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Democracy Works: Fighting for democracy in the GOP

Miles Taylor and Charlie Dent
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Miles Taylor and Charlie Dent

As another election cycle approaches, moderates in the Republican Party have some choices to make. Will they continue to fight Trumpism from within? Or break out to form a new political party, perhaps in coalition with moderate Democrats who feel alienated by the party's leftward turn? Miles Taylor and Charlie Dent are two Republicans at the forefront of addressing that question through the Renew America, a movement to deepen America’s pro-democracy bench.

By working together across party lines, the group hopes to shift the balance of power in Washington, DC away from those who want to dismantle democracy’s guardrails and back to real leaders who will put country over party.

Taylor is the co-founder of Renew America, former chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security and author of the New York Times bestseller "A Warning.: Dent is the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s fall 2021 visiting fellow. He served seven terms in Congress representing and is now executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program and CNN political analyst.

Episode Transcript

Jenna Spinelle
Hello, and welcome to Democracy Works. I'm Jenna Spinelle, and I'm excited to be joined today by Miles Taylor and Charlie Dent, two people who are leading the movement for a retreat from Trumpism in the Republican Party. Miles is the co founder of renew America, which we'll talk more about in a minute. He's the former chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security, and author of The New York Times bestseller A Warning. Miles welcome. Thanks for joining us,

Miles Taylor
Jenna, good to be with you. Thanks for having me

Jenna Spinelle
Charlie is the McCourtney Institute for Democracy's fall 2021. visiting fellow he served seven terms in Congress and is now executive director of the Aspen Institute congressional program, and a CNN political analyst. Charlie, welcome back to Democracy Works.

Charlie Dent
Thank you, Jana. Great to be with you and Miles.

Jenna Spinelle
So you know, before we dive into some of the specifics about renew America and what you are working on, I wanted to just sort of set the stakes a little bit, you know, the two of you come from different generations, you sort of came of age politically at different times, but ended up in the same party. I'm wondering if you could just talk a little bit about what the Republican Party means to you, you know, what is it when we're talking about preserving the party or its identity moving forward? What does that mean to you? So we'll start with you on that one miles.

Miles Taylor
Yeah, well, I mean, you know, and actually, I don't know if Charlie knows this. But one thing that's interesting about our intertwined stories, we may be from different generations. But as I was coming of age, in the party, it was sort of propitious timing, because it was Charlie's first term in Congress. So I was a congressional page on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2004 2005. So I was actually there to see Charlie sworn in. And so, you know, in the arc of history, I think that was interesting, because that republican congress really had an impact on, you know, my worldview of what, you know, cooperation, collaboration look like and yeah, there were, you know, there were fights between the democrats and the Bush administration, but largely things were getting done in that time period. And Charlie's class that came in as members of Congress was a pretty reasonable class of members that deeply impacted my perceptions of how the GOP and Congress were supposed to work, that there were differences. But ultimately, you know, folks reached across the aisle to get things done, even when it was hard, you know, then both of us lived, you know, the trauma of the pre Trump years in the Trump years, you know, Charlie versus a member and I was a house staffer. And I think we saw that environment change dramatically and become hyper polarized. And now, I didn't think that in the period, just before Trump became president, it could get more polarized than that. But it has, and it's entered this new period where it's almost about celebrity, and it's sort of an angry celebrity ethos that surrounds a lot of these republicans, that not only keeps them divided from working with their other members of Congress, but but creates true personal vitriol between them didn't think it would get to that level. And of course, that's one of many reasons why, you know, I've jumped in to try to, you know, reset the GOP through the renew American movement, but we're doing a range of other pro democracy things which we can get into in a minute. And by way of caveat, Charlie advises us on the C three side and not the political side, which we'll talk about a little bit more detail.

Jenna Spinelle
Yeah, great. So Charlie, you know, what about you and Miles was just talking about your role in Congress, you know, what drew you to the GOP? And you know, how did your feelings change as you got into Congress and continued on throughout your political career?

