EPISODE 10: NIKY SHEA PART I
SAMIA VO: Hey, this is Samia, recording from my portable set-up in Amsterdam, where I’m currently on vacation. By now, you’ve all heard about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, VA, this past Saturday, and how a white nationalist took a card from ISIS’s playbook and drove his truck into a crowd of pedestrians, killing an anti-racism protestor named Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
In the interview you’re about to hear, which took place a week before the Charlottesville incident, my guest says some things that will strike sensitive nerves for a lot of us right now. I want you to know going in that she is as horrified by this incident as I am.
But I have to say something about this. Near the end of this episode, we discuss the new wave of left-wing Antifa protestors, and how their willingness to use violence to communicate their message is not cool with us. But Antifa has so far managed not to kill anyone, and they are at least standing up for what is right. They have questionable judgment, but the ideas they seek to defend are good: equality, fairness, justice, and inclusivity.
White nationalists subscribe to evil ideas. Their symbols represent genocide and slavery. We cannot equate the two.
In the conversation you’re about to hear, you’ll hear me saying that the extremists on both sides are equally bad, but they are not. If you examine their values, it’s clear. One group says the color of your skin determines your value as a human being. The other says your value is inherent, that all people are created equal.
Antifa is not as bad as white nationalism, and it never will be. I’m deeply sad for the families of the three people who died in Charlottesville, and those who suffered injuries. It’s been the only thing on my mind since the first headlines on Saturday.
Okay, here’s Episode 10 with Niky Shea. I apologize in advance for how cheery the intro is.
SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.
Welcome to Part 1 of your grand finale extravaganza! What makes it an extravaganza? Well, these last two episodes are really long, because my guest, Niky Shea, and I ended up talking for over three hours without so much as a pee break. I was originally going to bring this one final episode so that I could then relax and enjoy my vacation in Europe. But Niky was so cool to talk to—it felt more like a chill girl hang than a podcast interview. So here we are—extra podcast for you, and I get to feel very fancy and important working on the show notes in an Amsterdam coffee shop.
A little more about Niky. Niky Shea is a burlesque dancer and model from Hammonton, New Jersey. I originally met her while I was on vacation in Atlantic City, and the next time we saw each other was several years later, when we met to record this interview on August 6, 2017.
When I arrived at Niky’s house, which she shares with her younger sister and her step-dad, she took me downstairs to a little room with princess posters on the walls and a day bed with a fun, feminine print—it was once her childhood bedroom. She had set up a little table with a pitcher of vanilla almond tea, a plate of biscotti, and a single lit candle. I gave her the bottle of whisky I’d brought as a gift, set up my laptop and microphone, and we were off.
There have been several interviews over the course of this season that felt like the cementing of a real friendship, and this was one of them. Niky is hilarious, irreverent, and completely without ego when it comes to politics. We ended up discussing nearly every major issue surrounding the 2016 election and how the Trump administration has been doing so far, which I feel is fitting for the season finale. In a way, this interview is a recap of much of the ground we’ve covered over the course of the season…except for one big change.
That change is in me. When I conducted that first interview with Ellen in late January, I may have sounded like I was keeping my cool, but the inside of my brain was a sparking electrical fire. Sweat was dripping down my back, and I was afraid to take off my sweater lest she see how nervous I was. When I talked to Yolanda, it was the same thing. I was nervous and overwhelmed by the sheer weight of trying to connect with someone who believes in such vastly different things than I do. When I talked to Alley that night, I was overly passionate, I kept interrupting her to go off on long rants that no one had asked for.
By the time I got to Melissa in San Jose, I’d calmed down a bit, but I wished I had more facts at my disposal during the interview. After interviewing Sarah Ito, I was so unimpressed with my own performance that I thought I couldn’t even use it. After listening back, I obviously decided that was silly. But still. That’s how I felt at the time.
It wasn’t until I spoke with Anne in Texas that I started to hit my stride. And by the time I got to Niky, I was like a new person. The nerves were gone. There was no inner battle to hide my frustration, because I didn’t get frustrated at any of the things that would have had me freaking out in the past. I didn’t have to work to keep my tone measured. It happened naturally, because of what I’ve learned while making this podcast.
I’m going to talk about that more after the interview, so hold that thought.
A couple of quick disclaimers. I’ve edited this interview for clarity and time, but have been careful not to change context or meaning. Niky gestures a lot when she speaks, so sometimes you’ll hear the day bed creaking or her hand slapping the binder she held in her lap with her notes on it. I want these conversations to be as natural and comfortable as possible, so I try not to coach my guests too much about not moving while they talk. And lastly, we get plenty of stuff wrong, so check the show notes for my best attempt at gathering the facts. Those are available on the Episode 10 page at makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
Here’s Niky Shea, Part 1.
Samia: Hi Niky.
Samia: Welcome to the show.
Niky: Thank you.
Samia: Before we get rolling in the meat of this conversation, go ahead and tell the listeners a little bit about yourself. Your name, your age, where you grew up, your political background.
Niky: Okay. Well, I'm 25 and I grew up in Hammonton, New Jersey, which is a very Italian town. So I was brought up very conservative in that old-fashioned sense. But I do consider myself to be more middle of the road. My mom definitely raised me with a conservative background but not like super right-wing conservative. What else did you ask me about?
Samia: That was pretty much it. You just answered all the questions.
Niky: That's all you want to know about me? [laughs]
Samia: What do you do for a living?
Niky: I'm a dancer.
Niky: And a model.
Samia: Oh, yes. Yes, you are, and by the way, for the listeners, Niky is the kind of pretty that it's like looking into the sun when you stare at her face, so…
Niky: [laughs] I do a lot of pin up modeling. I love the whole vintage 50s era, it's like my whole thing.
Samia: You're really good at it.
Niky: Thank you.
Samia: We actually originally met when me and my ex-boyfriend were at the bar that you dance in.
Niky: Yes. Royal Jelly at Revel, the Burlesque Show.
Samia: Mmhm, in Atlantic City. At the time that we met, I, of course, just always want to be friends with all the pretty talented girls. [Niky laughs] That’s kind of—that’s like where all of my best friends have come from in life. So I was like, she's really special, I want to know her. So, you know, we introduced ourselves and like somehow connected on social media and now it's what, three years later?
Samia: Something like that?
Niky: And I think that was right when I started doing the pin-up thing. I had my short black Marilyn Monroe hair. I was like all about the vintage then.
Niky: Still am, but…
Samia: So how fortuitous that here we are now several years later and you're on my podcast.
Samia: I love it.
Niky: Me too.
Samia: So let's talk about why you're on the podcast. You messaged me earlier this year when I had posted I was looking for female Trump voters. And you were very enthusiastic about talking about why you voted for Donald Trump and trying to clear up some misconceptions that you'd noticed amongst the liberal population. [Niky laughs] So let's start with why you voted for Donald Trump.
Niky: There's a lot that goes into that. I know that most people—most Trump supporters that I've met, they're so quick to just say you know, I hate Hillary, she’s a liar, this and that, and I understand why they feel that way. I necessarily don't feel that way a hundred percent. Politics are so, to me, you know, there's going to be lies everywhere. So I think that when people, a lot of Trump supporters say that, you know, they voted for Trump because Hillary's a liar, I think that that is just—that doesn't make any sense to me because Trump lies, too. Everybody lies. And, you know, people can try to say that there's proof of any politician doing anything, but you're really never gonna know unless you were in the room. That's kind of my take on it. Especially when you go on the internet nowadays, you—there's so many websites, and, you know, Trump did this, or Hillary did this, and you're never gonna know who really did what. But one of the main reasons that I did vote for Trump is because a lot of the policies that he talked about, I agreed with more so than Hillary's. I really liked that he talked about making a better life for veterans. I have a lot of family in the military. A huge part of my family's in the military, so I've always been very patriotic in that sense. And one of the things that I really liked was that he was always bringing that up and always talking about how we need to take better care of our veterans. I do know veterans that are in the VA system that don't get treated right, and he really was an advocate about working on that. And that was what first caught my eye. And the other thing that I liked—well, he's a horrible public speaker. He's like literally the worst. [Samia laughs] He’s so bad, I mean he really, he does this thing with his hand, he's terrible.
Samia: You won't hear any argument from me.
Niky: Everybody knows what I mean when I say the hand thing. They know exactly what I'm doing, I bet you.
Samia: They're all doing it right now.
Niky: The “huuuge, huuuge,” everybody knows what I'm talking about. I mean he's absolutely terrible at speaking. But what I did like was that he—when he talked, he didn't care about what anybody was saying. And I liked that about him. Do I wish that he was a little bit more professional about it? Yeah. But I did really like that he was kinda like, "Hey, I don't really care if you guys don't like what I'm saying." And you know, he called out some media companies that, you know, were spreading fake news, you know all that bullshit that he talks about. Which is another crazy thing. But I like that about people, I like when people call people out when they see that they don't like something. Do I wish that he would have done it in a better way? Yeah. But that was another thing that I really liked.
Samia: So you appreciated that he had kind of an unfiltered approach?
Niky: Yeah. I'm sort of like too. Like, if I don't like something I'm just gonna tell you. I'm not gonna be mean about it. Where I think that he—I think he doesn't know how to word things properly. [Samia laughs] I don't think, he doesn't word things properly. But I like that he walked up and he wasn't just like every other politician that was gonna sit there and, you know, sound like, "Oh, I'm perfect, I don't do anything wrong and I'm gonna do this and blah blah.” He kinda went up there and was like, "You know, I don't like this. I don't like this and…” He said what he wanted to do and he always said that he wants to put America first. Which is another thing that I really like. I think that that's really important. America, you know, if this is the country we're living in, if this is the country he's running, than we need to be put first. You know, and that also ties in with the refugee thing. I saw that a lot of liberals were getting mad when he was saying America first. And I see it as, if we don't take care of ourselves first, how are we going to help them?
Samia: “Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.”
