Transcript for Feminist Utopia Podcast Episode 6
It’s all about the women… presidential candidates~
Benita: Welcome to Feminist Utopia, a community dedicated to envisioning and creating a more just society for all. Hi, thanks for joining us on Feminist Utopia today. I’m Benita Malone.
Debby: This is Debby Williams.
Benita: This is episode 6 and today we’re talking all about the women in the 2020 presidential race. Debby: Forget about all those “B boys.” (Biden, Bernie, Beto, Budegieg)
Benita: I wish we could. It does seem to be really early to be talking about the 2020 election. But honestly, with so many people running it is going to be here before you know it. And I’m kind of excited to see how it’s all going to shape out! You know, most of the primaries take the form of the follow-the-leader race where everybody is chasing a clear front runner. Or a free-for-all in which there is no obvious heir apparent….which I think this race is a free-for-all. I know there’s pundits that say that the two most prominent elderly men are vying for the nomination but I’m not ready to rule anybody out. Which is why I’m excited to introduce you all to the women candidates that have declared so far.
Debby: I think I’m so excited about it because I’m so excited about 2020 being around the corner and this na onal nightmare possibly being over. But I’m also super excited about the women. I feel like it’s a fantasy football team of excellence and good policy! It makes me feel be er about life.
Benita: Oh yeah, that there’s so much excitement and energy and qualiﬁed women! Debby: Yes, highly qualiﬁed.
Benita: Let’s jump right in… in alphabe cal order… Minnesota native Amy Klobuchar! I take some pride in that! I was born in Minnesota, and I claim North Dakota as my home state. So, the fact that she announced in the middle of a blizzard outside in February was just wonderful. I loved seeing those pictures. But she is a former corporate lawyer. She was the ﬁrst woman to be elected a Minnesota senator. And she’s gained a little bit of prominence through her unﬂappable questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And she has been in politics for about 12 years.
Debby: I do think one of the unsurprising things is about who gives her money. Law ﬁrms. She’s worked in law. She was an elected prosecutor at one point. And the food and dairy industry… She comes from Minnesota. Shocker. I don’t really consider that a nega ve at all. She also believes that we should get dark money out of politics and is saying, at least right now, she isn’t going to take corporate PAC money. We’ll get into a discussion about that later when we get to Elizabeth Warren.
Debby: And I have some issues with the idea of women saying they aren’t going to take PAC money these are things that are necessary now in our post Citizen’s United society.
Benita: Absolutely, yeah. Put a pin in that. We’ll come back to it.
Debby: One of my things about her is how frankly badass she is. The only complaints I’ve heard about her from these former staﬀers that are like “She yelled at me” and “She was mad that I forgot the fork when I brought her a salad so she yelled at me and ate the salad with a comb.” I love that. She was hungry. It was time to eat. She solved a problem. I don’t know. That seems… You have a problem. You solve it. I like that!
Benita: Talking about that negative publicity that Amy Kobluchar got about being a tough boss… For one, you don’t hear men being described that way. And for another, the article was skewed. They did not interview people that were happy working for Amy. And there were people that wanted to oﬀer positive things that just didn’t make the cut… in the article because it didn’t ﬁt the narrative… that they were trying to present of her as being diﬃcult.
Debby: And a tough… the kind of woman that doesn’t compromise or whatever. When actually I ﬁnd her centrist posi ons to be one of the more troubling, in a vague way, issues with her. Right now as Benita and I have talked about I’m not currently worrying about electability when I look at these candidates. This is my fantasy pool. And I get to vote for who I really believe in. And frankly she’s focusing on compromise which I do think is a good idea but also she’s one of the few that isn’t proposing Medicare for all. She just wants to lower the age to 55. She’s like Hillary Clinton regarding foreign policy issues, keen on intervention, especially in Syria, and she’s an ICE supporter (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Benita: I have some big concerns about that, too. So there’s pros and cons. We’ll try and just give you a little bit of the pros and cons on all of these candidates, but if we don’t keep moving on we’re going to be here for too long.The next one is Kirsten Gillibrand. I’m actually going to see her! She’s coming to Houston. I’ll be going to see her on Saturday morning the Democra c Party in Harris County is pu ng on these candidate forums. So, I’m excited to learn more about her. I really don’t know that much. I know she’s a former corporate lawyer, and she’s New York’s congressional representative. She was one of the ﬁrst senators that called out Trump’s sexism and she actually led the push for Democra c senator Al Franken to resign a er those sexual misconduct allega ons. She announced on Stephen Colbert that she was going to explore running and then she actually came into the race on March 17th. She’s been in politics for about 11 years.
