Could Trump-Curious Black Voters Swing the Election? (Ep. 3) | Crooked Media
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June 09, 2024
The Wilderness
Could Trump-Curious Black Voters Swing the Election? (Ep. 3)

In This Episode

Jon is joined by pollster Terrance Woodbury and Lavora Barnes, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, to talk about the black voters who may cast their ballots for Trump this November. Who are they? Why are they leaving the Democratic Party? And how can we bring them back into the fold? Jon, Terrance, and Lavora dive into focus group tape, the Trump campaign’s strategy, and Biden’s recent speeches to find a message that works for these voters and then John Taylor, co-founder of Black Male Initiative Georgia, reminds us that the work of organizing should always begin with love.






[clip of John Taylor] We are not choosing our champion. We’re choosing our opposition. We’re not choosing Trump over Biden. We’re not choosing Biden over Trump. We’re making very strategic, calculated analysis about who’s going to put more food on our table. Moreover, we’re choosing the landscape upon which we’re going to fight. We’re asking ourselves critical questions about which one of these structures is going to result in the best wins, the greatest advancement for our people. Black men chase after no one. We lead. We build. We grow. But in order to do that, we must be heard. 


Jon Favreau: John Taylor is a co-founder of the Black Male Initiative, an organization based out of Georgia that’s all about empowering Black men through grassroots organizing. We called him up to ask what’s happening with Black voters this election cycle, a question that seems to be confounding almost everyone in politics right now. Since the Civil Rights Act, Black voters have supported Democratic candidates more than any other group of voters in America. That was true again in 2020, when increased Black turnout in states like Georgia made all the difference in a race that was decided by about 40,000 votes. But since 2020, there have been some warning signs, the Democrats may be losing support among the party’s most reliable constituency. In the 2022 midterms, Black turnout declined by nearly a quarter compared to the 2018 midterms. And right now, even some of the highest quality polls are showing Biden losing support among Black voters, especially younger Black voters and younger Black men. The latest New York Times set of battleground polls found more than one in five Black swing state voters say that they’re even open to voting for Donald Trump. Could that really be true? Or is it just a bunch of noise in an election where most voters still aren’t tuned in? That’s what we’re going to try to figure out in this episode. And more importantly, we’re going to talk about the most effective way to persuade Black voters who still haven’t made up their minds, because even if they’re a smaller group than the polling suggests, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party can’t afford to lose many votes from anyone, anywhere. And that’s even more true if they lose those votes to Donald Trump. Of course, you may be wondering why on earth would that happen? Here’s John Taylor again. 


[clip of John Taylor] We are not a monolith. All brothers don’t vote together. We have varying interests. But we’re brothers again. All of a sudden, the fear is somehow Trump’s antics. Somehow his misogyny, somehow his his paternalistic, patriarchal B.S. appeals to Black men. And you got to ask yourself, why is that what you think Black men are interested in? Because it’s not. Will there be Black men voting for Trump? Yes. But if they vote for Trump, it’s not because he appeals to them. It’s because the narrative about where economics are coming, where jobs are coming from, where access is coming from, where we’re going to get the best possible opportunity to feed our families. That narrative is being pumped out in the streets as if somehow Trump is an economic savior. 


Jon Favreau: Maybe you understand the sentiment. Maybe you’re bewildered by it. Either way, it’s a reality we have to deal with if we want to beat Donald Trump. And grappling with that reality requires putting ourselves in the shoes of voters who, for whatever reason, just don’t follow politics as closely as we do. And in the case of many young, Black struggling voters, it requires putting ourselves in the shoes of people who just haven’t seen the system work for them, no matter who’s in charge. Republicans or Democrats. And it’s up to us to convince them otherwise. 


[clip of John Taylor] Show me how Black people survive, and I’ll show you who Black people will vote for. And if progressives want to win, they have to do the hard work. 


Jon Favreau: John’s right. And that hard work involves reaching out, listening and knowing what to say to undecided Black voters, some of whom may very well be your friends, your family, your coworkers, or your neighbors. And that’s why I wanted to talk to two people who are absolute experts on this topic. Democratic pollster and political strategist Terrance Woodbury and Michigan Democratic Party chair Lavora Barnes. You’ll hear our conversation next, followed by more from John Taylor on what lessons we can learn from the work his organization is doing on the ground in Georgia. [music break] I’m Jon Favreau. Welcome to The Wilderness. [pause] Terrance Woodbury and Lavora Barnes. Thanks for being here. 


Lavora Barnes: Thanks for having us. 


Terrance Woodbury: Happy to be here. 


Jon Favreau: So, this season we’re talking about the most effective ways to persuade voters we need to beat Donald Trump but aren’t yet sold on Joe Biden. And I wanted to talk to both of you about Black voters. We, of course, know that Black voters have been the most Democratic leaning group of voters for decades now, and that has not changed, uh over the last several elections. That said, there have been signs in both election results and polling that a potentially decisive number of Black voters who’ve supported Joe Biden and Democratic candidates in the past may not do so in 2024, either because they’re considering voting for Trump, a third party candidate, or sitting this one out. And these voters appear to be disproportionately younger and male. Terrence, you’ve conducted countless focus groups with Black voters in your work with HIT, so you probably have a better picture of what’s going on than almost anyone. Lavora is chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. You guys have had a historic string of victories since 2018, and also have a really good story to tell about Black turnout, especially in the 2022 midterms. So let’s start there. How did you all manage to have a smaller drop in Black turnout than almost every other battleground state in the midterms? 


Lavora Barnes: Well, I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that we’ve been working in those communities all the time. We don’t just show up on Election Day or in the months leading up to Election Day. We’re there all the time. We’re on the doors. We’re in the neighborhoods. We’re in the barbershops. We have community offices open that stay open. We have staff that stays on staff who lives in those communities. So this is not a party that shows up at the end. This is a party that’s there all the time. Talking about, learning about, and listening to folks talk about the issues that matter to them and then pointing directly to the work Democrats have done to address those issues. It’s a conversation that we think you have to have all the time, not just near the end, and not just because there’s an election on the ballot. So we do it all the time. We’re doing it now, and we’re going to keep doing it. 


Jon Favreau: And what are the uh, what are the big challenges that keep you up at night uh when it comes to November? 


