Manage episode 294658689 series 121090
Thank you for being a part of our community! We couldn't do what we do without you. To become a financial supporter of the show, please visit our Patreon page, purchase a copy of our book, I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening), or share the word about our work in your own circles. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for our real time reactions to breaking news, GIF news threads, and personal content. To purchase Pantsuit Politics merchandise, check out our TeePublic store and our branded tumblers available in partnership with Stealth Steel Designs. To read along with us, join our Extra Credit Book Club subscription. You can find information and links for all our sponsors on our website.
Biden raises concerns over Northern Ireland in meeting with Britain’s Boris Johnson (The Washington Post)
In Guatemala, Harris Tells Undocumented to Stay Away From U.S. Border (The New York Times)
U.S. Aid to Central America Hasn’t Slowed Migration. Can Kamala Harris? (The New York Times)
Moment of Hope: Large crowd celebrates first in-person Hamilton Pride event
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:00:00] I often have to remind people that we cannot eliminate risk in anything, in breathing. There's risk involved in everything and humans are just really bad at assessing risk, right? I think it also, it requires nuance and understanding what risk elimination is, what risk reduction is. It also requires nuance and understanding what is a risk and what's a hazard, right?
Sarah: [00:00:18] I like that.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:00:19] Risk is kind of, you know, it's a thing that can cause harm, but the hazard exists if you're exposed to that harm, right? Like a shark is a risk, but being in a body of water with a shark that's close to you and hungry is really hazardous.
Sarah: This is Sarah
Beth: And Beth.
Sarah: You're listening to Pantsuit Politics.
Beth: The home of grace-filled political conversations.
Sarah: [00:01:08] Hello, everyone. Welcome to Pantsuit Politics. On today's episode, we're going to talk about president Biden and vice-president Harris making their first overseas trips. Then we're sharing a really wonderful conversation we have with Jessica Malaty Rivera, who is the science communication lead for the COVID Tracking Project and is talking to us about the bunking vaccine myths and assessing risk for unvaccinated people and kids. Outside of politics, we're offering up some advice for your thirties as we leave ours behind.
Beth: [00:01:34] Before we get started. We wanted to share, remember when we have that fan art contest and we got so many amazing designs that we couldn't possibly pick just the winners. So we chose the winners and there'll be our T public store all year but for those designs that we loved and couldn't resist, we are going to have a rotating slot in our merch store on T public. Each month, a new design or two will be available there for a limited time only and right now we [00:02:00] have two very cool, very retro designs from Sydney, celebrating the way that Sarah says good morning, and our nightly nuance families so you can follow the link in the show notes to get them while you can. They will be gone at the end of June so if you want these very cool retro designs from Sydney, go get them now.
Sarah: [00:02:18] This was a busy week for the Biden administration, we had vice president Harris take a two day trip to Guatemala and Mexico at the beginning of the week and as we're recording and probably as you're listening, president Biden is on a trip through the UK, Brussels and Switzerland, big G seven summit and so we wanted to talk a little bit about both of their overseas trips, some of the policy, some of the politics and what we notice from their travels.
Beth: [00:02:57] President Biden's first meetings are with Boris [00:03:00] Johnson in the UK. It's a really different scene. Now, as president Biden has been with European officials throughout his career, but a post Brexit UK presents a different set of challenges and opportunities for the US, UK relationship. It is said that Boris does not like calling it a special relationship. He thinks that's condescending and makes the UK sound weak and needy. So I'm not going to call it a special relationship in deference to that preference, but that they value the United States friendship and think this Alliance is very important. So the first thing they were scheduled to talk about was lifting travel restrictions that had been in place because of COVID-19 and they are set to unveil an updated Atlantic charter. This is a document going back to FDR and a real statement of our commitment to democracy in the world.
Sarah: [00:03:49] Of course, the pre pandemic focus was supposed to be on climate change and climate change is definitely still on the agenda, but now they're going to spend a lot of time on [00:04:00] COVID and the vaccination plan for the rest of the world. The UK and the United States has led the way in vaccinating their own populations and the Biden administration has announced some big priorities to shift our country and hopefully the UK, as well as focus to vaccinating the rest of the world. The Biden administration has announced that America will donate 500 million vaccine doses to Kovax, the world health organization's effort to get vaccines to low and middle income countries. They're purchasing them from Pfizer at a discount, not for profit price so that's nice and hopefully start distributing those this year with several hundred million doses going out in 2022 as well.
Beth: [00:04:38] So there'll be those conversations. There's going to be a discussion about a minimum 15% tax on multinational companies. This is something that the Biden administration would really like to see happen, because if you could get the world to agree that we are not going to compete for bottom of the barrel tax policy, it frees everybody up to collect more revenue [00:05:00] from the largest companies in the world and so it'd be interesting to see what discussion comes out of that.
