APEX Hour at SUU

11/18/21: The Lincoln Project

Episode Summary

In this week’s episode, Reed Galen of the The Lincoln Project joins host Lynn Vartan and Leavitt Center for Politics Director Mary Bennett to discuss the platform of the group, its impact on these past years in politics, and its plan for the future and the next election cycle. Join us for this lively discussion!

Episode Notes


Episode Transcription

Dr. Lynn Vartan  00:01

Hey everyone, this is Lynn Vartan and you are listening to the apex hour on K SUU thunder 91.1. In this show, you get more personal time with the guests who visit Southern Utah University from all over learning more about their stories and opinions beyond their presentations on stage. We will also give you some new music to listen to, and hope to turn you on to some new sounds and new genres. You can find us here every Thursday at 3pm or on the web at su.edu/apex. But for now, welcome to this week's show here on thunder 91.1. All right, everyone. Well, welcome into the apex hour. It's good to be back in the studio. Today. This is Lynn Vartan. The last two weeks I've had my amazing assistant Amelia Naumann as a co host on the show. And she just did an awesome job while I was traveling and out doing my music things, but it is great to be back in the studio. It's the week before Thanksgiving here at Southern Utah University in 2021. And is our historical thing that we do. Now for how many years now? I think it's been three or four years, we do a big political event. So I have in the studio with me, I have two guests. I've one remote and one in the studio. And in the studio with me is Mary Bennett, who is the director of the Leavitt center for politics. Welcome in Mary. Hello. How long have we been doing this? It's been four years, I think it's four years, and we've had ambassadors and we've had politicians. And this year, we have a really big group. But before we get into that, can you just talk for a second about what the Lovat center is, and what it is that you do on campus,



what great, we are the only all student run political center in the state of Utah. Other universities have political centers, but they also employ professional staff to do what they do our Center for politics and public service. All of the programs and lectures and debates that we do are determined by the students, they do the content and the development, they do the execution of the event. And the did they do all the marketing for our events. And so they get a full 360 experience of how to manage a political event, and and how to be out in front in the public. And they practice public speaking at all these opportunities. So we have a really unique center, and the students just have a wonderful experience.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  02:46

I mean, your students are amazing, I love working with them, because they are just so put together. And they they really have that ability to kind of understand how to manage an environment and how to talk to people. So anybody listening, I mean, you know, this, this is live on the radio now, but also will be in the podcast. So how do they find out more if people maybe are looking for interns or want to reach out to figure out more about our students?



Absolutely. Well, you can always go to our website, which is suu.edu/leavitt Center. And we accept applications year round to be at center fellow, which is our entry level position. And so any student anytime that wants to be involved with us, we invite them to just come on into the center, any student can walk right in and hang out talk politics or apply to be a fellow.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  03:37

Cool. That's awesome. Well, thanks for telling us about that. And I've really enjoyed our collaboration and look forward to it in years to come. You came to me and said the group that I want to have is the Lincoln project. And I was like really bringing the Lincoln project to campus. I mean, that's exciting and a little bit like oh my gosh, how's that gonna work? Because, you know, I mean, I know them from they're really, really striking ads, which we're excited to talk about. So we have with us joining us remotely read Galen of the Lincoln project. So welcome in Reid, thank you so much for spending time with us.



Yeah, Lynn, thanks for having me. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  04:12

Yay. Um, so we'd love to just for anybody who doesn't know what the Lincoln project is. I wonder if you could just give us a little bit of a snapshot of who you are, how long you've been doing, what you're doing and what the mission of it is.



Sure. Absolutely. And thanks again to you and Mary having me earlier today. So the linker project was started in 2019 by a bunch of us now all former Republican political consultants and strategists. All of us have national experience statewide experience in different places. And all of us had come to decide for different reasons at different times, that if Donald Trump was going to be the leader of the Republican Party, then it wasn't the party we belong to anymore. And so I left the party in 2016. We start Lincoln in 2019, with the mission of helping to defeat President Trump, Republicans taking on a Republican President, I'm not sure that's ever happened. We, you know, did 305 ads last year raised $100 million had 70 people on staff, we've got millions of followers. And so now, as we're past, you know, a year past election day 2020, we're looking into 2022, with the mission of making sure that Democrats maintain control of the US House, the US Senate, in some key governor's racist.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  05:36

Wow, so many questions. Um, just to kind of like, kind of let everybody know, one thing that really put you on the map was one of those early ads, which is mourning in America. I wonder if you might talk a little bit about that ad and the historical context of that ad. And then the, the, this sort of outcry that came out of it?



