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A podcast about politics, culture, and life through the eyes of two Asian-American grassroots organizers--former members of (a lot of) political campaigns, the Obama White House, Department of Commerce, the DNC; currently in tech and Hollywood. We have stuff to say.

Model Majority Podcast Kevin Xu, Tony Nagatani, Jenn Fang

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A podcast about politics, culture, and life through the eyes of two Asian-American grassroots organizers--former members of (a lot of) political campaigns, the Obama White House, Department of Commerce, the DNC; currently in tech and Hollywood. We have stuff to say.

    158: Evan Low on Being an Uber #YangGang, Identity Politics, and Bridging Tech and Policy

    158: Evan Low on Being an Uber #YangGang, Identity Politics, and Bridging Tech and Policy

    Evan Low (@evan_low) California Assemblymember and national co-chair of Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign talks with Kevin Xu (@kevinsxu) about what it means to be a national co-chair, why he entered electoral politics at a young age, how to navigate identity politics and intersectionality, and the importance of bridging the divide between technology innovators and policymakers.







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    Transcript (note: this is machine generated and lightly edited. Please check with audio to confirm accuracy.)







    Kevin: Evan, welcome to the Model Majority Podcast today. 







    Evan: Great to chat with you, Kevin. 







    Kevin: All right, so to get things started, I want to begin our conversation with your involvement with Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign. Even though he has already dropped out, I think the experience is very much worth talking about.







    Could you just share with our audience what was the backstory? How did you get involved in his campaign and eventually becoming its national co-chair? 







    Evan: Well, as you can imagine. This is quite the excitement with respect to history being made with Andrew’s candidacy and what he has built for not only the present, but for the future.







    And so by way of background,  I was, I’m fourth generation Chinese American, born and raised in Silicon Valley.  but I always had a commitment to our community. And in fact, I was in a master’s program in Asian American studies, hoping to teach Asian American studies. So this sense of  engagement for the community is of course, very important to me.







    And so I had served on a city council in the city of Campbell and as mayor for eight years, and then now currently serving in the state legislature,  in the state assembly representing Silicon Valley. So, when we talk about the notion of Asian Pacific Islanders contributing to the fabric of American society.







    Certainly you can see the excitement and energy in which you see someone like Andrew on the national stage,  representing our community well and transcending, so many different communities, which brings us great excitement. And so I too was energized by that opportunity to which, you know, growing up, Kevin, I remember many a times in which I would watch TV.







    And if even if I saw an Asian face on TV , it’s that one commercial, I would sort of pause or say like, Oh, is that an Asian face? Who is that? Someone that looks like me! And so has seen someone that has laid the foundation and said, well, they too can run for president and become president of these United States.







    That’s inspiring to me. And so,  how could I not be part of this movement, continuously to make sure that we also are part of the conversation at the national stage.  







    Kevin: What was your first contact or first exposure to his campaign? Was it on a podcast or did you happen to meet him at an event?

    • 31 min.
    157: “Reporting” from Iowa, Public Charge [CoHost Jenn Fang]

    157: “Reporting” from Iowa, Public Charge [CoHost Jenn Fang]

    Kevin Xu (@kevinsxu) is in Iowa to volunteer during the Iowa Caucus. Our guest cohost, Jenn Fang of Reappropriate.co and Tony Nagatani our long-time co-host, quizzes Kevin on all kinds of things Iowa.







    We also discussed the implications (and frustrations) around the latest Supreme Court ruling on “public charge” and how that could impact the future of immigration, and what it means to be an immigrant.







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    • 48 min.
    156: Caucus 101 — Part 4: Early State Mini-Series with Punya Krishnappa

    156: Caucus 101 — Part 4: Early State Mini-Series with Punya Krishnappa

    Punya Krishnappa (@_punya_) returns to the podcast for Part 4 of our Early State Mini-Series to teach Kevin the fundamentals of how a caucus works, and recount the details and strategies of running one of Hillary Clinton’s Iowa caucus field offices in 2016 from day 1.







    Listen to other episodes of this series on: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada.







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    Transcript (lightly edited for clarity)







    [00:01:18] Kevin: Hello everybody! This is your cohost Kevin Xu. So we have been doing a special Mini-Series on the Model Majority Podcast to profile the early primary states in the Democratic Primary this year, from the perspective of Asian American staffers who are currently working on a presidential campaign. A you know, two out of the first four early states are actually caucus states, that being Iowa and Nevada. But one thing that we really haven’t talked about in depth is how does a caucus work? 