I was reading this morning that there's a lot of language about shoring up NATO and the European American Alliance as a bulwark against China and how a lot of our friends in Europe are not really there. They feel pretty burned by the last four years. They also just see the world differently. They think it's counterproductive to be all in against China when Chinese investment has become pretty important to parts of Europe. That French president Macron would like to see a, a Europe that stands pretty independently and as a force of its own. Friendship with America, but not a dependence on America and then you have in Germany.
Angela Merkel has charged forward with a pipeline from Russia, the Nord stream pipeline and the Biden administration pretty well had to fold her preference on that. They lifted sanctions on that project so we could go forward, which is a real win for [00:06:00] Russia. She too, is not interested in being all against China and I think that there are important tensions that are going to be surfaced in this meeting. As I hear the position of various European leaders, I think there are some really good things happening, a recommitment to an Alliance, but an Alliance that is more complex perhaps than previously and I think that's encouraging.
Sarah: [00:06:24] It's impossible to forget or underestimate the impact of the Trump administration's foreign policy on those relationships. I think that goes with outside, but I'll say it just the same. I'll also say that I am a glad, there's not a big baby balloon of our current president floating over the countries that he's visiting. That's a nice change. I enjoy that a lot. You know, I have started this conversation on Instagram with a kid I grew up with it started cause he posted this thing about it's amazing how [00:07:00] many things Trump was right about. He was right about the vaccine. He was right about this. He was right about that and I, I sent him all these news links. Like, no, this is not how I see it and he was like, I'd like to have this conversation over email and I said, okay, cool. We can do that but first I need to admit that Trump is not perfect and that he made personality falls and I made policy mistakes and I'm happy to do the same for Biden or Obama or Pelosi and as I was thinking, well, what am I going to list as the things he's done, right.
If I were to do that, you know, I think that Trump, not by any conscious effort for worst a re-examination of this NATO Alliance of forced a reexamination of Europe's role in the world, definitely forced a reexamination of all of our relationships with China and with Russia and, you know, I, I think there needed to be a moment where we all said, The [00:08:00] world was changed by World War II and this is what we've depended on, but the world is different now, radically different. I mean, that's a conversation we, you know, little sneak peek, we keep having a lot with infrastructure on our infrastructure series as we're getting that ready is. You know, we built this infrastructure in the post-World war II world and it needs maintenance and in some ways it needs major transition and I think that's true of our foreign policy as well.
You know, I'm interested to hear you say that you are encouraged by them saying, Hey, look, we want a stronger Europe. We don't want to depend on the United States. We want to do this on our own when it felt like, you know, a conversation we had last week about Russia, about Belarus, you wanted a very strong response from all of NATO so I wonder how you think about that in a world where with like Belarus and, you know, later on in this trip, Biden is going to meet with Putin. When we feel like there are strong men, including in China that require a strong response. How do you see this re-examination of the NATO partnership and Alliance coming together for [00:09:00] that?
Beth: [00:09:00] That's a great question and something that I've been thinking a lot about, because there are instances where I do want to see this Alliance very tightly forged together and speaking strongly and with one voice and I think that is more possible and more constructive if everybody within the Alliance is strong on their own and I think it's also important to recognize that when we have a pandemic, when we have climate change, the formulation of we have got to box these two countries in a corner to the extent that it ever worked, which I'm not sure it has doesn't work at all.
We don't make progress on climate change without some kind of relationship with China. We just don't. We really don't make progress on a more humane world where people live in sanitary, safe, healthy conditions, and can make a good living for themselves and their families without China's partnership and I think that we've just got to recognize that. I always like it when secretary Blinken says that we're going to be friends where we can be, [00:10:00] you know, adversaries where we must be. I think that's important.
So I like hearing people say we are not going to continue to treat some countries as though the only option the entire world has is to sanction them six ways to Sunday and to lump in their people, with their leadership in ways that perpetuate the worst tension that has ever existed between us but we are going to carve a more subtle and nuanced path that allows us to, to hold some tension between us, but work together where we can. I think that's really healthy and important. And I, and I ultimately think that that strengthens my objective of occasionally speaking strongly with one voice. I think it will mean more, you know, when we speak strongly with one voice, if we are looking for those opportunities to also be collaborative, does that make sense?
Sarah: [00:10:52] Yeah and I, I mean, I thought though, when you were saying the Alliance is strong when each individual member is stronger. You know, if Trump had a decent speech [00:11:00] writer and would actually stick to the script, that could have been what he was arguing.
Beth: [00:11:04] A hundred percent. Yep.
Sarah: [00:11:06] You know, and I think that, that, you know, we have to recognize that. He upset the applecart in some really traumatic ways but the reality is that in upsetting that apple cart, he forced us to force a lot of people, including, I think a lot of the elites in the foreign policy world to recognize that we were following a script that was no longer relevant, that had expired and I think that's true of China. I think that's true of Russia. I think a lot of what he did was dangerous. We needed a new script because they were growing more powerful and a lot of his ineptitude made them more powerful and therefore more dangerous. You know, that's just the other side of the same coin.
