Mark Blyth, political economist at Brown's Watson Institute, and political scientist Carrie Nordlund share their take on the news.
On this episode: a global tour of climate catastrophes; Trump's immovable poll numbers; environmental hypocrisy across the political spectrum; are there anarchist bus lines to midwestern suburbs? (No); why Brexit hurts our brains; the future of commutes; The Crown, The Last Dance, and other TV nostalgia.
[PIANO MUSIC PLAYING] [GUITAR MUSIC PLAYING]
INTERVIEWER: Hi there, Mark. How are you? Welcome to September.
SUBJECT: That is indeed the wonderful month of September. And I don't know what it's like in DC, but up here, it suddenly got very cold.
INTERVIEWER: Yes. It's chilly this morning. It was 50. It was shocking.
SUBJECT: Yes, like Insta-fall, so I've been trying to keep tomatoes going after we heard that big storm, because if you're going to rip them all out and have to replant them and put them back. And I'm just holding on for that last crop of tomatoes. And now, basically, I go out there, and you can almost feel the tomatoes looking at me, going, "Dude, what happened? It's freezing."
INTERVIEWER: "What's going on? What happened to this weather change?" Are you back to school? Where are you in your school opening, both at home and then at Brown?
SUBJECT: Well, we're both back to school. So my kid's back at school, and hopefully that'll last. And I'm back at school, and hopefully that'll last so we'll see where it goes.
INTERVIEWER: Are you doing in-person, or are you doing both hybrid teaching--
SUBJECT: Yeah, I'm doing in-person. So part of the reason for this is, I came over here a very long time ago as an international student. And the law about international students has been quite clear for a long time. It's not just a tizzy by the Trump administration. You can't get a student visa, come here, and then go online, because it would just be a huge bypass of the entire legal framework of immigration.
So you need to have face time. So basically, if people like me don't step up and do face-to-face classes, then the next generation of me don't get to happen. So I feel kind of duty-bound to do it. So hopefully, I don't die of COVID.
INTERVIEWER: My fingers crossed for you. It's been interesting, of course, watching the universities open, and especially the big public universities, and how that has worked out. There's an article in the paper with the University of Illinois, and they've done the most with these big, huge undergraduate populations of 30,000-- tons of testing, tons of quarantining. And the article in the paper highlighted that, of course, the one thing that the scientists and the epidemiologists didn't consider were that if you're 19 years old, and you're COVID-positive, you're still going to go out, and you're still going to go drinking with your friends.
So it was just an--
INTERVIEWER: --way to think about-- everyone's staying inside their homes, except for those 19-year-olds.
SUBJECT: So this is one of the things that we've spoken about before. There's all this different metrics you can focus on. The case incidents-- how many of them are there? Case morbidity-- how many of them are dying? And then, of course, you can look at the underlying background infections, so the people who don't actually have any symptoms.
And all of this skews by age, as we know. So you can imagine a world in which you have particularly undergraduate populations-- very, very high rates of infection, hardly anyone sick. But then people who are the old staff who walk there are walking into a very, very hazardous situation.
INTERVIEWER: And, well, professors, too, if they decided to come to the classroom.
SUBJECT: Right, hence why most of them are doing online. So this is the world that we're in. Well, what else is going on this week? Let's not get bogged down over COVID. That's a constant. What's the variable?
INTERVIEWER: Well these are constants, as well. So, of course, the terrible fires in the West, with those huge smoke plumes that you can see from space, Hurricane Sally and Louisiana, Mississippi, in the Gulf Coast area, with an additional-- at least three other storms that I think Noah is tracking that is brewing in the Atlantic. There are two more names, Mark, in the alphabet that they'll use after Sally. And then they have to go to Greek alphabet to start using names.
So this has only happened one other time, in Two-Thousand-Five, that they ran out of names and had to go to the Greek alphabet. So that's some trivia for you. Of course, one part of a big ice shelf in Greenland has fallen off. And then COVID numbers were really high yesterday. So we're really, looking good here, in terms of planet Earth.
SUBJECT: So are you telling me there's a problem with the environment?