    [00:01:51] I mean, how do you actually build a campaign that is optimized for winning a caucus, which is incredibly crucial to do this stage of the game. Well, to answer these questions, I am super happy to welcome back Punya Krishnappa to the show. For a long time listeners of our podcast, you’d definitely have heard Punya’s voice before. She and I worked together in 2008. as field organizer for the Obama campaign. She has gone on to work on many different campaigns at many senior level positions. Pretty much every single cycle. And the most relevant for our discussion today was the fact that she was literally on the ground on day 1 for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Iowa in 2015 even before she officially announced that she was running for president for that primary season. 







    [00:02:45] And of course, that was also where Hillary beat Bernie in the Iowa Caucus by a fraction of a percent. She is currently serving as the deputy national field director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or the DCCC.







    [00:02:59] Punya, welcome back to the Model Majority Podcast today. 







    [00:03:02] Punya: Thanks Kevin. It’s good to be back!







    [00:03:05] Kevin: So let’s start with some fundamentals. And this is as much for our audience as it is for me because I’m totally not that familiar with caucuses in general. It’s a bit of a relic in our democratic system that receives a lot of attention every time we have a competitive primary, which certainly is the case this year. Could you give our audience a sense of the caucus basics? Basically what is a caucus and how is it different from just like a straight up primary where people just show up to vote on a ballot for whoever they like. 







    [00:03:41] Punya: Absolutely.

    • 49 min.
    155: Nevada — Part 3: Early State Mini-Series with Phil Kim (Cory Booker Campaign)

    155: Nevada — Part 3: Early State Mini-Series with Phil Kim (Cory Booker Campaign)

    Phil Kim (@philkimtweets), Nevada State Director for the Cory Booker campaign joins us for Part 3 of our Early State Mini-Series to talk about the unique challenges of campaigning in a union-heavy, service-oriented economy like Nevada, and what it means to be an Asian American serving at the state director level of a presidential campaign.







    Listen to other episodes of this series on: Iowa, New Hampshire, Caucus 101







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    Transcript (lightly edited for clarity)







    [00:00:42] Kevin: Today we are going to talk about Nevada as part of this special Mini-Series we’re  doing on the Model Majority Podcasts to profile the four early primary states in the Democratic Primary from the perspective of Asian American staffers working on a presidential campaign. And I am thrilled to welcome back Phil Kim to the podcast, who is serving as the Nevada State Director for Senator Cory Booker’s campaign.







    [00:01:10] For those of you who are curious about Phil’s background, go listen to episode 69 of the podcast when he was working at the Democratic National Committee. Phil, welcome back to the Model Majority Podcast today. 







    [00:01:23] Phil: Kevin, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. And also shout out to you for continuing to do this work. And giving a platform to all Asian American political folks and have a voice in this process. So I appreciate you. 







    [00:01:33] Kevin: Thank you. Thank you so much for that. So to get things started, before we dive into the specifics of Nevada and campaigning there, I love to hear the backstory of how you got on the Cory Booker campaign leading its effort in the silver state.







    [00:01:49] Phil: Yeah. So quick backstory. Before I joined the Cory Booker campaign, I was serving as the Asian American outreach director at the DNC, and you know, had a pretty good view of all the different candidates who were launching the campaigns and talking about how they want to mobilize different people to get involved with the process.







    [00:02:08] Before I was at the DNC, I was in Nevada. And one of the things that gave me a lot of fun memories was learning from the community leaders here, who really took me in as one of their own, mentored me, brought me up. And so it was always something I knew I wanted to do, whether I was at the DNC or our life after that, to come back, support the community, uplift them, and see what I can do with whatever platform or role that I had out to, to be a part of that.







    [00:02:33] So when I was  looking, surveying the field a little bit, Cory was for me kind of the obvious choice. And the reason I say that is because one, when he launched his campaign, he obviously had a very diverse, a diverse kind of coalition of AAPI voters in ...

    • 25 min.
    154: New Hampshire — Part 2: Early State Mini-Series with Suraj Budathoki (Bernie Sanders Campaign)

    154: New Hampshire — Part 2: Early State Mini-Series with Suraj Budathoki (Bernie Sanders Campaign)

    Suraj Budathoki, Constituency Director of New Hampshire for the Bernie Sanders Campaign, joins us for Part 2 of our Early State Mini-Series to talk about his incredible journey from being refugee in Bhutan and Nepal to New Hampshire, and how to do politics in the “Live Free or Die” state.







    Listen to other episodes of this series on: Iowa, Nevada, Caucus 101.







