The Daily Discourse : Episode 3

Matthew Doty and Zach Courtney

 

Zach Courtney: Hello, and welcome to the first episode this fall of The Daily Discourse with Zach and Matt. I am one of your hosts, Zach Courtney, and…

Matt Doty: I am your other host, Matt Doty.

Zach: For this first podcast we’d like to start by interviewing each other. I’ll start off by saying, we’ve already finished recording the interviews and you won’t wanna miss them. I’m really excited for this podcast in general. Especially for you, the listener, to listen to this podcast. And I think Matt would say the same. For this first podcast, we thought it would be a good idea to interview each other. And since Matt is completely new to the podcast, we’ll start with me interviewing him. So we’ll take a quick break and we will be right back. 

All right. We’re back. And I’m excited to get right into this interview with you, Matt. So first let me just give a little bit of perspective for the listeners. We’ve talked to each other in person, maybe three times at some columnist meetings and some game plan stuff on zoom and in person getting ready for this first podcast.

We haven’t talked to each other that much. We don’t know each other that much. Maybe you read a few of our columns, each other’s columns. So we have a little bit of a clue where we’re coming from, but this first podcast is for the listeners to get to know us, but it’s also for us to get to know each other. I’ve got a list of questions. I’m really excited to get to know a little bit of your perspective, especially as it pertains to where you come from with politics. So I’ve got a list of questions, but if I say something that sparks interest, I might stick on that subject for a little bit. So we’ll just see where this goes, but let’s get into it with what I’ve always called the most cliche, but necessary of interview questions. Tell me and the listeners just a little bit about yourself.

Matt: Yeah. So I grew up in Minnetonka, moved to Minneapolis around high school. I started going to the U. I’m studying psychology and global studies. I hope to pursue a career probably in law after undergraduate. This last summer I had a job at a law firm that I really enjoyed and gave me some good exposure and yeah, I’ve been writing for the daily for — this is my second semester now. I’m really enjoying that.

Zach: Yeah. So you said you’re from Minnetonka. Is that where you went to high school?

Matt: No. I went to high school, uh, at a private school in Minneapolis called Minnehaha Academy. It’s famous for producing some pretty noteworthy basketball players right now.

Zach: Did you play basketball?

Matt: I absolutely did not. I played hockey and lacrosse.

Zach: It’s actually a funny story. I didn’t even know that much of you going into the interview. I’m from Willmar and my senior year of high school, we played in the football state championship. I mean, we had a good team, but we kind of got the crap kicked out of us. So that’s actually kind of funny.

Matt: Yeah. I know we make a lot of news for our basketball, but um, make only slightly less news for our football. Yeah, we’re quickly becoming a sports school, which is pretty new for me. I went to that school since I was in kindergarten and we were never big on sports until probably my sophomore year of high school. And now we’ve just catapulted.

Zach: So are you double majoring in psych and global studies?

Matt: I am. I’m actually a triple major on the books right now. I’m a triple major in English, global studies and psych. Don’t tell the English department, but I’m dropping the English track as soon as I can. But yeah, that was a change that happened this summer. I’m kind of realizing after my sophomore year that all the internships I wanted to get had to do with law, had to do with politics but none of my academics reflected that. I went into college not really knowing what I wanted to do. So I picked, you know, majors that I thought would be helpful regardless and flexible and they both were. Um, but yeah, I made that change this summer. Just kind of responding to what I found I was interested in.

Zach: So global studies, can you tell me and the listener a little bit about what courses you take and what sparks your interest in global studies?

Matt: Yeah, so global studies is a pretty broad degree. You basically have to pick two different core focuses, or a different core focus and then a different region focus, and some core focuses can be closer to environmentalism looking at global climate change. Some can be more of a sociological thing looking at movements of people. I chose the human rights and justice track, that was more in line with my interests. So I’ll take classes that have to do with international law, with international relations, studies on human rights issues. That’s kind of where my core goes. Then my regional focus is Latin America. So, I look a lot at different cultural exchanges, kind of politics, current events that happen in Latin America and also some historical perspectives too.

