The Last Frontier

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S1: The following podcast may be a little dirty, but forget about that, going to tell you to go to our Twitter feed at Slate, just dotcom and.

S2: It’s Tuesday, October 27th, twenty twenty from Slate’s The Gist, I’m Mike Pesca. It’s a week before the election and I am not worried because I don’t worry about things I can’t control and I have and then denied the bliss gene. But if I didn’t have the Bliss gene or if my self-diagnosis say we’re all in exquisitely constructed parapet to keep discomfiting emotion in and feelings of vulnerability out, I would be what the enemies call worried not about anything empirical.

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S1: The polls aren’t exactly tightening. Biden is up by five in Wisconsin, according to the only poll that’s been released in the last week from a pollster that gets an A rating from 538. That pollster is Fox, by the way, and Biden is up by five point three in Pennsylvania, according to 538 modeling.

S3: So what this means is that if one out of every 38 pro Biden voters were to change their minds and switch their votes and say, I don’t know Skerrett because fracking or it because Hunter or Skerrett, because this current unrest in Philadelphia, that would be the difference in deciding the state if that number is right. Yeah, I said one in thirty eight and I know one in thirty eight is in five percent. But I also said change their mind and switch their vote and that’s how it works. Two and a half percent Biden two and a half percent, little more actually go to Trump. That’s how these things can happen and how that these things might be closer than they seem. Or maybe, you know, just one in 50 people changes his or her mind, but then another one in 50 Biden voters who put their vote in the mail doesn’t get it postmarked by Election Day. And that’s enough for Trump to overcome an accurately reported five point deficit in Wisconsin today about those mail in ballots, different rules for different states, which is in and of itself confusing, especially as local news sources die and we rely on national information, information, and it doesn’t always know the exact rules of where we come from.

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S1: So the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Wisconsin can require all ballots be received by Election Day or else they won’t be counted.

S4: The same rule is true of Michigan, and that was last decided by a federal appeals court. However, a state appeals court, the last court to rule in North Carolina, allows North Carolina to accept properly postmarked ballots that arrive as late as November 12th. Let’s go to Pennsylvania. If voters there get their ballot postmarked by Election Day, they have a three day grace period. So they’ll accept them until November 6th. But let’s also add that the U.S. Supreme Court did make that ruling about Pennsylvania, but it was a four four ruling. It was made before Amy CONI Barrett got on the court with the Supreme Court rule to include the new justices, even if doing so meant issuing a guidance to voters less than two weeks before an election. I don’t know. Let’s hope not. If Joe Biden fails to pick up any state that Hillary Clinton lost, well, then he will have to win both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Michigan, too. But that actually seems much more firmly in Biden’s column than the other two.

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S5: So all of this indicates that the election could be pretty close, might not be within a polling margin of error, but it is close. It is certainly within the margin of error, plus the margin of judicial error, plus human error. Now, of course, it did lay out a scenario where a bunch of things break bad for Biden and nothing brigs good for him. And Trump doesn’t have a setback of his own. All those things can happen. Certainly could. So really, you get nothing out of me today, no reassurance, nothing except the anxiety that you would expect someone to feel if they were susceptible to feeling anxiety. Luckily, I’m not such a person, he tells himself on the show today. I explain for me the worst thing about a Trump presidency and about what a Trump victory would mean. It’s something I haven’t heard expressed yet. Maybe you feel it to maybe you empathize with me.

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S3: But first, when I last talked about Alaska, it was the subject of the mayor of Anchorage and his overly aggressive paramour, the journalist Maria Athene’s. Oh, but that’s far from the most interesting, well, most consequential political story out of Alaska. They have a fairly tight Senate race and they have a fairly tight presidential race to find out all that’s going on in the last frontier.

S1: I’m joined by Nat, hers of Alaska Public Media.

S6: Up next, what state has voted for the Democrat for president?

