1.18 The Pragmatic Progressive 

INTRO: Welcome to the BiCurean podcast. Where we explore and embrace the seeming contradictions of life. What actually is BiCurean you ask? What's happening right now in terms of the divisions between us is a focus on that which is different. And lack of understanding and empathy for people's beliefs  is no longer an excuse. And it is in the differences we carry in ourelves  that we find the BiCurean moment. When you really dig into something you are going to see some depth to it. It's not just a race thing, it's just a conservation thing. It's letting go of the 'or' to make room for the 'and'. We embrace all of you. Welcome to the BiCurean.  

ERIK: Welcome to BiCurean.

AICILA: I'm Aicila.

ERIK: And I am Erik. And this week we have a very special guest. We recorded  ...  a conversation with Representative Jared Polis.  ...  Somebody you had worked with previously  ...  in your past life.

AICILA: Past life? It makes it sound like a reincarnation. Back before I was born...

ERIK: Or when you were doing something different than what you've been doing now.

AICILA: Yes that is true. I was the Executive Director for Out Boulder, Boulder's L. G. B. T. Q. you community center, for six years. And when I was working there  ...  I had the opportunity to work with Jared on a variety of things. And just actually get to experience him in the community which was really interesting.

ERIK: Yeah that's what I find most interesting.  ...  You know he's become a congressman representing Colorado. And is now running for governor of Colorado but you know him before all of that.

AICILA: Yeah well and yeah about a year before is when I started working Out Boulder. And it's it's funny. I know that when we first met and I would tell you that I was doing things I canvassing for Jared. And you were like why would you do that?

ERIK: No I I honestly I I wasn't super familiar.

AICILA: And not that you were against Jared but just sort of that like  that's a lot of talking to strangers.

ERIK: Yeah I know I'm not I'm not much of a  ... .

AICILA: Not I mean you do I guess you do a podcast, you do talk to strangers.

ERIK: Yeah but I do from behind a microphone it's so much easier.

AICILA: Talking in a microphone is harder than talking to people directly in my world. The microphone thing has been a process.

ERIK: That's interesting. So without further ado we're gonna play our conversation.

AICILA: Sound good.

ERIK: We're really excited to have you on the show.  ...  Perhaps you can introduce yourself and  ...  you give us a little bit of the elevator pitch on why you're running for governor?

JARED: Sure. So I'm Jared Polis.  ...  Honored to represent northern Colorado in Congress for a decade. And before that was on the state board of education and started several schools that serve at risk youth. And you know what I just think Colorado's an amazing state. I I was born here. We're raising our six year old and our four year old here. And  ...  a lot's at stake this election. Where  ...  Colorado  ...  you can either you know choose  ...  my approach, which is an independent thoughtful approach to leadership. Or they could elect a Donald Trump yes man.  ...  And it's really a crossroads for a state that in many ways is a microcosm for many of the national  ...  divides.

ERIK: Yeah absolutely.

AICILA: Well and you know obviously I had the privilege and honor of working with you in Boulder several years ago. And that experience with you is actually really why I wanted to have you on the show.  ...  For us the BiCurean  concept is this concept of embracing the contradictions of being human. And you've always been such a great representative of being a bridge builder both in community and within yourself. And one of the things that I have seen a lot is in politics, or even just in general, there's this assumption that progressive values are sort of these unattainable ideals and that being practical means not living up to your values. And yet you manage to, at least in my experience, have really progressive values while also implementing them in these really practical ways. And I'd love to hear a little bit about how you achieve that. Maybe so other people can learn how to achieve that.

JARED: Yeah I think that's an important question Aicila  because I think you know our listeners here,  ...  if they vote will not likely be voting for my opponent, but the question is, "Will they vote?" right? Will you care enough  ...   will- does Jared Polis excite  you? And and and the issue may be look he may not be perfect on every progressive issue. And I think the point to make Aicila,  is it's not necessarily because of my beliefs or what I want to do but when you're an elected official and you operate within the realm of the possible of the elected. Yes you're trying to move towards the right direction. And that often means compromise. It often means watering down things that  ...  you know but at least taking a step forward. And so you know,  you have to have a realistic bar for elected officials. We certainly  ...  judge them based on their values and on their results. But part of getting results is being willing to work across the aisle across differences  to try to move in the right direction. And there's just such a stark contrast this election and enormous differences between candidates up and down the ballot on every issue you know ranging from the equality to gun safety to protect our environment. And you know for individual voters and listeners you know I get that some Democrats might not be pure enough on every issue. But the light and day difference  ...  between  ...  the progressive vision the candidates that espouse it and this Trumpian vision of moving backwards  ...  is really starker than it's ever been before. And I hope that everybody votes.