Niky: Yes, on the airplane, an adult is supposed to put on their oxygen mask before helping their kid. So you know, in that aspect, those are the things that stood out to me the most when he was running. It is kind of hard, though, because I do also, you know, I am kind of middle of the road with him. Like, there’s a lot of things I don't like about him. I’m not, like, you know, I don't worship Trump, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to come on here. Was because I wanted people to know, like, just because some of us voted for him doesn't mean that we worship him, and we're obsessed with him, and we love everything he does. Because practically, I mean, I think he’s a complete idiot. So you know what I mean? You know, I just want people to know that just because somebody voted for Trump doesn't mean that, you know, we’re worshipping him like the Nazis worshipped Hitler. That also ties into it, the whole fascism thing. Obviously, you're gonna have those Trump supporters that are all, like, full-blown Trump super-conservative. But the majority of us are really not like that. And those are the ones that are getting targeted, which is why I wanted to come on here and talk about that. Because I've had conversations with people before, and they've been very quick to be like, "Oh, like, you Nazi." And blah blah blah just because I said that I didn't vote for Hillary. I didn't even say I voted for Trump, all I said was I didn't vote for Hillary. And then without even asking me, they're like, "You Nazi," blah blah blah. I'm like whoa.
Samia: What kind of people are saying things like that to you?
Niky: If I'm just out, you know like I've been out before with friends, and you know, you meet people and you just start having conversations, and then if somebody asks you, like 'cause a lot of people were doing that. You know, just meeting random people and saying like, "Oh, who did you vote for?" And I'd be like, "Oh, well, you know, I didn't really like Hillary that much." And then, you know, they'd be like, "Oh my God, you're a Nazi. You're this, you're that." And I'm like whoa, like, you know, what if I didn't vote at all, like you know what I mean? Like, you don’t even—you didn't even give me a chance to say anything. So it's just, it's been bad. I haven't gotten bullied that much. Usually because I keep quiet about it. This is the first time that I'm really, like, speaking out. Because when the election first happened and I was, you know, talking about how I was supporting the Republican party, I was getting backlash from friends, on Facebook, and I was like, you know what? Like I'm just not even gonna talk about this. I'm not gonna bring this up. Like I don't even want to get involved in this.
Samia: So did you vote in the last election? 2012?
Niky: Yes. Yes, I did. And I voted for Obama.
Samia: So what was it that Obama had, and I'm asking this out of pure curiosity, what was it that Obama had that Hillary Clinton didn't have for you?
Niky: That’s kind of a tough question. I started to not like what was happening after I voted for Obama the second term.
Samia: You would have been 20?
Samia: 20, 21 when you voted in the 2012 election? So—new to politics.
Niky: Yeah, at that point, my parents were supporting Obama and I was young and I still wasn't really, like, very well aware of what was going on. So I voted for Obama. And my mother, when she got really sick, she had cancer, she had to go on Obamacare. And I really started to see how hard it is. It was really for her. We had a lot of problems with it, which is another big reason why I was really supportive of Trump wanting to change Obamacare. What I hate about what he's doing is he's just talking complete trash about Obama, and he's just talking complete trash about Obamacare. And I get that, okay, like, Obamacare maybe doesn't work for some people, maybe it works, but there's no reason for you to be going up and talking complete trash about it. Like, just say what you want to do, you know, which is repeal and replace it.
Samia: What did your mother have to deal with that made it difficult for her to get her coverage under the Affordable Care Act?
Niky: The price was astronomical.
Samia: What was it? Do you mind?
Niky: I don't even know. She didn't tell me, but I remember it being really, really difficult. And that was one of the things that, you know, they said with Obamacare was going to be affordable. And t hat was one of the hardest things, was for her to be able to afford, you know, her medications. I remember one day, I had to pick up her medications just for, you know, her pain and, you know, other things. She was on so many medications, but it was—I think maybe I bought four prescriptions, and it was over $500. It was like, absolutely ridiculous. And I remember like, calling her, and I was like, "Is this right? Like, is this how much they are under your insurance?" And she was like, "Yeah, this is…"
Samia: Was she insured before that?
Niky: Yes. She was insured by her employer. And once she wasn't working anymore—
Samia: I see.
Niky: —she had to go on Obamacare, and that's when everything started to get really expensive, which made it harder because she also wasn't working.
Samia: There's an argument, though, to be made that if the Affordable Care Act had never been passed into legislation, your mother may not have had any insurance options.
Niky: Right. Which is why—like I said, I'm not like, a complete... How do I word this?
Samia: You're not a total naysayer?
Niky: Yeah. Like, you know, like what I was saying, when Trump's going on like, "Oh, you know Obamacare is a complete failed thing," and it wasn't completely failed. I mean, and the other thing is, you know, that I say like, give him a break, like he’s running—these people are running a country. You know, like that’s not something that you can just walk into a room and do. There's a lot of things that tie into doing that. It's really, really hard to run a country, I'm pretty sure. And everybody makes mistakes. There's things that need to be worked on. I mean, with anyone, if you're working on a project, it doesn't always work the first time. When he talks about Obamacare being terrible, you know, it's not like he did it on purpose to make it hard on people. You know, it’s just sometimes you have an idea, you put something out there, and sometimes it doesn't go the way that you planned and you kind of got to change it.
Samia: And you have to tweak it to make it better.
Niky: Yeah, you got to tweak stuff. So that was one of the things that I did enjoy about—not enjoy, but one of the things that I did like about Trump was that I liked that he was interested and talking about how he wanted to work on fixing healthcare. And he was also talking about better healthcare for veterans, which I brought up before, which I'm really for. There was something I was going to say. Oh, I watched the other—it was a couple of weeks ago, I think—when he went on TV and he was talking about—he was asking people to vote to repeal and replace it, and I have no idea what he said because, did you see that girl's eyebrows?
Samia: [laughs] No, I don't know what you're talking about.
Niky: Oh, my God. I hope that if somebody's listening, this—
Samia: I'm going to find it and put it in the show notes.
Niky: Yes. Trump was talking about what he wanted to do with healthcare, and I just could not pay attention because this girl in the background was just standing right behind him and her eyebrows were literally like, touching the bridge of her nose and reaching. It was all over Facebook. Everybody was like, "I was trying to hear what he wanted to say about healthcare and I was just looking at this girl's eyebrows.”
Samia: Was she—did she look mad at him, was that it?
Niky: No, she looked frightened. And it was just so—and I think it was her eyebrows, but I think I'm going to find it. It is so funny.
Samia: That’s hysterical.
Niky: Honestly, I don't even know what he said. So I have to go back and look at it.
Samia: It's a complicated debate, this healthcare thing. And of course, we’ve recently had some major developments, namely that the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with some other legislation have failed abominably so far.
Niky: Here it is.
Samia: We're looking at this. Oh, I did see that. What is wrong with those eyebrows?
Niky: I know. I Snapchatted. I was like, "What are those?" because I was like—
Samia: I think they're drawn in—
Niky: I know.
Samia: —but terribly.
Niky: I know. Look how frightened she looked. Look at his face.
Samia: It's not good.
Niky: Yeah. So I mean, that was just—I was like, "Oh, cool, he's going to talk about, you know, what he wants to do with healthcare." Oh, and—the other thing I did notice about that besides looking at her eyebrows was all he really did was just talking in circle about how horrible Obamacare was.
Samia: Right, because he doesn't have a solution.
Samia: The Republican party doesn't have a solution.
Niky: So that's what I was kind of like, "So what are we voting for then?”
Samia: And I'm curious about that, you know, having heard kind of the general outline of your reasons for voting for Trump, I'm not hearing anything that Hillary Clinton wasn't also campaigning on so far. I'm not sure if you remember this, but back in the '90s when Bill Clinton was president—when she was First Lady, Hillary Clinton's big project was developing universal healthcare legislation, and it failed. But now all of this talk is coming back about that plan that she drafted and how it was actually a pretty good plan. It just couldn't get through our government.
Niky: Right. Like we were saying earlier, it takes time for things to work.
Samia: Right. And what she would have done, I'm pretty sure, is make changes and tweaks to the Affordable Care Act to make it better for people, so that the legislation could be improved and more people could get healthcare. But all of the Republican plans so far have been predicted to rob healthcare from 16 to 32 million Americans, depending on which version of the bill it was. So having voted with that something that you cared about very much, how has that made you feel, watching that saga unfold over the summer?
Niky: I was quite disappointed because that was, like you said, one of the main reasons that I was, you know, really avid about voting for him. So when I did watch him briefly talk about it, I kind of sat there and was like, why is he just going around in a circle and not talking about anything? I was like, I was really looking forward to this moment when he was going to do this and, you know, improve healthcare. So you know, I am excited that I am one of the last people on your show, because I've had a little bit of time to see what's been happening. And I was pretty upset with what I saw and heard, because he didn't say anything. He just talked complete trash about Obamacare. Now, with Hillary, I did—when I studied history in college—this is just my personal opinion and it's also, you know, it’s—a lot of it's hearsay, you know, you never really can prove anything that you see on the internet. I have listened to live recordings. I have not liked Hillary ever. And the main reason for that is because before she was working in politics, she was a lawyer, and she had a case with a young girl who got raped, and—I don't know if you've ever heard of this.
Samia: I'm familiar with this. I'm actually extremely familiar with this right now, because my Episode 8 podcast guest, Sarah Ito, brought that up as a reason she was really not on board with Hillary Clinton. And she was an interesting case, because she's a radical feminist, and took part—
Niky: Oh, wow.
Samia: Yeah. She took part in the second-wave feminist movement back in the ‘70s—
Niky: Oh, wow.
Samia: —and worked with some of the biggest names in feminism, and that was something that she brought up that really bothered her. How could a woman who claims she cares about women defend a man who raped a 12-year-old? So I fact-checked it, and it turns out that when that happened, although she wasn’t working as a public defender, she was actually chosen and appointed by a judge to defend that defendant. He had been appointed a male lawyer and he asked the judge for a female lawyer, thinking it would make him more sympathetic.
Niky: Right. It would make him better.
Samia: And the judge chose Hillary Clinton. She didn’t want to take the case, but she was legally obligated to and legally obligated to defend this man to the best of her ability. So she did her job.
Samia: And she lost the case.
Samia: Does that change anything about the way you view her?