S1: The fewest times trivia. The answer is Alaska. OK, they only started the counter in 1959, but Elby. The only Democrat to ever win statewide, but, you know, I’ve been looking at the polls and they’re just barely plural, there are two of them on Real Clear Politics and one is the overly Democratic weighted PPP poll. But The New York Times recently polled Alaska and they have the race fairly close. Joe Biden within five points and President Trump plus. There is a Senate race that is, I think we could also say, fairly close to talk about the politics of Alaska. I’m joined by Nat Hers, who covers Alaska’s environment and government for Alaska Public Media. Nat, thanks for coming on. Good morning, mate. Thanks for having me. Probably almost always morning in Alaska, if you’re talking to me while I’m awake here in New York. It’s only a four hour difference, right?

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S7: It is a four hour difference that I can tell you. It’s like it’ll be dark here until about nine thirty this morning, so.

S1: Oh, my God. And covid is a concern up there in Alaska. There have been some outbreaks. You know, we actually we did really well.

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S8: Our governor did a very sort of early lockdown and Republican governor, actually. But, you know, we had some advantages of like distance from everywhere else, even though kind of Seattle where it started, where is sort of a gateway to Alaska. But, yeah, we did really well for several months. But now things are kind of steadily creeping up to. We’re becoming much more average. And I think there’s a lot of concern about what happens, given that everyone is about to go inside for the whole winter and no longer can you socialize on your back deck.

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S1: Yeah. So have state officials been accommodating of people who wish to vote by mail, or is it like some other states where there has been some difficulties in allowing people to do that out of health concerns?

S7: You know, we have I think it’s called the no fault absentee ballot mode here where you don’t need any kind of justification to request an absentee ballot be sent to your home.

S8: And like we’ve seen around the country, there have been we’ve probably seen four or five kind of ballot access type lawsuits this year trying to just sort of ease some of the different limitations or requirements around absentee and other types of voting. And one that actually was just resolved that went all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court was the challenge to the requirement that you have a witness signature on your ballot as basically that this was sort of unnecessary and also forcing elderly or otherwise sort of at risk folks to like leave their houses and go expose themselves potentially to someone who has covered.

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S1: Right. If the whole point is doing this to adhere to social isolation, having an in-person witness does contradict the goals of absentee voting to a large extent, correct?

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S8: Yes. So that was challenged. And I think we’ve seen effectively zero cases of voter fraud in Alaska. And so I think there was not any sort of compelling interest to keep that in spite of the fact that the state was fighting it. And so that is no longer a requirement for this year, interestingly enough.

S1: Right. Right. And other states that are, if we’ll call Alaska a battleground, you know, North Carolina and Wisconsin have been going through that. But there are different rulings in different states. And by the way, we should also note that Alaska does have some recent history with elections that aren’t just going to the polls and pulling a lever because your current Republican senator, who is not running this time, Lisa Murkowski, was elected as a write in candidate after she lost the Republican primary to Sarah Palin backed Tea Party candidate. So let’s just say powerful, powerful Republicans in Alaska have relied on ballot access in the past.

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S7: I think definitely like Alaska, people see it as a red state. You know, there’s the Democrats in Alaska and nationally. I think we’d love to have folks see Alaska as a sort of trending purple state. I think that’s a tough argument. Like Republicans definitely still far outnumber Democrats in party registration. But I think, you know, an important, important thing for people to understand about Alaska is that party membership is actually, you know, most people in Alaska are actually sort of undeclared or non-partisan, like independent voters.

S8: That’s like the vast majority of the electorate here. So in spite of the fact that people think of Alaska as a Republican state, I think it’s definitely much more of a place where people are like, we live in Alaska, we’re removed from everything, including political parties, and we don’t want anyone telling us what to do, which I think tends to lean in the Republican or libertarian direction, but also does not lend itself to necessarily broad based participation in an organized political party.

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S1: Right. So Dan Sullivan, who is your Republican incumbent senator up for re-election, is running against actually an independent outgrows who is running with Democratic support. He’ll caucus with the Democrats. What are the contours of that race?

