From the grass roots to the ballot box, we are witnessing an explosion of progressive political energy. New candidates are running for offices high and low—and they’re winning.
"Next Left" is your front-row seat to this political upheaval: On this new podcast from The Nation magazine, National Affairs Correspondent John Nichols introduces us to the rising stars of the progressive constellation. These insurgent politicians let us into their lives, tell us their stories, and explain how they plan to change our country for the better. These are the people reshaping our politics by bringing bold, progressive policies to their cities, counties and states, and to DC—let's get to know them.
If you believe politics are personal, this podcast is for you.
Subscribe for new episodes every Tuesday.
New from The Nation: More Than Enough
New for Next Left listeners, the latest podcast from The Nation, featuring conversations about guaranteed income, deservedness, and the country American can and should be, hosted by writer and activist Mia Birdsong.
We hope you’ll subscribe on Apple Podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/more-than-enough/id1494165763) , Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/show/6DupG4tOpQAyPzbhvksXLs) , Google Podcasts (https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hdWRpb2Jvb20uY29tL2NoYW5uZWxzLzUwMTU0NjUucnNz) , or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will premiere each Wednesday.
Launching today, January 15.
Mia Birdsong first heard about the concept of Guaranteed Income in the mid-90s through the 1967 writings of Martin Luther King Jr. King. He asserted that “the time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty” by providing a basic level of material well-being to allow all Americans to truly flourish. Birdsong thought it sounded "absurd.” As Birdsong notes, "Free money went against everything I'd learned about being a respectable citizen. But people change and our ideas evolve. I no longer think guaranteed income is absurd.”
After years of political education and activism, Birdsong came to reject some ideas that most of us believe: that having a job makes you a whole person, and that you have to earn the things we all deserve to live a good life.
From The Nation, More Than Enough is a four-episode podcast hosted by Birdsong that explores the concept of guaranteed income, or "universal basic income," through conversations with the experts, people who experience poverty in America.
We invite you to listen to these under-explored conversations with Americans about Universal Basic Income: what it is, what it means, and what it says about a culture that so closely correlates deservedness with work. Join Birdsong as she explores the idea of the meaning of work, of inequality, and most importantly, of what America is and what it can be. More Than Enough launches January 15.
Sign up for updates at thenation.com/morethanenough (https://www.thenation.com/content/more-than-enough/) .
* * *
More Than Enough was developed by Next River Productions. Created and hosted by Mia Birdsong. Audio engineering and music by Nino Moschella. Script development and production by Allison Cook. The content of this podcast was informed by the stories of hundreds of people across the country, only some of whom you heard from. Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with me and share their story.
Support for the production of More Than Enough was provided by a few generous folks and the Economic Security Project, an organization advancing cash-based interventions in the United States and reigning in corporate monopolies.
More Than Enough is a project of The Nation Magazine.
Mia Birdsong photo by Nye' Lyn Tho.
How Bernie Sanders Is Making the Next Left Possible
The roots of the Next Left podcast go back almost exactly a year—energized by the wave of progressive activism sweeping the country, we wanted to take a deep dive into the new politics of this moment. The idea was to talk politics with the people who were upending primaries and general elections across the country... by challenging incumbents, taking on party establishments and, above all, bringing fresh ideas to the campaign trail and to governance.
Over the past six months, we’ve gone to Capitol Hill, where we met with members of "the squad," like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and with people who are changing debates about foreign policy, like Congressional Progressive Caucus stalwarts Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan and Ro Khanna.
We went to the basement of the state Capitol in Wisconsin, where newly-elected state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski explained how she's putting economics on the side of the people. We spoke with judges and district attorneys and city council members and mayors. We turned up the volume on messages from Texas and Mississippi and Puerto Rico and North Dakota.
We talked mostly to political newcomers who had won elections against the odds, like Anna Eskamani in Florida, but also to activist officials who are building movements, such as Helen Gym in Philadelphia.
We talked to new leaders who had won landslide victories, like Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and to new leaders who suffered narrow defeats but are not going anywhere, such as Tiffany Caban in Queens. We followed candidates who were up for election in 2019 and won epic victories, like Lee Carter in Virginia, Kshama Sawant in Seattle and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco.
In every case, our conversations were about the personal and the political. Candidates talked about their ancestors and their children, about their communities, about the music they listen to-Ilhan Omar's a country fan-and about their role models and heroes.
We decided to finish the season by interviewing a pair of political veterans who were frequently mentioned by the young candidates and officials we interviewed. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined us last week. This week, for the final episode of the podcast, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is our guest for a compelling conversation about his own early campaigns, about the importance of Jesse Jackson's "Rainbow Coalition," about how he makes endorsements, about the way in which media treats insurgent candidates-and about the inspiration he has taken from the Next Left.
