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Opinion

Democracy Works: Debating the future of debates

John Hudak
Brookings
/
John Hudak

We love a good debate — and have certainly had plenty of them on this show. But how effective are they in today's media and political landscape? We take up that question this week, prompted by the Republican National Committee's recent decision to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates.

John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, wrote a piece on the GOP's decision that caught our attention. He joins us to discuss the commission's history and where things might go between now and 2024.

Episode Transcript:
Michael Berkman
From the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University. I'm Michael Berkman.

Chris Beem
I'm Chris Beem.

Jenna Spinelle
I'm Jenna Spinelle and welcome to Democracy Works. This week, we are talking about presidential debates. And our guest is John Hudak the Deputy Director of the Center for effective public management at Brookings, and a Senior Fellow in governance studies at Brookings, he his research examines questions of presidential power in various contexts. And he wrote a piece for Brookings in mid April that caught our attention following the decision of the Republican National Committee to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential debate

Chris Beem
That caught our attention too.

Jenna Spinelle
Yeah, Ronna McDaniel, who is the chair of the RNC sent a letter to the Commission outlining several conditions that she and the committee felt had not been met, John and I will get into those those conditions and, you know, sort of the the degree to which they're extended in good faith in the interview. But this really, I think, speaks to some broader topics that we've been talking about on the show for a long time, norms, institutions, rituals, all of the kinds of traditions of democracy, so to speak.

Michael Berkman
Yeah, it's probably a good time to talk about the role that debates play, what role do these debates play? Chris?

Chris Beem 
So the one argument, and probably the biggest one is that this is the opportunity for people who are not, you know, political geeks, like the people who are listening to this, this podcast, get a chance to actually turn their attention to the election and size up the candidates. And so you seeing them in a high pressure situation, where they're having to deal directly with tough questions from moderators, and then respond to the arguments from their opponent. And so that's the biggest thing, right, that, that this is the big stage, it happens, every election coming starting with, you know, 87, and then periodically before that, and it is this important event, in the actually usually there's like two or three events in the, the political calendar, the season of the election. And, and that's what it's meant. The other issue, or the other objective is that this is because it happens every, every election, and because it is a fairly weighty and, you know, meant to be are set up to be a more deliberative event, where people, you know, please don't applaud, please, don't hoot you know, this is this is a more serious event, that it's a kind of civic ritual. And it plays a role in terms of reminding ourselves that the A, we're all in this together, and be that there are higher standards of behavior that we all try to aspire to.

Michael Berkman
We know, from good research, and not many people are persuaded that most of the people that watch the debate have already made up their minds.

Chris Beem
And they watch it for drama, and for, you know, hoping their candidate wins, as opposed to, you know, being open minded. Right.

Michael Berkman
I mean, they create a high tension kind of environment that sets up, you know, the distinct possibility of failing,

Chris Beem
You know, I mean, I think that you can acknowledge all that to be so I don't think you can therefore conclude that, you know, it doesn't have an impact, you know, we have a very divided nation. And, you know, the last two presidential elections could have turned on, you know, 1%, if that 1% have changed, that would have changed the outcome. And so I think it is reasonable to think that, you know, and debate at least can, and historically probably has moved people that much.

Michael Berkman
Yeah, but that's a different question. I mean, if if, if the issue is at these debates with their potential for somebody to make a mistake, or, you know, for some kind of highly dramatic moment of some kind or another can turn some small percentage of the population. Is that Is that a good idea? What wouldn't it be the case that maybe there are better ways, so I guess I'm trying to set up the idea that I'm not sure I know what we're losing. See, if we really don't have debates, given what the baits have looked like over the last few cycles,

Chris Beem
You know, it may just be that that is, you know, where we end up? I'm certainly I would not be willing to acquiesce to that reality already. And I also feel like if we were to, that means the people who, who, you know, that means the lowest common denominator wins, and I don't think that's a good, you know, that that bodes well for democracy.

Jenna Spinelle
One of the things that I asked John about in the interview was the sort of the question of, you know, how much of this is just about legacy institutions versus, you know, broader changes in the culture and to this idea of bringing new new ideas, new perspectives to to the commission, have things gotten stale? Might it need to be reimagined? I think some of that is on the table. The question, I think that is on Jon's mind as institutionalist is are those questions that McDaniel poses coming in? So let's go now to my interview with John Hudak.