Sure. So um, in 1984, there's a guy named Hal Riney who made ads for President Ronald Reagan. And he made an ad called Morning in America. And it was for it was, you know, for Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign 1984. It showed, you know, smiling faces, people getting married, people going back to work, you know, old man raising the flag with his dog, very 1980s. Americana, you know, the flag mom and apple pie. So we took that ad, and we turned it on its head, we called it Morning in America, MO You are in ing and this was, you know, at the beginning now of the pandemic, when people were dying in droves. And Trump seemed to have either no control or no capacity over what he was going to do about it. So we we turn the idea of the original on its head and said, Here's what it's going to look like four years from now, if Donald Trump wins again, we ran it on Fox News in Washington, DC, where we knew that President Trump would be watching, he did see it, he went crazy, he attacked. And this is when he still had a Twitter feed, he attacked all of us by name, attacked us call this losers. This is about one o'clock in the morning in Washington, DC that all this happens. And we had gone from raising about $500,000 a month, up to that point, we raised $5 million in May of 2020. And the rest was, you know, history for us. We took off like a rocket and we're able to stay, you know, metaphorically speaking in his face, you know, throughout the election.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  07:37

Wow, that's so amazing. Um, and I have tons more questions. But Mary, I want to be sure that you get the opportunity to carry on the conversation that you we started earlier. So let's let you jump in here and get what you want to get in?



Well read I have I have so many questions. And I know, you've already had a long day, I hope you had the chance to get your disco nap in before start here. So one of the things I'd like to touch on is after January 6, the Lincoln project pointed some of their activity to large corporations. And I'd like to know if you can talk about what that was and why. And if you've seen results from it.



Sure. And a Mary, thanks for the question. Yes. So in the wake of January 6, we have a number of other groups said, you know, as you know, corporations can give PAC donations, political action committee donations to federal candidates. And they what we said is no major US Corporation, no Corporation at all should give any PAC contributions to any of the 147 Republicans in the House and US Senate who voted not to certify the 2020 election for Joe Biden. And a lot of corporations, you know, said okay, we'll never do it again. We're not going to give to these Republicans, we're not going to give to any Republican some said we're not going to give any, you know, to anybody for the time being. Not surprisingly, after the furor quieted down, a lot of corporations, you know, sort of crawled back into the donation business because they feel like, well, I've got to get my phone calls returned, I've got to be able to get my lobbyist into the office, and it's a total pay to play deal. This is not a surprise anymore. And so what we saw is that there were a lot of these companies that started doing this again, one in particular was Toyota. And it came to light I believe, in June, or early July, that they'd given $66,000 to various members of the Republican conference in the US House who had voted against certification. So we created an ad very shiny, you know Toyota looking at. But then you know, it swings from buying, you know a rav4 to. And if you want to support a car company that supports addition, Toyota is your company. And we ran it on Fox News and CNBC in New York City and Plano, Texas where their North American headquarters are. And then we use digital advertising where we call geo fencing their 30 Top dealerships in the country. So that if you walked onto one of their dealerships, you got an ad that said, Did you know Toyota did this? And within six hours, they released a statement said, Okay, we won't do it anymore. Wow. So that's the kind of stuff that look at Toyota is just the tip of the iceberg at and T's another big one. But there's a lot of big companies out there, for whom politics is a transaction, the specific ideological bent of a given member is irrelevant. You know, it's all about making sure that when the time comes, their bill gets passed, the semi colons in the right place, the tax breaks in the right place. And it's a dangerous tradition for corporate America. They don't seem yet to understand what it is they're up against if Republicans retake Congress next year.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  11:13

Wow. And do you? Are you providing sort of a list of those like, to your constituents saying like, okay, don't buy from these? Or are you just sort of letting the the media blitz of what you're doing sort of take that power in there?