What I'm encouraged with regards to Biden's trip is that Biden, despite his long, long history and the [00:12:00] United States government, and with RI and specifically with regards to foreign policy, seems very adaptable for a man of his age. He seems to, you know, between him and his staff seemed to look around and recognize things are changing. Things have changed and we're not going backwards and so I hope that this G seven trip is a chance for him and his team to take advantage of the ways things have changed for the good of the United States and for the good of the world and, you know, I, I don't, I don't blame our European allies for thinking this is great now, but what's going to happen in the next election and for wanting to strengthen their own positions and I think in the end, that will, like you said, I think that will make us all better.
Beth: [00:12:42] Yeah, I think just to put a finer point on it, I, I agree that the Trump administration upset the apple cart and the apple cart was being upset anyway and they were part of that, of that upset. What I am comforted by now is that we are recognizing a new [00:13:00] landscape and saying, we think that democracy is really important in this new landscape, because I think the Trump administration's direction was to say the world has changed and the undercurrent of that was, and democracy just like, isn't that great? It doesn't adapt well to those changes, right? And now we have president Biden overseas, really, you know, forcefully and, and reporters have said like, this is the reason for being for his presidency to assert that democratic rule where people are prioritized, where we work towards greater equity is the path forward.
Sarah: [00:13:37] Well, and I think what's really important to remember about him and his approach and this particular trip and I really want us to keep in mind as we start talking about vice-president Harris's trip is that, you know, it's not that out loud, wide open tweeting approach and that means that there's just a lot [00:14:00] happening that we don't know about and I just think that's really important to keep in mind. I think that was true during the war between Israel and Palestine last month. I think there's just a lot happening that we don't know about and it's supposed to be that way. It's supposed to be that way and I think that's just a, you know, an important reminder because we're coming off the Trump administration, which was whether there were positive benefits to their foreign policy and I really do hesitate to even use the term foreign policy, because I think that gives us a sense of strategic direction that it didn't have.
` We have to remember that the traditional approach approach doesn't happen on Twitter. It doesn't happen in front of cameras and so, you know, we're having a conversation about what they're doing, but the reality is we don't, there's a lot we just don't know. There's a lot that's going to happen in closed doors and meetings that the vice [00:15:00] president and the president aren't even present in and I just think that's, that's important to remember.
Beth: [00:15:04] So the vice-president made her first trip abroad as well. She went to Guatemala and to Mexico, as we know, vice vice president Harris has been tasked with addressing the root causes of migration from the Northern triangle to the United States. So during this trip, she was very focused on establishing an anti-corruption unit in the attorney General's office in Guatemala. I saw in several of her statements, her reiterating like this is the key thing to me, we must address corruption because I think a lesson learned from when, as vice-president Joe Biden was working on this same issue is that you can send a lot of dollars to this region, but if those dollars flow through the government, they might not help anyone and so making sure that there is transparency and in an effort to investigate corruption is very important to her. So she'll also establish a task force to investigate corruption cases that have links to both Guatemala and the United [00:16:00] States and plans to train Guatemalan prosecutors.
Sarah: [00:16:03] Well, and here's one of the things really important about that. The task force to investigate corruption, we're investing $48 million in an entrepreneurship program with affordable housing and that's, it's part of a four year $4 billion plan with private companies like MasterCard, Microsoft, they're all investing in central America and I think we do what we often do. We look back at what has happened in the past, and we do this, this binary, well in the past, we went into central America and truly horrific colonial ways and tried to, you know, take down governments and forced democracy and it's a mess and I think that that painting with very broad strokes, that is true, but that doesn't mean that, that we can't bring resources to good governance. Right?
Like I, I think that we have a long history that shows trying to fundamentally [00:17:00] change foreign governments, it never goes well. Okay. That, I don't think that that's up for much debate, but I do think that the United States has the resources, both financial and policy and intellectual and leadership and all those things like we have, uh, we have great resources to help with good governance. We're not changing your government. We're not telling you how to run your government, but if you need help, if you need resources for good governance, we can help you and, you know, I think that that is a really promising approach and it just shows that there's not like this. We can do it like we used to, or we can do nothing at all. There are other options available to us and I think that her, her focus on this is showing like we can do more than just either roll in and try to force democracy, use force, or just dump piles of money on places. Like there are other, there's a spectrum of options available to [00:18:00] us.
Beth: [00:18:00] I know that many of you are upset about her remarks in which she said very directly to the Guatemalan people do not come to the United States and I want to offer my perspective on that because I generally am a person, and I think this is an important note about these conversations, especially as we're talking with other people in our lives, I really think we need to like break it apart and take it step by step and so I start with the premise that I want to humanely welcome refugees into the United States and people seeking asylum. I think it is really important that we be a country. I think in terms of our landmass and population density, we have the capacity to welcome more people into our country. We have the resources to welcome more people into our country. We actually need more workers in our country, which we read about every single day right now and so I want to humanely and successfully welcome people to the United States, especially people who are fleeing terrible [00:19:00] conditions in other countries.