Charlie Dent
I grew up in a Republican Party in Pennsylvania that had people like you know, Governor, Bill Scranton, you know, who you might remember ran for president against Barry Goldwater lost the nomination in 1964. might have had a different outcome perhaps if we nominated Phil Scranton, senior. And so we had bill Scranton. And then out of that came people like dick Thornburg, and Tom Ridge and john Heinz, and Arlen specter, all of whom Mark Shweiker I could go on the people it was a party I grew up in I was comfortable. And Richard Schweiker was our senator as well I should mention who Scott so this is the party that I grew up in that you know, in many respects is pretty pragmatic, pretty practical, in many respects, fairly centrist or moderate. And, and obviously, the party has changed you know, he's Tip O'Neill used to say that all politics is local. Well, that's really no longer true. That much of local politics has become nationalized.

Jenna Spinelle
And so I guess for both of you, you know, at what point did you start to see that okay, this is starting to change or this is not the party that I know when did those kind of alarm bells start to go off for you I'm having

Miles Taylor
To jump in I mean look the here's the here's the biggest alarm bell and I don't want to overplay the miles and Charlie intertwined destinies but but I have to on this one I mentioned that you know being a page on the House floor that was you know people ask me what's the best job you ever had it was just being a 16 year old kid working on the floor of the House of Representatives. That was the best job I ever had. sitting there at the page desk, you know, getting to watch the comings and goings of the greatest democracy in the world. Somewhat ironically, that desk was actually the last resort against insurrectionist storming the floor of the House of Representatives. You see those pictures on January 6, of the officers with their guns drawn in the House chamber defending the chamber? Well, the desk they moved in front of that door was the desk that I used to sit at. That was an emotional gut punch for me to see the literal symbol of the thing that inspired me about democracy as sort of like the last resort before insurrection a storm the House floor. So if there was a five alarm fire, it was that moment. And it was evident to anyone watching that in real time that it had been instigated by the leader of our party by the then President of the United States, Donald Trump. And I absolutely think that was the lowest point for me as a Republican. And the lowest point for me as a citizen in a civic sense, is to see that image is still hard to think about to this day. Now the warning signs flashed much earlier, I actually would say it was during the congressman's, you know, early ish in his tenure in Congress, we started to see some very libertarian leaning members of Congress elected and subsequent classes, that eventually became what was known as the Tea Party movement that really started as an ideological insurgency within the party. As I note, a lot of those folks were libertarian, they wanted a much smaller government role in society. And it was sort of the debate that you've seen play out in the Republican Party before about what direction it's going to go ideologically. But in the span of about 10 years, that Tea Party movement, was hijacked by populist forces, and went from a small insurgency within the Republican Party to a dominant force within the party during that time period and was co opted by Donald Trump. That's really when we started to see the warning signs, although I'll say House leadership at the time, and the congressman remembers this, you know, we're somewhat dismissive of these folks. And, of course, were dismissive at their peril, because ultimately, you know, it cost a number of house leaders their jobs, because they didn't see the direction that this movement was going. That's for me when I saw the warning signs. And I think for all of us, the shock of Trump's rise from number 17 of 17, in the primaries, you know, kind of dead last back in the pack in the his steady bulldozing of the primary field in 2015 2016. That's probably when it really broke into the open, that's when I argue that the GOP Civil War really began. And then it suddenly ended, when Trump became president there was sort of a detachment because they suppressed a lot of dissent. And now you're seeing, you know, the GOP Civil War break back open. But of course, the rational side is much smaller, much more scrappy, and is currently I would argue in a not in a winning position.