Niky: Yeah. There’s just—there’s been so much, you know, he said, she said about politics in general. Another thing, obviously, I keep bringing up the military, the whole Benghazi thing, which I’ve still been researching. What I’ve noticed is when I’ve researched and fact-checked things, there was a lot more evidence of things that she did even though they weren’t proven, and I still to this day don’t really know if she was involved or not, but I was unsettled at the fact that I didn’t know. And that was another factor that I was like, well, I don’t really know if she was really involved in this. Or like you said, you had fact-checked that case. You know, it was just an unsettling feeling that, you know, I didn’t really know what the truth was, and I was nervous to vote for her on that aspect because I was like, “I don’t want to vote for her and then have it go bad,” but also, I mean, like I say, I mean, I don't know. I mean, for anybody that’s going to listen to podcasts, if you watch South Park, I don't know if you ever watch South Park.
Samia: I do on occasion.
Niky: Well, they have this episode where the kids have to vote for a new school mascot, and obviously the kids, they’re stupid, so they pick one mascot that’s a giant douche and then another one is a turd sandwich. [Samia laughs] And they have to vote for which one they like. And this was made years ago, and it literally depicts exactly what happened with this election.
Samia: So you’re saying Hillary Clinton’s a turd sandwich and Donald Trump’s a giant douche?
Niky: Yes. [Samia laughs] If you watch the Season 19 of South Park, they make one of the characters, Mr. Garrison, Trump and they put Hillary on the show. And when they interview her, they literally call her Mrs. Turd Sandwich.
Samia: That’s hilarious.
Niky: And then, you know, they make the character, Mr. Garrison, they paint them orange and it’s really hilarious. Caitlyn Jenner is running as his vice president. You know, instead of Mike Pence, they have Caitlyn Jenner. And they’re just making fun of it, but at the end of the episode, the original episode, when the kids had to vote for a school mascot, at the end of the show, all the kids were fighting, they all hated each other because, you know, they were best friends and one wanted the douche and the other one wanted the turd sandwich, they all hated each other. At the end, one of the guys just walked on and said, “Guys, we’re always going to have to pick between a giant douche or a turd sandwich. Like, just pick whichever shittier one that you, you know, you think is going to be less shitty.”
Niky: And it was kind of like, you know, that’s kind of how I just look at it.
Niky: You know, you’re always going to have to pick between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. Do I think that she’s a turd sandwich? No. [Samia laughs] I was just using that as an example, you know, with politics. You know, politics are politics.
Samia: Do you think Trump is a giant douche?
Niky: Oh, absolutely. He’s totally a giant douche.
Samia: [laughs] So that’s interesting, because you basically said you had two bad candidates to choose from and you went with the one you thought was less bad, but you would equate Trump with the South Park character he was written into but not Hillary Clinton, so I’m confused as to what tipped the scales for you in his favor? ’Cause it sounds like—
Niky: I’m trying to think back to when I was watching, you know, all the debates because this was a while back, because I’ve kind of blocked a lot of this out of my memory because it was just absolutely insane for a while. Everything was just, you know—just when they were running.
Niky: You know, I’m just trying to think back of like, what was bothering me most.
Samia: Well, you mentioned Benghazi, which is a big starting point.
Niky: Yeah. That was a really big deal, and I’m not even going to bring up the stupid email thing that everybody always talk about. Everybody always talks about that stupid email thing.
Samia: Well, they were related. I mean, the email thing came out of the Benghazi investigation.
Samia: And the Benghazi investigation—I now have the benefit of several months of intense research on these subjects, so I know way too much about them. Short of watching the entire 11-hour hearing—Hillary Clinton’s testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, I have pretty much read every viewpoint on this. Basically, the Benghazi investigation is seen by most people, most sources that I trust to get my political news from—and I trust sources that are like, really firmly established, like the New York Times, the Washington Post and some of the more intense investigative journalism outfits like the Guardian and Politico. So I trust those guys to give me really solid information and it’s the consensus of most people that that was a highly partisan investigation. It was Republicans trying to take Hilary Clinton down, because everybody knew she was going to be making another run for the presidency. All the Republicans were really sick of having a Democratic president, as they had for eight years with Obama, and they wanted to do what they could to weaken the strongest candidate, which was Hillary Clinton. So when you actually look into the details of the Benghazi situation, it’s really clear that there wasn’t much she could have done. There are some inconsistencies with the way the Obama administration handled everything, with what they were willing to tell the public, and some differences in their story, like when it was first all happening, but it was a chaotic time, and—
Niky: I think that’s what eventually, you know—just what you said about the Obama administration, you know, the way that they worded it. It was one of those things where I just had a really unsettling feeling in my stomach about it, and I couldn’t figure out what had really happened, and because I feel so strongly about the military, that really kind of was my deal-breaker. It was—you know, and even though I wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t able to find the exact proof, it was something that made me feel so uncomfortable. And the other thing that made me steer away from Hillary wasn’t her herself, but what I wanted to get into with the way a lot of—some liberals and Democrats have been acting. I know that not all liberals are like this, because you’re obviously my friend, but a lot of liberals that I’ve been seeing that were supporting Hillary, and before that, Bernie, were preaching about socialism and open borders and free college tuition. And, you know, I don’t agree with a lot of those things, so that’s also another reason why I ended up voting for Trump because I don’t agree with all of that. Not that I think that Hillary would do all of that, but I felt like there was more of a chance that some of those things would happen if she was in office, whereas with Trump, like, I knew that I wasn’t going to have to worry about that. You know, like, when people freaked out about the travel ban, I actually felt okay about that. I actually experienced a terrorist—not attack, but I actually, me and a family relative had to call the FBI because my cousin had a terrorist in her neighborhood. I don’t think a lot of people know about this, but Obama had brought in 11,000 refugees, I believe, into Florida and New Jersey.
Niky: Geez, when was this? I don't remember when.
Samia: About how old were you?
Niky: Oh, this was like, last year.
Samia: Oh, okay, so last year.
Niky: Oh yeah. I don't know when exactly he brought them in—
Samia: Got it.
Niky: —but this happened last year. So in my cousin's apartment complex, all of these vacant apartments all of a sudden got filled with refugees.
Samia: From Syria?
Niky: I'm assuming Syria. I don’t know. I do know that they were Muslim. They—you know, there were women. You only saw them rarely. They never really came out unless they were allowed. And my cousin lives in Florida, so I would go down to visit like, all the time, and I would sit on the porch and watch this. And every day, I'd be on Facetime with my cousin. In the middle of the night, this one man who came in with his family—and his family, they were good people, they really were refugees, but because he was related to them—but he still was working with, I don't know who he was working with, ISIS or whatever, he came in with them, because he came in with his family. And he was making car bombs. He made about seven or eight car bombs he brought in cars. And I swear to God, I mean, I witnessed this, I watched it, I watched him pull the cars in. They would—
Samia: This was in New Jersey or in Florida?
Niky: This was in Florida.
Samia: Okay, so your cousin’s in Florida, and you’re—
Niky: She's Facetiming me. She's showing me this. I would fly down there. We would sit on the porch, we would turn all the lights off, we would sit there and watch. And at three o'clock in the morning, he would walk outside and he'd be looking around. And then he would be redoing wires in the hood. And I was like, well, maybe he's just fixing cars, and she—
Samia: Of—random people's cars?
Niky: No, they were stolen cars.
Niky: And cars from junkyards.
Samia: Cars that he'd stolen.
Niky: Yes, so eventually we saw one that was a cop car. It was an undercover cop car that was stolen. It had the number on it, ‘cause cop cars have numbers on them. And my cousin called me, she was scared at one point, because he saw her watching. And he followed her out of the development once. And she was on the phone with me, she was freaking out. She was like, “Oh my God, he's like riding my, you know, my bumper on my car, I'm really freaked out.” And I was like, “You need to call somebody.” I told her, I said, “You need to call the FBI and report what you're seeing.” Of course, I was like, well, let's make sure that we're not just assuming this first. Like let’s, you know, look at this. And he was pouring things out of soda cans, like Coca Cola cans, into the car. And like, you don't pour that into your engine. So I'm like, what is he doing? And he was redoing all these wires. He had no mechanical tools. You know, it wasn't like he was underneath the car, moving anything with wrenches or doing anything mechanical. It was just all he was finagling with wires, and every day he would come in with a new car. And the deal-breaker for me, when I told her to call, was when he was outside doing that and she saw him go into one of the trunks of the car. He had a big black trash bag that he pulled out. And he was like, kind of running into his house. And then his family, or his relatives, or whoever, were pushing him outside. They were screaming at him, and we don't know what they were saying. But, you know, they were pointing at the cars and they were, you know, going like this. And what I kind of got from that was that they were like, “Look at what you're doing.” And there was about 7 or 8 cars and we ended up—she called the FBI, and then I remember, I was there, the FBI, the undercover van came, like I could tell—you could tell right away that it was a FBI van. And we had called police before. He used to, in the middle of the night, when I'd be on the phone with her, he would set the car alarms, all the car alarms, off at like, three and four in the morning. So everybody in the development was calling the cops ‘cause they were like, “This is really annoying.” And my cousin was like, “You know, I think he’s trying to test, you know, like the…”
Samia: That's bizarre.
Niky: It was really weird. So what ended up happening was, you know, he ended up getting caught. I remember he ran from them after the cops had seen the cars, and they wrote down everything. And then they sat there in the parking lot undercover and had to wait for him to come back. And now they're not there anymore. So for me, that was also an experience that I was witnessing during the campaign. So that was—
Samia: But you said—you said at the beginning of the story that he was building car bombs. Do you actually know that for sure, for a fact?
Niky: That's what we think he was doing. Because I looked up online how to make a car bomb. [Samia laughs] I was like—I was really freaked—
Samia: I wonder if the FBI flagged you for that. [laughs]
Niky: Maybe. Because I was afraid. You know, my cousin lives in this development.