INTERVIEWER: Well, so no, it's cyclical. It's just a cycle that the planet is going to not--
SUBJECT: It's just a cycle. And the president said today, look, it's going to get cooler, which is true, because it will become fall, and then it will become winter. The only thing is, in the southern hemisphere--
SUBJECT: --that doesn't work because it's the other way around. So they're going to start to get warmer. So actually, I did check this out, and apparently last year was the first time, I think-- and maybe it was the year before-- whereby the fire seasons of Australia on the West Coast the United States actually overlapped.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, geez. [LAUGHS]
SUBJECT: So now they're actually [LAUGHS] just on fire all the time.
SUBJECT: And Siberia is on fire all the time. Now it's even more-- even bigger, but it's in the middle of nowhere. So we tend to forget about it. Well, we tend to forget about it when it's not happening in our own country. But that one's really screwed up, because if the permafrost melts, what you've got is peat. And peat is filled with methane, which is 100 times worse for warming, and a whole bunch of other stuff, plus that's warming up.
Guess what? Dead pathogens that have been buried in the ice for millennia. So it's just going on. And all of this is going on, and remarkably, it takes this fire in California and in Oregon for the first time for the president to be drawn into a discussion about climate change.
INTERVIEWER: And science-- well, I guess he's been talking about science a little bit. But yes, yes, relatedly so, and, of course, his response when some of the experts said, this has to do with climate change. His reply was that science doesn't know, and the scientist said, well science does, actually, know.
SUBJECT: Actually, we really do know. We certainly know better than you do, exactly. But the thing is, it's just not a thing. This segues, I think, into the election. So people on the Democratic side are a bit puzzled. And they're a bit puzzled, and they have been puzzled since about Twenty-Sixteen, in fact, about the fact that Trump's support just doesn't go down. It just does it doesn't go up much, but it just doesn't go down.
So you can pick anything-- whether you pick the protests, whether you pick climate change. Just do a whole list of stuff that Democrats care about, you talk about that, and it just doesn't penetrate. It's just not what they're interested in, or they actively suppress it and push away from it.
So the interpretation that you get from this, as you know, they're a bunch of deplorables, or they're all racists, or whatever that happens to be. I think the climate one's a fascinating one for this one. Unless you are just like a completely selfish, childless boomer, then basically, you have to give a shit about future generations, because you have one living in your house. So how is it possible that you just tune that out. It is not an issue. It's propaganda. It's just bullshit, the science that nobody is talking about.
So I think I've mentioned this before. If there's about 12 states in the United States that are utterly dependent on the extraction refinement and transportation of carbon as their main business model-- think about Alaska. Think about North Dakota think of a South Dakota. Think of a Texas. Think about West Virginia. Think about Louisiana, and they're all Republican.
So what you're saying to the working classes in that place when you talk about the environment, what this says to them is, we're going to shut down your jobs. We're going to get rid of your trucks. We're going to take your guns, because you don't like those, ever. And basically, your way of life is awful, and you're all racists.
So the Democrats think that they're pitching a very positive vision. And to their base, it is. But it's got to the point in the country that that vision is completely anathema to the other people on the other side of the divide.
INTERVIEWER: It just does not match reality. You're exactly right, in terms of what someone in Alaska or Louisiana experiences as they step out of their Ford F-150, and even these gigantic storms they're thinking, or the permafrost. It was 100 degrees in Siberia this summer.
There's this thought pattern that this will continue to exist, because this is just one of the many things that's happening in a changing world. And it sounds pandering and condescending, but when exactly does the reality of what's happening around the globe actually match up to what's happening outside your home, and the window out under the world. It's just hard to see how that matches up, and especially when those realities are so very different.
So I'm just thinking about-- I just went home to see my family in rural Michigan. And the reality there is there's no COVID. Everyone's eating inside, very little masks. But the other thing is, too, to the point where we started in terms of numbers, that the case rate has been pretty low, too, in my home county. So just by sheer luck, there hasn't been a huge outbreak. And so they have been able to do all these different things.