AICILA: Yeah well and one of the things that I know I've always really respected about you is you're actually willing to say when when there's something that is clearly too far. I don't know if too far is the wrong word. Like it's an ideal. And sure we want to achieve that. And you are willing to say that's not gonna happen tomorrow. Like we can have a twenty year plan. We can have a thirty year plan. And if you're gonna ask me to do this thing tomorrow, I'm gonna disappoint you right now and say it's a it's not happening. And I I feel like that that's something we need more of. And yet at the same time I know that you've gotten flak for it. And and at the same time I really respect that cause we need that kind of clarity and honesty so we can actually work on the things that are achievable, now.

JARED: That's right and and really you know protect what keeps Colorado special and amazing, work on building a renewable energy future,  ...  work on improving funding for our schools. And and one of our big areas of focus is making sure every child can go to free full day  preschool and kindergarten.  ...  So these are the things we want to accomplish. Now you know in our first term, in our first session,  ...  you know as an example we hope I think we have a good likelihood of getting from half day kindergarten to full day kindergarten. We probably won't get universal preschool right away but we can increase the number of slots on and try to get more support for at least half day pre school over the first couple years. But yeah we want to be able to point to  real solid accomplishments. And  ...  it doesn't mean that you're going to get every thing that you run- run on and want to do in your first week in office. But you know I'll never give up fighting for a better and more inclusive future for our state.

ERIK: Yeah  ...  is one of the things that it definitely is drawn me to  ...  following your political career and  ...  when I met Aicila and she had mentioned her history with you. And I was very intrigued so  ...  you know again it's of it was a pleasure to meet you and actually hear the stuff from you. So one of the things that I was actually making-

JARED:  I still haven't made it over to board game night at Aicila's  as house. So you'll have to take a rain check on that Aicila  for just a  little while.

AICILA: At some point you know probably when you're like 60.

ERIK: When you're less busy, you are absolutely welcome.  ...  I did I did you know we could pick any subject. You can turn on CNN and we could just like throw a dart at a board here for different things. But I was kind of curious because this seems to be the the news of the week. And and has been for a little while with the tariff  situation.  ...  I'm hearing a lot of news about how that's gonna affect agriculture and we are an agricultural state here in Colorado.  ...  Maybe you can give a little bit of  ...  your opinion on this that sort of situation how that's affecting like real families, real farmers across the country and here.

JARED: Yeah it has a real impact on families  ...  farms, who are barely able to get by and support themselves as it is.  ...  It's very important that we have the governor the works to expand access to markets both domestically, locally, and internationally for grown in Colorado products. So  ...  I also think  ...  but well you know again these tariffs are damaging, there's a real political opening for Democrats, myself and others,  ...  to really get the message  ...  in agricultural communities where they may not agree agree with Democrats on everything. But in eastern Colorado  ...  it's a really important economic message that I'll stand to expand markets for grown in Colorado products, which will help you know in turn put food on the table of our farmers.

ERIK: Yeah like I said it's a kind of a hot button issue but it's one of those things  ...  I personally I work in the tech industry.  ...  The tariffs don't necessarily affect us although immigration policies and visas do because we  ...  our office is in Tel Aviv as well as here in Colorado.

JARED: Well you know you know and before we think they don't affect tech  ...  careful because it's coming for tech. When you look at China. You look at iPhones. You look at computer parts.  ...  There's absolutely an effect  across the economy as this potential trade war worsens.  So well some of the first casualties and and people who are harmed are  farmers, users of steel.    ...  There's no question that if we continue in this direction it'll affect industries like tech.  ...  With simple things like the cost of ah chips iPhone computer supplies going up. Which hurts the entire ecosystem.

ERIK: Yeah you're absolutely right and and in some ways I think my brain's been focused on the kind of the immediate impacts, hearing farmers that have crops they feel like they can't sell right now. But you're absolutely right it is going to be kind of wider and and and I think we're all kind of you know the the the the public right now is kind of taking it in. How bad and and how you significant it could be.  ...   ...  

JARED: I had a-

AICILA: Go ahead. %PAUSE

JARED: What's that?

AICILA: Did I- did I cut you off?


