day politics. Right. So if we can frustrate him as much as humanly possible that, you know, he might react in ways that even that a typical politician will. You know, he might give up. He might freak out. Like we we just need to make sure that however he is going about his business, it’s not easy for him. 

And I know that we have a diverse array of listeners, Republicans, Democrats, independents, and we do want to make this a Republican Democrat thing. I know that if you’re listening to this podcast, you have a lot of things that you care about that are part of the Trump agenda is arrayed against. And you want to be a citizen activist to stop those, even if you think in general that Trump’s a good president. 

Yeah, I mean, to Republican listeners, I would definitely say, for instance, that the old the first EPA director under George W. Bush, Christine Todd Whitman, has come out against Scott Pruitt. And Whitman was the EPA director for the first portion of Bush’s administration. And she was basically pushed out because she was too pro environment. Yeah, she was pushed out because she believes climate change is real and things like that. So, you know, I talk. And so I would say that there is not necessarily a conflict between being a Republican and believing that climate change is real and that we have to do something about it. Right. Definitely. And a lot of Republicans are pro immigration. A lot of them have expressed disapproval of Trump’s anti-immigrant views. So there are there are hooks here for Republican listeners who still believe in, you know, our democracy. 

There are a lot of Republicans who belong to unions, as we discovered in Michigan and Wisconsin. So, I mean, if you’re a union member and a Republican, you may also want to step up for the role of organized labor. 

Exactly. Exactly. So there are a lot of hooks there. And I think that, you know, we should all focus on whatever is most important to us and don’t really kind of. There are a lot of bad things that are going to happen. So don’t feel don’t feel like you have to do it all. You know, pick the pick the things that are most important to you and work on those issues. And just trust that somebody else will pick what’s important to them and work on those issues. 

Amanda, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much for coming on the program. Thank you. 

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Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The NationMs. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (, a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.