The thing that is most fearful for them is law, order, anarchists, rioters. I heard that over and over again-- the anarchy and the rioters, and they are coming for you in small-town America. So you better get your handgun ready, because they're going to come in burgle your house. And I'm thinking, this is not true.
And so those different realities, I think, are so important, and how do you speak to both of them?
SUBJECT: Well, particularly because you can only live in one. So let's think of the hypocrisy on the Democratic side here. So some data released last week showed that for the first time ever, SUVs are the second biggest polluter for climate change in the world.
INTERVIEWER: Holy cow.
SUBJECT: Just SUVs is class. Now, are SUVs a uniquely red-state phenomena?
SUBJECT: No. Pickup trucks may be, like big-ass Mercedes SUVs, is a luxury SUVs, Volvos, the whole lot-- no, they're all over blue states, the people who care about the environment. So if you've been told off about having an F-150, what about you driving around [INAUDIBLE], or it's a hybrid, oh, well, that makes all the difference. All that does is basically give you a boost on the highway.
So there's a way in which you can't even get into and see the other side, because it seems to be zero-sum against you. You're going to get to keep your fancy SUV. But I'm the one who has to lose my job in the extractive industries and driving this truck. It always seems the symmetry is on the other side, and not-- first of all, Republicans have no interest in solving that problem. To them, that's an advantage. But the Democrats don't seem to be able to recognize that, and actually weaponize it to their advantage.
INTERVIEWER: No, two different thoughts I've had is that your point about Trump's approval numbers, I've been tracking his economic approval numbers, and they hover around 50%. Through COVID, they've been better about 50%. Right now, he's at 48%. But they're generally-- voters really have given him a break and thinking the economy is going to come back. It's going to be some sort of alphabet shape, whatever it is, and really giving him a break on that. It hasn't gone down.
And I think if you're in the Trump campaign, that's a good number for you, that people are still improving your economic numbers, or your economic plans. But then the point about SUVs, and you cannot speak to that unless you have some sort of authentic candidate. And I think the Democrats are reaching, with Joe Biden, to say-- of course, he's in Scranton, and somehow, that's not fancy like Los Angeles.
SUBJECT: Yeah, but he left Scranton when he was 12.
INTERVIEWER: I know. But that's the lure of Joe Biden. He's the everyman candidate. But Democrats are like, we got nothing else, so we're going with Biden. But to your point, there's no real plan to communicate that. It's just getting a candidate from a place that doesn't sound fancy or isn't an urban center, and being able to communicate it that way just through symbolism.
SUBJECT: So you think about Trump versus Biden on this level. So Trump is homophobic, sexist, by many measures, racist, if not borderline. So he's beyond dog-whistling, at least. He's intemperate. He's vulgar. He's a serial liar. Chalk it all up. So are a lot of Americans. So basically, he just he replicates their own thoughts and patterns of behavior.
So let's think about this. Today there was a big joint letter put in The Guardian by a whole bunch of social organizations, saying Biden, please there's $1.7 trillion in student debt. It affect everybody. It's a huge drag on the economy. If you care about racial justice, this is a huge [INAUDIBLE] on minority populations. Study after study shows this.
This is an easy thing. You have got the authority to do this, either through the Fed or the Department of Education. You can just commit to this. You will mobilize your basic [INAUDIBLE]. And I read that, and I thought I wonder if they're remember-- of course they do-- that the Two-Thousand-Six/Two-Thousand-Seven personal bankruptcy reform that made it illegal to default on student loans, one of the signatories was Mr. Joe Biden.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, geez.
SUBJECT: So you know what? Trump may have all those negatives, but those negatives are positives to a lot of people. It's very hard to come back and say that, like, I'm the great reformer, when you dug half the ditches to evade the problems.
INTERVIEWER: Well, it's not even maybe that they're positive. It's just that they're [? neutral. ?] "I know he's a clown, but he's my clown," or, "He does all that-- he lies-- but I know he's looking out for me," in their internal calculation.
