Part 1 Episode Notes

Holly sits down to speak with me and I learn how the old canard, "the personal is political," developed her into everyone's favorite badass!

Part 2 Episode Notes

Part 2 of my sit down with Holly. Something here for everyone: a practical approach to organizing, holding elected officials accountable, the false binary of electoralism v. everything else. Still chewing on everything we discussed.

(And apologies for subjecting you to me yelling at my roommates)

Part 1 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:02  
We are bizack for another episode of What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle Jolley. Okay, so this week I'm sitting down with Holly, who somehow can lead campaigns under pressure. She, along with other greats, like Andre 3000, is cooler than a polar bear's toenails. Even though she's surrounded by spazy nuts like me. So let's listen in on how she got that way and how the personal became political. So, this week, we're back we had a bye week last week. Sorry about that little snafu in scheduling. But this week, we have the lovely Holly. Some might refer to her as the comrade that's a cool cucumber under pressure. That someone would be me. Someone will say she- how would I say this? She organizes with a smile. She always has time to answer your questions. She's just kind of like everyone's little ray of sunshine and makes, you know, makes being in politics palatable. Welcome, Holly. Say hi to the people.

Holly  1:21  
Hello. It is very nice to be here with you.

Janelle Jolley  1:25  
It is so nice to- I'm happy that we were able to finally coordinate and be together because I haven't seen you in...eight months?

Holly  1:34  
Yeah. Oh, my god. Since like, March? It has been forever. And when I'm not on a campaign, my personal scheduling is not quite as good. So I'm glad you bear with me. It is nice to see ya.

Janelle Jolley  1:50  
No, of course! And you were- you just came off came off of another campaign recently, didn't you?

Holly  1:57  
Yeah. So for the general election, I worked on Prop G, which is a local campaign. And then I closed up Shahid for Congress. So I had a couple local things. Can't go very far with a pandemic, and all.

Janelle Jolley  2:11  
Yeah, that's right. That's right. Well, we'll get to the local things, but I wanted to start at the beginning. So, tell me about yourself. Are you from California originally?

Holly  2:22  
Yeah, I actually grew up on the peninsula. So, between San Jose and San Francisco there's that nice strip of land, which is suburbia sprawl pretty much the whole way. And I grew up in Redwood City. So it's almost the dead center of that. They- it has a sign that says "Weather Best By Government Test." So like, sunny every day, really nice. When I was growing up, obviously it was right before Facebook and Google and all these things got big, so I got to see the impact of that on the area I grew up in and on some family. My grandma and a couple of family members, like people work for Stanford, really big university down there. So it's been really interesting to see both big city life, visit cities, as a young person, and then live in this more suburbia, small town-esque, but obviously not small at all. It's not like there's space between the houses. But to be able to do that was really interesting, especially over the past, you know, 20 years as there have been this kind of boom and bust in Silicon Valley area. Having family living, there has been an interesting experience.

Janelle Jolley  3:33  
Nice. And is your family, are they like- are your parents also from California? Like, are you like a 800th generation Californian?

Holly  3:43  
I really don't know how far generation because I- I know some right? My mom's done the whatnots. But if I ask my grandma, like, "Hey, what was it like growing up?" She's actually not interested in talking about that kind of thing. She's like, "I was in California." And I'm like, "So how is it with your parents?" She's like, "She was mean." And I'm like, "Okay," I'm not gonna press on that. So we didn't get a whole lotta family story. I got the corporate holidays, I didn't get cultural holidays, or things like that. But we do, we used to do, family dinner once a month. Most of my family lives in the Bay Area. So if you have- like my dad had so many siblings, and his mom was a waitress for a long time and worked and lived in San Francisco. So they were a big family that was able to afford that at the time. And then as he got older, he obviously couldn't afford that kind of thing and was pushed out of the city. And most of the family moved up by Benicia sort of area. So, just moving further out. And right now my dad actually lives down in LA and my mom lives in South San Francisco. I'm staying with her with the pandemic, and all. Missing the work travel, not gonna lie. I love my family, love doing things locally for work, affecting, you know, the area which people I know live here. It's nice to make a change here. But, oh, man, your girl misses a view.

Janelle Jolley  4:04  
Poor thing. Well, hopefully there's an en- I mean, I think we're closer to an end in sight now. So you'll be back in the mix soon.

Holly  5:21  
I mean, go up to that a- once the shelter in place ends again, then there's more parks open, you can go see some stuff. That was nice there, but it's not the kind of thing we're doing these days.

Janelle Jolley  5:31  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fair, fair. What was it- how would you describe what it was like for you growing up in the Bay when you did? Like, describe your childhood to me. What was it like?

Holly  5:43  
So, I think it was really basic, to be honest? So, like I didn't- when you're a kid, you don't really think a lot about what's going on. And then you only realize looking back that certain things affected you. And so, I have parents that weren't together. I got the two Christmas things. I got all this stuff, which was amazing. Not gonna lie. And then I also got some stuff, like if my dad would move and my mom wouldn't, the difference between those. The difference of how they would parent their households and what was acceptable or what was not. Even things like, can you have soda here? When is an appropriate time for ice cream? Or, you know, just really basic things. So I think that was interesting because I got to be more adaptable to if things are changing and different, as opposed to if I was always in one household, one place, that was always the same.

Janelle Jolley  6:37  

Holly  6:38  
So I think that actually ended up being a really positive experience growing up. But in the area we were in, it was interesting to see, kind of, the divide between those families? Because my dad isn't as well off as my mom is. My mom has worked at the same job since I was...since before I can remember. She's always been a locksmith, she has always been working at the same A-A Lock, it's at the same place. Like, I could drive there- probably one of the first places I could drive, right? You just kind of know where it is. So, that's one thing. But my dad, he worked at the airport for a little while and had some disability and did odd jobs, and then ended up opening up his own business to have some steady work, and things like that. So it's very different to see the impact of both of those economic situations on a household and be a part of both households. And then see how, over the past 10 years since the 2008 crash, how my mom's life has been a certain trajectory, and how my dad, who didn't have the same stability, how his life has been different. And what affects them. So, I mean, it's had some really, really good moments. And then as you get older, you kind of look at, "How did I get where I am?" And it's interesting to see that like, as tech started to rise in the area is like when my dad could no longer afford the mortgage there and ended up moving. Whereas, you know, my mom ended up being able to stay in the same place. It was really amazing, she actually made sure that we wouldn't move during a school year, so that I didn't have to start and stop out of nowhere. And that's not something that necessarily every family gets to do. And especially seeing the pressures on my dad versus my mom, getting to have something as simple as staying the whole grade length at a school when you want to, I think was just really lucky. And I really appreciate that kind of thing, you know? There was a lot changes in the area, just as I grew up there.

Janelle Jolley  8:55  
Sure. Did you- did your mom have family support in order to- in her raising of her kids?

Holly  9:04  
Yeah. So, when I was a kid, I know my brother- my grandma used to babysit for my brother when he was younger. And then, because my mom and dad were friendly, I would go to my dad's after school. So instead of like child care, because they were two separate households, they were able to co-parent in that way and have support. And so my dad also watched my brother at times when we were younger, as well. And he, actually for a while, was a stay at home parent. And a few of my cousins and a couple of his friends, since he also grew up in the area, that still live nearby, would all bring their kids and he would do the daycare with kids giant slide outside, like pool kind of stuff.

Janelle Jolley  9:47  
Daddy daycare.

Holly  9:47  
Yeah, sort of thing because it was helpful for, kind of, all of these families. And so as a kid you don't think about it, you're like, "Oh, I just get to hang out with everyone." But then as an adult, you realize there were a lot of economic pressures that go into that sort of decision. And even getting to spend that kind of time with my dad as a kid? I didn't think about it as a kid. But as an adult, I feel really lucky to have gotten that time with him when so many do just have to work so hard to just keep the place you're living.

Janelle Jolley  10:15  
Yeah. Did you- what was your understanding did you perceive your family life as a child, do you think? Looking back, like how would little Holly describe her life, her family life? Like, things that you were able to enjoy, maybe the things you wanted to enjoy? How would you- how did you think of it then?

Holly  10:36  
I think as a kid, I just felt really, really lucky. Because I got to, parents weren't harsh people. They were like, "If you're doing well in school and have one or two activities outside of school, so kind of expand your horizons, then it's fine." So it was fine. And I really didn't think...I didn't think politically a lot. I think it kind of just creeps up on you. And then like, you're stuck in it.

Janelle Jolley  11:07  
Did you not think politically because your parents weren't particularly political? Or the community you were in wasn't particularly politically minded? Like, why do you think so?

Holly  11:19  
I think the community was not very political at all. Like, it wasn't something that was very largely discussed. Just in daily life, like it wasn't something that was mentioned. But then, you know, around election time, depending on- like, my mom's been- I think she's voted Republican before. I remember the Bush-Gore election, my family had one person on either side, so I got to actually watch a debate and listen to them say something and  if I watched it with the other family, hear a different thing. And I think that was really interesting to me. And then, obviously, there was 911 when I was a kid. And my brother is about six years older than me. And so he, when I was in middle school, joined the Navy. And I was...had no idea what was going on. I was like, "There was this crazy thing and now everybody's acting crazy and the airport's different and there's all these violent things happening to people that make no sense to me." And, you know, some people wanting war, some people not wanting the war and all of this stuff. And then my brother disappears and is in the Navy. And I was like, "I'm gonna start watching C-span."

Janelle Jolley  12:34  
Right, right. That's right, "I need to know what's going on so I know my brother's safe."

Holly  12:37  
You remember, there was the TV that had the scrolling TV Guide? So it said something like, it said Veterans Affairs Council, or something like that. And I was like, "I have no idea what's going on," and I started watching it. And then for a lot of years, actually, I watched C-span when I would do my homework or be doing things. I still nerdy watch C-span on occasion. Just like-

Janelle Jolley  12:57  
That will be your background.

Holly  12:59  
Yeah, I just put it on. I'm like, "What's going on over there?" And so I think that's kind of how it started, is I really wanted to have a better understanding of what was going on with, like, impacting my direct family. We didn't talk about it a whole lot. But because of that, I also ended up learning that my dad was a veteran. And he ended up, like, was on a plane to deploy and then the war ended and didn't. And, like, it was-  

Janelle Jolley  13:25  
Which war? Vietnam?

Holly  13:28  
I guess so? He's like 60 right now? I'd have to do the math to a-

Janelle Jolley  13:33  
Maybe Vietnam. Maybe right- the very tail end, maybe? I mean, that's what it sounds like.

