A focus group of suburban women who are registered to vote in Pennsylvania
Moderator: Mike Conte, Director of Research & Data Analysis
Participants: Ann, Bella, Jacintha, Kathi, Melissa, Nina, Shayna, Siobhan
This Marist Poll virtual focus group of suburban women who are registered to vote in Pennsylvania was conducted on Tuesday, September 15th 2020, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. The participants were recruited from a RDD Marist Poll conducted by live interviewers via telephone of Pennsylvania residents from August 31st through September 7th, 2020. Full results of the Pennsylvania poll may be found here. During the initial survey, respondents were asked if they had access to an Internet enabled device with a camera and if they would be willing to participate in a follow-up, virtual group discussion on an online video platform to further expand upon their opinions. After the completion of the telephone survey, a sample of potential focus group participants was generated based on their access to an Internet enabled device, their stated willingness to participate in the virtual group discussion, and their demographic qualifications for the focus group, in this case, women registered to vote in the state of Pennsylvania who identify themselves as residing in the suburbs or small cities of the state. This list of potential participants was then re-contacted via telephone by live interviewers to invite their participation in the virtual focus group. In order to participate, participants had to agree to the public use of their first name, age, race, region of the state where they reside, political affiliation, and presidential candidate preference. Participants were paid $125 for their time. The focus group consisted of eight participants and was conducted using the Zoom platform. Michael Conte, Director of Research and Data Analysis at the Marist Poll, served as the discussion moderator.
Mike: We appreciate you letting us take the opportunity to follow up on some of the opinions you gave us in the surveys you took. I think it was either last week or the week before. So, if you take a look around the room, I think you’ll notice something. Tonight, we are talking to all women.
We were looking to do a focus group of Pennsylvania female voters because obviously – yup. (Clap, clap). Obviously, you are a very important voting block, key demographic. So, wanted to make sure we really take an opportunity to dive into your opinions.
I’m just going to start with a couple of guidelines, ground rules, type things. So basically, I want you to think of this as less as an interview where I ask you questions, looking for specific answers, more as a conversation. I do have a list of questions and topics I want to cover, but I’m more throwing those out there, as conversation starters. So, feel free to roll off each other, jump in when you feel like you have something to say. You don’t necessarily have to give an answer to every question, but please feel free to jump in whenever you have something to say. I do want to hear from everyone. I know it’s a little hard on Zoom with the technology, so just do our best, not to speak over anybody. I think there’s going to be a lot of hand raising tonight, things like that, but again, a lot more conversation-based than the type of interview that you conducted over the phone with us.
If you need to get up, go to the bathroom, grab a drink or anything, feel free to do so; I do just ask that we try to limit that, just because we do only have an hour and a half tonight and I have a wide range of topics I hope to cover. So, one other thing is I do have, as I mentioned, I do have a topic guide that I’m loosely following. If you’re talking and you see my eyes darting around all over the place taking notes, it is not because I’m not paying attention to you. It’s just because I’m trying to jot something down to bring up later or take notes on what you said.
Also, I know – and you could probably tell already – I am a fast talker, sometimes a little too fast. So, if I say something that, you just didn’t catch, or you need me to repeat anything, please do not hesitate.
Just raise your hand – raise your hand, or just be like, “Hey Mike, slow down. What was that you said?” ask me to repeat myself. I thought we could just start with a couple introductions. Basically, I’m just going to go around the room. I’m not sure if we’re all looking at the same order of squares, so I’m just going to call out by name in alphabetical order to make sure I don’t miss anyone. And if we could just basically say, what’s your name? Where you grew up; what do you do for a living? And if you have any kids or pets?
Also, just to start, I would like you to tell me on a scale of one to 10, so just in general, how would you rate the state of America today? I’m just looking for a zero to 10 answer. Zero meaning things are absolutely terrible. Ten meaning everything is going absolutely great and wonderful. I know it’s a vague question, “What’s the state of America today?” But I want it to be a little bit of a vague question. So, if I could go ahead and start with Ann. So again, just where you grew up; what you do for a living; any kids or pets and scale of zero to 10, how you think the state of America’s going right now?
Ann: Okay. I was born in Pittsburgh, raised in Jersey, lived in Texas. I am a college professor now, but I was a working RN for 35 years. [inaudible] How do I If you had to just peg it on a zero to 10 scale.
Ann: I’m going to say seven over 10.
Mike: Seven over 10. All right. Thank you very much. And thanks so much for joining us tonight. So, Bella.
Bella: Hey! So I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I am currently a music education major at Penn State University. I don’t have any kids.
Mike: Same here. I forgot to mention that. I do have a – I do have a very obese cat, but that’s about it.
Bella: We have the family dog; she’s old. The state of America today.
Mike: So just your gut zero to 10 scale.
Bella:I’m gonna have to say a three.
Mike: Alright. Alright. And we will be digging into these numbers, so I do appreciate it. So if I could talk to… Jacintha.
Mike: Am I saying that correctly?
Jacintha: You are saying that correctly. Everyone asks that question. I’m actually from Scranton, Pennsylvania; that’s Joe Biden’s hometown.
Jacintha:I’m actually living slightly outside of…we’re in the outside area of Scranton, but – so we’re a suburb. I’m currently retired. I was – I spent 30 years in higher education. I was a teacher and an administrator in social services, and I spent another nine years in public service working for social security.
The kids are grown. There’s no pets. And, I am very fearful about the state of America. So, I’m going to – zero.
Mike: Going with a zero. Alright.
Jacintha: I’m going with an absolute zero.
Mike: So are you – is Scranton more known for Joe Biden’s hometown, at this point, or for The Office? I had to ask.
Jacintha: It kind of – I think it depends on your age. You know, our – our college kids – that was a period in which I was employed in Higher Ed and that’s what Scranton was known for – so that – that was – that was well known. I think – so I think it depends on your generation what Scranton was home – was home to. We also connect with Hillary Clinton. So that’s – that’s another, you know, that we come back to. So I think that really depends on- on your age and generation.
Mike: That makes a lot of sense. Alright, well, thank you. And who do I have… Kathi?
Kathi: We are 90 miles North of Pittsburgh. So we’re sort of clued in on what’s going on, most of this whole Western side of the state. My career right now is doing alterations at home and that’s working out really well. We have two daughters; one, the oldest, is a teacher and the youngest is a nurse in a large hospital in Pittsburgh. And as far as rating, I would say I’m going to do a one.
Mike: A one?
Mike: All right. And, so, thank you for that. Melissa? Right there.
Melissa: Here I am. Okay. Well, right now I live in, we call it South central, Pennsylvania outside Harrisburg. I grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut. So I moved to conservative Pennsylvania from liberal Connecticut. It’s –
Mike: I know Norwalk. I grew up in Connecticut kind of near Danbury.
Melissa: Oh, okay. Yeah. So yeah, you know the differences then?
Melissa: I was an administrative assistant or a secretary for my whole career. I’m now retired. I live in a multigenerational home right now with my daughter, granddaughter, and my son-in-law. I have a cat, and they have two dogs, which means I have two dogs.
Melissa: And I don’t know, I’m – I hover between a two and a three as far as the state of the country.
Mike: So I’ll put you down for 2.5. How about that?
Melissa: There you go.
Mike: All right. Thank you. And we have Nina, correct?
Nina: I actually grew up in just outside of Philadelphia and left when I was 18. Moved to New Hampshire, which is a very political state and the first in the nation primary, so this is different going, ‘cause I could rub elbows with all the candidates for every year – and moved back here. I live in Flourtown and I’ve so about – we’re literally about five miles from the city limits. And I moved here about a year and a half ago with my husband to take care of my 94-year-old mother. And we will be here as long as she is, and then we’ll move back to New Hampshire. I – I have been a teacher and also, I’m a counselor and a life coach. And I spent many, many years as a doula, which is someone who helps women give birth. And, so I’ve attended about 700 births so far.
Nina: Yeah. I have two dogs and we have bees, so that’s – that’s who I am.
Nina: For a number…
Mike: And so in terms of the number scale—
Nina: I’d give it a one.
Mike: A one right now?
Mike: And, Shayna. Did I get that right?
Mike: There you are. Perfect.
Shayna: Had to unmute myself. So, question was, where am I from? I’m born and raised in Philly. Presently living in Delaware County where I’ve been for the last five years. Professionally, I am a self-employed financial planner. And I think the last thing was the ranking of the country?
Mike: So, zero to 10, just state of America right now.
Shayna: I’ll go with a four.
Mike: Four? All right. Thank you. And do I have – let’s see, did Siobhan pop up? Not yet. So she might join us later. So, I got everybody correct? Every —
Ann: What about Mary?
Nina: There’s somebody – yeah, someone named Mary.
Mike: That’s actually one of my coworkers, even though we did originally have a guest named Mary, so I got a little confused on that too. Basically, the Marist Polls you’re seeing are Jay, who’s going to be around for tech support, as well as Mary, and the other Marist Poll is my boss. So basically they’re just behind the scenes watching. They’re going to be doing a lot of the analysis. You don’t have to worry about them. But I have to worry about them basically, because they’re going to make sure I’m doing a good job. If you happen to see me check a message, it means “Mike, you’re taking too much time” or “Mike, you need to move on to something,” but, so they won’t be joining us in the conversation.
