Rank #1: Public Education
This week I spoke to my friend Steve Droske, an elementary school principal, about the way public education gets treated by politicians. This episode is pure fire! We covered everything including: Betsy Devos, teacher pay, school choice and much more!
Be sure to listen to the very end for a behind the scenes conversation where Steve talks about the fear of using his platform.
Dec 08 2017
Rank #2: Gun Sense in America
I have an F rating from the NRA. They’ve spent millions against me. The leaders of the NRA hate me, but they loathe Shannon Watts. And I have a feeling you’re gonna love her.
We closed 2017 by talking to a life-long activist and imploring you to deepen your involvement, so it makes sense to open 2018 talking to someone who grabbed an oar a few years ago and hasn’t stopped rowing since.
Shannon founded Moms Demand Action, one of the most effective groups working to reduce gun violence, the day after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Today, Moms Demand Action has a chapter in every state and is effecting change at the local, state and national level. As you’ll learn, the work they do is inspiring, and so is a conversation with Shannon.
Jan 05 2018
Rank #3: Islamophobia
I sat down with my friend Salam, an Afghan man from Kansas City, who I first met in Afghanistan in 2006 when he was assigned as my main translator. I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s hard to argue issues like national security, terrorism, or foreign policy anymore without the other side pulling you into a debate about Islam itself, so given that, it makes sense to dedicate a whole episode to Islamophobia.
That's why I also address the following Republican arguments:
1. Islam is an inherently violent religion.
2. “Moderate” American Muslims need to take responsibility and do more to condemn violence in the name of Islam.
Dec 01 2017
Rank #4: The Border Wall
It’s hard to think of a more polarizing issue than the wall Trump wants to build on our southern border.
The conversation you’re about to hear was recorded in a wooden barn, on Tony Sedgwick’s ranch in Nogales, Arizona.
Tony’s a Republican who didn’t vote for Donald Trump. In fact, Trump drove Tony all the way out of the party. He’s a small-town lawyer turned full-time Arizona rancher working the land that’s been in his family for generations. If President Trump is going to build his wall, he’ll have to build part of it on Tony’s ranch, which won’t be the first time the federal government has been in a fight with Tony Sedgwick.
But as you’ll hear, Tony’s objection isn’t just about keeping the government off his property. As an independent-minded conservative westerner, he fundamentally disagrees with the President’s wall and calls it a bunch of hooey.
I drove down to Tony’s 3,600 acre ranch where his nearest neighbors live in Mexico to record what turned out to be an incredible conversation with an absolutely brilliant guy.
Dec 15 2017
Rank #5: Season One Finale: Taxes and Healthcare
Today we’re talking health care, taxes, and activism with Ady Barkan.
Like me, you probably first became aware of Ady when a video of him confronting Jeff Flake went viral.
But that wasn’t Ady’s first stab at activism – far from it in fact. A graduate of Columbia and of Yale Law, he could have done anything he wanted. He could have made a whole bunch of money right out of school, but instead, he started representing low-wage workers in New York City in pursuit of everything from paid sick days to the unionization of the car wash industry.
Today, Ady is a Director at the Center for Popular Democracy, where he runs Local Progress and the Fed Up campaign.
Eighteen months ago, at the age of 33, Ady and his wife Rachel welcomed a son, Carl, and shortly thereafter, Ady was diagnosed with ALS – a terminal illness that paralyzes its victims over time. In a very short period of time, he’s gone from being an active runner and hiker to being in a wheelchair, unable to pick up his son.
It’s a cruel and inexplicably random affliction, and after talking to Ady, I found myself in awe of his resilience and thankful for the way he’s continued to dedicate his life to fighting for what’s right.
Jan 26 2018
Rank #6: Voting Rights
Today we’re talking Voting Rights. In my mind, there is no issue of greater importance in the country right now – and that’s because it affects every other issue.
As you may know, I’ve put a good chunk of time into this cause. I spent four years fighting voter suppression as Secretary of State in Missouri and I’ve spent the last year fighting it as the President of Let America Vote, an organization I founded.
It’s a broad issue because there are a lot of different pieces to it, so in the second segment of today’s show I’ll go a little deeper than usual. I’ll get into the recent history of voter suppression, the tactics of vote suppressors, and how we fight back – as well as doing what we usually do in segment two: I’ll tell you how to talk about it with friends who don’t yet agree with you.