I also fundamentally agree with what the vice-president said that most people don't want to leave their home country unless they have to, most people want to be in the place of their birth and the place where their people are and their experiences have been and I think that centering that is much more important than centering a US perspective on how good immigration is or isn't for our country and so the, the next place I come to is if I want to humanely welcome people into our country, That is not available on the journey people are making to America right now. It is so dangerous the trip people are making and so while I want to welcome those folks, I agree with her in saying, do not come this way. I think that's what was missing from do not come is this way.
So part of what she's doing is establishing a new center in Guatemala for people [00:20:00] to come in in Guatemala and learn about the refugee status and asylum protections that might be available so that they can get a real sense of what's going on before they come to the United States border and I would go even farther. I was saying to Sarah, almost in jest, but not really. Before we started recording, if we constructed a giant hotel there for people who want to seek asylum to come have a safe place under us protection to stay until we can figure out, okay, here is where you have relationships in the United States and could be settled safely and happily and we can vet you here. We can make sure you have good medical care and we can safely transport you to the United States.
To me, that would be as successful as trying to invest in entrepreneurship programs in the Northern triangle because sometimes I think we do that in a really condescending way. We take our own ideas about what good business would look like and what good business practices would look like and we have [00:21:00] trainings and I was just reading a New York times piece for, from a couple of years ago this morning, that was like that doesn't help. We go to the training. We sit there. It has no relationship to our real lives. It's not going to work out afterward. I'm not saying we shouldn't try cause I agree with you, Sarah. We don't have to do only what's not worked or nothing, but I think it would be a powerful expenditure of us funds that would be cheaper than what we do at the border. Now, after people have made that treacherous journey to detain them and figure out where to go next, to just move that whole operation to Guatemala.
Sarah: [00:21:36] Yes. I was discouraged by the reaction to her comments, the do not come comment cause there was another controversial comment, which I actually think was a reflection of the fact that it was a slow news week if you want me, to be honest. I always feel a little nervous saying a slow news week. I said this on the nightly nuance because it feels like I'm saying things that are happening aren't important and that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying, coming off the Trump administration, it was a slow news week and so [00:22:00] I think that that's sort of what happened with both of these comments, but the idea that like, you know, it was frustrating to feel like she was repeating the policy of the Biden administration and getting attacked by progressives for T saying too strongly, you know, do not come.
The border is not the place for you and then getting attacked on the other end by conservatives who were like, you're not taking this seriously enough and you didn't come to the border and then she sits down with Lester Holt who says, why didn't you go to the border? And her reaction is to laugh and say, I've not been to Europe either. I don't understand your point. Like I'm taking this seriously and so, you know, in the same week, she's getting controversy for being too hard on with regards to immigration and not hard enough and that to me feels a little bit less, you know, reflective of the fact that she's held to a different standard and again, I think it was a slow news [00:23:00] week.
Beth: [00:23:00] I definitely think she's held to a different standard. I also think it's pretty obvious that we've had politicians visiting the border for at least 20 years now and not making any impact on what's happening there. That's, that's too harsh. I'm sure that there have been, I'm sure there's been progress and some good results of that. Um, and it's not that I don't think the border is important, but I think saying I'm trying to make the border less important would be a really strong statement. I'm trying to make, I'm trying to make it where we don't have a crisis there and she does say that I'm here. You know, I think root causes is not landing enough.
I think we need to more explicitly say, listen, we know the situation at the border is unacceptable and part of what we must do is figure out how to keep people from making that trip the way that they're making it today. I'm trying to do something different instead of doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Sarah: [00:23:58] Well, but you know, the thing is [00:24:00] that what lands with the audience who's attacking her for not coming to the border is that there is no complexity at the border. We need a wall, we need guns, we need guards we need harshness at the border. That's the problem and so to say, well, there's complexity and we're trying to deal with the problem upstream. It's never going to land. I don't care if she'd gone to the border. It wouldn't have been good enough. Like, you know, like she, that, because you don't, you don't want to talk about a policy solution. You don't want to talk about the people crossing at the border as human beings, responding to incentives and incentives I mean, like fleeing for their lives, like responding to basic human situations, which is your, you and your family are in danger. So you must leave.
They don't want to talk about it like that. They want to talk about it. Like this is simple. The bad guys are trying to get in and you're not trying hard enough to keep them out and so again, it wouldn't have mattered if she'd gone to the border. I don't really [00:25:00] understand why Lester Holt was carrying the water for that argument to begin with if I'm being honest and so it's just, you know, the entire thing was frustrating. Now that being said, she got to stop that nervous laughing, you know, like she does that a lot. She did it a lot in the vice presidential debate and, you know, I have enormous sympathy cause I think that's a hard like once that sort of like your reaction, oh, I read a quote from even two of her staff that says former staff that said it sometimes takes her a while to land on the right message and sometimes she can be a little undisciplined in her message and I think that sort of, that. Back and forth she often does and moments where she's coming under hard questioning, where she sort of laughs is not the best strategy and I wished that she could, you know, work on that. If Joe can get out from underneath the gaps and stop going after every question and saying whatever's on his mind, I think that she can, the laughing laughter under countrol.