It's been a little bit of both. It's been, you know, we we sort of tested the waters on it this year, what your your question is a good windlyn, though, which is sort of just normal pressure, you know, doesn't work, you have to hit them on the bottom line, you have to get to their customers or their employees, you know, employees are a lot more activist now than they ever have been. So yeah, you really have to get them to a place where it's not their political people. It's not their PR people, their government affairs, people, they're worried it's the people in the executive suite are like, hey, you know what, like, you're costing us money. We don't like it when you cost us money. Yeah. Because ultimately, the people who are responsible for the money in a corporation, you know, run the show.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  12:09

Right, right. Oh, my God, that's a fascinating piece. And I didn't I didn't really take into consideration or realize, Mary, back to you. What else are you have on your list there?



Well, speaking about donations, I'm curious about the donors to the Lincoln project. And what, who are the donors? What's your average donation? And how many do you have?



So yeah, we have nearly 800,000 individual contributors, the average contribution is less than $50. And so yeah, so it is, you know, it is a you know, you know, for all of the for the vast amount of money we raised last year, and for the money we raised, you know, the backbone of the organization, both politically, organizationally and financially are American voters, they're individuals, they're spread in all 50 states, tend to not surprisingly, tend to be in bigger cities and states. And, you know, that's not really a surprise to us, you know, tend to be 40, you know, 40s and older, generally, white suburbanites, again, you know, people who are fairly representative of who we used to be when we were, I guess you would have called as moderate Republicans at the time.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  13:31

How do you look at, you know, you talk about the urban areas, and then the rural areas? And I know, we that's something that's kind of come up quite a bit in the last four years. And how do you as an organization sort of bridge that gap? Because it seems like there's, there's so much education to be had as we go into some of the more rural areas. And I wonder about that. I just kind of wonder what a good approaches. And are you guys tackling that at all? Are you sort of just building as the word builds?



No, you know, it's it's a great question. We were in Texas for three days, two weeks ago. And one day in Austin, we were talking to a gentleman who'd been a longtime Democratic member of the legislature down there. And he said that he said, You can't ignore rural counties. He said, you may not have a lot of votes for your person there. But there are votes there. And the biggest issue is that a lot of times people don't get asked, you know, oh, well, you know, maybe they don't vote for us. There's not that many people there, we could probably win with, you know, let's say it was here and you know, Utah. If we had enough in Salt Lake and Utah County, we'd probably be fine. But I think that that is short sighted electorally because you're missing out on boats. And I think it's short sighted politically and culturally, because I think the what, what I think are legitimate, the cause of what we're seeing in especially out of rural and urban areas right now is that they believe that they've been forgotten. They believe that they're looked down upon by, you know, urban and suburban centers, and that they feel like they don't have a voice. And so when someone if it was a Donald Trump finally gives a Viet, you know, provides a vehicle for that grievance. Some of it real, some of it imagined, we shouldn't be surprised that they get on board.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  15:25

Right, right. Thank you for that. Um, well, I like to play a couple of songs. So this is a good time to give us a little bit of a break into that. So I always pick songs. This is our last show, you know, for the fall semester, our last event for the fall semester. So my thought my songs have to do with a little bit of reflecting on it. This is a song by Emily wells, it's called Remind me to remember, and my team and I were just talking about all of our great events this season. And this is just a little bit of a little reminder to remember so Emily wells remind me to remember KSU you thunder 91.1 All right, well, welcome back, everyone, that song that you're just hearing is remind me to remember, the artist is Emily wells. And it's just kind of inspired by remembering this great season of APEX events that we've had so far for the fall of 2021. Today at Apex, we are celebrating our political landscape. And we are joined by Mary Bennett, the director of our 11th Center for politics here on campus and Reed Galan of the Lincoln project. Welcome back in you guys. Thanks for more time and discussion. We wanted to get into talking a little bit about campaigns themselves. And Mary, I think you had some questions for Reid about, about that process and how it manifests itself in the Lincoln project.



Sure. Um, so we know that Lincoln project is very involved in presidential campaigns. But we've also know that you have on occasion, I think engaged yourself in house representatives and US Senate races. And so I have a lot of questions about that. And you know, they are I'll just enumerate them, and you can address as you see fit. How do you decide which candidates you are going to help? And is it based on them requesting your help? Or do you choose? Which ones articulate the message that supports your agenda? I'd also like to know, or do you? Are you a media company when you go into consulting campaigns? Or are you providing strategy back up or other kinds of verticals? On the ground? Get out the voter? Or what kinds of activities have you how have you selected the campaigns to be involved in and what kind of activities have you done in them?



