Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir

Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir

Battleground brings you inside the fight for political power. Hosts Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir aren't your typical pundits – in fact, they're not pundits at all. They're doing the work day-in and day-out, and have the inside scoop on what's really happening behind the tweets and headlines. (Imagine listening to the mic'd-up quarterback in the final down of the fourth quarter, but instead of talking football, it's about saving democracy.) Every week, Amanda and Faiz have a wide ranging, unguarded, and occasionally profanity-laden conversation with reporters, activists, organizers, political scientists, campaign operatives – and even some conservatives – in order to shine a light on the problems we face and figure out how we can fix them. Both bring deep knowledge and experience building grassroots movements for change. Amanda is the co-founder and executive director Run for Something, which recruits and supports young progressives running for local state and local offices, and host of the Run for Something podcast on Dear Media. Faiz was the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign, and he's the founder of the progressive media non-profit More Perfect Union. Listen to new episodes each Thursday on your favorite podcast app.

Episodes

July 29, 2021 48 min

It’s no surprise that the Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority: progressive legal elites have been telling Democrats for decades that the judicial branch must remain apolitical, while for decades, Republicans have been successfully reshaping the courts. Brian Fallon, the co-founder and executive director of Demand Justice (and a recovering establishment Democrat), explains the history behind the Republicans’ decades-long j...

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ExxonMobil, and other major polluters like it, would love for you to feel like your personal choices are what will make or break this climate crisis, but the truth is, global warming can only be slowed through massive, systemic changes to the energy, transportation, and building sectors. Legislators must pass new laws curbing emissions, and the reconciliation bill winding its way through Congress is the best, and possibly last, cha...

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Campaigns spent $8.5 BILLION on political advertising in the 2020 election cycle. That may seem astonishing, excessive, or even absurd, but if you want to know how campaigns win (and lose), you need to understand ad dollars. Danielle Butterfield is the executive director of Priorities USA – the largest Democratic super PAC. Before Priorities she ran digital advertising campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2016 and 2012...

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Americans are being treated to a new and improved version of last decade’s infamous Tea Party movement. It’s another astroturfed moral panic, sponsored by conservative think tanks, brought to you by Fox News, and designed to win votes for Republicans: the war on “critical race theory.” Faiz and Amanda talk to Tyler Kingkade, a national reporter for NBC News who has written extensively on the subject, about how a term from the world...

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Every morning on The Recount Daily Pod, host journalist Reena Ninan will break down the most important news of the day, both domestically and abroad. In 5 minutes or less, you’ll walk away feeling smarter and more in sync with the world. Then, tune in for an interview with journalists who are on the forefront of the stories that affect us all. 

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Amanda and Faiz are joined by Michelle Goldberg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. The three of them rate the Biden administration's performance, discuss the Democrat's branding problem, and get into a debate over how Biden should deal with Senators Manchin and Sinema's intransigence on filibuster reform. They also consider whether the Democrats should strategically pick a fight in order t...

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What are the costs and benefits of living in a society where people can be cancelled for their speech? Are "cancelled" people, like Gina Carano, irredeemable? Amanda and Faiz use “cancel culture” as a jumping off point for what ends up being a wide-ranging, deeply analytical conversation with Washington Post columnist Alyssa Rosenberg. They cover the performative nature of online discourse; the primacy of persuasion; whethe...

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Elie Mystal, the justice correspondent for the Nation magazine and a frequent contributor on MSNBC, joins Amanda and Faiz. They discuss the quest to bring justice to Donald Trump and what Merrick Garland's Department of Justice should be – but isn't – doing in order to achieve that goal. Elie wraps up by explaining why legislation won't solve any problems until Democrats pack the court.

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Political scientist David Faris joins Amanda and Faiz to discuss how Republicans are using extreme gerrymandering, combined with their structural advantages in the Senate and electoral college, to subvert democracy. In states like Wisconsin and North Carolina, they're created a circular structure of authority, where legislatures elected by a minority of voters can strip Democratic governors of any real power, and courts stacked...

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June 3, 2021 41 min

Amanda and Faiz speak with Astead Herndon, a national politics reporter for the New York Times, political analyst for CNN, and guest host of "The Daily."

The trio talk about two voting rights bills – the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act – and discuss why some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed hesitation at some of the more transformational elements of the For the People Act. Then...

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What is the role of political journalism? Years from now, what will people take away from this period in the Democratic party's evolution? What role did former President Obama play in the 2020 primary election?

For the answers to these questions, and many more, Amanda and Faiz turn to to Edward-Isaac Dovere, lead political correspondent for "The Atlantic" and author of the new book, "Battle for the Soul: Inside the D...

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Elise Stefanik, a moderate Republican who zealously supports former President Trump and his lies about the election, has replaced hardcore conservative Liz Cheney as the G.O.P. Conference Chair.

Amanda and Faiz talk to Charlotte Alter, a senior correspondent for TIME and author of "The Ones We've Been Waiting For." Charlotte profiled Stefanik in her book, and since then she has reported on the Congresswoman's transfo...

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According to The Center for Responsive Politics, the 2020 elections cost a combined $14.4 billion. That money has to come from somewhere, and while the last cycle saw an unprecedented number of small donors, a lot of those dollars came from billionaires.


Amanda and Faiz talk with Teddy Schleifer, a senior reporter covering money and influence (or billionaires) for Recode. They discuss how tech billionaires with relatively little pol...

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Virginia is for lovers – and, for a long time, it was also for Confederate nostalgia and Republican politics. Richmond, Virginia's capitol, was one of the capitals of the Confederacy. Virginia still has over 150 public locations, like streets and parks, that bear Confederate names – for example, Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, which is named after Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson. So, given the state's Confederat...

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Frank Luntz is one of the most famous pollsters in politics. Called "the Nostradamus of pollsters," by Sir David Frost, Luntz is perhaps best known for two things: the focus groups he conducts on TV and his work shaping political language on behalf of Republican politicians. For example, he somewhat notoriously counseled them to say "climate change" instead of "global warming" and "electronic intercepts&...

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Ninety percent of the news out there tells you nothing about where the world is going — ten percent of it tells you everything. On the News Items Podcast with John Ellis, John and Rebecca Darst dissect news items that?help you understand where the world is going. Tune in every Monday through Thursday afternoon to hear decades of journalistic experience packed into 20 minutes of insight, plus guest interviews on finance, U.S. politi...

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As a group, political consultants have terrible reputations. They're supposedly grifters, scammers, and embezzlers who line their pockets with donors' money while running uninspired, cookie cutter campaigns. And yet, even though everyone in Democratic politics seems to hate them, they almost always end up running campaigns. Amanda and Faiz talk with Tim Lim to find out why.

Tim Lim is a Democratic strategist, an entrepreneur...

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Georgia recently passed one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country, and many Republican-led state legislatures hope to pass similar bills. Amanda and Faiz speak with Ari Berman, a senior reporter for Mother Jones and the author of "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America," to ask him, "how f*cked are we?"

They discuss new Georgia law, its implications for our democracy, and th...

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As workers in Alabama wait for their votes to be counted in the most consequential union election in recent years, Amanda and Faiz connect with two key organizers to answer the question, "How do you beat the most powerful company in the world?"

Jennifer Bates has worked at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, AL since early 2020 and has been a lead organizer in the union drive since September of the same year. She was born and r...

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David presides over his final episode as host of "Battleground" and hands over the reigns to our new hosts: Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir.

Amanda is the co-founder of and executive director of Run For Something, which recruits and supports young progressives who want to run for local office. In the past four years, they've helped approximately 500 of them win elections. She's also a seasoned Democratic campaign opera...

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