Niky: I’m like, what if—what if he really is doing this? I was like, you know, I'm used to looking at people work on cars, and you know they have tools, they're taking parts out, they're putting parts in. He wasn't buying any parts to put into the car. He was just always there trickling with wires. And I'm like, I don't understand. So I looked it up and, not that it confirmed that he was making car bombs, but what they guy was doing and explaining was like, literally, it looked exactly like what he was doing. So I sent the link to her. I was like, oh my god, I hope that this isn't what he's doing. But like, keep an eye out. I was like, because these are like, signs to look out for that like if you notice how somebody, you know, would be making a car bomb. So I don't really know what happened. I don't know if anything—nothing was really in the news because he nev—like, he—
Samia: ‘Cause nothing—he didn't actually do anything.
Niky: Yeah. And that's what I told her, I said, "I would rather call the police now, or the FBI or whatever you're supposed to do for that, before he hurts somebody.”
Samia: I mean, I think that's reasonable. But the part of that story that, for me, seems implausible is taking that incident where you don't actually know for sure that he was doing anything beyond having a weird hobby. Like you don't actually know, and then turning that into, well, we shouldn't let refugees into the country.
Niky: Well I'm... Okay wait. So, I don’t—we don't know if that's really what he was doing, and I don't have a problem with bringing refugees in here.
Samia: But you were okay with the travel ban.
Niky: I was okay with it because I was… Not that… I feel bad that these people need somewhere to go, but like Trump has said before, there are a lot of people here that need help first. Like, I had mentioned before, take care of yourself before you take care of someone else. And there's a lot of people in America, homeless veterans, I mean, there are so many homeless veterans, there’s so many other people in America that need help. And so in my opinion, which, you know, nobody has to agree with me, but why would we bring other people in, when we have our own people that are literally living on the streets? Like the homeless veterans that fought for this country are living on the streets, and everybody is like, “Oh, just bring all these people in.” We don't even know who we’re really bringing in. I mean, the majority of them are good and I would love if we had all the room to bring them in to get them out of whatever is going on over there. You know, I hate seeing that stuff, you know, with the kids, you know, which makes me feel terrible. But I'm still very adamant on taking care of yourself before you help other people. And I just think that it's not fair to the people that fought for this country to be what it is, to be on the streets, and then just allow other people to just come in.
Samia: Well, there's a lot of factors that lead to veterans ending up homeless. It's not like we don't have programs in place to help them.
Niky: Right. So I mean it's just...there's no way that everybody, in my opinion, is going to agree on everything, like there’s—you know what I mean?
Samia: Absolutely. And we shouldn't. It's good that we don’t.
Niky: Yeah, we shouldn’t.
Samia: I mean, the fact that people disagree is what allows our government to have checks and balances, and for no one set of opinions to get too much power. That’s a good thing.
Niky: Yeah, and that’s what I like about people having opposing views, and which is why I loved that you were doing this. Because to me this is what makes America great, is that we can all have our own opinion, and we can still go about our life, and we can still be friends. And you can still do whatever you want to do. But if everybody had, like I said before, when I was bringing up the whole, you know, a lot of liberals that I've seen preaching socialism and communism. If everybody had the same thing, the same views, same car, same everything, same house, you know, that’s—that was what, when I was bringing up Hitler to you early, you know, the Nazi Party, the Aryan Race. He wanted everything the same.
Niky: And that's why I think it's important that we all have different views, because that's what makes us a free country, which is why I don't understand why a lot of people were saying that they wanted to leave the country.
Samia: Well, I can shed some light on that. [laughs]
Niky: Yeah. I mean, and that’s why I wanted to ask you, too, because I don’t, you know—there was one picture that I saw of a girl at a protest. And it said, "Socialism, not Trumpism," and I just did not understand that, because to me Trumpism isn't a word. [Samia laughs] And I'm assuming she was relating it to like, sort of like a Hitler kind of thing, but I just—I don’t understand. I guess, so my question for you is why are so many liberals now, and not all of them, but you know, the very, very strong, strong liberals, why are they preaching and saying that we should embrace socialism, because studying socialism and Holocaust and genocide studies and like, Hitler in college, that was one of my majors, you know, I learned a lot about that and I just—I don’t agree with it. So I don't really understand why a lot of liberals are like, all about socialism.
Samia: Well, you know, having studied it, that there's a big difference between socialism and communism.
Niky: And communism.
Samia: And I don't think anybody is really saying that communism is the way to go, but socialism, as far as I understand the modern definition that people are espousing now, is really about having government play an active role in improving people's lives. And that's really all it is. I'm surprised that you, as somebody who presumably graduated from college only a few years ago... Did you graduate?
Niky: No. Actually, I didn't. Excuse me. I was working at Royal Jelly. I had just met you shortly after I stopped, because my mom got sick and I was paying for college myself, and it was really hard for me to afford it. So I actually—recently, I've been looking into going back.
Samia: That's exactly why progressives are in favor of socialistic ideas, because if we lived in a society that had those policies in place, you could have been going to school for free. I think tuition-free college is a great thing.
Samia: Education is a great thing. Universal healthcare is something that plays into that philosophy as well. Healthcare being a basic human right, rather than something you can only get the best of if you are wealthy, which is the case right now. And the Affordable Care Act was a step in the direction of getting more people healthcare coverage, mostly because of the expansion of Medicaid, which is a social program. I mean, that operates on the idea that government should pick up the tab for the most vulnerable among us, which is why conservatives hate it so much. But for me and for many other liberals, those safety net programs stop a system that allows the privileged few to have much better lives than the poorer masses. This group of researchers studied differences in income disparity, especially between minorities, people of color, and white people over the course of 50 years of different American presidents. And they found that under Democratic, liberal presidents, income disparity was reduced, and communities of color and also white people saw an increase in their middle class, in the numbers of people in the middle class.
Samia: So more people did well. But under Republican presidents, the opposite happened. Income disparity increased and people of color saw their ability to create a middle class kind of living for themselves dissipate, because Republican conservative policies do disproportionately hurt minorities.
Niky: Absolutely. I can absolutely agree with that.
Samia: And Democratic policies have been shown by at least this one study to help everyone—
Samia: —except for the very privileged few who don't need the help. And that—
Niky: If you find that, you have to show me that.
Samia: I'll send to you.
Niky: Because I try to find a lot of stuff, which is, you know, why I wanted to come on the show. Because I'm not like, a full-blown conservative, I do agree with a lot of these things, but I guess from what I've been seeing, I wanted to talk to you because you're actually knowledgeable about it, where a lot of people, like, they don't even know what they're saying when they're preaching these things, and I’m like—
Samia: A lot of people don't know and a lot of people also just resort to name-calling.
Niky: And they just sound very uneducated.
Niky: And I think that that's one of the reasons that pushed a lot of people that were even, like you said, that one of the people that was on your show who did all the stuff for the feminist—
Niky: —I think you said it was in Episode 8 or whatever.
Niky: I met a lot of people that were full-blown Democrat that voted for Trump, and I was like, "Well, why?" And a lot of it had nothing to do with the campaign itself but how the American people were acting towards it, which scared a lot of us away, which kind of scared me away when I saw a lot of people protesting with these, you know… I've seen people protesting even in Atlantic City and just videos of protesting, or they just have these like, awful signs of... I saw one that said like, "Abort Donald Trump,” and you know, I'm just kind of like, I don't understand why you’re—you know, like, that makes no sense. I don't want to associate myself with—I don't want to say you people, but I was like, you guys are nuts, like what do you you guys, like—
Samia: I could see where you're coming from on that.
Niky: So you know what I mean? So it wasn't so much that I was just like, "Yeah, go Trump, Hillary sucks,” you know, but I was just kind of like, I have no idea what the hell you guys are talking about.
Niky: Like why—where did you guys come from? Why are you all freaking out like this right now? Because the majority of people that I know that voted for Trump were like, the quiet ones like me that were in the corner. Like, we’re not trying to argue with anybody. Like, we just don't know what the hell you're talking about.
Niky: You know, so—the one thing I wanted to bring up was this Women's March and the whole feminist movement. Obviously, I'm a woman. I'm all for women. I love women, but one of the main reasons why I don't consider myself a feminist is because there's a lot of people even that like, I've met and know that are feminists, and they don't support all women. So my argument to that is, well then you're not a feminist, because to me—I love Emma Watson, and I think that she is amazing with what she does with the feminist movement, and the reason that I love her is because she really does speak for all women. And by saying that, what I mean is, if you want to be or say that you are a feminist and that you are all for women, you need to be for all women, not—
Samia: So what women do you feel are being excluded?
Niky: The conservative ones that are against abortion.
Samia: Ah. Yeah. I heard a lot about this.
Niky: And, me personally, even though I've come from a conservative background, like I said, I'm not like, a full-blown conservative. I believe that everyone has the right to choose what they want to do with their body. Me personally, I don't think I'd ever be able to get one just because I would feel so guilty about it, but if someone else wanted to get one, I wouldn't be like, you know, "You're a murderer,” you know—
Samia: So you're pro-choice—
Samia: —but for yourself, anti-abortion.
Niky: Yeah, and I know a lot of conservative women that are like that because I think that in a way, through time, conservative has changed. A lot of like, young conservatives like myself, I guess we're not full-blown conservative. That's why I always say middle of the road.
Samia: Well, I think that there's definitely, there's many different shades of conservative.
Niky: Yeah, there's different, there's different layers.
Samia: You've got your hardline right-wingers.
Samia: And then you've got your more centrist conservatives, and—
Niky: So I guess that's more like me because I do, you know… I don't have the right to tell anybody what to do with their body. I mean, you know what mean? So you know, I'm not gonna sit here and be like, you know, ”You're a baby killer.” You know, I would never—
Samia: Well, then honestly, the issue that you have about some women being excluded, it doesn't apply to people who think the way you do. There is definitely a pro-choice bent amongst people who attended the Women's March, and I understand why pro-life women might feel like they weren't welcome, but you're not pro-life. It's about reproductive health rights and how they affect the ability of women to have an equal standing in society.
Niky: Well yeah, I understood that that was what the Women's March was about, but I've also seen—
Samia: Yeah, I mean the Women's March wasn't just about abortion. That was just one issue, but like—
Niky: Oh yeah. Yeah, I know that that was a big part, because at the time, I think Trump was talking about changing policies with abortion.
