© 2017 MARA

EPISODE 8: SARAH

TRANSCRIPT

SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.

 

I hope you enjoyed last week’s bonus episode with Anne from Episode 7 and my good friend Marsha. In a conversation that took place immediately after we recorded Episode 7, Anne, who is white, asked what the deal was with white privilege, and Marsha, a black woman who teaches diversity classes at a university, unpacked it without a hint of hostility or indignation. The result? Anne listened.

 

If you haven’t listened yet, it’s worth it. A lot of you have been sending feedback saying it can be disheartening to listen to some of these episodes, because while the premise of the show is being met and relationships are being built through these conversations, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope of my guests ever changing their minds.

 

And that makes sense. The central experiment of this show was to see if by stepping away from the desire to change minds, I might be able to at least get people to hear me out and seriously consider where I’m coming from. They may never agree with me, but maybe they’ll see that I have valid reasons for thinking the way I do.

 

The bonus episode last week shows that that style of communication - a low-pressure, compassionate, honest, and vulnerable way of communicating - can work. It can help people hear and understand your message in a way they’d never been able to before.

 

Before we get into this week’s interview, I want to tell you about this week’s #TryPod, which will be a nice change of pace from all this politics talk. This is a brand new podcast that I want you all to know about. It’s called horizontal with lila, and I’m a huge fan. Get this - the show is entirely recorded while lying down, usually in the host Lila’s bed! Lila and her guests have deeply intimate conversations about sex, love, and relationships of all kinds, and they let us eavesdrop. People’s voices change in a beautiful way when they’re lying down. They simultaneously become more sensual and more honest, and it’s thrilling to listen to. It feels like you’re right there on the pillow with them. The show is sexy and intelligent. The conversations are raw, revealing, and relatable. I personally have been inspired by Lila’s willingness to be completely open and honest, even when she’s admitting to a flaw or weakness within herself, and her style of interviewing is so beautifully eloquent, so incredibly generous. I love this show and I think you will, too. Subscribe to horizontal with lila on your favorite podcasts app and, if you’d like to experience Lila’s gorgeous, evocative writing (she never disappoints), you can also get horizontal emailed to you once a week. Sign up at horizontalwithlila.com for all the saucy details.

 

Okay, on to the interview. This week, you’ll hear my conversation with the extremely articulate, interesting Sarah Ito of Greenwich, Connecticut. I interviewed Sarah at her AirBnB in Brooklyn, New York, on March 5, 2017. She’s a retired Wall Streeter, who’s now exploring a second career as an actor and a writer. She’s also a lesbian and a radical feminist…and she voted for Trump? What?! I didn’t agree with her conclusions on things at all, but she had certainly thought them through, and she really knew her stuff. The fact checking on this episode has been brutal, because Sarah brought up stuff I’d never even heard of. (Those are available at makeamericarelatepodcast.com.) I really enjoying speaking with Sarah, and I think you’ll dig this conversation.

 

Okay, let’s get to it.

 

 

Samia:  All right. Sarah, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the podcast. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, how old you are, your career background and then go into a little bit of your political history, and sort of what led you to make the decision you did in the most recent election?

 

Sarah:  Certainly, Samia, and a pleasure to meet you, too.

 

Samia:  Thank you.

 

Sarah:  My name is Sarah Ito, I'm 55 years old. I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and I had my first exposure to politicalization and radicalization in 1969. I had a family member who was attending NYU for the summer and a lot of us kids were staying in her apartment. That happened to be the summer of the Stonewall riots. We were living in Sheridan Square, and the riots were right around the corner, and so through a series of events, I got to see the riots up close. And I was very moved by what I saw. To see gay people and specifically drag queens bloodying the New York City police, was quite the sight to see.

 

Samia:  Wow.

 

Sarah:  Not a good sight, but perhaps a very necessary sight and certainly an event that changed the course of gay rights. I later attended NYU and Columbia in the 70s going into the 80s, and so at that time both gay rights and women's rights were in the forefront of the news almost daily. And just given the nature of where I was living, and attending school, these events really spoke to me personally and politically, although prior to I had never really considered myself a political person. I had the very great honor of meeting and working with people like the late Jean O’Leary, Ginny Vida, Sidney Abbott, Barbara Love. A lot of people who were in the forefront of both the women's and gay rights movement. Later on, when I found that I needed additional funds to continue my education, I took a giant leap and I joined the United States Army to, initially, pay for my education. However, they gave me an education the likes of which cannot be had in a university, with the travel, with the opportunity to meet people from every walk of life. To meet people from different parts of the world whose views were not the same as mine. To learn respect for other cultures and people, which I certainly had already, but it gave me a different perspective on life in general and how other people live in particular. So when I finally graduated college, I then decided to pursue a career in finance, and I was very fortunate after a few years to get my dream job with the late Muriel Siebert, who was the first woman to purchase and hold the seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Working with her gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be a woman in the workforce, especially on Wall Street, because there were not a lot of female equity traders on the street at that time. So I did that for quite a number of years until I decided to take early retirement. And then thereafter, I bounced around for a little bit, did nothing, and then decided to resume a new career which is writing and acting. So, typically in my past, as far as political affiliation, I didn't really have one. I gravitated more towards the Democratic side of the aisle, but was largely independent, and my first real foray into Republican politics, was with the past election. Which is how I came to vote for Donald Trump. Not because of his qualities as a human being, I might add. [Samia laughs] But then I truly believe we don't vote for a president based on their ability to achieve sainthood. I'm looking for someone who can lead the country. I felt that this time around, he was the better choice.

 

Samia:  I would love to hear why. What were the things that you felt made Donald Trump the better choice in this election?

 

Sarah:  Well, it came down to the two candidates. Bad and worse. I have to say for many years I have been a follower and a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, and even today I wouldn't say too much to denigrate her. I truly appreciate her contributions to this country. I really felt that her moment to shine was in 2008 when she had the goodwill of the country and we didn't have all of this negativity about her possible misdeeds. The fact that the Democratic Party basically off-loaded her in such a terrible manner by bringing a truly, I feel, unknown Barack Obama into play made me wonder what they knew about her and why they didn't want her to be their candidate of choice at that time. And I still wonder about that.

 

Samia:  You don't think it could have had to do with just plain old-fashioned American misogyny?

 

Sarah:  No, because I think that politics being what it is, the powers that be don't really give a rat's curly tail whether it's a man or woman running. They just want the person who's going to win, because it's all about power. It's not about gender, it's about power.

 

Samia:  But that's what I mean. I mean I think a lot of people question, you know, how far Hillary Clinton's gender came into play with the results of this most recent election. Like, a lot of people are saying things like, if she had been a man, all of those attacks on her character wouldn't have had as much of an impact on people's perceptions of her. So I'm wondering perhaps if it had crossed your mind if the Democratic Party thought she wasn't a winnable candidate because she was a woman. You really didn't see that?