SUBJECT: But even if he's not looking out for me, he's not pretending he cares about me in such a way that I don't believe a word he says. That's what I take away from when I'm watching a lot of what Democrats are saying. I'm just saying, how does this relate to my working-class friends? And I go out and talk to them, and basically, I'll say to them, so if we say Democrats, what does say to you? And basically, they'll come up with a list of policies, or a list of talking points, that they regard as not talking to them.
INTERVIEWER: Or is [INAUDIBLE]--
SUBJECT: It's not about their lives.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, or this attitude that they're uppity, and I know better than you, and now I'm going to point my finger and tell you what you should do. So here's my confession for the pod, is that I watched all like 10 or 12 hours of the RNC and the DNC. And I have to say I was having-- I had to go on no news after the RNC, because I was having really weird nightmares about just [? sitting ?] stuck for both conventions. And I just started to think, could this
SUBJECT: Did they blend together?
INTERVIEWER: They did.
SUBJECT: Multiheaded hydra?
INTERVIEWER: They did. Yeah, exactly, and there were dragons in my dreams. But in any case-- and I just thought, for so many of us that just watched the news all the time, this is where we get our skewed sense of stuff, and that neither one, I thought represented what I actually experience in real life. But I also thought I could set up a psychological case, in terms of what happens when you watch all of that back to back.
SUBJECT: I mean, this is an old story, as well, though, that Arlie Hochschild had a really good piece on this about two weeks ago-- I think it's on my Twitter feed-- whereby says, what is it that the Republicans do? They don't deal in facts. They deal with emotion, and they're really good at doing it.
And the Democrats still have this thing about, well if I just tell you the facts. Well, you know you live in a world of social media, inverse facts and post-fact world, et cetera. So that's not going to work, plus, we don't trust you. So even if they're facts, they're tainted in that way.
But the other thing that-- and we were talking about this just before we started recording-- the right are really good, everywhere, not just Republicans, is creating moral panics. And this whole thing about the anarchists, the rioters, or whatever, in rural Michigan, what are they going to do, hire a bus? How are they going to get-- is there anarchist bus lines out there? Are they going to go, "Hey, Bob, farmer--
SUBJECT: can we get some milk balls? We need to go on a riot. Oh, shit. We don't have any petrol for our Molotov cocktails. It's clearly nonsensical. The FBI tracks hundreds of right-wing groups that actually murder people. There's hardly any deaths tied to direct left-wing violence. Antifa is a myth, as well as being an organization.
And it's wonderfully reminiscent, I think, of the late nineteen-twenties in Germany, when von Papen, who was then the German chancellor before Hitler, managed to convince the German public that the extreme left was the danger, not the extreme right. Well, look what happened five years later.
INTERVIEWER: And it hits right to the heart of little old ladies who are scared. They are scared, and so I'm going to go buy my handgun.
SUBJECT: Fear works.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, it does.
SUBJECT: Fear works.
INTERVIEWER: And when it's repeated to you over and over and over again when you're homebound, because of COVID, that becomes your reality. And I understand it. It's hard for me to relate to. I understand it, but it's hard for me to relate to.
SUBJECT: But that's classic, because in a sense, as a Democrat, what you do is you go, yeah, yeah, I get that, but I just can't relate to it. But I think that's the people who are going to vote. You have you have to accept it and get into it, and deal with it on some level. Otherwise, you've lost them. You've completely lost them.
INTERVIEWER: Well, yeah, and to your point, how can the Democrats play use symbolism-- and they're trying to do this-- and think about the emotional side of stuff, because you're exactly right. That's just a total emotional response to what's going on. And of course, voting is already happening. Ballots were sent this week in Pennsylvania. They're being mailed out in Michigan. So all of this is happening right now.
The early voters are the people who know. They're not going to change their mind. So it's the strong partisans that are voting right now. And so any of this stuff that happens, subsequently, whether it is Bob Woodward's book, which I don't really think probably matters to very many people except people who are in the beltway or wherever, and then the debates, you think that we're here on these two tracks. And that's where we're going to stay.
SUBJECT: Exactly, exactly. And we will be back every two weeks to--
SUBJECT: --see how far down the tracks we are heading towards the train.