Jenna Spinelle
Welcome to Democracy Works. Thanks for joining us today.

John Hudak
Thanks for having me.

Jenna Spinelle
So, lots to talk about with regard to presidential debates. And the GOP is recent decision to exit the Commission on Presidential Debates. But you know, before we get to all that, as I'm thinking about the the commission itself, it seems like one of those organizations that's, you know, been around since the days of Walter Cronkite, if not before, but it was founded in 1987. And so I wonder if you could just start off by talking a bit about its origin story. And was there a particular issue or problem that it was created to address?

John Hudak
Well, prior to the establishment of the commission, presidential debates were done in a fairly ad hoc way. You know, we think of famous ones, like Kennedy and Nixon, in 1960. But there was not a regular, committed institution to provide for the American public the opportunity to hear from their presidential candidates. And so in some years, there were no presidential debates in other years, there were some And so recognizing the value, in some cases, the value for the candidates to have that platform, but really the the value for democracy that having a regular, institutionalized process in which there is input from campaigns and the candidates themselves, as well as input from a board of directors, and the staff of the commission, to make sure that the American public have that type of exposure to the candidates who will ultimately one of whom will lead the country. And so, you know, this isn't a commission stacked with Democrats. It's not a commission that stacked with Republicans. It's one that's very balanced. And while I think most people would look at that, and say that it is bipartisan, the Commission really prides itself as being nonpartisan,

Jenna Spinelle
As I think about even how much the media landscape has changed over the past 35 years or so that the commission has been around. I mean, has it been sensitive to that? Or I guess, can you talk about how, if at all, the commission has has evolved over the course of its lifespan?

John Hudak
Well, you know, obviously, as you said, the media environment in this country has changed dramatically. It has polarized dramatically. And one of the needs of the commission is to be aware of that, and to be sensitive to that. And so, in some ways, there has been a need for the commission to understand the times I understand that, you know, you're drawing debate moderators, almost always from media organizations, and being sensitive to the balances in selecting from different media organizations, while at the same time staying away from media organizations that are more polarizing, or figures within media organizations who are less polarizing, but in some ways, the job and the task and the product of this commission has been fairly, you know, they're picking typically very well respected journalist. I think, given the polarized media environment we are in it makes sense that you'll have you know, a balance between having someone like Chris Wallace formerly a Fox News on with people from major networks or cable networks that are seen, like CNN that seemed a bit more left leaning, and but at the end of the day, being sensitive to either the editorial view of a certain network or, as importantly, people's perceptions of the editorial view of a certain network does not diminish the Commission's ability to find very high quality moderators. And I think, you know, Chris Wallace is a perfect example of this Chris Wallace, you know, a senior anchor for Fox News for decades, until he until he departed recently. He's someone who obviously works for a media organization that is run by a conservative, the editorial views of that organization are deeply conservative. The the sort of talking heads, particularly on the evening shows, typically espouse conservative values and support Republican candidates. But no one in Washington, no one in media questioned Chris Wallace's integrity, his willingness to be balanced. And his his forte forthrightness, and frankly, the the candidates of both parties leadership of both parties could look at Chris Wallace and say, You know what, I'm getting a fair shake, I might not have gotten that I wouldn't have gotten that fair shake If Sean Hannity were moderating this debate. But being able to identify those people is so critical, and they've done it exceptionally well over the years.

Jenna Spinelle
And so your piece for Brookings, which we'll link to in in our show notes sort of sets up a paradox or a conflict between how Donald Trump thinks thinks about debates and how the RNC has been thinking about them recently. Can you walk us through that?