 

Sarah:  No, I didn't. Now had it been 20 years prior, I would’ve said yes. But in this day and age, no, I really don't. I think she suffered from being Bill Clinton's wife. I think that came into play. I think there were a number of people who feared that had she been nominated back in 2008 or elected this time around that he would come along as part of the package. And it's certainly not unreasonable, I think, to think that, because after all they are husband and wife even if only in name. So I'm really not seeing misogyny here. I could be mistaken, but I'm just not seeing it. I think she just came across this most recent time as being too unlikable. She made several very unfortunate comments that came back to haunt her.

 

Samia:  Do you mean the basket of deplorables? Things like that?

 

Sarah:  Yes, and also laughing during the Benghazi hearings and saying, “What difference does it make?” I don't fault her for Benghazi, truthfully. But I do fault her for her reaction. I think she should have held herself in check and taken a more serious tone, because lives were lost in a most horrible manner. That being said, I don't fault her for the actual events. Yes, they could have been better prepared, but things happen that are sometimes beyond our control. We don't know the real story. We never will. I'm going to give her pass on that, but she shouldn't have laughed at the hearings. It just looked bad. And, you know, people will remember that, I think, Samia, much more than they’ll remember the email scandal or things of that nature. They're going to remember Mrs. Clinton laughing in front of the hearings and saying, “What difference does it make?” It sticks in people's minds and it's hard to erase that image. So I think that that harmed her to a certain extent.

 

Samia:  I mean, obviously, she didn't win the election. In my mind, the record comments of Donald Trump, saying that a woman will let you grab her by the pussy because you're a star, is a million times worse politically but it didn't seem to hurt him. I’m a very, very staunch feminist, and this is why I've been so excited to talk to you, because I think you are, too. It sounds like you certainly are just based on your history alone. And to me, it's hard not to filter everything that happened in this election through the lens of gender politics. I see people being upset with Hillary Clinton over things that, to me, seem much smaller than a lot of the things that Donald Trump has said and done. And yet he doesn't suffer the blowback that she suffered. Character-wise, I would venture to say that Hillary Clinton has better character than Donald Trump. I would also say that she's got a better temperament to be a leader. More experience—which any experience is more than what Donald Trump has. [they laugh] So it's hard for me not to turn it into an issue of feminism and misogyny. And it's so interesting to me to talk to you about it, because those issues are not being considered in the same way. And yet we're both feminists. So I'm just—my mind is blown. So we—okay, so Hillary Clinton had some problems, but what were the things that Donald Trump brought to the table for you that made him the better potential candidate?

 

Sarah:  Well, I certainly won’t excuse his comments about the pussy grabbing. However, when push comes to shove, I don't think that the average American family is keeping a scoreboard on a blackboard in their kitchen. Trump says I grabbed a pussy, Clinton never stated she grabbed a pussy, you know? [Samia laughs] It’s—the average American is not here in New York City or in San Francisco. We’re not the United States of San Francisco. We're not the United States of New York City. We’re not the United States of Portland. So many of us I think have forgotten about this vast country that lies in between the coasts. And these people—yes, they don't like what Donald Trump said any more than they like a lot of what Clinton said, but their bottom line is their homes are being foreclosed because they’ve lost their jobs. These are not highly skilled people in many instances. The job market is very thin for them, and their issue has been, right from the get-go, the economy. And what is that old tired saying? “It's the economy stupid.” And so these are the people, I think, that gravitated towards Donald Trump.

 

Samia:  But what about for you personally?

 

Sarah:  For me personally, what spoke to me was the same thing. It's the economy. As an old Wall Streeter, I want to see what's in the best interest of the country. Not necessarily what's in the best interest for me. Yes, the man is probably a pig. I would be the first to admit that. But I can get past that, because—perhaps it's just my age, but I look at the greater good as opposed to what is specifically good for me, although that's not out of the picture either. I think there is a moral equivalency here. Donald Trump? Yes, he made his remarks about the pussy grabbing, but Mrs. Clinton, had she been elected, yes, I agree she's the better qualified in most instances. I think with the exception of the economy, which I don't think she could do anything about. But she would have brought into the White House with her Bill who has been accused of rape in excess of twelve times.

 

Samia:  But Donald Trump has also been accused of rape and sexual assault multiple times, in excess of twelve certainly.

 

Sarah:  Yes, so what is the moral equivalency here? They're pretty much equal on that score.

 

Samia:  But Hillary Clinton hasn't been accused of rape or sexual assault, and she was the candidate.

 

Sarah:  Right, but if we're looking at this from a feminist point of view, she has chosen to stay with the man who has been accused of rape in excess of twelve times. Further, in her career as an attorney, she defended a man who was convicted of raping a 12-year-old. Now, it wasn't in a capacity as a public defender, in which case it would have been her legal, moral, and ethical responsibility to do so. She was in private practice. So that, as a feminist, I find very disturbing. By what standard can you defend a woman who would defend a man who did that?

 

Samia:  I mean, when you're an attorney, you take—you know, you take your cases. I don't know the details of that case, so I'll certainly look them up and I'll include those details in the show notes. But it's one thing to look at a candidate's past and say these things bother me about them. But you also said that you're looking for the person who can do a better job for the country and not necessarily the best, most saintly human being. Hillary Clinton actually stands up for women's rights. I don't think that Donald Trump does. He's following the GOP party line when it comes to issues like reproductive rights, healthcare, LGBTQ rights. He's already done some things—I mean, the pretty normal Republican president thing where you stop all federal funding for nonprofits around the world who provide abortion services. He signed the executive order banning federal funding for abortion services for, you know, any nonprofit getting federal money from the US government around the world. And that's a normal thing. That’s a thing that gets switched back and forth between Democratic and Republican presidents.  But he did do that. He stopped the Obama rule that was going to protect transgender students as far as bathroom use in schools. He's not exactly so far standing up for women's rights or LGBTQ rights. And certainly not the way he said he was in the case of LGBTQ rights. He said he was going to leave them alone. He’s not. So like, as far as the actual policies and actions, if you take their character out of the equation and just look what they stand for, Hillary Clinton is the feminist candidate. Would you disagree with that statement?

 

Sarah:  To a certain extent, I would. I'm not sure what specifically Hillary Clinton has done for women in general. As far as for the gay community. I'm going to go back to the Orlando shooter. When Mrs. Clinton held her rally in Orlando, she allowed the father of Omar Mateen to stand in the audience behind her at the podium. Now, I would say to you, in the name of all things holy, who running for president would want to be associated with that? I'm not saying it goes to character, don’t get me wrong. I think it goes against her judgment. That was just a godawful terrible thing to allow. And I will never get that.