Jenna Spinelle
I do want to go to renew America, and what the two of you and many others across the country are doing to, you know, play your part in advocating for your side. And as you describe it, this GOP civil war so Miles, why don't you tell us what the organization is for listeners who might not be familiar with it? Yeah, so

Miles Taylor
Renew America really has its origins in that day that we were talking about January 6, I mean, at that time, I was running an organization called repair the Republican political alliance for integrity and reform. You know, Charlie was a part of that, along with other former Republican members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, governors, and then another pro democracy organization called stand up Republic, which is run at the time by Evan McMullin. We came together after the insurrection and combined forces, really with the goal of protecting the country against political extremists, and trying to fortify a pragmatic and principled center in this country. So we combined and launched the renew American movement really with that goal of restoring a common sense coalition in our politics. And the way to do that we assess is what I would call a diversified pro democracy portfolio. Right? So if our organization if, you know, we're investing our time and our resources in defending our democratic institutions, we're diversifying that across short term, medium term and long term investments. What are those investments, they are people policy and process on the people side that's the political side of our organization. We are investing in pro democracy candidates on the right hand the left so good Republicans who stood up for the truth put country over party, people like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, but also people on the center left you know, representatives like Alyssa slot in Michigan Abby Spanberger in Virginia democrats who've stood up against political extremism from the far left. So we want to make sure those people don't get taken out in this hyper polarized environment, and we want to see them reelected. So we're investing in those good, unifying the pragmatists and Congress on the people side. In the medium term. On the policy side, we're investing in advocating for good policies that protect our democracy, things like protecting the right to vote, making voting easy, free, fair and secure, and also safeguarding the guardrails of our democracy, if you will. So there's legislation in Congress called poda, that protect our democracy act that's focused on really reinforcing things like the role of inspectors general and making it more difficult for, you know, the White House to abuse the pardon power and a range of different reforms. So in the medium term, were active in that space to try to reinforce those guardrails of our democracy. And then in the long term, we're investing in the process side of our democracy, actually trying to make American politics more competitive. And to introduce more choices. What do I mean by that? Right now, the two parties have sort of a stranglehold on the process makes it really hard for third parties and independent candidates to emerge and be successful. But we know from digging into the data, that people desperately want alternatives. In fact, 50% of Americans now say they are political independence, they are neither Democrats or Republicans. That's the largest number that the Pew surveys have ever recorded. So there's consumer demand, if you will, for alternatives. And so in the long run, we want to invest in opening up the democratic process more fully, so that there can be greater competition and choice. So that's what RAM is focused on. Is those three P's, if you will, people policy and process and, you know, but we've got, we've got a high hill to climb.

Jenna Spinelle
And, you know, it's interesting to think about I there, there are lots of folks out there talking about sort of the problem of America's two party system. I know, for example, Andrew Yang has been active in this space, and there are political scientists like Lee Drutman who calls it our two party Doom loop. You know, how do you think about the whether or not to take that plunge? You know, how do you know or, you know, what are some of the signs you're looking for, to know whether you really do have enough of a coalition of the folks like you were just talking about to really make a go at a third party. While it seems like there's also some interest in keeping the Republican Party, you know, and thinking about what that looks like in a post Trump world whenever that might be.

Miles Taylor
I mean, this concept of a renewer, it's, you know, we're not creating a third party at the moment. You can think of the word renewer as almost like a modifier just like people call themselves Tea Party Republicans. You know, we want a renew republican to be the opposite of that. We want to renew Democrats to be the opposite of that, or people who are independents as renewer, we want them to see that as, you know, synonymous with being a principled pragmatist. And as Charlie notes, you know, there's real demand for folks to find this community. I mean, right now, millions of Americans 10s of millions of Americans report feeling politically homeless. And so what we're trying to create really is a tribe of the tribals united around shared principles. And you know, in the long run, that may mean the establishment of a third party or multiple third parties to make our system more competitive. But on the political side of this, we're Charlie doesn't advise us, you know, our strategy in this cycle going into 2022 is frankly, to team up with the democrats to have electoral effect. In other words, to deny an unreformed Republican Party, majority leadership in Washington, DC, we think right now, the GOP has been too corrupted by, you know, pro Trump extremism that there's a real danger, you know, House Republican majority in particular at the moment. And so, you know, we're better off with some, you know, moderate dems, winning and tipping the balance of power that direction, while protecting reformist Republicans who really want to try to fix the party. So that's our political strategy at the moment. And it frankly, it's an uncomfortable one. I mean, you know, most of us are lifelong Republicans who never imagined teaming up with our political rivals, the Democrats, but look, country's got to come before party in this instance. And so in this cycle, we think that's what needs to happen.