AICILA: Okay.  ...  Another sort of. and you mentioned the sort the Trumpian   ...  perspective and in a larger sense I feel like another sort of BiCurean   experience I've had is as I've been watching this political stage unfold is there is a lot of folks and our you know current  ...  president  as well that seem to get elected and represent their party. And and they've sort of seem to forget that they're actually representing a larger constituency. And I I feel like my experience of you has always been you know what you're talking about you're on the school board, you founded at schools. You've always had that larger perspective. And I'm just wondering like how did you in the face of a of a culture that kind of is that more like stick with your own. How did you develop sort of that awareness of you know-? I know if you were governor, you wouldn't be just the governor for the Democrats. You would be the governor for the people who didn't vote and the Republicans and the Independents and the Libertarians. And and and you would listen to what people had  to say? So how did you develop that?

JARED: Well you know it starts  by just sort of realizing, we're all affected by the policies. I mean when you're when you're stuck in traffic in your fifteen minute commute that you know ten years years ago is now a thirty five minute commute, it doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or Independent or Democrat you want a governor that is gonna do something about it, right?  ...  The kids of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians all go to our schools, right? So  ...  it's it's more about what we have in common. I  ...  enjoyed working on the state board of education. It's still a political environment but it's a less partisan environment. I mean in many ways the political system is how we work out our differences and find common ground  ...  But when you add the partisan   level on top of it, it only  ...  gets people dug in. So certainly our- my focus will be you know  caring just as much about, you know  people across the ideological, geographic spectrum. And in fact if you look at who some of my opponent Walker Stapleton's policies would hurt the most in many ways it's many rural Republicans. If you look at ending  the Medicaid expansion as an example  ...  which Walker Stapleton  supports, that would throw hundreds of thousands of Coloradans off their health care. The highest percentage of those served by Medicaid are in many of our rural counties. And in those counties it's not only a matter of not having access to healthcare in many cases our rural providers themselves can't even  stay business or be viable without having that Medicaid expansion to help help keep them serving those communities.

ERIK: Yeah absolutely.  ...  Time for one more question?

JARED: Sure.

ERIK: So  ...  one thing that I was actually curious about and  ...  and and I think our listeners would love to hear about. You've been in Washington. You've been representing Colorado  ...  but on the national stage. In what ways do you see kind of a difference in how things are going to transition  ...  you know as you as you start looking at the governorship  as opposed to  ...  the representative.

JARED: Well I think first of all it's important if the governor that's not beholden to Donald Trump or any president  in Washington. I will always put Colorado first. And I always will.  ...  I'm ready to kind of roll up my sleeves and get to work on a forward looking agenda  right? I mean just sort of  ...  you know opposing  ...  Donald Trump's efforts to you know villainize  immigrants and other things isn't enough. You also need a forward looking vision like our goal to improve our schools, to make healthcare more affordable and expand coverage,  ...  to protect our environment,  ...  and protect our parks and open space. And we have a lot of those plans and with a good degree of detail at  PolisForColorado  dot com that your listeners can check out or interactive or  ...  provide any comments on.

AICILA: Thanks. Is there anything that you would want to share or let people know about your vision, what inspires you, what you see. I mean I know there's all the things that you have a you have so much out there they could certainly go find that. But anything in this moment that feels particularly relevant.

JARED: Well you know again that's a good one to end on and as I started you know I was born here. We're raising our kids here.  Colorado's amazing state but how do we make sure not only you know stays great but gets even better. And that means in the face of growth, doing something about traffic including multi modal transportation and mass transit; includes making sure our schools  and  are the best starting with preschool and kindergarten; protecting our parks our open space really our public lands that really are an iconic part of who we are as westerners and as Coloradans.  ...  That they're under threat from special interests  ...  that wanna  carve them up and sell them off.  So I mean in many ways it's just a fork in the road. And it's a choice of what direction Colorado wants to go.  ...  I would be honored to kind of continue this  forward looking, innovative spirit that characterizes our state. And really try to make our economy work for everybody to improve our quality of life.

AICILA: Sounds good to me.

ERIK: Yeah. Absolutely! Thank you so much for making time today and and before we let you go, I want to bring a highlight something you said earlier  ...  for our listeners and for anyone else. Now is not the time to not vote. As you mentioned our listeners are probably the type that probably will vote for you but it's key. Everybody needs to get out and actually vote, especially in the mid term election coming up.

AICILA: Yeah, don't assume somebody else is going to take it on for you, make it happen.  JARED: Thank you for having me on and have a great day.

AICILA: You too.

ERIK: Thank you.  

AICILA: Welcome to the BiCurean   moment.

ERIK: So  ...  this week in lieu of the fact that we had a political figure, and I admit that I don't have a lot of experience in dealing with political figures. Mostly I just give my opinion to other people who have far less influence than that.  ...  But it really made me think about politics just in general.  ...  We obviously cover a lot of political subject matter on this show. And it's hard not to because everything can be politicized. Okay so if we're gonna talk about  ...  bisexuality,  ...  being trapped at the border, I mean I'm just going through a list in my head. And like all of them have a political aspect but one of the things that really stuck out to me in this is that politicians are human.