But again, thank you everyone for the intro. I do want to basically start. So I’m going to go with the polls. I’m going to start with this big zero that I have right down on my paper. So, Jacintha, basically talk me through a little bit of the process. What are the issues you’re weighing in your head, what’s weighing on your shoulders that led you to say a zero for the state of the country right now?
Jacintha: I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I – I’m a Democrat. But, I don’t put him in any political party. I know he ran as a Republican, but I don’t – I don’t really think he represents a Republican – a Republican party. I think we’re moving towards a great sense of an authoritarian. You have – we have a polarization – we had that, which created his election. So that’s a great concern. I think you all relay that now with the coronavirus. A real life-threatening event. I think you have his mismanagement. I think you have his stirring violence in the streets. So I – I think this is a very tumultuous time. I think this is the most crucial election, certainly of my lifetime.
And I’m retired. So you can – you can estimate my age and estimate that we lived through the sixties. We lived through the riots. We’ve seen cities burn before. From Philadelphia, you know, from California to New Jersey we’ve seen protests. So there’s this – this is… The idea of a tumultuous time and change is not the issue; we’ve seen that.
I think it’s – it’s – it’s currently a very – a tipping point time. I think the factors are – are just very, very crucial and the current leadership, or lack thereof, which I would prefer to say is really putting us in an – in a situation. Do I want to live in America? Or do I want to live in Trumpland here? And I want to live in America.
Mike: I heard you say, you think this is one of the most critical elections of your lifetime. I’ll just show… Does everyone agree with that? Show of hands. Do you agree with that? Do you think this is the most important one that you’ve lived through? All right. Good show of hands.
Jay DeDapper: Mike, I just want to – Mike, sorry to interrupt.
I just want to note that we got Siobhan in so welcome her. Sorry about the delay. We had some technical issues, but Siobhan is down in one of your corners of your box of your screens there.
Mike: Hi, Siobhan, thank you so much for joining us.
Mike: You didn’t miss too much. We basically are just jumping in. So I’ll take one step back and just real quick, so we know your name, Siobhan just… Where do you live? And then gut reaction. If you had to rate the state of America right now on a zero to 10 scale, with zero being everything’s terrible, 10 means everything’s great right now, what would you say?
Siobhan: I live in [inaudible], Pennsylvania, and I would rate it about a five.
Mike: About a five? All right. So, Ann, I’m looking – I’d like to get your input. So I think I was actually going for the polls and you said seven out of 10, so I was coming for you next anyway. So what are the types of issues that basically led you to believe, seven out of 10 right now for America?
Ann: Well, I did vote for Trump. And part of what made me decide ultimately to vote for him against Hillary was I knew a story, this limo broke down on the New Jersey turnpike and a working man pulled his car over, got out of his truck, and went and fixed the limo for him so that he can continue on his way down to Atlantic City. He didn’t know who was in the back of the limo. He just stopped because he had skills. The next day, his bank notified him that his mortgage was paid. Trump paid his mortgage. I found the man to be honest in his dealings in New Jersey. I followed the daily briefings every day. I watched how him and the experts and the doctors in the public health arena were trying to figure out how to react to the coronavirus. I don’t think anyone who was in office would have come up with the solution of using corporate America to solve a public health problem. It’s really never been done before. And I was extremely impressed that he arranged for ventilators to be built in car factories and masks to be produced here in America and the corporate solutions that he came up with because he’s a businessman, I don’t think anyone who was a lifelong politician would have thought of. In the 1960s, the riots – they were scarier than the riots today. They were scarier because Malcolm X and the Black Panthers… They were terrifying.
We, my family, almost moved to Canada because of those riots. When Newark burned and Camden burned, that… We were terrified. I remember as a child, being absolutely terrified and my parents being terrified.
Ann:The leaders, the narcissistic leaders is a complaint I hear about Trump a lot, but if you look back in history, all of the truly great leaders were narcissists. It’s part of the personality of a great leader. Napoleon— narcissist. Hitler—not a good man, but a narcissist… George Washington—terrible narcissist. It’s part of being a leader.
Mike: Yup. So,
Mike:Yup. So, a lot to pick apart there and we’re going to get to a bunch of different topics. You mentioned first, how he handled the coronavirus. You said you think he did a good job, basically bringing in some corporations – to handle it as a businessman.
Other thoughts on – so basically, do you guys agree? Do you disagree? So, Bella, I saw you shaking your head a lot before. So, what do you think? So, focus more on his handling of the pandemic right now. What’s your impression?
Bella: Oh boy. [laughter] ah… [groan] As a young person, living in these times is… particularly terrifying because I know that a lot of what is happening and especially a lot of – well, politically – a lot of what is happening… will affect my future a lot. Like, we are at a very pivotal time in this nation’s history… Just thinking about where we are with the pandemic…[sigh]
There’s so much to unpack here. Well, first off, the fact that people are… blatantly disregarding science and facts is extremely disconcerting. You know, you can’t… You can obviously – you can like fudge numbers, but if you have a bunch of reputable scientists, all getting together and saying, “Hey, here’s the deal. Here’s what you need to do.” And people just started doing it because they’re like, “Oh, well it’s my personal right.” And I’m referring to masks specifically. People are not – [laughter] it’s just – it’s so – I’m sorry, but it’s so dumb. Like you – you just – you – you see the science behind how masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus, not because of, “Oh, I don’t want to inhale it.” Yeah. That’s part of it, but mostly it’s because my mask protects you. Your mask protects me. That’s how it works. And as long as you have a solid face covering… on, you’re going to protect other people from getting the virus, in case you have it. And that same exact thing goes for social distancing.
Now I might sound a little bit, at least from my age group of college students, you know – you see, so many images of like kids doing stupid things like having COVID-19 parties… And like placing bets… I don’t know if y’all heard about this, but people were literally placing bets… On – “Oh, hey, here’s one person who has COVID-19, let’s invite them to the party, and we’ll place bets on who’s going to get it first.”
Literally, when I heard about that, I… Oh – [laughter]
Mike: So, thinking back to – I think you might remember this from the actual survey we asked – we asked – so who here by show of hands, who here thinks the coronavirus is the threat that basically is talked about in the media, is that, or… Who thinks that it’s a little overblown by the media? So if you think it’s a real threat and it’s not overblown at all by the media, please raise your hand.
Siobhan: Time out for a second.
Siobhan:I think it is a threat… But I also think it is overblown by the media, ‘cause the media just does that with everything.
Mike: So, what are your thoughts on how Trump handles – Is handling the pandemic overall?
Siobhan: A little background. I have family in Europe also, so I’ve been following it a little before… the United States was getting warned. I’d been in hazmat situations before [this]. I worked in the hospital. I worked on [ambulances], fire trucks. So yes… I think you should wear masks and everything. And Trump shut it down the best they could. And the big picture here is… Take Ireland. It’s smaller than Pennsylvania… Italy, smaller than Pennsylvania. So you can’t judge those countries… Shutting down quicker… And blaming everything else on Trump. You can’t shut down a country this size… The way Italy and Ireland and Germany did.
It’s just… geographically impossible. I do think… A lot that I – I agree with Trump with a lot of things, and I disagree with Trump for a lot of things, but,… according to corona and asking the people to wear masks, stay inside…
Being an ER nurse and in hazmat situations, worry about you and your family. Don’t get stressed out because they’re not wearing masks. If you’re their supervisor, you’re going to be in contact with them… Then yes, say it. But if you’re walking down the street and Joe Schmo’s across the street… It – it’s not going to happen everywhere.
It… Too many hazmat situations got blown out of proportion because you weren’t worrying about yourself.
Siobhan:Like when I would go into a patient with isolation, if I was plugged up down in masks, I didn’t have to worry about if a patient spit at me, bit me, you know… Sometimes when I bit— they bit me, but…
They were least likely to break through the skin. Like, I just, I don’t want people, like… getting out of proportion and why Trump is good in that aspect. He brought real, active,… like everyday people to speak to us about it. Like we’re going to interact and be at CVS. So he brought what CVS is going to do, what Walgreen is going to do and not, no offense,… what Bill Gates was going to do.
That’s not gonna help the everyday…person. So I do think from that standpoint, Trump did… a good job. He shut it down in pieces. He brought us back up, and he contacted like private companies to get the second stimulus check. And I do people— I do think people need that stuff, but instead of…robbing the country’s money, he did look at alternatives, which is smart. And he treated it like a one package situation. What is going to help people with just the effects of coronavirus and not putting other details what our country needs in through this package. And… The different points of getting the emergency workers,… the extra money, because some of them had to live in hotels and stay away from their families, so that’s double groceries. That’s like a double budget for that month.
Siobhan: And then there was the people that were completely out of work. He considered the everyday needs versus… the political… people’s needs. Does that make sense?
Mike: I think I understand.
Siobhan: He didn’t make it a political… decision. He made it like everyday person decision making.
Mike: I understand.
Siobhan: That’s what I liked about it. Nobody is going to be perfect…in doing it. Like, we’ve never dealt with this biological weapon in a political term, as much as the COVID-19.
Siobhan: And he also, when he got wind of this, you know, this lab doing this, and Obama got wind of it when he was in office, and he actually— Obama’s opted direct funding to this lab when he found out about this, that was coming from the United States. Trump stopped… the funding. There was indirect funding that the international pharmaceutical funds, like, different countries put in money.
Mike: I understand.
Siobhan: Trump stopped the indirect funding to this. That was huge. You know?