S7: Yeah, it’s a really fun race, so. Sullivan, the incumbent Republican, he was elected in 2014, the roots of this race, I think probably go back at least to 2014, if not 2008. So Sullivan was elected in 2014 over a Democrat, Mark Begich, who was elected in 2008, over Ted Stevens, the longtime Republican incumbent who served, I think probably for close to 40 years. Our airport here in Anchorage is named after Ted Stevens. He was kind of legendary for bringing federal money to Alaska, which is really what sort of runs our economy and our state here. In addition to the oil industry, in 2008, Ted Stevens had been indicted. And it may be that point, convicted on a corruption charge that he failed to disclose gifts in his Senate financial disclosure reports. The conviction was later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct, although certainly not a ton of people were looking at Ted Stevens behavior as acceptable or endorsable.

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S8: In any case, he was a really kind of weakened candidate in 2008, lost to a Democrat, which I think really was tough to swallow for the kind of Republican Party establishment in Alaska. And so, you know, when Mark Begich, the Democrat, was up for re-election in 2014, you had a very closely contested Republican primary. And then Dan Sullivan ultimately narrowly beat Mark Begich in twenty fourteen. Mark Begich was a very similar Democrat to the type of candidate you’re seeing in the current independent Democrat endorsed candidate outgrossed, very centrist pro oil drilling. The big issue in the 2014 campaign was how close Mark Begich was with President Obama. And the kind of classic line from Dan Sullivan in 2014 was Mark Begich votes with Obama 97 percent of the time. So, you know, Dan Sullivan has been sort of a very traditional Republican in the Senate, hasn’t done much or said much to really flout or criticize President Trump. And you’re seeing outgrossed, the independent Democratic endorsed candidate, sort of take very similar positions as Mark Begich, the last Democrat to hold the seat in that he supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, even though he’s supported by the League of Conservation Voters. He says he could basically be the guy to be sort of the firewall between national Democrats and the research development stuff that Alaska sort of runs on. And then you’ve got Dan Sullivan kind of trying to tag outgrossed as Chuck Schumer’s best buddy and sort of a liberal East Coast Democrat. And that’s kind of the general contours of the way the race has gone here.

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S1: Has Sullivan been put in a bind, as many other Republican senators in states that aren’t totally Republican but lean Republican have been where he has to support President Trump to a large degree, but he can’t do it too much because there is a sizable part of the electorate that doesn’t like Trump? Or is that really not the dynamic up there in Alaska?

S7: I would say it’s a piece of it. I think Sullivan was really kind of being asked and struggling with these questions of where to come down on Trump related issues, you know, sort of at the beginning of the president’s term and during the twenty sixteen election. Certainly Grosz’s campaign is working to try to tie Sullivan to the president. There’s sort of a similar line where they’re throwing around that Sullivan has voted with his party and with Trump 90 some odd percent of the time. But I would say, you know, the bigger issues in the campaign have been the pebble mining project and the secretly recorded tapes and just sort of Grosz’s ties the national Democratic figures like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, which is not really that relevant, but still getting thrown around.

S1: So, yeah, let’s talk about Pebble Mine secretly recorded tapes, a huge project that has some environmental concerns. What’s going on there?

S7: Yeah, this is just utterly fantastic and delightful sort of Alaska politics story that just guarantees continued employment for folks like me. So, you know, as background, the Pebble project is just this sort of massive, kind of hard to wrap your mind around the scope of that proposed mining project in southwest Alaska. And, you know, Alaska runs on resource development. Most of our statewide politicians will solidly get behind the oil industry, the mining industry, the fishing industry. And you would think, you know, normally a project like this, you would get enthusiastic support for. But there’s one really, really, really big catch with this Pebble project, which is that basically it would sit smack dab in the middle of the most productive and actually the world’s largest sockeye or red salmon fishery, which is literally a billion dollar industry every year with.