John Hudak
Sure, you know, the Republican National Committee for several years, has been voicing concern about biases in the commission. And it should be noted that there are certain aspects of a debate that the campaigns come to a negotiated agreement with the Commission about certain things like are you standing, are you sitting, things like that, this sort of call them window dressing kind of cosmetic kinds of things. But the selection of the moderators, the moderators, selecting their own questions without input from the Commission, or input from the campaigns is really considered sacrosanct. And it's done in a in again, in a nonpartisan way that does seek to balance out the types of networks they're drawn from. The Republican Party has been lamenting that there is bias in this process. And one of the concerns in 2020 was raised because one of the moderators who ultimately did a very balanced Job had, like 40 years before worked for Joe Biden. And so you know, I think there is a way of looking at that and saying, Well, maybe given that there was a past relationship, there you go with someone else, you find another, you find another moderator. But, you know, viewing the debate, there was no favor for Vice President Biden, in that debate, or any observation of the moderator working against President Trump. And so ultimately, I think it was a lot of roaring without a lot of substantive evidence of bias or the need for reform. I will say one of the one of the points that is made was made by Ronna McDaniel, the head of the Republican Party in her list of concerns, which I think is probably a valid one is that she wanted or she, you know, not personally, of course, but as as the the face of the party wanting to have the debates prior to the beginning of early. And I think there's something to be said there. I think there's also something to be said about a lot of Americans making up their minds, you know, in the couple of weeks before the election. And so if all of the debates are in July, and you don't have any debates in October or September, you're probably robbing the candidates themselves, and certainly the voters have something and certainly not a reason to withdraw from debates. But, you know, I think that is to say that it's not that everything the RNC was complaining about was imagined or made up, but certainly something that could probably be negotiated in a serious way.

Jenna Spinelle
The other thing that struck me about the the list of demands or the list of reforms outlined in Ronna McDaniel's letter was the term limits or lack thereof, of commission members. I think she said that, you know, some have been on for 10 years if if not longer, and I I wonder what you what you make of that I've been thinking about this is this in some way, a conflict about like it establishment media politicians versus, you know, newer movements that are are sprouting up and maybe some of those dynamics at play.

John Hudak
Yeah, I think there's certainly something to be said about being able to bring new voices and new faces into an institution. I personally am someone who does not like term limits. I don't like them for institutions like that. I don't like them for legislatures, I don't like them for presidents, I think the idea of institutional knowledge is critical. You know, if you, if you throw everyone out of an institution, in a very short period of time, something is definitely lost there. And, you know, if you, you have a lot of people, you know, there's some people who think that term limits for Congress would be a great idea. And I don't agree with any of those views whatsoever. But what I always tell people is like, what if you work for a business? like Amazon, let's say, in every, the CEO, the president, every senior vice president, every vice president, was gone every four years? How well do you think Amazon would run? How well would you how comfortable and secure would you be as an employee of that company that is going to be led? Well, that and so when people think about it in those terms, I think they start to see the problems that term limits can create. And those problems would certainly be present, if you put in strict term limits for commissioners, on for the Presidential Debate Commission. That said, I think one negotiation, one way to get around that is to say, you know, maybe we don't have term limits, but every four years, you have to commit to adding three more people to the end. So you have the opportunity to maintain that institutional knowledge while still getting those fresh ideas in there. And there's nothing that, you know, it's not like the it's not like the US Congress, where it's going to take an act of Congress to expand the size of the house, or, you know, it would take a constitutional amendment or the addition of states to add to the Senate. This is something that could be done fairly easily internally. And again, not a reason to necessarily withdraw from the debates, but to open a conversation about what that institution does and how it might be able to change, it does make me question whether the concerns raised by the Republican Party were raised in good faith, or if it was just an effort to blow up another institution. And and because, you know, like I said, some of the some of the concerns that were raised did seem a bit frivolous, some of them weren't. And so I think a genuine conversation could have been had, but ultimately, it wasn't had. And I can't imagine that the commission itself was the root of why those productive outcomes were not had,

Jenna Spinelle
What other institutions come to mind or you know, what other what other things are you thinking about when you say that this is another example of Republicans going after a democratic institution?

John Hudak
So a small d democratic institution? Of course, you know, I think if we, if we look at just some of the norms that have really broken down in Congress on things like oversight, in particular, a real unwillingness to cooperate with congressional inquiries into the executive branch, and certainly, the Obama administration did a lot of slow walking when it came to institutional oversight from Congress. The Trump administration, I think was historic in terms of that type of stonewalling, you really start to understand that there is an anti democratic, small d democratic fervor that exists, that leaves in its wake some some really problematic outcomes and ones that might seemingly help were Republicans one day, but then can really harm them another day. And so this issue of institutional oversight of congressional oversight, you know, in the lack of cooperation, chances are Republicans are going to control the Congress next year, they are going to do a lot of investigations into the Biden administration. Some of them are going to be very political, some of them are going to be typical congressional inquiries. I would bet you that there's a lot of there would be a huge investigation into the withdrawal from Afghanistan, you're gonna see investigations into how well COVID relief funds were spent. oversight of the infrastructure law, things like that. Those are things Congress should be doing. But if you've set the norm during the Trump administration, that the executive branch doesn't need to cooperate with Congress, that comes back to bite you when you're in the minority majority again, and I think It's really going to come back to bite Republicans next year when they take over the Congress when they have the subpoena power. And so I think there's such a short sightedness about blowing up norms and institutions in this government without a full appreciation of what it's going to mean. It's sort of like, you know, a three year old giving away as allowance, all of his allowance because he wants a candy bar or a toy, not realizing that tomorrow, all that allowance money is going to be gone.