Mike: So I’m going to bring in a couple other –
Mike:Opinions on this because— No, no problem. I think you – I think you’ve had a lot of good information there. I want to get other thoughts on this. Nina. Trump’s handling of coronavirus… What’s on your mind?
Nina: Okay. Just a few things that struck me from what people have said. I – I love that story about the limousine driver, but I also know that Trump has a long record of not paying his subcontractors, which is… everyday working people as well. And I also think that as a country, we pulled together in times of crisis, including wars when many different businesses were turned into manufacturing products for – for defense. So I think there’s plenty of other times in our country where we have come together… I think he lied to us about, or he certainly withheld facts that he knew. And glossed it over and said it was like a flu, and things like that that we know are not true. He… gave $1,200 to working people.
Ann: [If] he came out and said, “Oh my God, 2 million people are going to die. This is terrible. And we don’t know how to stop it.” Don’t you think he was going to set off a major panic?
Jacintha: Oh – oh.
Nina: I mean, I don’t care. I want the truth. And, so—
Nina:Wait a minute. I have a few more things to say.
Mike: Yeah. So —
Nina: Let me — I’d like to let me finish —
Mike: Finish the thought, please.
Nina: You guys all had time.
Jacintha: [inaudible] talking, please.
Nina:I think the money for $1,200 per person was very nice, except that no one can live on that, and there’s plenty of people who have lost their jobs and cannot afford to live. And the money, much of the money for small business relief went to very large businesses that did not need it. And so, I think we’ve got a political system now that is… One – one party—
Siobhan: But time out. That was given to the states – for the states to —
Nina: You know what? Stop interrupting. I didn’t interrupt you.
Mike: You know what? I’m just gonna—I’m sorry—
Siobhan: It wasn’t Trump.
Mike: No, so I do want to foster good conversation, but I just want to let her finish her thought.
Mike: No, no problem.
Nina:Thank you. I think we have a system where… One party is trying to stop the other in – in every track, every – every bill they propose, and so we’re not getting anything done. No one’s working together. The issues that confront people of color in our country are so big, so old, so huge. They don’t affect me… because I’m not a person of color. I’ve never had to worry about that. But there’s — this is time for us to wake up. Maybe this virus was a wake-up call to this country that we need to change things, and we need to change the way we do a lot of things.
So I think Trump has handled the virus very badly. I think he said terrible things about Democratic governors, because he doesn’t like them. And I think this is playing politics. He plays politics every chance he can get. There’s — Every tweet is – is a – is a dig. Every tweet is a terrible thing about somebody— stop it. Nobody needs that. When the divide – the Republicans never— I’m 68. I’ve been around a long time. When the Democrats and the Republicans were parties when I was younger, we were not so divisive. We can be friends. We could – we could be – we could have conversations. We can’t now. My husband’s an avid Trump supporter. I’m an avid Trump hater. So we don’t get along with this. But this is… this is the way our country is. This is terrible. It’s awful. I think his – his response has been terrible, but mostly I think he’s not a man of character. So that’s my opinion about him. You guys can say what you want, but —
Mike: No we —
Nina: If this is the best we can do as a country to put our best person in the head of our country, then we’ve got a lot of changing to do.
Mike: So, on that note, does anyone here – so raise your hand if you think Biden would have done a better job handling or will — potentially will do a better job handling the coronavirus pandemic. Alright. So, Kathi, what makes you feel like Biden would do a better job? Or… And if you’d like to elaborate on anything we just talked about too, please feel free, but what makes you think Biden—what has [made] you put your trust in him more?
Kathi: Oh, the reason that I… will be voting for Biden is the fact that he – he’s going to try…what’s been undone, and that’s to unite these States again. We had – the states themselves have been divided by this man. He’s… You can see in the daily news what he does to… mayors and… governors of Democratic states. It just is unfair. It would be the same thing as in a school that one classroom gets textbooks that are a hundred years old and the other ones get are – always get the new books… As far as the PPE… Jared Kushner to stand up and represent this country and saying that… the… ventilators that they had in Washington or in store rooms or… whatever, that they belonged to them? Who is them? Them is – is us; we are this country. That doesn’t belong to any of these people with their hands in the till. They’re – they’re just is not. And I —I tell you, I am 64 years old and of January 21st of 2017, I changed my party affiliation. I – there was no way I could walk in this country with a – with my head up and say that I was a Republican… ever again. Ever again. This man is a racist, and I do believe that, this Miller in — that’s – behind Trump, he’s dangerous. He is very, very dangerous to this country.
It just is something, and as far as the riots… They haven’t been in – truthfully have not been strong in Pittsburgh. We had them; things settled down. I know people over the country that in some of these other cities. They’ve like picked their kids up through the summer and left, because they were afraid. I definitely would be afraid— didn’t happen in your city if you’re not afraid. For Trump to say that he knows more than these scientists? You would never hear that from Joe Biden. He would sit, and listen, and pull in that, all — all — everything that he could base his… replies on – he – he would never say that he knew more than these scientists. Just – he just wouldn’t.
Mike: Yep. So—
Kathi: And, truthfully, and this is the way we’ve raised our girls. You are judged by the – by your friends, by the – by the people that you are around… Where… and how did all of these bad actors… that have gone to jail, that he’s let out, that are – that are gonna go to jail? We don’t, I personally, my husband —
Siobhan: Trump didn’t let them out of jail.
Siobhan:The corrupt DAs let them out of jail.
Mike: So… I just wanna bring in a couple other opinions. I – believe me – we are going to – all of these are good issues I want to dive deeper into, but, Shayna, was I correct in seeing you also raise your hand? Do you think Biden would have done a better job handling corona?
Mike: So, basically just expand on that for me. What are your thoughts?
Shayna: Well, I think Trump’s style of leadership is a lot more kind of fly by night. Fly by the seat of his pants. See – see what happens. See what public opinion is and, you know, kind of sway…to or fro, depending on, you know, what people are saying or what he thinks is gonna get him the most applause, but, I think having an actual plan like him undoing the pandemic response team, to me, was just – just something that we could have had something in place already. And there was… something in place already, because the – the information was out there. There were, you know, conferences and a lot of information about how pandemics were going to be the next big threat. And this was back in, you know, 2017, 2016, 2018, 2014 even. Which is why the pandemic response team was created… to address these issues.
But, Trump dismantling that and not having any kind of a substitute, I think is… part and parcel to his leadership style. So, for me, I prefer a leader that is more proactive and not reactive. Someone who can actually listen to and present a unified front. Not just people praising him, ‘cause that’s not a unified front, in my opinion. That’s just people praising him. And who’s not going to just stand there and talk bad about, you know. If we’re dealing with a national crisis, I expect a national — national rhetoric from the leaders. Not, you know, Democratic cities and governors do this, and Republican governors do that.
You’re injecting politics into a human situation. And that to me is, not leadership. So I think you have to, you know, you have to be big enough to, and humble enough… to say, regardless of what your party is, we all have something that we need to do. We all have a responsibility to each other. We all have to make sure that we are protecting each other. That we are getting through this as fast as we can.
And with some type of a national game plan, we could have had that. I don’t see Trump being able to deliver that, at all, because he’s – he’s too divisive; instinctively, he’s too divisive. And we were already been able to see what he can do and it’s not good. We’re still in it. There’s literally 200,000 people dead.
And it didn’t have to be this way, whether we’re… I think 320 million people is a lot to manage. So you’re never going to get a hundred percent participation in anything, but to have consistency and to have a stabilizing figure, instead of somebody, you know, talking about, you know, Democrat, this, Republican, this. You need somebody who can speak to us as a collective and bring us together. And I don’t see Trump doing that, and I hear that much more from Biden and even how Biden handled, or not him directly, but being in the presence of how Ebola was handled. And we didn’t have this with Ebola or, and it’s not on the scale ‘cause coronavirus is certainly not Ebola or the H1N1 swine flu, but they did deal with two other potentially deadly diseases and had responses that didn’t look like this.
Shayna:So that to me, I don’t see… we get to see how Trump would handle it, ‘cause he’s doing it right now, and I don’t necessarily want that moving forward.
Mike: So I appreciate that. I want to do a quick little exercise. We talked a lot about the Coronavirus. We hit on a whole bunch of different topics, which I promise you we will dig deeper into, but does everyone have the post-it note and a pen handy? I just want to have a record. So basically, just real quick – top of mind – just a word or phrase, what’s the one issue that keeps you up at night?
What’s the one issue you’re most stressed out about right now? So just jot it down real quick. And I just want to do a quick around the room of just, if you had to nail down between everything going on, what’s the one issue you’re most stressed out about… And so, Ann, I see insurance… Bella, I see hatred…
Siobhan: [I need] a darker pen.
Mike: Kathi, that was “uniting the country”?
Mike: Did I get that right? Right. Jacintha? “Trump’s reelection.”
Mike: All right. Shayna, income inequality…. And Nina, the environment. I think I got – let me just do a quick look. I think I got everyone. All right, so… Something I was going to bring up Shayna, you just said, so income inequality…
I want to talk a little bit now a little more focused on… the economy. So, right now, pretty much, if you could raise your hand, who thinks the economy has gotten better under Trump?
Ann and Siobhan. So, Ann. What do you think is Trump’s impact on the economy has been? What – what led you to say that you think that it’s gotten better under him?
Ann: [It’d] been good for me. I was very fortunate. I cashed out all my 401ks right before the plummet. In fact, one month before the plummet, and moved from Jersey. Sold everything I had in Jersey and moved to Pittsburgh, so,… ever since I moved here in 2018, I babysit my granddaughter every Wednesday, and… I don’t have to… work 40 hours a week anymore. I only have to work two hours a week now, in order to pay all my bills.