 

Samia:  The father of the shooter?

 

Sarah:  Yes. Omar Mateen was the Orlando shooter, and at her last rally in Orlando, she allowed him to be in the audience.

 

Samia:  Well it's not as if the father had committed the crime, and it didn't sound from the press coverage that I read that any of his family members were even influences in the way of thinking that led to him to commit that crime.

 

Sarah:  Well, I would have to disagree with you there based on the research that I did into the father's background. The man's views are just totally out in left field. And I don't recall the specifics, but I seem to recall he stated that he was the king of Afghanistan or similar comments.

 

Samia:  That sounds like mental illness.

 

Sarah:  Well, it certainly does, but all things being said, just given the act of the son just a few weeks before, why would you want him to stand behind you there in the audience? I just think that it was in very poor taste.

 

Samia:  I didn't know that that happened, and I'm not sure what the motivation behind it was. But if I was to hazard a guess, it would be something about bringing people in the community together for a time of healing after a great tragedy.

 

Sarah:  If it were that type of event, but it was a political rally. And I can't speak for anyone else. I can only say if I were in any sort of event with this gentleman, I would leave. And I'm not pointing the finger at him as saying he had anything to do with the shooting. Of course he didn’t. But I just find that his behaviors and his words are very troubling, and I just wouldn't want to be associated with that, especially if I were running for the highest office in the land.

 

Samia:  There's a lot of guilt by association happening here in your reasons for not liking Mrs. Clinton. I'm hearing that. There's a lot of judging her because of her husband's actions, and her decision to stay with him. And things like this, where it's like, well, you’re letting yourself be associated with these people who are associated with these other people who did these awful things. Perhaps it comes down to you just don't like—it’s not exactly guilt by association, is it? It's more you don't think she has good judgment.

 

Sarah:  I would say that I don't think she has good judgment. If she were a private citizen, it would be different. And of course, it would be none of my business. And I wouldn't cast that type of judgment on a private citizen, but I think when someone aspires to the highest office in the land, they need to be a little bit more careful. Now again, it comes down to two very, in my opinion, undesirable candidates. If we were going back to 2008, I would have voted for her in a heartbeat. But this time around, just given the totality of what I saw with her versus what I saw with Trump, and again, I'm not categorizing myself as a supporter of Donald Trump. I just am looking at him, or did look at him, as the better choice, specifically when it came to the economy. Going back to Mrs. Clinton for a moment, I felt that as a lot of people felt—and we'll never know—but I felt that she would have carried over too many of some of the failed policies of the Obama administration into her administration. And I think that was a concern for a lot of people.

 

Samia:  Like what?

 

Sarah:  Specifically, economic policies that haven't helped get us going and back to work.

 

Samia:  Free trade, things like that?

 

Sarah:  Things like that, yeah.

 

Samia:  Anything else?

 

Sarah:  No.

 

Samia:  [laughs] Alright, so—

 

Sarah:  It’s pretty much the trade policies.

 

Samia:  Well, how do you explain, then, the fact that Obama got the economy when it was at its all-time low in modern times—the Great Recession—he got us at that moment and managed to bring the economy to a place where it's actually doing really well. And I'm not talking about the current spike, which is, you know, being credited to Donald Trump being president. I'm talking about, like, during the election. In the eight years that Obama was president, he took the economy from the Great Recession to a place where it was doing well. He cut the unemployment rate in half. It looks to people like me who voted for Clinton, and very much because we wanted a continuation of Obama's policies—and this has been a common theme, also, in my interviews with women who voted for Trump, is them saying what you're saying, that I didn't want a continuation of his policies because I felt they were a failure—and it's funny, because people on my side of things say exactly the opposite. We want a continuation of his policies.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  How do you explain that? Like, why is there this idea that the economy, for some reason, was doing poorly under Obama's policies when, according to the numbers, anyway, it looks like it was doing well?

 

Sarah:  Well, several things. First of all, I think Obama did a number of things right. I just would go back to the fact that he certainly inherited a pretty crapola economy, and he did an okay job getting it back on track. I would dispute the numbers. We have very deceptive numbers out there in terms of unemployment. Many people are working two and three jobs in the service sector, in other words going from their job at McDonald's to a job at Kohl's to a job at Targets in order to keep afloat. None of these are jobs that support a family. They barely support an individual, but they do take a personal off the unemployment and welfare rolls. So you have that kind of false positive there. You also have many people who are retiring earlier, ahead of getting laid off. You have many people who are going for reverse mortgages, who at one time wouldn't have dreamed of it, and you also have a significant number of people who are filing for disability benefits, even though they may be borderline disabled, and in a different type of economy, they wouldn't have dreamed of filing, they would have just kept working. But now we have people going for that. So the numbers are very misleading. As far as Obamacare, I give President Obama a great deal of credit for taking on the health care crisis. And I do agree with him a hundred percent when he said it was responsible for in excess of 50% of the bankruptcies in this country. He said words to that effect. I'm not sure if 50% is the correct figure. So he was on the right track. Where he failed, I don't think was his failure in my opinion. The people that he had advising him—and I can't remember the name of the gentleman who was considered the architect of the plan—but it's not it's not a good plan. It’s basically an inverted Ponzi scheme, and I want to just qualify that by saying I don't know of a different word to use aside from scheme, but I don't think there was any intent to defraud. But basically the people at the higher level of income are paying for people at the lower level. So people like me who have a decent income stream are paying for people at the bottom, and now I can't pay for insurance because my premiums have gone so high. So this is a problem. It's a fixable problem. I don't believe these blowhard senators and congressmen who say, “Oh, we have to scrap the whole plan in order to revise it.” I'm just not buying that. Take the good parts, keep it, and work with it. A lot of states now have only one plan that they can offer people because so many insurers are bailing out. So you have to look at this with a very hard eye, and say, you know, no, we can't just pull the rug out from people. Once you put people on this type of program, you can't just pull the rug out from them. But you do have to fix it, or we're all going to pay the price. The one thing that I think Obama did very wrong with this program is attach Internal Revenue Service penalties to it. I mean, god al—

 

Samia:  The individual mandate?

 

Sarah:  Yeah, I mean, seriously. If you can't afford to buy insurance, how are you going to pay a $2,000 fine because you can't pay insurance?

 

Samia:  It's not a $2,000 fine. As far as I know it’s—you just get less in your refund. I did my friends taxes last year.

 

Sarah:  Aah.