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S8: Ten thousand plus people flying or boating into this remote region of Alaska to just catch this massive, massive, massive salmon run that just comes back every year, and the mine would go sort of right there. And, you know, while the supporters of the mine and the company behind the mine says that they can build this mine safely, there is sort of widespread opposition in much of the region among sort of the commercial fishing industry. You know, certainly among some of our state wide elected leaders have been very skeptical of this project because of its potential threat to the salmon fishery. So with that as sort of the backdrop, both of our U.S. senators in Alaska, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, had been sort of equivocal about this project, certainly not out there saying, you know, this was a bad project, this was not a doable project, but we’re getting huge amounts of pressure to kind of condemn it and put their sort of political clout into fighting it by indigenous groups in the area, by fishing companies, consortiums of fishermen. They hadn’t really done it. The mine was sort of preemptively vetoed during the Obama administration, but kind of had new life breathed into the Trump administration and sort of right over that kind of late summer, I think September, when there was sort of a we were getting close to a key sort of decision point and environmental review with mine.

S7: All of a sudden we got an announcement from this sort of covert environmental organization called the Environmental Investigation Agency that they had secretly recorded taped zom conversations with Pebble executives where essentially the Pebble executives had been recorded, you know, really kind of running their mouth about their influence over Alaska’s elected officials, their influence in D.C., their fundraising and all this stuff. And one of the key pieces of these recordings was that you had the chief executive of Pebble saying that effectively, you know, we own Dan Sullivan. He hasn’t come out enthusiastic support of the project. But trust us, he’s just quietly sitting over there in the corner waiting for his election to end.

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S8: So he doesn’t have to deal with this. And, you know, that just landed like a bombshell in Alaska and opened up Senator Sullivan to criticism from across his opponent that he was not sticking up enough for Alaska interests that he was bought and paid for. Just I have joked for the past several weeks that these secretly recorded tapes should be considered like an in kind contribution to Al Gore’s campaign, because there have been probably five different groups that have cut ads against Dan Sullivan, basically describing him as sort of a potted plant sitting in a corner as this kind of stuff moves forward. So that’s kind of how that story has unfolded.

S4: It’s been pretty entertaining as an outsider. First of all, it wasn’t just a hack of a resume call, right. Wasn’t there some amount of subterfuge that maybe we’d be more used to in the British press where the activists posed as foreign businessmen, that sort of thing?

S7: Correct, yes. So the company behind the mining project, they faced sort of a huge pressure campaign by environmental activists against potential investors in this project. And I think it’s safe to say they’ve definitely been struggling to raise the revenue and the money they need to kind of keep the project and their exploration work, et cetera, kind of moving along. And so this environmental group posed as investors from a Chinese state owned company in Hong Kong. One of the guys was named John and and he was supposed to be the manager of this state owned investment firm, Timber Holdings in French speaking Africa. And they basically they just convinced the Pebble executives that they were legitimate investors and, you know, under these kind of false pretenses, recorded these Zoome calls that they had where they were sort of asking the executives questions about the project, Pebble said. We asked these guys to send a nondisclosure agreements and they promised to sign NDAs. But in the meantime, we talked to them and we’re still waiting for the NDAs to be returned to us.

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S1: So, yeah, this is definitely I don’t know if it’ll be Ron Howard or Steven Soderbergh, but it does have one of their fingerprints all over it. Absolutely seem right up their alley. But here’s my question. OK, so Dan Sullivan doesn’t come off looking well, but it’s essentially this capitalist who wants to run a mine which which isn’t a horribly unpopular position in Alaska. Otherwise Alaska wouldn’t allow it. So you have this guy bragging about his own political influence. Dan Sullivan gets caught up in that. But it’s not like Dan Sullivan has done something wrong. And I’m not sure if you are exactly on the fence, if you would. Well, if you were on the fence, it might tip. But if you were. Or last pro Dan Sullivan, why would you say he needs to leave office because of this? It does seem a little bit like a bank shot against his policies or character or anything he’s actively done wrong or am I misreading it?