Lavora Barnes: Oh, so many of them. So many. Um. You know, I always worry about turnout. It is just a fact of life when you’re a state party chair, that you’re going to worry about whether or not the folks you need to get out the door are going to get out the door. Um. We now have some of the best voting laws in the country. So we know that we’ve given people all of the access and all of the ways to get to the polls and get their election taken care of and get their votes counted. We just need to do the work to get it done. We’re ready to do the work. We’ve got people fired up to work hard and we’re going to do it. 


Jon Favreau: Terrance, obviously, there are many differences in how different groups of Black voters view politics. Some of those differences fall along lines of age and gender, as I mentioned. But you’ve gone beyond simple demographics to understand how different groups of Black voters see politics right now. Can you talk a little bit about that? 


Terrance Woodbury: Absolutely. You know, when we look past uh the simple demographics and and begin to [?] to cluster Black voters by some shared characteristics and values, we’ve identified at HIT strategies, five key Black voting segments. One is this Black civil rights voter that a lot of folks think of, this is the most likely voter in the electorate. They’re over the age of 50. They are the most likely voters and the most likely Democrats. Um. But then you have these other two groups in the middle that if you just look at them by demographics, they look very similar. This next gen optimists, who is very similar to the rightful cynic, they’re all under the age of 50. They’re all Black. But their attitudes about politics is so different that next gen optimists has missed half of recent elections because they just didn’t know they were happening. They think they vote in every election. They tell us they vote in every election, but they didn’t know half of them happen. Unlike the cynic, Jon, who has also missed half of the last, of recent elections. But it’s not because they forgot. It’s because they hate Democrats. They hate Republicans. They hate the system. They hate all of the institutions that have failed them. We’ve heard this rightful cynic group, often referred to in the media now as double haters, because they hate both candidates. Well, the fact is, they hate institutions that have failed them. And because of that, they are more likely to swing in and out of the electorate or to swing across partisan lines. And that is what we have to solve for in this election. 


Jon Favreau: Sounds like the first group you talked about is much more of a traditional turnout challenge, reminding them when the election is, letting them know what’s going on, just giving them good information. And then the second group is much more of a persuasion challenge it sounds like. 


Terrance Woodbury: That’s exactly right. We have to both convince them to vote in this election and convince them to vote for Democrats. They don’t fall in the ideological lines, um that that many of the other, um Black voting segments do. And so we have to give them a reason to vote and to vote for Democrats. 


Jon Favreau: Considering what you’ve heard in your focus groups, how concerned, just an overall question, how concerned are you at this moment, five months out, about Joe Biden’s support among Black voters? 


Terrance Woodbury: Uh look, we have seen some erosion from Joe Biden’s 2020 Black voters support levels, specifically amongst younger Black voters. You mentioned this, Jon, that, that the gender gap amongst Black voters has, in fact, shrunk since 2020, and now the gender gap is only about four points, the difference between how many Black men are supporting Joe Biden compared to how many Black women are supporting Biden. It’s only four points. The generation gap between young Black voters support for Joe Biden and older Black voters support is 40 points. That is where I am the most concerned. Um. Because those young voters are are um emerging as, um as the largest voting bloc, even though they remain the least likely voters. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora, what about you? Are you hearing and seeing similar concerns on the ground in Michigan? 


Lavora Barnes: Yeah, I will tell you, we’ve got a whole group of of young Black folks who work for this party and who are working on our campaign. Um working hard to talk to their colleagues, their friends, about the importance of this election and about the issues. And and yes, there is definitely a gap in knowledge, a gap in understanding, a gap in desire to participate, um among the young folks. And one of the things that our folks are doing is like finding different ways to get in the room with these folks, wherever they are. If that means a dance party, then let’s have a dance party, right? If that means we go to a bar or a club, we go to a bar or a club, um you’ve got to go to find the people where they are and remind them of the importance of this election and the importance to their lives, to their futures of returning Biden and Harris to the White House. And they’re receptive once you get to them. And I think this is the key to the work that we do here in Michigan, that so many other states and frankly, campaigns need to ping off of. You need to be having these conversations all the time. This is not about just showing up in September to do turnout the way we have traditionally done it. That’ll get you that first group of folks Terrance talked to us about. But these folks, we’ve got to persuade them, and that means you gotta go find them where they are and have conversations with them. You can’t you can’t just show up on Election Day and drag them out the door the way we used to do it. This is a much bigger job that we do now all the time, and everybody ought to be doing it. 


Jon Favreau: Obviously, there must be a ton of different kinds of conversations that you’re having with these kinds of voters. Are there common themes that come up when you first ask them, are you thinking about participating in this election? What do you think about Joe Biden? What do you think about Donald Trump? Like, what do they tend to say that’s that’s that you’re hearing most often? 


Lavora Barnes: There absolutely are common themes. And uh, the economy is one of them. People talk about money, people people think Donald Trump wrote them a check. I heard this yesterday, I was in a a club in Detroit yesterday with a group of Black men who said, I’m hearing all the time people think Donald Trump gave them money. Trump wrote me a check. Um. So economy. Age, obviously these young folks are like these guys, neither of them, right um know who I am, know anything about my struggle, know anything about my life. They are not me. And this is why it’s so important that we talk about who the messengers are, too, right? Because it is not about me sitting down with folks. It’s not about, you know, Joe Biden. It’s about colleagues, friends, neighbors, moms and dads you know, having these conversations with these young folks about the importance of this election and tying things like jobs and the economy directly back to the administration and the work that they’ve done, that administration here in Michigan and that administration in DC, Biden and Harris. And, you know, we were talking to a guy from the carpenters union yesterday. We talked about how many good paying jobs there are out there for young folks who want to come show up and get trained. That’s because of the Biden and Harris administration. And that’s the kind of thing we have to keep telling folks. We’ve got to get in these rooms and have those conversations. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora, I saw that when there was dropoff in Black voter turnout, especially young Black voter turnout between the midterms in 2018 and the midterms in 2022. Um. There was not as much of a drop in in Michigan. And I think I read that abortion was one reason why. Does that remain sort of a central issue? And is that an issue that is also, you’ve seen persuading some people who might not be decided about the election to actually get involved and go vote? 