Debby: And she has a lot of federal experience which I appreciate. And a lot of her money, because she’s from New York comes from Wall Street investment ﬁrms and stuﬀ. And when she was a private a orney she defended Big Tobacco, and so progressives are going to have a hard me with her at least in the primaries. But on the plus side, she supports Medicare for all which is important to me. She was a Green New Deal supporter. And if you go to her website, you’ll ﬁnd that she really… in her issues sec on addresses ins tu onal racism and promotes criminal jus ce reform so… I like that about her.
Benita: Some of the cons though is she has done work defending the Tobacco Industry
Debby: Yes, that’s huge
Benita: And she’s kind of got an an -immigrant past. So that raises some questions about where her loyalties lie. Debby: I think that she’s trying to reach those progressives by going on shows like Colbert and has an extensive social media following. And for the record, all of the links for all of the social media for all the female candidates will be in the show notes for you to explore on your own.
Benita: Yep. Moving right along. Tulsi Gabbard. Tulsi was the ﬁrst Hindu member of congress. She is a Hawaiian representa ve. She also is a veteran. She has experience ﬁghting in the Iraq War as part of the National Guard. And she supported Bernie Sanders in his 2016 Democratic Primary campaign. She entered the race pretty early on February 2nd. And she’s been in politics for 17 years!
Debby: That seems a really long me for someone as young as her.
Debby: I was surprised to see that because… one of the cons I have about her is…. Tulsi who??.. That what kind of major legislation has she been involved in and it was interesting that most of her stuﬀ is focusing on military and veteran aﬀairs which I don’t think always gets a lot of a en on. And she’s one of the few people in Congress who has spoken out about ending support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Stop funding this war in Yemen eﬀectively. And I think that is interesting because there’s bipartisan support for Saudi Arabia in Congress and in the White House. And she came out saying nope, we shouldn’t be doing this!
Benita: Yeah, not only did she come out… she’s controversial because she met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and she sided with Vladimir Pu n against Obama on the US intervention in Syria. So there’s a lot to unpack there.
Debby: I think part of it is that she doesn’t have a lot of seasoning. I think being a senator helps in these things because you are more exposed to foreign policy issues and stuﬀ than you are necessarily in Congress if you’re not on the right committees. I’d have to check and see what committees she has been a part of. But I do feel that foreign policy experience and understanding that some me regime change is necessary… I get her position in Saudi Arabia, and I get her position supporting Putin over Obama. It’s a diﬀerence of opinion. She does not believe the US should be involved in regime change, and on the surface I can’t argue with that.
Benita: Yeah, one of the concerns that I have about her though is her history with women’s reproductive rights.
Benita: She opposed abortion and she supported a constitutional amendment deﬁning marriage as between a man and a woman. And while she says she’s since changed her views, I know she hasn’t won over the Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus. They actually supported her Democratic Primary opponent in 2016. So… there’s a little bit of a concern with her history on LGBT and reproductive rights.
Debby: Okay, and moving on…. Kamala Harris. I adore her and am troubled by her all at the same me! She is the child of immigrants, Jamaican and Indian. She came up as a prosecutor in Oakland and was very prominent in creating prosecutorial standards… and did things like criminalizing truancy and creating rules that… I don’t want to say criminalized poor people… but certainly didn’t add to making the lives of black people or poor people easier. When she became the Attorney General of California, that was one of the things that was a huge problem for her to get the nomination. She’s been in politics for 16 years. She does it beautifully. She speaks beautifully. She again also works without super PACS or corporate PACS and again we’ll get back to how I feel about that when we get down to Elizabeth Warren. I do like her pragmatism. She sees the world for as it is.