S7: I mean, I think it’s it’s a little hard to say. I mean, I think you’re right in that this is not a story that plays really all that poorly with Dan Sullivan’s Republican pro resource development base. The commercial fishing industry is an important industry in Alaska and a big industry in Alaska. But, you know, as far as sort of the number of reliable votes and the size of the voting bloc, that sort of it produces, you know, I’m not convinced that sort of the pebble issue is one that is going to sway tens of thousands or even thousands of voters. But if you talk to the political consultants and you look at the messages that the different campaigns and the super PACs in the election are putting their money behind, they really think that Pebble is a winning issue for them and that this is, you know, enough of a hit on Dan Sullivan, that, you know, this is a worthwhile message for them to invest in. I mean, I agree. You know, I don’t think it’s not like Dan Sullivan was sort of caught with his hand in the cookie jar or really Dan did nothing here. It’s just sort of what this kind of arrogant, obnoxious executive that really is not a widely beloved figure in Alaska says about Dan Sullivan.

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S3: Wait, let me interrupt you. And is he Canadian?

S7: Also, the mining company is Canadian, the chief executive who’s no longer the chief executive. He resigned, but he he actually was like a top Interior Department official in the Clinton administration. So has these kind of weird democratic credentials, even though he’s pushing like a big mining project.

S1: Right. On one of the tapes, he was bragging. Well, I’m an independent. I could give a lot of money to Republicans. And if need be, I’ll just put on my Democratic hat again.

S7: Exactly. Yeah. And, you know, just sort of very cynical kind of stuff that I think people really reacted negatively to. This is one of the big questions of the campaign is like how much does this pebble issue really resonate with sort of swing voters? You know, I think like we’ll find out on Election Day whether this was really a message that resonated or whether it really was more political strategists sort of reaching for something that may not actually have been that important.

S8: The pandemic is happening here. There are all kinds of other issues that I think you could argue that people are going to vote on before they vote on the Pebble Mine.

S3: Yeah, let’s go to the presidential race. Any Alaska specific issues that could sway voters one way or the other?

S7: We can sort of see from the congressional races here that there are big questions about sort of what a Democratic presidential administration ends up looking like and how that ends up impacting Alaska’s oil industry, which is, you know, kind of steadily shrinking since the discovery and peak of the Bay Oil Fields peak production was, I think, in the 80s or early 90s. And it’s kind of been steadily trending downward from there. But it’s still kind of the state’s bread and butter industry.

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S8: And, you know, there’s a question of how long can we sustain production and kind of a harsh and more expensive environment on Alaska’s arctic north slope compared to cheaper production in, say, shale in the lower 48. Are we going to have a green new deal? What does that mean for Alaska? We can have a carbon tax. What is that going to mean for Alaska? Does the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been open to drilling, does that get shut down?

S7: I think those sort of are the issues that are showing up in the congressional races in that are going to be in the back of Alaskans mind as they go cast their votes for president.

S8: While we are seeing congressional campaigns really kind of focus in on Alaska and spending millions of dollars here, sort of identifying it as a new battleground state in a couple congressional races, we’re not really seeing that for the presidential race. I think certainly there’s speculation and a little bit of evidence that Biden could be within striking distance. But I don’t think either presidential campaign has really seen it as close enough where they feel like it’s worth investing money in to Alaska to kind of push things one way or the other.

S1: Not hers covers Alaska’s environment and government for Alaska Public Media. There is no Alaska journalists I’d rather talk to, perhaps other than Maria Athene’s couldn’t get her. We got that. Thanks so much.

S7: Thanks for having me, Mike. It’s a blast to be here.

S5: And now the spiel, Donald Trump has done many horrible things and there’s ample evidence that his second term would be worse than his first axios reports, he would purge the directors of the CIA, FBI and Pentagon.