Samia: Well, he was calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
Samia: Which God help us, better not ever happen.
Samia: And I'm very nervous about it right now, looking at the make-up of the Supreme Court.
Niky: That was one of the things that I looked up, because he was talking about it, and I forget where I saw it, but the policy that he was going to attempt to pass was that you had a certain amount of time to get one, and then after you were a certain amount of weeks or months pregnant, you would no longer be allowed to get an abortion. I don't know if it was true. I don't know if that was really what his policy was.
Samia: I will look up if he ever said a specific week cut-off, because that's also been a big part of the debate. Like, should there be a time when you're no longer allowed to get an abortion? But the reason that liberal politicians, while they sometimes will say like, "Okay, it's this week," it's really a random number. The reason that people don't want to pick a number is because 90% of the abortions that happen in this country happen in the first trimester.
Samia: Something like just under 1% happen in the third trimester, which is after 24 weeks.
Samia: Like just under 1%. It's something like 1.3% happen after 20 or 21 weeks. So it's a very small fraction, tiny, tiny percentage of all the abortions, and the reason that women get abortions that late is not because—
Niky: Yeah, they don't want it. There's like, something is wrong.
Samia: Something's wrong with the baby.
Niky: Something’s wrong with them.
Samia: Something’s wrong with the mother. It's a tragic situation, and that's why.
Niky: Yeah, I can't even imagine what it's like for those women to go through that.
Samia: And there's a lot. If you Google it, there are a lot of personal stories out there about women who've been through that, and it's terrible. Imagine having a baby inside of you that you know is not going to be able to survive past infancy, 'cause it's got terrible congenital defects, and you're in a state with a 20- week cutoff on abortions, and you're 21 weeks.
Niky: Yeah. That was on the one thing that did make me nervous, but I honestly didn't think that it was going to work out.
Samia: So Hillary Clinton was really clear in saying that it's not that she's in favor of late-term abortions. It's just that these decisions should happen between a woman and her doctor, because the situations that require a late-term abortion are situations like that.
Niky: That was honestly the one thing, 'cause like I said, like, I don't hate or love either one, Trump or Hillary. If there was one thing that I did agree with that she said, that was definitely the one that I fully believe and agree that that should be something between the mother, and you know, the father if they're involved, as a family, and the doctor. That should be no one else's business on what happens with that. So yeah, I mean that was pretty much like, my question for that, but it wasn't really—it wasn’t just about the Women's March. I was just talking about a lot of feminism in general, because I have seen some feminists that weren't accepting of women at all that were conservative, whether they were like me or not.
Samia: And that's wrong.
Niky: And that's what I just didn't understand. I was like, "Well then, you're not a feminist because—“
Samia: I mean, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but you have every right to, but—
Niky: I mean, I never said that to anybody, but that's just, you know, what I'm thinking in my head.
Samia: Yeah. Totally valid.
Niky: I was like, "Well, how could you say you're a feminist if you're not even gonna support all women?”
Niky: I would consider myself to be more of a feminist, because I accept all women for whoever they are, what color, religion, anything.
Samia: The problem—the problem that comes into play is that people, women included, who are adamantly pro-life, are okay with the government getting into our vaginas and our—
Niky: Yeah, which I am not.
Samia: You know, and that's where the divide comes in. That's where the exclusion comes in, 'cause it's like, "You are a woman, Miss Random Hypothetical Pro-life Chick, and you want to tell me that I can't make my own decisions about my reproductive health, whereas my position is you can do whatever you want with your reproductive health." That is the divide, is that pro-lifers want to enact legislation that regulates other women's bodies.
Niky: Yeah, which I do not agree with. There's actually a woman that I've seen. She has like a Facebook page. You could look her up. It's pretty extreme.
Samia: Do you remember her name?
Niky: Yeah, she goes by the Activist Mommy, and she's full-blown Christian. She's got like 10 kids or something. I don't know how much, but she is literally—
Samia: That’s a case for birth control.
Niky: Yes, but she is literally like, "Abortion is murder." She thinks that it should be completely illegal.
Niky: You know, she talks about homosexuals, you know, sinning and not—they need to be saved—
Niky: —and I'm looking at this lady, and I'm like, "What are you talking about?" That to me is like, that is just so extreme to me.
Samia: Yeah. So it sounds like you're adverse to extremism on both sides of the political aisle.
Niky: Yeah, that's why I always say like, "I'm kind of middle of the road," but you know, I did wanna talk about why I voted for Trump in there, and you know, I really didn't like a lot of the things that he said. I enjoy making fun of him. [Samia laughs] I mean, I'm totally like, enjoying all of this hilarious stuff on TV right now.
Samia: He's easy to make fun of.
Niky: Oh, it's great. Like I told you, I almost like, got a big bowl of Cheetos and put them on my table for us to eat.
Samia: I would have laughed so hard.
Niky: I mean, I told you I was gonna have it all ready. I literally like, when I go to the store and I see Cheetos, I’m like, I can't even buy them because I just start laughing. I can't look at a Cheeto now and not envision like, Cheeto dust, like on his face, 'cause his fake tan is just terrible. Like he needs—
Samia: I wonder if Cheeto sales have been affected by the Trump presidency? [laughs]
Niky: You know, I would totally buy Cheetos if they put his face on it with his little hand sign, the huuuge face. If they put that on and like, put a Cheeto in his mouth, I would buy a whole thing of Cheetos. I'd be like, "Yes, I am walking around eating these everywhere.”
Samia: That is so funny.
Niky: So maybe they should put Trump on the Cheeto bag, because I'm pretty sure—
Samia: I think it'd be bad for business in a lot of ways. [Niky laughs] Okay, so you wanted to talk about this comparison that's oft been made between Trump and Hitler.
Niky: Yes, this is the main, like sole reason why I wanted to come talk to you. Well, you came to me, but why I wanted to talk about this.
Samia: I want to hear all your opinions on this, especially as you're somebody who has studied the Holocaust in school, which I certainly have not. But I guess what I wanted to start out with is say that the reason those comparisons exist is not because he's actually like, as dangerous or murderous, or is going to enact genocidal policies.
Niky: Right. Yeah.
Samia: It’s not that. It's just the rhetoric. It's the way he speaks about minorities. I don't know if you caught this, but in late July, he did a speech at a rally he held in Youngstown, Ohio, where he talked about immigrants, calling them animals and graphically describing how they come into our country and slice and dice young beautiful girls. It's very graphic and very frightening and in my opinion, extremely inappropriate for the president of the United States—
Niky: To be talking about that.
Samia: To be talking about immigrants that way, when they’re—
Niky: Is there a video of this?
Samia: Yeah, you want to see it?
Niky: Yeah. That was one of the things, when I had said earlier, that I think the way that he speaks is horrible. I know a lot of people that have worked in his facilities that have said that he's been nothing but great. And they were women and they worked in the Trump Towers and they loved it, they had no problem with it. And I'm not backing him up in any way, but I think that a problem that he has is he words things horribly. For instance, the tweet he posted about banning transgenders from the military, the way that he tweeted that was so awful, when he was saying, you know, “We can't have the burden of transgenders in the military." I was like, why on earth would you say that? Like, you just called transgender people a burden. I believe the tweet was deleted.
Samia: Not that I know of. It caused a firestorm of media attention.
Niky: I only saw pictures of it and I went onto his Twitter to see if I could find it and I couldn’t.
Samia: Did you look at the POTUS or the Real Donald Trump one? 'Cause I think he tweets from both now.
Niky: I went on the POTUS one, so I didn't know that he still had the other one.
Samia: He does.
Niky: I'll go look.
Samia: I've got this clip.
Donald Trump: One by one we're finding the illegal gang members, drug dealers, thieves, robbers, criminals and killers, and we’re sending them the hell back home where they came from. [audience cheers] And once they are gone, we will never let them back in, believe me. [cheers] The predators and criminal aliens.
Niky: I'm like, laughing at these honky-tonk people in the background.
Donald Trump: With drugs and prey on innocent young people.
Niky: 'Cause that’s like, the people that vote for him. These like honky-tonk people.
Donald Trump: These beautiful, beautiful, innocent young people.
Niky: Innocent young people.
Donald Trump: Will find no safe haven anywhere in our country. [cheers]
Samia: Get ready, it starts to get real weird right about here.
Niky: There's the face.
Donald Trump: And you've seen the stories about some of these animals. [Niky gasps] They don't want to use guns, because it's too fast and it's not painful enough. So they'll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others. And they slice them and dice them with a knife, because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we've been protecting for so long. Well they're not being protected any longer, folks. [cheers]
Niky: Okay. I think I do remember that. Now what I have to say about that is, and like I said, again, I'm not backing him. This also, for me, ties into how horrible of a public speaker he is and he doesn’t—he doesn’t always fully address what he means. And what I mean by that, is when I see him talking like that, I'm envisioning him talking about the illegal immigrants that come in that are actual criminals. Not the immigrants that are coming here to try to make it in life.
Samia: If you compare the amount of illegal immigrants who commit crimes to the general population of illegal immigrants, and you take those numbers and compare it to the numbers of American citizens who commit violent crimes to the ones who don't, illegal immigrants are far less likely to commit violent crimes. 'Cause they don't want to get caught.
Niky: Yeah, ‘cause they're gonna get sent back. Even before Trump was in office, if they did, they would still be sent back.
Samia: And for those honky-tonk people, as you said, in places like Ohio, that kind of language causes them to have intense fear and hatred of the foreigner. Of the immigrant.
Niky: It's also—it’s a propaganda tactic. Hitler—
Niky: Which is when we bring up Hitler did that with the Germans.
Samia: So that's where these comparisons come from, it's the way he talks, it's divisive rhetoric that is designed to scapegoat certain minority groups. And because this is supposed to be a country that's inclusive, that welcomes the immigrant—"give us your poor, give us your hungry"—people who really take those kinds of what we consider deeply American values seriously, hear this man talk the way he talks, as recently as a couple of weeks ago. And it's terrifying, 'cause it goes against the grain of what America is supposed to be about.