Beth: [00:25:51] I'm glad that you said that about him in the gaps, because I do think that it's easy to think any critique of her style is a sexist critique [00:26:00] and I do think, you know, as a woman, I do nervous laughter and I think about how does that undermine me as a woman who's who's already speaking from a disadvantaged place to start with, but you're right. Everybody has things they have to work on in their relationship with the United States press. Yep. And so I think it's fair to say that there are things that she needs to work on in her relationship with the press and I think the biggest thing that I see right now is that she is taking this seriously and trying to do something that we haven't done enough of before and I just wouldn't be at all apologetic about that. Um, yep. It's not like she doesn't know what's happening at the border and hasn't ever been there before as an elected official. She's got that information now she's got to go negotiate with people who can actually make a difference here.
Sarah: [00:26:47] And there were parts of her trip that I think were really important and didn't get enough coverage. I read that she, you know, she had an hour long bilateral conversation with the president of Mexico president Obrador and at one point her staff [00:27:00] described it as calling an audible and said, I want to talk to him and so the staff left the room and she talked privately with the president of Mexico for a half an hour and then again, for 40 minutes after the talk and I think that that's really encouraging. Again, some of the stuff that happens on these trips is not for public consumption.
You know, we had that conversation yesterday on a podcast about open meetings and how in Congress and in local governance inviting the press and the public sounds like it's always a great idea that it increases the transparency, but often it makes whatever you're trying to accomplish that much more difficult, not because you need the, you know, the privacy to, to engage in corruption and I understand that that's why, how we got a lot of these meetings, but because the people who these meetings requirements, but a lot of times, because the people who show up are either you know, prying to create conflict, like the press, a small subset of the population who do not represent the majority of views, I saw that a lot and in these moments, even when [00:28:00] she's telling, asking her staff to leave with the president of Mexico, because you have to have trust and you have to have someone being able to talk openly without thinking about the 16 ways Twitter might interpret every sentence and I just think we have to give them space, especially with foreign diplomacy to do that.
And like we elected these people and, and I know there's not a lot of trust right now, and I get that, but like, to a certain extent, you know, we can't, you know, American idol this and guide everything through Twitter and our opinions and well, don't do this shift immediately. Like it's just not going to work like that. Like they're just going to have to go out there and do what they think is right and follow the strategy without constant feedback from the public or from the press every second of the way.
Beth: [00:28:47] And that being said, you know, holding the tension around the public and the press feedback loop is important because I'm glad that the press travels with them. I'm glad they ask hard questions. I'm glad they give us a window [00:29:00] into some of these events. I saw that some of the press Corps that was following president Biden had to sit on an airplane for like five hours because cicadas caused damage to the plane.
Sarah: [00:29:11] You, the cicadas showed up on the radar. There were so many cicadas they showed up on the radar. Oh my goodness.
Beth: [00:29:18] Yes. And so they, you know, that's a hard job, uh, that is often uncomfortable and grueling and I'm glad people do it and, and grateful for their questions even when I'm annoyed by them and I feel that way about the response to vice-president Harris from members of the more progressive arm of the democratic party. I feel that way when I'm reading stories about congressional negotiations and the filibuster, because fundamentally what I want is a functional government that has that sort of gas and brakes negotiation, where we get to good policymaking over time. Not so long time that we miss the challenges in front of us, but, but where we are being considerate [00:30:00] of lots of different interests in the diversity of the country and I think that all of these pockets where you have infighting among both the Republican and the democratic caucus are pushing us toward something that is much more like a parliamentary system, where you've got lots and lots of opposing forces that have to coalesce around a central vision to get anything through and that makes me feel somewhat optimistic.
Sarah: [00:30:28] Speaking of optimism, you have a moment of hope you want to share.
Beth: [00:30:31] Yes. So it's pride month and as part of celebrating pride month, I had the opportunity to follow up with Taylor Stone-Welch, you may remember from a previous episode. We talked to Taylor when he was planning Hamilton, Ohio's first pride celebration and having to transition from their vision of an in-person celebration to an online one because of the pandemic. Well, this year they were able to have the event in person and it was a [00:31:00] remarkable event and we shared the full interview with Taylor on Patreon, but wanted to share a little bit of it with you here.
Taylor Stone-Welch: [00:31:07] We had a huge turnout and that shows that in this community, there are people who feel underrepresented, that don't come to other events, who want to have something that's for them and the business community, especially the businesses right around that park, they killed it that day. Um, all of our vendors did as well and I didn't imagine myself, uh, for years getting involved in a gay pride event, I think because, uh, I want to pull up the quote that somebody sent me that I think spoke to, uh, a feeling that I, I think gay people have.