Sure. So we're a we're considered a federal super PAC. So that's a that's an organization organized under the five section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. So we are barred by federal law from coordinating with federal candidates. So we can't talk to campaigns, and they can't talk to us. So that's one second, you know, I would say that we're on the agenda question like we don't we're a political organization. We're not a policy organization. We don't take positions on guns and the environment and stuff like that, right. Like we're, you know, taxes or highways, like we don't we don't talk about any of that stuff. You know, we are really focused last year was on Trump in particular, now, it's really more of a pro democracy platform, which is we support candidates, that 10 that are in defeat, you know, that want to defend the Constitution, the rule of law, in American democracy. Unfortunately, for you know, our country writ large one, one party, the Republican Party is sort of forsaking a lot of those values. And so we tend to we only support Democrats at this point, although we are not Democrats. And so the kinds of candidates when we go and look at a race, we ask ourselves the question, which is, you know, who's who or who's in the race or the two candidates? Do we believe that what we do from a strategic and tactical perspective can be helpful in that race? What is it we're going to do? Is that going to be straight advertising? Is that going to be working with local coalition members and local teams? On the ground, again, out external, in independent of the campaign, are we going to, you know, attempt to generate press some combination there. Nick, given the nature of who we are and our reputation, anytime we show up somewhere, we tend to generate press coverage good and bad. And so you know, that's fine. But the way that we approach campaigns is, you know, anybody can take a million dollars and put it on television.



And a lot of people do. That's still the main way that, you know, campaigns and political action committees convey their messages on broadcast television that as you all know, almost no one watches. And if they are watching it, it's because it's live sports. And even if they are, they're holding their phone up in front of their face while they do it. Right. So it's really a poor use investment of funds. So what we want to do is we want to change the dynamic of a race. And what does that mean? That means as we did with Trump is that we want that candidate that we are typically going after, if we are attempting to draw contrast with let's say, if we're supporting the Democratic candidate and posing the Republican candidate, we want to drive a message that is going to throw them off their game, we want them to react to us, we want them to react to the message that we have put into the into the into the race into the frame, turn toward us and react, they generally react badly. Most campaigns and candidates are not prepared for the unexpected. They are not prepared to have the kind of, I would say evocative messaging that we convey turned on them. And most candidates and their campaign staffs are extremely thin skinned. And so it's typically not that hard to get them to react. And so what happens is, it's sort of what we call a flywheel is what you what happens is once you get them to react, and then we say, Okay, what's the second order effect we want to do? What do we think they'll do? Well, they attack us that call us every name in the book, and then they'll do something that's generally unhelpful to their cause. And that's when we go after them again, meanwhile, you know, the candidate we're supporting is got clean air, you know, that they're not under the microscope of their opponent. And we, we placed ourselves between the candidate we support and the candidate we oppose. And then we can go in with, you know, really individual messages driven to specific voters. And, you know, the ads that we talked about, you know, get get the vast majority of the attention. But the truth is, too is that, you know, there Steve Bannon, who was a longtime supporter of President Trump was in his White House is now outspoken, you know, said in January 2022, if these guys referring to the Lincoln project, can move forward to 8% of establishment Republicans away from Trump, we're in a lot of trouble. So we call that the ban on line, which is, in a lot of places, look, we don't, we don't need to move every vote, we just need to move enough votes to ensure that the candidate we support is victorious. And so when it comes to the actual electoral politics, the actual get out the vote operations, we're looking for that narrow slice of disaffected Republicans and conservative leaning independents that we believe we can get across the line, at least in this one election for the Democrat, even if that might not be their inclination.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  28:29

Fascinating. I was curious, you know, now that you're, you're in a position where you're supporting the Democratic candidates so much, I mean, how does that feel as I mean, is that is that challenging? Is it looking towards the greater good? Is it something that you have to reconcile with every day?