 

Samia:  And he—because he has easy taxes to do and is just a mess with finances, and I'm not that great but I'm better than him. So I did—[Sarah laughs]—I did his taxes, and this is a really low income person who did not opt to pay for health insurance because he couldn't afford it, and it made a difference of, like, $200 in his refund. He got $200 less than he would have if he'd had insurance. So it wasn't a breakable—it wasn't a make-or-break situation as far as a punishment goes. For him it was like, aww, but he would have spent so much more than that if he had had insurance all year. So it kind of worked out for him in the end, as far as having more money in his pocket to spend on things like food and rent.

 

Sarah:  Those little minor issues.

 

Samia:  Yeah, it's not a huge punishment is what I'm saying, the individual mandate. People make it out to be much bigger than it is. Perhaps it can become a bigger punishment if you made more money? I'm not sure.

 

Sarah:  Well, if you weren't entitled to a refund and you had your income levied. That could be a problem.

 

Samia:  It could turn into a real chunk of change out of your pocket.

 

Sarah:  Yeah, if you were unemployed, I’m not sure how that would work, because would you have your unemployment or your veteran's benefits levied? And of course, if you don't pay on time, you know how the interest accrues. So I did find that problematic, but— 

 

Samia:  I found a lot of things with the Affordable Care Act problematic.

 

Sarah:  But it's fixable.

 

Samia:  It is fixable, it was a first attempt at getting us to a place where we have a real health care system where everybody has access.

 

Sarah:  Yeah.

 

Samia:  And yeah, the repeal and replace will be a disaster. The Republicans would be much smarter to keep the things that are working and tweak stuff until we get a better system.

 

Sarah:  Exactly, that's exactly my feeling.

 

Samia:  Yeah. It sounds like—honestly, it sounds like we agree on a lot more than we disagree on. Your points are extraordinarily valid. I see what you're saying on everything. For me though, I have trouble understanding if you're looking at both candidates and seeing it as bad and worse, I have trouble seeing Trump as the bad and Clinton as the worse. So I want to pivot now since we're now what seven weeks post-inauguration. And we've seen a little bit of Trump in action as president now.

 

Sarah:  Yes.

 

Samia:  How do you think he's been doing so far?

 

Sarah:  I think he has been doing very, very poorly, and—

 

Samia:  So you’re in that 56% of Americans or something that disapprove? [laughs]

 

Sarah:  Yes. Yes, I think he's doing very poorly. Now here's the thing, part of it I think is not his fault, because he's been getting such resistance from the Democratic side of the aisle. And I think that the Democrats should just take a deep breath and give the president a chance to do his job. Part of it is Trump's fault, because he’s still continuing with those frickety-frickin’ tweets. He doesn't have to answer to every little criticism against him. Any president is going to be criticized every which way to Sunday. I don't care if they're good, bad or, you know, milquetoast. They're going to be criticized. It comes with the territory. He should not be responding to that, and this is where I think he has a bit of a personality problem. You know, you can’t—to a certain extent, I think it's good to run the country like a big business, but not to the extent that you're going to micromanage every last little comment of negativity that’s directed your way. You’re going nowhere.

 

Samia:  Yeah, we’ve never had a businessman in this sense, who had absolutely no government or public service experience, in the presidency before. It’s kind of a big experiment, right? It’s the hypothesis of what's going to happen when you run the country like a business. But yeah, I agree with you, there's some personality problems. Do you—are there moments where you regret voting for him? Are there moments where you worry about the stability of our democracy, for example, or going to war, or—I mean, what’s—

 

Sarah:  No, I don't worry about us going to war. And I'm not particularly worried if something were to occur, and—I don't know what mechanism could occur to get him out of office—but then we would have Mike Pence, who I would have confidence in.

 

Samia:  Really?

 

Sarah:  I would. I would. Now, six months ago, when I wrote an article criticizing Mike Pence, regarding [laughs] the bakery issue in his home state there.

 

Samia:  Yes—

 

Sarah:  I would’ve—

 

Samia:  —the discrimination bills.

 

Sarah:  Yes. I would’ve not thought him to be the person that I think he is segueing into. I was very impressed by how he handled the incident at the performance of Hamilton. And he responded not just as a gentleman, but I thought as a true statesman. He's very well spoken. He obviously recognizes that he's no longer in Indiana, and I think he's kind of stepping up and leaving his personal agendas behind. I don't know what's in his heart. Personally, I don't care. It's how he relates to the public and what he actually does that I'm looking at. So I'm looking at him very carefully, because you just never know. I don't regret voting for Trump, because there is so much about Mrs. Clinton that just kind of disturbed me. And again, it's not to denigrate her. I do have a lot of respect for her service to this country. If I may take a step back for a moment, one of the things that also concerned me about Mrs. Clinton was her health. I don't believe everything I read on the internet, but there did seem to be some legitimate concerns about her health going forward. So that made me take a little harder look at her running mate, and I just didn't have a really good feeling about him, and I can't really tell you why. Possibly because I just didn't know enough about him. So I don't regret voting for Donald Trump. I think if people would just take a step back, stop all the resistance and the town hall nonsense and all of this. Just give him a fair chance. If he doesn't perform to our satisfaction, we have this thing called an election coming up in three and a half years or so, and he'll be gone at that time. That's how our system works. I do not want to see us become a banana republic. I've seen banana republics up close. I don't want to go there.

 

Samia:  I don't know that term. I only know that is the store in malls. What does that mean?

 

Sarah:  [laughs] Well, that's a somewhat derogatory term that was used to describe countries in Central and South America back in the day, when one dictator would overthrow another dictator. Think back to Evita.

 

Samia:  Yes. Okay, so—

 

Sarah:  Okay?

 

Samia:  Yeah, so you do have concerns that this administration has some dictator-y, autocratic tendencies.

 

Sarah:  Well, I wouldn’t say that the administration does, but the events going on all around them certainly have that aura to them.

 

Samia:  That is the thing that concerns and is freaking out and causing everybody's panties to get in a twist on the liberal side of things, is that this administration—the way Trump speaks, the way Trump speaks about immigrants and about Muslims, he's got all the markers of the beginnings of a fledgling autocrat and we’re scared, I guess, of what you said, of this country becoming a banana republic, which I still, every time I hear that phrase, think of knit cardigans. [they laugh] So yes, do you have any questions for me?

 

Sarah:  Actually I don't. I am a person, as a feminist, who believes it is perfectly acceptable not to vote for the female candidate just because she's a woman, and that might just be because of my age. I look at so many different factors. There was a time when I was much younger when I would have voted for a woman just because. But I don't feel for me at this stage of my life that that's the direction for me to go in. I don't think that makes me any less a feminist. I think it just makes me a little bit more of a realist. I do have a concern with the events that are surrounding Trump’s election. I do worry about people who want to take the law into their own hands and pepper spray a woman, like has happened out at the University of California at Berkeley over the free speech riot out there. That was totally uncalled for. I certainly think that these are very highly organized, well-orchestrated events that, unfortunately, I think sooner or later someone's going to get killed.