Niky: Yeah, I mean America was founded by immigrants.
Samia: And we depend on them still. I mean, I was just listening to a podcast. I always mention this on this show. It's still going. I was just listening to a podcast that I love talking about, it's called Reveal. It's an investigative journalism podcast. And they did an episode recently on how Trump's immigration policies and his crackdown on illegal immigrants is negatively affecting, in a very real way, the dairy industry in Wisconsin, because a lot of those dairy farms depend on illegal immigrants to do the work that Americans don't want to do. And the illegal immigrants are now leaving, because of Trump.
Niky: That’s a good thing that you brought up. This town we're in. It’s a very Italian town, Hammonton.
Niky: But we have many, many immigrants from Mexico that live here, because Hammonton, for, if anyone's listening to this, is known as the blueberry capital of the world. We have blueberry farms everywhere in this town and guess who works on the farms? If we don't have them, nobody gets their blueberries that they like every summer. I mean, we have a festival every summer, in July. We have a blueberry festival.
Samia: That sounds fun, I want to go to that.
Niky: Oh yeah, people make—It happens every July or June. They make blueberry barbecue sauce, which is out of this world. Blueberry jam, everything. And I drive by these people every day, they’re, you know, illegal Mexican immigrants that are here and they work on the farms and they're out picking the blueberries all the time. I always see them and I always give them a wave when I see them out there. They always got their music on. I used to live in a house and my backyard was a blueberry farm, 'cause the person that lived next door to me had a farm. And they'd always be out there with their, you know, their music on and I'd always go out there and like, dancing. 'Cause you know me, I love like, dancing and having fun.
Samia: And you're great at it.
Niky: They put on their like, what do they call that? The—what are those little three-man bands?
Samia: Mariachi bands?
Niky: Yes, they would always play that music and I'd be out there like woo! You know. That was one of the, you know, one of the things that I—I agree and disagree with him on some sense. Of course, I don't want the bad ones coming in here, but there's also bad people here.
Samia: Yeah, a lot of them.
Niky: So, you know, like I keep saying, you know, just because I voted for Trump doesn't mean that I hate immigrants and you know, and I hate refugees and all this stuff it's just there's bad people everywhere, there's bad white people, there's bad black people, there's bad Indian people, you know, Chinese people, anywhere, you get…
Samia: Doesn't it worry you that we have a President who's willing to use this kind of like, terror tactic language to demonize immigrants?
Niky: I never really, I guess I never really thought about that because I didn't, sorry, I'm like having a…
Samia: I know it's... I'm throwing information at you and it's a lot to process.
Niky: What was your question again?
Samia: Does it worry you that—
Niky: Worry me—
Samia: —that our president is willing to use this terrifying, graphically violent language in order to demonize immigrants?
Niky: Yes. Yes and no. In a way, like I had said earlier, about how I like how he kind of just says what he feels, but I also think that he also needs to kind of like, learn how to word it better. It's frightening and it's not, because I guess for me, and maybe this is just a fault that I have, or a flaw, I try to see the good in everybody, so I try to just... To me, I'm thinking like, "Alright, maybe he's just wording it wrong, maybe he’s—“
Samia: Maybe he didn't mean it that way.
Niky: I don't think that he meant it that way, and one of the reasons that I feel that way is because there's been a lot of times where people have said, “Oh, look at how he..." You know, it just recently happened. J.K. Rowling actually made a big deal about it. She was making a big deal about how he didn't shake a little three-year-old disabled boy’s hand when he went on to speak about repealing and replacing Obamacare, and if you watch the full video, when he first walks out, the little disabled boy is adorable sitting in his little wheelchair, and Trump walks right up to him, shaking his hand, like playing with him. Stood there with him for about a good 40 seconds before he acknowledged anybody else in the room. And then he talked, you know, about the healthcare thing and I looked at the lady's eyebrows and then he was done. And when he went to walk off, a secret service man gave the little disabled boy a badge, or like a pin or something. And when Trump was walking off, he was saying goodbye to, you know, the adults and whatever, and the little boy who was disabled, you know, is just flailing the little badge up at Trump saying, “Oh, like, look at this, look at this." And you know, he looks at it and he walks off, and everybody was like, "He doesn't like disabled people, because he didn't shake this little boy’s hand and the mother actually went on Facebook and said like, “J.K. Rowling, please stop, you know, saying that Trump is discriminating my disabled child. He’s three years old. He doesn't even know what shaking somebody's hand is. And he did shake my son’s hand. When he was leaving, my son was just throwing his arms up in the air because he's just disabled," and she actually said, I have to find it, I'll show you, and she was like, "Please stop.”
Samia: And that makes sense to me, like, I am fully aware that there are massive overreactions on the liberal side about every little thing that Trump does at this point, because they're so hostile towards him. Reason is falling by the wayside in a lot of these attacks, but there are real things that are happening that are deeply concerning.
Niky: Yeah, I think that there's bigger things that need to be looked at rather than the things that people are making a big deal about.
Samia: So I wanted to hear before we get too side-tracked by this tangent, what your thoughts are on the comparisons between Trump and Hitler, and I will say for the record that I do think that that's an overblown thing. I don't think he's anywhere near as dangerous as Hitler, and I don't think he has those types of ambitions.
Samia: I really think that Trump is a much simpler kind of man than Adolf Hitler was. I think that Trump simply wants to be important and valued and listened to and adored and praised.
Niky: Oh yeah.
Samia: I think he loves applause—
Niky: Oh, of course he does.
Samia: Which is fine, I love applause too. I'm a performer. You love applause.
Samia: We all love applause. It's just that the way he goes about trying to get it—
Niky: Is terrible.
Samia: Is terrible. So I personally don't make that comparison but I know a lot of liberals have, so what is your response to that?
Niky: The first time that I noticed it was when I watched the... because there was a lot of women's marches everywhere but the big one in DC, I believe it was—
Samia: I went to that march.
Niky: Oh, you went to it?
Niky: Did you watch like, Madonna and Ashley Judd?
Samia: I saw part of Madonna’s speech, when we were actually leaving the rally area, because we'd been there for a few hours at that point, and people where taking off on random march routes they'd invented for themselves.
Niky: Yeah I saw people in like, vagina costumes.
Niky: And that was for me like, I was like...
Samia: I mean, that was a whimsical way—
Niky: I mean, I think it was kind of funny.
Samia: Yeah exactly, it was like a funny thing.
Niky: But I was like, "What is going on?" You know like—
Samia: But Madonna's speech certainly was inflammatory, and I think she probably spoke out of turn. I don't think she spoke out of turn anymore than the President of our country has on numerous occasions, but yeah, where her words in poor taste? I think so.
Niky: Yeah, especially, I mean, because she had said she was thinking about blowing up the White House. Now—now—
Samia: That was the big thing. If she hadn't said that, nothing—
Niky: Yeah, she would have been fine.
Samia: —about her speech was inflammatory.
Niky: Yeah, nothing about her speech was wrong. It was her own opinion, but when she said that—and obviously I was like—obviously, you know, because people where like, "She needs to be under investigation," and I'm like, she's not going to blow up the White House. Like, come on.
Samia: Right. Exactly.
Niky: I was like, Should she have said it? No. But is she going to blow up the White House? No. ‘Cause everybody, you know, all the big right-wingers are like, "She needs to be investigated," and all this, and I'm like, guys, like, it's Madonna, like…she’s going to go vogue in her house, she's not going to go blow up the White House," you know?
Niky: But it wasn't her that brought up the Hitler thing. There was a... there's an actress, Ashley Judd.
Niky: And she went on there and she... It wasn't her writing, it was poetry, but it wasn't hers. It was someone else’s, I don't who it was. And it was one of those, you know like when you go to those slam poet... I think it was a slam poetry thing.
Niky: Because she wasn't like, Ashley Judd wasn't like, rapping, but she wasn't like, reading a poem, it was one of those... it makes me think of 22 Jump Street, have you ever seen that when Jonah Hill does the slam poetry?
Niky: Yeah, it was like that. So I think it was like a slam poetry thing, but one of the lines in it was, and I'm not quoting this because I don't know if it's completely accurate, but one of the lines was, “I see Hitler rising in these streets in DC,” or whatever and, “A mustache has been traded in for a toupe.” And everybody was just like, "Yeah!" You know, and screaming, and I was like, "What are you guys talking about?" I've said a thousand times, this was like, the sole reason that I came on here, because I think me and you have pretty much agreed on a lot of things.
Niky: Because I did say I'm pretty much middle of the road, except when it comes to this. I studied Hitler, I've read Mein Kampf, I studied Holocaust and genocide studies. My professor, he was from Australia, he was a Jewish man and his family members were survivors. He met Elie Wiesel. Before I left school, my professor actually wanted me to meet Elie Wiesel, and I was really like, excited about it. And obviously, that didn't work—
Samia: Who is Elie Wiesel? I don't know who that is.
Niky: Okay. Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor. He was 15 years old when him and his family were deported to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished and his two older sisters survived and he survived. And after he, obviously, was freed, he wrote a book called Night, which is extremely well-known. I had to read it in school.
Samia: It's going on my reading list.
Niky: It's absolutely incredible. So I was just saying that my professor had wanted me to meet him, but…
Samia: That would have been incredible.
Niky: Yeah, I really wish that I would have been able to do that. But the main thing that I wanted to talk about was because I studied a lot about Hitler and the funny thing that I normally say to people when they compare Trump to Hitler is, "Hitler was a genius. Trump is a complete idiot." [Samia laughs] And it’s true. I mean, it—
Samia: This is just not the kind of thing you expect to hear from someone who voted for him.
Niky: Yeah, which is why I wanted people to know that just because, you know, I voted for him doesn't mean that I love everything that he does, you know, and like I said, there are some certain policies that I do agree with, and there's some that I don't. Hitler was an absolute genius. He was tortured as a child. His mother died when he was very young. My great-grandfather grew up on the same street as Hitler when he was a child.
