Krystal and Rachel: Nancy Pelosi’s Inequality Commission Is A Joke

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speaker pelosi with a big announcement
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about her major commitment to fighting
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inequality because that’s something she
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definitely really really cares about
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rachel
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um here’s the announcement she’s
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creating a committee
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a select committee in fact on economic
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inequality
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you see there her official press release
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on the website and this was actually
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something that really jumped down as you
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at you as like part of a normal
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system that is employed here in
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washington to make people
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feel like things are happening and make
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activists feel like they’re really
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engaged in the process but really it’s a
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way of sort of stiff-arming their
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demands and concerns
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yeah it’s all theater here in washington
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but this one in particular is something
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i call the hamster wheel
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right it’s designed to put her most
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activist members the members most likely
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to cause her problems on this issue
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she’s gonna put them on this commission
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they are going to run on this hamster
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wheel and feel like they’re doing
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something really important
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when in reality they’re just being kept
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uh busy away from the house floor the
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only place that actually matters for
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actual change on anything
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they’re gonna be running on the hamster
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wheel of this commission which will
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eventually put out a report that no one
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will read and it will accomplish nothing
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avoid these things like the plague if
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you are someone who cares about change
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and i say this to conservative activists
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i say it out let me say here to
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progressive activists
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don’t do this yeah well i mean it
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reminds me very much
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of the biden sanders task forces
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that you know was the only thing
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that bernie managed to extract from joe
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biden before exiting the race that you
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knew from the jump like
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it didn’t matter who you put on those
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committees it didn’t matter how good the
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recommendations were that were coming
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out of them
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like here we are days away from the
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biden administration and i’m not hearing
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anything about the recommendations that
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came out of the task forces
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whatsoever what pelosi says in this
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press release she says we’re creating
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the select committee
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to be a resource to the congress to make
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policy related
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to economic fairness access to education
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workforce development
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working with the committees of
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jurisdiction the select committee will
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study and recommend
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proposals to make our economy work for
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everyone powering american economic
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growth
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while ensuring that no one is left out
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or left behind in the 21st century
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economy
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all fancy way of saying like like you
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said
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they’re gonna study it they’re gonna put
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on a report and that’ll be the end of
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that so basically your point is here
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when you see these committees purporting
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to be about
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fighting inequality or fighting into
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whatever it is left or right
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what they’re really doing is putting up
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a roadblock putting up like
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a sort of obstacle course to jump
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through rather than actually taking
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issue on that issue
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this commission has two goals the first
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is to make pelosi look like she’s doing
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something and the second
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is to distract you know the act the
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members who actually want to do
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something
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from taking any meaningful action and
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this goes back to something we talked
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about earlier in the week which is
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look the only thing that matters in the
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house is action on the house floor
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progressive activists can learn a lot
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from the freedom caucus who presented
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themselves as a political power block
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by really only focusing on action on the
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house floor they could deliver a block
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of votes or they could withhold them
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and that is where their power came from
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was hanging together on these issues
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they didn’t get distracted
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by commissions they didn’t get
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distracted by other promises because
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this is just one
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tool political leaderships have to
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distract you know their problem members
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my favorite one is the and we’ll vote on
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that at some point or hey
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this bureaucrat will call you or hey can
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we just talk about it on the house floor
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the only thing that matters at the end
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of the day is voting
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and the more you can pressure and push
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action on that front
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the more effective you’re going to be
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because as we’ve learned from this whole
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2000 check
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2 000 check debacle the thing that they
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hate most is going on the record for
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anything because it’s a very
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very powerful tool and can be used
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against them or for them
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uh in any number of ways and your point
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is so well taken
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that progressives really fall prey to
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these types of tactics like they really
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feel like when they get put on the task
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force they
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because there’s this like idealism there
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of like they’re really listening to my
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concerns and they really mean it and
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these are my friends how many times we
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hear bernie sanders they’re like joe my
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friend joe biden you’re like
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ugh um so it reminds me of
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you know the forced to vote debate
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that’s have it happening on the left
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right now because on the one hand you
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have a faction of people who are saying
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we need a vote on this key issue that is
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important to us that’s important to the
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country in the middle of pandemic
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medicare for all like let’s take a vote
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and put everybody on their record
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and what you’re hearing from at least
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some in the progressive wing of the
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party here in dc is like
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let’s not do the voting that voting
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doesn’t really matter that much any
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we’re working behind the scenes to get
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on key
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leadership posts and committees etc etc
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and all of that is ultimately just a way
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to sort of
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make them feel like they’re being heard
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make them feel like they have some
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sway and influence and power within the
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system but ultimately to
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crush them and keep them quiet and keep
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them from causing trouble
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everyone wants to feel like they’re a
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cool kid right that’s how this town runs
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and these positions you know these
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acceptance on these commissions
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everything always feels like oh i’m
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getting invited to the table
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you have to be comfortable not being
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invited to the table because it’s the
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only way you’re actually going to be
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able to force
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you know that kind of political action
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on the floor which is the
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again i’m going to be a broken record on
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this but the only thing that matters at
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the end of the day
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is what you do on the floor it’s voting
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so so true rachel
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rachel thank you so much for being with
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us all week it’s been phenomenal having
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you here
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um always you have such incredible
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insight so thank you so much for that
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and happy new year to you my friend
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happy new year to you as well
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and to all of you risers thanks for
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having me sagar will be back next week
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to talk about aliens i know there’s a
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lot to say
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yeah there’s an alien update we missed
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an epstein update this week as well
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without sauger here so we have been
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falling down on the job a little bit
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but don’t worry friends because sagar
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will be back next week with all of those
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important stories and more
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we’re going to kick off the new year
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with friends of the show chuck rocha
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kyle kalinski brown and joy gray and so
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many more ben smith is going to join us
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to talk about what biden can expect from
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the media versus what trump got from the
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media
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remember to hit that subscribe button so
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you don’t miss any of our videos also
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don’t forget to like and share as well
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happy new years guys appreciate you all
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so much
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you made it you survived 2020 on to
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what’s next
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enjoy everybody