You know, I would say that well, it's a little bit of all of that. I mean, it's it's certainly surreal to be to be sure, you know, we, when we've traveled around and, you know, we've been invited by, you know, county, you know, democratic county organizations to come speak, you know, where, five years ago or six years ago, you know, we might have been speaking to a local Republican club. Yeah. So there is no, no shortage of sort of Through the Looking Glass feeling on some of it. Typically, the types of Democratic candidates we support tend to be the kind of candidates that we would support even if we, you know, we're just like, you know, blank slate political consultants, right, they tend to have a similar set of values, they tend to be more far more moderate, or what we call Blue Dog, conservative Democrats. You know, progressive candidates in gerrymandered races don't need our help, particularly. And, and probably don't want it frankly. And so I would say that yeah, it's it really depends on the race, it depends on the candidate. But once we're generally once we're in we're all in and, and you know, just adds one more layer of stress to our opponent and That's always a helpful thing.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  30:01

Yeah, right. I mean, I'm sure when they see that you're involved with the candidates, like, Oh, God, you know, here they come. Um, how do you feel? I mean, now that this, as this work has deepened, you know, for you, how does it make you feel about the two party system?



So, you know, before we started the Lincoln project, I spent about two and a half three years in the independent in political reform space. You know, I in here in Utah helped pass prop four in 2018, which was redistricting reform, which the Not surprisingly, and unfortunately, both the legislature and the governor summarily ignored, I helped passed a similar proposition in California years ago, rank choice voting, you know, making it easier to vote making it easier for new parties to participate. And so, you know, I've always, I was never a very, I was never very good Republican, and I was never really, quote unquote, a conservative. So this is sort of natural for me, which is the two party system is like any duopoly that hasn't had real competition in for too long, it becomes calcified. The two sides become, you know, more homogenous, right. There used to be, you know, that there were Democrats and the Republicans, but the ideological bent of those voters, really, you know, they were all over the spectrum, right, somewhere left somewhere, right, it didn't really matter. Now, Republicans believe Republican things and Democrats believe democratic things. And so that, that leaves that gigantic middle who, as I think we spoke about a little bit earlier, feels generally politically homeless. And is, is usually, and I think, desperately, it's a desperate, desperately unfortunate situation, and that they have to vote for the person they like the least Yeah. or dislike the least. Yeah. As opposed to being easy, as opposed to saying, Well, I believe that person, I believe that person wants to serve, I believe in what they stand for, as opposed to, well, I don't really like that guy. But I really, really dislike this other guy.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  32:06

So. And, Mary, I want to get back to you in just a second here, but so that that huge middle that you talked about? I mean, do you in your perfect world, do they stay independent? And just go back and forth? Depending on the personality of who or or whatever the platform of the candidate? Or do you? Would you in your perfect world see a third party emerging? That has a real strong hold?



I mean, I tried to start a third party, it failed miserably. Not because of anything anybody did wrong, but just because the system in all 50 states is set up moat, I should say most of the 50 states is set up not to not to allow that Utah is actually a very notable exception, that the barriers to entry for new parties in Utah is very, very low. But it also means that, you know, once you start a new party, you have to have a chairman and a treasurer and a secretary, and you have to raise money, you have to have candidates and you have to have, and there's just a lot of stuff that goes along with it. So what I prefer that people were more independent and solely voting on the merits of a candidate, I guess, I guess I would be, unfortunately, right now, I think that the Democratic Party and as imperfect as they are, or is the last in the only pro, you know, small d Democratic Party we have left? You know, I may disagree with some things, you know, policy wise, but at the end of the day, I could go to sleep soundly. You know what I'm okay. With Joe Biden being present. I don't worry about him sending goons up to the Capitol. Right, tomorrow. Right.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  33:42

Thank you for that. Mary, let's get back to you. I know you have more questions.



And this is a perfect segue for, for what I was thinking. Read if I could ask you maybe to take off your Lincoln project hat for a moment and and think about political consulting hat. As we know, there are a handful only of house US House races that are competitive. And so you What would you think of the wisdom of having in those districts, we have Republican candidate Democratic candidate and the wisdom of having a center right conservative run as a third party candidate?