Jenna Spinelle
Yeah, you know, looking over the principles on your site, which will certainly link to in the show notes for folks who want to check those out. It's great for people like me to see pluralism and the rule of law. Everything that like the democracy nerds of the world get really excited about in this platform. But I wonder if you thought at all or if you have plans to kind of speak to some of the more bread and butter issues that you know, people outside of the academy or the you know, inside our political circles tend to be concerned with?

Charlie Dent
Yeah, this is probably where I disagree with miles, I, you know, I actually think a divided government would be a good thing for the country right now. I do believe that I had Donald Trump not intervened in Georgia the way he did, you probably have a republican senate today. And we'd have a little bit more balanced. I just wanted to say, like bread and butter issues. Now, I feel very strongly right now. And I voted for Joe Biden. And I'm glad I did but the same time, I would argue that he has misread his mandate, rather significantly, on matters of the economy, I feel strongly that this was not a mandate to go big. This was a mandate to stabilize and normalize the ship of state, bring some sense of normalcy back to the functioning of government deal with the COVID crisis as an adult, you know, unlike you know, the previous president. And I think that, yeah, I think that this was almost a vote for incrementalism. You know, that the go big agenda. That was Bernie's and he last, last I checked in the Democratic primary. And I think that, you know, by going forward with the master spending plan beyond the and not not the infrastructure bill, which I think is a good bill, they should, they should have voted on in August, frankly, you should have pass it in a lot like the wind. But the but I think this is an enormous blunder as if, and the here, I just was listening to some folks on television this morning from the left, though Democratic Party, talking about how popular This is, and how, you know, we only we compromise, it was $6 trillion. You know, that's what they say it was 6 trillion, not 3.5 is the compromise? Well, you know, they're they're acting as if we're dealing with all this in a vacuum. You know, as if we hadn't spent nearly $6 trillion to deal with COVID, as if there had not been a humiliating surrender to capitulation in Afghanistan, as if there is not inflationary pressure, and shortages of just about everything. And as if, you know, there's that there's somehow that the American people are all for everything. And I, I am just kind of mystified by this. This is not a mandate of the Great Society of the New Deal. You don't have congressional majorities, and in a balance, and I see it right now, I can tell you all the problems of the Republican Party being pulled by Trump, I see the Democratic Party right now being pulled. Now they don't have the anti democratic force or the illiberal forces, no responsibility, insurrection, but they're still being pulled in a dangerous direction. And I think we need balance in this country, that we simply don't have divided government forces people to do things, that they're not going to like it. But they have to do there's like we did on the Troubled Asset program during the financial crisis. Yeah, Republican president, Democratic Congress. And you know, we did something for the good of the nation as hard as it was, and there was a lot of bad feeling at the time, sometimes divided government allows you to do some things that you can't do in a unified government.

Miles Taylor
I actually have to jump in and say, I want to facetiously say, I totally disagree with Charlie, but I actually do agree with him. And I think that is that's an answer at the moment. You know, the now I've done it the third time, I'm going to go back to the period where Charlie and I both entered Congress, he is a boy him as a man. But, you know, when I walked in there, on my very first day on the House floor, the parliamentarian looked at me and told me something I will never forget. She said, Congress was not designed to pass laws, Congress was designed to stop bad laws from being passed. And that was a bumper sticker education in really what the democratic process exists to do in a republic like ours. And I think Charlie's absolutely right. The founders intended that if we were so divided, as we are now that the system should grind to a halt, until and unless compromise can be achieved. So the process is functioning, frankly, the way it should now, you know, Americans are frustrated, they're frustrated that Washington, in their view is broken, but the reality especially if they understand their political process, and their Republic is not that Washington is broken, but that they are broken that we are broken at a community level, we are divided. We don't go to certain barbecues because we're worried about seeing the MAGA person we don't want to see. Or, you know, in other cases, you know, the crazy socialist Bernie person we don't want to see that is happening foundationally at a community level, and it's being reflected in our Congress, as the founders intended. So if we really are to fix it, as insipid as it sounds, it's got to begin door to door and it's got to begin in our communities. And there is precedent for that. We have gone through periods of political upheaval, turmoil and division in the past, and have overcome you can go back just to the 20th century and look at the polls and see different periods of intense political divides that were mended. So this is possible, but it's certainly challenging.