Book Review: The Prophetic Imagination at 40

Walter Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination is perhaps the best-known of the seemingly countless books of a writing and publishing career that has seen him established as one of the most prolific of contemporary Old Testament theologians. In its second edition, The Prophetic Imagination has sold more than 1 million copies, but this year marks the 40th anniversary of its initial publication—which seems as good a reason as any to revisit this remarkable work. However, it is also a book that still speaks powerfully to the role of faith and imagination in responding to the cultural and political powers that so dominate our consciousness and actions.

.. The Prophetic Imagination is a survey of the deeper role of the prophetic voice found in the leadership, action, and teaching of the key protagonists in the biblical stories of Moses, Jeremiah, and Jesus. As Brueggemann describes it in his original preface, this small book is “an attempt to understand what the prophets were up to, if we can be freed from our usual stereotypes of foretellers or social protestors”

.. Brueggemann thus dismisses the two most common approaches to the prophetic voice among Bible readers, instead seeking a deeper reading than that often adopted in conversations about biblical justice. But this is not to ignore the practical implications of the message of the Bible’s prophets, rather it prompts a more profound response—and in that sense, more practical response—to the powers that perpetuate injustice and destroy imagination

Beginning with the story of Moses and his call to lead his people out of slavery and oppression in the land of Egypt, Brueggemann establishes a sketch of the powers that oppress all people and work to entrench and perpetuate that power. He describes this as a “royal consciousness” but one that is not only held by the ruling class but also presented to and insisted upon even among those it oppresses. As well as seeking to be all pervading, part of its mythology is the assumption of its inevitability, by which it seeks to preclude any alternative imagination or possibility. Thus, Moses’ call to the enslaved people was not merely to escape from Egypt and slavery but to begin to think that such freedom might even be possible. While this might seem less dramatic than a slaves’ revolt, this is actually the larger work: Moses’ “work is nothing less than an assault on the consciousness of the empire, aimed at nothing less than the dismantling of the empire both in its social practices and in its mythic pretensions” (page 9).