Holly  13:38  
Yeah, it was very, very tail end. Because he was about to go. He was not like a...he's a, you know, veterans for peace kind of veteran. He's not a "Let's send more people to war." But he's like, "Hey, I got really lucky to not go. And I had friends who died." And he told me this story one time. He was in basic training and had a friend who was from another country and just had learned English and had joined the army to be like, you get citizenship kind of thing during that time, right? And they said, they were doing a training with grenade things, or something. And they said, "Duck," and he didn't. And so his friend died, right there with him in training. And so, it gave me this thought about, like, even if people don't necessarily get all the way to war, there's so many lead up areas that could be really, really stressful and really impactful on people before they even get there. So knowing those things, and as I learned more of that as my brother is literally out in the Navy, and I'm like, "He's on a ship." He was doing some submarine thing? I don't know. And my brother is very smart with physics and I don't understand half of the math he does, but he's got some really good thoughts. I love talking with him. He's in New Zealand right now doing his PhD. So, and then on my mom's side, my uncle has...he was a Marine. I don't remember when. But he's married to my aunt. So, I mean- and then my grandfather on that side also was in the war and came back and spent my whole childhood at the Thanksgiving table, like, "Hey, we should not be sending soldiers to go do this." Like, "Hey, this is not something we should be spending on," things like that. So I didn't pick up my politics off the wind, it was kind of cumulative. A little bit matters, and then it kind of...snowballed.  

Janelle Jolley  15:38  
So am I understanding correctly that the people on both sides of your family that were veterans, and/or somehow involved in armed services, as you understood them growing up, they were anti-war and pro-peace? Am I understanding that correctly?

Holly  15:57  
So, yeah, what I would say is my dad would definitely say he's pro-peace, no war at all. Like, we shouldn't need to be doing that. And I think generally, for my family, it was more of respect for people who have served because they have gone through a lot?

Janelle Jolley  16:13  
Oh, I see.

Holly  16:13  
And so we should be supporting people who are in the armed services, obviously, make sure they're safe. But we should be working to de-escalate and have less of these, and not need so many people to be doing this and not put those people through that. So it's interesting, because whenever you hear a war debate, it's like, "Hey, we should fund less." And I'm even like, "Hey, we should fund these things less." I don't love that we're in the longest wars ever. For more than half my life.

Janelle Jolley  16:17  
Yeah, that's right.  

Holly  16:23  
And there's people going to war that were born after it started. And I don't think we get to talk about that that much. But so, I mean, I understand wanting people to be safe and taken care of. But also, how well are we taking care of veterans who are still here? Like, the fact that my dad has VA health care, but his wife wouldn't qualify for healthcare, so she has to have her own kind of health care. Like, I don't think that that's good. My grandfather, he recently had a liver thing- liver cancer, replacement, something? He had a huge thing where he's definitely in a risk group and we don't visit grandpa and grandma right now. I've not see them. And it wasn't all covered.

Janelle Jolley  17:28  

Holly  17:29  
And she has an amazing job with one of, you know, these really big universities, really well paid. Like, it's not that they didn't have savings, that they don't have a nice house, that they don't, that they didn't manage their spending or prepare. It's just that there's no way for the way our society is set up to take care of that. Or to handle that externality. They're just like, "Womp womp. Oh, well."

Janelle Jolley  17:52  
Right. Sheesh!

Holly  17:53  
So, people have been through these things and it's interesting, like, yeah, as a kid, I definitely like didn't notice. But once you notice, you kind of start noticing it everywhere. You can't stop noticing it. And all of those things, even though those are all very political things that were in my life, that's not even the things I would say that made me decide that politics was important to get into. So there's...they're just things you realize later.

Janelle Jolley  18:24  

Holly  18:25  
As a kid, I was just like, "Hey, this Thanksgiving dinner is great. My grandpa's like, 'let's not murder people.' That sounds great, too." You know, it's not as complicated when you're a kid.

Janelle Jolley  18:36  
Right, it's not that deep.

Holly  18:36  
Yeah. It's not that deep, it's fine. But then, you know, I'm a grown up and I'm looking back and I'm like, "Wow!" Being told those messages that, you know, it's not that everybody sucks in the armed forces, but just that, like, "Hey, we need to be mindful of what we're doing and careful about the decisions we're making," and things like that. I mean, it was nice. I feel lucky that I got to have them.

Janelle Jolley  19:00  
Right on.

Holly  19:01  

Janelle Jolley  19:01  
So you would say- so, would you- is it- would it be correct to summarize things as, like, your recollection growing up or your perception growing up as a child, you know, you felt really lucky you felt happy as a child?

Holly  19:17  
Oh, yeah. I was privileged as hell. I got so many things, like...

Janelle Jolley  19:24  
But you were happy, you were, you know, healthy. Your parents had a friendly enough relationship so that, you know, you had a good relationship with both of your parents. You, you know, got to see your dad quite a lot. He did Daddy daycare for a bit. There was, you know, not not a super politically...charged, maybe, environment that you grew up in. But, kind of, for you, what you remember is maybe a seminal event in your political awareness and understanding, was after 911 when your brother your older brother enlisted in the Navy. And that's when you were just kind of like, "Okay, fuck! My brother's not here, I kind of want to understand things more now because I'm connecting the fact that he is not here with this national event that happened." And that was just kind of you, I guess, wading slowly into the waters of, kind of, understanding things politically more. Would that be accurate?

Holly  20:20  
Yeah, pretty much. It's like, once you're connected in one spot, you realize, like, "Oh, shit, this is more complicated than I thought." And there was no way as a kid, especially for me to be like, "I'm gonna understand this really complicated thing." It's kind of just a hunger at that point.

Janelle Jolley  20:37  
That's right, one thing leads to another.

Holly  20:37  
Like, "I need to know what happens for the next thing."

Janelle Jolley  20:40  
That's right.

Holly  20:41  
And I think kids are- it's interesting, because, as a kid, I feel like you're much more malleable in that way? You're like, "Oh, this is kind of interesting." And then you kind of just dig into things. So, I was decently political by high school. And there were-

Janelle Jolley  20:56  
We're going to have to come back to what that means. But, go ahead. Continue.  

Holly  20:57  
Okay, okay. So there's programs where you can be an intern at City Hall and shit like that. But when you're like, 18, to 24, and, get school credit and things like that for them. And some of them are, you know, for below 18. And I didn't even know about those kinds of programs, because even though I was slightly political, it's not like my parents knew about these odd random programs. So I think a lot of what happens is that parents doing their best are like, "Hey, here's your options," to kids, and then kids pick from those options. Which totally makes sense, nothing wrong about that. But then, you don't find out all the things you could have done 'til later. There's only so much that parents can do.

Janelle Jolley  21:39  
Sure, sure.

Holly  21:40  

Janelle Jolley  21:41  
So we're up to your high school moment. And you just said that you were decently political in high school. What do you mean by that and how did you think about things in high school? And how did you see the world and understand it?

Holly  21:56  
Yeah, so I guess a high school was my first campaign life moment.

Janelle Jolley  22:03  
Huh! High school, okay!

Holly  22:04  
So there was, I don't know if you remember, there was a Prop 8 campaign in California-

Janelle Jolley  22:08  
That was gay marriage.

Holly  22:08  
Yep, gay marriage. And so me and my friends, back when honk and wave was the thing that I thought was worth doing. Not that it's not worth doing. If you want to honk and wave please feel free to honk away. That's not my point. I do other things now. But, so back in the day, like, walk down the street, honk and wave with the No on 8. And that was because one of my uncle's on my dad's side, I loved him to death, he was gay. "Was gay" because he is no longer alive. He was gay his entire life, he didn't stop being gay at some point.

Janelle Jolley  22:43  

Holly  22:44  
And so when I learned in high school that he wouldn't be able to get married like I would be able to, I was like, "What the fuck?" Sorry.

Janelle Jolley  22:54  
No- please! Come on.  

Holly  22:55  
I was like, "That doesn't make any sense." So, you know, kind of dipped toe into campaign stuff. Was part of my GSA in high school. Right after high school there was- so I graduated a year early in 2009. I was supposed to graduate in 2010 but I was really eager to get out of high school for various reasons.

Janelle Jolley  23:21  

Holly  23:23  
I just wanted to do things that were more connected? And wanted to do, like, just get college done and get some degrees and stuff. So I ended up graduating early, for better or worse. If you ask me, I think it was okay. If you ask my grandma, she would probably say I should have stayed because I could have gotten a bunch of scholarships and stuff. But, anyways, so I graduated and there's, you know, economic downturn, 2008 crash, a bunch of people losing their homes. Like that's what I graduated high school into. So I didn't know about, you know, that I could-

Janelle Jolley  24:06  
Was anyone in your...did any- was anyone that you knew directly affected by the crash?

Holly  24:14  
I definitely knew some people that had their parents struggling? But as high schoolers, I don't think we talked about like, "Hey, what's going on with your family?" So as we became adults and we kind of start to understand more of each other's lives, I think, as opposed to just like, "I hang out with you after school."

Janelle Jolley  24:38  
Sure, sure.

Holly  24:39  
Right? Those kinds of things came up more, but at the time, we didn't talk about those things. I would say we didn't talk about most things. But so I was decently political. I did campaign stuff.

Janelle Jolley  24:53  
And when you mean decently political, you are specifically citing your honk and wave. Or-

Holly  24:58  

Janelle Jolley  24:58  
Your teenage support, your adolescent support- I'm sorry, or, opposition to Prop 8 because you had a gay uncle and you understood- you had a violent reaction to his inability to marry someone legally...

Holly  25:12  
You summarize very good. I'd also elaborate that that very same uncle had a number of addictions, which he overcame while I was in high school. And so seeing someone go through that, and then, kind of, move to the other side where they were starting to take care of themselves. And then, you know, after high school starting to deal with the after effects of that kind of abuse and things like that. Especially seeing that after high school, when I literally know people that, today, are probably in their house in Marin doing some drugs they should not be doing.

Janelle Jolley  25:49  

Holly  25:50  
And their, you know, their family is well off, they're fine. I'm not worried about their health. They'll get health care if something happens to them. Like, they probably have Narcan sitting in their room for them, right? So those people are fine. But when my uncle was doing those things, he was not. And knowing the impact.

Janelle Jolley  26:07  

Holly  26:08  
Seeing all of those things as you get older is very interesting. But see politics impact someone in more than one way, I think you, kind of, are forced to make some connections you otherwise wouldn't.

Janelle Jolley  26:24  
How did you do you think, at that point, you understood how politics was affecting your uncle's life?

Holly  26:31  
So I just figured it was like, "Hey, he wouldn't be able to go and get a piece of paper that someone else could, so then that person would probably not be allowed in the hospital with him," or something like that. Like, very small, like for taxes or something. I didn't think it was pervasive. It was a very surface level understanding of like, "Politics affects me when I have to go to the courthouse or when I have to do something that involves government."

Janelle Jolley  26:57  
Did you not understand, maybe, and maybe I'm stretching this too far-

Holly  27:02  

Janelle Jolley  27:03  
Or, what's the word? Projecting more than what is there, but did you not understand, maybe the role that your uncle's...class standing or precariousness? This is me assuming, and maybe your uncle was super fucking rich and, you know, just-

Holly  27:20  
God, I wish. He loved me. If he were rich, I would be rich right now.