Lavora Barnes: Yes. Abortion and and the erosion of any rights like the the combination of watching folks try to roll back rights that we have worked so hard to get, and the fact that it could happen again with abortion, with voting rights. We’ve done so much good work here in Michigan, and it’s all at stake, and people need to understand that. And I think when when we’re having those conversations, we get a lot of nodding of heads, people who are understanding that, you know, we’ve done a lot of good work here. The country has done a lot of good work, and that Trump and the Republicans are a threat to that good work around rights. And absolutely, abortion is one of them. We had really great conversations in 2022 with Black voters about supporting their Black sisters, mothers and friends in the abortion realm. And frankly, you know, Black men don’t want unwanted pregnancies either, right? And so these are the kind of conversations that we were able to have around abortion. And we’re still having those because it’s still a threat. It’s still out there. 


Jon Favreau: Terrance, I’ve seen some pollsters and pundits talking about the potential for a racial realignment in 2024, based on public polls showing some truly wild swings among Black voters. There was just a Fox News poll this week that had Trump winning 25% of the Black vote in Virginia, the most recent set of New York Times polls showed more than one in five Black voters in swing states open to voting for Donald Trump. I’m guessing that you don’t believe this to be completely true, but what’s your what’s your best guess as to what the hell is going on with all the polling this cycle? 


Terrance Woodbury: Huh yai yai. You know, there is a better and worse way to poll Black folks, and we are seeing some of the worst ways driving media coverage. Look, there’s a couple of things that we find wrong in polling specifically for voters of color. One is when the sample size is too small, you can’t talk to 100 or 200 Black folks and predict, um what the what the community is going to do because it underrepresents the diversity within the community. Um. The other is when we just present a forced choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. That is false. There will not be only two names on the ballot in any of the 50 states will there only be two names on the ballot. And so when you force that choice between two, you’re going to over represent the support for both of those candidates. Um. And then the last is the third party erosion. The third party threat here, that is not being counted in a lot of the public polling, I think is measuring some of the frustration and discontent that when Black voters say that they’re either undecided or considering third party, what they are really expressing is a frustration with Joe Biden and with Democrats. And the number one reason why young voters have expressed frustration or lack of confidence in the administration is because they don’t think enough has happened, and that is just demonstrably untrue. We have to do a better job demonstrating the progress that’s been made on their top issues, including student loans, climate change, the economy, criminal justice reform and others that the Biden administration has made tremendous progress on. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora, are you encountering any new or surprising Trump curiosity among Black voters in Michigan? You mentioned some saying, well, he he sent us a check. Are there other reasons that you’ve heard for people supporting Trump that have surprised you or thinking about supporting Trump, or is this a phenomenon that you’re noticing, or is it more sort of like what Terrence was just saying, that there’s just a lot of unhappy voters with both parties and and both candidates? 


Lavora Barnes: Yeah, I am I’m running into more unhappy voters. I rarely run into someone who tells me that they are going to support Trump. Now, of course, I’m the Democratic Party chair. I’m probably not going to be running into a lot of folks who are going to tell me they’re going to run, they’re going to vote for Trump. 


Jon Favreau: Fair, fair. 


Lavora Barnes: Um. But but I have run into a lot of folks who talk about being offended by the way Trump is trying to reach them. The suggestion that holding up an ugly ass pair of gold shoes or, you know, telling me that the Black folks like my mug shot, like that’s the way to get my vote like people are offended by it. People understand when they’re being used in that way and they don’t like it. Um. But most people that are talking to us about the issues and about their concerns are really just straight up concerned about whether or not either of these two men have done or will do anything that make their lives better. And that’s why, as Terrance says, it’s such an important part of our role to make sure we’re telling that story, pointing directly to the things that the Biden-Harris administration has done and will do. And of course, pointing back to who Donald Trump was as president and who Donald Trump continues to promise to be going forward as president. And, um I think that those those are conversations that really are are what people are having with us here at the party about this election and about Donald Trump, not about I think Donald Trump is my man. That’s not happening. 


Terrance Woodbury: I want to add something here, because while I do think that public polling is over representing Black people’s support for Donald Trump, he will very likely win more Black people’s votes in 2024 than he did in 2020. Not 20%, not 25%, but more than he did in the last election. I think that there are some things contributing to that. Um. And one is that Democrats have to reclaim some of the values that Black people hold very, very dear. Values like spirituality, masculinity, patriotism, values that not Joe Biden, but that Democrats more broadly have been ceding to the Republican Party. And there’s a way for us to message our very, very progressive issues on issues like abortion, like gender and sexuality, that we can message those progressive issues through Black ass values. Um. And there’s examples of that, like, you know, if God is granting all of us freedom of choice, then why should government grant women any less than that? Or as the head of my household, I must protect my family from intrusive governments that tell them who they must be, or when they must start a family. Those are, you know, that head of household and spiritual values that folks like my father hold very, very dear and don’t want to cede to Republicans, even though he’s never going to vote for them. And so that’s a part of the work that we also have to do here in our messaging. 


Jon Favreau: That brings up an interesting question, because when you talk about Democrats reclaiming values like spirituality, patriotism, masculinity, uh a positive version of masculinity. 


Terrance Woodbury: It’s not all toxic. 


Jon Favreau: Right, right. It’s not all toxic, but it does make me my my gut instinct on that is that reclaiming those values would appeal to older voters of all races really. And it’s interesting to me that the gap you’re seeing with Black voters, and I think obviously, older Black voters still have a lot of ties to the civil rights movement and connect the Democratic Party with the civil rights movement. But what do you think is going on with the generation gap and some of these younger voters and these younger voters who may be turning away from the party or Joe Biden? You know, you talked about how they they don’t think that he did anything for them. How are they seeing sort of these these values that you’re talking about in terms of patriotism and masculinity and, and spirituality? Are those values that would resonate with younger voters who may be turning away from the party? 


Terrance Woodbury: Uh. I mean, hyper masculinity certainly does. You know, that’s I think–


Jon Favreau: Right. 


Terrance Woodbury: That’s a part of the the cultural appeal that Donald Trump is trying to make with, you know the, with the rappers that he’s assembling with the um, you know, it is an effort to appeal to that hyper masculinity. Um. But a lot of when we see a swing of young voters towards Republicans like we saw in a state like Florida, where Ron DeSantis, um increased margins amongst young Black voters by almost ten points. A lot of that is being driven by a drop off of young voters, right? That when less young Black people are participating in the electorate than it is giving conservative Black voters a higher and disproportionate um representation in the polls. [music break]




Jon Favreau: Let’s talk a little bit more about the third party threat. Um. And of course, we don’t know which third party candidates will be on the ballots in which states yet uh completely. We know that RFK Jr’s out there, Cornel West, Jill Stein. Um. I believe RFK Jr and Jill Stein are both on the ballot in Michigan. Terrance, you guys did a focus group last year with male voters of color who supported Biden in 2020, but are at least contemplating supporting a third party candidate in 2024. Uh. Let’s listen to a clip. 