.. Brueggemann also uses the narrative of Moses’ confrontation with the oppressive powers of Egypt to emphasize the necessary link between faith and social justice. He does this by critiquing both extremes:

  1. first, that social radicalism by itself is a “cut flower without nourishment, without any sanctions deeper than human courage and good intentions” (page 8); but,
  2. second, that an unprophetic conservative faith offers a “God of well-being and good order” that too easily becomes “precisely the source of social oppression” (page 8).

.. Despite the seeming success of Moses’ project and the significant detail to which the biblical text goes to establish an alternative society among the newly freed Hebrew slaves in preparation for the establishment of a new nation, the perennial temptations of the royal consciousness is demonstrated by its re-emergence in the nation under the reign of Solomon. The lavishness of Solomon’s household, lifestyle, and building projects—including the Temple—contrast starkly with the oppression, forced labor, and poverty of the people. Although primarily enjoyed by only a privileged few, the growing affluence is built upon but also reinforces political oppression, and the “static religion” Moses confronted is employed to give a theological justification for the political and economic status quo. The king—and those who constitute the ruling class—comes to be regarded as having a unique access to and favor from the divine, and many religious leaders are willing to endorse this political theology as a way of incorporating themselves into the power structure.

.. This loop of power, oppression, and theological self-justification leads to a failure of imagination among both the powerful and the powerless. Focused so much on maintaining their power and privilege, the powerful are unable to conceive of the end of their power, as inevitable as that might be. But what had been unimaginable was becoming reality, which renders a double loss to those who have been comfortable in the collapsing order. As a way of surviving seemingly unalterable circumstances, the powerless were reduced to numbness, unable to feel the ongoing insults, injuries, and even death. Amid this numbness—and partially in answer to this status quo—comes the cry of the prophet Jeremiah, calling the people to grieve both the end of their empire and the losses that have been experienced by so many of its people.

.. While the temptation is to avoid the pain of grief, Jeremiah insists it is the only real and faithful response. As such, it is the prophets’ role to call people to the genuine experience of grief as a first step in the prophetic act of imagining other ways of being and living in the world. However, such grief brings the risk of despair. While grief is necessary, Brueggemann contrasts the lament of Jeremiah with the hope proclaimed by Second Isaiah “as a prophet of hope to kings in despair” (page 68). In the scriptural narrative, the prophetic role is responsive to the national circumstances. Amid attack, exile and ongoing subjugation—in the context of grief—hope becomes the primary task of prophetic imagination.

.. In the Christian reading of the Hebrew prophets, this hopeful imagination always points forward to Jesus as the coming Messiah. But when Brueggemann’s attention turns to Jesus, he also argues that the ministry of Jesus can also be read and understood in the context of the tradition of the Hebrew prophets. He identifies the same progression of

  1. numbness and
  2. grief,
  3. despair and
  4. hope

played out in the ministry and ultimately in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus’ life and ministry unmask and critique the oppressive powers of his day. From His birth, His healing miracles, His teaching, and His acts of resurrection, there are many examples of Jesus working to undermine the sense of assumption and inevitability that must be overcome before the status quo can be challenged. While Jesus focused primarily on the oppressed with whom He identified in so many aspects of His life and experience, “there are never oppressed without oppressors” (page 84). In turn, He challenged each of the powers that maintained the political, economic, and religious oppression of the people. In place of numbness, Jesus practiced a compassion that was all-encompassing and “a radical form of criticism, for it announces that hurt is to be taken seriously, that hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness” (page 88).

But Jesus was not merely a social or political critic. He demonstrated the prophetic imagination to which the previous Hebrew prophets had pointed. Despite the context in which He and most of His hearers lived and suffered, He insisted on a new and different kind of kingdom that was, even then, growing among them. While Jesus’ ultimate critique—even judgment—of the oppressors came in the context and process of His death by crucifixion, He re-energized the possibilities of transformative hope by His resurrection. In Brueggemann’s language, “the resurrection can only be received and affirmed and celebrated as the new action of God, whose province is to create new futures for people and to let them be amazed in the midst of despair” (page 112). While this is radically new, for Brueggemann, it is best understood in the context of the promises and hopes of the prophets who came before, as “the ultimate act of prophetic energizing” (page 113) that made space for life and newness, wonder and possibility.