Ann:It’s way cheaper to live in Pittsburgh than Jersey.
Mike: And so do you credit President Trump for that? Or… Do you think he’s directly or…?
Ann: Oh yeah, I’ve listened to his speech he was doing, and I said, “It’s time for the money to come out of the 401k.” And I took it out and then everybody who didn’t take their money out, lost half of it… in the stock market plunge. I was very fortunate. I got every dime, every single dime.
Mike: So, Melissa… I’d like to hear your thoughts. So what do you think Trump’s impact on the economy has been?
Melissa: Oh, first my thought is, you know, if it was under Trump that the 401k plunged, then I don’t think that’s great for the economy, right?
Melissa:And I have to admit, you know, I mean, for me, I’m in a decent position. The economy doesn’t affect me as much. I’m retired. I… Luckily, one of the few people left in this world who has pensions coming in besides my social security. So… On an individual basis, I’m okay, but… I just, my – my daughter teaches in an… Urban school district. And so she sees… how bad it is… for all of these people in the lower income who just now don’t have jobs because of – of this virus and – and the shutting down of the economy. And I just don’t, to me “make America great again, again” it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Mike: Jacintha, what are you thinking?
Jacintha: Well, I also saved my retirement right before the the last great recession. I actually – so that was good for me. And I also benefit from – from – I, you know, I – and I agree with Melissa. Right now, my own personal situation is okay… you know, as far as that, but, you know, the economy… plummeted… to its worst place. We were in a recession and Obama and Biden came in at the bottom. At the absolute bottom.
Now I think we can all critique, along the way, that there were things we wish… maybe they did differently, but they did build an economy back. They built back jobs. So they hand – they hand it to Trump, an economy on – on a silver plate. It was, you know, it – it was – it was solid… after that recession. Now we know that he basically passed the tax cut for the rich. You can look at that. I mean, you can watch that. I mean, they – they – the money given to corporations by and large went to stock buyouts, as it was predicted. If you go back and look at the newspapers in those early days of the Trump administration, for every company that published that they – that they created X amount of jobs, two weeks later, there was a – there was a layoff or a bonus given here and a layoff there. So he – he added a kind of quick fix to the economy… that was already strong. But I – I tend to – I think – tend to think and look around here in Northeastern, Pennsylvania that you are still looking at inherent weaknesses.
You know, he promised to bring back coal in Pennsylvania. Honestly the – the robber barons took it all. There was no way you’re going to bring back coal or coal production to Pennsylvania. So I – I– I think, he was lucky enough to be given… a – a gift in the economy. He, you know, created kind of another false bubble.
And I think his inability to understand that controlling the coronavirus, and being smart about it, would help the economy. I don’t think you can separate what he did if you don’t understand – you don’t understand what you’re dealing with… And that there were – there were ways to – to better handle the situation than – than he did.
It didn’t have to be necessarily any [inaudible]. We knew we were going to take – suffer. We knew this was going to be a hardship. But I think, as Nina pointed out, America is great about it. That’s what’s great about America or the ability to pull together, to have a common cause to do it in a common way.
So I think there were, I think, what – what the economy’s in a – in a very rough state now, and we are probably headed for some – some – a permanent recession or a long-term recession because jobs do not going to come back. Industry’s not going to come back. My husband worked for – worked for 28 years for Sears Roebuck. He left before it fell. The store he worked in… was demolished. There’s no sign of it. It’s so – so the whole retail industry – to talk about Sears Roebuck today, or are you going to talk about Neiman Marcus or…? They’re not going to come back. So what’s needed is – is you need a better management, better understanding to the current, and you need a vision… for what’s going to take us out into the next economy for my children, for my grandchildren, for all of us here who do have children. And I don’t hear any of that. I don’t – I don’t see any of that.
And – and I’ll make one last point. I don’t think the stock market and main street are –are two measures. We know what, you know, I – you hear it all the time. What’s good for the stock market is not good for main street. So when you – when you say everything’s good about the stock market and that’s where the economy is. I really don’t think you understand what the whole scope of the economy is, and what it means to everyone in the inner cities, in the farms, you know, far away from me that I don’t even understand.
Jacintha: You know – you know, God bless those people working in the chicken farms in Delaware. That is a God-awful job, and the meat-packing plants. But that’s – that’s where the real economy is, and that’s what we have to be looking for.
Mike: So yeah. Feel free to jump in. Any other thoughts on Trump’s impact on the economy?
Siobhan: I have to say that… I think Trump did a good job. My IRA’s… Backstory: my dad died when I was young, so I had to do my own research on… retirement funds and how it was going to affect me, how the money he left me for school… was going to help me survive as a young child without… the income of her parent.
So I started IRAs. They tripled since 9-11. My husband is 20 years older than me. He’s retiring in five years, and I can retire with him because I did my research. After I left the hospital, I rolled the 403B and the 401k into other accounts. I – I was able to… take the money that I didn’t use from school, because… I was lucky – the hospital paid for some of it, to roll into accounts for my kid’s college fund. I was able to roll the accounts into a joint account because my husband is the one with the consistent paycheck to keep up those accounts. To get life insurance, like the good life insurance, they want to see money [inaudible]. They want to see the money markets attached to the IRAs and so forth. So you have to link them. You can’t just expect… for somebody to come in here and take over the economy when there was things set up that weren’t in their favor. Number one, Clinton started the balloon mortgages that started the recession and the real estate crash.
And if you read the balloon mortgage line, it’s the same thing in Obamacare. People cannot afford health insurance that’s more than their mortgage. It was a good thought, but it wasn’t well thought-out. And… You have to look at the states that favor your retirement account. You know, my husband has a government pension, so the Southern states favor them. They don’t tax them.
You have to plan, or go to a financial advisor and say, “Here is what I have; where can I live?” like Ann. She figured out where she can live with her accounts. And there are financial advisors that do pro bono work, that do free consults, or do your own research like I did. I’ll be 45 and I’ll be able to retire with my husband and still raise my kids, who will be in middle school at the time…
Siobhan:And be mortgage-free. I’ve been mortgage-free since I was 30 years old.
So, I’m not saying everybody’s going to be as blessed as I was, but I’m saying there’s a way around it, not to blame that. And the fact that my IRAs and the stocks have tripled since 9-11, then obviously I did my research… correctly.
Ann: What are you going to do about insurance, Siobhan? Cause if you’re [retire] at 45, [inaudible]
Siobhan: My… kids and I will be covered, and we’ll pay for the Florida Blue 65 plan, like Pennsylvania has the Personal Choice 65, and he’ll have Medicare. So then I’m covered ‘til I’m 65 and the kids are covered ‘til they’re 26.
Ann & Nina: [inaudible]
Siobhan:That was a good thing that was well thought-out in Obamacare; they’re covered until they’re 26, if they don’t. It was a good thought. Obama had good ideas, but this one was not well thought-out. Now, when I look at Biden and Trump, you gotta put what’s going to work for you and find the lesser of two evils. ‘Cause everybody agree, nobody’s perfect.
Mike: Yup. So.
Siobhan: There’s always one… [inaudible]
Shayna: So I want to jump in —
Shayna: [inaudible] because, since I am a financial advisor… By profession. And you know, personally, I – I’m doing well. But I also recognize that how I’m doing, and the type of work that I do, is not a reflection on the country as a whole. So for me, I worked with the stock market every day. My job is to make people money. I know that stocks can make money, while regular people go broke.
Because you can easily, as a corporation, manipulate numbers to make your stock prices look better. You lay off people, it’ll make your stock prices look better. You can do stock buybacks, it makes your stock prices look better. There are a lot of ways, that don’t affect the everyday person, that the stock market can manipulate itself to do well.
So… Most people know that the stock market is not the economy. And this is the first time, at least in my 20 years of doing this, that I’ve ever had a – a president try to make the stock market sound like it’s the actual economy – when it works in his favor. But… Looking at the – the overall economy, – the… Income gap is widening, which is also affecting some of these other things. So you can’t get democratic participation out of your citizenry if you have people who can’t afford to feed their families, because 42% of the jobs that were lost in COVID aren’t coming back. So, there’s going to be… Some kind of fallout from this. And I’ve heard nothing about that in terms of jobs, or development of jobs, or reorienting the economy… There’s… automation has taken over some of these jobs because of the pandemic, are not coming back, because they’re going to figure out how to get robots to do the job. Because robots don’t get sick. So, there’s a lot of things that have already been in the works —
Siobhan: They’ve been doing robots for years. Even when I was in the hospital, they were using the robot for the stroke team.
Shayna: It’s gonna, it’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger —
Siobhan: You can’t blame COVID on that.
Shayna: Because 30 percent of some of those other jobs are still going to – to lose. Their technology will always do things faster and better than humans. Not necessarily – that doesn’t necessarily help us, but there’s no plan right now… to address that issue. There’s just constant focus on, you know, the top income-earners in the country. And the – and only 80% of – of the stock market participation is only done by 20% of Americans. So… To say that the stock market is the economy is really—
Siobhan: I didn’t – I didn’t say the stock market was the economy. I was just saying—
Shayna: I didn’t say that you said it—
Siobhan: My financial situation, I have to make work for me, just like Ann did for her.