AICILA: They're people, yeah.

ERIK: Yeah.

AICILA: Trying to do a job.

ERIK: Right trying to do a job. And it's I think it's easy to get an us versus them mentality especially when we're talking about politicians on the opposite side of the fence from our beliefs. But in general you know kind of the the premise of the show and being BiCurean  and understanding knee jerk reactions and kind of looking deeper into things. You know people are people, whether they're a politician or a construction worker or a call service agent. You know some of you know whatever whatever kind of job they do, politician is one of them. And I think we we live in a world where being a politician is difficult.

AICILA: And honestly I feel like stigmatized.

ERIK: It is. I mean you know we we look at lawyers with a certain disdain because basically unless you need one and one is defending you or something like that  ...  it's easy to think that they're out to get a lot of people, things like that. So you know but it it really is interesting to me to confront in myself the idea that in order to affect change  we can talk about a lot of things but in  ...  writing your congressman, writing your senator. You know writing  ...  or or participating in city council meetings. All of those different sorts of things that you can actually do because they are people. And they may not be reading everybody's Facebook page to see that thing that you posted about how  ...  frustrated and upset you are with certain aspects of something going on. And there are but there are ways to participate in it.

AICILA: Well and and I get it it's interesting you know there's that I used to have a bumper sticker that said 'Get involved the world is run by those who show up.'. And one of the things that when I was doing a lot more of that activism work that I discovered is that people often write in when they're upset. They don't often write in when they like something.

ERIK: Right. That's  just reviews in general. Go go on Amazon and look up any product. You'll see a lot of five star reviews and you might say it works great  ...  you know that's going to be on there all the time or whatever but if there's ever a problem with something you get a diatribe.    

AICILA: And and that and politicians right like they deal with that as well. They'll always hear- they'll often hear when people don't like what's happening. And what that does is it means that we're sort of giving people things to avoid rather than things to work for or towards. And in general they aren't actually engaging with the the representative whoever it is local, regional, national as like you're saying a person. Who who might want to engage in some kind of human exchange around what's going on.

ERIK: Yeah.

 AICILA: So I think that's a great it's a great point to realize that these people who can sometimes feel two dimensional or far away because--

ERIK: Or like there's just a whole different world. Like Congress even though they're representing  ...  the wants and needs of the people in Colorado  their constituents. But you know like they seem far away,

AICILA: Right.

ERIK: They're not really a part of it.

AICILA: And and yet they are they're here. And they're accepted by they're  affected by the same traffic and weather and school system policies that we are.

ERIK: Exactly and so to  ...  to echo something I said in in the show,  ...  get involved. Do things.

AICILA: Things. Something.

ERIK: And and Facebook and Twitter rants don't count.

AICILA:  Slacktivism.

ERIK: Yeah so that was my BiCurean   moment.

AICILA: That's awesome. Mine  ...  is personal in that my  younger younger child called a few weeks ago and said Hey mom what do you think about me joining the army? And I really on the one hand of course I'm gonna  support her in whatever activity. I guess not whatever activity but the majority of the things that I I imagine she would choose for her life. And in a an objective sense there's a lot about the army that I think's a great fit for her. And actually it's been a great experience. She did her due diligence. She talked to women she knew that had been had served in the army, in the armed forces.  ...  She took the tests that they offer and scored quite well. So they are going to put her in a cyber hacking position which is like she loves computer science, all that's really positive. And I've always had a a pretty conflicted feeling around you know the military industrial complex if you will and the ways in which I don't necessarily feel hundred  percent comfortable with how we as a country engage in aggression. And and so it's this moment of it and then you know  ...  her dad we were driving her to the airport you can visit for a little bit. She leaves for Basic in like five days or something and a few days after this 'cast will be put up. And  ...   her dad  was like a I'm a- I'm an army dad. And I'm like you are an army dad.

ERIK: I can imagine it's a pretty big transition.

AICILA: It's not something I ever saw in in- And it it's on the one hand, it's fine. I mean I want her to live her life.

ERIK: Did you have any family members that were in the military older brother or  ...  cousins or?

AICILA: My dad was in the navy in Vietnam. My grandfather was in  ...  also in the navy in World War II.  

ERIK: So it does sort of run in the family?

AICILA: It does. It skipped  this generation. I don't think anyone in my generation did the military thing. And  ...  and it was a great moment too, like I called my dad to tell him. And then I was talking him last week. And we're on the phone and you  know my dad's, as I've talked about before, he's a conservative Republican kind of cow boy-

ERIK: Yeah.