Oh, so yeah, this is? This is like the ultimate question, right? Because, you know, we have what's called first past the post elections. No matter how many people are in a race, whoever gets the most votes wins. That doesn't necessarily mean they get to 50% plus one, they just got one more vote than the next guy or gal. And so there's always this gigantic two lemme, if we had a Republican and we had a Democrat, and we had a center, right candidate or center left whatever it was but a third option. Does that person take away from the Republican? If they're center, right? Does it take away from Republicans who dislike the Republican who otherwise would have gone to the Democrat? And now you've given them an escape hatch? Do they have a real path to winning? You know, the, it always seems that whenever somebody tries that, and maybe maybe we're a different time, now, I'd venture to say we might be a, that, you know, the, the result is, is that you never, you never split as many votes off as you think you're going to, if you're trying to, if you're trying to take, let's say, if again, to use your Republican example, you never take as many Republican votes away as you need to, you know, to win, there aren't typically enough independents, and Democrats are likely to stick with the Democrat. So the third, the third person is hard. It's not to say it's impossible. But it is difficult.



I guess. I was looking at it through the lens of not necessarily having the third person, the third party win, but taking away enough votes to prevent another candidate from winning.



Yeah, I mean, that's, that's the thing. So I think in 2020, like, I should say, this and like middle, the middle of 2019, I was getting all sorts of calls from people, you know, we should do we should have what they were calling Native Son candidates, right, we should run a former Republican governor and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, just to try and suck enough votes away from from Trump. Okay, so let's say that, you know, in, in 2020, if that had happened, you know, what, what number of those votes would have gone to that third candidate that would have otherwise gone to Biden? And did that give Biden a cushion? Or did it give Trump a narrow victory? And that's nice, you know, as you all know, like nobody likes uncertainty, right? And that's what, that's what a third candidate, a third viable or legitimate candidate always does. Now, let me just say this, like, the greens and the libertarians, like they get there, they get their number every year, right every election, every cycle, it's roughly the same number. Very few Republicans say, Oh, I don't like this Republican. So I'm gonna vote for the libertarian, or I don't like this Democrat, I'm gonna vote for the green because they are different things, right? Even if they sort of align on a spectrum. More often than not, they probably just stay home. So it's, yeah, it's it is it is the peculiarity of our system. That makes it very difficult for a third interest, even a qualified one, to have either to win or marry to your question to have the impact we're hoping they do.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  37:56

Thank you. Well, it's time for another song and the song that I have for you again, all of our song songs today. By the way, if you are interested, there's a public playlist that's called played on Apex our it's a Spotify playlist that you can find on our website, which is suu.edu/apex. And also on that website. Well, on that website, you can click the podcast tab and you can find the Spotify playlist and you can find all of our past shows from the last four years and you can find past events. So definitely check it out as we take our holiday break. But the songs that I have today for you are all about kind of just reminiscing we always love when we put a season two bed at the end of this semester. And this song is called each time by Tomino sort of signifying how we do these great events every week. So and each time we learned so much from them, so you're listening to KSU thunder 91.1 And this is each time by Tomino. is fresh it suits down suits believe in the world Stretch Stay by the sea





Dr. Lynn Vartan  41:20

Angeles perfects the first so Song All right well welcome back this is Lynn Barton you're listening to the apex our here on KSU youth under 91.1 That song was each time the artist is Tomino ta M I N O and as always if you want to hear more about the songs that we're playing on the apex our you can check out our public Spotify playlist which is called played on Apex our and you can find it on our website suu.edu/apex under the podcast tab, welcome back into the studio read Galen of the Lincoln project and also Mary Bennett of the Levitt center of politics here at Southern Utah University. We were talking in our last break about you know, the two party system and and sort of what's the middle like and that just kind of got me thinking about the personality of politics and the the the merits of politicians and I marry I know we've been talking about, you know, what that means now and what it used to mean. And I know you have a question about sort of that sort of thing about the the the idea of what a politician is nowadays and so



yeah, it's it's I grew up in a political family, both my mother and my father were politically involved in Pennsylvania. So I have was involved with politicians from a young age as a child. And in my memory, politicians always wanted to be liked. And they always, you know, that's where the kissing babies came from, right? Like going out glad handing, and wanting, smiling and wanting people to like them, and being appealing in that sort of positive way. And so they tried very hard not to be controversial, when there were third rail political issues. They didn't want it, they were called third rail because they didn't want to go there. And so what we have now seems to be the opposite of that. And I wonder if you know, what happened and when it happened?