Zach: Yeah. I mean, that sounds very interesting to me. I don’t know if a class that you would almost take would be something like, I took a Latin American politics class. It was called like law and justice in Latin America. Yep. It was very interesting. I wrote a final paper on the Guatemala and coup and genocide, and it was very interesting and eye-opening for anyone who doesn’t know that much about it. I am one who looks at educational policy a lot, and I think that is vastly underrepresented in politics. And in education in the United States, talking about those types of things, just how badly the United States screwed up in, in especially Latin America during the cold war, especially.

Matt: All over the place. I am in a class right now called Human Rights Issues in the Americas. And we’re focusing on Chile right now, in the seventies and Augusto Pinochet. And a lot of that has to do with the role that America had in propping up governments in Latin America. So, yeah, I agree. It’s stuff that as a 20-year-old who, has had, you know, political interest, and has studied Latin America, for a couple years now, I’m a Spanish minor as well. So, I’ve had a little bit of exposure, but we’re not, we’re not taught much about that growing up.

Zach: Awesome. So then my next question, we both are also columnists for the Daily. What made you want to write for the daily?

Matt: Yeah. I remember seeing the job posting and seeing that it was open, and originally just thinking it’d be cool. I was an English major. I love writing and I’ve always loved writing essays. But I also kind of wanted to think about how is this writing different from just writing some essay and trying to get it published on a blog or something like that. I think the key difference is I wanted my columns to be sort of a jumping off point for people in our community to have conversations that I think are important. People can disagree with my columns. People can think I’m wrong even, but I think that our role is to provide topics, and provide at least beginning arguments for people to discuss these issues with their friends, with their family, with coworkers on campus, with other students. Yeah, I try to pick topics that are important when I can.

Zach: So I know that kind of the way that media is going is towards podcasts. So I’m gonna ask you about the podcast in general after this, but first for someone who this might be the first that they’ve heard of either of us, if you were to tell them to read one of your columns, what one would you tell them to read?

Matt: Well, I think it’d be between two of them. One of them because I really like how it was written, the other one because it ended up having the most impact. The first one is my column on the death penalty. It’s called ‘Beyond our scope,’ I believe. I just liked the way that I wrote that one, the way that I approached the argument. It’s also an issue that’s always been important to me. I think the fact that we allow the death penalty anywhere in our country is absolutely insane.You’ll have to read the column to hear my argument. 

But the other one that I would recommend of mine is the one about the inmate in Missouri, Kevin Strickland, who’s been in prison now for, I think 43 years, for a crime that it really looks like he didn’t commit. It’s a story that’s attracted a lot of attention in the Kansas city area, and had a little bit of a spurt there around the time that I wrote the column nationally, but has kind of since died out. And that column, we started a petition on change.org. And actually recently after the column went up, we got a pretty funny comment from someone basically saying like ‘starting a petition for this is stupid. It’s not gonna do anything.’ And you know, fair enough. But the petition ended up getting 20,000 signatures. Not that it’s compelled anyone to do anything, but that was a pretty cool thing to see, because it started from the column.

Zach: Yeah, I mean I’ve actually read both of those. So it’s funny that you say that. I haven’t read every single one of your columns to be honest, but those are two that I’ve read. 

I mean, I agree with you that those two things are important. I thought the Kevin Strickland one was especially interesting. I remember reading about that story before it came out and it’s like, the governor of the state says it’s not a priority to get an innocent man out of prison. He says it’s just not a priority. It’s like, what the heck? What are we doing?

Matt: Well, yeah. And he, part of it is, I think I’m gonna forget now, but I think it was like 36 people, without adding Kevin Strickland to the list, when people have been calling for his release for a long time. Yeah, but the developments in that story are really interesting. It continues to go. I’m now signed up for the Kansas City Star I think. And I get little email reports, or email updates from them even though I’m not a subscriber, so I can never actually read the articles. But, the attorney general has gotten involved now saying he’s going to try to block any efforts to get Strickland released. Yeah, it’s a whole mess.

Zach: Yeah. So then going directly into the podcast, what are your hopes for the podcast? I think this is something that we’ll maybe talk about more at the end together, but yeah. I just wanna hear what you’re thinking for the podcast in general. If you had one goal looking back a year down the road, what would you view as a success in the podcast, I guess is how I’ll phrase the question.