Jenna Spinelle
And this this point about short sightedness calls to mind question about the the timing of all of this. I mean, so we are, you know, two more than two years out from the time that a debate would actually be held, you know, knowing again, that you were not part of the decision making that that led to this or you know, conversation surrounding it. What do you make of the decision to announce all of this now, as opposed to closer to when a debate might actually be held?

John Hudak
So a few different ways, right? So one of them one one take could be that if the Republican Party did this, in the summer of 2024, they might actually have a little more leverage to force the hand of the commission to say, Hey, if you want to Bates, you've got to work with us. Because tick tock, you've got to start scheduling things, you have to start select it, you have to have probably already selected sites, these universities are going to have the expectation that there'll be hosting this, et cetera, et cetera. And so in that sense, perhaps it was a miscue, to do it so early, without allowing time to be the leverage point. At the same time, I think there might be some value to doing it this far in advance. from a broader perspective, maybe not, maybe it doesn't give the Republican Party better negotiating power, it does essentially set the tone well in advance. So voters know, you know, you could look at it now and say, we're probably not going to have presidential debates in 2024. So if I need to inform myself more about the candidates, when they when they're selected, I know in advance, something is going to be taken from me to debates. And maybe I will fill in that blank with more research or watching more television interviews or whatever it's going to be. So I think the lack of surprise, I think, does within it have some maintenance of pro democratic process, because it does give Americans time to plan, knowing that they're not going to have that in two and a half years or two years.

Jenna Spinelle
Thinking about this within the broader context of of democracy, there's maybe a cynical view that, you know, America is so polarized, we're so entrenched in our two party camps, that you know, what value is there, really, and having this debate how many people are really going to change their mind? How many people are, you know, swing voters, everybody's already sort of made up their mind? What what do you say to that?

John Hudak
There, the vast majority of Americans do not make up their mind about who to vote for for President based on a presidential debate. That said, I think, I think some people's minds are changed, I think, you know, it's hard for me, is someone who I think most people would accuse as being a political elite, to look at a choice like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, or Donald Trump, and Joe Biden, or Joe Biden, and, you know, name any of the Republic, Ted Cruz, and not immediately know, who you like, like, who's closer to you politically? I mean, they're, they're just such, obviously different choices. That, for me, it's hard to imagine, but for some people, that's the case. But like, you know, I, I, maybe I don't love Donald Trump, maybe I also don't love Joe Biden, but I know one of these guys is going to have to leave the country. So let me hear what they have to say. And then I'll make up my mind and when you, you know, you look at the presidential election in 2016. Where if you, you know, if you change is it, like 48,000 votes in three states, Hillary Clinton wins the Electoral College in 2020. If you change like 70 something 1070 6000 votes across three states. Donald Trump wins the Electoral College in 2020. So, you know, presidential elections are decided very much at the margins. And could I believe that a presidential debate changes the minds of 77,000 voters out of you know, 150 million cast 260 million cast Absolutely I do. And so the debates aren't there for you or me, who probably have very entrenched firm political views and views of candidates. It's there for those marginal voters who, you know, think about politics 24 hours a day who don't get committed to a candidate early on, and who legitimately wants to hear what those views are. And most importantly, I think, see what that person is like, in a situation like that. And not, as I wrote in my piece, in this protected bubble, that presidential candidates and presidents operate in at all times during a presidential campaign, except those three nights, they're on the debate stage with their opponent. Right.