Jenna Spinelle
But I want to come back to something you were talking about earlier miles with some of the Pro democracy, parts of this platform and this movements. As I've said, we have a very reform minded kind of nerdy audience on the show. I'm wondering if you could maybe talk more specifically about some of the reforms that you're considering? Or you know, what changes might fit under this umbrella that you're creating?

Miles Taylor
Yeah, that's a really good question. I mean, in the long run, you know, the democratic form reforms that we need to undertake, I'm going to make a somewhat hyperbolic statement here. But I think they are the most important public policy issues of the 21st century, I think reforming our democracy here at home, we're gonna look back and see it as, as, again, the watershed movement of this century, because of the intense political pressures that we're seeing, not just in America, but around the world, really putting strain on democracy. And I go back to that subject of competition, and choice. And the simplistic way to explain it to you know, your friends, who aren't the political geeks Like us on here is that, you know, they feel like they can basically in the 21st century, have anything they want, whenever they want, they can do a ride share from whatever company, they want order food and clothes from wherever they want. I mean, there's there's almost unlimited choice and competition in the marketplace right now, unlike any other period in human history. But ironically, the one marketplace politics, where they expect competition and choice inherently, it's lacking. Because over the decades, over the centuries, you've seen the two major political parties largely cement their position, including through laws that in certain states favor one party over another. So over time, the two party not monopoly two party duopoly, if you will, has really developed a stronghold on the democratic process in a way that again, favors certain parties in certain places that has reduced the amount of choice at the ballot box. And so as consumers, or rather, voters have become more disaffected, they're increasingly going outside of the process. So one of the alarming data points I would put out, there is the University of Chicago poll from a few weeks ago, which found that almost 10% of Americans, nearly 30 million Americans believe that political violence is justified to restore Donald Trump to the White House, that is breathtaking, that is a huge number. And also, when you dig deeper into those numbers, in terms of people who self identify as being a part of extremist groups or armed militias in the United States, you see a roughly 10 fold increase in domestic violent extremism or favorable sentiments towards it over the past four years or so that's a market increase. But again, that shows in part that people are becoming very frustrated with the democratic process, they don't think it's responsive to their needs. That's not to say the political violence is justified. But we've seen this in other countries, we've seen this in other democracies, where people feel like they can't express their voice through peaceful means, they begin to consider other means that's very dangerous. I think that trend is potentially what could arrest the development of our democracy and prevent us from reaching our 300th birthday. I mean, it's very, very worried. And so that task of reforming the democratic process in a way to give people voice, I think, really is the task of the 21st century. And the ways to do that are very straightforward. It's to introduce reforms like rank choice voting, which allows people to express for their preferences to be better expressed in the democratic process, it allows more types of candidates to emerge. And for elections to be more competitive, it's things like open primaries, and making it easier for voters to go in and vote for or against certain candidates that are running in the primary process. And again, it's changing the laws in many states to make it easier for the creation and success of third parties and independent candidates. So the combination of those reforms I truly do think, will make our democracy more competitive. And the last thing I'll note on that is, it sounds like pie in the sky stuff. But if you compare it to some of the other big reform movements over the past couple of decades, you see how these things move along. One example would be gay marriage, another would be marijuana legalization. In both cases. 30 years ago, we would have said the majority of US states are not going to adopt gay marriage, and they're not going to adopt marijuana legalization. Well, in the former case, we're well on our way that right, and the Supreme Court has upheld it nationwide. We're already we're there. And in the case of marijuana legal, is it legal is agree with it or not. We've gone from just a handful of left leaning states to you know, close to a majority of the country approving those reforms. So I on the democratic reform side, not that it's the same as those those are those are more social issues, but I do see the momentum going that direction. We're seeing a few initial states really pick up those reforms and a whole bunch of nascent efforts in other states.

