“I don’t use the word ‘illegals’ to refer to human beings,” says Maria Hinojosa, a trailblazing Emmy Award-winning journalist who has been among the first Latina reporters at PBS, CBS, CNN, and NPR. “We have to actively get those voices out of our head, …break down that narrative and be active in creating a new one.” Hinojosa hosts the nationally syndicated radio show LatinoUSA on NPR and founded Futuro Media, a nonprofit newsroom which focuses on news from a POC perspective. Her new book is Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America, in which she tells her own story of nearly being taken from her family when they came legally into the US in the early 1960s. Her personal experience informs her reporting on immigration, family separation and the human rights crisis on our borders.
Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale and a world renowned scholar of authoritarianism. His 2017 international bestseller, On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century, is a roadmap to how autocrats rise and democracies fall. Snyder’s newest book is Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary. He describes his near death experience following a missed medical diagnosis last year, and he eviscerates America’s failed coronavirus response. He calls on us to rethink the fundamental connection between health and freedom. “Other countries look at us and for the first time ever, they sincerely pity us, but also wonder, how can you have so much wealth… and kill so many people?” He observes, “We’re at a tipping point. To say that it can’t go on like this is an understatement. Things could get much worse than they are — and they might.” He notes that if Joe Biden is elected president, he will have to undertake “a redo of the 21st century.”
Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History, Yale University, author, On Tyranny and Our Malady
Peter Welch has been Vermont’s lone congressional representative since 2006. Welch is the chief deputy whip of the House Democratic Caucus and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He’s a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Faced with the increasingly visible effects of the climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise of white supremacy and other threats, Welch says, “I’m extremely worried. I’ve not seen anything like this in my lifetime.” Welch has clashed with the Trump administration, and he is concerned about the president’s attempts to undermine the integrity of the upcoming election. “We have a president,” Welch says, “who does not believe in democracy and is doing everything he can to erode it and to kill it.”
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
When NBA players walked off the court in protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in late August 2020, they announced a surprising precondition for their return: that the arenas in which they played should be used as voting sites in the November 2020 election.
The idea had been floated by a group of activists led by Eugene Jarecki, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker from Vermont. Jarecki is co-chair of the non-partisan Election Super Centers Project. Numerous professional sports teams have now agreed to have their stadiums and arenas serve as election centers, including the Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards. Jarecki explains how the idea became reality with the help of basketball superstar LeBron James, coach Doc Rivers, and others, and why they view this move as a vital strategy to defend fair elections and American democracy.
Eugene Jarecki, filmmaker and co-chair, Election Super Centers Project
At last month’s Republican National Convention, President Trump declared, “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists and agitators, and criminals who threaten our citizens.” The man behind this over-the-top rhetoric is Stephen Miller, the most powerful Trump advisor you may never have heard of. The 35 year-old anti-immigration crusader and white nationalist has been the moving force behind Trump’s immigration policy and the author of his darkest speeches. Miller has conjured apocalyptic visions of immigrants as a threat to America and has targeted refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant children. So who is Stephen Miller? Jean Guerrero, an Emmy-winning investigative reporter formerly with the Wall Street Journal, explores the influence of Miller and white nationalism in the Trump administration in her new book, Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda.
Jean Guerrero, author, Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda
Will the 2020 election be stolen? Will voter suppression affect the outcome? Voting rights expert and journalist Ari Berman discusses how voter suppression works and how it has already changed electoral outcomes in the U.S. He explains the strategy behind President Trump’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service and Trump’s threat to deploy armed agents at polling places — a voter intimidation tactic with long history. Berman explains his nightmare scenario for Election Day 2020 — what it will take for it to happen, and how to prevent it.
