Ep. 81 The MidPod Finale

Welcome to all our loyal listeners and maybe new listeners. This is our very last episode and this is our holiday episode, so thanks for being here today. We are hoping to share some reflections of our year and a half on the road. Some of our favorite memories, although there were way too many to name here, so we'll just try to skip through some and we are looking forward to a conversation with one of our favorite listeners, Krishan Patel in California and one of our favorite candidates, newly elected Congresswoman elect, Haley Stevens from Michigan's 11th Congressional District. We're going to have some thoughts about what's coming up next. And some holiday menu suggestions and favorites, so buckle up!

By the way I'm Nicie Panetta. Oh and I'm Heather Atwood; we’re your Midpod moms and we just can't believe it's over. It's been an incredible experience and we can't thank you all enough for coming with us.

One of the things that we did this week was we looked back at our mission statement to see how we did and I don't know Heather how do you feel?

Nicie, I read that mission statement again and I thought Wow. We did it. That's what I thought. We actually did.

We told the stories of swing districts, we told about the stories of special people who lived there we told about places to visit and we told the stories of these candidates these amazing candidates and citizens who were becoming active the first time.

Yeah and I remember just thinking if we can just get more people to vote that's the most important thing and huge. According to Vox the 2018 midterms had the highest turnout since before World War 1. So people pat yourselves on the back and keep it coming. Yes, exactly, we need to out-vote ourselves in 2020, too. That's right. That's exactly right. We also compiled a few statistics because I'm a numbers person and I'm not: 80 episodes, 24 congressional races covered, 13 states: New Jersey, Michigan, West Virginia, Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Illinois and North Dakota.

Can't wait to go back, we loved North Dakota. We traveled, between us, probably at least 100,000 miles. Count them. Yes. And thanks to you all and your good word of mouth action our downloads compounded at a 25 percent monthly growth rate every month pretty much throughout the course of the show. And we just can't thank everybody enough for being part of this community along the way. It was so much fun. We want to recommend that if you start a podcast have the end game be a national election. Because that gets your growth to compound pretty fast.

That's exactly right. When everybody finally catches up to the importance of what you're up to. So we have the historic voter turnout that was super exciting. We also had a net 40 seat gain in the house for the Democrats, completely historic. We also have a freshman class of lawmakers that represents the diversity of America as none has ever done before.

And it was fascinating seeing how our interview with David King at the Kennedy School at Harvard was part of actually a bit of controversy recently. Heather, tell about that. Yeah, well we hope you listened to our episode last week that dropped. David King runs this orientation program for the freshman class actually coming to Congress and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was a little bit disturbed when she arrived at this orientation and saw that there was all this corporate representation and there were no labor groups represented and there were no citizen's groups and yet the corporations were thick. I think rightfully so, she was a little bit disturbed. So that upset got a lot of listeners because you got to hear from the gentleman who's been running it. But to see these young new members of Congress you know they're going to make mistakes just like the rest of us. But they're shaking it up.

Now, on a more somber note, but incredibly important, for the fate of the Republic. Nancy Pelosi is going to be the next Speaker of the House almost certainly, instead of Paul Ryan. And that's important because the Speaker of the House is next in line for the presidency behind Mike Pence. And I think you all know this. We've tried to make this pod as close to a Trump-free zone as possible because everybody else is doing that and we really wanted to focus everybody on the constructive aspect of fixing Congress. But it's very clear from recent events that our democracy is entering a dangerous and difficult period of time as the Mueller probe winds down and we'll all be having to hold these members of Congress in our thoughts because it's all coming on the line and these members of Congress are going to have to make hugely consequential decisions.

And for myself I'm glad to know that Speaker Pelosi will be there because she just has the experience and the skills to, I think, get us through this in an honorable way. I don't know how you feel. I agree. I couldn't agree more. It makes me feel as if there is a person who has a history of Congress here and understands how things work and respect for that institution, all the institutions.

