Ask Jesse Episode 9: Progressive Possibilities

Click here to listen to full episode on YouTube

Show Notes By Victoria Lynn Hall

This is what my life was like when I thought being engaged in politics meant watching the news and voting:

And this is what my life has been like since getting more involved in politics during this primary season:

It’s not even that much of an exaggeration, sadly, and yet I wouldn’t go back to ignorant bliss if I could. However, what I do need to do is move forward to a more balanced life and part of that is adjusting my mindset. I believe this mostly entails that I more consistently adopt perspectives and attitudes that I have learned throughout this process. I thought I would share a few of them here for anyone who might need them:

This is a quote from an article I read called The Politics of Optimism by Alex Steffen that I recommend reading. It is very in line with the book, “A Politics of Love“, by my favorite former presidential candidate, activist and author, Marianne Williamson, which is a must read, in my opinion. And, speaking of Williamson…

This is a quote from some fantastic advice Marianne gave to someone during a question and answer session of one of the events on her campaign trail. I wrote more about it here:

This advice from Glennon Doyle’s book, “Untamed“, and something else she often says, “We can do hard things.” are essential reminders for me in dealing with life in general but particularly when it comes to political activism. Not only has the world of politics forced me out of my comfort zone on many occasions but, as Jesse and I discuss in this episode, it demands a commitment to a long road where I may not always see concrete results from my actions. However, no matter how hard it is, sometimes the peace of mind that comes from doing what you feel to be right is a worthwhile result in itself.

Show Notes by Jesse Crall

We’re living in uniquely strange times as the more numbing declines in our economy & culture over the last 4 decades hasten into more overt chaos. While the pandemic, bailout & George Floyd murder produce mass unrest and activism across the country, we’re four months away from voting between two elderly white men who represent politics largely out of synch with the calls for action in America’s streets. Donald Trump doubles down on reactionary sentiments while Joe Biden does his best to remain out of sight & out of mind as his polling looks more & more favorable.

We’re seeing banal arguments in media hyped to the rafters, as writers like Bari Weiss & Thomas Chatterton Williams claim victimhood from their perches at corporate-backed think tanks & elite outlets as our press becomes more and more corporatized and its supposed freedoms more and more precarious. Black Lives Matter is being bankrolled by the Ford Foundation & the Open Society Foundation, the latter of which grew out of the largesse of billionaire trader George Soros.

Oprah holds Zoom symposiums on race in America, Jeff Bezos lectures Instagram users on white privilege, Barack Obama shares bland articles on policing via Twitter and Nancy Pelosi takes a knee in honor of George Floyd.

For all the unrest and rage seemingly emanating from the American underclass, the actual discourse and policy prescriptions remain firmly in the hands of long-empowered sources. Ford Foundation head Darren Walker, a former investment banker on the board of every society under the sun, wrote a long-winded Op-Ed in the New York Times trying to critique the role of philanthropy while reaffirming the people and market forces that create inequality. His shallow piece was praised by Nicholas Kristof, long renowned for his journalistic endeavors on global poverty, and Anand Giridharadas, a McKinsey alumnus now engaged in multimedia dissertations on American oligarchy. The myopia is staggering.

Giridharadas is a former fellow at the Aspen Institute, a think tank bankrolled by the same billionaires and corporate entities he critiques. We’re witnessing a self-serving ecosystem in which affluent, connected individuals all talk about the need to “do better” and “change the world” while continuing to benefit from the status quo. So long as America remains a playground for elites, the mewling rings a touch hollow.

The more progressive candidates Victoria and I discuss in this episode would ideally represent the start of a sea change. It’s easy to grow cynical, as movements become co-opted by corporate forces and establishment candidates use massive financial backing to remain in power. The hope that candidates unbossed and unbought take over government is one likely to be crushed time and time again. But cynicism only produces inaction and the sources behind oligarchy remain convicted in their endeavor. Most of us committed to political change probably oscillate between faith and dejection and the notion that a better world may only emerge beyond our lifespans isn’t conducive to building mass movements. The forces working against change are ones already engaged in a system serving their interests. I think these difficult realities are explored in the episode and it’s key to remember: Every generation before ours featured individuals and groups who gave their time, energy, passions and even lives to efforts they never witnessed come to full fruition. We can either dismiss their work as needlessly Quixotic or take inspiration to bring humanity closer to the just society we all deserve. 

For reference, candidates we discuss include:

Jess Scarane (Senate Candidate, DE):

Mike Siegel (House Candidate, TX-10):

Candance Valenzuela (House Candidate, TX-24):

Donna Imam (House Candidate, TX-31):

Watch the full episode below or on YouTube where you can subscribe to all of our video content. We would also like to thank Kim D. for contributing her fabulous song, “Corporation Coup” for use as a theme for our videos, you can find the full recording of this song at:

Episode 9

A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.

Jesse Crall

A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.

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