Benita: I have reservations I would say about her. She’s got such a mixed record on reforming the justice system. She’s said that she’s for reparations, for the Green New Deal, for decriminalizing sex work and legalizing pot. But when she had the opportunity to vote for all of those reforms when she was in lower oﬃce, she didn’t.
Debby: Exactly! She actively prosecuted people and she like Oh that’s not a big deal now. Well, when it was politically advantageous to her to use them to further herself she did.
Benita: And I think that her whole career… she’s been gearing up for this run for president. She has really tried to have… I mean she hasn’t really done anything because she didn’t want anything to follow her that would be negative. So, I just am… a little reserved on her. Let’s just say that.
Debby: But I’d be totally willing to vote for her. And if she got the nomination, I’d probably go door to door and do the work.
Benita: Oh absolutely! So, I heard about this on Rachel Maddow. I like listening to her. I listen to the podcast. But she was telling me about this pledge that is put out by Indivisible.org and you can ﬁnd it in the show notes but it’s just Indivisible.org and it’s… they’re asking people to take the 2020 pledge and the premise is that basically we have to defeat Donald Trump. And the ﬁrst step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee and the second of course is winning the general election. So you can go there and take a personal pledge to rally behind the winner whoever the ultimate Democratic nominee is. Support them. Also, do the work to beat Trump. So that means personally volunteer, knock on doors, make phone calls whatever it takes. They have a pledge for candidates also and they’re pledging that they’re going to rally behind whoever the Democratic nominee is right now, no questions asked, full support. A little over half of the nominees now have already taken the pledge which I think is really exciting. I don’t want to get into a protracted race for the primary candidate and then have hard feelings or… a sore loser situation.
Debby: Good! So, we’re going to move on to… my personal favorite… You haven’t said which one you love yet and I’m just going to announce this is my dream candidate right now. And it’s Elizabeth Warren.
Benita: Are you…?? Honestly, we did NOT talk about this beforehand, but she has my full support!
Debby: Oh yay!! We’re twinsies!!
Benita: Yeah, she’s my favorite! So far! But like I say, well… I’ll keep an open mind. I’m going to see Kirsten but right now Elizabeth Warren… she’s just my favorite. And it’s going to take a lot to knock her oﬀ that pedestal that I have her on.
Debby: I think she’s been extraordinary with the hard-hitting policy initiatives, everything from reparations in the form of billions to historically black universities to forgiving student loan debt to Medicare for all. I mean almost everyone is agreeing to Medicare for all in the Democratic primary. And she’s just like Medicare for all, that’s easy! Let’s work on helping younger people have a secure ﬁnancial future and she really is looking at it in a systemic way.
Benita: I really get the feeling that she’s not just talking to whatever crowd she is and coming up with whatever they want to hear. She’s actually put in the work and thought it through and has a speciﬁc plan.
Benita: She talked to black women in Houston, all the candidates did. They did a huge event and I know that Elizabeth Warren got standing ovations and just really impressed.
Debby: And I think she has a good social justice platform which I frankly haven’t seen from Amy Kobluchar as much. I found Amy Kobluchar’s website odd… like there were no issues pages. It was donate or volunteer or get oﬀ. But I do think that in Elizabeth’s awareness of social justice issues sometimes she can step into it, as all white people can, by not necessarily understanding the subtleties. And… I’m going to bring up Pocahontas – i mean it’s the elephant in the middle of the room. I think when she wrote her biography about being told that she has Na ve American heritage… that evidently isn’t uncommon for many people in Oklahoma to tell their kids, I guess. And so when the GOP, especially Trump was making fun of it saying it wasn’t true, she fell into the Republican trap of viewing Native American heritage as a race and all that it implies. And I think she stepped into with that DNA test.