 

Samia:  Do you mean demonstrations and protests?

 

Sarah:  Yes, yes. This worries me. I'm all for getting out there and protesting, whether I agree with you or not. The idea of pepper spraying someone who doesn't agree with you does not sit well with me. The idea of beating someone up does not agree with me. I'm going to say that regardless of who was president and however stupid their comments may be, it is not a president's comments that cause people to do this. What causes people to do this, I say, is sociopathy and just—I’m not sure what the word is.

 

Samia:  There have been some indications that President Trump's cavalier way of picking on people who disagree with him, especially on Twitter, have real world consequences. He singled out people who he felt criticized him—

 

Sarah:  Yes.

 

Samia:  —and spread their Twitter username to the world, and then those people have had to get off of Twitter because of all the death threats, and if they’re a woman, they’re rape threats from Donald Trump’s supporters. It’s a level of cyberbullying that is beyond comprehension unless it’s happened to you. It's never happened to me. I'm pretty sure that if I was getting 800 death threats a day, that would have a pretty negative effect on my well-being. And Donald Trump has the power to unleash that kind of vitriol and hate on anyone he chooses to. It's hard for me to believe that he doesn't know that. So an argument that, “Oh, he's just saying what he wants, he doesn't expect people to act on his words.” Well, we've seen that people will act on his words. So you would think that a thoughtful, conscientious human being would perhaps lay off. But he hasn't, he doesn't. He continues to attack people, like you said, responding to every criticism, as if he really deeply feels, much like an insecure child, when someone criticizes him, that it's a real attack on his character that he needs to pay attention to. That is extremely worrisome, because him responding in a bullying way gives permission to all the people who think he's great to do the same thing. The rash of hate crimes, the rise in hate crimes across the country since his election, I feel it's hard to separate those two. It seems to me that the election of Donald Trump has made a lot of people feel like they can act on their hateful beliefs, and in fact, they credit him with the reasons why they're speaking out and saying, for example, I have a lot of Muslim friends who have reported being told to go back to their own country because Trump is president now by random people on the street, usually white men.

 

Sarah:  Yes.

 

Samia:  I mean, this is a ripple effect that is creating an environment of fear and hate in this country that we did not have, in this sense, when Obama was president or even when George W. was president. This is a whole new level than I've ever seen in my lifetime. I'm 33. I’ve never seen hateful, racist people be so invigorated and so mobilized to speak out and feel that they have a platform to speak out.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  And they credit Donald Trump—

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  —as being the one who gave them permission.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  So, it's not just that, you know, maybe he has questionable character. His questionable character has real world consequences. And a few moments ago, you said you wouldn’t, although you're a feminist, you wouldn't vote for a woman just because she was a woman. And it seemed that you were indicating that perhaps I was voting for her just because she was a woman.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  Her being a woman was a huge benefit for me. I want a female president.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  But I grew up in Korea, where they currently have a female president who has done nothing good for the country, has been embroiled in controversy, has had daily protests and generally, has been doing a super shit job of being president. So I'm not one to say let's just get a woman in there no matter who she is.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  I wanted Hillary Clinton because of her record, because of the way she speaks, because of the issues that she cares about. I love Hillary Clinton for her character, for her career, for all of the things she's fought for. Are there things she's done that have been questionable? Sure. But in my mind, the things that Donald Trump has done that are questionable are far, far, far worse. He shows poor judgment. We were talking about judgment. He shows poor judgment in a way that I've never seen out of Hillary Clinton. The examples that you cited of her showing poor judgment, to me, weren’t even, like, red flags. Staying with Bill in spite of his philandering and all of the rape and assault accusations? I see as her fighting, with everything she has, against what the political establishment might throw at her. And it's funny because I believe that if she divorced Bill, there would be a lot of people criticizing her for not standing by her husband.

 

Sarah:  Oh, of course.

 

Samia:  And I feel that that was a situation she could no one no matter which way she went, so she probably just picked the safe way.

 

Sarah:  I agree with you on that.

 

Samia:  And like, having the father of the Orlando shooter, I don't blame the father for his son's actions, and that never would’ve caused me to go and look into things that he said in the past. I would have just thought, this is a good way to bring the community together. Just like, have everybody there. Political rally or not, whether it's a grieving event or not, if you're having a political rally in a town two weeks after a huge tragedy, you have to acknowledge it. You have to make that political rally a little bit of a grieving event. You have to. That’s the right thing to do, right? So I don’t see any of those as examples of poor judgment, but I see everything in Donald Trump’s career as an example of poor judgment. [Sarah chuckles] I’m super scared about what he is going to do to our country, and I don’t think that he cares about women’s rights. Let’s get into that. Let’s get into that a little bit. One of my big issues and something that I’ve said before and written about is that, for me, misogyny in a presidential candidate is an automatic deal-breaker. I see Donald Trump as being extremely misogynist—misogynistic—based on the things he’s said about women, the gendered attacks on women who’ve criticized him, the many, many accusations of sexual assault, the rape accusation from his ex-wife Ivana. It’s pretty obvious that Donald Trump has kind of fallen into the old boys’ club way of viewing women as prizes and trophies and a status symbol. His marriage to Melania, when I look at the body language when the two of them are together, she doesn’t seem to like him very much. That could be me putting my ideas on her and projecting, but she doesn’t seem to like him very much. [laughs] He comes across to me as this giant blowhard I wouldn’t want to be alone in a room with. I struggle to understand why somebody who identifies as a feminist could see past those things. Why is Donald Trump’s misogyny something that you can get past, or do you not see the same misogyny that I see? I’d really like to understand that.

 

Sarah:  Well, I certainly share your concerns, but going back to just my basic values. I value what is good for the country over what is good for me. And I really feel that if we have—

 

Samia:  But women make up half the country.

 

Sarah:  Yes, and what is good for the country is good for women. And going back to what I said earlier, there are an awful lot of people in other parts of the country who really don’t care about Donald Trump’s misdeeds with women. That’s not to lessen what he did. I don’t give him a pass on that at all. But there are a lot of people, including myself, who are very, very deeply concerned about the economy. And so, I really felt at the time—and I admit, I may live to regret this—but I really felt that was a huge issue, as apparently other people did, too, given where his votes came from. And I just felt that without a solid forward-thinking economy, everything else is moot. I can go back to the days of what I knew about the Kennedy family. I grew up with a number of the Kennedy family members in my home town and counted them amongst my personal friends.

 

Samia:  Oh, how glamorous.

 

Sarah:  I know. [they laugh] Trust me, it’s no big deal. I don’t think you would ever find a bigger pig, if you’ll excuse my use of the word, because I don’t like to name-call, than JFK.