Matt: Yeah, I think the podcast is an extension of the same goal that I’m trying to accomplish with the columns, which is just fostering conversations. The podcast will hopefully provide maybe a more entertaining, more fast paced platform for that. Some people don’t want to sit down and read a column, and podcasts can kind of provide a more interactive platform for it. I think accomplishing, or if I look back in a year and say we did a great job with this, to me that will mean having well-thought arguments, good conversation back and forth. I’d love to get some guests on our show, whether it’s people from the University or even local politicians to come on and participate in these discussions and kind of give them another platform. And that’s something that writing an opinion column you can’t really do, is have those people come in and participate with you, so I think that would be a great thing.

Zach: Yeah. My next question then — which I have a theory that sometimes the most vague ones get the best answers — so the question is who and/or what has inspired your politics?

Matt: Probably not any politicians. I think the biggest inspiration in my politics is the conversations that I had with family, mostly. I come from a family that’s pretty divided ideologically, all the way down to my immediate family unit. One of my parents is pretty, relatively conservative, but a lifelong Republican. My other, my mom is, has always been liberal, always voted Democrat. So dinnertime conversations would always get very interesting, because we’re also pretty politically active too. I remember, I think a lot of people don’t like that, and would rather keep political conversations off the dinner table, but I always loved it because I thought it was a way for people to express their values, what they want from their communities. I just think these conversations, especially with people who disagree, are so important and I guess that influences a large part of my politics being that I think we need to do our best to get away from the ways that partisanship influences our thinking. That doesn’t necessarily mean we need to try and be bipartisan all the time. 

I think that’s a roadblock that we actually need to get past because bipartisanship does not mean … But I think we have a lot of biases that we could kind of examine more and growing up in a household that exposed me to two very different viewpoints pretty frequently, I think provided me with that.

Zach: Awesome. Another political question. I mean, now all these are kind of political, so I don’t know why I’m saying that. You’re running for president in 2024 in a world where it is legal for you at whatever 23, 24 years old to win the white house, win the presidency. What are three major policy proposals that you would run on?

Matt: So I’ve thought about this before, and I don’t think the three major policy proposals that I would run on are not the three that would get me elected probably. So if we can throw effectiveness out the door, I think one thing that I would have to hit hard on and that I think anyone who’s running for office in 2024 will have to hit hard on is healthcare. I am of the opinion it’s time for us to have universal healthcare, um, and put that in the hands of the government rather than private companies. You may fall somewhere else, but I think that we, as a generation, are going to need to figure this out. And it’s obviously a very entrenched issue. But for good reason, it’s gonna have huge implications on everyone’s lives, and it’s a good fight to fight.

Other than that, I think climate change is another kind of similar issue where, yeah, it’s, it’s high stakes. People argue about it a lot, but for good reason. It’s an important topic. I think that one thing that I would kind of hit harder on is our global efforts because it’s great if the U.S. can figure out how to handle our carbon emissions, but we need to bring the developing world along with us. I like that Joe Biden got back into the Paris Agreement, but also I think we need to kind of continue our efforts in helping developing nations. And then I guess beyond that, I thought Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2020 was really inspiring, whatever you think about his politics, but the idea of having more grassroots campaigns is is an important one, I think, and one that could gain support from both sides, I think, right and left, we’re all a little wary of political elites, quote unquote, or basically people in power securing more power. And I’d love to see some anti-lobbying laws come into effect. I’d love to see, I’m forgetting the Supreme court case now…

Zach: Citizens United. I don’t know if you’re going to Citizens United, but no.

Matt: I was gonna do that would be a great one, but shoot it’s whichever one says that money is…

Zach: Citizens United. Yes. 

Matt: Oh, is that it? Yes. Well then, yeah, I’d love to see that overturned. I think that’s ridiculous. It gives rich people more speech than poor people and the ability to express their speech more or frequently. And I just don’t think that’s a good way to be running our politics. I don’t think that’s sustainable at all. So yeah, I guess that would be the third one.

Zach: Awesome. I guess the only downside to that is that I think there’s not gonna be that much disagreement when we get to the other side of this with me talking about our policy proposals. Because they’re different, but I mean, I think that all three of those are very important things that we need to be talking about how we’re going to be fixing and fixing them quickly. You know, my last column was a — shameless plug — my last column, ‘The clock is ticking,’ was the title and all three of those things, universal health or climate change, whatever you’re gonna call the last one. Corruption, lobbying, whatever you wanna call it. All three of those things are vitally important and they’re vitally important that they get moving quickly on them. Because especially like climate change, we don’t have, we don’t have time. We need to get going. Then my last question, I was always taught, don’t invent the wheel twice. You don’t need to invent the wheel again, whatever the line is.