    Subscribe: Apple Podcast| Castbox| Spotify| Stitcher| Google Play| TuneIn







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    Transcript (lightly edited for clarity)







    [00:01:22] Kevin: Today, we are going to talk about New Hampshire as part of a special Mini-Series we are  doing on the Model Majority Podcast to profile the four early states in the Democratic Primary from the perspective of Asian-American staffers currently working on a presidential campaign in one of these states. And today I am delighted to welcome Suraj Budathoki, who is the Constituency Director in New Hampshire for the Bernie Sanders campaign.







    [00:01:54] Suraj is a co-founder and a former executive director of Building Community in New Hampshire, which is a nonprofit serving refugee and immigrant populations. As a former refugee from Bhutan, he also founded the International Campaign for Human Rights in Bhutan and as a member of the Conduct Board for the City of Manchester.







    [00:02:15] Suraj, welcome to the Model Majority Podcast today. 







    [00:02:19] Suraj: Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to come to your podcast. 







    [00:02:25] Kevin: Thank you! The pleasure is ours. So let’s start by talking actually about how you settled in New Hampshire from Bhutan by way of Nepal, I believe, as a refugee. How did that story came about?







    [00:02:38] Suraj: That is I think 19 years worth of a story, but let me brief. Yes. I was born in Bhutan. So it’s a very small country in between India and China. So many Western people or Western countries they might not know about Bhutan. Well, if they know it, if they know it as the happiest country on earth, the youngest democracy or the last Shangri-la.







    [00:03:05] But as you know, I was one of the refugees from Bhutan and that is everything what we understood as, you know, Bhutan. So in 1990s when Bhutan, the government of Bhutan, changed many sensitive laws and expelled me, my family, and more than 100,000 ethnic Nepalese from Bhutan who were Bhutanese citizens.







    [00:03:29] So ended up in Bhutan, sorry in Nepal, beginning from 1990s to 2009, I was a in refugee camp in Nepal. So I don’t have to explain to you the hardship, the problem that refugees go through in their refugee life or in their refugee camps. But in 2007, when the United States came up with the idea of resettling about 60,000 Bhutanese refugees to the United States, that gave me a sort of hope to rebuild my life in America.

    • 21 min.
    153: Iowa — Part 1: Early State Mini-Series with Grace Smith (Elizabeth Warren Campaign)

    153: Iowa — Part 1: Early State Mini-Series with Grace Smith (Elizabeth Warren Campaign)

    Grace Smith (@textFIGHT_24477), Field Organizer for the Elizabeth Warren campaign in West Des Moines joins us for Part 1 of our Early State Mini-Series to talk about her journey into the Warren campaign and how to organize Iowa for the caucus in 2020.







    Listen to other episodes of this series on: New Hampshire, Nevada, Caucus 101.







    Subscribe: Apple Podcast| Castbox| Spotify| Stitcher| Google Play| TuneIn







    Support Us on PATREON







    Transcript (lightly edited for clarity):







    [00:00:21] Kevin: Today, we are going to talk about Iowa as part of a special mini series we’re doing on the Model Majority Podcast to profile all the four early primary states in the democratic primary. And today I am thrilled to welcome Grace Smith, who is currently working for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, to give us that perspective. Grace, welcome to the Model Majority Podcast today. 







    [00:01:04] Grace: Thanks so much for having me, Kevin. 







    [00:01:05] Kevin: All right. So to get things started, I want to start by kind of giving our audience the background story of how and why you decided to join the Warren campaign. So could you give us that story really quickly off the bat?







    [00:01:20] Grace: Yeah, so I think for me, it really all began in college, at least my understanding of who Elizabeth Warren is. I went to school in Georgetown University in DC and my first year there, I interned in the US Senate, which I was, you know, just so honored to do and was such a wonderful opportunity.







    [00:01:39] But it was there that I first met and saw Elizabeth in action. I remember so distinctly that I went to a committee hearing on education. And you know, I walked in and it was truly a bunch of people saying all the things we just shouldn’t say about education and saying things that really strip access to quality education.







    [00:01:58] And I remember that she walked in and put all her folders down and it made this big thud and everyone kind of looked towards her and she was the only woman in the room, so it was already noticeable. But I remember she just walked in and absolutely said everything that should be said about education and really fought for something she cared so deeply about.







    [00:02:19] And  the entire conversation changed after that, and I think everyone in that room was changed because she had stood there and fought for what she believed in. And from that very moment, I knew that she was someone worth following and something worth fighting for. And ever since it’s been my mission to work for her.







    [00:02:38] So I will always remember that moment. I’ll always remember thinking that’s why I came to college. That’s why I came to college in DC. And that’s what government should look like — a strong woman fighting for ...

    • 25 min.

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