 

Samia:  Mmm.

 

Sarah:  Okay? The man was a genius, he was a legitimate war hero, he certainly wrote well, but he was a pig. And I think, had he not been cut down in such a horrible manner, his legacy would not have been that great in terms of what he did to women and how he used and abused women. However, we did not have the internet in those days to share this information and make people’s lives miserable over it. I don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about other people’s personal lives, let alone politicians, and again, I’m not giving Donald Trump a pass. I saw in him a great deal of what I saw in Hillary Clinton. I think if you’re going to look for a moral equivalency, they were probably pretty much level. You don’t get to the heights that both of them have attained, each in their own way, without being very egocentric and taking what you want. It can be a good quality; it can be a bad quality. So I found them pretty equal in that sense. Going back to a few things you had said earlier about Trump and his tweets. I have to believe that his advisers have told him time and time again to stop the frickety-frickin’ tweet. You know, you’re hanging yourself.

 

Samia:  Yeah.

 

Sarah:  And I don’t think this is a man who’s going to listen to his advisers. As far as the people that use that as an excuse to harm other people, these are people who are out there anyway. They’re there. This is the world.

 

Samia:  That’s true, but these are now people who feel that they are getting permission from, literally, the leader of our country to act out on these hateful beliefs that they already have.

 

Sarah:  Right.

 

Samia:  Which is—

 

Sarah:  It’s inappropriate.

 

Samia:  Which is causing them to act out and causing crimes to happen and causing people’s lives to be affected in a negative way, and it’s coming straight from the top.

 

Sarah:  Well, I agree that his tweets are highly inappropriate and potentially dangerous. I 100% dispute the fact that inappropriate words from the president can inspire someone or cause someone to go out and harm another person. You know, you mentioned that a lot of the negative remarks you’re getting, or that you’ve heard directed at your friends and associates are from white men. This is typically the demographic that hurls these insults, and—

 

Samia:  But they’re invoking the name of Trump.

 

Sarah:  Sure. And you know what? They use to invoke the name of umpteen million other people before Trump.

 

Samia:  It seems to many people right now that these kinds of hateful comments and hateful actions are on the rise because of the permission from the president.

 

Sarah:  And I—I’m kind of on the fence about that. I think that over the last few years, since 9/11, and especially since the terror attacks on our soil, and with the problems that are going on in Syria, I think that there’s a lot of issues out there that we haven’t talked about honestly. And so, I think that a lot of tension has built up around issues of refugees or rape-ugees, as some people call them. And a lot of issues have built up that people have been afraid to talk about because they don’t want to be called homophobic, misogynist, sexist, Islamophobic. There’s a lot of us that just want to talk about these issues. When you try and put a lid on a boiling pot, without letting off a little of that steam, you’re going to have problems. So yeah, I think a lot of these has been building up for a long time. It’s not appropriate. I still maintain that the types of people who would insult a woman on the street are going to do it regardless of who is the president.

 

Samia:  Mmm.

 

Sarah:  If Mrs. Clinton was president, and we still had the situation in the world that we have and will have for many years into the future, and they see someone coming down the street and there’s an opportunity to hurl an insult, and call them a derogatory name for a Muslim or a gay or a woman or whatever, they’re going to do it. Regardless of who is sitting in the highest office. Yes, Trump is stirring the pot, and I do fault him for that. But he’s not making it happen. Nobody can. I mean, it’s like the Manchurian candidate. Are we implanting chips in people’s heads, causing them to go out to do it? We’re not, but we are playing to the lowest common denominator.

 

Samia:  But don’t you think that there is a bit of ripple effect that happens when something is made to seem socially acceptable from the highest level of your country’s leadership?

 

Sarah:  Yes, I do.

 

Samia:  But that’s what I’m saying. I do think that he’s giving permission. He is helping to make this new rash of vocal racists and vocal misogynists. He’s giving them a platform to stand on. They’re using it. They weren’t before, because it was so socially unacceptable. And now, because Trump is president, they don’t see it that way. So in my view, it is coming from him. He is causing it. And he’s not trying to do anything to stop that from happening. His condemnations of, you know, hate crimes have been pretty lukewarm, compared to how passionate he is about reinforcing these stereotypes.

 

Sarah:  Well, I would say that hate crimes were happening before Trump was elected to office. This is not something new. I do think that he does need to be more vocal. I absolutely agree with you on that. I do have to wonder, though, even if he condemned each and every hate crime in the strongest terms, would it stop these hate crimes? I doubt it.

 

Samia:  Well, one of the things that he could do—for example, after 9/11, George W. Bush made a speech, where he went out of his way to say, “We can’t blame the people of Islam for this, because Islam is a religion that stands for peace.” He said, “Islam is peace,” in a post-9/11 speech. And it was one of his greatest moments as president. And I didn’t like him, but he did have that one moment, and right now, George W. actually looks great compared to Donald Trump.

 

Sarah:  [laughs] I have to agree with you on that one. [they laugh]

 

Samia:  You know, so even George W. went out of his way to stem public anger directed at Muslims.

 

Sarah:  Right.

 

Samia:  Whereas Donald Trump has gone out of his way to make it clear that he sees Muslims as the problem. He proudly proclaimed in his not-State-of-the-Union address earlier this week that it was radical Islamic terrorism, which is a term that a lot of liberals take umbrage with, because it puts the target on the people of an entire religion. When really, it’s just a small group of terrorists who are twisting and manipulating and perverting the religion in question to allow them to pursue these evil, evil operations that they’re running. If you look at the numbers, the vast majority of Muslims are very peaceful and very, very against what ISIS is doing. It’s not right to use language to encompass all of them in with the same people who are going around the world trying to kill and maim and attack, in the name of, you know, whatever it is they’re truly fighting for. So that’s the problem with Donald Trump and giving permission to people who already have these racist, hateful ideas. He doesn’t do anything to try to stop that, he encourages it with his language in a way that even his Republican predecessor, George W., wouldn’t do. He knows that he’s divided the country. It’s all anybody talks about. And yet he’s doing nothing to reunite the country. He’s not speaking to all Americans. He’s certainly not speaking to me. He’s not speaking to my friends, who are Muslim or who are gay. I’ve been looking for signs that Donald Trump was going to, like, clean up his act and be a little bit more presidential. His performance at the not-State-of-the-Union earlier this week, was a great opportunity, and a lot of people gave him credit for being the most presidential he’s been yet in that speech. But I heard the same things that he’s been saying all along.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.​

Samia:  Setting up a unit just to document immigrant crimes, seems to me to be a targeting of brown people. It’s increasing public fear of brown people, when the numbers clearly show that undocumented immigrants are more lawful, on average, than American citizens are. Yet now we’re going to have this special unit just to document immigrant crimes. It’s a targeting of a certain kind of people, who don’t fit into the “American Dream,” which is very white and very straight. He’s using language and rhetoric to further divide people, to create certain groups of people for the rest of the public to fear, using them as scapegoats. And in this case, it’s immigrants, especially from Latin American countries, and Muslims. But the intelligence that we have doesn’t support the targeting of these groups.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  I mean, we haven’t seen a resurgence of his Muslim ban from about…what? Was it a month ago now? He tried to do the Muslim ban, it got stopped in the courts. There was all this talk about how he was going to just write a new one and release it this last week, but nothing came. But what did come was a leaked document from our intelligence community, saying that it makes no sense to target people who come from Muslim majority countries, because the vast majority of terrorists in the US are homegrown.