I’m a big fan and listener and reader of Ezra Klein and he always ends his podcasts with what are some books you would recommend? So give me maybe two or three books that you would recommend for me to read or for the listener at home to read. 

Matt: Alright. Yeah. So a couple come to mind. One is ‘A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. A really, really cool counterbalance to I think prevailing educational practices in the United States. I think it’s getting better. I think we are getting better at teaching our history, at least that was my experience in high school. There’s not this idealization of the U.S. In the same way that there was before. Um, however, there’s, there’s a lot of progress to be made still. And his book certainly paints the U.S. in a different light than a lot of history classes might do. So it’s cool. I would also caution though. I think in certain cases it seems biased in the other direction. But it’s a really good counterbalance to that. 

And then I guess two other ones would be books I read this summer. One is ‘The Black Swan’ by Nasim Nicholas Taleb. He’s a philosopher and economist. This book came out in 2007, I think. But he writes about risk management and projection of future events and how humans get them wrong. And why we can’t predict big events, basically, history changing events, why we have issues foreseeing them. And it was really cool. Another book is probably one that everyone has heard of. It’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by psychologist Daniel Kahneman. He’s basically writing about a very similar topic. He’s actually quoted by Taleb a lot in Black Swan. But it’s essentially about cognitive biases, failures and decision making, why humans make them and how we can sometimes correct them, but how often we can’t, and sometimes being aware of the places in which we can’t correct. Our biases are just as important. But yeah, really, really enlightening books. So I guess those would be what I recommend right now off.

Zach: Yeah. Just based off of those, we’re over 20 minutes, but I’m, I’m really excited. I think the only downside is that we agree on too many situations politically. I’m not a tech expert, but hopefully we’re able to figure out how to link those three books at the bottom, because I know that the first one of people’s history, I have that on my list and I haven’t read it yet.

Matt: Oh yeah. I got a copy. I can give it to you.

Zach: You might have added it to the top of my list now mentioning it today. I think we’re gonna call that halftime. We’re gonna take a quick minute chat off the air and then we’re gonna come back and we’re going to flip roles. So thanks for joining us and hopefully stick around to the end.

Matt: All right, welcome back. So we just got done with Zach asking me a few questions, us just getting to know each other, but also, hoping that listeners can kind of get some information about who they’re listening to, where we come from, why we’re doing this. So I guess we’ll jump right into it. Zach. I think you described that this first question is cliche but necessary. Tell us about yourself.

Zach: Yeah, so I’m a 21-year-old third year student here at the U. My major is political science. I guess I’ll start with why I came to the U. I came to the U because it has a marching band and as an instrumental music education major, it seemed like coming to a school with a marching band, it would be a great opportunity. So I was a music major, a band nerd. And then at the end of my first year, I obviously switched to political science, which I think will maybe get to in a little bit why I did that. But in the summers I work for Willmar parks and rec, I’m from Willmar, Minnesota. I do like little kids, baseball and soccer stuff. I coach an under 19 soccer team where they make fun of me for being interested in politics and writing columns about politics. So I don’t know, they probably won’t ever listen to this, so I can say that on, on this and they’ll never know.

Matt: Yeah. So you kind of alluded to it, but what drove that decision to switch to political science from, I think it was, did you say music education?

Zach: So I guess from the time I would say a sophomore in high school, I always set on, I wanted to do music education. Music’s always been something that’s important to me. It’s still very important to me. I’m going to inspire another generation of musicians and also everything that comes with music, all the science behind ACT scores and GPAs, if you’re in music, all of that. But then it just hit me that, you know, I see that, I mean, the way the Trump presidency was going, that was, you know, around the time of his first impeachment, just little getting done, you know, poverty has always been in a weird way, something that really just depresses me. That I just feel so powerless, with just poverty and I’ve always been someone who came from a fairly well off family and I didn’t ever have to worry about where my next meal was coming from. And just the idea that there could be a 10-year-old somewhere who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from, just depressed me. And that motivated me to realize, you know, you can only do so much waving your arms around being a, a music educator, which I think is an important job, but I think it made me realize that I wanted to find something to do in politics so that hopefully I could change the policies so that I think if I were to say I had a number one issue would be child poverty and trying to figure that out. And I mean, I could go on for years about why political politics and political science is important to me, but I think that’s maybe the number one reason. 