Janelle Jolley  27:25  
Right? But did you connect that at all? Like, the reason- not...this is...walk with me here.

Holly  27:31  

Janelle Jolley  27:31  
I'm- I- I do not know what were kind of like the antecedent conditions, or predicate conditions to his addiction, but did you have an understanding of those factors as it related to-

Holly  27:45  
Oh, I definitely did not.

Janelle Jolley  27:46  

Holly  27:47  
I distinctly remember this one time, where we had lunch with Grandma and then dropped her off at a hotel to help, I think, pay for the weekly room for my uncle. Like, he wasn't perfect all the time. He definitely had downtimes where I didn't see him for a while. And I'm assuming those were worse.

Janelle Jolley  28:09  

Holly  28:10  
But he was also a good person. And so to have people treat him differently because he did drugs this one time, or because he had a problem stopping drugs, or because he happened to like guys? Like, that, for me and the way I grew up, where you respect people first until they give you a reason not to. Like, that's outlandish. So looking at policies now that still disenfranchise people who are gay or people who are trying to overcome addictions, I don't react positively to those.

Janelle Jolley  28:48  
Of course, of course, of course.

Holly  28:49  
Like, that doesn't make any sense to me. Why, instead of taking care of people to the best of our ability to have them do the best they possibly could, that, instead, we would want to make things additionally hard. And that's going to come to some positive conclusion in some way. Just, it's kind of strange.

Janelle Jolley  29:07  
Yeah. Hmm. Interesting. So you as you- after you graduated high school early because you're an overachiever. I should have assumed that. You went to- did you go to college?

Holly  29:22  
We could have glossed over that. I did go. I did go to college for- I went to community college at City College of San Francisco. On and off for 10 years.

Janelle Jolley  29:34  
It was free, right?

Holly  29:34  
It was not free until the semester after I graduated.

Janelle Jolley  29:38  

Holly  29:38  

Janelle Jolley  29:39  
Wait, wait, wait. But I thought City College was not a community- I thought it was a college, not Community College?

Holly  29:45  
So there's San Francisco University, there's SF State, and there's City College of San Francisco.

Janelle Jolley  29:50  
City College is the community college.  

Holly  29:51  
City College is the community college. So my mom, even though she, you know, had this very nice job for most of my life, was not in a position to pay for me to go off to college. And I was like, "Oh, shit."

Janelle Jolley  30:06  
College is expensive as fuck!

Holly  30:06  
And I was like, "Oh shit, they're never gonna forgive any debt." And so I didn't get any. I started working as a waitress at a place that stole my wages.

Janelle Jolley  30:16  
What do you mean?

Holly  30:17  
I mean, I put down times on our timecard, where we hand wrote it. And I worked for 15 minutes of the hour. So I put .25, and then someone said to me, I kid you not, with a straight face, that it was supposed to be .15. And I was like, "That is not how fractions work."

Janelle Jolley  30:34  
"First of all, you don't know math."

Holly  30:35  
And so I was like, "This is three quarters. Like, this is 75 out of 100. Like, you know what this mea- you," like, I tried to be like, "Do you get fractions?" And they jus...I don't know. So thank god, the Labor Board saved my ass. Called them, "What do I got to do?"

Janelle Jolley  30:35  
How did you know to do that?

Holly  30:52  
Sent a letter. Because I watched C-span a lot. So I was like, "Oh, the Labor Board can probably help me."

Janelle Jolley  31:01  
National or state, or?

Holly  31:03  
No, no Federal Labor Board. The San Jose location, props to the lady who answered the phone for me when I was like, "Hey, I think my employer is stealing my wages. I don't know what to do." And she was like, "These are some things that apply." So, things like you can ask to see your records And if they don't give them within 30 days, then you can get a $1700 fee. Like, they owe you an additional $1700 for not letting you see the- so things like that, that I had no idea about. And I was-

Janelle Jolley  31:29  
This was you at 19?

Holly  31:29  
I was 18.

Janelle Jolley  31:30  
Oh wow.

Holly  31:31  
Because I graduated, I was just 17...right before I turned 18. So, I turned 18, actually, I think the day before I started working this job at this restaurant, and I worked there about a year. So I was either 18 or might have just turned 19. Like, had totaled my car. That year to get a new car, it was all crazy. And so, realized that they're stealing my wages, do the thing where you send them a certified letter and they're supposed to sign that they received it. Like, had a witness there when I tried to hand them the letter because they didn't say they got it. Like, bunch of stuff. Took them to Labor Board. Labor Board, I kid you not, this is one of the most frustrating things in my entire life still, the Labor Board person handed my former employer card and was like, "Call me when you have other issues with your employees." Which I mean, fine, because you probably will. But the fact is, I was working with three other people there who were still having their wages stolen as far as we knew, because mine were-

Janelle Jolley  32:34  

Holly  32:34  
And you just paid, admitting that mine were. But I don't know what happened to the three or four coworkers who were working there. I know someone that was working there when we were working. And his checks were getting zeroed out because he was paying child support off of his checks.

Janelle Jolley  32:49  

Holly  32:49  
So he was making zero. And so if they were stealing from his hours-

Janelle Jolley  32:54  

Holly  32:54  
They weren't actually stealing from him, they were stealing from him paying back his child support.

Janelle Jolley  32:57  

Holly  32:58  
That's stealing directly- like, that's not even just stealing from your worker, that's stealing, like, kid, like, from someone's mouth.

Janelle Jolley  33:03  
A child's well-being.

Holly  33:04  
Yeah, food from some kid's mouth. So, like, angry. And that place still has a positive Yelp review thing. Like, you know, they've gotten the "county approval" or "Google recommended" and all this stuff. And there's no way for anybody in the community to go look up, like, "Hey, what restaurants near me have not committed wage theft and screwed over their employees?"

Janelle Jolley  33:27  
You know I want to know where this place is.

Holly  33:28  
You know I want to know! You know I want to be like, "Fuck that place. I'm never going to eat there."

Janelle Jolley  33:32  
That's right. Okay, but-  

Holly  33:33  
Their food was good.

Janelle Jolley  33:34  
I need you to tell me what this place was.

Holly  33:36  
Oh. Oh, man.

Janelle Jolley  33:37  
We can talk about it later off the air.  

Holly  33:38  
Yeah, I'll tell you off because I don't wanna- I don't remember exactly what I signed and I don't want to get myself in any trouble.

Janelle Jolley  33:45  
Sure, sure, sure. Yeah, we won't get you in trouble.  

Holly  33:46  
Those bitches don't even know how to do fractions

Janelle Jolley  33:48  

Holly  33:49  
Oh, fucking bitches. So...and I like small business. This was not like a- I just want to be clear, I was not working at like a BJs restaurant or at a taco bell, I was working at a local business that had just opened and was having plenty of business.

Janelle Jolley  34:08  
Yeah, yeah.

Holly  34:08  
And I am sure that they were not paying everyone.

Janelle Jolley  34:10  
But even if they weren't having plenty of business that doesn't give them the right to steal your wages.

Holly  34:14  
It does not! I would not be as political as I am if nobody had stolen my wages. But as soon as I did I was like, "Hey, I need this government agency to help me hold these people accountable to give me the money that I fuckin earned." And then nobody... people are like, "Defund the government." I'm like, "Fuck you. We really need more enforcement of this wage theft."

Janelle Jolley  34:31  
How long did you stay there, working there?

Holly  34:33  
I was there, I think, about a year, maybe a year and a half?

Janelle Jolley  34:36  
Did you feel like you had to leave immediately after the-

Holly  34:39  
Oh, I got- they retaliated against me! They fired me, man.

Janelle Jolley  34:43  
Whoa, did you go back to the Labor Board to-

Holly  34:46  
I was still in the thing with the Labor Board before I got the judgment when they fired me. It was like I gave them the letter saying like, "Hey, you need to let me see this." And they were like, "Hey, I don't want to see this." And then the next week's schedule was supposed to come out and I was like, "You should let me see this." And they were like, "We're just not putting you on the schedule." They just took me off.

Janelle Jolley  35:11  

Holly  35:11  
Yeah, they didn't even fire me. They just said, "You're not gonna be on the schedule anymore, ever."

Janelle Jolley  35:15  
So they give you a zero hour schedule. So at that point, you had to leave.

Holly  35:18  
Yeah, I was like, "You effectively fired me." You were like, "Hey, I'm not putting you on the schedule." Like, what else is there? There's hour job. Like, what the fuck?  

Janelle Jolley  35:28  
Right, right. That you can survive on. Wow.

Holly  35:30  
Yeah, yeah. So that was definitely some radicalizing experience. And some nuance, right? Because a lot of times, it's like government, bad; small business, good; government, good. Workers, trying to be selfish. Like, there's these big ideas that are strangely connected for, what I think, are no real good reasons.

Janelle Jolley  35:52  

Holly  35:53  
But being someone who did work hard, who was wronged by a business that I would otherwise support, that had to go to an org that I might not otherwise have known about. Like, those kinds of-

Janelle Jolley  36:05  
They drove you into the arms of government.

Holly  36:07  
I know! And now I'm like, "Hey, everybody should get some protection from wage theft." Like, union, those are good. That sounds good, like additional org to make sure- and, honestly, if I had to fund things, why would you not fund keeping businesses from wage theft? Like that that's even a thing that happens?

Janelle Jolley  36:24  
That's broadly popular.

Holly  36:25  
Like that that's even a thing that happens?

Janelle Jolley  36:26  
Right. And it's so common. That's the most common form of theft.

Holly  36:29  
Yeah! Oh my god, it's just insane that for something that is so common, when we have all these economic discussions, how often do you hear them talk about wage theft in it?

Janelle Jolley  36:38  
That's right. Because, well, you- and I also- I mean, it-  a little bit of a diversion here. It kind of blew my mind. I don't know what I was reading earlier this year, but not only did I learn that wage theft is the most common form of theft in the United States, but that it has a civil penalty, not a criminal penalty. Like, if I were to reach- if I'm at a-  if I work a job, if I work at a 7-11...or if I'm a waitress and, you know, I dig in the cash register to, quote, steal money from my boss, that is a criminal charge. That is property theft. But he or she, you know-

Holly  37:17  
Yet, they steal wages from you!

Janelle Jolley  37:19  
Right. Digging in my pocket to take my wages, that's only a civil penalty. And it's just like...what? What am I missing?

Holly  37:28  
Yeah, and that there isn't some sort of automatic procedure for where, if you do wage theft for one employee, that everyone else's are looked at automatically?

Janelle Jolley  37:37  
Yeah, and reviewed. Yeah, that's right.

Holly  37:38  
Because I just- like, even now...I'm not friends with those people, we just worked together. But I still am like, "I hope they got their money." You know what I mean?

Janelle Jolley  37:47  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course, of course. You said you were in and out of City College for 10 years to get your degree?

Holly  37:52  
Yeah, yeah. I actually...I went to City College until I was almost out of classes that were super interesting. A year or two longer than I intended. So, initially when I started community college I was like, "I'm gonna get a couple of degrees, and then I'm going to go get a couple of bachelor's degrees, and I'm gonna be done by the time I'm 21. I'm going to just get it together."