"Queer people don't grow up as ourselves. I grew up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices, authenticity to minimize humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us in which parts we've created to protect us." Sorry, [00:32:00] I'm getting choked up thinking. Um, so my parents came out to join us for the festival and, uh, they went and saw my brother speak and marched in the, participated in the March and then they helped to run a beer booth all day. They were there for probably eight hours and my dad does not go to special events very often at all, let alone a gay pride event and, uh, my older brother and his wife helped us all day long, starting with up at eight in the morning and then tear down at midnight so my entire family was out there showing their support for this and that, like that means the world.
Sarah: [00:32:39] Thank you to Taylor and next up, we're sharing our conversation with Jessica Malaty Rivera. She's an infectious disease expert who has been doing the good work of debunking all sorts of nonsense on Instagram during the pandemic, both on her personal page and in her role as the science communication lead for the COVID tracking project.
[00:33:00] Beth: [00:33:09] Well anxiety at an 11 is probably a good place to start as we spend some time together because we have so many parents in our audience who feel so left behind in the guidance that's been issued by the CDC and are just looking for someone to say, what should I be doing and caring about before my children are vaccinated? Especially parents of young children for him vaccination doesn't seem to be on the immediate horizon. So we'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:33:40] Yeah. I mean, I empathize with that sentiment a lot because I'm a parent and I have two kids who are ineligible for vaccination because of their ages. I have a two year old and a four year old at home who will be waiting probably for several more months before they can get vaccinated and I also empathize a bit with the CDC because it's nearly impossible to provide as [00:34:00] nuanced and as like tailored of the guidelines as we all need that makes sense for, you know, broad application among all the different types of families that are in the country. You know, We have to remember that these are guidelines. These are not mandates. These are kind of like best practices to help you kind of course correct and make your own risk assessment based on your own exposures.
That said, I often say that it involves as much transparency as you're comfortable with. It involves having conversations with the people that are close to you. The people that are in your schools, in your faith communities, in your pods, et cetera, to understand, okay if we're all fully vaccinated as adults, that means that we've dramatically reduced our risk of getting COVID and transmitting COVID. That means we also protect our kids to an effect, but some kids are in school. Some kids are in playgroups. Some kids are at home 24/7 like mine. So you have to have conversations about what are your exposures, what is your community activity look like and being really [00:35:00] honest about symptoms if they arise. Being really honest about testing, if you have that and kind of moving forward on a case by case basis.
I wish there was a blanket statement that I could give, but we do know that kids are a much lower risk of getting severe COVID and that is very, very encouraging, but I also want to recognize the fact that there are kids who do get COVID, who do spread COVID, who have died, who have been hospitalized. There are kids who are medically fragile, who can not get vaccinated. There are kids who are immunocompromised, whose vaccination probably won't have as great of a response in their bodies. So that's one of the many reasons why one size fits all messaging just won't work. We have to be mindful of different access, different, you know, dynamics and communities. And, you know, I, if I had the amount of time that people need of me to answer all these questions, I'd just be doing scenario planning all day, every day.
Sarah: [00:35:53] Well, that I think is what's so hard about this is, you know, I've talked about this [00:36:00] for a long time. We've been talking about this a lot on the show. Risk assessment, when your kids are involved, is quite a psychological journey. You know, I just think our instinct is our sort of emotional reaction is any risk when it comes to our kids is too much risk. The problem is we don't acknowledge a lot of the everyday risk we take because of that emotional reaction. It'd be really hard, right? If we really were contemplating how much risk we're putting our children at when we put them in a car every day, right? That would be emotionally exhausting in much the same way COVID has been and so I wonder how you walk through that, how you walk through checking that reaction of, of acknowledging that like a risk elimination, even when it comes to our children is impossible and risk reductions comes with cost too and I think that that is another conversation that's really hard to have when it comes to kids.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:36:56] I think that's an exceptional point that you made. I often have to remind people [00:37:00] that we cannot eliminate risk in anything in breathing, in drinking a glass of water. You know, like there's risk involved in everything and humans are just really bad at assessing risk, right? I think it also, it requires nuance and understanding what risk elimination is, what risk reduction is. It also requires nuance and understanding what is a risk and what's a hazard, right?
Sarah: [00:37:19] I like that.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:37:20] Risk is kind of, you know, it's a thing that can cause harm, but the hazard exists if you're exposed to that harm, right? Like a shark is a risk, but being in a body of water with a shark, that's close to you and hungry is really hazardous.
It's understanding that there are always going to be shortcuts that we make in our mind to prove to move forward. So I'll be completely candid. My son was hospitalized with RSV in December of 2019. One of the most traumatizing things of my life. That experience [00:38:00] absolutely still sits with me every single day and because of that, even though it's not the same virus, even though it is not even close to the same kinds of outcomes, because it does actually affect kids, especially in that age group so much more, I erred on the side of extreme caution and risk reduction. I took my kids out of preschool. I said, they're not going to go back because we can manage to work and home and take care of the kids, which was a blessing and a privilege but I that's, that was my reaction to the immediate risk.