INTERVIEWER: We have 50 days left, so it seems much further away than that.
SUBJECT: Wow. That's crazy. So apparently the Trump campaign spent $800 million dollars on fancy cars.
INTERVIEWER: So there's the hit piece in The Times around all the frivolous spending that the Trump campaign has gone on, from super fancy sports cars for the now-deposed campaign leader, and fancy meals, and spending tons of money to raise money that just never came through. So it was kind of just the piece of I think they had a billion dollars at some point, which seems insane to me.
But anyway, they have spent it down to the point where now, it's thought that they're pulling back on ads in battleground states, because they're trying to save funds for when we get deeper into October. I think the state of play right now is simply that the polls are tightening, and Democrats are bed-wetters and the hand-wringers, and so they want to start pulling their hair out. But everyone expected the polls to tighten. This is the most obvious point, but it really comes down to who is going to get there, mobilize your voters.
On your point about student loans, that would get so many young people that we need to show up at the polls to actually cast a vote.
SUBJECT: Yes, it would.
INTERVIEWER: From Biden's perspective-- yeah, to actually do that, so--
SUBJECT: Why would you not do that? And you're basically handed, through the CARES Act, $2 trillion to American corporates, to promise not to lay off workers for six months. That's now gone rogue early enough. We've taken the money. Thanks very much. We're fine. There's $1.7 trillion dollars that would make a massive difference in the lives of 55 million Americans, and it's the right thing to do. And you won't go near it. Really?
INTERVIEWER: And it's so simple and straightforward.
SUBJECT: Yeah, I mean, it's like, do you want to win?
SUBJECT: You have to mobilize people. And Trump does it brilliantly through emotion and fear. You could do it basically by signaling to young people that you actually get their concerns--
SUBJECT: --or you can basically hang out with Nancy and talk about [INAUDIBLE], which is what they want to do.
INTERVIEWER: And well, it's so interesting-- do you want to win? I think that's a really good question. So jumping over the ocean for a second-- because I've been trying to keep up on this-- but I don't know what happened exactly to my brain. But what is happening with Brexit right now, because there's the year-end stuff? Is it just sorting out the customs, the Northern Ireland economic, or is there a rabbit in someone's hat that I don't even understand?
SUBJECT: Carrot, carrot. What happened to your brain was, your brain was Brexited.
INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHS] Then also the RNC and DNC, too.
SUBJECT: The closer that you get to it, the worse the impact is.
INTERVIEWER: I see.
SUBJECT: It's like some kind of crashed UFO that gives off death rays. If you walk towards it, it will do you irreparable harm.
SUBJECT: So what's actually happened is-- again, let's wind this back for everyone who's listening-- here is the basic rationale of Brexit. The European Union controls us. That was never true. We need to leave, because then we'll be able to get better free-trade deals.
But you already have free access to the largest free-trade group in the world. Anything else has to be second best. Anyway, on with Brexit. Let's get Brexit done. So you get Brexit done. They had this brilliant phrase for it, it was just so nineteen-seventies-- an oven-ready Brexit. [LAUGHS] Who even talks that way?
So we have our oven-ready Brexit. It turns out we're not at all ready for Brexit, because we don't even really know what it is that we want. But the one thing we do know is that the agreement that we signed, called the withdrawal agreement, that begins the negotiations, we don't want that. So we're going to break our own agreement about getting to an agreement.
INTERVIEWER: Is that where you then had some ministers resign, because it was breaking the law?
SUBJECT: And every living British prime minister and a few dead ones, actually--
SUBJECT: --came back from the grave to say, "No, don't do that, because that makes us look like charlatans and idiots," till its border said, "Are you describing me?"
SUBJECT: And that's basically where we are at this point. Now, there's two ways of reading this. This is all part of some master strategy, because Boris really knows that when it comes down to it, you have to scare the French and the Germans into giving them the deal that they want.