So segment 2 will tackle the issue as a whole, but for today’s conversation with a guest, I wanted to zero in on an aspect of voter suppression I don’t think gets enough attention: disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Desmond Meade is the Founder and President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, but he’s also impacted directly by this issue, because he in years past he was addicted to drugs and spent some time in prison. He is one of the well over one million U.S. citizens living in Florida with very little hope of ever having their civil rights – including their voting rights – restored.
He has a law degree, but he can’t sit for the bar. He’s active in his community and his wife ran for the state legislature, but he can’t vote. But Desmond isn’t discouraged. He’s fighting back and he’s inspiring a lot of people, including me.
Jan 19 2018
Rank #7: Lin-Manuel Miranda - #MoreOfUs
If you’re new to Majority 54, I’m Jason Kander, the president of Let America Vote: an organization dedicated to making sure that every American gets to vote by creating political consequences for anyone who wants to diminish the most basic American right. And we're talking to the 54% of Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump about where we go from here.
In the first episode of this second season, we talk to someone who has an incredible platform about how he uses it to do good. That man is someone that a couple of you may know: Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda. The creator of In The Heights and Hamilton discusses making politics entertaining and engaging, as well as how to choose fundraising campaigns to maximum effect. Then, we ask when he's going to run for Secretary of Treasury, since he has more experience than the current Secretary of Treasury.
This is just a killer interview and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.
There are only a few days left to support the campaign Lin-Manuel is running, which benefits Let America Vote among other worthwhile organizations. The links for that campaign is prizeo.com/hamilton-dc
Produced by Brock Wilbur.
May 25 2018
Rank #8: Connecting Through Comedy / The Liberal Redneck
His name is Trae Crowder but you might know him under a different name: The Liberal Redneck. From his porch, Trae films videos on his phone where he goes on rants about social issues. You instantly feel he’s about to venture into very upsetting territory, and some of that comes from his mix of anger and a heavy southern accent. And then, when he hits his stride, The Liberal Redneck shifts into a position of openness, and general woke-ness, that turns your expectations on their head. Now, him and his co-comedians WellRED Comedy are touring the country, engaging with audiences of all types, and headed for an inevitable network TV show of their own.
Here is my conversation with Trae Crowder about how we can use a few good jokes to offset the darkness.
Also, check out our new line of t-shirts from the Crooked Media Store at https://store.crooked.com/collections/majority-54
Produced by Brock Wilbur
Jul 06 2018
Rank #9: Special Episode: Grab an Oar: A conversation about activism with Cecile Richards
This is a special episode of Majority 54.
Usually this show focuses on a single divisive issue by talking to a single individual experiencing it in their everyday life. But from the beginning, I wanted to conclude this year with a different kind of conversation – one specifically about activism.
2017 has been a year of progressive activism. It’s drawn people out of their homes in so many inspiring ways, and from the women’s march to the #MeToo movement, the resistance has been especially fueled by women, so it’s appropriate that this special episode is a conversation with my friend Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood.
Cecile has been an activist her entire life – from protesting the Vietnam War as a seventh grader to organizing union workers across several states in her twenties to running one of the most important healthcare organizations in the country today.
We actually sat down to talk about the subject of women’s equality a couple months ago – before the #MeToo movement had even begun. The conversation about women’s equality really became – because I find Cecile so inspiring – one about a life of activism and what she sees for the future.
Listen to this episode to cap off 2017 and go inspired into 2018. At the end of the conversation, I'll share my thoughts about the state of the progressive movement in America and what your role and my role should be in 2018.
Dec 22 2017
Rank #10: College Affordability
Remember two years ago when we still talked about the college debt crisis? Remember when what to do about it was one of the defining topics of the Democratic primary for president? I’m nostalgic for those days, and I lament the fact that it barely qualifies as one of the most divisive issues anymore – solely because the people in power refuse to care about it.
I’m interested in reviving the conversation. After today’s interview, I’ll address the talking points you hear from the other side about this: this is about the extravagant lifestyles of studentsthis generation is too lazy and entitledpeople shouldn’t take out debt if they can’t afford to pay it back
But before we do, I want to make sure we have a conversation to make the issue real. Curry Oglesby and I sat down in a Maryland diner to talk about the gauntlet she’s traveled thanks to college loans.
She entered Howard University on a full scholarship and – when it comes to setting herself up for a growing field – she chose one of the savviest majors she could.
A bad piece of advice from a student advisor and a snowstorm later, she was nearly underwater in debt.
Jan 12 2018