The Dworkin Report podcast Tuesday featured a visit from David Litt, who was one of the speechwriters for President Barack Obama. Litt told about his experiences working with Obama, about infiltrating Mitch McConnell’s former fraternity to try to find out more about how the Senate Majority Leader functions as a person, what he thinks McConnell’s done to break our democracy, and what he believes we can do to fix it.
Litt says that he watched democracy change over his own lifetime, and when he worked with President Obama, “it felt like Mitch McConnell understood the system really well. And he was really good at manipulating our government and changing it.”
Click below to hear the interview.
Litt say, as a person obsessed with the history of chocolate might travel to Hershey, Pennsylvania, he found it only fitting that he’d head to Louisville Kentucky and Mitch McConnell’s frat house.
But I did feel like ultimately, the thing that I learned there was, even on campus, there was a rumor that Mitch McConnell owns the land that his old frat house is currently on. And I don’t know if that’s true or not. I suspect it’s probably not entirely true, but there is this pervasive sense, even among young people, in a way that has nothing to do with politics, that Mitch McConnell is taking advantage of for a very small group of people and everyone else is getting screwed over.
And I think that is the symbol that I ended up looking for. That’s unfortunately what our country is in danger of becoming if we don’t act soon.
Litt has a lot of ideas to share about gerrymandering, and the idea that congress isn’t currently representative of the American people.
Maps decide who represents us right now. And we voters do not decide that and thinking about how to change, that is one of the most important tasks we can take on.
He also believes that voter suppression is a key element.
To me, the most important thing that we haven’t really covered is how fixable it all is….let’s just take voting really specifically. We’ve seen a real attack on voting. I think all of your listeners know that, and it’s getting even worse right now with COVID.
And so basically the idea is instead of winning elections by persuading people, [Republicans are] going to win elections by keeping likely Democrats from voting. But one federal law can change almost all of the worst practices around voting. We could have automatic voter registration or same-day voter registration.
Throughout the interview, one very consistent element is that Litt believes it’s all fixable. He’s written a new book based on what he learned working for Obama, investigating the history of gerrymandering, and sneaking into Mitch McConnell’s frat house, and he describes it as a ‘roadmap for rebuilding our democracy.’ It’s called Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think, and when he lays out his goal, McConnell is still a central part of it:
I talked about all the ways Mitch McConnell has changed democracy during our lifetime. I want us to change democracy back during Mitch McConnell’s lifetime. And I think that’s doable. I think that he, within his lifetime, will know that his ultimate project did not succeed.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com