[clip of HIT strategies focus group leader] That Trump will win the White House because Biden and Cornel will split the vote, and then Trump will win. And I want to get a sense, Howard, what’s your reaction to that? Will you still vote for Cornel West or whoever your independent person is [?]–


[clip of voter Howard] Yes. 


[clip of HIT strategies focus group leader] Populous [?] 


[clip of voter Howard] The numbers, I’m not going based off the numbers. I’m going off based off what I feel like that person is going to bring to the table. 


[clip of HIT strategies focus group leader] Gotcha. 


[clip of voter Howard] Even though even though I know the math, Donald Trump’s probably going to win, I’m still going to vote for who I–


[clip of HIT strategies focus group leader] Gotcha. 


[clip of voter Howard] –feel like would bring something to the table. 


[clip of HIT strategies focus group leader] Anyone else in Howard’s position that say I would still vote third party over Joe Biden if if that third party person aligned with my policy positions better than Joe Biden does? Anyone else out there who would do that? Given the calculus, we talked about with President Trump, possibly running. So one, two, three, four, five, six, so all of us are saying who’re on that side are saying that as well. 


Jon Favreau: So that was eight of eight. Lavora, I want to start with you here. Was any of that surprising or does it sound similar to what you’ve heard in Michigan. And how are you all approaching, um these potential third party voters? 


Lavora Barnes: Yeah, we’ve heard it before. You know, we’ve we’ve experienced the third party candidate on the ballot. Look at 2016. Um. And I will I will tell you this, that what we do know is that just as Terrance’s work there showed, telling people that voting for the third party is how you’re going to make the other guy win is not convincing. What is convincing is reminding people of the value of having Biden and Harris in the office. We’ve got to tell our story. This is not about why not to vote third party. It’s about why to vote Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Um. There are, of course, some things about these third party candidate we can share that might help people make a decision, and we will be sharing those things also. Um. But it is so important instead to be very focused on the good story that we’ve got to tell and make sure we’re doing a good job telling it. Um. And I think that anybody who thinks that the way you get someone to choose not to choose that third party, not to make that choice when they’re looking at these two men, thinking neither of these two men will represent me. Maybe this one over here will. The answer isn’t to say, you’re going to make me lose. The answer is to say, here’s why I need you to help me continue the work that we’ve been doing. Look at what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, because you voted for me last time. I need you again to make sure we can keep doing this work. And that’s the message that we’re going to be saying all over Michigan, um from now until November. This is why we need to send Biden and Harris back. 


Jon Favreau: Terrance, um obviously that group was from a year ago. Now that the race is set, more people are paying attention. More people know that it’s Biden versus Trump, that those are going to be the nominees. Has that kind of sentiment changed at all, in focus groups that you’re hearing? 


Terrance Woodbury: Yeah, absolutely. So a couple of things happening in that focus group. One, to your point, they were before Donald Trump was the presumptive nominee. And two, they were a group of Black men that had previously voted for Biden and were unsure about who they were going to vote for. And so, uh some of that is represented there. After 2016, we conducted third party focus groups. Right. And the point of them was to determine if we can create some voters remorse amongst those third party voters that like, look, now that Donald Trump has won and we’ve had six months of his administration and we can show you what Jeff Sessions has done, and we can show you Muslim bans, and we can show you all of the awful things that we anticipated. Um. If the election were today, how would you vote different? And the way the confusion in those voters, when they were forced to answer that question and they had to look up and say, well, what if we wouldn’t do anything different? And we realized there that, um that creating this remorse, this idea that the reason the other guy won is because of how you voted, that that would not be disqualifying. And so we are going to have to give them to Lavora’s point, not just a reason to vote against them, but a reason to vote for us. And that reason has to be specifically because their lives have improved. And that is incumbent upon Democrats, upon Joe Biden, and upon campaigns to demonstrate how our votes have made our lives better. 


Jon Favreau: Well, that’s a good segue into the next thing I want to talk about, which is what it will take to persuade some of these voters to ultimately support uh Joe Biden again. The president has given several speeches to Black audiences just over the last several weeks. Uh. He spoke to the NAACP in Detroit. He delivered the commencement at Terrance’s alma mater, Morehouse. Uh. He was in Philly with Kamala Harris at a very big event there, kicking off their Black voter outreach program. Here’s some of what he said at these events. 


[montage clip of President Joe Biden] So I came today to speak the truth. [cheers] Truth about promises made and promises kept. I promise to put racial equality at the center of everything I do. Because you voted. We’re invested and more than ever in Black families and communities. A promise made and a promise kept. What is democracy? If Black men are being killed on the street? What is democracy? If the trail of broken promises still leave Black Black communities behind? Most of all, what does it mean? As you’ve heard before, to be a Black man who loves his country, even if it doesn’t love him back in equal measure. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora. What do you think about the promises made promises kept message? Does that resonate with folks in Michigan? 


Lavora Barnes: We use it all the time. Um. Yes it does. We use it to talk about our legislature because, you know, we we made some promises. We got a trifecta here, a governor and a statehouse and the state Senate. And they have gone about the business of keeping those promises. And we use that language all the time. People get it. You do have to then follow it by reminding them what the things were that we promised and how we kept those promises. And we do that part as well. But it is it works because I think people love to hear. That’s right. You did tell me you were going to do that and then you did it. And we use it a lot. We’re going to keep using it. Folks seem to respond to it. 


Jon Favreau: Terrance, here’s my challenge with the promises made, promises kept message is all of the research, all the focus groups, all the polling, just talking to people. You get the sense that I’m not feeling the progress in my own life. Right? That the economy, I hear great things about the economy. I hear all these statistics. I hear about the stock market, I hear about unemployment. But it’s I’m not feeling it in my own life. How do you help people understand what the president has accomplished, when they might not be feeling it in their own lives? And you want to make sure that it doesn’t sound like it’s out of touch um that he’s saying promise made, promise kept and they’re thinking, well, I don’t feel like there’s been any promises kept yet because, you know, I’m still paying too much for groceries and uh, you know, whatever else their concerns may be. 


