Crosscut Talks
American Hypocrisy in the Fight for Democracy in Hong Kong. Plus: Seattle Responds to the Federal Deployment

American Hypocrisy in the Fight for Democracy in Hong Kong. Plus: Seattle Responds to the Federal Deployment

July 30, 2020

When the Chinese government enacted new national security law that outlawed dissent in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, it signaled a new, and perhaps final, stage in the city’s pro-democracy movement. Since 2014, activists had staged sit-ins and clashed with police while calling for greater transparency in the city’s elections and decrying Beijing’s influence over its government and police. The new law, which went into effect at the end of June, made it illegal to even speak of such things. Now many activists and sympathizers have been shutting down social media accounts, or even fleeing the city, for fear of being arrested. Some political leaders in the United States, meanwhile, have denounced the new law, despite the state department’s support for the Hong Kong police, a force that has sought to quell dissent. For this week’s episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, we speak with Wilfred Chan, a contributing writer to The Nation and a Hong Kong leftist, about the new law and the movement it threatens to quash. He shares his views on the history of protest in Hong Kong and the complicated role that the United States has played in the conflict. Plus, Crosscut city reporter David Kroman tells us what happened after Seattle activists learned the feds were coming to town.

Inside Joe Biden’s $2 Trillion Climate Plan. Plus: What Washington Voters Think About Masks

Inside Joe Biden’s $2 Trillion Climate Plan. Plus: What Washington Voters Think About Masks

July 23, 2020

When the Joe Biden campaign introduced its Build Back Better plan earlier this month, it was delivering what promised to be a kind of silver bullet. The presumed Democratic nominee for the presidency was proposing to fuel an economic recovery, beat back climate change and deliver racial justice through a robust package of programs and standards that would reshape a large portion of the U.S. economy around clean energy. The price: $2 trillion. It was a bold move from a candidate not known as a leader on climate and so it isn't surprising that much of the plan is borrowed, some from his former opponents. This week on the Crosscut Talks podcast, environmental policy expert Leah Stokes talks about the work that led to this plan, tells us who is responsible for what and contemplates the likelihood that this silver bullet will ever be fired. Plus, Crosscut news and politics editor Donna Blankinship walks us through the latest Crosscut-Elway Poll, which looks at Washington voters' attitudes toward the pandemic response and asks, "Are you wearing a mask?"

Patty Murray’s Fight to Reopen Schools Safely. Plus: Will Seattle Really Cut Police Funding by 50%?

Patty Murray’s Fight to Reopen Schools Safely. Plus: Will Seattle Really Cut Police Funding by 50%?

July 16, 2020

Patty Murray has been busy. As the ranking member on the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the senior senator from the state of Washington is intimately involved in developing legislation to guide federal oversight of the areas of American life most impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the last month alone she introduced the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act and issued a white paper calling for legislation that would assure that a vaccine be made available to all Americans. But Murray is also in the minority. At a time when so much is at stake, the Democratic lawmaker is tasked with both identifying solutions that she believes will save many lives and pushing them through a legislative process dominated by Republicans at a moment of hyper-partisanship. On this week's edition of the Crosscut Talks podcast we speak with the Senator about her efforts to shore up schools and day care providers, the deep frustration she has for the Trump administration's approach to the pandemic and how, exactly, she plans to turn her plans into action. Plus, Crosscut reporter David Kroman delivers the latest on the Seattle's efforts to rethink public safety and policing.

The Battle for Enthusiasm in the Race for the White House

The Battle for Enthusiasm in the Race for the White House

July 9, 2020

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe discusses electoral excitement in the era of coronavirus. For years, the presidential election of 2020 has been touted as the most important of the modern era. There was little doubt that the months leading up to the November election would be filled with packed arenas and firey stump speeches. Instead the dominant images of the early stages of the general election have been empty seats in Tulsa and basement communiques from Delaware. With multiple crises dominating the national conversation, the presidential race has taken a backseat to more immediate concerns. Meanwhile President Donald Trump's handling of these crises appears to have done serious damage to his approval rating and the threat of coronavirus has limited the public appearances of his challenger Joe Biden. In the race for the White House, enthusiasm has been hard to come by. We invited Plouffe to weigh in on the state of the race. We talk about the apparent lack of excitement for these campaigns, whether it is a sign of things to come, and if dread and anger will replace enthusiasm as the driving force for this election.

What Makes a Great American President. Plus: Why Being Mayor of Seattle Sucks

What Makes a Great American President. Plus: Why Being Mayor of Seattle Sucks

July 2, 2020

Journalist John Dickerson tells us what it takes to succeed in the White House, why President Trump appears to be failing and whether Joe Biden would be any good. In the last few months Trump has been challenged by the kind of crises that demand leadership. Yet, the manner in which he has responded to the pandemic, civil unrest and economic collapse appears to have turned the electorate against him. Once a favorite for re-election, Trump is now more likely to join the handful of presidents who voters have ousted at the ballot box. A moment of apparent presidential failure is as good a time as any to discuss what a successful presidency might look like. On this week's episode of Crosscut Talks we are sitting down with Dickerson to do just that while talking about his latest book, 'The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency.' Plus, Crosscut's resident historian Knute Berger tells us why the top job in Seattle is no breeze itself.