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S4: So that would be a complete firing of all non total sycophants, a system reboot, but specifically to install the corrupt operating system. But right now, what I want to do is reflect upon what I think is the worst part about the Trump presidency and what will pain me most were he to be re-elected. So what’s the worst thing about Trump to you? Let me help you by giving you some categories. His policies, his corruption, his cruelty, his incompetence, his dishonesty. Most people I know are put off mostly by the cruelty, I mean, there is interaction among all the categories like kids in cages, that is a policy motivated by cruelty or take the corruption disconcerting on its own. But it does require the dishonesty he has to lie about the graft to get away with it.

S5: Politics should always be the worst thing about a president. Well, if you don’t like the president, yes, yes, yes. The president has the power of the bully pulpit. But the thing that makes the president powerful isn’t that he’s the head of state, the ceremonial aspect.

S4: It’s that he’s the head of government, his enormous power within our system to affect policy. But that, too, in Trump’s case, is tied up with the incompetence. Bennewitz of Lawfare has said so far, Trump’s malevolence has been tempered by incompetence. And I’m always quick to add and shot through with mendacity. I have to tell you, I like the visual of the shot through with mendacity, because to me, mendacity is one of those words that has a direct, almost instantaneous translation in my mind. Mendacity, just a nice way to say bullshit. So I picture the cow lifting her tail and engaging in just explosive, shall we say, evacuation hearing from the control room. We should not say that at all. Moving along to me, the worst thing about the Trump presidency is that it’s the mendacity. It’s the lies. The Washington Post tallies the lives of twenty two thousand two hundred forty seven, but that does not even include the last two months. He is undoubtedly the most chronicled liar in the history of humanity. Now, to be fair, there are other human beings who have probably lied, more individuals who are maybe suffering from florid delusions and logorrhea. They’ve probably said more than 22000 things that don’t square with reality. But my point is, no one has written them all down. No one is fact checked, all of them against the truth. And who knows, maybe you could be a paranoid schizophrenic, but actually still have a claim to the Swedish throne. You never know the lies. The Trump lies overall. Agree with me more than even kids in cages or shithole countries, or it’ll all go away by summer because with, say, kids in cages which caused outrage or shithole countries which caused offence, the lies cause nothing. They just get priced in. They become part of the atmosphere, like how everyone in London leaves home in autumn with an umbrella. They don’t even think anything of it.

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S5: The problem is that if the leader of a democracy lies without cost, you can’t have a democracy. We’ve had cruel men lead us, incompetent men lead us, corrupt men, racist men, xenophobic men, sexist men, all the isms a president or maybe most of the presidents have embodied them all. I mean, Harding, Jackson and Andrew Johnson. Those three alone account for just about every vice shortcoming and inequity that you can imagine. But for candidate to lie so freely, brazenly and skillfully and plainly and have no ill consequence, well, how can you have a democracy if the people in charge of a democracy, which is to say the people have no ability or interest in evaluating what is actually being pursued in their names? It’s true, I think about democracy a lot. If you live in a democracy, you do give up some of your own autonomy to your fellow citizen. That’s the deal. And it doesn’t always work. In the short term, your candidate could lose an election. And I’m not saying easy come, easy go. Hey, sometimes you lose, sometimes you win, because electoral outcomes absolutely do often have dire consequences. But the reason you keep voting is that there are indications that the system prices in your feedback that an elected official who is so demonstrably horrible at his job would meet some measure of accountability. But if the only arguments that a candidate puts forward are lies and he is caught lying and his own side or members of his own side even says, yeah, I don’t always pay attention to what he says, then how do you have a system? How can citizens, even the citizens you disagree with, feel any confidence that they are getting their own self interests addressed? Like I said, to be engaged in a democratic experiment is to cede some power to people outside yourself who may have different policy preferences. Maybe they will make your life worse by measures, but most of the policy preferences are within the normal realm of policy that affect the individual for good or ill. So to be a little more tangible, I don’t want the Muslim travel ban to exist because I think it’s a horrible policy the U.S. should stand for. Same with the border wall. But a lot of my fellow citizens do want those policies. They think I’m wrong. I think they’re wrong. That is democracy. Sadly, sometimes when the policies are horrible. The issue with Trump, though, and his runaway unchecked lying is that to take the border wall, it’s not that he’s. Suing a bad policy or it’s not even that he’s pursuing this policy badly, either one of those would have consequences. It’s that he’s lying about the policy. He’s saying the wall is almost built. In fact, six hundred of the two thousand miles on the border have no fencing.