Matt: Yeah, why you switched that track. So yeah, I guess kind of jumping off that as well, you mentioned the most important policy issue to you, but what are some others and why do you think they should be important to others?

Zach: Yeah, so I’ll kind of steal it from the way that I wrote it. My three, I would say number one would be universal basic income, as a way to fix that child poverty. I think one of the biggest issues with the way our public policy works nowadays is I’m getting really nerdy right away. Aren’t I, I think the biggest issue is the idea of means testing. And I think that’s something that I wanna get into further, maybe in a different discussion or a column, but I haven’t yet is means testing is the worst thing that happened to the United States, public policy and politics. It allows for way too many people to slip through the cracks or not know they’re eligible for something or feel ashamed for collecting something. We have the ability to eliminate childhood poverty and I don’t know why that isn’t a bigger issue for other people that we just allow it to be a thing. It’s not about, you know, whatever the mom doesn’t work enough hours, which first of all, a lot of the time, if you’re a single mom and you work 60 hours and you have three kids, even that isn’t enough. But it’s not about, you know, the mom working hard enough, it’s about us as a society. We need to come together and understand that poverty in general, childhood poverty is something that we need to agree is important. No matter what the tax necessity is, that’s something that needs to be solved. 

Matt: It doesn’t need to be a partisan issue.

Zach: Yes. I mean, I could go on again for years on universal basic income and how it isn’t actually a radical proposal that some people will call it radical; how it should be a mainstream run of the mill issue, but it isn’t. But yeah, that’s number one. 

Number two would be universal healthcare, which is another one that you said. I just think it’s ridiculous that through no fault of my own I can just be born into a body that is more likely to have cancer or whatever it might be, and I have cancer and then you’re gonna throw a $50,000 bill at me or whatever it is. And also just the idea of, you know, healthcare should be a human right. I think many people would agree with that, but the idea that, you know, it can exist in capitalistic form, like other elements of society. So my example is always if I don’t like the cheeseburger at this restaurant, I can go down the street and buy their cheeseburger. If I think it’s too expensive. I can go down the street. If I have a heart attack, I don’t get to shop around while I’m sitting there having a heart attack and say, well, yours is too expensive and because of the supply and demand and your price, I’m going to go down the street. No. And hospitals know that and pharmaceutical companies know that. And that’s the way that these prices, I mean, look at the price of insulin here compared to other nations have universal or socialized medicine. I just said the S word. And yeah, I mean, universal healthcare needs to happen. 

And then lastly, I know you said climate change; Emily and I, maybe on our first episode, with the same question got into it a little bit about this one. Cause I didn’t put climate change there. It isn’t because I don’t think climate change is one of the most important issues because I do, it’s because I think that if you solve the issue of corruption and government, I think climate change is gonna be one of the first things that if you talk to any, I truly believe any reasonable person. That’s just a regular person. They understand climate change is a massively important topic, but when you’ve got a person like Joe Manchin in the Senate whose literal son owns a coal company, what do you think his position is gonna be on it? And I think that’s one of those issues that if you fix the corruption beneath it, also, the corruption’s gonna fix so many other issues with society and politics. But I think that climate change is one of those things that we are going to be able to combat if we didn’t have to deal with the issue of corruption.

Matt: No, I think that’s a good point. I think the last I checked, the majority of American citizens want pretty strong climate action. So yeah, that’s one that I won’t get into it with you as much as Emily may have. So kind of bringing in the scope a little bit. I like to write about campus issues a lot. There’s one another shameless plug that I wrote about minimum wage on the twin cities campus, which got some pretty great comments. What do you think should be some campus issues on students’ minds this coming year?