Niky: Fun fact. I guess that's not really a fun fact. I'm not related to him or anything, but… [Samia laughs] Well my stepdad's dad's dad grew up on the street that Hitler did. Hitler was tortured as a child. He had a very hard life. He was very close with his mother. She died when he was very young, so he didn't really have anyone. I don't want to get into like, a whole big detail about Hitler, but you know, he tried to get into art school. That didn't happen. And when he started getting into politics, he had all this anger built up from growing up on... I'm not exactly sure where. I can't remember off the top of my head why he had such animosity toward Jews, but it wasn't towards just Jews entirely. Hitler was just a very angry person, and one of the things that I wanted to bring up, there is a website. It's called jewishvirtuallibrary.org. That website talks about not just the Jews that were in the Holocaust. This also talks about everyone else. And a lot of people don't know that there were more than just Jewish people that were in the Holocaust.
Samia: Right. It was many groups that were targeted.
Niky: Many people.
Samia: The gypsies were targeted.
Niky: Yes, the gypsies.
Samia: Gay people.
Niky: Yes, gay people and also anybody... This is another reason why my main reason for voting for Trump was because when I was saying like, the extreme, extreme left liberal narrative, the way that they were acting, kind of like if you didn't fit in to the extreme liberal narrative, you were automatically deemed a racist or a bad person or me being called a Nazi before. This is what the Nazis did to the Jews and to other people. If you didn't fit in to the Nazi narrative, you were killed in the streets, you were beat in the streets, and you were sent off to camps. And I've seen many videos online at these protests. Some aren't even at protests. I saw one video of a man walking to his car. And he was an old man. And he had like, a Trump shirt on or a MAGA hat or whatever. And somebody pulled up their phone and said, "Let's beat this guy up and steal his car."
Samia: I saw a video of a protest at UC Berkeley where a woman was just giving an interview to a local reporter and someone just came up and pepper-sprayed her out of nowhere.
Niky: Yeah, I saw that one too. And I saw one at the Berkeley protest. There was literally a tiny little girl, adorable. Well, not little girl. She was a college student, but tinier than me, and I'm like 5'4". She was there to see Milo Yiannopoulos, who—I think he's hilarious. I mean, he’s just so like, gay and funny and I just—
Samia: He's a disaster.
Niky: He’s— I just like—he posts the funniest stuff on Instagram, like he… Side note, he was building this fake wall and he was, “Building a wall for Daddy.” And I was just like, "This is just like..."
Samia: He's ridiculous.
Niky: I like, laughed at it because I was like, "Oh my god. Like, seriously?” But—
Samia: Yeah. He's made a business out of being a provocateur about—
Niky: Yes, yes.
Samia: —and saying inflammatory things, and like, I hate the things he says. I really, really do.
Niky: I've only listened to a couple things he says, but you know…
Samia: He's said some awful fucking things, but he does it because it gets people so angry.
Niky: It gets people riled up. Yeah. He's feeding off of people getting angry, so like—
Samia: And I get a little frustrated with liberals who take him seriously enough to like, share stuff. “[gasp] Look what Milo Yiannopoulos said."
Samia: And I'm like, "Don't share it. That's exactly what he depends on."
Niky: Yeah. That's how he's doing what he's doing. That's what I'm saying. I just think he's funny. I'm like, "Oh my god." And some of the stuff, I can tell he's doing it as a joke, but he's doing it, and it's getting a rise out of people, and obviously… I’m kind of like, hello? Like, that’s what he wants.
Niky: He wants you guys to get a rise out of what he's doing. Anyway, I don't know why I just broke off onto that. Oh, because the girl was there to see him.
Niky: So she was there to see him and she was wearing a MAGA hat. And she was like, looking towards the building. She was just like, standing there and somebody came up with, I guess because people were like, breaking things and tearing stuff apart and they had some sort of metal pole of some sort. It looked like it was a pole from one of the gates and just whacked this girl with it.
Samia: See, I’m—
Niky: She fell to the ground and they were kicking here and they were like, "You Nazi. Blah, blah, blah." And I was like, no! You know, for me, studying this, that is what the Nazi Party was. If you did not fit in to this narrative, you were beaten. You were shot in the streets. Like, Nazis would just shoot somebody, not even care.
Samia: It sounds like you're now drawing a comparison between extreme liberals and Nazis.
Niky: Yes. And one of the things that I wrote down here, which I stand by it, even if people don't agree with it. I've been saying recently, I kind of feel like in this era, years from now when people look back, conservatives are the Jews of 2017. [Samia laughs] Because... And not, you know, not to that extent.
Samia: No, of course not.
Niky: But, you know, from seeing how conservatives are being treated by extreme liberals when they don't like that they don't believe in their narrative, that's what it makes me think of. The reason why I had said before that I usually keep quiet is, you know, I almost sometimes kind of feel like, what it was like, not that I could ever compare myself to, you know, being a Jew during that time, but I feel like I have to be quiet and I can't express who I am, because I don't want somebody to pepper spray me or whack me with a pole.
Samia: Or just be really mean to you, which hurts, too.
Niky: Yeah, or just be nasty to me and call me a Nazi.
Samia: That is completely valid, not wanting to be ostracized—
Samia: —for your political affiliations or beliefs, but it goes both ways.
Niky: Oh yeah. It absolutely does.
Samia: I mean, our—
Niky: And I definitely agree with that.
Samia: Our government considers right-wing terrorism as big of a problem as foreign-perpetrated terrorism.
Niky: Mmhm. Yes.
Samia: And decades ago, left-wing terrorism was a big huge problem. Now, it's right-wing terrorism. Extremists on either side are a huge problem, but I don't see how you can say that conservatives are like this persecuted group when right now we have a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican president.
Niky: I guess... I guess what I mean… Not necessarily conservatives are like the new Jews of 2017, but like you had said, we have the extreme left and we have the extreme right and then I think people like us who are in the middle, who don't agree with either the extreme right or left are—you know, so I guess that was my fault that I worded that wrong—the people who are kind of just in the middle, who like, we're not really like, extreme liberal and we're not extreme conservative—
Niky: —we’re now just getting bullied because we don't have this super strong belief,
whether it's conservative or liberal. So I guess that's... You know, my apologies, I should have worded it that way.
Samia: Well, it makes sense that you would be seeing things from your own perspective. That is what we all do. So I can see how you would, in your mind, the story is conservatives are kind of a persecuted group, at least socially speaking.
Niky: But I do know that—
Samia: That makes sense, because that’s—because you identify as conservative and you're a centrist, or a moderate conservative, but still you identify as conservative, that makes sense. But—
Niky: And I do know that it happens—it happens to liberals too.
Niky: I mean, I’ve seen—
Samia: It goes—
Niky: I've seen extreme conservatives say awful things to liberals, or gay people, or transgender people, and I don't agree with that at all. So it goes both ways. You know—
Samia: But here's the thing, so I'm aware of these Antifascist or Antifa protestors.
Niky: I think they call it Antifa.
Samia: Yeah. Antifa? Is that the ... I've never actually heard it pronounced, I've only read about it. But yeah, it's short for Antifascist—
Samia: —and they use black bloc protest techniques.
Samia: Tactics rather. I really don't like those guys.
Niky: I—that to me is like the new... That's what I meant by when I said, "Conservatives are the new Jews." The reason that I said that was because of Antifa or Antifa—
Niky: —or however you pronounce it. Because I've seen videos of them talking. They wear all black. So they—
Samia: Yeah, they're scary as fuck.
Niky: They have somewhat of a uniform and if you don't fit into their narrative, they want to take care of you. And I've seen videos of Antifa kids, in these black outfits so you can't see their face, and I don't know how they're getting them, but they're getting guns and they're talking about... There's one video, I'll send it to you, of a kid saying that, you know, people like us, conservatives, you know, need to be taken care of.
Samia: And that is so wrong.
Niky: And that's where I came up with, you know, that's what makes me kind of feel like, okay, now there's this group, you know, called Antifa, that is like, targeting conservatives because we don't agree with their narrative. And you know, like when I see people driving with their cars and they have, like Trump stickers on them—I mean, I would never do that anyway—but like, I'd be terrified to do that because that to me, makes me think of, it would be like me wearing a Jude patch. You know, like when the guy—when the person at the Berkeley thing saw the girl with the MAGA hat on, he was like, "Oh, she's a Trump supporter, let's whack her with a pole."
Samia: But these are very rare, isolated incidents you're talking about.
Samia: And the thing is, is that if you compare just in the last, let's say in the last 5 years or 10 years, the amount of right-wing terrorism events, attacks, to left-wing, it's all right-wing.
Samia: Right-wingers who are going into churches and shooting people up.
Niky: Oh yeah.
Samia: Right-wingers who are setting off bombs. You know, who are attacking people outside of abortion clinics, things like that.
Niky: Yeah, that stuff is just awful.
Samia: But see... But see, so I have a problem, personally, with comparing conservatives with the Jews of Nazi Germany. I don't think that conservatives are being persecuted in—
Samia: —that way. And I know... and I know that you know it's an exaggeration, but I would respond to that by saying let's look at how there's been a spike in hate crimes against Muslims and against immigrants since Trump was elected.
Niky: Oh yeah, I have friends that are Muslim that I actually fear for because I get worried that—
Niky: —you know, I'm like, I hope that somebody doesn't do something to them. Because one of my friends is Muslim, and he is literally the sweetest person that I've ever met in my entire life and I love him to death.
Samia: Right. Yeah.
Niky: So that's why I’d said, I mean, you can even edit it out if you want—
Samia: No. I mean I think it's fair to have perspective—
Niky: I didn't—
Samia: —on these things and to feel like your opinions... It's not right that people who voted for Trump feel afraid to speak out about it because of backlash from liberals.
Samia: And it's not right what the Antifa people are doing as far as using violence to fight ideologies they don’t agree with.
Niky: Yeah, I am not about violence, yeah.
Samia: I'm not about violence either. I don't like them anymore than I like right-wing terrorists. And I think of them... I mean, they're toeing a dangerous line. It's a very fine line between practiced protest tactics and full on destruction—
Niky: Oh yeah.
Samia: —and damage to people and property. Like, don't do that. It makes you look bad. It makes the liberal cause look bad.