Benita: She did step into it with the DNA test, but they came after her family.
Benita: This was a story… generations of this family lore… It was a very personal attack. And obviously she believed what she had been told.
Debby: Yes, and you know everybody who’s into genealogy or something has had that weird story told about your family and 90% of the me it isn’t true. Like your great-grandfather came from this town in Germany… whoops, it was upper state New York. Oh wait no… that was Trump.
Benita: One of the things about Elizabeth Warren is, she was a Harvard law professor.
Benita: And now she’s a U.S. Senator obviously from Massachusetts, but she brings that scholarliness to her policies.
Benita: And everything is really well-thought out. And one of the things that I learned was with her oversight of the ﬁnancial industry bailout, she has been such a consumer advocate
Benita: Going against the big banks and Wells Fargo and just holding their feet to the ﬁre which I think is necessary and amazing and brave.
Debby: Yes, I completely agree and thankless. It is completely and utterly thankless to do that task. And then 50 years from now hopefully we’ll be seeing… oh and then we created this consumer protection organization and it was a really good idea!
Debby: But we’re still ﬁghting that right now. And she’s still ﬁghting. And it comes back to electability and funding so… She’s not polling great in spite of the fact that she’s well-known. Her policies are sound. And I’m kind of surprised by all this. And then I read about her insistence about I’m not taking any corporate PAC money and making a big deal out of it. She’s not getting funding!
Benita: And I think that is such a mistake! PAC money is unions. PAC money is not always the corporate fat cats that you think of. It’s the teachers’ union, it’s the united electrical workers, it’s really important to be able to compete on a ﬁnancial level and I’m just sick that she’s not considering accepting PACs. It’s not appreciated how hard it is to raise money without getting those larger checks.
Debby: Especially at the presidential level! It’s ridiculous. To the point where, a couple weeks ago her ﬁnance director actually resigned because this person’s hands were basically tied in terms of creating enough funding for a presidential campaign when someone is polling so low and isn’t as exciting to the voters as, you know, Bernie. And everybody’s like, oh I’ll send her twenty bucks and frankly, I think Elizabeth Warren’s policies are far more racially and social justice and economic justice oriented than even Bernie Sanders. But it’s not exciting.
Benita: She was in Texas talking to African American women, and she had a plan to decrease the mortality rate of African American women and children. And Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate. 3rd world countries are doing better than Texas is. And for her to be aware of that coming into Texas and having a plan… She just blew everybody away! And it would just be a shame if money is the reason she can’t get the Democratic nomination and one of the things that I have decided and committed to do is support her ﬁnancially. I’ve donated to her campaign already and I am going to become a monthly sustainable donor because I believe she is imminently electable. And she deserves to be elected. If we’re talking Feminist Utopia here, it’s President Warren in 2020!
Debby: Yes!! Okay, this is my least favorite candidate. Is she still a candidate? I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything from her in ages. Her website’s still up. Marianne Williamson, self-help, spiritual guru of Oprah from the1990s, has decided that she can cure us all.
Benita: She actually hasn’t formally announced.
Benita: She said that she was thinking of running for president in November 2018, so she’s not formally announced yet.
Debby: But she has a website with the most extensive issues page I’ve seen out of any of the candidates.
Benita: Oh really?
Debby: It goes on to like all sorts of things: education policy, like 15 diﬀerent topics. So for someone who’s not running, she’s really got a lot of information out there. She’s been in politocs for 5 years?
Benita: Yeah, who knows. She might have stuﬀed envelopes for somebody when she was you know in high school or something I don’t know. But I mean she does have some pretty unique ideas. She’s for reparations and more human U.S. immigration policy. I’m not informed enough about reparations. I can’t wrap my head around that. That’s another whole episode maybe we can do at another time. But she is very wealthy and funding her own campaign so there’s that.