Jenna Spinelle
So one other thing I wanted to ask you about is the kind of potential for trickle down effect of this to the States. You know, I'm here in Pennsylvania. And we've already seen in our, in our primary debates here, candidates who are not willing to participate because of who the moderator is, or other other conditions like these. And I wonder if if you if you think that there might be if, if states might see this national level Republican Party decision is something that would would empower them to try to do something similar?

John Hudak
I think there's some potential for that. But what I will say is that this happens much more frequently at the state and local level, where candidates just choose not to participate. And there are a variety of reasons why that's the case. In your state John Fetterman opting not to participate in that debate. I think part of the reason I don't know Oh, also is full disclosure. I have donated a very small amount of money to the Fetterman campaign. But I will say I was very disappointed in seeing him refusing to participate in a Senate debate. You know, if if I was that far ahead in the polls, and I didn't think seriously about the democratic value of debates. You know, maybe I would say, Yeah, you know, what, screw it. I'm not showing up. Because what's the worst? What's going to happen? Like, I've only I've only got to go down? I don't think the debate is going to help me, I get this sort of raw political view that some Senate candidates, some gubernatorial candidate at some House candidates take in choosing to skip debates. I disagree with those views. I think you robbed voters of what they're entitled to when you do. And, but this has already been happening. I think the surprise of it happening at the presidential level is because most people consider presidential debates sacrosanct. And just part of the institution

Jenna Spinelle
I was thinking about there were there was a gubernatorial debate, where about half of the Republican candidates had said that they did not want to participate. Because they they rejected the moderator and other other criteria. Yeah,

John Hudak
You know, in a primary race, especially like, there is, you know, a bunch of people running you, you know, to try to get seven or eight candidates to agree on all of the terms, it's just never gonna happen, right. So like, grit your teeth, shut up, about the debate and go show up. Because you know, what you might have that moment where you catch fire, where you corner, the guy who or woman who's in the lead, and you just make them look foolish or unprepared, or ill prepared to hold the office. And like that, you get that opportunity to do that. And so this this, this sort of parlor game of, of complaining about all of these details, it strikes me that if you have a debate where we're like, everyone, but one candidate thinks the moderator choice is a bad one, you probably have a bad moderator choice. But if half the people think it's okay, and half the people don't, I think it's half the people are the problem. And their decision not to show up probably has very little to do with who the moderator is.

Jenna Spinelle
So John, it's, you know, that we still have, as we've said, you have two and a half years before the the next presidential debate happens. You know, neither you nor I know how things are going to ultimately end up but what are some of the things you're going to be watching for between now and then,

John Hudak
It will be interesting to see if the Commission on Presidential Debates does make a very public effort to revisit the idea with the RNC. I think that is probably a win win situation for both the party and for the commission. If they, you know, use a little bit of a cooldown period now, and probably you don't do that. Just before the mid, right, but maybe come spring of 2023 go reach out to what will probably be a Republican Speaker of the House, based on the news the past couple of days. I don't know if that's going to be Kevin McCarthy anymore. But a Republican Speaker of the House, who at that point, I would say would probably be the CO leader of the Republican Party along with President Trump. And and say, you know, we can do this quietly, if you would like, we can do it very publicly, if you would like, but let's have another conversation about this. I very much be looking for that. We haven't, you know, the President Trump has, I guess, reacted a little bit to the news of the withdrawal, but, but not in a truly Trumpian way. And so, you know, if he comes out and says, This is a horrible idea, we need to have the Republican nominee needs to be in that debate. The RNC changes its mind the next day. It's just, it's just gonna happen. So really looking at what how he reacts, and especially as the as the campaign heats up?

Jenna Spinelle
Well, we will leave it there. John Hudak. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Michael Berkman
Thanks for having Chris, I'm really struck by thoughts about what how this might affect what goes on in the States. We've had the opportunity over the past couple of weeks and even months to see a range of primary campaigns, not general election campaigns in the states, including here in Pennsylvania, where we have a highly contested Senate race on both the Republican and Democratic side. And there has definitely been a difference in strategy as to how the Republicans are approaching these debates and how Democrats are approaching these debates. And I wonder if given their different approaches to the whole idea of debates? It really does speak to why they feel like they can't participate in these Commission's anymore. It's just not consistent with what how they want to go about this.

Chris Beem
Well, you're right. I mean, in in, in Pennsylvania, the Republican candidate, candidates for the Senate have rejected a number of moderators that were put forward as, you know, honest, fair brokers.