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S3: But his people believe it or think that that’s good enough. So we had an election based on build that wall, the Mexicans will pay for it. They didn’t build the wall. Of course, the Mexicans aren’t paying for it and none of that mattered. So what was the election? Was the debate even about? A Trump re-election represents to me the total failure of the project of democracy or our democracy, you know, supposed to be something like you give the people the evidence and they make their choice caveats for weird Electoral College imperfections.

S5: But that’s the deal. Here is the evidence decide you could decide wrong. You can process the evidence imperfectly.

S3: The evidence can be baked or cooked or have imperfections or in some cases, big flaws or my priorities may differ from your priorities, but when the evidence is a lie and a significant fraction of the electorate chooses not to regard it as a lie or chooses to regard what is a lie as the truth. Well. That doesn’t work when there’s enough of those people that that worldview obtains, democracy is no longer providing us with its blessings, it’s cursing us with its afflictions. And now the weird thing is, as I speak to you today, that the results of the election really could go either way. Election Day could be a vindication that we get it right when it matters. Who knows?

S5: We might at this moment be walking around worried about this, surrounded by a coalition of people who were never fooled and some who were at least responsible enough to recognize that they once made an error but won’t anymore. That could be the situation. Or we could be walking around surrounded by the alien zombies from the live. And we don’t know which is actually the case right now, that divergence, those two outcomes, that’s the biggest referendum on the nature of my country and of my reality that I have ever experienced. And that’s probably the same for you to. We’re basically all waiting to be told if the world makes any sense at all and listen, I’m not one of these people who will tell you, no, I believe in the inherent wisdom of the American people or the goodness or the judgment of the American people. No, I’m not going to say any of that nonsense that politicians have to say. I mean, do we need more evidence of how wrong 46 percent of us can be on a given day in November or that no lower than 38 percent of us have always been for four solid years? I’m not deluded in America. We’re not riding in a finely tuned race car, taking turns at 180 miles an hour. But we do need at least to know that the brakes work. We’re not flying along at supersonic speeds smoothly above the clouds, but we do need to know we could pull out of a nosedive. The ship of state is no luxury liner, but at least we need to be able to recognize the basic fact that the captain is intent on steering us towards yet another iceberg. So that’s where I am unsure what signal we’re going to get sink or not even swim. Just recognize that we’re sinking. Now, I could well be wasting your time with my worry because, in fact, America gets it, there were never going to let this failure go uncorrected. I think my expectations for my countrymen really aren’t that high. All I’m asking is for a slight majority of my fellow citizens to take the simplest of stands in the face of voluminous, mountainous, scandalous evidence you can do in America. You can restore my faith. I’m not asking for a shining city on the hill. I just want an inkling that there is five watts worth of electricity coursing through one bulb in that abandoned tenement that is slouching towards condemnation. America, it is our last, best hope for that teensiest baby. Step away from obvious self-destruction.

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S2: And that’s it for the show, Daniel Shrader produces the gist. He’s proud to be an American, at least he knows he’s free to get up to three percent cash back on purchases. Margaret Kelly, just producer, knows that America chooses to do these things not because they’re easy, but because they are the ultimate thirst trap on insta. Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer of Slate podcasts. She knows not what course others may take, but as for her, give her liberty or give her a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click. The gist? I believe that if the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall perish from this Earth in doing so, it shall at least own the Libs improve their product. And thanks for listening.