Saving Democracy: The Way Forward

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Our episode this time is a live recording of a terrific panel discussion featuring some very smart people from across the ideological spectrum who have national experience in politics and media. We called it “Saving Democracy: The Way Forward.” It was the third in a series; we have podcasts of the first one and the second one as well.

Amanda Renteria, Mike Madrid, Debbie Mesloh, Dan Schnur, Kristin Olsen, and Zach Friend joined host Spencer Critchley at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California on March 21, 2019 to go way beyond the usual talking points and offer deep insights into where we are — and how we go forward.

Amanda Renteria was a candidate for Governor of California in the 2018 election. In 2014, she ran for Congress. She has been the Chief of Operations of the California Department of Justice. She was the Political Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She has worked for two U.S. Senators, and was the first Latina Chief of Staff in Senate history, for Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Amanda has also worked for Goldman Sachs, and the City of San Jose, and she has been a teacher and coach at her old high school in Woodlake, California.

Mike Madrid is a nationally recognized expert on Latino voting trends and the founder of consulting firm Grassroots Lab. He has served as the press secretary for the California Assembly Republican Leader and as the political director for the California Republican Party. He is a fellow at the Unruh Institute for Politics at the University of Southern California and is a co-director of the USC/LA Times Poll. In 2001 Mike was named as one of America’s “Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine. Currently, Mike is an adjunct lecturer at USC on Race, Class and Partisanship.

Debbie Mesloh was President Obama’s Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs. She was the transition co-chair for Senator Kamala Harris and held senior communications positions in the 2008 and 2012 Obama for America campaigns. Debbie is the President of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, was the Co-Chair of the 2018 Bay Area Women’s Summit, is a founding member of the Emerge America program for women candidates, and is the former President of the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee.

Dan Schnur is a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and the University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. He worked on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns as one of California’s leading Republican political strategists and is now a No Party Preference voter. He’s a frequent contributor and commentator for national media.

Kristin Olsen is the former California Assembly Republican Leader and former Vice Chair of the California Republican Party, and was elected to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in June, 2016, after having served on the Modesto City Council. Also in 2016, she founded the consulting firm Red Suit, LLC, where she helps people work effectively within the government and politics. Kristin frequently contributes to and is quoted in the media.

Zach Friend is a public policy and communications expert who has worked for Barack Obama and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns, the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Democratic National Committee. He currently serves on the Board of Supervisors in Santa Cruz County. Zach is also a national media commentator and is the author of the book “On Message.”

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Mentioned in the discussion:

“Fault Lines” by Kevin Kruze and Julian Zelizer

“Love Your Enemies” by Arthur Brooks

Event Photos

Saving Democracy panelists onstage at Samper Recital Hall, Cabrillo College, March 21, 2019

Amanda Renteria and Mike Madrid

Mike Madrid and Debbie Mesloh

Zach Friend

Kristin Olsen

Amanda Renteria

Dan Schnur

Debbie Mesloh

Spencer Critchley

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