Episode

6/12 The Myth Of A Bootstrap Society w/ Alissa Quart & Aaron Kleinman

June 12, 2023

Happy Monday! Sam and Emma host Alissa Quart, executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, to discuss her recent book Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream. Then, they’re joined by Aaron Kleinman, director of research for the States Project at Future Now, to discuss the Virginia legislative primaries, coming up next Tuesday June 20th. Sam and Emma first run through today’s big headlines, parsing through Trump’s most recent indictments, and why even his GOP allies are saying he might be done. Alissa Quart then dives right into the ironic origins of the US’ “bootstraps” myth of the “self-made man” as terms meant to poke fun at those who believed in this oxymoronic dream, before being embraced by various earnest authors like Emerson and Thoreau – as well as perhaps less earnest ones – who began to reframe these ideas in celebration of rugged individualism (despite their own dependence on community). Expanding on the conversation, Quart then walks through the redefining of these ideas on a political level over the course of the Twentieth Century, from the Presidency of Hoover to the Neoliberal turn under Reagan and Clinton, all serving to reify the defining American myth of meritocracy. After touching on the particular corporatization of this myth in the 21st Century, Alissa, Sam, and Emma wrap up by exploring interpersonal and political avenues to begin busting this myth, and ways to materially begin that shift. Aaron Kleinman then takes on Virginia’s impending legislative primaries, and why these elections make or break the politics of a swing state that serves as a lifeline to much of the hard-red South, particularly with the threat of pro-life Democrats.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma watch Bill Barr turn his back on Donald Trump while Kari Lake jumps in line to defend him (and her VP chances), Joe from Ohio discusses accountability for gun control, and Aesop’s Foibles discusses political firings and the world of unemployment. The MR Crew also dives into the Trump-DeSantis race as it heats up (very unevenly), and watches Charlie Kirk effortlessly put down women at the TPUSA Young Women’s Leadership Summit. Mike from Maryland asks the MR Crew for their takes on some gun laws, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Alissa’s book here: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/bootstrapped-alissa-quart?variant=40517189599266

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