And you can also still say that the members of Congress who have been agitating for generational change and some changes in the way things are done have made some headway on all of that. And that's important, too. So do check out our interview with Seth Moulton. He's our congressman and somebody we know and respect. So it's important to hear his point of view. You know, even if you don't agree and understand that some of these changes have been needed for some time and they are moving along with that. So pretty interesting stuff, really interesting. So I guess that's the big picture I think we look back on this last year and a half with a fair amount of pride and satisfaction not just for ourselves but for our country and for our beautiful country.

Yeah, I mean I would say the person who has changed the most is me, by seeing so much of this country and meeting so many wonderful people.

I would just add to that I think for both of us it's been an interesting way to actually start to understand, and a little bit more deep way, our own privilege that we've experienced through our own lives being white, being highly educated and so forth. And we've had so many incredible opportunities to connect with people of color people from different circumstances and reflect.

I came away from this year thinking the Affordable Care Act is everything. If people could just get a little bit of a boost having an institution that is offering support and care and they're not like pouring money out when somebody has the flu and I want to bring up the Ryan White Act of 1990 because we just talked, well our episode with Maggie Hassan. And in contrast to the Support Act, which is addressing the opioid epidemic, we can think about the Ryan White Act which did amazing things in 1990 to change HIV AIDS in this country. We barely even talk about that anymore. And it was a worldwide crisis. And the federal government fixed it. Yep, and they made HIV something that's a chronic condition you can live your life out with. And we just have to do the same for addiction. But my point really here is, government does really good stuff it can really change people's lives significantly. And certainly if you look at the legacy of George W. Bush as president many people would say that his most significant positive accomplishment was PEPFAR, which directed so many federal funds and efforts to fight HIV AIDS in Africa and the developing world so we can solve these problems. We can.


OK, so we've shared the big picture. But how about some of our favorite moments from the road. What would you say Heather? Well, we share once, you go first. OK. I'm going to say because this whole audio business is completely new and you know learning something completely new that many people spend decades you know refining their craft, when you're over 50, can be a little daunting. So it's been a process but I have to say one of my happiest moments because of the whole experience but also because of the audio part of it was touring the Woodlake botanical garden with Manuel Jimenez in California's 22nd Congressional district and having him pick these perfectly ripe grapefruits and citrus fruits, off of the trees in that grove and capturing the sound of the snap and the leaves rustling and just spending the wonderful time with him and learning about his life. That was probably something I will never forget.

I want to add to that moment. First of all, I have to say as someone who's been trying to write for a whole bunch of years, the audio thing for me is such a challenge still to this day I am not tuned into the sounds as you are because I see you doing, I see you responding to things crackling and popping and I'm like I didn't notice that. But that morning was so beautiful because part of it was we were there so early and there was like mist rising off of things coming up over the Sierras. Yeah it was beautiful. It wasn't this sunny California day picking orange. It was cold, crisp. Yeah and kind of frosty and it was that was really magical and the wonderful friendly dog and we sat in the back of his pickup truck and drove around. Yeah so that was pretty great.

OK so then I will add our trip to North Dakota and our hot dish night with Heidi Heitkamp and that you know we drove for a whole bunch of miles across flat North Dakota, cold snowy, it was already snowy fields and arrived in this kind of you know suburbany urbany place, strip malls. Walked into this desolate like strip mall and there was this heart happening. It is like all of this golden glow was pulsing out of it. All the people there for Heidi Heitkamp crammed in, crammed into this little campaign room headquarters and the long tables set up and all the families sitting there eating and all the tables with all the hot dishes and the heavy duty competition.

Oh yeah. Between all the people vying for votes for their who's hot dish was the best. Taking it very seriously but also in fun, too. Yeah and Thomasine won. It's a story we've told here before. Listen to our North Dakota episode. And on a more serious note also just spending time with Ruth Buffalo in Fargo who won her race as a member of the legislature and super exciting that that voice will be represented.