Shayna: Yeah, Siobhan, I’m not saying that you did. I’m saying people—
Siobhan: Oh, okay, I thought – I was talking about it a whole, like —
Shayna: This is not addressed to you directly. This is —
Siobhan: Oh okay. I was like, “No, it’s a whole package.”
Mike: Yup… So…
Shayna: No, this is the whole – the whole – the point is you can’t look at one segment of the economy, which is the stock market and broad – broadly paint a stroke that the economy is doing –
Siobhan: Oh, like he is saying.
Shayna: Well, ‘cause it’s not. Because the gap is widening and that affects every other aspect of democracy. So, unless you address that there – we’re actually going to get worse. Oh, we’re going to get more polarized because everybody’s going to look to blame somebody else for why they can’t have a job or why they can’t do this. They’re every other problem is going to get magnified —
Siobhan: But that’s with every recession they’re going to blame somebody else.
Shayna: I’m not even talking about the recession. I’m talking about the general economy.
Mike: So by show of hands. Who would trust the economy in Biden’s hands over Trump. So just raise your hand. If you would rather have Biden at the helm of the economy. Alright, Bella, I’m going to use your new background as a segue. So honestly, thank you. So, I want to talk a little bit about the racial tensions that are prevalent in our country right now. So how do you think – what do you think has been Trump’s role in that? Do you think there’s any? Basically just, what do you think has been his impact on race relations in our country?
Bella: Oh boy.
Mike: I know we just switched gears, but, this is a really important issue right now. So, I would really – Everyone else, I’m going to start with Bella, please. You hear something, Feel free to jump in. I want to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.
Bella: Nope. I am just going to say, read the sign. Black lives matter. Doesn’t matter if you are a person of color or not. Black lives do matter. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.
Jacintha: Lives matter. Yes
Mike: And so how do you feel – so what has been Trump’s impact? Has there been an impact? I don’t want to put words in your mouth.
Bella: I’m really, really trying to say this in as calm a fashion as possible.
Bella:He… when someone at a rally of their own points in the crowd and says, “Look at my African American over there.”
Bella:‘Nough said. I don’t think he’s helped. I don’t think he’s helped at all. He is someone who fuels the fire a lot. And he’s just very, very clearly a racist. He sees himself as someone. He definitely has a superiority complex. He’s – and that comes with the narcissism as well. He makes fun of people for things that are out of their control. Like he points things out of – about people for things that are out of their control. And this isn’t a BLM situation. But just thinking about another time when – at another rally, when he made fun of a reporter with a disability. Now whenever somebody makes fun of somebody for something that’s out of their control, in my opinion, that is absolutely unacceptable. And that also comes into play with race.
So, with the whole thing that’s happening in this country, I think that everything that’s happening right now is so far overdue. So far overdue. Just the fact that, I have been sitting in my unknown privilege of being so oblivious to everything that people of color have been experiencing in this country. And then all of this happens and I’m thinking, “Wow, I was so ignorant.” And I was so ignorant that I didn’t mean to be, but I just didn’t know. And the fact that it’s – it – didn’t – it never – from things that I’ve read… And I do — do my research. I’d make sure that I read stuff from all across the political spectrum, so that way I can get as well informed an opinion as possible, from what I’ve read, it never got better. People have been experiencing things throughout history and he’s just not helping at all, you know? Okay.
Bella:I’ve had conversations with other Trump supporters – or not other Trump supporters because I very much do not support Trump – but I’ve had conversations with Trump supporters, and they’re saying ‘I don’t like the person that he is, but I – I liked some of his policies.’ That’s great. But as a leader, you have to lead by example. Whether you like it or not, you have to lead by example. And he’s not doing that well at all, to reflect the America that we should have, where people are equal. Black lives cannot matter until all lives matter.
Mike: Thank you. Nina?
Nina: I think what he’s done is made it okay to be – to hate. [inaudible]
Jacintha: To hate. Okay to hate.
Nina:It’s made it acceptable for people to be just awful to each other and especially racially. And I think it’s just – he’s given people carte blanche to say whatever they want about whoever they want. And it’s terrible. He’s- he’s dividing this country. He is fanning the flames of this, of the racism and the divide in the country. Absolutely. He loves it.
Jacintha: Yeah. I can only – I can only echo what Nina said. The first words out of his mouth when he came down the escalator were words of hate. Hate and – and all the – all the things that were unacceptable to say before – the things that people would never say before.
I have said to my husband many times at the very beginning, these are the voices in people’s heads that they hear and that their better nature, as Jon Meacham likes to point out often, I think it was from Lincoln – the better – our better angels – and – and – and maybe our religious practices love thy neighbor as ourselves have tempered those.
He has allowed it to come out like a flame thrower. I don’t think the man has a soul to be perfectly honest. I don’t think it’s about ra – I don’t think he has a soul. And I – I think – I think he – I think he acts as a racist and I think he incites and believes other people are racist so that he can draw that out of them.
I think that people either matter to him or they – they don’t – they serve a purpose for him or they don’t like objects. And I don’t think he thinks people of color – we’ve heard how he refers to their countries or where they come from the way he referred to Baltimore. So that for him to use that language is they are not important. They do not serve a purpose for him. So, therefore –
Nina:The irony is –
Jacintha:Therefore he dismisses them.
Nina: The irony is some of the people who are the everyday people would never be allowed in his house, in his clubs, in his life. He likes them, because, [inaudible] for them, they are – they’re just blindly following him, but he would not have them in his life.
Siobhan: I just want to add something to that. There is definitely a racism problem in this country. I just have a severe problem with labels and how the media puts it. [inaudible] Biden. We can’t diagnose him, but he’s getting his words mixed up the whole nine yards. You have to look at the past and [inaudible] how people build up to being the person they are. Trump was never considered a racist until he ran for president. He also —
Shayna:No, he was definitely [inaudible] I’m just telling you.
Participant:Yes, he was.
Jacintha:[inaudible] servers from the floor of his casino. They were not allowed to be on the floor.
Siobhan:[inaudible] Let me finish. [inaudible] then Biden said the eulogy at [inaudible ], the head of the KKK.
Melissa: In the 1970s, when he wouldn’t let black people rent in his apartments.
Siobhan: But – [inaudible] No. He is still inappropriate as well. Biden is a [inaudible], as well.
Siobhan:He needs to stay off social media. I totally agree with that, but I mean, look at LBJ, he took a dump in the oval office with the door open [inaudible]. We’re not gonna like everybody’s character, but Trump has shown that [inaudible] peaceful [inaudible] with Israel —
Jacintha: LBJ overcame a background of being a southerner living within a racist environment to pass the civil rights act. The most historic changes in this country.
Jacintha:So yes, I disagree, that wasn’t a good thing to do. And – and that – that was his nature. And that – that was a mistake of a character —
Siobhan: But he still hasn’t changed. His character still has not changed.
Shayna: But neither has Trump.
Jacintha:I agree. Trump’s character has not changed. I don’t believe he has a character or a soul.
Siobhan:Trump is socially inappropriate. I don’t think he’s racist.
Shayna: As the lone person of color on this panel. I feel like I probably should speak on this matter –
Jacintha:Thank you. Thank you.
Shayna:And I’m going to tell you that Black people feel that Trump was racist before you and —
Siobhan: I have Black friends and I have Jewish friends that don’t think he’s racist. They say that was blown out of proportion.
Shayna: I’m telling you that he – when he took out the full-page ad on the central park five and never apologized for it. And still to this day – even when they’re exonerated – still won’t apologize for it because he called for their death when he wouldn’t [inaudible] people of color —
Siobhan: [inaudible] If his intentions were not to be racist then he’s not going to apologize for it. Biden’s been sexually inappropriate and has not apologized [inaudible]
Shayna: Well, you can’t talk about sexual inappropriateness, and then try to defend Donald Trump. He’s got more lawsuits for sexual impropriety than anybody I’ve ever seen in office, but that ‘cause –
Siobhan: Oh, Bill Clinton —
Shayna:That’s actual – the court documents.
Siobhan: Bill Clinton had plenty —
Shayna:[inaudible] for Biden on that particular issue now, not to the level of Trump, for sure. But, as a – as a – as a black person, there’s no way. But that in my 41 years of life, I’ve ever – I’ve experienced racism as well. So, it’s not a – it’s not a new problem. It didn’t start with Trump. So, I don’t blame Trump for racism. I think he –
Siobhan: That’s what I com – I think he’s socially inappropriate about a lot of things.
Shayna: No, I don’t think he’s socially inappropriate. I think he’s a racist. –
Siobhan:I don’t [inaudible] racist. [inaudible] blown out.
Shayna:I think it’s important that we say because he’s in charge of the systems. He could actually do something about it. Racism has to do with institutions and systems, not how we treat each other individually. We can like each other individually and still have a racist system in place and that is the issue that is being addressed. I know people personally who get along with me, but who are racist. There, my husband grew up in Southern Delaware. Where he knew the KKK families. In his town and they got along with them, that doesn’t mean that they’re not racist. That means that we can have a civil conversation and you can like me as an individual, but you don’t want me to have power. You don’t want me to have access. And that is the part that has to be addressed. And he stokes those fears. —
Siobhan: But I also don’t like labels.
Shayna: He stokes that. And he automatically puts people – he, I mean, he has known white supremacists in his cabinet, in position power –
Shayna:To continue to perpetuate those things. And I’m – I’m actually, to an extent, grateful for him coming into this position because it exposes what has already – as people of color we’ve known and experienced all of this time. And now more people get to see it. And the more people see it, the more can get done.