As time went on, as vaccines have now become available in my community is very well vaccinated, my husband and I came to the decision a couple months ago like we can't wait to send them back, you know? And it's also because we've been home with them this whole time. It's been, you know, really, really difficult. It's not an on-off switch. It's a dimmer. You have to think about it as a range of tolerance that you kind of grow to achieve, or, you know, a traumatic expense experienced like I just [00:39:00] described can like bring it back down, but you kind of have to grow that tolerance to risk and be comfortable with things changing and, and reversing on those, you know, kind of boundaries that you have for the sake of your family. So when people say like, well then can you do this? Can you do that? It really just depends. It really just depends on your tolerance and your exposures.
Sarah: [00:39:23] Oh, can I take us on us? Just a side channel really quick here. When you mentioned RSV, I've had so many friends experiences that it is so traumatic and so scary. Is there any opportunity with the new tech, with the vaccines to get something for RSV?
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:39:37] I love that you just asked me that, but the mRNAs vaccine modality is being explored for RSV. I know. That I freaked out because like, It's you know, and of course, when I posted pictures of my son being hospitalized, I got trolled by anti-vaxxers who said, like, you did this to your kid, he's vaccined. I'm like, this is not even a vaccine preventable illness for crying out loud. You know, if [00:40:00] it were, I wish it were, right? Cause I probably could have prevented this trauma for him and myself, but yeah, they're exploring that right now.
Sarah: [00:40:07] That's amazing.
Beth: [00:40:09] So I love that distinction between risk and hazard. If most of the adults in my children's lives are vaccinated, do we have hazards? If I, if my children are not medically vulnerable that I'm aware of, do I have hazards or do I mostly have risks now?
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:40:28] I mean, it's mostly risks, right? It just depends on like, if whose kids are in schools, whose kids are sick at the time and like may be either sick with COVID or sick with something else, it could get your other kids sick. I mean, The way I describe it is if all the adults in our experience and speaking anecdotally, we are vaccinated, our friends are vaccinated. Their kids are not, obviously we do outdoor play dates, play groups all the time now. Mostly because we know exactly what they do. They don't, they're [00:41:00] not going to parties or not going on planes every weekend. They keep their risks really low and because of that overall risk in this little bubble that we have is really low.
Sarah: [00:41:11] I wonder if part of what people are struggling with when you're talking about that dimmer is that it just opened up so quickly. We talked about this with Julia Edelstein at Parents. Like it just went on an accelerated pace. Look, you know, I got my first vaccine in late February and the reaction of our, of many people in our audience was well, good for you, but I'm not going to be vaccinated until the fall. This is going to take forever and I could feel it ramping up and even I could not wrap my head around how fast it was going to go even though I was like, so optimistic and like defensive of this vaccine tech cause I think it's such a miracle, so if people were like doubting, I would be like, hell yeah, dare you. This is a modern medical miracle. But even me, if somebody said, oh, well your twelve year old is going to get vaccinated on his birthday, May 16th, I'd been like, what? But that's what happened. [00:42:00] Like it just went so fast. And I wonder if that's what parents in particular are struggling with.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:42:05] You know, I, in March of last year, I kept saying, if we don't have a vaccine communications plan, we're going to blow this. We can't just be putting billions of dollars in the manufacturing and the production and distribution. We need to be investing in the comms plan because things that have been outside of people's scope online, like the regulatory process is now being scrutinized by every single human on the planet and they're trying to poke holes at something that they've just really never understood or never really had the access to and I don't blame them. This is why vaccine communications is so, so important because all they hear is warp speed. Warp speed is not a comforting term, but think of like you like G-forces and like injury, because you're going so fast. You know, like I don't want to be thinking about warp speed when I think about something as fragile as human health.
However, All that meant was we created a [00:43:00] system that didn't get stopped by bureaucracy or red tape or financial burdens. I've been in research my whole life, my whole adult life. I have been in labs that don't have enough money to continue doing research. It is extremely frustrating to be a researcher and have to deal with stopping what you're doing to reapply for grants so that you continue your work. What operation warp speed was prevent that. They just said, here's all the money in the world, but you need pencils down on everything else, all hands on deck on COVID. Not to mention, we had decades of research just to piggyback on. We have been studying Corona viruses for decades. We have been studying mRNA technology for decades. We have actually human data from mRNA vaccine trials from a few years ago when we were exploring it in SARS.
So it's not like it came out of nowhere. It just was this, all the new thing. There were so many things at play that kind of created this perfect runway for us to have a running start and then if you also think about the fact that when clinical trials are ongoing, a lot of times [00:44:00] it's hard to enroll people because people don't want to be in a trial. There were lines, waiting lists on every trial location in the United States. Everybody wanted it to be on a trial, not to mention the fact that the other limitation in trials is that usually it takes a long time to have people get the disease that you are testing against. COVID was everywhere. They were meeting those end points so quickly because COVID was so prolific in the community.