We have a lot to reckon with and the only way we're going to do it right is if folks have more power that have lived these experiences and on the last note in North Dakota Savannah's Act passed in the Senate unanimously last week and now it's gone to the House. So congratulations Senator Heitkamp and I know you've got more good work ahead of you.

I want to say one other moment I feel like I want to mention is the March for Our Lives in Santa Clarita, California meeting up with Ally Sagardia, the high school senior who organized that march. And just to see the torch being taken up by our young people to try to figure out how they can exert their influence on these matters that affect them so profoundly. That gives me a lot of hope to see her and her comrades organize something so peaceful, so, so positive but also so very definite that they need action on, on the matter of gun safety, was pretty exciting. Yeah but it was packed with young people and they are the hope. Yeah, but there were also multi generations, totally, we interviewed grandmothers, that was pretty great. I want to say California 48 potluck, the Vietnamese food and also it was a chance for us to spend time with down ballot candidates. That was really a great night. We’re gonna have to shout out to Annie, one of our favorite listeners who hosted us.

Another potluck that was super special was a candidate-hosted potluck because he cooked for us not just you know one dish he made an elaborate Thai meal from his family. His mother's recipes and it was really really special. He clearly knows his way around the kitchen and the food was delicious and it was just such an honor to be in his house with his wife and his campaign manager and more staffers. And it felt like family at the end.

And that's Andrew Jantz in California 22 who did not win but who came within five points of Devon Nunez in a district that's drawn to be more like 65-35.


We need to do a shout out for that whole Pennsylvania 18 special and spending time with the Fettermans. Right. Right. Now that was a very special time. And he is now the lieutenant governor elect and Gisele is running the world. We cannot recommend Gisele Fetterman’s Instagram account highly enough. She's got a great family and is doing so much good work in the community and just brings the sparkle every day. So I think we'll take a moment just to say that we are interested in having some new version of the MidPod take shape and we could really use your help with that. We have a listener survey live on survey monkey right now and you can get to it from a link an arts or pinned tweet on our Twitter feed. And it's a link on our home page. So please chime in. We'd love to hear your thoughts. And while you're at it join our e-mail newsletter list. That's how we'll communicate with you guys after we go on hiatus.

Now the holidays are around the corner. Heather always puts on a mean spread. So I want to know Heather what are you going to be cooking over the holidays. Any traditions? My family kind of thinks I'm a little crazy because sometimes I can be super traditional and pull out the Atwood family fruit cake recipes things like that which I do and I do fruitcake. You guys don't blame me. I have to it's something that I just have to do but because we all know how much I love West Virginia. I have discovered a cookbook that I'm recommending to the entire world. Oh ok. It's called vittles spelled v-i-c-t-u-a-l-s. Okay. And the author is Ronnie Lundi. It is a James Beard book of the year award winner and it is a beautiful exploration into Appalachia and the Appalachian foodways. Gray and I will be making from that cookbook West Virginia kale potato cakes to go alongside my beef tenderloin on Christmas Day. That sounds great but this book is so beautifully photographed her writing is exquisite. And she goes really deeply into the history dating back to the Scott Scotts Irish when they arrived in the 17th century you know and how so much hasn't changed actually yeah lot of ways. So I really recommend that and I am also going to make a recipe from one of my favorite listeners and friends Marcia Ferguson. Oh Marcia we love you. She has a recipe that she sent me for baked pineapple. It's not what you think it is at all. It's unsweetened canned pineapple tossed with cheddar cheese and a few more ingredients in a casserole dish with Ritz crackers crumble on top. I am dying to figure this thing out. That sounds like something you could bring to a hot dish right. Exactly. There's something about this recipe I've never seen anything like it before now and I'm going to throw that on my family this holiday. That sounds great.