Jacintha: Thank you. Thank you.
Siobhan: It can be done without labels. I mean, no offense, I’m sorry. Black lives matter has nothing to do with black humans. Now, there is good, honest citizens that do believe and do portray that black lives matter to that effect. Who respect black humans and give them the same level of consideration as others. But then there’s the other side of black matters that is going out and shooting police officers like the two in California and a good friend of mine got shot in the face. And it was, oh, because of black lives matter because he was wearing a uniform – a police uniform. So that’s why I don’t like labels. I’m sorry, because people have got ambushed on both sides because of it.
Mike: So, I appreciate –
Siobhan:And there’s a lot of people that say black lives matter comes from black panthers, we just need to say. We need to [inaudible] black humans. Period. We need to respect all –
Shayna: Well people don’t even – you have to understand who the black panthers were they were not a militant terrorist organization. They wanted to give free breakfast to kids. I’m just saying, that’s what they were doing.
Siobhan: Nah that’s Antifa that’s being [inaudible] terrorist organization. I’m just saying this label is – and it’s not fair.
Mike: Okay. So, and Ann, you did have your hand up earlier then. I just want to hear from Kathi quick. So, before we move on, ‘cause there are a couple of things I want to cover, but this is really important. So, I want to make sure everyone has a chance to voice their opinion. So, and what’s on your mind?
Ann: I was going to say that black lives do matter. And my great grandmother, you know, she was part of the Underground Railroad. When – when she died, we found the tunnels under the house and the journals. About the – the railroad. So, believe me, when I say all people matter to me, but black lives do matter. What I have trouble with is disrespecting the police, defunding the police and not honoring our military and our dead. I think it’s so disrespectful to not stand during the anthem and honor the soldiers that gave their lives for this country. It breaks my heart.
Kathi: When Trump says it though –
Ann: I’m sorry [that] I was polite and listened while y’all spoke, so y’all can give me a minute. You know, Biden wasn’t marching next to John Lewis in 1965. He was sitting in Delaware, doing his own thing. You know, when he’s had 40 years to – to stand up for black rights, it was LBJ who desegregated the schools and sent the American U.S. Troops in to defend so that a young girl could march into school, a white school. And so it’s – it’s not always been a Democratic platform to support the African American and other races. I really strongly feel that this is an issue that I’m glad it’s reached its time. I think the riots are bad. I think that disrespecting the police is bad, and I fear that we’re not going to have police if we don’t start supporting them and helping them learn how to be better police. So that they’re not unnecessarily harming people. But I think the most important thing that we all need to learn is how to be an anti-racist. And that means whenever a decision comes up, that requires a decision involving race that we actively choose to be against racism, whether it in speech, thought, action, that – that we make sure that we’re knocking down barriers. When I teach, I made sure that a hundred percent of my students are successful. I call them at home. I set up a learning plan so that they can be successful. I don’t want to leave one person behind. I want them all to get a hundred on the exam. I want them all to become successful in their career. I want them all to – to – to learn and – and be able to be met where they need to be met. I believe equity is not treating everyone the same. It’s treating each person as an individual with individual needs and meeting those needs and surpassing those needs so that – that you will help that person achieve excellence. It’s being an anti-racist and that’s what we need to get the message out. There’s a book on it. Don’t remember the author’s name. It was recently published. It’s on the New York bestseller list. If you’re interested, on how to be an anti-racist and how to make every life matter.
Mike: So, thank you a ton of good information there. I wish we had a four-hour group where we can really just kind of dive into this. So, I’m gonna switch gears just a little bit, and I’m going to try to focus on –it’s been in the background for the whole conversation, but the 2020 election. So, it is coming up quicker than we realize. I just want to go around the room I’ll call out names – if you could just tell me who you’re going to support at this point, and on a 0 to 10 scale, – How committed are you? So basically, zero means you’re totally on the fence. You have no idea right now. You’re kind of just leaning towards them. 10 you’re a hundred percent committed. There’s nothing that can happen between now and Election Day to change your mind. So, Kathi?
Kathi: Oh, I’m all in for a 10.
Mike: And Trump or Biden?
Kathi: Oh, for Biden.
Jacintha: Oh Biden and it’s a 10. Can I put a hundred?
Mike: And 1 to 10? How committed?
Bella: Biden. 10.
Melissa: Ooh, Biden, 10.
Siobhan: Trump 10.
Ann: Well, I’m looking at Pence and Kamala as being the ticket. I don’t like Trump, but I like Pence. I don’t like Biden, but I like Kamala. So, I guess I’m going to write in Booker Abrams.
Mike: Alright and Shayna?
Shayna: Biden 10.
Mike: So, a lot of tens it seems like this was pretty much already baked in. So, question and feel free to jump in. When did you decide this? When did you know that there was basically no turning around and it was going to be Biden? No matter what. So, I’ll start with, Kathi.
Kathi: I – I already had answered this question and it was January 21st, the day after inauguration. The man had promised things that my husband and I would sit and say, ‘he legally can’t do that. He – how would he ever think that who’s going to pay for this? How it was – There just wasn’t any basis of – of anything that he claimed he was going to do. There was nothing.
Mike: So are there other reasons why we’re so committed? How – when did – basically, when did you know that it was rock solid in your head? That you weren’t going to change your mind?
Melissa: When I saw the kids in cages.
Mike: So yeah, Melissa said when she saw the kids in cages –
Shayna: I think the kids in cages was what sent me completely over the edge there. I was actually willing to give Trump a chance. You know, cause yeah – yeah, he was racist, but America’s been racist for a long time. But, when I saw kids in cages and he wasn’t doing anything about it, that was – that was really a turning point.
Ann: And the first lady [inaudible] sweatshirt that said ‘I do not care’ when she went to visit the kids in cages.
Shayna: Yeah. I can’t. I can’t do that.
Ann: I was done. Done.
Bella: Yeah, I’m actually gonna one up Kathi and say that I knew ever since the – the polls were finalized, that Trump had won the election. So ever since then knew that I wasn’t going to vote for him when I was able to vote.
Jacintha: Yeah. Yeah, it was – I was never going to – I cried on election night, so I knew I was never going to – I cried.
Jacintha:So, I knew that I was – I would vote for a Democratic candidate. I – I – I think, what – what – would – had it been one of the other candidates? Maybe I – maybe I wouldn’t have been a 10. But I think as the events unfolded and the party itself, chose Biden, you know – What happened in South Carolina and everything that happened since South Carolina has said it – it has solidified, that it – that it would be, if you’re talking about Biden, as opposed to say Buttigieg or one of the – one of the candidates, but it would always have to have been the Democrat. The number might’ve been different, but it would always set to have been the Democrat.
Nina: I knew when – when he was… Mic’s not on… I knew when he made fun of – of the reporter that would. That – And the second thing that did it was the Bible thing. That – that really did it for me. That was the end. I – I – there’s no way I could ever consider voting for him.
Ann: Weren’t you surprised he didn’t burn his fingers?
Mike: Ann – Ann, as our – yes, Siobhan and then, yup.
Siobhan: I have to say that, I do try to hear them out. Like, I think we need Republicans, Democrats, and independents, because we wouldn’t be a democracy without them there’s been Democrats in the past that I have supported and agree. I mean, I love what LBJ did for this country and so forth. So, I did hear them out, but what sealed the deal for me is: my family got attacked because we have a police tag on our license plate. And Kamala and Biden just don’t care about the police. And they go and support the criminals. And without law and order, we don’t have a country. We won’t be able to listen to the media on how they say Biden’s has Alzheimer’s and how Trump is inappropriate again. We won’t have that. If you don’t have order in your country, you don’t have a country. And I know there’s other things that are important. I put the lesser of two evils on my list, but when my family was almost killed that day, just because we have a police tag by an anti-police and she had Biden on her car, too, just like anti-police. And it was handwritten in Sharpie.
Mike: Yup. So –
Siobhan: I just can’t live in a world like that.
Mike: I’m actually going to follow up on that, but just quick show of hands. Did anyone vote for Trump in 2016? So, Ann I’m seeing a no. So, who did you support?
Ann: I voted for Hillary.
Ann:Feminist first! It’s gonna be a really difficult decision. I’m going to have my ballot in front of me, and that’s when I’m going to make my decision. Because I’m a feminist first, so I should vote for Kamala. And, it’s going to be really tough decision for me because I’m also a card-carrying Republican, you know, since Truman. I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to cross over the line again.
Mike: So, I actually want to follow up on that and then everyone feel free to jump in after she gives her thoughts. What are Biden’s weak points? So, your our most middle of the road – you’re leaning towards not a hundred percent decided. Ann, what’s your hesitations about Biden?
Ann: Well, he wasn’t there in 1965 marching next to John Lewis. He has 40 years in Congress of not supporting black rights or equal rights or creating a path to citizenship for the children in cages. I think that the man is ineffectual. Can’t think of one thing he did that was effective during Obama’s years.
Ann: You know, he is just not been effective for 40 years and the fact that they kept reelecting him. It’s because you know, his wife and daughter were killed on the eve of the election. And then his son was a military serviceman with cancer. And, you know – I mean, he has a great sob story and you want to feel sorry for the guy, but that doesn’t make him a good leader. So, you know, I really believe in the Republican platform. That we support our first responders.
Jacintha: They don’t have one.