Now, I would believe that if I thought it was their own strategic thinking there, or that the Germans and the French actually have something to give Britain. The sticking point seems to be this thing about state aid. It's all about the state aid, because they have this idea of leveling up the country, and somehow they're going to have the next Silicon Valley, and it's going to go basically across the Pennines, from Sheffield to Manchester to Liverpool. And that's going to be the global center of the eye.
So they want to be able to chock tons of taxpayers' money that they don't have, because they've all spent it on COVID, these new industries. Now, the problem with the argument that you spend five minutes looking after is that the UK currently spends much less than France or Germany on state aid. So they've got a way to go before they're even in trouble. So the closer you get, the less sense it makes. And that's always been the case.
INTERVIEWER: And the leveling up is a way to think about the economy and getting it super high-powered and running on all pistons, and that stuff?
SUBJECT: No, it's how Tories talk about inequality.
SUBJECT: So what happened was basically, Corbyn was so demonized in the press, and so mistrusted by his own party, that they torpedoed the electoral. Campaign from within. And he would never have won for various reasons, whatever. And a lot of the white working classes, just as in the United States, are not comfortable with immigration, don't actually think that other people's interests are the most important thing, whatever, [INAUDIBLE] et cetera, et cetera. And one nation Tory speaks to them. So all these northern constituencies-- it's just like the Blue Wall-- fail. And they voted for Boris.
So now, there has to be paid by. Well, what's behind that? It's the same in most countries. You've got these metro poles-- for example, New York LA, San Francisco, Chicago, to some extent, Houston, the Houston area. They are the growth nodes, and everything else isn't generally in growth. Where are your parents come from is not a growth node. People leave. Capital leaves. It's all going to these big metropolitan hubs.
And in Britain, this is super concentrated. Everything is London. London creates the underlying growth for GDP. It's called GDP, growth value added. And everybody else's GV negative, which means that the entire country lives off of transfers.
SUBJECT: So the leveling up is creating the conditions for positive growth in these regions, so that it's not just about transfers from London. And I agree with that sentiment, but as a Scot, it's actually brought me to the point where I have to say that I am finally come 'round to the idea that Scotland's future really has to be as an independent country--
INTERVIEWER: I saw that on your Twitter feed.
SUBJECT: --and here's why. If you think about this for five minutes, what it means is, Scotland effectively lives on transfers from England. If you took those transfers away, it would basically be insolvent. That's not a good position to be in. Secondly, when the British elites talk about leveling off, they're talking about Manchester, Liverpool. That's the North.
It's just like when they talked about it in Game of Thrones, they're no threat. The North is really the North of England. There's nothing beyond that. They're not interested in the leveling off of Scotland. This is like some small appendage they couldn't give a shit about. why would you want to have as your future? Anything is better than that.
INTERVIEWER: Well, on this point, I was thinking about it in terms of climate change, and then Dan, one of our producers, highlighted climate refugees, and so I was just reading a little bit about that. And so the real-estate hotspot that some has cited is Duluth, Minnesota. So maybe Manchester does become a real-estate hotspot.
But we think about climate change and that. I'm not sure what the projections are for London. But as the coast actually moves in further into the interior of the UK. I did think that was kind of interesting in thinking about what does that mean for-- we've talked about this in the past, real estate in Florida, et cetera. But does that spur growth in these areas, or is this just like 50 years away, or just a total pipe dream to you?
SUBJECT: So there's an interesting piece by an Australian economist called John Quaggin that's-- it's not Medium. I can't-- maybe it's The Age online. I forget what it is. What he basically says is if you stop and think about it, we've all learned to work from home. Now, let's assume that all labor is fungible. It's not, obviously. There are different levels of skill, et cetera.
But really, wages aren't determined by that. They're determined by all the factors-- unionization, demand, et cetera. But let's say that labor in principle, when you add everybody into a big bag, and divided it by the number of people in the bag, you get an average level of productivity.
Now, let's say that everybody in the world used to commute an hour and then another hour. That's 14 hours a week-- or 10 hours a week. So 10 hours a week, we're now no longer doing that. And we're actually getting into our desks at the same time. That means everybody just got 14% more productive.