Well we have a family tradition from my childhood which we're going to do at my sister's house this year which is cheese fondue. Usually Christmas Eve. But because of travel we're going to do it on a different night. But it's really a fun family affair. We had a tradition that I think was observed more in the breach than in the actual but if you lost your piece of bread off your fork in the cheese you had to have a shot of Kir Foster which is liqueur. But there's something about that communal. Everybody's sticking their fork in that pot. And also of course there's endless kibitzing about making sure it doesn't get too stringy you know making sure doesn't get overheated and so forth. So that's pretty fun. It's primal. It is. Everyone is sharing from the same pot. Actually that's kind of religious maybe I should bring that up too. So we'll be doing that and I have some gingerbread though and refrigerators I'm going to make some gingerbread. Oh that's nice.

My mother also has a really great chicken liver paté recipe believer that this recipe went to Buckingham Palace. What. Long story. I'll put it in the blog. I'm going to be making that oh OK well that's you know with the little Cornish on the side already.

No this is it's a softer you know a chicken liver paté so it's like a spread you mold it in a bowl and it's studded with figs that have masqueraded in port. So it looks jewled.

On the outside. So when you serve it it looks like it's covered in jewels. Wow. It's very pretty. And then to take a picture. Put that on Instagram. I will. OK I will.

So let's talk about our potlucks and maybe how we see that tradition or practice rolling forward maybe even just in our personal lives. Yeah it's funny you bring that up Nicie because I've actually been thinking a lot about it because one of the things I did before we did the MidPod was I was a food writer and our experience has sort of brought me back to thinking about how I even became that. And I promise you one of the reasons I began to write about food was because it was a way of connecting to people and connecting to total strangers connecting to people I didn't necessarily agree with. And that is definitely what meals do. And I think our potlucks, that was part of why they were so special.

I agree and we even had just such a range of people sharing very surprising and very personal things personal stories. And I just don't think they would have been in that sharing space if we hadn't already been sitting together enjoying these different tastes complementing each other creating some trust.

Right. And it wasn't necessarily that things got superheated we didn't have potlucks in which there was a lot of controversy. But we were strangers sitting down together. Yeah. And you're right the trust definitely was palpable as opposed to us putting a microphone in front of you and just saying tell me everything. What do you think. Right. Or a panel of people talking and you know the audience listening. You know it just it's such a different kind of experience when you're saying please pass the couscous.

Yes exactly. And somehow we have to find a way to do more of that. And you know I think about some of these difficult decisions our elected officials are going to have to make whether it's with respect to President Trump and other misdeeds that may have occurred or been committed. But whether it's health care, gun safety, we need to find a way to do more connecting across these policy areas because I think there are compromises. I think the system just is not really set up to facilitate them right now.

Right. And in the blog I wrote about hot dishes who was the senator from Minnesota who set up his whole hot dish event. Was it Al Franken. Yes it was Al Franken. Right. And he before the whole congressional delegation went to Washington. He would have a hot night and Republicans and Democrats they were all there sharing their hot dishes. He got it. This transcends that that dining experience is something we can all relate to and maybe not everything falls away. But a lot does fall away.

So maybe we should all color elected officials and suggest to them that they have potlucks with other elected officials from across the aisle. I say that should be in our next mission statement that make that a plank in the platform.

So we wanted to close out the show by giving you the chance to hear not only from one of our favorite listeners but from a wonderful candidate in this case a candidate who won her race. Haley Stevens from Michigan 11 and you'll recall her from our Michigan 11 episode. And we were just delighted that she's got a little time to share with us what it's been like since we were there which was over a year ago and how she's looking forward to becoming a member of Congress. So here's the congresswoman elect.

You had a vigorous primary and then an exciting general. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about how the race developed after we left you in late 2017?