 

Sarah:  Yes.

 

Samia:  So this targeting of groups as a fulfilling of his campaign promises is just a continuation of the divisive rhetoric he used to get elected. The rhetoric that appealed to the lowest common denominator. To me that’s terrifying. You should be trying to unite the country, not deport 11 million people. It seems like you’re agreeing with me. You’re like, nodding your head and you’re, like, agreeing. But, you know, are you still saying that, no, he’s not dividing the country. Like no, he’s not targeting people, he’s not giving inspiration to racists and people who, you know, are fueled by hate? Do you not see that? Am I overreacting, in your opinion? What’s your take?

 

Sarah:  Well, I think that the vast majority of people who voted for him are not racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, or any of those things. Just based on my research, such as it is, people voted for him largely because they didn’t want to carryover of the Obama administration. They found Mrs. Clinton unlikable, and they felt that Donald Trump would help the economy. So I think those are the underlying reasons why people voted for him. As far as the religion of Islam versus radical Islamic terrorism, I think that since 9/11, the United States of America and the people within our country have had a very hard education. And I think that most of us now recognize the huge difference, between the religion of Islam and radical Islamic terrorism. And I personally support the use of the term radical Islamic terrorism, because it does, in my opinion, differentiate the religion of Islam from the truly evil cult of radical Islamic terrorism. They’re two separate entities. Granted, Islamic terrorism feeds off the origins of the religion of Islam, and twists it and takes it to an entirely unthinkable level. But I truly believe that most of us understand the difference. So for me, that’s a non-starter.

 

Samia:  Okay.

 

Sarah:  Now,  as far as Trump’s policies on Mexicans and Central Americans and South Americans—for the life of me, I don’t know where this is coming from. I have to say that was the one thing that troubled me most, when it was getting time to actually cast my vote. I didn’t really believe that he would deport those immigrants who had not committed felonies, and it certainly seems like that’s the direction it’s going in.

 

Samia:  Yeah.

 

Sarah:  As far as the wall, it makes no sense to me at all. I will say going back to the days of the second President Bush, I remember reading a great deal about farmers and ranchers along the Arizona and I want to say Texas border complaining bitterly about people crossing the Rio Grande, where it separates Mexico from their farms and ranches, and how they were coming on to these properties and, in the course of their traveling through, were destroying crops and harming cattle, and polluting water sources. And I recall reading at that time about many of these ranchers and farmers asking for some assistance in the form of walls or barriers being built. Now, that I can understand, but this great wall of Mexico that’s going to go up along Tijuana, or whatever, makes no sense to me whatsoever.

 

Samia:  I don’t think it would ever have a chance in hell of getting through the Republican Congress either.

 

Sarah:  Oh, it wouldn’t. No, it wouldn’t, nobody wants it.

 

Samia:  Yeah.

 

Sarah:  So some of this is just nonsensical. My gut feeling is that he has it in for the Mexicans because of trade deals. This is all business, pure and simple profit. I would like to see immigration reform that actually made sense, so that people who are eligible to come to this country wouldn’t have to pay astronomical fees in late umpteen million years to get in. I’m only one generation away from my family coming from Germany and Ireland, so I totally get it. However, I do expect that people who come to this country start off their life here by coming legally. That’s a reasonable expectation. And I see nothing wrong with any president, Trump or had it been Mrs. Clinton or anybody, taking whatever steps they deem necessary, to keep the people who are already in this country safe. I mean, how horrible would it be for people coming from Syria, to come here to get away from the problems there and have those problems follow them here. How awful. And I have to say, speaking for myself, I’d like to be able to take a stroll down West 23rd Street on a nice Saturday night, without having to worry about getting my arms and legs blown off. So I expect any president, from any party, to make that a priority. So I don’t fault the president for trying to achieve this, but the way he’s going about it is all wrong. I don’t see what he did as far as a travel ban actually being a ban. He’s said time and time again, it’s a moratorium, so I accept that it’s a moratorium. Would it keep us any safer? No, it made no sense.

 

Samia:  Yeah, it just created a lot of chaos.

 

Sarah:  Yeah. It created chaos and it made no sense. My expectation of any president is if he sees an imminent threat coming from Yemen or Iraq or Iran or any country, that he go before the Congress of the United States and make a speech that is publicized to the American people, and say, “Look, I have this intelligence. We have an imminent threat. We have to have a travel moratorium for a few months because of this threat. This is what I can share with you. I ask you to accept this, and we’ll do the best we can to tell you what details when we can.” I expect that type of statement coming from the president. Not just overnight causing chaos. It made no sense.

 

Samia:  Yeah, based on no intelligence and no imminent threat.

 

Sarah:  No. He can’t work independently. He’s the president and he has responsibilities. So there’s a bigger picture here than just my view of him getting the economy going. At the rate he’s going, we’ll never see a good economy, because he’s so tied up in this other stuff. And yes, I do think people are obstructing him, but like I said earlier, he’s obstructing himself to a certain extent.

 

Samia:  And there’s only so much that the Democrats can do. They have no power in Washington right now. So as far as obstruction there’s only so much the Democrats can do, because the Republicans control everything. So I agree with your last statement of saying that he’s probably obstructing himself more than anything [laughs] rather than putting anything on the Democrats. Although, we’ve had some wins recently with the striking down of the travel ban and a couple other things. Jeff Sessions recusing himself. Mike Flynn resigning. Oh, that’s what we talked about, we talked about Russia.

 

Sarah:  Russia, yes.

 

Samia:  Yes, how do you feel about Trump’s campaign and their ties to Russia and all these clues that are coming out now?

 

Sarah:  Well, I’m keeping an open mind on it. I think it would be unreasonable to think that Russia hasn’t interfered, or tried to interfere in our elections for the last 50 or 60 years. This is what they do. This is what a lot of other governments do. And especially now, with computers and the internet and microwaves and things of this nature, where they can pluck information out of the air, it would be unreasonable to think that they’re not trying.

 

Samia:  [whispering] They could be listening to us right now.