Janelle Jolley  38:12  
You were like, "I'm gonna get a couple of associates-"

Holly  38:14  

Janelle Jolley  38:14  
"And then I'm gonna get a couple of bachelors-"

Holly  38:16  
Yeah. And I was like, "I'm gonna graduate by 21. I can do this. I just graduated high school early." I'm a naive dumb fuck right there, right now, right? I'm like, "I can't afford any of this, but this is the plan." So, I did not feel comfortable getting loans. Given my family situation, even though my mom was decently well off, she could not afford it. My dad could obviously not afford it. I did- was not sure- I knew people that were like, there was just the crash, they had degrees and they were going to be working at sandwich shops. It was like, "Hmm...I don't know about that." And so when I went to City College, I started with political science because I'm a political science nerd at this point.

Janelle Jolley  38:57  
Yeha, I mean, aren't we all?

Holly  38:57  
Totally. And then, in the course of doing political science, I- and especially after this wage theft thing, I was like, "Whoa, econ. What are you doing over there? How's it going?" So I took some economics, I took some sociology classes. So lots of social behavioral sciences kind of stuff. I did a good amount of communications because how people communicate their stuff is probably as important as what they're trying to communicate.

Janelle Jolley  39:01  

Holly  39:01  
I think there's a lot in political science that, as a society, as a large audience, we tend to talk past each other, "You're this thing, I'm that thing and we disagree about this thing." And I really prefer to find the areas, like, where can we agree? And then look at like, from that agreement, how can we move forward? And in areas of disagreement, not just disagree, but why do we disagree about that? And then actually address the why and what goal we're trying to get to. Instead of know, it's like, which there you're using, you know, there's the three, there's and which one you're using is really important. And it can be really annoying when you use the wrong one. But if I focus on the fact that you use the wrong one, instead of the fact that you're saying, "It's over there," and I clearly know what you would mean? Like, I'm getting caught up in the semantic. And I love semantic differences as much as the next person, but I tried to not get so caught up on how we are communicating with each other, that we stop communicating with each other.

Janelle Jolley  40:40  
When you were attending City College- a couple of questions. Were you able to pay your way and successfully avoid having to take out loans?

Holly  40:52  
Financial aid. Only because of yet another helpful government program.

Janelle Jolley  40:57  
Yeah, come on FAFSA! Uh-huh.

Holly  40:58  
Thank you. Yes, because of FAFSA. The free City College had not started yet. That passed right before I ended. And even with school, there's...there's doing what makes sense for your life, and then there's trying to balance your time schedule plus everyone else's time schedule, right? So I took some time off of school when my dad had a heart attack, and lived in LA for a little while. Did some political stuff down there. Came back up. I took some time off for work at various points. But then I ended up missing a deadline to apply for my transfer. And so I applied the next year. And the next year, I learned that City College has this transfer acceptance guarantee. So if you do all your classes at City, you can get accepted to certain California colleges, universities. Like, a guaranteed acceptance instead of like, "Hey, maybe I will, maybe I won't." So I used the- I was gonna get a guaranteed acceptance up to Davis. And then I ended up actually getting into UC Berkeley.

Janelle Jolley  42:11  
How would you describe your politic in your 20s as you were going through school? As you're going through these, what you called radicalizing experiences with, you know, work, where, you know, the personal becomes political. Like, how would you describe yourself politically then?

Holly  42:25  
Yeah. So I think what I would say is that...every time I got more political was every time politics ended up being more intrusive in my life, whether I liked it or not.

Janelle Jolley  42:44  

Holly  42:45  
And I think that's probably true for a lot of people. It's like you don't really notice politics until it's intrusive and annoying.

Janelle Jolley  42:51  
Until it's up in your face.

Holly  42:52  
You're like, "Why are you here?"

Janelle Jolley  42:55  
Last night some C-span saved my life from some stolen wages. I don't know why I'm in such a song singing mood today. Anyway, tune in tomorrow for part two where Holly blows my damn mind a couple times with some practical approaches to organizing that I probably totally overlooked. And where she reframes the false binary of electoralism versus everything else. Uh-huh. Don't forget to tell some friends about this. Don't forget to subscribe. Find us on Twitter or find us on Instagram. You know, whole nine. Get us on out there! Anyway, see you guys tomorrow.

Part 2 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:01  
Oh, hello there and welcome, or welcome back, to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle Jolley. So, we are about to dive into Part Two with Holly and honestly, there is a ton here that I don't even know how to neatly summarize. So let's just, let's jump right back in. When Bernie announced in 2016, or 2015-2016, you decided to start volunteering. My next question was going to be, what attracted you to him and, in the 2016 campaign, and not Hillary, since she was the heir apparent? What was your thinking then?

Holly  0:40  
My dad had just had a heart attack. And he was a veteran who like my family had to pay mortgage and all this stuff. And I just went down to help them. And this is like the one presidential candidate that's coming out saying, "Hey, we need health care for everybody." And I'm intimately in this health care experience of like, changing my whole life to take care of my family. And I know that in your 20s, like, I cannot be the only one who's family has some sort of health scare or something that you derail your work or school ambitions to focus on your community and your family. And there's people who take care of their family from the time they're young, all the way through! Having to do all this. So I'm just lucky that my family is fine and they're able to take care of themselves. But even since then, between the 2016 campaign and the 2020 campaign, my stepmom had a tumor removed that had gotten to be almost 30 pounds.

Janelle Jolley  1:43  

Holly  1:44  
Because she did not have health care to go and get it looked at when she noticed and it would have been a few pounds.

Janelle Jolley  1:50  

Holly  1:51  
So when I saw her after that it was like she had just gone through like a crazy body transformation.

Janelle Jolley  1:57  

Holly  1:57  
Yeah, because she had lost so much to this tumor. So- and luckily it was not cancerous, thank goodness.

Janelle Jolley  2:03  
Thank god! That's scary that it even got to that point. Good grief.

Holly  2:06  
Right? And so when I think of like, "Do I support Bernie?" Like, of course I support Bernie. I've seen him on C-span since he was the only one there yelling at an empty room. And so I- of course, as soon as he announced, I knew what Bernie was there for.

Janelle Jolley  2:11  
Did you have even a moment of like-

Holly  2:25  

Janelle Jolley  2:25  
Oo! Come on, that was quick!

Holly  2:26  
Not even.

Janelle Jolley  2:27  
Didn't even get-

Holly  2:28  
Not a second.

Janelle Jolley  2:30  
Didn't even get that out.  

Holly  2:31  
I had been worth watching Bernie on C-span since I was, like, end of middle school, right? And so, throughout high school I was busy making my bad decisions, but I still did watch C-span. And so I knew what Bernie stood for. And as soon as he said he was running, I didn't feel the need to hesitate on it. I didn't have that minute of like, "Let me question what this person is about." Because for literal years, I had already seen him standing around telling absolutely no one exactly what her thought. When nobody was listening, so I don't see why you would lie at that point, because nobody was listening. So I mean, like anybody, having a first female president will be great. I know, that's really important to...especially people my grandma's age who, you know, don't have 40 years to look for a potential female president. But what I really need is something that helps my family? So I definitely was just like, "2016, in it for the challenge. Please do bring up Medicare For All. That needs to be a conversation."

Janelle Jolley  2:37  
So you were viewing it as, "Hey, this is a way to expand the discourse to include policies and issues that don't get talked about enough in public."

Holly  3:51  

Janelle Jolley  3:52  
I see.

Holly  3:52  
And he did better in 2016 than I expected, too. Like, wildly. And I think it's also because he has been an independent for so long. And so many people just feel very trapped. And like, "I have to register as a Democrat so that I can vote in the Democratic primary and get hopefully a better person than I otherwise would have had, if I just wait until the general and then like vote, because-" So it's a lot of how the primary system works. And a lot of people that are...consider themselves independent, have political beliefs but don't, you know, ascribe to a political party, kind of recognize that both of them fail in their own ways. And that it's not...its not some taboo thing to recognize that both of them fail in their own ways and that we just have to do the best we can. And I think that's a very simple reality that expresses itself very complicated.

Janelle Jolley  4:51  
Sure, sure, sure. Did you- do you- at that point, did you- that point, at this point, however you want to put that. Do you consider yourself a leftist or progressive? Like, what is your preferred identifier of yourself politically?

Holly  5:07  
I don't usually pick one.

Janelle Jolley  5:08  
Ah! Okay. It's not important.

Holly  5:10  
So, yeah, I am technically, on my little checkbox on my voter registration, I think it's still Dem from voting in the primary.

Janelle Jolley  5:17  
No, no, not your ?. I don't care about that. I'm saying, what do you- how do you ?

Holly  5:21  
I think that most of the time I say independent, because that's easiest. But that's not actually anywhere, that doesn't express anything on the left-right spectrum when people are looking for what you are. And the reason I kind of don't pick a label is because people will assume a bunch of stuff when you are. And they're not usually the right stuff. They're usually nothing actually related to that. Their whatever, stereotypical version of that is. It's not usually what it actually is. And I actually find it really rhetorically helpful when people say, like, "Well, you're just being this." And I can be like, "Actually, I'm not. I just want to talk about this issue and this issue."

Janelle Jolley  6:17  
I see.

Holly  6:18  
So it's really...I definitely prefer it. Depending on who I'm with, if they're like, "Hey, are you leftist?" I'll be like, "Sure." Depending on who I'm talking to. If I know what they mean when they're asking that, I'm okay saying it. But I don't go around being like, "I'm a social democrat," or "I'm like...anything particular."

Janelle Jolley  6:40  
I understand what you're saying, and I don't think that you have to be labeled or be provincial about any labeling. But how- with with or without a label- how would you describe your politics?

Holly  6:51  
Oh, I definitely am a "Everybody should have health care and free education," both those things should be included. Honestly, a lot of things that are typically talked about as, "This is a cost," I think of it as, "This is an investment." And if I- like, politically, what I want is to invest as much in people to be the best people they can. But I want is to give as many people as possible, the ability to do the best that they can do to improve themselves. And that's a very selfish way to look at it, cuz I think we have a very selfish society in some ways? But having the least harm for the least number of people.

Janelle Jolley  7:35  

Holly  7:35  
Like, how can we have a society where the lowest standard of living is one that we think is actually livable, you know? One where I don't have to go to bed and be like, "I'm really glad I ate dinner because I know that probably a million people didn't." Because that's a hard world to live in. And because, as humans, you have this cognitive knowledge, "I know there is this problem," and there's not a lot you can do about it. And so in the end, you just kind of feel bad for knowing. And then people are like, "I don't want to know," and that's worse. And then other people are like, "I know, and now I feel bad." And that's also not good. So how can we change the fact that we know these objective things, like people are hungry? How can we resolve that? And if we do resolve it, what external and contextual impacts will there be to that? We'll probably be more productive. I would bet that if everybody knew that every single person in the world was able to eat that day that they would probably sleep better at night for no particular reason. Other than that, like...