HALEY STEVENS: Following from the primary I was in the general election with Lena Epstein who also won a five-way primary on the Republican side. Lena had served as Trump's Michigan campaign co-chair and it was something that she campaigned on pretty heavily in the primary and it ended up being something that she shied away from in the general election. Certainly people had remembered that that was something that she had had really put forward and we had one televised debate. Our primary was a little bit later so we didn't have a lot of time together but I just was very focused on delivering excellence on my campaign certainly around our grassroots operation. We came in in the out of 435 congressional districts, ninth largest voter turnout for our congressional district in the country. We were leaving no rock unturned we had weekend after a weekend of just robust voter contact. I mostly actually exclusively on TV ran positive ads about my visions around infrastructure and the work force in the 21st century workforce and the next generation and one of the most rewarding things for me in the general election was seeing all the children who were influenced and impacted by the campaign for good. One of the things that I often said is I want to return politics back to the business of making people feel good and I know that it was appreciated by voters and it was certainly inspiring for our youth.

Yeah I think I pulled the numbers and compared to 2014 which was the last midterm cycle, you got 80 percent more votes than the Democratic nominee in that cycle 180,000 votes compared to 100000. And that is pretty impressive.

STEVENS: Yeah we did it right and I stuck to my guns I stuck to. What motivated me to get into this race. I didn't fall down the tramp negativity or take the bait around certain things that the other side was trying to take me down I said no we're campaigning to return our government and our country to some common sense to delivery. We want one of the big things we've got to restore the faith and trust in our government to the people. We're at the lowest levels of trust ever in in the history of our government and it's new voices it's new leadership. It's the next generation of Democrats like myself who put themselves forward and gave people a reason to come out and vote.

Do you have a favorite memory from Election Day or election night?

STEVENS: I loved being with my family and friends. After the polls closed my plan was OK I'm not going to sit there and watch every return bite my fingernails I gave my campaign manager my cell phone and I plopped myself in a room without the TV and with my mom and we played Scrabble and we listened to some music. And so it was. That was certainly really enjoyable and then you know kind of walking out and just seeing all the people have such a great part of this campaign. Like my mom was my mom was one of our best door knockers and she was one of the people who motivated me to run who believed in me who said hey what can go wrong. You know you're running for Congress and this is something that regardless of the outcome will be with you for the rest of your life and you're standing up in a moment when we need people to.

STEVENS: It was also just very rewarding on Election Day to buzz around my district and be out at the polls and to having people say I voted for you or I'm planning vote for you. I remember a couple of days before the election I got a donation for 250 dollars and which is such a generous donation and it's from a man from Lavonia I said I'm going to give him a call. Just so nice of him to make this donation. I don't think we've had a to meet or anything along those lines. So I called him I said hey this is Haley Stevens. Thank you for contributing to my campaign. And you know he was appreciative that I called but he also made it a point to share with me that I was the first candidate he ever donated to and that his mother who has always voted Republican was going to be voting for me in the election.

And so just stories like that just points a connection. You know you probably do do well by writing them all down. But everything's moving so quickly that it becomes an allegory after a certain point.

So what are the key steps you have. Hitting the ground. What are you thinking about?

STEVENS: One of the big priorities that I have is delivering premier constituent services and standing up in district office that's really going to function as an excellent and well-functioning office that meets the needs of our district and show that starts with personnel that starts with location. It starts with a review of what's taken place in the past as well as getting access to some of the cases and the ongoing work of the district and the things that have been already brought to the office that we need to continue into this next term. And then as it relates to the work that we're doing in Washington and what we're seeing nationally is we've got to take a few things very seriously and we've got to for wild track some pretty big policy priorities. And what I mean is there's going to be some reform legislation coming through known as H.R. 1 that looks very promising in terms of restoring voters' trust to restoring voting rights as well as making sure that we have some new approaches to campaign finance on the table. The other thing though is that we need to take gun violence prevention very seriously.