Terrance Woodbury: So, uh in transparency, I was fortunate enough to help contribute to some of those speeches. Um. [laugh]


Jon Favreau: I didn’t know that before this uh interview, by the way. 


Lavora Barnes: Right now. 


Jon Favreau: But I could tell. Let me tell you. [laughing]


Lavora Barnes: You can hear it. 


Jon Favreau: Because I’ve now I’ve now talked to you enough and read enough of your, your research. So yeah, that that’s great. 


Terrance Woodbury: You know, some some of the stuff that we hear that really resonates there, you know, promises made does begin to cut through the, the cynicism, reminding people of what he promised and how he has delivered. And the other thing that I think resonates there, Jon, and we’ve talked about this before, is it’s changing the hero of the story. Right? It’s it’s it’s taking the Cape off of Joe Biden and putting it on these voters. And when I hear him say, because you voted, we have been able to do XYZ. It’s empowering right. It reminds voters that again our lives are improving because of our votes and not just because of some hero in Washington that’s there saving us, but that we are in fact delivering on the progress. Um. And then the other thing that I heard there is that he’s acknowledging the pain. You know, what is democracy if Black men can still be killed in the streets that a part of us demonstrating progress is not appearing to wave a mission accomplished flag, that black folks are still in pain, that groceries are still too damn expensive, that, you know, Black parents are still having to talk with their kids before they get behind the wheel. And so he’s acknowledging some of that pain. And a part of what I think the campaign is going to have to continue to do and and to your question of how do we make this progress resonate to folks that don’t feel it? I think there’s two things. One, we have to change the messengers, right? They need to hear from people that look like them. Right. It’s different to hear the president say your life is better because, then it is to hear someone that has your shared walk of life say, because of that student loan forgiveness, I was able to do X, Y, Z. And that’s important because Black folks have a very high perception of shared fate. And so when we see other Black people doing well, doing better, um it does reinforce that one, we contributed to that with our votes. And two, that progress is available for me as well. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah. I’ve heard you talk before about the difference between defending democracy and then talking about fixing democracy. Um. And it does seem like obviously democracy is going to be central to the message between now and November. That’s by necessity, since that’s uh, that’s what’s under threat right now by Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans. But it was interesting hearing him in that Morehouse speech, sort of alluding to the fact that, yeah, maybe, maybe democracy, maybe you don’t think democracy necessarily works for you. And it’s not just him saying that he will defend democracy, but actually giving a defense of democracy as a system that is worth voting for and fighting for. Do you think that’s sort of important for him to uh, continue to do? 


Terrance Woodbury: Absolutely. The problem with the frame of fixing democracy is that folks that have had mixed results from democracy aren’t that interested in fixing it. You know, folks, especially millennials, who have now voted in several elections where the person that got the most vote also lost. It is obvious that the system that this current democratic system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. It’s not working for everyone that’s participating in it. And so what we see the president doing there, moving from just encouraging people to vote and defend democracy, is acknowledging the parts of it that aren’t working for everybody. And I think that that is important, especially for the cynics, the cynics who feel like these institutions have failed them. He is right to acknowledge the ways that it has failed them, and the ways that he can enlist them. Not that if we elect him, he can defend it and fix it for us, but that we have to enlist them in the fight and in the process of fixing it and making it work for everybody. 


Lavora Barnes: I love that, and we talk about it here a lot, about how the vote is the first step in your participation in the democracy. It’s not the whole thing. And I think this is an important thing that that we can all talk about as we’re talking to young folks about participating in this democracy. Yes, vote, but but also continue to participate beyond that vote, continue to show up and ask for the things that your community needs and you needs from the folks that you just helped elect participate all the time, not just on Election Day. 


Jon Favreau: Yeah, that’s that’s powerful. Um. So we’ve talked about how to frame President Biden’s accomplishments. Lavora, is there a way to talk about the choice between how Biden and Trump will handle economic issues over the next four years that you found resonates with voters uh you’ve talked to and are trying to organize? 


Lavora Barnes: Yeah. I think one of the things that we do and President Biden and his team do this as well, is remind them of the the failures of the Trump administration. Um. I think that the distance between then and now, um causes some folks to not quite remember. So we can do a lot of looking back at what life was like under the Trump administration infrastructure week that went on and on and on, and yet no infrastructure happened. But the Biden-Harris administration has been able to make that happen. About the Covid response and how that left people hungry and some people dead. Right. And that sort of going back in time to remind folks of who he is, who he was, and who he will be. And, of course, sharing the story of the work that the Biden administration has done on behalf of folks in the and to to grow this economy, to grow the infrastructure, to bring good paying jobs here, just to bring good paying union jobs to Michiganders, um and support that sort of work that we’re doing here in Michigan and that our governor, our terrific governor and lieutenant governor are doing here with partnership with Biden. Um. It’s it’s a good story to tell, but an important part of it is to go back and remind people of who Donald Trump was as president of the United States. He’s got a record, and we need to remind folks of it. 


Jon Favreau: Terrance, what about you? I mean, you know, the cliche is that elections are about the future, and especially if you’re an incumbant president, you don’t want the, the election to be a referendum. You want it to be a choice. I keep waiting for the Biden folks. And, you know, I’m sure they’ll do that this, this summer and and into the fall to sort of come out with, like a, a proactive agenda for the next four years. 


Lavora Barnes: Yes. 


Jon Favreau: Do you think that’s important to some of these voters, or do you think right now we’re sort of building a story that talks like what Lavora was just talking about of alright this is what this is what Biden accomplished. This is what Trump did during his four years. And that’s the choice. Or when do you think it starts moving forward? 


Terrance Woodbury: Uh. Yeah. You know, I’ve been torn here because, you know, the voters that I, that I’m laser focused on are those cynical drop off, low propensity, less engaged voters. Right. And for some of them that we’re going to have to demonstrate progress on the last four years before we make promises for the next four years. Um. And so that’s I think that is the campaign. And the president’s number one priority right now is demonstrate the progress. 


Jon Favreau: Okay. 