Michael Berkman
In fact, in fact, and if they say that any moderator has to be a Republican,

Chris Beem
And and basically, you know, reflect common views about, you know, the the 2020 election, so this is an insularity event. But it also means that, you know, they're not looking for anyone to ask questions, hard questions about these positions. They're looking for people, you know, to affirm the kind of prevailing Republican sense of, of resentment and of unfairness.

Michael Berkman
Right? I mean, these Republican Senate debates and Pennsylvania, these guys have been outdoing themselves as to who right could be most compellingly make the case that Biden did not win Pennsylvania in 2020.

Chris Beem
Yeah, I think there might be one or maybe two. Yeah, a little bit, but most of them are six or seven. Right? There's no, there's six, I think, yeah.

Michael Berkman
Bottom and yes, it is. Yeah. So what is the point of debates, given the position of the party going into these elections? That it's all based upon a fundamental

Chris Beem
untruth? Right.

Michael Berkman
Of course, it is subject to questions.

Chris Beem
Even if, you know, even if everything you say is true. There are Republicans who are seeing these people for the first time, and maybe the only time, right. And so if they care about who they want to paint your standard bearer, right. I mean, whether or not you call it a bait or not, it's going to, if you're going to have them all in the same room, there's going to be a debate dimension to it. But it's also the case that, you know, the primaries one thing, the general is another, and if you are going to represent your party, you're going to compete against somebody from the other party. And so that is a different kind of competition with with different values, constituencies, objectives, and it's fair to have those things put to put in conflict with each other.

Michael Berkman
If a debate is going to be about fundamental facts and whether they're true, what's the point? So I mean, why why would Democrats want to get into debates with Republicans about for example, whether or not Trump really won the 2020 election. What is the point?

Chris Beem
If that is the argument that you No constitutes the core of some future debate between the two Senate nominees in Pennsylvania or Delaware, or Connecticut or whatever, then that would be, in my mind, a failure of the Democratic nominee. Because I mean, the, at least what I would do is say, this is this is not a legitimate thing for us to be debating. And if that's the case, then then people who out there are watching, you need to see that this is how this candidate is reflecting on falsehoods.

Michael Berkman
I think it's actually the Democrats should have backed out of the commission when the commission refused to enforce its own rules. And the debate with Biden, where we later learned that Trump had COVID COVID, and where none of his family were wearing masks in violation of the rules of the commission, and the Commission did not enforce its own rules. I guess. My sense is that it's outlived its usefulness, not necessarily that having candidates face off, certainly not having candidates face to press, although maybe not this press or not so elevated in these debates, but rather that maybe they just don't work anymore, politics have become too pugilistic. One side is doesn't seem to agree with the basic, you know, some of the basic foundations of how we've conducted campaigns and and presidential elections in the past, maybe it's just time to move on. Now, I have no particular idea for what this means. But maybe it would be better to set up some kind of institution that provides for that, rather than putting so many eggs in the basket of these high profile events at the end of the race, that we've seen over the last couple of cycles are just sort of a mess, not only in terms of some of the candidate behavior, but the questions that the press asks are just downright irresponsible. Well, they're providing actual information.

Chris Beem
I would also say that McDaniel's letter at least opens up the possibility of what you're talking about. Right? I mean, some of these criticisms are, are at least arguable, right, that the people are? You know, I stay on too long, and that we should have a debate before male voting starts. I mean, those are at least worth talking about. But a I don't think those arguments are made in good faith. And I don't think that the commission would be completely just shut down those those arguments and be unwilling to discuss that. I could be wrong about that. But I doubt it. But the but my my final argument is, we are simply not in a climate where there is any possibility for a good faith discussion of what we should do about debates right now. And how will you change them to make them more more effective and informing the public,

Michael Berkman
But so maybe having both candidates on the same stage is just not the best way to do things these days? Another consequence of extreme polarization?

Chris Beem
Yeah, it could, it could very well be. And it is, it is an interesting and important kind of data point in in, in thinking about where we are as a nation, it's clear that John has, you know, put his finger on something that that is that is relevant and and an important point to consider in kind of assessing where we are as a nation right now. So thanks to, to him for the for the article and for coming on. Thanks agenda for the interview. I'm Chris Beem.

Michael Berkman
I'm Michael Berkman.

Chris Beem
Thanks for listening.