Janelle Jolley  8:50  
My fellow men and women have full bellies.

Holly  8:54  
Yeah, it's just a nice thought. And there's obviously no scientific tangible study related to, "How did people's brains work if they know someone else ate?"

Janelle Jolley  9:05  
No, but I think there...I think there-

Holly  9:06  
No, there are ones on, like, if you ate and if you are doing well. There's like, "If rats will feed a friend," kind of thing.

Janelle Jolley  9:13  
No, but also, with like- are you familiar at all with Case- Deaton? Like, The Deaths of Despair? That body of research that has gotten, gained a lot of purchase in the last, since, like, 2016?

Holly  9:26  
Only the faintest amount.

Janelle Jolley  9:28  
Okay. That's fair. So basically, what their research supports is that, with a lot of the deaths of despair from the opioid crisis that, you know, is ravaging large swaths of the country. What they find is that, even for people who- people in the communities that have been ravaged, who are not directly affected either, you know, with a family member or someone they directly know that has, you know, been caught in the throes of addiction and the associated, kind of, social maladies associated with that, that their perception of their community's health is negatively affected because they know that people around them are-  

Holly  10:14  
Oh, I totally believe that.

Janelle Jolley  10:15  
You know what I mean?

Holly  10:16  
Yeah. Yeah.  

Janelle Jolley  10:16  
I think that supports some notion of like, "Hey, I feel a little bit more at ease knowing that people are ok- that people are fine. Or, people are being taken care of. Or, people are not suffering." I think that's a human thing.

Holly  10:29  
It's a very human thing. And I think a lot of the time we do get caught up in discussion that is sciency, which is very valuable. But like, you bring up a really good point that some things are just very human?

Janelle Jolley  10:44  
Yeah. And can't necessarily be quantified.

Holly  10:47  
Yeah. Even if we can't explain it yet, that doesn't mean we'll never be able to explain it. But that doesn't mean we should wait to do something about it until we can explain it, right? I actually, one of the kids I grew up with, he had an addiction and actually ended up dying of infection, not the addiction itself, because he was living outside and homeless at the time. And I grew up with him since before I can remember. And he died just last year.

Janelle Jolley  11:17  
Wow. I'm so sory.  

Holly  11:19  
Yeah. And like, god, I can't imagine for his mom? Being in his funeral and seeing his mom?

Janelle Jolley  11:24  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Holly  11:28  
Like...there is politics, and there's like, "Hey, this is the good policy," and whatever. And then there's remembering the human impact and the human aspect of those policies. And how do we put people first and meet them where they're at to do the most good possible? I- when I have to talk to a conservative person, I usually tell them that I want the most bang for our buck. And if people aren't actually, you know, doing better for it, then I'm not getting the bang for my buck. Like, yo, those police people in my home town, Redwood City, I'm on one of those things where you keep track of your hometown, even when you don't live there. They recently gave, I think it was like $3 million? They increased the police budget by like $3 million this year. And then, a couple months later, they announced that they had to cut the fire department budget by- you could guess how much- by about $3 million, closing one of the largest fire stations for that city. And so people in that city would then have to rely on the city next door to have their firemen come over. And that particular fire department, in a year where we've had a shit ton of fires, is one of the busiest ones. And so the thing is, like, am I getting...are we as a community getting the most bang for our buck by closing a fire station and increasing police budgets so that they could have literal vacancies? And  even if those were not vacant and they were doing something, is what they are doing contributing or pulling from community health? And is there a way that everything we are doing can be with that in mind and toward that avenue? As opposed to, like...I think what you focus on is what you're going to get because it's how you are preparing yourself to enter a situation.

Janelle Jolley  13:26  
From everything that you've gone through, understood, felt, experienced, blah, blah blah, what is your understanding of our political world, institutions, processes, whatever, in the United States right now? Like, what is your understanding of things? I'll just leave that open so I don't confuse the question anymore.

Holly  13:48  
Oh man. I got a couple.

Janelle Jolley  13:50  
Woo-hoo, run 'em down!

Holly  13:51  
Let's start with the individual. So I think that a lot of times we have a representative. and they are similarly abstract, as politics is abstract. They aren't- you don't think of them as somebody I'm gonna call, right? And you need to call. Sometimes you just need it.

Janelle Jolley  14:17  
Sorry, hold on. He has a package. Sorry.

Holly  14:20  
No, I'm with it. I think that's the right thing. Yeah, sometimes you need a package.

Janelle Jolley  14:26  
That's right! Oh, no worries. No worries.

Holly  14:32  
I like it. I think that what happens is that when they are abstract in that way, when you can't call them, when you can't get something from them, it ends up being that they don't exist for you.

Janelle Jolley  14:49  
But you can call them.

Holly  14:51  
I mean, you can-

Janelle Jolley  14:52  
You call their office.

Holly  14:53  
If you know how to call their office, and if you get their office, you know what to ask for. It's kind of like a maze, right? And most people are like little mouse at the beginning of the maze. And, even if there's some cheese over there, I have no idea how to get there. And it takes a while to figure it out, right? And people don't have this, kind of, extra time and extra mental energy-

Janelle Jolley  15:15  
To learn about the Labor Board, call them-

Holly  15:16  
Learn about the Labor Board and know how to call them and know how to print out all your own papers and know how to send it with the signature thing and then know how to get it back. And then, if those things don't work, what to do next. And so even if you cognitively know there is an assembly office that I can call, the amount of effort that it is between knowing that and actively having your assembly office do something that is useful for you, like walk you through a wage theft problem, or help with your landlord with your eviction, or if you want to start a union, can they answer those questions? Like, they aren't a one stop can do everything kind of place.

Janelle Jolley  16:02  

Holly  16:02  
And so what happens is that a lot of people have a lot of problems and nobody knows where to go exactly for thwm. So what happens is, we're all kind of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, like, "What do I do? Is this the right thing? How do I find it?" It's a mess. It's just a mess.

Janelle Jolley  16:20  
Can I ask though, because you have much more of a background in, specifically, California politics than I do, because I'm not from here, you know, whatever. But like, talk me through, in your opinion, how a Nancy Pelosi happens. Do you understand what I'm saying? Like, she- I mean- go ahead.

Holly  16:36  
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, sure.

Janelle Jolley  16:37  
Because she, in my mind, is like- while everyone rightly has a lot of smoke for Mitch McConnell, there's very little focus on how she is a the ringleader of a lot of material dispossession for people. And I'm specifically- and I'm getting worked up as I'm talking about it-

Holly  17:04  
Be worked up.

Janelle Jolley  17:05  
Thank you. I'm specifically thinking, most recently, about how she completely fucked everybody by dragging her feet on the stimulus money before the election.

Holly  17:16  
She just fucked with our money.

Janelle Jolley  17:17  
Right. And this is, like, the most dire economic situation that most people hopefully will ever experience and I hope it won't get worse.

Holly  17:25  
They said they would make it great. It ended up being a lot more like Great Depression, but umm...yeah.

Janelle Jolley  17:29  
Right, exactly. So it's like, how do you- in that case, where you have an elected official who, you know, who rhetorically tries to make herself appear as, you know, "I understand what my constituents needs and I, you know- I understand what my constituent needs are, and I work hard to take care of them just like everybody else in Congress." But it's like, no, the fuck you don't! And so like, why- and I'm asking this, obviously, I didn't vote for her this go round. I've never voted for Nancy and I never will. But how does a Nancy Pelosi happen where you can successfully for 20 plus years, piss on people and tell them it's raining and they're like, "Oh, yeah. Uh-huh." You know what I mean?

Holly  18:06  
I, it's so sad, I'm going to tell you a couple of things that I try to keep in mind whenever I am super frustrated by some representatives. And that is that America is ridiculously mobile. And that means that voters move a lot. What, it's something like a third of people will move within a two year period. And so obviously not the same people moving every two year period, but decently mobile. We don't have any kind of automatic registration, so anytime someone moves they will need to re-register. So... maybe, maybe not. So first, I'd say we'd have a really big registration issue.

Janelle Jolley  18:52  
Why is that not a core party function for Democrats?

Holly  18:57  
I wish I had an answer for that. That's why I would not be a Democrat.

Janelle Jolley  19:01  
Yeah, that's right.

Holly  19:02  
Because you need to register voters. Some local orgs do that, which is amazing. And which could easily work with some more party people and do more. So first, we definitely have a registration issue. The second thing I would say is that, something like two thirds of people do not know the three branches of government. Like you could name the three branches of government right now, right?

Janelle Jolley  19:23  
The judiciary, the legislature, and the white house- and the executive branch.

Holly  19:26  
There you go. Boom! See? Super easy. Two thirds of people can probably not do that.

Janelle Jolley  19:30  

Holly  19:31  
Yeah. I'm not sure it was exactly two thirds, so one can fact check that, but I'm just saying it's a lot. A lot of people do not know. Yeah, like over half do not know. So when they see something like, my representative is Nancy Pelosi and she's fighting for this aid. And that's pretty much all they know, right? They don't have the full picture. They're losing a lot of context because they don't have the political knowledge. And then they'll go out and they'll say something like, "I love Pelosi because she's doing the thing." And someone else like me is over here, like, "What are you even talking about?"

Janelle Jolley  20:11  

Holly  20:11  
Because I know more of the things. And it's not that they are stupid voters, it's not that they are stupid voters, it is that they are not necessarily informed voters.

Janelle Jolley  20:25  
That's fair, that's fair.  

Holly  20:25  
And, I mean, even some of those people are gonna be really mad because they just heard me say that and they're like, "But I am informed." And I'll be like, "But you voted for Nancy Pelosi."

Janelle Jolley  20:34  
Right, yeah. While you're unemployed.  

Holly  20:36  
So the thing is that, when someone has voted a certain way for a really long time, it's the same thing that's with other decision making. Like, as soon as you've made a decision, you're more committed to that decision than you were before you made it. And so people who have voted for Nancy Pelosi four or five times, it's not just recognizing, "Nancy Pelosi has messed up this time, so I'm going to vote against her this time." It's recognizing that, "She messed up this time," and that, "I enabled that because I voted for her last time. And so I am the reason she is there to mess up in this way." So by admitting a failure of a representative who you yourself voted for, some people take that as like...I'm attacking the representative and the policy they did, but they'll take it as a personal attack. They're like, "I voted for that person and I want them to be doing this thing, and so because you don't like that policy, you don't like her, you don't like me, and we're all against each other." As opposed to, "No, I just don't like that policy. If we could just change the policy, I really don't care who votes for it, as long as it's the right policy," right? So I think a lot of it is habitual voters who do remain in place. So that's really hard. And then a combination of that, where when new voters come in they're those lower information voters, it's not that they're- maybe they were very informed about their old place that they lived, but they moved. And so now this is different. And whatever things they knew from their old state, it would be great if those carried over, but they fucking don't. They have to re-learn, like, from 18. Like, how do you register, when do you register, who is your representative? Like, it's starting all over again. It's this huge uphill learning curve, when they, you know, they just are trying to survive life and they want to be responsible and vote.