Now, we haven't even begun to factor this listen into the stats, and who knows if it will even show up in the stats. But we've already changed the way that we work. And if we decide to keep that, these big megacities and cool presence, and need to be there in face time would have called elsewhere on the Pret A Manger economy.
SUBJECT: Why go back to that, because it was pretty crap.
INTERVIEWER: This is such an interesting point, because if you didn't have to live where you live, where would you where would you live? If you didn't have to pay a billion dollars in rent in New York, where would you go? I don't know they aren't going to go to Duluth, Minnesota. But it's an interesting question, to think about transferring that wealth that's concentrated in these parts, and thinking it doesn't spread out more, or does it just go to Aspen? I don't--
SUBJECT: But we're all set, and we're in the one time zone. The United States-- it's basically got three time zones. So you could be in any one of those time zones and still make it work. Even on the West Coast, it's the three-hour difference.
So somebody in LA want to call me at noon, and it's 3:00PM. You can make that work. And we have now proven that we can do this. So I think that's not just Duluth and not just Minnesota, but here, being near the lakes, being near family, much cheaper cost structure and instantly means higher real wages.
Our distribution across the country, in terms of wealth and income-- there's lots of positives that could come out of
INTERVIEWER: Well, and thinking politically, maybe that starts to eat away at the, "I get it, but I don't relate to it," meaning that people's realities start to change, and it's not just the landscape of New York. But it becomes a landscape that's more familiar across the partisan cleavages that we have.
I don't know if you've been I've been paying attention or not, but over the last few weeks, have you seen a number-- here's my segue into the protests from professional sports-- and that at one point, I think this was two weeks ago, the NBA-- the teams decided to not play in some of the finals games. And that spread, actually, to baseball, which is mostly white.
And now, the start of the NFL season-- the WNBA has been incredible in their continued protest-- and the NFL has started with a much different audience than the NBA and the WNBA, and with lots of boos for players to emulate. So this is something that will be interesting, just as a lover of professional sports, to watch whether this becomes the storyline of the NFL, or if players start to back off on this, as owners start to put more pressure on them.
SUBJECT: No, absolutely, not just the owners, other players, other forces. So I've been getting texts. You know how like everyone's numbers is now marketable?
SUBJECT: Why don't you sign up to my bullshit. And I was getting texts tax for a while, which is like, "These players are a disgrace, and Antifa is communism," and you're just like, what? What is it? And it was almost a treat to tell me more, but I was like, "Oh, just back off." But yeah, absolutely. All this stuff gets weaponized.
I saw a poll. I think it was last week, and I was trying to find it before we started recording, so I could get the exact figure. So I'm doing this by memory. This is about the collapse in support amongst Republicans, and particular for protest.
Now, there's Pew stuff online you can find that basically says that even amongst Democrats, support for protest has fallen as the protests have continued, but it's still positive. And overall, it's still net positive. But if you go for registered Republicans, I think it was down to something like 9% or 7%.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, geez.
SUBJECT: A huge [INAUDIBLE], so again, what we've done is we've taken something that at one moment, pretty much most Americans agreed on. The second outpouring of the second rebirth of American Civil rights movement was a positive thing-- has, just like everything else, become weaponized. Has become part of [INAUDIBLE].
INTERVIEWER: And you think about those pictures. You saw it on Twitter, the Portland protest, and you said it was one block that this was happening, when there were fires and all sorts of terrible pictures coming out of that. But and I'd be curious if that then becomes the intersection point where you start to see Republican approvals start to drop.
SUBJECT: No, I'm sure it is. Absolutely. It's all curated news sources. And in fairness, on the other side, I do remember like about, maybe it must've been about late March, or early April, when the protests were really gathering steam. It was a fantastic headline. I'm pretty sure it was The Guardian that said something like 23 police injured in otherwise peaceful protest. [LAUGHS] What exactly does that mean?
INTERVIEWER: Well, and now, peaceful protesters-- at the RNC, that was the derisive term for everything. You call it peaceful protests.