When Bernie Sanders Endorsed Jesse Jackson for President (https://www.thenation.com/article/watch-when-bernie-sanders-endorsed-jesse-jackson-for-president/) The Nation Steve Cobble
Bernie Sanders Is Back (https://www.thenation.com/article/bernie-sanders-aoc-debate/) The Nation John Nichols
Bernie Sanders: The ‘Nation’ Interview (https://www.thenation.com/article/bernie-sanders-thenation-interview/) The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel and John Nichols
Subscribe to The Nation to support all of our podcasts: http://thenation.com/podcastsubscribe
Barbara Lee Is Proud to be the Progressive OG
Next Left has this year highlighted political newcomers, rising stars, and challengers to the status quo. But as we spoke with first-time candidates and members of city councils, legislatures, and the Congress, something stood out. All of these new political leaders had political inspirations—groundbreaking candidates and elected officials who came before them.
At or near the top of the list of inspiring figures, especially for new members of Congress, was California Democrat Barbara Lee. So we decided to talk with her.
A veteran of Shirley Chisholm’s historic 1972 presidential campaign, a former state representative and senator, Lee was elected to the US House in 1998 to replace her longtime ally Ron Dellums. Lee has chaired the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She has led platform-writing processes for the Democratic Party and served as a United States representative to the United Nations. But, above all, she has been the House’s steadiest advocate for peace—since even before she cast the only vote against the 2001 authorization of the use of military force (AUMF), which remains the excuse for unwarranted presidential warmaking. She is, to this day, working to overturn the AUMF, as one of her many projects as one of the most active—and activist—members of Congress.
This week, on Next Left, we’re excited to talk with Barbara Lee about her remarkable journey from her own youthful activism with Black Panther food programs to mentoring the next generation of progressive leaders. "These young women who have come to Congress, they're smart, they're brilliant, they're passionate, they've come with a mission, they know what they're doing," Lee told us. "I love them and I encourage them. I'm very proud to be their OG. It makes me very happy."
Subscribe to The Nation to support all of our podcasts: http://thenation.com/podcastsubscribe
Barbara Lee Wins a House Vote to Stop the Black Checks for Endless War (https://www.thenation.com/article/barbara-lee-endless-war/) The Nation John Nichols
Ron Dellums Maintained a ‘Relentless Faith in Our Ability to Make a Better World’ (https://www.thenation.com/article/ron-dellums-maintained-relentless-faith-ability-make-better-world/) The Nation John Nichols
No More Blank Checks for War (https://www.thenation.com/article/no-more-blank-checks-for-war/) The Nation Rep. Barbara Lee
Barbara Lee’s Lone Vote on Sept. 14, 2001, Was as Prescient as It Was Brave and Heroic (https://theintercept.com/2016/09/11/barbara-lees-lone-vote-on-sept-14-2001-was-as-prescient-as-it-was-brave-and-heroic/) The Intercept Glen Greenwald
The Chisholm Legacy (https://blackpressusa.com/op-ed-the-chisholm-legacy/) BlackPressUSA Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore
No More Blue Dog Democrats!
Jessica Cisneros is having a moment. She's 26-year-old lawyer from Laredo, Texas, is making her first bid for office in a district that stretches along the Mexican border and up toward San Antonio. That's a long way from Washington. But everyone is talking about this political newcomer. Elizabeth Warren calls her "a Democrat that will be on the side of working people; not the side of big money and obstructionist Republicans." Emily's List is backing her, as is the Justice Democrats movement. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says Cisneros "is going to fight for real people, not big corporate donors like the Koch Brothers, GEO Group, and Exxon. When Jessica is elected, not only will I no longer be the youngest person in Congress - I'll have a strong new ally in the fight for Medicare for All, getting corporate money out of politics, and fixing our broken immigration system." What's striking is that Cisneros is not running for an open seat, or taking on a Republican incumbent in the sprawling 28th district of Texas. She's running against a Democratic incumbent, Henry Cuellar, who ran his first campaign for public office almost a decade before Cisneros was born. Cuellar's a so-called "Blue Dog" Democrat who takes money from the private prison industry, votes with the NRA and often breaks with fellow Democrats to side with President Trump. Yet, he's backed by House Democratic leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Texas-28 race will not be the only contest that tests establishment versus insurgent sentiments in 2020. But it's shaping up as one of the biggest ones. Cisneros is forcing Democrats to take sides as she mounts a classic challenge to the compromises that the party so frequently makes. We spoke to her in Laredo and she is our guest this week on Next Left.
Labor, Ever So Gingerly, Tiptoes into the Insurgency (https://theintercept.com/2019/11/01/jessica-cisneros-texas-labor-unions/) The Intercept Rachel M. Cohen
Jessica Cisneros on Challenging an Incumbent Democrat: ‘There’s a Lot He Has Never Had to Justify’ (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/us/politics/jessica-cisneros-2020.html) The New York Times Jennifer Medina
Meet Jessica Cisneros, the 26-Year-Old Left Challenger Taking on ‘Trump’s Favorite Democrat’ (http://inthesetimes.com/article/21973/jessica-cisneros-trump-henry-cuellar-justice-democrats) In These Times Malaika Jabali
This 26-Year-Old Running For Congress Wants to be the AOC of Texas (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a35dd5/this-26-year-old-running-for-congress-wants-to-be-the-aoc-of-texas) VICE News Tracy Jarrett and Alicia Menendez
The Politician Amazon Is Dead Set on Defeating
When Kshama Sawant was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013, her local victory made international news. An immigrant from India and an academic who taught economics, hers was an interesting story—especially because she campaigned in favor of bold proposals such as a $15-an-hour minimum wage. But what everyone was taking about was the fact that she was a socialist. At that point, before Bernie Sanders had entered the 2016 presidential race and long before the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress in 2018, Sawant stood out on the American political scene.