Janelle Jolley  22:37  
So is the net of what you're saying, like, part of your understanding of why things are the way they are right now is because of a combination of the mobility of the American people and maybe the barriers to...some level of accountability for elected officials? Like, the example you said of having this, you know, vague knowledge of, you know, my assembly person, you know, my assembly representative is x person. But then the downstream, kind of, actions. There's like, okay, finding, you know, their website, finding the number and/or right person in their office to contact, or-

Holly  23:23  
Or even like, I have an assembly person and I have a house representative, and they call the house representative but it's not actually a federal issue, it's a state thing. Or, for example, there was a couple years ago, I saw a map of San Mateo County, my county, it was a map of lead in water and the amount of lead and water that the counties had reported to the CDC and my county was missing. And I was like, why is my county information not reported to the CDC to appear on this map? So then I'm a really annoying political person. So, I called. And I was like, "Hey, County Health, who handles this?" And I went through, I don't know, three or four days of calling different offices and trying to find who was the person that is supposed to send this existing lead information that I know we collect to the CDC and why wasn't it sent there? And in the end, I was able to find a very nice lady who conducted the lead testing for different schools in the area, but she was not the person who compiled or reported it and didn't know why it wouldn't have been reported. And my federal representative office sent me back a stock letter- looking at you rep who's been my whole life, who I like, but you write too many letters. Only letters, why are you never saying something about healthcare?  Anyways, I like her, she's a good representative, but she could be better, and that's a thing. And so, ultimately, long, long, long, long story short. Basically, we just need more than what we're getting, right? And there's no way to find that. Even if you have three days like me to spend on the phone to find the answer to this one thing that should be very easy, right? Report your lead data. There's- what is so hard about this? Why are half the places not doing it? Like, there's those gaps. And those exists not just in lead water reporting. I'm sure there's ones like that in education. I'm sure there's ones like that in wastewater. I'm sure there's ones like that all over the map. And how do I hold someone accountable to report that so that other people in my state know, that other people in my county know, when I can't even find who's compiling that information? And that's...not what's happening. And how, like, honestly, how would you hold a Nancy Pelosi accountable when she has been elected for 30 years and we can't even ?

Janelle Jolley  26:05  
?, I mean, ? wasn't the right guy, but like- why can't- I mean, I think the answer is implied, but why cannot we mount a serious challenger to this ghoul who should have been gone? Because I don't know how this- I don't know how her politicking the issue of the stimulus and how she bungled that so royally and so nakedly-

Holly  26:31  
Cuz the election just passed and by two years from now, everyone will have forgotten.

Janelle Jolley  26:36  
Right, but I'm just saying, how is- how- I mean, she's the Speaker of the House and she, you know, she can fucking destroy you. I get it. So I do- the answer to how is because she has amassed an enormous amount of power over her caucus. This is how. But it's just like, how are not-

Holly  26:51  
Also, ultimately, the caucus shouldn't matter when the voters are in your district. Like-

Janelle Jolley  26:56  
Mm, right

Holly  26:56  
Screw whatever caucuses you're a part of. What are you doing for voters in your district?

Janelle Jolley  27:01  
Right. But I just don't understand how there's not been a- I understand how rich people coalesce and, what is the word? What's the phrase? Like, close ranks behind her-

Holly  27:12  
Well, they got that time. They got time and money to do it.

Janelle Jolley  27:15  
That's fair.

Holly  27:16  
Working class people don't have time or money to do that.

Janelle Jolley  27:18  
That's right. Exactly, okay. So that's a silly-

Holly  27:20  
I mean, it's not silly, though. It really is the core of the problem, is that if people are so busy just trying to survive, that they can't hold their representatives accountable-

Janelle Jolley  27:32  
That's how they get away with bullshit.

Holly  27:34  
They get away with bullshit. And then, you know, it just exacerbates the problem. And then people are trying harder to survive-

Janelle Jolley  27:40  
This what I'm trying to pull out of you. What does accountability look like for working people? If we take as a given the time constraints and exhaustion and just, you know, trying to, you know, keep a roof over my head and maybe, you know, two hot meals a day. Like, what does accountability look like for a responsible government? And I ask that out of my own sheer frustra-

Holly  28:07  

Janelle Jolley  28:08  

Holly  28:08  
Throw eggs at them. I'm a big fan of the classics, eggs and rotten tomatoes. But I...

Janelle Jolley  28:17  
Like, is the goal- is the best we can hope- I ask this partially cynically, is the best we can hope for is to recruit a generation of Hollys who are dedicated to a politic that, you know, provides for and lifts up, you know, the widest swath of people to like, you know, help out on campaigns professionally, or, you know, work on some, you know, long term political- but like, is that the best we can think to do?

Holly  28:49  
I think it has to be a combination. Because any movement like that will get us right back where we are right now, right? Where 20 years from now, they'll be Holly 20 years from now sitting right here being like, "Hey, these people are unaccountable now," because they're just ushered in in like a wave and then we expect the wave to do the thing we wanted it to do and that is enough.

Janelle Jolley  29:16  
Ahh. Is it we take our eye off the ball?

Holly  29:18  

Janelle Jolley  29:18  

Holly  29:19  
Yeah, it's that we need to be more involved on a regular basis. I think that's what will lead to more accountability.

Janelle Jolley  29:26  

Holly  29:26  
It depends on what you're doing.

Janelle Jolley  29:27  

Holly  29:27  
So if you're single mom and you are super busy all the time, I'd say writing an email that you're mad that schools are reopening, like, that's fine. That's some measure of accountability. If you are, you know, a retired person who has plenty of time and it's not a pandemic where you're going to get sick because stay home, then you can show up to your representative's office and be like, "Hey, I need a meeting cuz we have, you know, I have these 10 retired friends and we need a meeting. We care about our grandkids," like you can do additional things. So I think what it is, is just everybody doing the little bit that they can, and not being super harsh on yourself when you can't, right? So I think part of the reason that people pull away is because it feels very all or nothing. Everything is dire, everything is catastrophic. And I can't do everything, so I won't do anything. It's like the dishes we were talking about earlier. So even just doing minor things...doesn't feel like a lot, but ends up adding up. Just like how we phonebank, one call adds up to a lot. So if you can phone tree with your friend's preschool class and be like, "Hey, when I hear something about education, I'll let you guys know. We'll phone tree down." Like, even groups of five friends, or whatever. Totally fine.

Janelle Jolley  30:52  
So is it more about like, durable- this is a term that I'm just pulling out of my ass. But is it more about durable micro organizing?

Holly  31:03  
Yeah. I would say it's much more about the longevity of organizing. So organizing so far has been very boom and bust. And there's a lot of organizations which are trying to fix that, that do amazing work, that do work between cycles.

Janelle Jolley  31:18  
Like, who?

Holly  31:18  
So I know there's this group called SURG, it's S-U-R-G. I believe it's Students United for Racial Justice? And so I know they have been doing work in a couple of different states. And I actually have a friend who is volunteering with them in Georgia right now. And so there's orgs like that. A lot are also boom and bust orgs. I did some work with March for Science, which had a lot going on for, in like 2017, and then kind of busted and hasn't had a lot going on. And so there's a lot of effort that goes into this steep run up, and then collapses pretty much every election cycle from almost every different candidate, right, that has these volunteers and these workers. And so I think what needs to happen is that we as community members, if we expect someone to be accountable to the community, need to organize in ways that do not depend on elected representatives.

Janelle Jolley  32:23  
What does that- hat do you mean by that and what does that look like? Use your imagina- I'm not saying necessarily right now, but even if-

Holly  32:28  
So, instead of always volunteering on a campaign- I love campaigns, I'm not saying don't volunteer campaigns, obviously. I need you to literally volunteer for campaigns. But instead of just volunteering for a campaign, right, staying involved afterwards with that representative? Saying, "I voted for you because of this issue, and I organized for you in this district, and these are the 20 people I organized with during that time. And if you don't do the thing that you said, I will organize against you next time." And being very explicit. And so having this, sort of, more continual relationship with your community beyond just the election cycle. Because we get to know each other really well, we do a lot of really good work. But, like you said, even with this, we don't get to know each other.

Janelle Jolley  33:19  

Holly  33:19  
We get to do the work.

Janelle Jolley  33:21  

Holly  33:21  
And it's a lot of work, and it's very busy, and it makes everyone exhausted.

Janelle Jolley  33:24  
Yeah. But, like, what happened with this, the primary campaign, like it all fell away after he, you know, after he dropped out.

Holly  33:30  

Janelle Jolley  33:31  
And it's just like, there was- and that drives me crazy, or it makes- no, it doesn't drive me crazy, it makes me sad to think about. It's just like, there were millions of people coast to coast. And like, what would- I mean, it would have been a herculean task and maybe there wasn't the money for that, maybe there wasn't the energy for that, maybe the pandemic would have thwarted that completely, I don't know. But that is a formidable...politically, I mean, potentially, that is a formidable political force. If there was some durable organiza- and I'm not faulting anyone because, again, that's herculean. But like, god damn, that was it.

Holly  34:10  
And honestly, every time someone makes it into an organization of some kind, I feel like that initiates the bust. Because all of a sudden they...are a...hierarchy of some way, it has to go through something, there has to be donations of some kind. And so it starts to add to the barriers that people have to getting involved. Whereas, if it's something that doesn't feel like organizing, if it's you talking with five of your friends, and you talk fairly regularly, and it's not something you think of as politics?

Janelle Jolley  34:50  

Holly  34:50  
And it's much more sustainable.

Janelle Jolley  34:52  
I see.

Holly  34:53  
Because people are just so tired of politics. Like, even if you leave out the word politics, you talk about everything else the same?

Janelle Jolley  35:01  

Holly  35:02  
You'll probably get a better reaction. Because people are just so tired.

Janelle Jolley  35:05  
Worn out, yeah.  

Holly  35:05  

Janelle Jolley  35:06  
Hmm, interesting. Okay, so....interesting. Just to build on what you were saying about maintaining some durable organizing structures, I think that that's extremely necessary. I don't- that's not easy, but I think it's extremely necessary if we're going to advance some notion of: A. Accountability, B. Progress on the issues that we all care about. So to get into that further, a couple weeks ago when you and I were talking, trying to arrange this, you were talking to me about- ah, are you aloud to talk about this? VAN? The VAN stuff we were talking about?

Holly  35:51  
Uhh...maybe, keep going.