 

Sarah:  They probably are. [Samia laughs] I’d be honored. [Sarah chuckles]

 

Samia:  Hey Vlad, what’s up? [more laughter] All right go on.

 

Sarah:  But I don’t know how much weight I put into Trump’s involvement with Russia. I think a lot of the issue around his not releasing his tax returns probably has to do with his involvement with them. Business interests in Russia? I don’t think it would be unusual for a businessman of his caliber to have business ties with Russia. So I say just put it out there, be transparent about it, be done with it. Anything beyond that, I’m really not sure. You have some people who say with the Russian involvement with our diplomats that this is just what happens every day in Washington. You know, no story here. But then you have other people who are also in the loop who say, “No, this is just a little bit too suspicious, and we really need to probe into this further.”

 

Samia:  Do you think we need to investigate it? Do you think there needs to be like a special investigation, a special commission?

 

Sarah:  You know, I really don’t know. I’m really on the fence about it. We’re having investigation after investigation. I will leave that to better minds than myself. The people who are really in a position to know whether we should or not. I would say that if Jeff Sessions were still in the picture, we would ask him for his opinion, but he’s not going to be giving any opinion on that anytime soon, I don’t think.

 

Samia:  Nope.

 

Sarah:  So somebody out there should be able to advise somebody as to whether or not we need to or not to. I guess my gut feeling is better to investigate it and find out one way or the other, if it is indeed possible to find out one way or the other. I mean, how do you know? This is like spy versus spy. Mad Magazine revisited.

 

Samia:  It’s pretty insane. I mean, did you get a chance to look over that 35-page dossier that was leaked and published by Buzzfeed?

 

Sarah:  Yes.

 

Samia:  Assembled by that British spy, Christopher Steele, which like, I can’t imagine a more spy level name than Christopher Steele. [they laugh] And apparently, there’s now someone in the intelligence community is recommending that he be subpoenaed or called in to testify, but he’s in hiding and it’s like this big dramatic, like, movie script worthy plot right now.

 

Sarah:  Oh, indeed, indeed.

 

Samia:  If, though, it did come out—for example, that dossier, say it was proven. All of the claims in the dossier are true. We’ve verified it. And there was contact between Trump’s campaign and Russia, and there is a potential for Trump’s integrity as president to be compromised because Russia has dirt on him.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm.

 

Samia:  How would that make you feel? How would you want our country to proceed? Does Russia in your mind pose this really scary threat to American democracy? Or is it just kind of like, “Oh, we’ve dealt with them before, we’ll keep dealing with them, it’s not going to break us”?

 

Sarah:  Well, to answer your question, I would say that Russia has a rather weak economy. So I don’t think that they pose any greater threat to us than a cyberthreat. We’re not in Europe. If we were in Europe, then there would be an issue. But we’re here, so the cyberthreat is real. Now, second part, to answer your question, if it turned out that they did indeed have something that could cast a very bad plight on Donald Trump, something truly serious, and I’m not quite sure what that would be.

 

Samia:  Well, supposedly they have a video of him with a bunch of prostitutes engaging in some pretty naughty activities.

 

Sarah:  Okay. That’s … Who cares? Who cares? You know? Who knows what videos are out there of any of us? I mean seriously, politicians, anybody. That—who cares? And I don’t think that would even bother him particularly. But if it were something that was truly detrimental to the presidency, and I’m not quite sure what that would be, I would say, do the Nixon thing and step down and let Mike Pence step up.

 

Samia:  All right.

 

Sarah:  And I would say, “Hey, I made a mistake. I misread the guy.”

 

Samia:  It sounds like you have great faith in the strength of our democracy, and our system of checks and balances.

 

Sarah:  Mmhm. I do.

 

Samia:  That gives me a lot of hope, because I think that sort of, like, the unbridled terror that’s happening on the liberal side of things—and I have to say, I do think that that terror has sparked some bad behavior on the liberal end. I think that there have been some overreactions for certain situations. I don’t appreciate the sort of fear-mongering tone I get in my DCCC fundraising emails. [Sarah laughs] I wish that people would be more even-keeled and levelheaded, and talk in a way that would be appropriate to talk one-on-one with another human being rather than trying to excite the fears of a big crowd. So I see that sort of fear-raising going on on both sides of the political spectrum, and I think that it’s not accomplishing a lot. I think it—these kinds of conversations accomplish a lot, because I can understand why you wouldn’t be freaking out every single second of every single day. Like I am. [laughs] If you really believe in the strength of our democracy. That’s what causes me to be scared, is that I’m afraid that our democracy might not be able to stand up to this. So thank you. That’s a nice hopeful way to close out this conversation and carry on with our days. Do you have any final thoughts?

 

Sarah:  I think that our real strength is in our real diversity, without overplaying that because I think it’s been used as a campaign slogan once too often, but at its core, we are a very diverse people. We withstood the Nixon administration.

 

Samia:  Yes, we did. [chuckles]

 

Sarah:  And we withstood 9/11 and look how we came together then. I view the current political season as a political 9/11, if you will. And it’s bringing out the best and the worst of people, but I definitely think that it will settle itself out and the good will prevail and we’ll get through it.

 

Samia:  Fantastic. Thank you so much, Sarah.

 

Sarah:  Thank you, Samia.

 

 

SAMIA VO: So I have a little surprise for you guys this week. In about five minutes, I’m going to be speaking with Sarah on the phone, to see how her opinions have evolved since we last spoke. The action coming out of Washington has been nonstop, the news overwhelming us every day with its speed and suddenness, and while this show is about building relationships and not about current events, it is nice to see if people’s views are changing in light of all that’s happened. I’ll be releasing that phone call with Sarah as a mini-episode later this week. Check back on Friday to hear what she thinks of the Trump administration now.

 

Find a transcript of this episode, as well as your detailed fact checks at the Episode 8 page at makeamericarelatepodcast.com.

 

As we’re winding this season down, I want to hear from you about what you’d like to hear in Season 2. What have I been missing that you’ve been craving? What issues would you like to hear discussed? Are their other points of contention between Americans, besides politics, that you’d like me to explore? Send me your feedback! You can email me at makeamericarelateagain@gmail.com, or use the Contact form on the website, makeamericarelatepodcast.com.

 

Thank you so much for listening to the show. If you’re enjoying it or it’s helping you deal with the political climate, do us a huge solid and leave a 5-star review on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. Your reviews are the thing that allow new listeners to find the pod, and I appreciate and read every single review. Thank you thank you thank you!

 

Many thanks as well to Christopher Gilroy for enhancing the interview audio and editing the whole episode together, Douglass Recording in Brooklyn for letting me use their gorgeous studio space, and David Sokol for helping me compile and synthesize the show notes.

 

This has been Make America Relate Again.