Now, as she seeks reelection six years later, there are a lot more socialists seeking and holding elected office in the United States. But Sawant still stands out. In part, this is because of the policies she has championed in Seattle: the $15 wage, taxes on millionaires, and rent control. But also, in part, because of the enemies she has made. Just as Franklin Roosevelt famously welcomed the hatred of the bankers and speculators who opposed his New Deal initiatives, Sawant relishes fights with economic and political elites.
This year, she faces the biggest fight of all: Amazon's Jeff Bezos and others among the city's billionaire class are trying to defeat progressive council candidates. And they are focused, in particular, on beating Sawant. That's a daunting political reality because Bezos, who in 2018 was named the richest man in the world (though he faces competition on any given day from Microsoft's Bill Gates), has a limitless bankroll. But Kshama Sawant is undaunted. She’s our guest this week on Next Left.
Amazon Is Spending Big to Oust Seattle's Socialist Council Member (https://www.thenation.com/article/seattle-amazon-kshama-sawant/) The Nation Hallie Golden
Kshama Sawant Says Socialism Isn't 'Only in Seattle' (https://www.thenation.com/article/kshama-sawant-drinks/) The Nation E. Tammy Kim
Kshama Sawant Shows That Ordinary People Aren't Afraid of Unapologetic Leftist Politics (http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18751/seattle-socialist-kshama-sawant-leftists) In These Times Jonathan Rosenblum
Seven Lessons From the Sawant Campaign (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/08/seven-lessons-from-the-sawant-campaign) Jacobin Luke Elliott-Negri
Subscribe to The Nation to support our podcasts: http://thenation.com/podcastsubscribe
Chesa Boudin Wants to Bring Restorative Justice to San Francisco
Chesa Boudin is part of something: a national movement to change the way that district attorneys operate within the criminal justice system. He wants to make the change in San Francisco, as that city's new DA. Boudin is running in a competitive election on November 5, and he has attracted the support of change agents from across the country: Chicago District Attorney Kim Foxx, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and Queens DA candidate Tiffany Caban, to name a few.
Having worked for a number of years as a San Francisco public defender, Boudin knows the system. He has big plans to eliminate cash bail, to end racial disparities, to end mass incarceration, and to expand mental health treatment so that San Francisco can "stop using our jail as an ineffective and inhumane mental health facility."
But there is more to Boudin's run. He has distinguished himself in this moment of debate about the criminal justice system by speaking openly, and insightfully, about his own experience as the son of parents who were jailed throughout his childhood. His parents, Weather Underground radicals Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were incarcerated when he was just fourteen months old for driving the getaway vehicle in a robbery that left three men dead. Raised in Chicago by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who were also members of the Weather Underground, Boudin recalls visiting his parents behind bars, and struggling with what that meant for his life. He discusses all this in powerful terms, and he connects that discussion to criminal justice debates, with a reminder that, "More than half of Americans have a family member behind bars."
Speaking as a public defender, a Rhodes Scholar, a Yale Law School graduate, and an author and activist, Boudin says, "I know our system is broken. I'm running for district attorney because I know how to fix it." He joins us this week on Next Left for a remarkable discussion about a movement that is transforming how we can and should think about law enforcement, mass incarceration, and criminal justice reform.
This Son of the Left Could Become San Francisco’s Next District Attorney (https://www.thenation.com/article/chesa-boudin-da/) The Nation Jimmy Tobias
How Far Will California Take Criminal Justice Reform? (https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/how-far-will-california-take-criminal-justice-reform) The New Yorker Dana Goodyear
Chesa Boudin Wants to Transform San Francisco’s Criminal Justice System (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/05/chesa-boudin-san-francisco-district-attorney) Jacobin Megan Day
DA Gascón Suddenly Resigns, Mayor Breed Shivs His Successor And Installs Suzy Loftus (https://sfist.com/2019/10/04/da-gascon-suddenly-resigns-mayor-breed-shivs-his-interim-successor-and-installs-suzy-loftus/) SFist Joe Kukura
Mayor Breed’s DA appointment disrespected electoral process (https://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/mayor-breeds-da-appointment-disrespected-electoral-process/) San Francisco Examiner Mark Leno and Danny Glover
‘Last Black Man in San Francisco’ Review; Race, Gentrification and an Instant Classic (https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/last-black-man-in-san-francisco-movie-review-785258/) Rolling Stone David Fear
Subscribe to The Nation to support our podcasts: http://thenation.com/podcastsubscribe
Customer ReviewsSee All
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