Janelle Jolley  35:54  
Okay. You were talking about maybe getting a hold of VAN or VAN data so that- I don't remember exactly what you were saying because I made you stop talking because I was like, "Okay, we have to get this recorded." But like, what are, you know, things are, as they are right now, like things are pretty unorganized- for people like you and I, call them Berniecrats or leftists or what have you, things are pretty disheveled and not organized. However, we do, having gone through these experiences with campaigns, paid or not, we do have a certain skill set, a certain know-how, we do have the capacity for organization. If we are looking to the future and how we might create it in a better way, or shift it in a better direction, a life-giving direction that we all care about: healthcare, education, food, housing, you know, etc, everything. How are ways- what are the ways, in your mind, that we can use that skill set, use the data, blah, blah, blah, in order to do that? And I specifically wanted to double click on or have you expand upon like what we were starting to talk about on the phone, about VAN, and how that could be a tool, a method that we can start using for our own ends, and...but maybe I'm not understanding that correctly.

Holly  36:04  
I love DoubleClick for this moment, by the way. And so, what I'm going to say is, VAN is a vote builder system, which the Democratic Party typically uses to organize voter data and coordinate events or lead drops and things like that. So there are similar ones that exist for republicans, things like Nation Builder. There's some competitors to these, like PDI, there's a few others-

Janelle Jolley  37:56  
Talk about how important things like this are. Like, what role do they play in helping candidates win? Or, movements win?

Holly  38:00  
Yeah. So, essentially, if you are a...well, some- I'm gonna do two things. I'm gonna say, if you are a candidate or you are a, fall under a particular guidelines, you can access voter data from either the Secretary of State or your Board of Elections, depending on where you live. So the requirements might be slightly different, if you're out of California, to get those. But, when you're a candidate, you definitely can get that. It is decently accurate, right? Because it's from the Board of Elections or Secretary of State. And so that way, when you are going out talking to people, you are not doing it blindly. And so, what you want to do when, not just when you're campaigning, but when you're organizing an area, is kind of have a road map or a topographical kind of map for your organizing in the same way you would want a road map if you're on a road trip, or you would want a topographical map if you're doing some geologist thing. Geologists use- yeah, they use the rock maps. Like, topographical map is a thing, right?

Janelle Jolley  39:13  
So all that being said, where- how are you thinking about using your skills, your know how, the tools that you know, that are on offer? Like, how are you thinking about using that to sort of reconstitute some manner of organizing? Or are you? Like, or is it just- I don't know.

Holly  39:37  
Oh, tough question. I will probably work some more campaigns and be doing organizing. But I think that, I-

Janelle Jolley  39:47  
Like, when you were talking about the VAN, what were you- you were super amped about VAN.

Holly  39:53  
So, I was telling you that there- so, in major cities, a lot of places, like that's the difficult part is you'll start organizing on a thing, no one will know exactly what to do, and so no one will do anything. Or they'll have different ideas of what to do, so then they make you pick one? But you don't really have to pick one, you can do things like, "Hey, we're going to go to this other meeting. Hey, we're going to support this other thing. But like, make sure that the thing that you are interested in is being mentioned when you're in other places," right?

Janelle Jolley  39:55  
I see, I see.

Holly  40:25  
So instead of-

Janelle Jolley  40:27  
You don't come in hot, like, "This is what the fuck we're doing!"

Holly  40:30  
Yeah! Oh my god, no.  

Janelle Jolley  40:32  
It's just like, "Hey, we're here to learn more about this, we're here to support this and by the way-"

Holly  40:34  
You're like, "Hey, I support renters rights. And, by the way, I'm also doing this thing because, you know, fuck Uber, because our drivers should have fair pay and wages to be able to afford their rent." So what I would say is, don't go in and fuck Uber, that's, that's what I said, That's what he said, but what you're gonna do is you're going to go in, and you're gonna say, "I care about x. I also care about y. Y is related to x, because...," and you tell them. So that way you're building the connection with individuals, not necessarily with the org that is a coalition. However, whenever the Prop 22 kind of thing comes up and it is an election, you have seven or ten or a dozen people in your group, which are members of different organizations, who can then go back and ask, "Will you support this effort," and do that coalition building. Because at that point, you have a few people from a few different orgs that are kind of all on the same page. And it's a lot easier to say, "Hey, let's send out an event invite for a phone bank to all seven lists and see how many people we get and build from there," right? So I think that what happens is that we're very used to organizing within a business framework. So that is either with the organization, or with a nonprofit, or with a campaign, or with something else. And I think if we really want accountability, if we really want like better communities, we have to organize just as people. As the humans we are who talk to each other. You know what I mean? And yes, all of those other things are very important. They'll be relevant. It's not that we're leaving them in the dust, we're not going to live in the woods. But they can't be first. Orgs are never first, people are first.

Janelle Jolley  41:01  
So what are you planning on- what are you planning on using VAN for? What would you like to use VAN for? How are you thinking about it?

Holly  42:30  
So VAN is just of the database systems. I would actually say there are quite a few others that are up and coming. So I think what I was going to talk to you about on the phone is that I know two or three different people that are software developers that are developing alternatives to VAN so that there isn't this monopoly. Because you have to pay for VAN and you can only get it under particular conditions. It's... for Nation Builder and PDI they're different, but-

Janelle Jolley  43:01  
Can I say this?

Holly  43:02  

Janelle Jolley  43:02  
We're gonna have to put your Twitter handle or something in the show notes, because I'm sure people are gonna want to follow up with you.

Holly  43:09  
I have no Twitter.

Janelle Jolley  43:10  
Okay, well-

Holly  43:11  
I will get a Twitter...maybe.

Janelle Jolley  43:11  
Woman, you gonna have to be open to people hitting you up because I'm sure someone is going to- like there- I'm sure that at some point, a software engineer will be listening who's like, "Hey, how can I help?" Because it is-

Holly  43:21  
Oh, I can definitely put them in touch with another software engineer.

Janelle Jolley  43:23  
Yeah. Because there- I think there is this groundswell of desire to support, you know... demolishing, abolishing the barrier, the unnecessary barriers that exists that can foment some sort of political contestation.

Holly  43:39  
Yeah, just to be frank, we have a shit ton of monopolies in a bunch of different areas and it's not useful.

Janelle Jolley  43:44  
Yeah, yeah. That's right. But, you're working with the software engineers to open- would you get open source-

Holly  43:49  
I wouldn't say I am working with them. I would say I know-

Janelle Jolley  43:52  
You know some who are working on it.  

Holly  43:53  
Two or three software engineers who are working on various systems. And what they essentially do is enable you to get the voter data as the CSV file. And then instead of uploading it to VAN, or something, where you have to pay $2,500 a month for it, you can-

Janelle Jolley  44:08  
Ha! A month? Wow.

Holly  44:08  
You can upload it instead to a system, which will do things like- so part of my job is like, "Hey, it would be good to target this group of people for XYZ reasons." And so for smaller campaigns, they don't have somebody that knows which ones or why they might do that. They're just like, "This is a bunch of voters. They're just in a list. What is happening?" I think what these will do is make it much easier for people who had no idea what they were doing to then have the data and have it clear what they're doing.

Janelle Jolley  44:46  
Are you saying that moving forward, you think that your contribution, or your time and talents, would be best used in the electoral realm on another campaign? Are you thinking about anything that is extra-electoral, meaning outside of the electoral realm? Or is it just like, "Electoralism as my shit. This is where I cut my teeth, this is what I understand, this is what I enjoy. And I think that this electoralism, even though it's completely just fucking rubbish," depending on your point of view-

Holly  45:18  
No, but for reals.

Janelle Jolley  45:20  
Right! "This is an arena we can't- we as people who think people should have health care- can't ignore." Like, is that what you're saying?

Holly  45:30  
What I would say is, yeah, it's something, it can't be ignored and, especially having worked in it, I feel like if good people who believe these values get tired and leave all the time, then we're not gonna get anywhere.

Janelle Jolley  45:47  
But do you- but isn't part of it, we get tired and we leave because we see that it's not- this is the strategy that doesn't bear fruit if you're a certain kind of political bent? I'm just playing devil's advocate here.

Holly  45:58  
I mean, yes and no. Yes, because, I mean, not everything works every time, so you're bound to have some losses. Like, that happens.

Janelle Jolley  46:08  
No, but we keep taking Ls! We only take Ls, it feels like.

Holly  46:13  
Well, we also...I mean, you're talking about-

Janelle Jolley  46:16  
Look at the primary. Look at- just, I'm not fussing at you. I'm just...devil's advocate, here.

Holly  46:21  
That's okay, fuss away.

Janelle Jolley  46:23  
If you look at- if you take just recently, the 2020 primary and how everything shook out in the primary and then on to the general. The left, or progressive, flank of the party, we got nothing.

Holly  46:41  

Janelle Jolley  46:42  
We had the most energy and support up until the Night of the Long Knives, and we got nothing. So how could someone- like, a person like me, let's call her Janelle, for example. I look at that and I'm just like, "What the fuck? What is there to be done?" We get dick.

Holly  47:01  
Because Janelle is looking at the big races and big races are harder to win. So if you want to win big races, you have to win, you know, if you win 200 City Council races and then 10 of those people run for senate and then two of them win, right? Then you've made the progress of progressive people.

Janelle Jolley  47:21  
So change my vantage point.

Holly  47:22  

Janelle Jolley  47:22  
We did get a Cori Bush. This girl- like someone solidly working class who unseated a ghoul.

Holly  47:27  
Exactly. So-

Janelle Jolley  47:29  
We've got some progressive wins statewide, locally in California.  

Holly  47:32  
And I'm gonna tell you, it sucks when we lose. It sucks a lot. Especially because there is so much on the line for so many people. But I think if I, as a person who works campaigns, if I were discouraged every time I lost, I would not still be in this. But the thing is-

Janelle Jolley  47:49  
Cuz you just came off of a losing proposition, didn't you?

Holly  47:51  
I just lost two!

Janelle Jolley  47:53  
Oh, two.  

Holly  47:53  
You lose sometimes. But what happens is that, like, I want the realm of politics to have people who believe in human rights, right? And so if everyone who believes in human rights is looking at the elections, and we see losses on the national scale, and on some state levels, and then is discouraged, and then checks out? The people who just won? They're not checking out, they're still there. And so I don't want, like I don't know if I want to do politics forever. I'm not gonna lie, I get tired of campaigns. Like, I need a break. I need to do some other stuff in between them. So thank god it's seasonal. But what happens is that I literally can't abandon it because I don't want to see that ground to someone else.

Janelle Jolley  48:48  
But is it- again, I'm just- and you know I love you, I'm just- I  ask these in good faith. Whether or not you see ground has zero effect on how directly antagonistic the mainstream Democratic Party is to your interest. So it doesn't- so what I'm saying is, does it actually matter? I ask this because, I'm not asking this to be, you know, nihilistic.

Holly  49:08  
No, I'm with you.

Janelle Jolley  49:09  
But does it matter if people like us are even involved? Because it seems like we get- even if, even when-

Holly  49:16  

Janelle Jolley  49:17  
For an example, and not to pick on her because nobody's perfect, but even when you get an insurgent to unseat an incumbent to great fanfare like an AOC, it's not like she's able to just come out and tell the truth about Nancy and be like, "No, fuck you mama bear. I ain't wit it, you full of shit."