STEVENS: We have a gun violence prevention consent majority in Congress now. So I really believe that we're going to be able to pass some meaningful legislation to curb gun violence in this country as well as the activities that we need to partake in to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The legislative priority is to expand coverage to every American. The infrastructure agenda is also on our minds and not not to be last but also importantly the need to take climate change very seriously and to adopt appropriate legislation to frankly to save our planet. And those are all imperatives those are all things that Democrats ran on and we're not just in a tiny majority. We won the majority very resoundingly. We have 240 members in the body. We certainly want to work across the aisle when we can. We also want to meet the charge that the American people elected us to meet. And that's also reclaiming the checks and balances in our in our government. I'm certainly as someone representing southeastern Michigan laser focused on our manufacturing economy laser focused on our supply chain and our workforce opportunities I'm in active conversations right now with our original equipment manufacturers our big three from Chrysler to GM to Ford. Certainly with GM's disappointing announcements around the job layoffs just before the holiday that has very much caught my attention and the attention of my colleagues in terms of what we can do to save those jobs and to prevent further job loss.

STEVENS: I had the privilege of meeting with our with the General Motors CEO and let her know you know my thoughts and the thoughts of our constituents that we certainly want to see the company innovate and grow into the next generation of technology around energy efficiency. We can't do so at the expense of American workers though it's not going to work. It's not necessarily a false choice but it is something that we want to see take place by an American workforce not a workforce overseas. And I believe that Trump economics have played a major role in creating this chaos and confusion this climate of instability.

One thing that surprised us after the election we want to hear a little bit about the orientation because we didn't know there were going to be elections after the election and you were elected president of the Democratic freshman class is that right? Co-president? congratulations again.

STEVENS: Thank you so much. I love this class with all my heart. Every day is truly a pinch me Day moment when you're walking into orientation or you're sitting down next to a new colleague who fought a tough election who made history and is bringing such a different perspective and new voice into the halls of Congress. I call us the never-evers in part because so many of us were first time candidates or glass ceiling breakers or history makers.

I have to ask you about the leadership fight in the House. More elections after the election. During the campaign you did distance yourself from Leader Pelosi a fair amount. But now you've announced you're supporting her. Could you talk that through for us.

STEVENS: Well I think it's really important to talk about the new voices and the fresh voices of leadership that are needed. And like I mentioned when you're on the campaign trail and you're running to make change I'm the first Democrat ever elected to the seat since before we landed on the moon for a full two-year term. For me it was very important to talk about some of the changes that I wanted to see not just a party represented by the coast but a party that was speaking to our Midwestern issues and some of the commonsense and pragmatic solutions. What's evident is that there isn't a real leadership fight. There's one person who threw their hat in the ring for this seat. The American people don't want to see more dysfunction. They want to see Washington get to work and address some of our longstanding legacy issues.

STEVENS: And so I'm in support of getting things done. I am always going to be very clear with my voters I was this wasn't a huge issue during my campaign. But I did rightfully talk about the need for new voices and new leadership and that's why I'm frankly thrilled to be a part of some of the new voices of leadership just in our freshman class. We've got Katie Hill and Joe Neguse from California and Colorado respectively who are serving as freshmen representatives to leadership of Lauren Underwood who is on the Policy and Steering Committee along with Deb Haaland from New Mexico one of two Native American women who were elected to Congress. And in this sweep of 2018. And that's what's exciting people. That's what the energy is and we are we're a big tent party with diversity demographically, ideologically and we're also ready to govern and to make our government work for people and that's what I'm behind. I'm a proud Democrat. I'm proud to stand behind a message of health care and protecting our environment and making higher education affordable and embracing diversity.

Well Congresswoman elect we we just want to ask on a sort of somber note that with all the important agenda items you have you all will likely have to contend with the reality that the present the United States is now an unindicted coconspirator and potentially multiple felonies and the Mueller findings will be available to you all probably sometime in this 116th Congress. What are your thoughts about the responsibility to to address these matters? And how are you thinking about impeachment now?

STEVENS: On January 3rd, I'm going to be sworn into office and I'm going to take an oath and make a commitment to the American people on behalf of the United States Constitution. And as we look at governing and as we look at some of these claims and potential charges against our president they are not partisan. They are not political. They are potentially some of the gravest charges that can ever come before our federal government. And they are something I take very seriously because just as someone doesn't share my political party doesn't mean they should be impeached. However, if someone has violated if our president has violated the Constitution that is a serious and grave charge that needs to be reviewed by the fullest extent of the law and within our bodies of government and our branches of Congress and so my commitment to everybody in this country and particularly my constituents is that once I put my hand up and take that oath it is country first. It is always country first.