Terrance Woodbury: Connect them to the progress. Specifically on the economy. You know, we’ve talked about this, Jon, that this is this is a cost election as much as it’s an economy election. Economy means a lot of things to a lot of people. What voters mean when they say economy in this election, overwhelmingly is cost. And that’s why some of the indicators like job creation and stock market, some of that isn’t resonating because the cost is still too damn high. And so we do and I think that this administration has a story to tell on cost about how they’ve brought down cost of prescription drugs and brought down cost of college education and brought down cost of housing and continue to challenge airlines and junk fees. And that’s the cost story that we have to continue to lean into. But the other thing that we have to do in the economy. And that we’ve seen the president and the vice president, who’s on an economic tour right now, is moving from um discussing the economy as poverty reduction and discussing it more as wealth creation. And that has also been a part of the appeal of Donald Trump is that they think that he will make them rich. Whether there’s any evidence of that or not, um a part of that. And we do have a story to tell there about what this administration has done to increase Black wealth by 60%, to increase Black businesses from 5% to 11%. That we have to start talking about more of those things as well. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora, one last thing on Biden’s Morehouse speech before we move on. A handful of students turned their back to Biden during his remarks to protest his handling of the war in Gaza. In Michigan, of course, you guys had 100,000 people vote uncommitted on primary day. Just this week, the NAACP called on Biden to halt arms deliveries to Israel. How much of an issue is Gaza among voters in Michigan? And what have you found is the most effective way to talk about the war with 2020 Biden voters, who may now be upset with the president’s handling of it? 


Lavora Barnes: It is definitely an issue. We’re keeping an eye on it. We talk about it a lot here in Michigan, of course. Um. We’ve been doing what we call listening sessions, right? I am not the president of the United States, and I’m also not a foreign policy expert. But what I am is an ear, um and occasionally a voice. Um. So we are listening to the communities that want to talk to us about this issue and making sure that they know that we hear them, and that we’re passing their information and their messages on to the president. And the president hears them. And I think that’s that’s where we have to be right now as a party. While the president does the foreign policy work he needs to do. And we have seen him move. We’ve seen his language change. We’ve seen his policies move. And I think that a lot of people are seeing hope in that movement. But also people’s lives have been affected. People’s families have died. This is serious and we take it very seriously. And we hurt with them and we cry with them. Um. But what I can’t do is fix it, because I’m not a foreign policy expert and I’m also not the president. But what I can do is remind folks how important it is to continue to express your voice, and that we’re listening. And you know, that First Amendment right to protest is absolutely yours, and I respect your use of it. Um. And as long as you’re doing so without harming anyone or harming anything, please continue to use it and we’ll continue to pass the message on to the president. And I know he’s listening. 


Jon Favreau: I think that’s a really thoughtful answer. I wish more people online would give answers like that. 


Lavora Barnes: I agree. I wish they would. [music break]




Jon Favreau: I want to ask you both about an issue that certainly feels like it should be important to voters. A jury finding Donald Trump guilty of–


Lavora Barnes: Yeah. 


Jon Favreau: Of 34 felony counts. And yet Trump and his campaign see this as a development that may help him with voters, particularly Black voters. Uh. Here’s an Axios headline from a few days after the verdict. Guilty verdict fuels Trump’s push for Black voters. Quotes Senator Tim Scott, potential VP, saying, quote, “As an African American born and raised in the Deep South who had concerns about our justice system as it relates to race”–


Lavora Barnes: [laugh] Sorry.


Jon Favreau: “I’m now seeing it play out from a partisan perspective.” The campaign has also been sharing clips like this from uh, this one’s from The Breakfast Club, which is a wildly popular Black radio show. 


[clip of host from The Breakfast Club radio show] Good morning brother. Peace TK. 


[clip of unnamed guest on The Breakfast Club] What up Charlamagne? What up Jess? 


[clip of host from The Breakfast Club radio show] What up. What’s your thoughts, brother? 


[clip of unnamed guest on The Breakfast Club] Well, I’m a tell you, man, I feel like Trump got did dirty. I don’t trust the system at all. You know what I mean? Um especially the [?] system [?] when they called yesterday about that dog situation. So it’s like after you’ve been railroaded by their system and you see that when you walk in the courtroom, if they want you to be guilty. You going to be guilty. I ain’t got no trust in that process. [?], you know what I mean, I rock with Trump. I feel like that he um, he way better than Biden. You know, Biden. I can’t stand em. Biden is the devil man. Biden the same one. Y’all remember the politician in the ’90s? I know y’all got family members that was [?] of that. 


[clip of host from The Breakfast Club radio show] [banter] The ’86 mandatory minimum sentence in ’88, uh crack law and ’94 crime bill. Yeah yeah yeah. For sure.


Jon Favreau: So I, I don’t know if that’s necessarily someone who was undecided before the verdict. [laugh] But Terrance, do you think that that’s sort of an isolated kind of comment or does it reflect does any of it any of that comment reflect a sentiment you’ve heard in focus groups from voters? 


Terrance Woodbury: So I actually, uh spoke to Black voters in Florida the night of the conviction. And– 


Jon Favreau: Okay. 


Terrance Woodbury: First, I had to break the news to them. While it was the only thing that any of us were covering or observing, none of them even knew it happened. And I think that–


Jon Favreau: Wow. 


Terrance Woodbury: That is the, that’s my biggest takeaway from this verdict, is that it’s simply not as impactful as many of us pundits and operatives believe it is. There just wasn’t a lot of new information. They knew about Stormy Daniels, they knew about Trump’s legal issues, you know, being indicted 109 times or being convicted 34 times. It just ain’t that much of a difference to people. And the other thing that I didn’t suspect was that it wasn’t that unprecedented, right? That that their their observation is that there are always criminals in the political system. There’s been mayors and governors and all kind of folks that has been convicted. It’s unprecedented to us that it’s never been a president. But that just wasn’t that unprecedented to them that there’s there was precedent for that. Now, the last thing I’ll say is, um what I heard that young man say on The Breakfast Club, I do think that there is a there, there. Not in that Donald Trump can convince Black people that he’s like them because he’s been convicted. But there is the possibility that he can appeal to people who think the system is already broken. 


Jon Favreau: That’s what I was wondering. 


Terrance Woodbury: That’s what I heard that young man say. The system doesn’t work for me. And look at that. The system doesn’t even work for someone like him. And he’s rich and powerful and white, so it’s definitely not going to work for me. You know, that that line of messaging I do think could be more effective than, look, I’m like you because I have a mug shot. That’s crazy and insulting. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora, how are people responding to the verdict in Michigan? 