.. “It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing future alternatives to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one” (page 40). Using the biblical narratives and Hebrew prophets as models and mentors, as well as sources of teaching and inspiration, leaders in these communities are called to speak and act with prophetic imagination.

.. Prompted by one of his students, Brueggemann’s focus is sharpened in “A Postscript on Practice” in the second edition, bringing together specific examples of what prophetic imagination looks like in contemporary culture. Key to faithfully living out the call to prophetic imagination is resistance to the dominant culture, its assumptions, and its supposed inevitability. Prophetic imagination will insist on

  1. seeing,
  2. feeling, and
  3. responding differently

to people and society around us. And leaders with prophetic imagination will seek to build communities in which this imagination is shared, fostered, and lived out in ways that change society and culture.

 

How to Debate a Populist

In the 1960s, much like today, people with opposing viewpoints struggled to communicate with one another. Yet there was a civility to that era’s public debate that is nowhere to be found today, owing to liberal elites’ understanding that refusing to engage would only reinforce the “us versus them” mentality that fuels radicalism.

.. Dutschke tried to “unmask” Dahrendorf – the liberal establishment intellectual – as exploitative and undemocratic; Dahrendorf countered that Dutschke’s revolutionary rhetoric was naive, more hot air than substance, and ultimately dangerous.
.. The debate began with Thadden detailing his political views, offering an unapologetic assessment of Germany’s role in WWII, and explaining the rise of the NPD. Dahrendorf, a sociology professor, followed with an analysis of the NPD’s diverse membership, which included old Nazis, disillusioned identity seekers, and opportunistic anti-modernists.
..  Dahrendorf was adamant that the NPD’s fate should be decided by the voters, rather than the courts, which had declared the Communist Party illegal. Kaul reiterated this idea in a passionate statement (which had undoubtedly been agreed in advance by East German leaders) about the exclusion of West Germany’s Communists from the debate. Other panelists agreed. A liberal democracy, Dahrendorf concluded, cannot exclude radicals on one side, while tolerating those on the other.
.. It is hard to imagine today’s mainstream politicians and public intellectuals engaging publicly in such profound and mutually respectful debates with today’s radicals and upstarts, whether populists, economic nationalists, Euroskeptics, or something else. Those on the far left and the far right certainly are not engaging one another in this manner. Each side would rather preach to its own audience, accessible within media bubbles where there is little demand for genuine discussion of opposing views.
.. Many establishment leaders nowadays – the so-called elites who are the standard-bearers of the liberal democratic order – seem to believe that the risks of engaging with radical figures are too great: more exposure could mean more legitimacy. But this stance is itself highly risky, not least because it has translated into a willful blindness to the social changes that have fueled extremist ideologies – an approach that comes across to many as arrogant.
.. Recall US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s flippant assertion that half of her rival Donald Trump’s supporters comprised a “basket of deplorables.”
.. One cannot simply wish away extremists. Letting radical movements run their course, as some have suggested, is both reckless and dangerous, given the amount of damage they can do before they fail. To fulfill their responsibility as stewards of the public good, cultural and political “elites” must eschew elitism and find formats and formulas that enable more constructive engagement among diverse groups, including – as difficult as it may be – radical and populist movements.
.. Dahrendorf rightly proclaimed that extremists’ success was a measure of democratic elites’ failings. Like the NPD in the 1960s, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) owes its success in last September’s federal election to the refusal of the country’s political, economic, and academic elites to engage constructively with the public, much less with those the public believed were willing to address their concerns.
.. Defenders of liberal democracy must debate the populists not to change the populists’ minds, but to make the public understand what each party really stands for, not simply against. Yes, this could mean giving populists more airtime, and it risks normalizing extreme views. But the threats associated with an aggressively polarized public sphere – one that extremists have proved adept at exploiting – are much greater.