Well we can't thank you enough in closing you know is there anything else you think our listeners should know either about this process for running for office or what you're seeing as you begin to get ready to take office?

STEVENS: I would like to make a special shout out to Nicie and Heather as part of closing my time on the mid pod we saw who time named as people of the year and it was or journalists it was people who have put their lives on the line who have fought for truth to have rolled up their sleeves to do the very important work of our democracy. And nobody asked you two to do this but you undertook this project. You did so with a level of detail that as a candidate I found inspiring and interesting and useful. I got a lot out of keeping up with your podcast when I could. And while we enter into a new phase we're out of the midterm elections. I hope that this work and engagement particularly as you made the local national and brought it to many different listeners. I hope it continues. It's been great to be a part of it. I appreciate your approach and I commend your work.

You are the best Haley Stevens!

STEVENS: I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

We do too. We love that interview with you. Last summer at your kitchen table there was a dear dining under your apple tree outside. It was it was sort of bucolic but we were also nervous and you were so impressive. So anyway we thank you so much.

Yes thank you very much. Wishing you all the best and holding you in our hearts with concern and care. Yes go forth.

STEVENS: Thank you both.

So thanks again to Haley Stevens of Michigan's 11th District wishing her all the best as she takes on these weighty new responsibilities.

Krishan Patel, we are really delighted you could make time to speak with us today. We really appreciate it.

KRISHAN PATEL: Thank you. I'm glad to be on the podcast.

So tell us a little bit about yourself.

KRISHAN PATEL: Well I'm from Irvine in Orange County California. I'm 18 years old and I'm a freshman at USC.

And you are a real charter member of what we like to call election Twitter which I think is kind of how we met. Tell us how you got into being interest in politics and elections.

PATEL: I've always been interested in social and political issues since I was in my early teens. But it wasn't until the 2016 election that I really started paying attention to the in-depth details of politics and I did a little bit of stuff but I didn't become an activist until after Donald Trump won.

What about your family?

PATEL: My mother is always been somewhat of a moderate liberal. My father was somewhat of a moderate fiscal conservative but not a social conservative. And after the election they've basically functionally become Democrats. So they're really representative of a lot of Romney Clinton families that we saw in the 2012 2016 shift. I really am representative of the Orange County suburbs and how everything kind of went down this election.

So tell us about that.

PATEL: I really plunged into activism after Donald Trump won. I started going to every Democratic event that I could. I became an active member of the Orange County Young Democrats and the Democrats of greater Irvine. I joined multiple campaigns starting with one for city council and one for a congressional primary and later one for state assembly which was Cottie Petrie-Norris campaign for California State Assembly 74 and she she won. And then when I got to L.A. I joined Gavin Newsom to campaign for governor. So I've been involved a lot more in politics personally and I think I'm going to continue that trend.

OK. We want to hear more about that but I'm just curious what about the Trump election really moved you to action?

PATEL: It wasn't really Donald Trump himself. If it was an aberration and it was just a crazy man that happened to get elected it wouldn't really push me into politics. It's the fact that the entire Republican Party appears to be uniform in essentially sharing or abetting his opinions and beliefs and he's really a puppet for them. In fact, I would argue that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are actually worse than Donald Trump in a lot of ways. And I'd say that the Republican Party itself is what I've come to realize is actually the problem not Donald Trump. If it were any other Republican president, most of the problems we're seeing now would still be happening.

I'd like to ask a question here. This is Heather. I consider you an election savant. So give us your take on why you think this is true about the Republican Party. What do you think is going on here and how did they get there?