Ann: We do have a platform. We [inaudible]
Siobhan: Excuse me? We – emergency responders don’t have a platform?
Nina: No, the Republican party chose not–
Nina:The Republican Party choose not to have a platform.
Jacintha: [inaudible] has no platform.
Nina:Chose after their convention.
Siobhan:I’m a Republican, but I accept that.
Jacintha: [inaudible] There’s no official platform. They have no official platform.
Ann: They dp have an official platform. You can go on the website and look at it. They’re supported by– we believe in gun rights. We believe in state rights. We believe in supporting our first responders, our police and our firemen. We believe in, you know, people have more freedom and less governance by the government.
Nina: A lot of people believe in, in, in second amendment rights, they really do [inaudible].
Ann: The Democratic platform is very socialist and that makes me very uncomfortable.
Mike: So a couple of the questions —
Melissa: Explain socialist…
Mike: No, Melissa, please.
Melissa: I just wanted the definition that she has of socialists, that’s all. When she said —
Siobhan: Not all Democrats are socialists.
Melissa: ‘Cause I don’t understand. But –
Ann: You know, it was a Republican policy that did workfare. I hired fair people, women that wanted to get back into the workforce and get off welfare. I hired those women. I trained those women. I know that work fare works. You know, that it empowers women. I’ve trained over 900 housewives to reenter the workforce as home health aides.
Melissa: But are you saying Democrats don’t want to do that?
Ann: Well, it was a Republican… You said – I said I support the Republican platform. It was a Republican program that funded us. It was Work fare that funded us, you know, I believe —
Melissa: And – and there was no funding for it when Obama was in office?
Ann: I’m sorry?
Melissa: There was no funding for that type of thing when Obama was –
Ann: Was de-funded under Obama.
Ann:You know, we had to end our program because Obama took office. So, you know, that kind of broke my heart because you know –
Melissa: My daughter in her urban school district, she was always sending people out to where they could get help from the government. And that was during the Obama years. So, I’m just confused. That’s all.
Siobhan: But no, it was in place when Obama came in office and then it was slowly defunded taken away from him. So, the first few years, they were still able to do that stuff.
Melissa: And then the Republicans took over Congress and defunded.
Nina: I was going to say, who de-funded it?
Siobhan: The congress is Democrat; the senate is Republican.
Ann:[inaudible] defunded [inaudible] there was a Republican [inaudible]
Melissa: But now, but the last few years of Obama – that was also a Republican Congress. When we had John Boehner, the speaker of the house.
Mike: So I just – I hate to interrupt, but I just have a couple extra questions while I still have you guys here. So in terms of voting, raise your hand if you are going to be voting in person. If that – if that’s your plan right now. So, I see Nina, Siobhan…So –
Shayna:I actually am not sure. I mean, either going to do – I requested a mail in ballot, but I’m perfectly willing to go in person.
Mike: So, does anyone have any concerns about, and just feel free to jump in, on the integrity of the election? So, do you think there’s anything behind either the ballots and so – Shayna, I see you shaking your head. What are your concerns?
Shayna: I – I think there’s so much confusion being stirred right now. That I think, well, number one, I think Trump is intentionally sowing seeds of confusion because he is going to contest the results, unless they’re in his favor. So if Biden is winning. I don’t think Trump will accept it because I think he did the same thing in 2016, to sow doubt constantly just in case he loses because I don’t think-
Siobhan: I think they’re both doing it though.
Shayna: I don’t think he would lose well, and I think the whole post office thing. You know, I think the post office itself, you know, should be left alone –
Siobhan: That I do agree.
Shayna:But all of this shifting of, you know, putting the guy in leadership, who’s clearly partisan. What – with what should be a nonpartisan government institution is suspect, so —
Siobhan: Now I have a question for Shayna ‘cause you did your research, if you don’t mind. What’s the difference between the mail-in and the absentee ballot that we’ve always had? Can you –
Kathi:I work [inaudible]
Siobhan:Is there a definite answer?
Shayna: Yeah. Absentee is if you don’t live where you would normally be voting. Or can’t get to the polls.
Nina:Can’t get there
Ann: If you’re on a military base.
Shayna: Yeah. If you’re on a military base or you’re –
Shayna:Out of the country or something or you’re an expatriate. But, for mail-in voting, you can request to send in your ballot because you don’t want to go – Because of the coronavirus, some states – Some states have been doing mail-in voting forever. Like Oregon has had mail-in voting, for, like, 20 years. And they have a high participation rate, and they have like almost no fraud whatsoever. And they’ve done it for a long time. Other States –
Siobhan: So, when you have the absentee ballot, you – you still drop it off in person?
Shayna: No, you mail it in.
Siobhan: So what’s the difference?
Shayna: Well, mailing, not absentee is…[inaudible]
Shayna: [inaudible] people don’t want to show up because of the Coronavirus.
Mike: So quick question for those of you who aren’t planning on voting in person, what was the reason? Is it something beyond the coronavirus or is that the main reason, Melissa? I think I saw you were not planning on voting in person.
Melissa: Main reason, obviously I’m in my seventies. Need I go further with this coronavirus? So I just feel – I want to live to see the new president. So, I’m going to vote by mail.
Nina: [inaudible] because I – in New Hampshire, we have never – I’ve never in my life had an actual voting machine. I want to see how it’s done. In New Hampshire, voting day is like family day. Everybody shows up; you bring your kids and baked goods. Great.
Mike: So I want to squeeze in just one last exercise. Just so I can get as much information as possible before – just like a wrap up question. So, if you could just grab a pen –
Ann: Mike, I’m voting by mail because I’m lazy.
Mike: Okay. So not due to corona.
Mike:Appreciate the honesty.
Anne: [inaudible] to the polls. I’ve been voting by mail for years now.
Kathi: I’m going to vote. I will be voting by mail.
Mike: By mail. Yup.
Kathi:In fact, my application is – it just came in the mail today. I work our precinct. Will not probably be in my own precinct, because there are not enough people to work the polls in their own precinct. So, I will probably be shipped out to, you know, another one. And, as busy as that day is going to be, I’m concerned that I’m not going to be able to get to my precinct, which – we really aren’t to leave, to be able to vote. So, I’m going to vote by mail.
Mike: And do you have any concerns about the integrity of it, of like the mail-in ba –?
Kathi: Absolutely not. If you knew the system in the state of Pennsylvania, I can speak for – if you knew the system, you would not have a concern. There’s checks and balances. That’s it – There is no way you can vote twice. Your dog does not get a vote.
Mike: So, If you could just write down, just top of mind, one word or phrase of just impression. So beyond policies, just your impression of Trump and then your impression of Biden. So just really try to focus it. Just what one word or phrase first comes to mind for each candidate?
Siobhan:Should I go?
Mike: Yup. So, I’ll give you guys a second. Write down and then I’ll start with you.
Siobhan: Biden, I feel – I feel very sorry for him. Something’s going on and his family is not helping. Trump, lesser of two evils.
Bella: I will just say –
Mike: Lesser of. So Siobhan, I’m gonna summarize that up as lesser of two evils. So that was for Trump. How about Biden? Just what- top of mind? Impression?
Siobhan: Unstable. Something’s going on.
Mike: Unstable? Okay. Ann, how about you? What was your Trump word?
Ann: Law and order.
Mike: Law and order?
Ann: Yeah, the way he supports the police and supports, you know, having guns and, you know, personal freedoms.
Mike: And how about for Biden?
Ann: Well, I – over the past 40 years, I’ve found him to be ineffectual.
Mike: Ineffectual? Okay.
Ann: So, you know, I’m – I’m really struggling with this election because I want to vote for Kamala. She’s female. I’d like her, but I really, really just don’t feel that Biden, at 78 years old, has got the energy to be effective in any way.
Ann: So, I –
Mike: So –
Ann:Probably going to vote for Trump, but might write in Booker Abrams, which is my first choice.
Mike: So Shayna, what’s your word for Trump?
Shayna: I wrote down, terrible leader.
Mike: Terrible leader. And how about for Biden? I’m sorry. I’m sorry to be rushing these. I don’t want to keep you guys forever, but, since this is recorded and I can go back and watch this over and over and really dig through it, I just want to hear your opinions. So, what was for Biden?
Mike: Decent. And Melissa, word for Trump?
Melissa: For Trump? I wrote unfit.
Mike: Unfit. Okay. And how about for Biden?
Melissa: I wrote down hopeful, intelligent.
Mike: Hopeful, intelligent. So, Bella, what’s your Trump word?
Bella:For Trump, I put terrifying.
Mike: Terrifying. Okay. How about for Biden?
Bella:Biden? I put hope.
Mike: Hope. All right, Nina?
Nina: Well, I had – I was tied between, for Trump – immoral and unstable and, for Biden, I wrote hope and kind.
Mike: Okay. Jacintha? What’s your word for Trump?
Jacintha: He has no soul, and I’ll go back to that. The man has no soul. I questioned his humanity, so he has no soul. For Biden, I would say moral leadership.
Mike: All right. And Kathi, so what was your word for Trump?
Kathi: Four letters: liar. And for Biden, I have he’s compassionate, and he will be a good listener. That’s it.
Mike: Alright. Alright. So, I want to get one more question. Hopefully, so I just want to give you guys something to think about for a second. I’m just going to check in with my directors and see if there’s any other questions they need to know –
Ann: Just want to interject one thing –
Ann:Before you go. If this is in some way being communicated to the campaigns, they really should tell Biden in that the Botox last week didn’t work. He had Botox in his forehead.