Nikkita Oliver on the Future of Black Lives Matter. Plus: The Risks of Reopening During the Pandemic

Nikkita Oliver on the Future of Black Lives Matter. Plus: The Risks of Reopening During the Pandemic

June 25, 2020

The Black Lives Matter movement has made a tremendous amount of progress in a very short time. In a single month, it has gone from an afterthought for many Americans to the leading topic of conversation in the nation and a major catalyst for change. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in support of the movement's message, and polling shows that a majority of Americans at least sympathize with its aims. It remains to be seen whether this latest chapter of America's ongoing civil rights movement can hold the public's attention and favor long enough to result in real change. For this week's episode, we are joined by Nikkita Oliver, one of the movement's leading voices, to talk about the work being done by the activists, the demands being made of city leaders and where she sees the fight for Black lives going from here. Plus, reporter Hannah Weinberger provides us with a coronavirus update, parsing the details of and concerns over the state's reopening plan.

Why Is the Conservative Supreme Court Acting So Liberal? Plus: The Black Leaders Who Support Seattle’s Top Cop

Why Is the Conservative Supreme Court Acting So Liberal? Plus: The Black Leaders Who Support Seattle’s Top Cop

June 18, 2020

Amicus host Dahlia Lithwick joins us to discuss the possible motivations for this week's most surprising ruling. When the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court nearly two years ago, the consensus was that the highest court in the land had tilted even further to the right. The expectation was that the conservative lean of the court would shape the current term, rife with hugely consequential cases. So it has been with some surprise that the court delivered two big victories to two traditionally liberal causes in its early rulings, first extending employment protections to gay and transgender workers and, later in the week, preventing the Trump administration from immediately ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the majority in both cases and Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch penned the majority opinion in the landmark case for LGBTQ rights. Did we misread this court? Or is something else going on here? Lithwick tries to answer these questions while talking about the first of these two decisions. Plus: Crosscut reporter Lilly Fowler tells how an older generation of Black leaders views Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. Note: This conversation took place prior to Thursday’s DACA ruling.

Cop Culture and the New Era of Police Reform. Plus: How ‘Defund the Police’ is Playing Out in Seattle

Cop Culture and the New Era of Police Reform. Plus: How ‘Defund the Police’ is Playing Out in Seattle

June 11, 2020

On this week's episode we speak with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper about tear gas, cop culture and ridding racism from American law enforcement. In the week's since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, the conversation around policing in America has taken a drastic shift. City leaders across the nation are responding to a sense of injustice, or maybe sensing a change in public opinion after videos of police violence against protesters have proliferated, and considering reforms that were far outside the mainstream just days ago. As activists encourage them to "Defund the Police," some have signaled that significant change is coming. While the exact shape of that change has yet to take form, the apparent goal is to re-engineer our idea of public safety, investing in at-risk communities, collaborating with those communities and replacing many police officers with specialists in social and mental health services. On this week's episode of Crosscut Talks we explore what these leaders are seeking to discard, and what will come in its place, with Stamper, who in addition to his 34 years as a police officer, has been a reform advocate. Plus, Crosscut city reporter David Kroman tells us what impact the movement to defund the police is having on Seattle City Hall.

White America and the Future of the Anti-Racist Movement. Plus: Reporting on Unrest in Seattle

White America and the Future of the Anti-Racist Movement. Plus: Reporting on Unrest in Seattle

June 4, 2020

Resmaa Menakem (My Grandmother's Hands) and Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility) join us to talk about the responsibilities they believe white Americans have in this moment and what would need to happen for change to take hold. Following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the streets of America have filled with activists seeking justice for Floyd and broader reforms of racist police practices. While the protests have been immense and intense, they are not without precedent. Over the past few years, the deaths of Black Americans captured on video have inspired numerous demonstrations again and again. Among the people at these protests are Black Americans and other People of Color for whom systemic racism is an everyday threat. But there are also many white Americans who may be aware of the white supremacy woven into the nation's culture, but are not directly threatened by it. When the protests are over, these Americans have the option to let racial justice fade into the background, a luxury not afforded many of their neighbors. Our guests discuss what would need to happen for these Americans to stay in the fight. Plus, Crosscut photo journalist Matt McKnight tells us what he witnessed on the streets of Seattle during last weekend’s unrest.

How George W. Bush Changed America. Plus: The Anti-Vaccine Movement of the 1920s

How George W. Bush Changed America. Plus: The Anti-Vaccine Movement of the 1920s

May 28, 2020

One thing is certain about the presidency of George W. Bush: It was consequential. From the Sept. 11 attacks, through the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina and into the financial crisis of 2008, the country was sent careening through an era of deep disruption that changed the way Americans live and think. At the center of it all was the president, first as a unifying figure, later a divisive one and, finally, a derided one. From the moment his presidency ended, amid economic devastation and two prolonged wars, questions remain about how the first presidency of the 21st century would be remembered. Would history damn George W. Bush or somehow exonerate him? Twelve years later — with the nation again in the midst of a transformative crisis, led by a historically divisive Republican president — historians are beginning to take another look. For this episode of the Crosscut Talks episode, we speak with Barak Goodman, the director of a new American Experience film about Bush, and historian Robert Draper about the 43rd president and his legacy.