PATEL: Well there's a great book by E.J. Dionne called Why the Right Went Wrong that really charts how they radicalized over the years and shifted the Overton Window. The country overall to the right a lot of people like to claim that this started in 2010 or 1994. I think it started in 1964 with their nomination of Barry Goldwater. That's when the liberal wing of the Republican Party started dying. Then the the moderate wing started dying a little bit later. Now we just have the conservative wing. Every single elected Republican federally is far right now just different varying levels of far right. And the reason is because in the 1960s and a little bit before that too there is a realignment politically where conservative white voters completely started shifting to the Republican Party. Now that shift didn't 100 percent complete until 2010 and 2014. But at the presidential level it was already baked in by that. And as this happened and the party base has started shifting Republicans continue to rely on an increasingly radical base of voters and that base of voters they kept on being promised by Republicans that they would be able to stop demographic shifts. Other impossible promises and they were never fulfilled. The Republican Party basically runs on racial animus now. A lot of what's happening now is do the Republican Party relying on a fear of demographic shifts and racial anxiety among white voters as their fuel. And that's just come to the forefront with Donald Trump. He's a symptom. He's not the disease.

So tell us where you see things going and where you see your journey heading as an active citizen.

PATEL: Well I'm going to continue to be on election Twitter and or I see my journey heading is me getting more and more involved in politics personally and probably pursuing that as a career. I'm not sure if I'm going to go to law school or not but either way I'm probably going to be very politically involved.

And how did you discover the MidPod?

PATEL: Well I discovered you guys through Twitter. I found the account once I think in a comment section. I just followed you guys and then I started talking to both Heather and Nicie and I really just I listen to the podcast or interviews and I like it. And I just kept listening.

OK well we're really grateful for you being such an active citizen and such a great listener and maybe we'll wrap it up by just asking do you have any favorite holiday or celebration traditions in your family that you want to share with our listeners or a special dish that you would bring to a potluck?

PATEL: My grandmother's throughout my childhood and even still I think makes the most of us that are really good. And I've always liked those, my family's Indian. If I would bring something to a potluck that would be it.

And what's inside the samosas?

PATEL: It's a certain type of a potato that's prepared and there are peas inside of it. And then the outer shell is batter that's fried a certain way so that when you eat it together it tastes almost like a pastry because it kind of is.

Sounds delicious. All right would you share a recipe. Is it possible to share a recipe?

PATEL: I think I probably could. I could send it to you guys.

That would be really great. Love it. We'll put it on the blog.

PATEL: OK hope you like Indian food.

We love Indian good. All right well thank you so much Krishan Patel we really really appreciate your time today. It's been great getting to know you on Twitter and we consider you a real friend.

PATEL: Thank you. I consider you guys real friends too. It was great getting to know you Heather and Nicie and thank you for having me on the MidPod.

Oh good.

PATEL: Thank you. Take care.

Bye take care.


Thanks again to Krishan Patel from USC. You can find him on Twitter @IamKrishanPatel K-R-I-S-H-A-N P-A-T-E-L. Well I think this pretty much wraps it up for the good old MidPod. And we have loved doing this and we are super grateful definitely to our listeners but also to our support team which has been fantastic.

So, Helen Barrington our wonderful executive producer, Jim Donahue who's done so much of the beautiful making my bad audio sound could in the post-production, Michael Lasell, who did all of our website stuff. Who else. Well the Podcast Garage. Yes. Alex Birch who always makes sure our microphones are right and everything's flowing nicely here and we have stands for our laptops and all that. Yeah the Podcast Garage has been awesome, and we want to thank all of our musical contributors who made the MidPod's sing, Cercie Miller of the Cercie Miller quartet who gave us our wonderful theme music.

Rachel Kiel from North Carolina who contributed. Who else, Shawna Caspi who contributed to the Maine show, Maine Two show. Yeah. Amber Cross in California, Andy Fleming in Iowa, Sam Watt in Texas. The nouveaux honkies in Florida and. Inara George out in LA for California 25. We've been really blessed to have these folks sharing their music and we really really appreciate it.

Eunice Panetta