Jenna Spinelle
Yeah, so Charlie, you know, rank choice voting, open primaries, these are potentially big changes, particularly here in Pennsylvania where we are a closed Primary state, what do you make of the prospect of these reforms? Or you know how they would change the landscape moving forward? What do you think?

Charlie Dent
Yeah, I certainly route miles that we should move to or open primaries. I think that would do quite a bit. And one of the I think one of the, one of the real challenges in our country, you know, in something that the founders did not envision were primaries mean, when you think about it, I truly believe that primaries are causing many, much of the dysfunction that we see in America that it's it's very easy. It's easier for more fringe candidates to prevail in a multi candidate field in a closed primary. And and then they can win the general election because one party's registration is so dominant. And I've noticed that is a challenge the primaries don't lend themselves to to electing more pragmatic folks. Rank choice voting, I'm certainly open to it. I haven't thought it through as closely as some have. I mean, I can understand the merits of it. It's it's complex for many, but it's at least I think it's worth serious consideration in some states are experimenting with it. And we're going to see how, what kind of elected officials they produce. But one thing where I think Miles and I are in complete alignment, is that know, the threats to our, our republic to our democratic institutions to our constitutional order, are not so much external? Yes, we're all upset with the Russians for their meddling in the 2016 election, so so horribly, and, you know, we're all concerned about the adversarial relationship with China and certainly bad actors like Iran. But, you know, the threat is not external, its internal, it's us, you know, we have to be the ones who believe in our system. You know, as Miles pointed out, there are so many people who think that violence is a proper remedy, you know, to, you know, political disagreement when it when we all know it is not a hell of a definition. And Miles and I were involved in homeland security for a long time, I always thought the definition of terrorism was, you know, using violence to advance a political agenda. That was kind of how we looked at terrorism. And, and so we have to get back to, you know, having a greater civil discourse in this country, among ourselves. Every debate now becomes so political, you know, from the wearing of masks to getting vaccines. I mean, we're now we're tearing each other apart over things that, you know, most of us thought were fairly non controversial items are things that might have been established fact we can't agree, as a nation, we don't agree on established facts anymore. You know, truth is, you know, is the casualty and you know, how we had the President Trump's advisor, Kellyanne Conway was talking about alternative facts, you know, what are those? I thought alternative facts for kind of what lies Oh, okay. I mean, so this is what we're up against, when we can't agree on the basics, if we can agree on the facts, you know, how can we then agree on bigger issues and solve problems?

Jenna Spinelle
You know, I think as we get closer to the next election cycle, we're seeing Donald Trump come back on the scene in various ways. So I'm just wondering how each of you are kind of thinking about the severity of what we're up against here at in our democracy, but, you know, not falling victim necessarily to becoming, you know, so paralyzed, or, you know, so fair that you can't really move forward. I guess, let's start with you on that one miles, how are you thinking about, you know, parsing the kind of reality that we're facing versus, you know, what the media might want us to be hyped up about?

Miles Taylor
Well, you know, I'll give a personal example. And not because I want anyone to play the violin for me, they don't need to, but I want to use these examples because they're illustrative of what a lot of other folks are going through. is, you know, I mentioned earlier that the GOP Civil War was very vitriolic, but but I do think it's jumped the tracks from vitriol to violence. And we're seeing that throughout our political system is that open discourse is being supplanted by intimidation. I mean, in my case, simply speaking out against the president forced me to leave my home, my job, my relationship, you know, I had to take on a full time armed body guard. As recently as today, I had to change my phone number because it was getting doxxed in maga circles, and I was getting deluged with phone calls from strangers. I'm fine, I'll be okay. I've got a very good personal protection regimen. But this intimidation has really infected our politics. And we see it you know, forget the miles Taylor's of the world who cares? The people who are our poll workers, the people who are counting balance at the county courthouse, these are people who are getting death threats from merely performing the functions of democracy and speaking the truth. That's very concerning to me to see and you know, the I'll leave it on this note, because I want to give Charlie the final word. I say to folks That really this is a, this is a supply and demand problem. And what do I mean by that the price of dissent is very high at the moment. So anyone who's taken econ 101 knows that in any marketplace, if the price of something is very high, there are only two ways to bring it down. You either you either increase or decrease demand, if you decrease demand, the price will go down. Well, we don't want to decrease demand for the truth, we want higher demand for the church. Or you can increase the supply that lowers the price of something. So in this case, if there are more people speaking up, more people at a community level, willing to speak the truth and push back against political extremism, we can lower the price of dissent. And what is encouraging to me is I've seen certainly while working in the Trump administration, it was like getting a PhD and cowardice analytics, you know, I saw a lot of people not speak up. And it was clear that cowardice was contagious. But also, by the end, I saw that courage was pretty contagious. You know, folks like Alex vindman, and others who spoke up when they stuck their heads up, it made other folks feel like they could do the same. And that's just as true on the national political stage as it is in a community. And so that is the thing that gives me heart is I do think more and more folks are willing to push back. And it's going to be, you know, grassroots efforts that that turn our politics around. So I'm hopeful about that, but eager to get the congressman's perspective.