Lavora Barnes: It is not something folks are talking about. Um. We care about it. We talk about it. But the voters, I think, have not yet. They’re just not paying attention. Well, let’s remember, of course, it’s June. A lot of the voters are not paying attention to all of this yet. Um. But they certainly have not paid attention to that. I will say, I think that there’s because the system has been broken for folks who look like us for a very long time, whichever way that verdict came out, that would have been someone’s response. 


Terrance Woodbury: That’s right. 


Lavora Barnes: Right? Because because if he had been found not guilty 34 times, it would have absolutely been because of his position in the system, because of his white, rich, white man-ness. Um. And so, um I think that that that cuts both ways in terms of of what that conviction means or would have meant if it hadn’t happened. Um. But in the end, I think, you know, people need to think about whether or not they want a convicted president. Um. But but that is not a conversation folks are really having right now. Folks are very focused on what’s happening in their own lives, right? Not what’s happening to Donald Trump. And we that’s part of our job is to get them focused on Donald Trump. And and we will get them there. It is June. We’ve got some time to be talking about it. And we are absolutely going to be talking about the convicted felon who’s running for president. But um, I don’t think folks are thinking about it right now, frankly. 


Jon Favreau: It’s such a good point. And this is this is what I’ve been thinking on this, is that to the extent that people will care about this, it’s the idea that there’s one set of rules for Donald Trump and another set of rules for everyone else. And, you know, back to our conversation about Joe Biden, defender of democracy. I think one of the biggest challenges for Joe Biden, really, any Democratic president, um in this political environment, is they are being asked to defend democracy and defend our institutions at the very time when trust and faith in our institutions is at its lowest. And so, even though that is an incredibly important task right now, you’re the defender of something that’s very unpopular, whether that’s the criminal justice system, whether that’s the economic system, whether that’s the political system. And I wonder how Democrats and Joe Biden sort of navigate that at this time of increased cynicism and, and sort of there’s there’s so many low trust voters. And that’s particularly true in the Black community, in the Latino community, with young people, with sort of all the groups of voters that Democrats are having trouble with. 


Lavora Barnes: You know, I think Terrance gave us a clue here when he told us that, like folks need to acknowledge that the system doesn’t work the same for everybody. We’ve got to step into those shoes. And, frankly, messengers who look like us are better messengers for that than some other folks. But we have got to we’ve got to be honest about the truth, about the reality. When I when I talk about how life is a little different for me because I was born with this color skin, than it is for some of my counterparts who are state party chairs in other places. That’s real. And people get that. And that’s the kind of conversation that we need to have, and we need to be using messengers who can have that conversation, who can acknowledge the reality of life as a person of color in this country and acknowledge the reality that we’re not there and that there’s so much that still needs to be fixed. And then, of course, segue directly into it ain’t going to get fixed by Donald Trump. 


Terrance Woodbury: That’s right. 


Lavora Barnes: But you know who can fix it? Is if we return Biden and Harris to the White House. It’s that kind of and maybe we can’t say they can fix it, but they can absolutely work on it. They will absolutely be on your side. We spent a lot of time talking about how they have our backs, and we need people to understand that they do indeed have our backs, and they will continue to have our backs when we need them to and when we even we don’t know we need them to. 


Jon Favreau: Mm. Um. Last couple questions. Proof points. Terrance, I hear you talk about proof points a lot. And considering the voters you guys have been talking to and specifically undecided Black voters who probably tend to be younger, maybe tend to be a little bit more male. On the Biden Harris record of accomplishment, what tend to be the proof points that resonate most with voters? Terrance? 


Terrance Woodbury: Um. Look, I’ve been asking this question of focus groups, especially from voters that expressed frustration that nothing’s been done. My my immediate probe is what did you expect to happen that hasn’t happened. And the list that they give us is a list of, of unawareness. It’s student loans. Um. Despite him forgiving more student loans than any president in history. In fact, I think he’s the student loan president. You know, it’s criminal justice reform because he hasn’t passed a George Floyd um police reform Act despite, you know, appointing 100 Black women to federal benches. Um. Banning the no knock warrants that would have saved Breonna Taylor’s life and the chokeholds that would have saved George Floyd’s life and implementing mandatory body cameras. In fact, he might be the criminal justice reform president. You know, it’s climate change, that he hasn’t made enough progress on, despite reentering into the Paris climate agreement and making the largest investment in climate change in American history and the world’s history. Uh. He might be the climate change president. And so the, you know, the what they are the most frustrated about are, in fact, the, the, the areas in which he’s made the most progress. And that is a um, that’s a that’s a gap in communication. I think we have some time to close that gap. And I, we will hopefully we surely have the resources to close that gap. Uh and we just have to prioritize and get in front of the voters that need to hear it. 


Jon Favreau: Lavora, what about you? 


Lavora Barnes: I think like Terrance is just ticked off that this is my job, right? Telling that story that Terrance just told. And it is absolutely true. Those are the things that folks say. Um. And then when when you can answer with that happened. Sometimes they get a quizzical look on the face, and sometimes I get sort of a shaking of the head like, nope, that didn’t happen. And like, yeah, it actually did, right? I can, I can show you. We’ve got receipts. Um. But Terrance is right. Our need is to make sure that we are telling this story in the places where the folks who need to hear it can hear it. And this is where I say things like, TV ads might not be the way, folks. And so we need to be talking to people in the places where they are, and not necessarily in the old school places that we’re accustomed to communicating. And that’s that’s my charge to everybody. Like, let’s find these young folks where they are and have these conversations with them, and let’s hire a bunch of, young Black men and women to go have those conversations with these folks all over this country. 


Jon Favreau: On the other side, what are some of the most persuasive arguments or proof points about Donald Trump, that give people pause about another four years of Trump?


Lavora Barnes: I think reminding folks of the things that have come out of Donald Trump’s mouth about Black people, specifically about people of color in general, about immigration and immigrants, all of those things, um give people pause. All of the hateful rhetoric that has come. Um. The reminders about the things that didn’t happen during that administration that he, he promised folks like here in Michigan, he stood in Michigan and promised that he was going to save the autos. He was going to bring jobs back. And instead he allowed jobs to leave the state like never before. Promise made, but not a promise kept. Those are the kinds of things that we can and will continue to remind folks of and that resonate with folks like oh right, that’s true. He didn’t do any of that. But you know who did. And you know who did come to Michigan and walk a line with union workers, Joe Biden. 