Zach: You know, actually, it’s funny that you said that because I was gonna give you the shameless plug, if you didn’t, because my first one was gonna be campus. Minimum wage should be the same as the minimum wage in Minneapolis. It doesn’t make any sense to me that that is not the case. I don’t think that the University deserves an exemption on the minimum wage, they should have to follow what it is in Minneapolis when they’re in Minneapolis. Yeah. When they’re in Morris, they should have to follow what the minimum wage is in Morris, which I would assume is what the state minimum wage is, whatever 10 and a quarter, I think maybe. I mean, that seems like the most obvious of things that they shouldn’t have an exemption on.

And I guess the other one, which you might not qualify as a campus issue would be the mayor race that’s underway right now. Especially the issue of public safety and what’s going to happen with that. I mean, that is obviously in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder going to be a major issue and some uptick crime that’s going to be a major issue is public safety. And, with what’s going to happen in the mayor or race, um, I bet money that it’ll be someone that is left of the center that will win, judging by we’re from Minneapolis. But the question is where they’re going to lie. Is it going to be someone far left of the center? Is it going to, you know, just be a run of the mill, regular Democrat, is it going to be a more green party person? Is it going to be a worker’s party, a democratic socialist? What is it going to be? I don’t know. And to be honest, that’s something that I haven’t even looked into that much, but I think that’s something that would be interesting to talk about in a further episode.

Matt: Yeah. I agree. This kind of dynamic between public safety and racial injustice and policing is a really interesting one because they’re both real issues, but they seem to be presented as in conflict with each other. More often than not where people who are pushing for police reform may frame it as we need less, or we need fewer police, but people who are more concerned about public safety may say we need more police, and it’s interesting that we get kind of stuck in those tracks of thinking when, you know, there may be other solutions here that address both very real, very pressing issues.

So I guess you asked me this question, and I think it’s a great one. What brought you to writing for the Daily? Why did you decide to become an opinions columnist and then jumping off of that, what are your hopes for the podcast? Why may those be different?

Zach: Yeah. So I first applied to the Daily last summer and, because I’m not a very intelligent person, I wasn’t hired right away. Hopefully Sammy hears me say that I wasn’t hired right away. I wasn’t interviewed until January when there was an opening and Sammy asked to interview me and well I got hired, I guess.

Matt: Sammy is the previous, opinions editor, by the way,

Zach: You’re a much more qualified interviewer than I am. But anyways, so I guess that the reason that I first applied and why I continue with this is, as you can tell, I’m a nerd about politics. And I wouldn’t be very fun at parties if I talked like this at parties so I don’t, but I guess this is my way of expressing what I view as important and try get it out there so that hopefully other 20-year-olds like me and 22-year-olds and whatever, give a crap about politics because politics are important. And you know, we can sit there and talk about whether you like ketchup or mustard on your hot dog or what your favorite place to eat is on campus or whether you like Dr. Pepper types of things. And I love that. And we can talk about, you know, what your favorite show is or what your favorite team is, or who’s the best basketball player of all time.

But when it gets down to it, politics is important for everyone. And it impacts everyone’s lives, whether they realize it or not. And I guess that that’s the biggest thing is I want to try to frame these issues as why they’re important to everyone, why you should give a crap about it. And then also why I’m right on my policy proposal for it. And then the podcast you said, I think that you nailed it on the head with what you said pretty much, but the Daily Discourse was the title that Emily and I came up with over the summer. I just think that the thing that you said is actually shockingly similar to how we said it, but the idea of just how these conversations happen at the dinner table and trying to reenact them here in front of people so that hopefully they actually continue to happen at the dinner table. Because the only way that we saw all of these problems that we have is by talking about them.

Matt: And I think sometimes talking about them in, not that this is the goal of, for the podcast, but, talking about them in casual ways where, you know, maybe you are just sitting with friends and you want to kind of discuss this thing you heard on the news. Hopefully we come at it with more research and more of an outline for our conversations. But I think encouraging people to have these conversations sometimes means encouraging people to be wrong. And to just throw out their beginning, the first thought that comes to their mind just so they can have conversations in a casual way.

Zach: Absolutely. And just to add, I mean kind of along the lines of what you said, I think the biggest thing is our target audience, we work for a school newspaper. Our target audience is college kids. And I mean, we’ve done a good job of going in the right direction, as far as college kids giving a crap about politics, but it’s about continuing that trend and making sure that it doesn’t wait until the time that you’re 30 years old, that you decide to care about the presidential election or the local mayor election or your United States Senate election, or all of these different elections and political issues, you know, it’s important that people have opinions as they discuss these things and that they know about them and they know what’s going on.