Charlie Dent
Yeah, well, I guess, the perspective on fact, if you have people pushing back, you know, that was my observation. We should also notice, too, that that Miles was anonymous, he was the person who wrote that op ed that got a lot of attention, that there were

Miles Taylor
Charlie just outed me, we were keeping it a secret until now. Now, I'm gonna have to go back on the run.

Charlie Dent
You've been outed. Okay. Got it. In reality, now, and the longer that, but the story that I see is that we need a movement in this country to kind of recapture the political center. And it's not an easy thing to do. We all know that I will just finally, maybe just conclude by saying that, you know, our country, you know, is our, our institutions are rather fragile. We've learned that many, you know, after the insurrection, we thought, Well, okay, this is as bad as it's going to get that was my initial, okay, I can't imagine, you know, after an insurrection and sedition, you know, this, this assault on this great temple of democracy, you know, that Okay, now, this is a seminal moment, everybody step back. And, frankly, I'm concerned that that's not the end that maybe I don't want, maybe say the beginning, but maybe we weren't, we have to go to get a darker place before we can find the light. And I hope I'm wrong about that. But I'm fearful that you know, this, what I like to call these illiberal populist movements, not only in the United States, but throughout the West, we've seen them lepen in France, you know, Alternative for Germany and Germany. You know, the some of the you Kip party in the UK at the time, we saw that, that there are these movements or Bonn, you know, in Hungary, Poland's got their own liberal movement, Italy, the five star, we have these movements that are gaining momentum. And they're transnational. And in many respects, they don't accept many of these groups. I don't say all but many do not respect, a free media, an independent judiciary, all these very basic fundamental prerequisites for democracy. And finally, you know, what miles mentioned to, you know, what I'm concerned when I see, I've dealt with a lot of elections over the years and election officials. And what I found is every one of these election officials, whether Republican or Democrat, county level state level, they want to run a clean, fair election, they don't want problems. There, they The last thing they want to do is become the center of a controversy, whether it's because of fraud or some kind of mischief. They don't want problems of any sort. They want to make sure the people can vote they can get through, they get done, and they count them fairly and accurately. You know, everybody's in agreement on the outcome. Nowadays, I worry when I see stories about nonpartisan, I'll say republican election officials, whether it be the Secretary of State in Georgia, or I read about some other folks in states county official, I think, one in Texas, who she was republican being forced out, because, you know, she believes in running a free and fair election, and the people trying to replace them, you know, have a real agenda. That is they have an outcome, a predetermined outcome that they have in their minds, and that's a terrible thing. For a democracy. If you have people going into those types of positions, who have a predetermined outcome, are they going to use those positions to get the outcome they desire, rather than this is one job where you know, the outcome is not determined by you, the administrator, it's determined by the people by the voters and so I guess that's how I conclude this and that's probably the scariest thing I've seen out there. You know, in recent times,

Jenna Spinelle
Well, right so we are heading toward uncertain for sure, perhaps scary times. But I thank both of you for the work that you're doing to stand up for America's institutions and democratic values. And thank you for taking the time today to talk with us about it.