AICILA: Christian right, like different life than I have. And  ...  and we were chatting on the phone, and I said- He said, 'How are you doing with this yeah?'. And I said, 'Well I you know it's it's it's a transition. I don't know if you can relate to your kid doing something completely out of the blue that totally surprises you?'  At which point he started laughing really hard.

ERIK: Yeah, absolutely.

AICILA: I had a great empathy mome-. I was it's like it's the first time I think ever really, I've had a certain kind of empathy for my parents. Given the the way the path that I followed that is so very much not I think what they anticipated for me in a lot of ways.

ERIK: Yeah.

AICILA: And but that by BiCurean moment for me of ah the- it's like that old joke right? The you know there's  a judge and there's someone  up for trial. And they're like is the verdict guilty or not guilty. And the judge says, 'Oh  it's my son.' Like there's   this third verdict that exists. And  absent of my daughter being in the army, I have some political ideologies around it. Like I've always had a commitment to treating veterans well. I think whatever I feel about-

ERIK: That's one of those universal truths, I think we should.

AICILA: I don't know that that's always true though like I feel like there are people who feel they-

ERIK: Vietnam set that up. Like people that came back were were somewhat mistreated because there was so much fervor against the war. And it sort of set that standard. In World War II, that was not the case. And that did transition I think between the the fifties into the eighties.  Hopefully we're on the right path to fix that but-

AICILA: And I've always felt like we should, regard- regardless of how I feel about the institution, I feel like we should treat the soldiers like they are people, as you were talking about in your moment.

ERIK: Well you know I've been following the story and it did make me think about something. And  there are a lot of countries out there, and and these are countries that I think you know are universally looked at as being well put together. And and having good policies in general and and a good world presence. And they have mandatory military service requirements. %HESIATION Some some only for males but but some for male and and female is is optional.  ...  And  the whole thing made me think, you know, there's a lot of good that can come from it. Obviously there's danger and there is this you know idea of sacrifice that can that can be involved. You're sacrificing some time out of your life at the very minimum. You know where your your decisions are no longer yours alone to be made. And so but in a lot of regards learning discipline and skills and things like that that. There are positives. We've just got a very negative view of it these days I think because we have been involved in so many things that don't feel good from from a national pride or service to the world aspect. But in general, I think most of the people I've met that have gone into the military have had a good experience and come back as a better person.

AICILA: Yeah. Well and I was having some chats as some of my friends about you know American hyper individualism. Which I see as  a real problem and-

ERIK: Well Facebook wanted to know if you wanted to get -

AICILA: donations!

ERIK: If you'd like to get donations for your cause against hyper Individualism.                Thus proving to that are yet that's proving that  ...  the algorithms in Facebook in the language detection there. If you're trusting any of that, don't.

AICILA: How ever when in- in a conversation on that as the you know the the two institutions that I think of actually doing well at countering that are the military and churches. Which is an ironic observation. So right now there's this way in which I am attempting, the sort of the BiCurean  part of this for me, is attempting to kind of move myself into this new reality where I, you know, I'm an army mom. And and I never really envisioned that in any way in my life. So I'm like okay what is that look like? And how do I be this mom? And you know in some ways you know that- I'm still just me. And then there's this other way in which I want to show up for this person that I care about. And I feel awkward and uncertain as to how to do that.

ERIK: Yeah, well I think I think it's going to play out. You can have an individual experience with it.  ...  And possibly you can talk to other people that have had the experience and get some insight.

AICILA: Oh I've been reading forums like I'm not- You know me. I'm like- like looking up  all  the things. And you know and what we do and graduation.

ERIK: And and it makes sense. I mean you know it's a it's a it's a uniquely shared experience but you don't have anybody directly in your life that you've spoken to that I'm aware of.  Ironically you've spoken to friends of yours that have been in the military.

AICILA: Yeah  like a lot of my friends  have been.

ERIK: Your age group and things like that.

AICILA: Yeah my best friend from high school was in the airforce. And a bunch of my friends now all served actually in the army.

ERIK: From what I know of them they turned out pretty good so.

AICILA: Yeah they're pretty great peop- I mean we're friends so they gotta  be cool.

ERIK: Well good luck on your adventures and and good luck to your daughter.

AICILA: Thanks and- and good luck to you gettin' involved.

ERIK: So thanks for listening. If you have ideas, feedback, thoughts please find us on social media. BiCurean  on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or you can always give us a call at seven two zero five zero seven seven three zero nine or email us at podcast at BiCurean  dot com. Thanks for listening.