Ari Berman, senior reporter, Mother Jones, author, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, thus giving women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a suffrage movement that was launched in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, which was also attended by leading abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass. An effort to secure women’s suffrage failed at the US Supreme Court, leading to the movement to win the vote by a constitutional amendment. Enactment of women’s suffrage in 1920 was historic, but it did not end discrimination against African American women, who continued to be denied the vote due to Jim Crow racial discrimination laws until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Marlboro College Professor Emerita Meg Mott discusses the suffrage movement, the racial divisions within it, enduring discrimination faced by African American and LGBTQ women, and parallels to modern efforts at voter suppression. (August 19, 2020 broadcast)
Meg Mott, Professor of Politics Emerita, Marlboro College
This has been the most unconventional Democratic National Convention. It is taking place, not in Milwaukee as originally planned, but virtually, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We talk with five Vermont delegates to the 2020 DNC about their roles, their hopes and their fears for the 2020 presidential election. (August 19, 2020 broadcast)
Carolyn Dwyer, political advisor, managed last four campaigns for Sen. Patrick Leahy and also headed Rep. Peter Welch’s efforts in 2006 and 2008 (Biden delegate)
Jim Dandeneau, former House campaign director for Vermont Democratic Party, (Sanders delegate)
Lisa Ryan, Director of Rutland County Community Justice Center at BROC Community Action, serve on Rutland City Board of Aldermen, former first vice president of the Rutland Area NAACP (Sanders)
Rep. Mary Sullivan, longtime state rep from Burlington (unpledged)
Allison Leibly, 18 year old from Woodstock, VT, freshman at Stanford (Biden)
Can schools safely reopen? Balancing staff and student safety against the need for children to return to school has been daunting and controversial around Vermont and the country. “The kids are not alright,” asserts Dr. Rebecca Bell, a critical care pediatrician and president of the Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Don Tinney, president of Vermont-NEA and a 31-year veteran high school English teacher, warns of “reopening chaos” and schools forced to close due to staff shortages. The educator and physician discuss the challenge of how and whether schools should reopen. (August 12, 2020 broadcast)
Don Tinney, President, Vermont-NEA
Dr. Rebecca Bell, Pediatric Critical Care Physician, UVM Medical Center, President, Vermont Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics
How does a self-described “pro-life, gun-owning combat veteran” end up starring in ads against President Trump? Dan Barkhuff is a former Navy SEAL and now an emergency physician at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He is the founder of the group Veterans for Responsible Leadership. Lately, he has gone viral as the star of two ads for the Lincoln Project, which was founded by former top Republican operatives who are now working to defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election. He says, “I can see Trump for what he is — a coward. We need to send this draft-dodger back to his golf courses. The lives of our troops depend on it.” (August 12, 2020 broadcast)
Dr. Dan Barkhuff, emergency physician, UVM Medical Center, founder, Veterans for Responsible Leadership
For 25 years, Stuart Stevens was a leading strategist and media consultant to top Republican politicians, helping to elect presidents, senators, congressman, and governors. He was top strategist for 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and he worked on both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns. Stevens, who lives in Vermont, has just written a book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump. He argues that Trump did not hijack the Republican party, he is the natural outcome of five decades of the party’s hypocrisy, racism and self delusion. (August 8, 2020 broadcast)
Stuart Stevens, former Republican strategist, author, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump
Former Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe and Lt. Governor David Zuckerman are vying to be Vermont’s next governor. First, one of them must win the August 11 Democratic primary to advance to the general election, where they will likely face Republican incumbent Gov. Phil Scott. In separate interviews, Holcombe and Zuckerman discuss their respective approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic, school reopening, their accomplishments and what distinguishes them, and their visions for Vermont. (July 29, 2020 broadcast)
Rebecca Holcombe, Former Secretary of Education, Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Most people might assume that the greatest threat to the media is President Trump’s relentless assaults on what he falsely calls “fake news.” But Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan argues, “Another crisis is happening more quietly. Some of the most trusted sources of news—local sources, particularly local newspapers—are slipping away, never to return. The cost to democracy is great.” Sullivan is the former public editor at the New York Times and the former editor of the Buffalo News. Her new book is Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy. She documents how nearly half of newsroom staffs have lost their jobs since 2008, the forces working against journalism, the dire implications for democracy, accountability and public participation, and where she finds hope (hint: Vermont’s own vtdigger is one). (July 15, 2020 broadcast)
Margaret Sullivan, media columnist, Washington Post
This week, Vermont’s nonprofit news publication VTDigger was awarded a $900,000 grant by the American Journalism Project to support its work as a daily statewide news source. This is the largest grant ever received by VTDdigger, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. VTDigger has been cited by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics & Public Policy and the New York Times as a national model for providing local news. Anne Galloway, the founder and editor of VTDigger, talks about the future of local journalism in the age of Facebook & Google, how she started what began as a one-woman operation to cover state politics, the Trump effect on local news coverage and what is next for VTDigger. (January 29, 2020 broadcast)
Anne Galloway, founder and editor, VTDigger.org
VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow guest hosts The Vermont Conversation with a focus on the Legislative Year in Review.
Andrew Stein, a reporter for VTDigger.org joins Dan in the studio and offers his thoughts on the session highlights and memorable moments.
Sen. Tim Ashe, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee; Sen. Claire Ayer, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee; and Rep. Margaret Cheney, the vice-chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee call into the show to share their points of view.
Program Assistant Russ Elek discusses VBSR events and announcements for the upcoming months.