Well, as we wrap things up, anything lighter to add to our conversation? I've been living in the past, because I know the past much better than the future. And so I was a big Detroit Pistons fan is in the '90s. So I'm watching The Last Dance, which follows Michael Jordan's The Chicago Bulls as they try to pursue one last NBA champion victory. But there's tons of stuff with the Pistons in it, and so I really love that. And that has been reliving my childhood in a lot of way. Any good entertainment?
SUBJECT: Well, I don't know. Let's hold off for a minute and think about what you're doing there.
SUBJECT: In a way, Brexit is all about nostalgia. This glorious past when Britain was blah, blah, blah, and if only we were moving out. Trump is all about this now. Basically, it's when white people had good jobs, and things were orderly.
INTERVIEWER: People knew--
SUBJECT: Basically, at--
INTERVIEWER: People knew their place.
SUBJECT: Keep them where they were. Exactly. That's pretty much what it is, your law-and-order president. It's totally amazing. He went from gassing people and walking up with an upside-down down Bible, to actually making that real incredible for your relatives, and one where you have to say the guy is a genius, when it comes to the manipulation of media. But continue on from there. What do we do in our private lives? What do we do? We're looking at stuff from the '90s.
INTERVIEWER: It's so comforting.
SUBJECT: Right, because-- and that's really disturbing-- that the past is about our country.
INTERVIEWER: It's just so nice.
SUBJECT: But it's funny, as well, if you think about-- one of those genres that I do enjoy is science fiction, and while there's always been a dystopian element to that, and some things quite strong, it's always been about the possibilities of the future. And even the dystopian elements is usually a struggle against the dystopia in some sense. And the classic series for doing this, of course, has been Star Trek, whereas the Federation were always the good guys, and even when were slightly more complicated.
And now, there's just a dearth of shows like that. It's not there. The hope isn't there anymore.
INTERVIEWER: No, and it's--
SUBJECT: And when you think about what they're doing with superheroes like-- I forgot the name of the one-- where, basically, they're all horrible bunch of people, and they work in a franchise basis. And then basically, they've killed all these people, and they get together to try and take them out. It just dystopic.
INTERVIEWER: The nostalgia part is really that there's no-- that's an interesting point, and I thank you, therapist, as well.
SUBJECT: You're welcome.
INTERVIEWER: It is comforting, and it feels-- the edges of all the negative stuff and climate-- this doesn't exist in the '90s yet. And so you can just live there and just feel like, oh, this is so wonderful, and not worry about the million different things that we have to. But all the shows are throwbacks, or they're reboots from whatever.
SUBJECT: Yes, so--
INTERVIEWER: So there isn't anything new.
SUBJECT: And my confession, which I confessed to last time, I'm now finishing up season two of The Crime.
INTERVIEWER: And how is it going?
SUBJECT: Holy shit, I'm just getting into the nineteen-sixties.
INTERVIEWER: She's still queen, right? Oh, yeah.
SUBJECT: She's still queen, and Princess Margaret is wonderfully mental. But apart from that, I'm still living in the '60s.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, so hey, I'm absolutely ahead of you, then.
SUBJECT: You are still ahead of
INTERVIEWER: I need to start-- I am a lover of sci-fi stuff, too, so I need to just rewatch Battlestar or something.
SUBJECT: Yeah, because that was really uplifting. [LAUGHS]
INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHS] Yeah, well, remember they started a new planet at the end, though, don't they? So I think it's OK.
SUBJECT: Did they? They did, to buy us in. Let's abandon all our technology, and basically breed with the indigenous animals, which was like, really? We came that far for this?
[PIANO MUSIC PLAYING]
INTERVIEWER: So we were just waiting for our spaceship to Mars, then.
SUBJECT: Exactly. Well, apparently, there's life on Venus.
[GUITAR MUSIC PLAYING]
INTERVIEWER: Oh OK, a spaceship to Venus, then.
SUBJECT: Exactly. And with that hopeful segue to microbial life in the clouds of Venus, I'll have to say goodbye.
INTERVIEWER: Yes, great. Well, we'll talk to you next time. Thanks for listening. See you soon.