Yeah, I mean, I, you're absolutely right, Mary. And I think that that's, you know, that yeah, it's the, you know, kissing babies on handout lollipops, right? Yeah, those days, you know, I don't know, those days are totally over. But they're certainly more rare now than they were. And I think that what you've seen is that being replaced with, like, somehow now being nice and decent, for too much of the country is now is now deemed a weakness. And that you have to be transgressive and ugly and angry, and bitter, you know, to prove that you have the strength to fight for your people, right? That, you know, it's all performative. It doesn't matter anymore. You know, and I know you guys want to talk a little bit about gerrymandering, too. For a lot of these folks, it doesn't matter anymore anyway, because they're only catering to a very narrow slice of their voters who they have largely chosen, and who they have to accommodate in a primary election. Because the general election is a foregone conclusion. And so I think you're absolutely right. And I think the follow on effect of that is it drives more and more people away from the political process, because they say, I don't really like this person, do they do anything that affects my life in a good way? When I see them, I don't feel better about things. So I'm just gonna shut the whole damn thing out. And hope it all blows by me. The problem is, is that politics, you may want politics to leave you alone, but it never does. Right.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  47:36

Yeah, that idea that that, you know, that decency is weak somehow is really staggering. I mean, and well, anyway, that's, we could go on for days about that. But the other topic that we wanted to get to is, you know, just about, you know, the dividing up of districts and on gerrymandering, and all these things. And I wondered if you might speak to that and and how your organization is handling that, of what importance Do you think that that that holds? And, yeah, just what what should we know? What should the average person know about that, that we may not be aware of?



So Jeremy, you know, so just not to not to oversimplify, but for every 10 years in this country, we do the census, right? Because that's the census is actually in the US Constitution. And the reason we do that is for what's called reapportionment, which is how each individual state will be represented in the US House of Representatives. And so, you know, sometimes states lose a seat like New York did, or California did sometimes they pick up a seat like Texas did, or Florida, Texas, Texas, picked up to Florida picked up one, Utah, again, I think missed by just a narrow, you know, just a hair. So then after you say, okay, Utah's got four representatives, well, who in the state, are they actually going to represent how you know, and this is all done geographically and by population. And so then the process becomes what's called redistricting. Now gerrymandering goes back also to the you know, a guy named Elbridge Gerry, who actually signed the Declaration of Independence, and once in in Massachusetts, drew his own district that looked like a salamander. So they called it a they called it a gerrymander. And so now, what happens is that in states typically dominated by one political party, the districts are drawn to advantage those already in office and disadvantage challengers. And will that process is going on here in Utah right now. In fact, I think it might be over I think Governor Cox just signed that the new maps but for example, where I live in Summit County, there are it is a county of 50,000 people roughly, but it is you know, it is overlapped by I believe three different Utah legislative just And to Utah State Senate districts. Why? Because there are a lot of Democrats packed in here. There are a lot of moderate Republicans and independents like me packed in here. And they want to make sure that, you know, there was one more Republican seat or two more Republican seats out of, you know, Salt Lake County and Summit County. So they carved him up, you know, so that, you know, I'm, I'm in District, whatever, and the people across the street from here and the other district, and that's how it works. And so it is, it sort of turns representative democracy on its head, because you have people sitting on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake, determining who will get to vote for them. Even in Dallas, in Dallas, Texas, I was I was there. As I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a woman, they're getting a new member of Congress, and her main challenger, they literally drew the district around his house, so that his home wouldn't be in the district. Now you can run for it anyway. But like it is a very scientific and artful process. Republicans have mastered it over the last 40 years. As we go into 2022, the Democrats have a five seat majority in the United States House of Representatives, just by redistricting and gerrymandering alone, Republicans will probably start 2022 with a 12 seat advantage. Wow. And so Democrats don't have to just fight to hold the seats they have, they got to go find like 10 or 15 more.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  51:32

But that's just so I mean, it's a little disconcerting, because it seems, I mean, to the layman, it seems to be a system that keeps power and power, that know that you can't do anything about so how do you not? I mean, that seems very easy to lose faith. I mean, for me, is kind of the layman in the political arena. I'm like, well, then what? Well, then what's the point?