Debby: I want someone who has knowledge of economic policy, legislation, and the ability to get things done because when you elect somebody with fuzzy ideas you get really bad policy. And it’s attractive. I get it… like “Build the Wall” was how Trump got elected! But there was no sound policy behind it and now look where we are. And I don’t want it to come from my side either.
Benita: Agreed. Somebody that would be exciting to get into the race is that hasn’t yet announced is Stacey Abrams.
Benita: She of course is a lawyer and… I did not know this, but she is a novelist. She’s sold over a hundred thousand romantic suspense novels! And her pen name is Selena Montgomery.
Debby: I had no idea.
Benita: So I might have to put a link in the show notes to one of her books and check it out. She was a Georgia state representative from 2007-2017 and of course, she ran against Brian Kemp in the 2016 gubernatorial race. And I think she was robbed.
Debby: She was robbed, and we all know she was robbed. We all know voter suppression and miscounts and… But that’s how they’ve been doing it for years. And the fact that people are ﬁnally waking up to it… That’s good. One thing I’m really impressed by her is she delivered the Democratic rebuttal to Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address. And usually that’s where aspiring politicians go to die. They do something like Bobby Jindal, and then… it’s over. It happens on both sides of the aisle. She. did. well! And it was so nice to see her, especially a er this devastating loss in Georgia come back and bring it in a intelligent and directed manner. And I think that is probably her most prominent national stuﬀ? And this comes down to… I really like her policy initiataves, but frankly if you go to her website, they’re focused on the state of Georgia.
Benita: Well, there’s some speculation the big announcement that she’s gearing up for is a run for state senate in Georgia. And I think that would be an excellent, excellent place for her.
Debby: I completely agree.
Benita: I wish Beto would take a page out of that playbook instead of running for president. He could have ran for state senate.
Debby: And he could have run against Cornyn! Senator Cornyn from Texas, let me be more speciﬁc. There was nothing preventing him from doing that. Of course, Senator Cornyn is not as detested as Ted Cruz. It’s easier to run against Ted Cruz than Cornyn. So Beto thinks he’s going to run for president because he made it onto Stephen Colbert because he was running against the most hated man in the senate?
Benita: And lost.
Debby: And lost! And lost. I think the “B boys,” several of them don’t necessarily understand that every single woman on this list has paid their dues, except for Marianne Williamson.
Benita: So I think we’ve done at least a brief introduction of all the women candidates. I do think, as much as I’m not a real sports fan, the sports analogy works well in this case. This is like our dream team. And we don’t know who the nominee is going to be. And I refuse to get upset or take anyone too seriously who thinks that they know who the nominee is going to be. Nobody thought Trump was going to be the nominee! It is complicated, but I’m conﬁdent that by the time the Democratic party goes through their nominating process, the cream will rise to the top and we’ll get a great candidate that I’m happy to support.
Debby: Yes, and I think the call to action isn’t to pick Elizabeth Warren. The call to action is to check out each of these women. We’re going to links to all their social media. And pick one that matches your prominent policy issues. Follow them on social media. That stuﬀ really matters. Nobody says you have to read every tweet. Even just the act of following them increases their prominence.
Benita: And don’t get sucked into the electability converstion. Because people will say Oh I like Elizabeth Warren or I like Amy Kobluchar but can she really get elected. The fact is that women are electable. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have any women in elected oﬃce. And we do! The majority of the women who are running hold elected oﬃce now! So obviously they are electable.
Debby: So, pick a candidate. Support them, support them ﬁnancially, support them around your dinner tables, volunteer, get involved.
Benita: Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Debby: Thank you for joining us today at Feminist Utopia. If you like our work, please give us a review on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you access our podcast so others can ﬁnd it as well. You may also become a Feminist Utopia patron at Patreon.com to show your appreciation. Remember, patrons get perks.
Benita: And check out our blog and other resources at our website: FeministUtopia.net. Email us your idea of what a feminist utopia would look like or any ques ons to firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate you taking the time to listen and grow with us.
Feminist Utopia is created by Debby Williams and Benita Malone.