Matt: Yeah. That’s awesome. So I guess final question, following Ezra Klein again: two to three books you recommend.

Zach: That was a great question, Matt. I don’t know how you would’ve thought of that. 

Matt: Came up with it myself. 

Zach: I’m really happy that you asked it to be honest. First would be ‘The War on Normal People’ by Andrew Yang. I know as of late people probably have a bad taste in their mouth from his mayor campaign for New York city. But I think with where he started before he ran for president, then while he ran for president his book, ‘The War on Normal People,’ I think is really eye opening to many people and is just a necessary read for where we are as a country. That’s the first thing that really made me see why a universal, basic income is important. It made me understand kind of why Trump won, you know. A lot of people look at why Trump one and they just think, well, we’ve got a bunch of dumb people in this country, and a bunch of people who don’t know what’s going on and that’s why, but actually the real reason why is, and I mean, he talks about it more, but if you look at all those key swing states that Trump won, you know, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, the blue wall is what they call them. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, they all lost all these manufacturing jobs that just disappeared. And that also caused all those people to hear Hillary Clinton talking about how we’re gonna do all these things the same way as Obama, because the economy’s going so great and it’s like, well, what the heck are you talking about that the economy’s going so great. No, it’s not. And just that idea, which I think we’re hoping to replicate on this podcast about, you know, hearing the other side, because sometimes it’s not as ridiculous as you think.

And you know, I was never someone who voted for Trump, but I think understanding that perspective and where people are coming from it is really important to move forward and find the right proposal, which I think is universal basic income. And I really think that if you read that book at the very least, you won’t find it as radical a proposal as you might have before. 

And then the second book I would say is when I’m reading right now: Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein. It’s a great book again, the same type of idea of looking at how people think about things. And I mean, it sounds cliche why we’re polarized. It’s just really an interesting read and I think a necessary read. 

And then the last one, we are in Minneapolis and George Floyd was murdered here over a year ago now.And a lot of people always have been talking about Martin Luther King Jr. on both sides and ‘this is what Martin Luther king Jr would’ve really wanted.’ and the Letter from Birmingham Jail, I think is a necessary read. It’s not a full length book, I guess, but yeah, it’s a necessary read. Especially, in my most recent column, I talked about moderates versus extremists. I almost wish I had included a Martin Luther King Jr. quote, because I think a lot of people don’t realize that Martin Luther King Jr. would’ve been viewed as an extremist by many today if he were still alive. You know, he talked about the white moderate here, I’m gonna actually gonna read a quote. He said, “I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I’ve almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride towards freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with you and your methods of direct action.’”

I just think that too many people will look at, I mean, I’m not out here to defend buildings going up in flames in Minneapolis two summers ago or anything like that. But we need to understand that, I mean, he said it best. We can say that I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action because for so long we’ve ignored the needs of, of so many, especially Black people in the city. If you look at redlining, if you look at segregation, if you look at slavery, voting laws. If you look about it all across the GOP states, especially now, I just think that we don’t really think about what Martin Luther King Jr really would think if he were alive today and he would not have been a moderate, we would not call him a moderate, and I think it shouldn’t be people’s goal to be a moderate because I mean, I’m gonna allude to another thing he says, but he talked about, you know, everyone in society that we would consider good. We wouldn’t call a moderate, like Socrates, we wouldn’t consider a moderate. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a moderate. Jesus Christ wasn’t a moderate. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a moderate. All these people that today we look back and we say, you know, they did good things for society. I mean, I’m not gonna get into Jesus Christ, but Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln. No, one’s debating their legacies if they were good or not. So yeah, I guess that’s where I’ll leave it with my last book. 

Matt: Well, awesome. All right. I think we’re gonna take a little break here and come back with an outro. 

All right. And that about wraps it up for us. On this first episode today, we took a little liberty and wanted to focus more on establishing who we are as hosts and where we come from. Episodes in the future will have a little more structure and take the form of monologues and cross examination on today’s most important topics and issues. Have a wonderful week and we’ll see you next Friday.