Holly  49:36  
Well, because she's not Gen Z. Gen Z will be like, "Fuck you."

Janelle Jolley  49:39  
But, you know I'm saying? Like, even-

Holly  49:41  

Janelle Jolley  49:41  
Like, there's still a level of, what's the word? Not obstinance, but...obstruction.

Holly  49:47  
We still live in old gaurd. So what I would say, is that at previous times in American history when there has been high polarization and both parties have been very entrenched, even when they weren't necessarily Democrats and Republicans, the way that there was an adjustment was very age and generational-centric, where it was a younger guard of people in both parties that came up and was like, "You guys are full of shit." And then as a unit, there was an era of bipartisanship, which isn't really bipartisan. It's kind of just like, "Hey, we didn't like what these older people were doing. And they've been there forever." And then it switches, and then there's increased tension among that until we're at such a point as there is increased polarization again. So I think that the best bet structurally to actually get some sort of adjustment, because, like you said, we can get one-offs all day, it's not gonna matter until you get the 51st one-off in a 100 senate, right?

Janelle Jolley  50:55  

Holly  50:55  
So you can't leave it cuz nothing happens, but for a long time, you have to deal with nothing happening while you are actively working and it sucks.  

Janelle Jolley  51:04  
And building toward power.

Holly  51:06  
Like, if you approach all electoral politics as if it exists only in electoral politics, then we're gonna get really predictable outcomes? And so I think, right now everything's very siloed. Like, "That's electoral politics over there, and here's everything else I'm doing." And it really needs to be more cohesive, in that like, what am I doing on the daily that I'm not even thinking about that will affect electoral politics? Or that I can do that would. Like, can I-

Janelle Jolley  51:43  
So are you saying that that's a...I need to- you didn't say this directly, but I'm...because I'm a masochist. Like, I need to unsettle this binary of electoralism and everything else?

Holly  51:57  

Janelle Jolley  51:58  
There are...that's a false binary that I need to challenge?

Holly  52:02  
Yeah. I would say that that's something that- and it's really common too, because it's a lot easier to be like, "That is the election." And there are things that are like specifically election related, right?

Janelle Jolley  52:13  

Holly  52:13  
But broadening that so that we are not as constrained by it, I think, is really, really important.

Janelle Jolley  52:21  
I see. But what does that mean to not be constrained by it? And what does it mean to not live in that false binary?

Holly  52:26  
I think it would mean-

Janelle Jolley  52:27  
Give me another example.

Holly  52:28  
I think it would mean that Janelle, who cares about Medicare For All, would call a person who they know is not for Medicare For All, who's their friend, and check on them. Because that's what friends should do first. And then mention, when they're like, "How have you been?" Mention something that is relevant to that issue. Say, "I just met with my friend the other day, and her mom had a tumor taken out when I was 30 pounds, that was a crazy story to hear." You know? Make it tangible for people so that they aren't just thinking about health care in the realm of politics. So that they aren't just thinking about health care when they're in the hospital. So that when they think of their best friend, they think of their best friend's healthcare. So that when they think of-

Janelle Jolley  53:24  
But then what is the step after that, that can push us from the peer to peer to, fucking, Nancy bringing the Medicare For All bill to the floor.You know what I'm saying? Like, what-

Holly  53:34  
Well, you're gonna be like, "Oh hey, you were a Republican, but how about you vote against Nancy Pelosi?" You know what I mean? Like, if you have already developed a relationship with someone where you can talk about political things outside of the realm of electoral politics, then it's that much easier when you bring up something electoral and have a recommendation for them. Because you already have that credibility. They already know, like, "Hey, we agree on these issues." They're not going to take it as like, "You're telling me how to vote," like that sort of thing.

Janelle Jolley  54:06  
Hmm. So I think I have one more question for you because then I need to eat. But what what do you look forward to, either in terms of your own personal political practice, or what do you see as possibility for a collective political movement? And that feels like a weird question to ask because it's like, right now it's like, "Fuck can we all just not die from a pandemic? Can we still, you know, get over our hatred for, you know, a lot of mainstream politi- blah, blah, blah." All these things. But what is it that, when you, you know, take a breath. When, you know, we have, you know, reunion calls with volunteers and whatever. Like, how are you thinking are you thinking about forward progress, forward movement? And not necessarily that you're doing it, but how do you think about it? And how do you imagine we could or we should? That's a big question.

Holly  55:26  
It is. And, to be honest, I want to say like, I don't actually expect that much?

Janelle Jolley  55:32  
Huh. Why do you say that? And what do you mean?

Holly  55:37  
I...think that what will happen is that because some people burnout as other people come in, that we'll look back in 10 years and be in very much the same situation. Because the people we have right now will burn out now have a hard time continuing, right? So I think that the biggest thing I would prefer to see would be a focus on the burnout that collectively as, not even just leftish people, but just as a society, that we are experiencing? There are so many things coming at so many people all the time that you end up tuning out from all of it. Because it's either all or nothing? And I think we'll have a lot of people, especially as there's a depression, as there's less jobs, I think we'll have a lot of people that don't see the point in continuing. Not even just continuing in politics but maybe not continuing their lives. And we don't have much, I think, cultural capacity in the United States to sit and have the kind of emotional and difficult conversations that are necessary to not only be able to alleviate those things, but even to acknowledge that they exist. Acknowledge that, if you are an Amazon worker, even if you were getting paid well, that there are parts of that job that is exhausting.

Janelle Jolley  57:19  
Okay, you've given me a lot to think on.

Holly  57:21  
What would you...same question?

Janelle Jolley  57:24  
Oh, that's not fair. Of course it's fair.

Holly  57:27  
It's the most fair.

Janelle Jolley  57:28  
Yeah, that's right. I think that...what I, big picture, ultimately, the future I that I hope to produce is a future in which we are able to eliminate material depravity. So, that's the big picture. How we get there? I'm gonna have to sit and chew on what you said about the binary of electoralism and everything else because, to me, it is a very stark-

Holly  58:05  
I got something for you for that one.

Janelle Jolley  58:07  
Hang on, I need to take a hot second to cus them out. Can you two shut the fuck up? I'm recording a show. Thank you! Praise the Lord. Okay. I'm going...okay, thank you. Did you already order the food?

(Unknown speaker)  58:20  
No. That's why I'm here, to order the damn food.

Janelle Jolley  58:21  
What are you gonna order?

(Unknown speaker)  58:22  
We're gonna go to Delfina.

Janelle Jolley  58:24  
Oh, super. Something with meat, please.

(Unknown speaker)  58:26  

Janelle Jolley  58:26  
Okay, great.

Holly  58:28  
What I would say is, while you're thinking about that, the way I think about it, because I encounter this problem very often with things that I am inclined to silo into its own thing, but that is somewhat related to something else? One of my geometry professors, one of my geometry teachers when I was in like sixth grade, "A square is a rectangle, a rectangle is not a square." So the electoral politics is the square. It is part of the rectangle, but also the rectangle is not square. Like, life isn't electoral politics, but electoral politics is a part of life. So it is both siloed, like it is its own thing.

Janelle Jolley  59:08  

Holly  59:09  
But it is also similar to this other thing. So I, in a very similar vein, is how I think of electoral politics. It is related and it's very similar to life, it's obviously connected. It's not like there's...but there's these obvious differences too that make it unique on its own.

Janelle Jolley  59:28  
Yeah. No, no, no, I get you. I get what you're saying. I just- I'm gonna have this- I'm just gonna have this- I just never- I did not think that, as I was thinking of things in my own mind, that I was, as you suggested, creating this false binary. Because to me it is a, completely by nature, is like, there's electoralism, and then there's not. Like, there's electoralism, and then there's labor; there's electoralism, and there's da da da. But I- and I'm sitting here trying to under...I'm sitting here trying to process a challenge to that binary that I have created and been stuck in. That being said, I have to sit with that. Because, in my mind, how it works- let me tell you how it works in my mind.

Holly  1:00:16  
Tell me about it. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:17  
In my mind how it works is: okay, electoralism is completely, in this country, is completely unresponsive at the federal level to a political project centered, or which has the bedrock of universal concrete material benefits for working people, which is what my politic is. Okay, so that being the case...fuck electorialism, because it's not responsive. But what are the forces- what are the related or adjacent forces...or, what are the forces that can have...can produce a response? And in my current analysis, this is before you fucked me up with this whole binary thing. In my current analysis, which I'm not- which we're all always thinking and evolving-  

Holly  1:01:02  
We're all growing.

Janelle Jolley  1:01:03  
Blah, blah, growing. That means we need to shift our focus to labor and organizing it as a countervailing force to capital. That is where my- that's my current analysis. But-

Holly  1:01:15  
Ooo, I still be loving that, though. We talked a lot about electoral politics. I mean, let's just say labor is amazing, and I'll leave it at that. But keep going, keep going.

Janelle Jolley  1:01:25  
So that's how I'm thinking. Well, that's what I have been thinking lately. It's just like, maybe we need to completely- not completely abandon it, because it's- in order order for labor to have produced that countervailing effect on capital, which is the dominant force in our electoral politics, we would still need representatives to legislate something like Medicare- you know? Like, in my mind, you know, there's some sort of targeted general strike that puts pressure on the owners of capital who put pressure on our elected officials, because that's all they- those are the people they care about.

Holly  1:02:03  
Yeah, double step.

Janelle Jolley  1:02:03  
Yeah, double step. But you can't completely abandon- even when I say it out loud- you can't completely abandon electoralism, because you need those legislators to legislate into existence Medicare For All, or a debt jubilee, or, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it's-

Holly  1:02:18  
Or taxes on them rich people.

Janelle Jolley  1:02:20  
Or taxes on these rich bitches. So it's like...I don't know. I'm trying to make sense of my own thoughts. Anyway. Do you have any more questions?

Holly  1:02:32  
Probably, but I can't think of them right now.

Janelle Jolley  1:02:34  

Holly  1:02:34  
Now I'm thinking about what is it you were getting for dinner?

Janelle Jolley  1:02:38  
I don't know. I think they're ordering pizza? I'm hungry as fuck. And I think somebody's...oh-

Holly  1:02:43  
Yeah, you were saying you were gonna eat ages ago.  

Janelle Jolley  1:02:46  
Yeah, but it's more important to speak to you. I'll eat after. This was wonderful, Holly. Thank you.

Holly  1:02:51  
This was nice.  

Janelle Jolley  1:02:58  
I'm really gonna have to sit with the binary question. So, thank you for that.

Holly  1:03:03  
It's hard. Just don't worry about binary or non-binary, just be like square- rectangle. It is both. We're fine.

Janelle Jolley  1:03:12  
Oh, boy. This...this has given me a lot to wade through. And honestly, I have not stopped- it's a week later and I have not stopped thinking about this conversation. So if anyone can help me straighten out some of my thoughts, you know where to find me. Don't forget to subscribe. Tell your friends. Tell the world. And find us on Twitter and Instagram. And I'll see you next week!

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