Ann:They’re over-lighting him on the commercials; the bright white light that shiny to his face to make it look younger. Is not effective.
Nina: Look at Trump’s hair.
Siobhan: Nah, I think he has a disease that causes –
Jacintha: [inaudible] the comb-over.
Kathi: Along with the clown makeup. Okay.
Jacintha:The clown makeup. I like that.
Siobhan: Oh the spray tan. I will give you that.
Mike: So, I’m going to pose a –Bella. I’ll let you squeeze in.
Bella: Sorry. I did want to say something about Biden because I actually did not know this until fairly recently,… is that he has a stutter. And that’s why he trips over his words so much. He’s – he’s gotten so much better with it. I had no idea. I thought that there might’ve been something going on too, but then I found out that he actually, like [inaudible]—
Ann: We know. We know he has a stutter. He’s had it for 40 years. 50!
Siobhan: And I have a stutter, but I know the words. I just can’t pronounciate them. He has a disease and it’s sad.
Nina: Come on. Trump has misspoken so many times.
Siobhan: Trump’s socially inappropriate; he knows damn well what he’s saying. But the old man, he doesn’t. I’m sorry.
Ann: I – I’m just saying the Botox isn’t working for him.
Mike: Alright. So one last thing to end on a more general note. So, you all have, it seems like there’s lots of different opinions, but it seems like you also all have a lot in common. If you have to think about why you feel the way you do, are there certain issues or reasons that you think are the underlying causes?
Shayna: Well, life experience.
Ann: For me, I think it was the fact that I was a single parent for 17 years. By myself raised my kids. Didn’t get married again until late in life. Thank God, I am now married, but, I was alone for many years. And my opinions of how to be supportive as a government were shaped by those years. I got precious little support. When I got divorced in the early eighties, it was shameful for women to get divorced. It was not respected for women to go to work and support their own family. And I really had to buck the system to do that. So, I think that shapes a lot of my opinions today. And my daughter is more like Bella than like me because of it. She believes in – in strength and freedom and – and social causes, and she’s an activist and – and I’m very proud of her, but I also diverge from her in beliefs because of what I endured.
Mike: So other people – That was insightful. What do you think – what are the other underlying reasons why you feel – why you feel the way you feel for lack of a better word?Siobhan. And then I’m going to open it up, so if we can keep it a little quick, just ‘cause I do want to go around the room and have everyone have a chance to respond to this –
Siobhan: Obviously it came down to my personal experience and I did appreciate everybody’s opinion, but I’m gonna pick on Kathi. If I lived out of Kathi and did my list then it may be Biden. If she lived in my shoes and my experience and wrote her list, it may be different.
Siobhan:Just the personal experience, like having to take all police garden decor because our friends were being followed home from the police station. I don’t want to live like that. I can’t live like that.
Mike: Anyone else want to jump in any final thoughts… Jacinta?
Jacintha: Faith. I’m a Catholic. I spent my life working in – I’m completely Catholic education, including my graduate. My children were raised Catholic. I attend mass regularly – weekly. I worked in Catholic institutions for over 35 years. So you know – love your neighbor as yourself. The – the – what you see, not hate, but – but compassion. And in those programs, I also worked – those programs that I worked with for 30 years in higher education included social justice. So the idea of equity and fairness and – and that background and – and I devoted my life… to that. And that’s – that’s a strong, so – so I would say that that’s an important – and maybe that’s why I say Trump has no soul. But that it –that’s really important to me that –that I think is part of my character. And that is what I look for in someone else’s character and leadership.
Mike: Thank you for that. And Bella —
Ann: Maybe if Tom Selleck was running. You know, from Blue Bloods.
Bella: So, like I – like I said before. I’m a music education major. And actually a lot of – the more I have – this is going to sound kind of funny, but a lot of them came from my experiences in marching band in high school. I was in marching band all four years of high school. And it not only teaches you to think that it’s not just about yourself. It’s about everybody else. You have to work together. And not even just to mention the whole idea of the arts in creativity and emotion and compassion. All of those are so incredibly important. And, I also think it’s interesting to note that both of my parents were registered Republicans. They switched over, but they were registered Republicans. They were actually a bit more middle of the line than I was, and a lot of what I had experienced, in school and just by doing my own research. You know, I feel like it’s your civic duty to do your research and be civically engaged and politically engaged in all aspects, local, state, national – Make sure you know what you’re talking about. Do not just spout nonsense based on your own opinions. Make sure that you have the facts. And I feel like, basically, all of those are what helped me to get to the conclusions that I’ve come to today.
Mike: Who was the – was that Melissa?
Melissa:Yes. I just want to say here and now that it’s because of people like Bella, that there is hope for this country. She’s young. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. She’s engaged in what’s going on. And, and she just gives me hope for the future.
Mike: Glad to hear – I love ending on a positive note. So, Shayna and Nina, Kathi, you guys just want to jump in at all? Just main thing that you think or not main thing, but just anything that you think really led you to believe the way you do today.
Nina: I think it’s all about your experience in life because I – I was very active in marching for women’s rights and – and, I’m sorry, but, whatever your belief is, but for women’s reproductive rights. I mean, there were a lot of things that I agitated for and marched in. And I think I’m older than you, Ann, and I think I’m older than you. And – and I felt like I did my part then so divorced in the eighties. I was – it didn’t matter to me at all. It didn’t. So clearly our life experience has shaped who we are and what we feel. But you’re right, Bella, this is all about hope and – and your generation I really have strong belief in. So, keep up the good work, girl.
Shayna: I would probably, yeah. Life experience and, you know, I have – I check a lot of different boxes on the – I mean, I grew up urban. Presently live in a suburban neighborhood; I am a small business owner. African American. I’m a woman. And so, all of those kind of wrapped up into one, colored my decision making. I’m a person of faith. I’m a pastor, as well. So, there’s a lot of things that I consider when I think about who I’m going to vote for. I was not a Biden supporter in the primary season. This year I was more politically active than I’ve ever been. I’ve never attended town hall meetings, in my community, but I did. I was gonna – I was going to be a delegate to the DNC. When it was in person, until my candidate dropped out, and then I just was going to support the nominee. So, I’ve been more engaged this year because I sense the urgency and I think it does take more involvement. Like, I don’t want to wonder, if I could have done more to help in what I think is a really critical election. So, I don’t want to, you know, look into the future and say, “man, I wish I had just you know talked to one person or I wish I had sent a text message or something” —
Shayna: Or volunteered some time. So I just want to make sure that I’m doing my part cause otherwise. You know, our – our voices collectively need to be heard because all of these experiences together will hopefully send the country in –in the right direction. If we learn actually how to work together, we don’t have to agree all the time, but we do have –
Shayna: To agree on a particular trajectory. So, and right now I don’t – I don’t like the trajectory of the country. So —
Mike: And so, Kathi, wrap us up. Just any thoughts on what led you to where you are? Like your feelings today.
Kathi: Well, my feelings today would be. If you – if I did not want you dating my daughters, I don’t want you running my country. The man has —
Mike: I like that.
Kathi: Yah, I mean, when he talks about women, like the way he does demeaning to people? No Thanks. I don’t want you in my family.
Mike: Alright. So, I —
Nina: I’ve been drawing this whole time. It’s like a little doodle, but it’s like a patchwork quilt.
Nina: Because that’s who we are. I appreciate every one of you.
Nina: And your input. It’s great. And we are – this is what we have to be in this country, but we have to come back together again.
Mike: And honestly, thank you so much for your time. It was a passionate conversation. It’s – again, you guys did the surveys where we know we just ask approve/disapprove. You give us those top line numbers. This really was to dig into those numbers. Understand the why behind it, the why behind the voters, and you guys were great. I just want to say thank you so much for your time. Either myself, or most likely Jay DeDapper, will be in contact, if we need anything. We’ll let you know. Honestly, I think we’re good. I think the biggest thing I learned is we need to schedule at least four hours the next time, ‘cause I would have loved to just continue these conversations, but I did have some points I have to hit. So, if you feel like I – if you feel like I cut you off at any point, I am very sorry. And next time I definitely need at least twice the time –
Kathi:Can I –
Mike:‘Cause you’re great. You are an absolutely amazing group.
Kathi: Could I just say one thing?
Mike: Yes, please.
Kathi: Isn’t this the wonderful part of being in the United States, living in United States, that we can do this? We can all have our opinions and it’ll show November 3rd.
Mike: I started this job actually 10 years ago at this point as a student on the phone doing the public opinion surveys – You guys all did the public opinion surveys. Some people ask, well, ‘what do I get for doing the survey?’ I would say we’re in a democracy, someone’s asking you for your opinion. And I completely agree, Kathi.
Nina: Thank you, Kathi.
Mike: And as a person that works on this side, I appreciate your opinions so much and taking the time to spend with me tonight. Alright, so you are – you’re free to go. Again, Jay will be in contact. If you need anything, I believe you have – you’ve all been in email contact with him or have his phone number at this point. Feel free to reach out. Otherwise, thank you so much. I really do appreciate your time and opinions today.
Ann: Mike, are we getting a scale [inaudible] a poll to rate you as a presenter?
Mike:If you’d like to. You can – Maristpoll.com There’s a contact box there. Please feel free.
Nina:10! There you go 10!
Bella, Nina, Jacinta:[Holds up 10 fingers]
Mike: Thank you guys so much. You’ve been absolutely great.