Niky: And that's exactly why I wanted to talk to you, because they're going so crazy and it's really coming up. Like, when people that like, I know think of a liberal, that's what they think of. And I usually say no and I usually bring you up, I'm like, "No, like my friend Samia, like, you know, she’s a liberal. These people are not liberals, like these people are crazy."
Samia: I mean they might—they might—
Niky: I mean, they may be liberal, but I was like, "These are not how liberal people are."
Samia: Not most of us.
Niky: Like, "True liberal, good people."
Niky: And it's the same thing with conservatives, you know, like me. Like, I’m not one of the, you know, well, you guys have Antifa, I don't know what the hell we have. We have—
Samia: Evangelical Christians. KKK.
Niky: Oh God. Yeah.
Samia: Extreme antiabortion groups. There's all sorts.
Niky: Yeah, those Christian people. The... I mean I've even seen like the Christian people go to like, gay pride and I'm like, "Why are you even here? Like just let them—“
Samia: Like to protest it?
Niky: Yeah. To protest it that it’s wrong, like the Activist Mommy, I told you about her.
Niky: She literally takes videos of herself and her kids and family going to these gay pride protests—
Niky: —or going to the pride thing and protesting them.
Niky: And I'm like, "What?" I'm like, "They're not affecting you."
Samia: But this... We're getting slowly closer and closer to the central issue here, which is that, while there are extremists on the liberal side, liberal politics and ideologies are about including more people and giving all people the same set of basic human rights. And the definition of what a basic human right is extends to things like healthcare and reproductive healthcare for women—
Samia: —and you know, no difference between the rights of gay people, and transgender people, and the rights of cisgender straight people. Whereas with conservative politics, there's a lot in the GOP agenda that is exclusive and focused on taking rights away from people.
Niky: It's still very old school, which I'm not okay with. It's still very, you know, and as much as I love the whole 1950's era and all the vintage things about it.
Samia: The fashion and things.
Niky: But the Democratic party and I guess liberalism has progressed. Whereas, conservatism isn't progressing like that. It's still very old-fashioned in a sense.
Samia: And in a lot of ways it seems to be going in a regressive—
Samia: —direction these days, with this ethnonationalist ideology, this populist ideology that Trump won on, of America first, demonize the foreigner, close our borders. These ideas are antithetical to what the conservative party used to be in a lot of ways.
Samia: And it’s funny, if you look at the history of the two parties, they've kind of flipped—
Niky: Mmhm, they have.
Samia: —on a lot of issues from what they used to be 80 years ago.
Niky: When I say when I was raised conservative, I don't mean I was raised Republican, I just
mean I was raised as a conservative background lifestyle.
Samia: Well, it sounds like you have a lot of conservative people in your social circles too.
Niky: Yeah. My stepdad is like, full-blown Democrat, and my mom was kind of like me, like, she's very quiet, she keeps to herself about her opinions. But my mom was very much conservative. And you know, obviously she would just vote Democrat because he would. I don't know if he noticed that, but my grandmother told me that, because she didn't want to argue with him. My grandmother told me that when she would go into the voting booth, like, she would tell him that she would vote Democrat but she wouldn't. And I didn't know that ’til after my mom passed, because my grandmother was Republican.
Samia: Mom was a little rebel.
Samia: I mean, I love that she voted the way she wanted to vote and didn't just vote how her husband wanted her to.
Niky: Yeah. And the thing that made me feel bad was the fact that she felt the need to hide that. You know what I mean?
Samia: That goes to gender power dynamics.
Niky: Yes. So what I was saying was, you know, I was raised conservative in a way as to when I was young I loved to cook. When I'm done dancing, I want to do something with cooking. My grandmom—
Samia: God, you're like the perfect woman.
Niky: My grandmom taught me how to cook, I absolutely love to do it. So what I would do when I was a kid is, my grandmom didn't work, she had nine kids. My grandfather was a sign maker. He made signs in Atlantic City for Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, when they would come to perform. My father worked with him also. My dad would drop me off at my grandmom's house, and all day, we would clean the house, and we would cook dinner. And then when my grandpa came home, I'd run in and I'd set up his little table in the living room and I'd give him his cigar, and I'd bring him his dinner, because that's what she did. You know, she stayed home all day and she made sure that, you know, dinner was ready for him. He had, you know, he loved to watch the New York Mets, so we would always watch baseball together. I grew up on those traditional conservative values that a lot of people now are saying like, you know, women need to go out and do jobs and be doctors, and all that, which I think is awesome. You know, like my doctor's female, and I love her to death. She's the best doctor I've ever had. But I grew up—I am still okay with if I get married and my husband is the breadwinner, I am perfectly okay with being at home and taking care of the house, and cooking and cleaning. Because to me, that's still teamwork.
Niky: I’ll take care of this, and you take care of this. You know what I mean? I've also seen, you know, a lot of women say, "No, like, don’t do that. Like, don’t let a man tell you what to do." I'm like, "But he's not telling me what to do."
Samia: You do whatever you want to do.
Niky: And I was like that’s what, you know—so when I say that I was brought up conservative, that's what I mean by that. I was—
Samia: It's like traditional family values.
Niky: Yeah. I was brought up as a traditional like, 1950s family. And I think that's why I love the whole '50s era, because it just reminds me of my grandpop. And like, I love him to death. You know, he died almost 10 years ago now. So it's like the ideal lifestyle for me. It may not be for other people, but that's how it is for me. You know, and mom brought me up that way too. She was a stay-at-home mom for a while, and then she eventually opened up her own store, which I'm planning on, you know, doing something with also. She had to close it obviously. But you know, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. She, you know, would make sure that dinner was ready for my stepdad when he got home. And she brought me up that way. She brought me up to respect other people, whether you agree with them or not. She was, you know, very Catholic, so she just always brought me up on those traditional Catholic values. So I guess that's why I identify myself as a conservative. But I think the words conservatism and... What's the other word I'm thinking of?
Niky: Will, I think even conservatism, the word itself is starting to have different meanings. When I say that I'm a conservative, like, I just explained to you what I view as conservatism. Where like, to somebody else, they would be like, “Oh, you're a conservative? You know, like, you’re a fascist Nazi, and you believe in this and that.”
Samia: They jump—right.
Niky: Where I'm like, "No, no, no, no. That's not what I mean at all, I just meant…" You know… So I think like, you know, people are—you know, I fee like the definition of conservatism is kind of like, changing and evolving because of what's been happening.
SAMIA VO: I’m not sure if you can hear it or not. The change. I know how different I feel now, having gone through half a year of putting myself in conversations I’ve never been brave enough to have before.
I used to be a pretty hot-tempered person, easily frustrated and quick to judge. I was your classic self-righteous liberal in many ways. Remember the story I told Ellen in Episode 1 about how I couldn’t handle dating a guy when I found out he voted for Trump? It’s a funny anecdote when told conversationally, but I really hurt that dude’s feelings. He was really nice to me, and said over and over that he liked how passionate I was and enjoyed debating with me. But I couldn’t handle it. I told him I couldn’t look at him without seeing the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the erosion of LGBTQ and civil rights, the normalization of sexual assault, the scapegoating of minority groups—that that was what he had voted for, and that was all I could see in his face. I couldn’t see the human being behind the politics. It was bad. If you operate under the assumption that anyone who disagrees with you is automatically your enemy, those kinds of confrontations are inevitable.
But when you open up your worldview to the reality that there are infinite ways of experiencing life, that people always have their reasons for making the decisions they make, and that if you really listen and try to understand where a person is coming from, you might disagree, you might feel sorry for them, you might be angry and frustrated—but you can’t possibly hate them for it. If you operate under the base assumption that everyone is as human as you are, even the people who make the worst decisions, even the people who hurt you, then everything changes. You start to realize that it’s not particularly productive to judge another person based on one or two things about them, and unless you’re willing to spend the time to find out why they do what they do, your best bet is to not take it personally and assume there are reasons that you could understand if you tried.
A lot of you liberal listeners have reached out to me saying things like, “I don’t know how you keep your cool,” and “I would never be able to talk to some of these people.” I'm telling you right now that you absolutely can do everything I’m doing if you decide it was important enough, and I think it is important enough. The benefits of these sometimes uncomfortable conversations are many—you’ll emerge with a deeper understanding of humanity, a cooler temper, an ability to use compassion and reason to communicate your ideas much more effectively than ever before. You can do it, and should you choose to reach out to someone you disagree with, I guarantee you will be happy you did. In fact, I’d like to issue that as a challenge to all my listeners. In the next few weeks, go out of your way to have one respectful, compassionate conversation with a person whose ideas and opinions make you crazy. Treat them to coffee or lunch. See what happens, and then let me know by posting your experiences on the Make America Relate Again Facebook page. It’s easy to find. Just search for the show title on Facebook.
Next week's episode is the season finale, featuring Part 2 of my conversation with Niky Shea, along with some more deep thoughts and a special musical surprise. In addition to all the other things I do, I’ve had my own solo music project since 2012, under the name Samia XI. XI is the Roman numeral for 11, which is my lucky number. All of the music you’ve heard on this podcast has been instrumental versions of my own tracks. The theme music is the instrumental of my song “I Wanna Love You” from my most recent EP, Moxie. If you’re interested in listening to the full versions of all the music you’ve heard on the show, I’ve added a music section to the website with links to stream and download each track. And next week, at the end of the interview, I’m going to debut a brand new track called “Change The World.” This song is really special to me and has everything to do with what this show is about—bringing people together.
As usual, there is plenty that we get wrong in this episode. For fact checks and extra resources, out the show notes for Episode 10 at makeamericarelatepodcast.com. If you catch something I didn’t address in the notes, please let me know! I really appreciate constructive feedback.
I also love positive feedback! Send me all your thoughts about this episode and what you’d like to hear in Season 2 at firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the Contact form on the website, makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
Many thanks to Christopher Gilroy for putting this episode together and making it sound nice, in spite of my still-terrible interview recording skills, and Douglass Recording in Brooklyn for letting me use their gorgeous studio to record my intro and outro segments.
I’m Samia Mounts, and this has been Make America Relate Again.