Yeah, that's that is exactly right. And that goes back to even Mary's question about how politic politicians are able to act that way. Because they know that the people the only people to whom they have to cater, are the folks that probably like that. Yeah. And you, you know, land are the kind of person who, yeah, it doesn't matter anyway, this guy's not gonna listen to me. He's, you know, there's no competition. So what's the difference? Right, and you're right, it has an enormous negative impact on the faith that Americans are Utahns have on the system, you know, in, it used to be that the Voting Rights Act would prevent the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would prevent a lot of this. That the the supreme US Supreme Court has summarily struck down two of the main provisions of that in the last, let's say, six to eight years. And so now states that otherwise had to, you know, file different things with the Justice Department to ensure that, you know, that community, you know, that whatever they call it, you know, specific communities were represented, whether it was, you know, African American, Latino, whatever it was. Now, they don't have to do that. And then I would also say that this, the US Supreme Court has said, you know, don't bring your gerrymandering arguments here, because the constitution does say that states are allowed to create their own election laws. But the Voting Rights Act was supposed to mean, like, you know, there are limits to everything, right. I mean, there are there should be some limits. And so as you said, then I think your your point is, is the right one, which is now what we see is a is a system in which those in power are able to advantage themselves to remain in power, despite what the makeup of their state might be, or their district might


Dr. Lynn Vartan  53:39

be. Yeah, that's really hard to stomach I think, as a, you know, just a basic individual going going through life. So, but we don't want to end on too depressing. I'm a note, and I always have my last fun question that I asked. And, you know, we're pretty much out of time. But Mary, I wanted to give you an opportunity, if there's any final questions that you want to get in for read.



I, I don't think I have any final question. I want to try to be optimistic and let's do something fun.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  54:07

Yeah. Okay. Well, my fun thing is, I always ask my guests like what's turning you on this week? And it doesn't have to be anything. It could be anything it could be. It's just a little fun insight into something else, you know, and it could be a TV show or a movie or a song or a favorite food, or we've even had people say like their favorite. I don't know, clothing or anything like that. So I'll ask both of you, Mary, I'll ask you first. Mary Bennett. What is turning you on this week?



What is turning Wow, that's a great question. I'm trying to think of something.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  54:42

I can come back to you. Yes. Get back to me. I'll tell you mine for the week since the last one. I almost never answer it. But mine is oh my gosh, dude, I absolutely loved it. I've watched it like three times away. I think it's just beautiful. The music is beautiful. The scenery is beautiful. The costumes are beautiful. So Dune is I recommend



I do know it's turning me. Okay. The return of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hands down.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  55:08

Okay, that's great. You guys are longtime watchers. Oh my gosh. Yes. So fine. I know my mom and sister watch it regularly. Alright, read read Galen. What is turning you on this week? Well, yeah, no, I'll



stick with the media. Yeah, it's the latest. The latest season of succession. Oh, that's so good. And the return of Yellowstone. Oh, also so good. I love my favorite, my favorite. You know, outrageous, but beautifully shot Western.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  55:37

I mean, that is absolutely fantastic. Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you for sharing those. And I just want to say to both of my guests, Reed, thank you so much for joining us. You've been so generous with your time. I've learned so much today. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.



No, thanks, Lynn. And anybody who's interested, you can find us at Lincoln project.us. Listen to my podcast. It's the Lincoln project podcast you find on your favorite podcast player and I, I hope to one day soon get to meet you and marry in person. So thanks for having me.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  56:09

We'd love to have you. Yeah, and everybody. Definitely check those out. Thank you for providing those links. And we'll be sure to like make sure that everybody knows about them. Mary, thank you so much. It's always so much fun to collaborate with you. Here's too many, many, many more years of our collaboration. Thank you, Lynn. It's always a pleasure. Awesome. Well read. Yeah.  And thank you, everyone and we are done for the season. Please be sure to check out everything that you see in the archive. And until then happy holidays. Thanks so much for listening to the apex hour here on KSUU thunder 91.1. Come find us again next Thursday at 3pm for more conversations with the visiting guests at Southern Utah University and new music to discover for your next playlist. And in the meantime, we would love to see you at our events on campus. To find out more, check out suu.edu/apex Until next week, this is Lynn Vartan saying goodbye from the apex our here on thunder 91.1