Terrance Woodbury: You know, Jon, one thing I know that is not disqualifying of Donald Trump. We’ve known this since 2016, and I hope that Democrats don’t waste money on this messaging. And that’s racism. And it’s just not disq– I know that it’s counterintuitive. Black folks care a lot about racism, but they are not–


Lavora Barnes: They do. 


Terrance Woodbury: –disqualifying Donald Trump because of racism, because it’s expected. It’s built into the system. Right? It’s I hear it in focus groups all the time. They’re all racists. The system is racist. So they’re not going to disqualify him because he’s racist. The difference is, though, um while his racism is not disqualifying, we are finding that the impacts of that racism is disqualifying. Racial violence, right? Uh. Black folks ain’t going to tolerate Proud Boys and Oath Keepers standing back and standing by, um and and promoting political and racial violence. Uh. It’s, you know, not just his rhetoric about immigration, but it’s those kids in cages. Black folks ain’t tolerating that. Um. It’s it is attacks on DEI programs that we just saw last week with the fearless fund ruling that determined that that Black people can’t even, you know, use their own money to increase venture capital towards Black women. That all of those impacts, those programs and policies that will, put Black bodies in in danger, that will reverse the progress that’s been made. That’s what we have to remind them of, not just that he like, says bad things, but that when he says those bad things, we get hurt. 


Jon Favreau: Uh. Last question for every episode I’m doing this one. All right. So for you guys, say you have a younger Black Biden 2020 voter in your life who’s not sure they want to vote for him again, this is in the cynics category. You have a few minutes to persuade this person to get out and vote for Biden. What do you say? 


Lavora Barnes: Terrance? [laughing]


Terrance Woodbury: Uh. So, listen, um as far as I can tell and through all the research I’ve done, this administration, because of the votes of people of color, because we voted together and marched together and protested together, we are beginning to see the progress that we need. We are beginning to see the material difference, um that we have seen Black wealth increase and Black incarceration rates decrease. We are seeing Black poverty uh decrease and Black homeownership increase. While the job is not done, um the progress is being made and that progress is only possible because of you. And that progress can only continue because of you. 


Jon Favreau: It’s good. Lavora?


Lavora Barnes: That’s really good. I would lean in there. I would also lean in, frankly, on his vice president. Um. I would remind folks that he has standing beside him and behind him a strong, smart Black woman, and that in a world that is as messed up as this one is, we know that it’s the Black women who carry us on our shoulders. And here’s a Black woman carrying you on her shoulders, and you need to support her and get this done. 


Jon Favreau: Terrance Woodbury and Lavora Barnes, thank you so much for chatting with me. This was very instructive. And, I’m just so thankful for all of your very, very smart thoughts on all of this. Thank you so much. 


Lavora Barnes: Thanks for having us. [music break]


Jon Favreau: What stuck with me after talking to Lavora and Terrance is the huge gap between us political junkies and most normal people. Not just in terms of what we’ve heard and know about Joe Biden, Donald Trump and various political issues. But in how we think about democracy and politics and the act of voting itself. It’s easier to defend a system that has mostly worked for you. It’s harder to even participate in a system that hasn’t always worked for you. And if we want to convince more people to give that system a chance, we need to meet them where they are. Lavora talked about having conversations in places where politics aren’t usually discussed, like a Michigan nightclub. John Taylor and the Black Male Initiative are trying something similar in Georgia. 


[clip of John Taylor] When we talk about grassroots organizing, what we really mean is direct, deep relational engagement on the ground that is going to places that most folks have written off. It is going into jails. It is going into youth detention centers. It is using the platforms and mechanisms that are germane to our culture and our people, and not shying away from political conversations in those spaces. So will we hit nightclubs? Yes, indeed. Strip clubs? It’s a possibility. Show up at your local neighborhood grocery store? I’m going to be there, too, because that’s where the real work happens.  


Jon Favreau: Yup. He said strip clubs. First for everything here on The Wilderness. But what may be even more important than where these conversations take place is how we approach them. John has some profound thoughts on this that I want to leave you with. 


[clip of John Taylor] There’s always three things. So thing number one is simple. Give grace. Don’t assume or expect that you know what other people are going through. As much as you respect yourself and your ideas, respect the fact that other people don’t agree with you and that they don’t have to. And it’s not our job to convince them to do the right thing and go vote, because we say so. But this is our job to work with them and show them how using every tool in the toolbox for their liberation is something they might want to consider. Number two is that all of this work, when it’s said and done, is a drop in the bucket. Voting is the beginning. It is your entry fee into the show, but there’s a lot of work to do to make the show happen. So your civic participation, your volunteer hours, your recruitment of other folks, spending time making sure that people understand not just who to vote for, but what voting for those folks means. And then number three is it starts with love and it ends with love, right? I can disagree with you all day long. I don’t care what you think, I care that you think. And when we talk about getting Black men to vote, most of it is just listening to what they think and feel. Not trying to shut them down, not trying to tell them they’re wrong. And no matter what the outcome is. I need you to love them at the end of the day, because let’s be honest, I am proud to be a Black man. I will sing it to the hilltops, if somebody were to wake me up tomorrow and say, you can choose any race, any gender. You can start over. I’d still be right here. I love being me. But I also know the pressure, the trauma, the ongoing stress that comes with walking through this world in this skin. So when you see someone who is riddled with trauma and pain, self-medicating in whatever way they choose, don’t write them off. Give them love. They are someone’s son. They are someone’s brother. Someone’s father, someone’s uncle. They are someone’s baby. Most of all, they are human. And they deserve your love and respect. 


Jon Favreau: Now that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, not just about how to talk to Black voters, not just about how to talk to all voters, about how to talk to and treat and see other human beings. And if we could all do just a little bit more of that. I’m pretty sure a better, saner, kinder politics would follow. We’ll see you next time on The Wilderness. [music break] The Wilderness is a production of Crooked Media. It’s written and hosted by me, Jon Favreau, our senior producer and editor is Andrea B. Scott. Austin Fisher is our producer and Farrah Safari is our associate producer. Sound design by Vasilis Fotopoulos, music by Marty Fowler. Charlotte Landes and Jordan Cantor sound engineered the show. Thanks to Katie Long, Reid Cherlin, Matt DeGroot, and Madeleine Haeringer for production support. To our video team, Rachel Gaewski, Joseph Dutra, Chris Russell, Molly Lobell, and David Toles who filmed and edited the show. If The Wilderness has inspired you to get involved, head on over to to sign up and find a volunteer shift near you. [music break]


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