So it just was like this perfect combination of logistical support and epidemiological urgency, because it was actually an emergency that was happening that made it all happen so swiftly, but there were just zero shortcuts taken. I'm, I get quite exhausted of that claim because you know, the regulatory system in the United States is probably the most intense and we don't take safety signals lightly, as proven by what happened with J and J, as proven by what happened when any time something was of concern in any of the trials. They stop, they consider they meet and then they assess if they move forward.
[00:45:00] Sarah: [00:45:00] They should have called it operation cut the red tape.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:45:02] I know, right. That would have been way better.
Beth: [00:45:05] Well, as you're talking about that comms plan, I was thinking about how I think the reporting on efficacy rates has made people think that there's like an, A vaccine and a B vaccine and I feel like that's going to be even more important to cut through as we talk about getting kids vaccinated, because the level of risk that I might accept attached to the vaccine for myself is probably higher than for my children so I would love it. If you could talk about like, what should we understand when we hear 99% effective or 75% effective?
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:45:36] Such a good question. The simple answer is context, right? So Pfizer and Madrona were investigated pretty early on where transmission was high, but we weren't dealing with things like variance. Pfizer and Madrona are exceptionally similar vaccines. They use the same technology mRNA vaccins so to compare them and to contrast them is actually kind of like pointless. There's they're just so, so, so similar. [00:46:00] So it's not surprising that their efficacy numbers came out almost identical.
When Johnson and Johnson was being investigated, it was being investigated at a very different time of the pandemic. There were multiple variants and it was being investigated in places like the UK and South Africa and in south America where the variants were wildly spreading so think about it like the test was harder. Like they got a quiz and they got a really intense final exam. You can't really compare the outcomes of two challenges like that. Two you know, research objectives when the context, when the environmental impact, we're very, very different. So it's not actually accurate to say that 66% is a D and 95% is an A, because it doesn't compare apples to apples.
At the end of the day, if you look at the other points and I kind of went on, I did a Twitter thread about this, cause I was so bothered by the headlines that said only 66% effective. If you read the rest of the reading of the data, it said [00:47:00] 100% effective at reducing hospitalization. 100% effective at reducing death. Those are the primary goals of all vaccines in the history of vaccines. Vaccines are intended to keep you out of the hospital and alive. All three Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson do an exceptionally good job at all those things.
Sarah: [00:47:19] So how do you talk to parents about looking at not just the efficacy, but the risk when it comes to kids? Because look, I mean, I got my 12 year old vaccinated. Obviously these are not concerns I have, but I know people have it and I think it makes sense to say, well, y'all, they've been doing a lot of research for decades on this technology, but it was an adults. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say they weren't studying it, this technology in kids for decades and so I just think that the, especially there's something about the fact that it's mRNA I think that that triggers this idea that if you're putting it in a young body, it's going to be there forever. I don't think there's been a lot of communication about the half-life of the vaccine and how long [00:48:00] it's actually in your body, which I find really reassuring as a parent. So can you just like speak to the concerns of, well, this is new technology and it's amazing technology, but what does it mean when we give it to kids?
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:48:10] So great question. mRNA is a, is in our body at all times constantly. It is not a new thing. It's not a foreign thing. mRNA vaccines, all they're doing is giving your body, the blueprint, the cheat sheet on how to build that specific protein. Not even the whole virus, just the spike protein, so that your body is like, I've never seen this before and then builds antibodies to fight it. That process, the time that it is delivered into your cells and that happens in the cytoplasm, not in the nucleus, which is where the DNA is. That process is done within 48 hours and mRNA does, it's a very, very fragile particle, which is why it needs to be stored at sub temp, freezing, you know, temperatures, uh, subfreezing temperatures and that's why it has this little lipid fatty bubble that it's in because [00:49:00] otherwise it would just degrade quickly.
Sarah: [00:49:02] And it's why it took us so long to get the work, to get it to work. Right. They couldn't figure out how to get it in without it breaking down. It's so fragile. Oh, thank you.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:49:10] That was one of the biggest challenges in previous mRNA vaccines was they because they couldn't figure out how do we stabilize this really delicate thing that can exist on its own. It's a single strand of genetic material. How do we make it so they can at least make it to the destination without falling apart? That lipid little bubble did that. That process it takes about 48 hours. The whole process of the vaccine being in your body is done within 72 hours. So I think that it's very, very easy to hear mRNA and your, your mind jumps to that sounds like DNA. That sounds like genes and genetic modification and it sounds like long-term consequences and cancer.
But if you have to, if you can stop right there at mRNA. mRNA can't do that backwards work of going to your DNA. First of all, your DNA's in your nucleus, can't it doesn't even get in there and the process is [00:50:00] actually the opposite. It goes DNA, RNA proteins, right? It doesn't go the opposite direction. Biologically speaking vaccines in general, don't typically have long-term consequences because they don't remain in your body long term. If you remember from like the kind of timeline of the events that I described, it does one job. It delivers a message says, this is what you need to do.
The only thing that remains in your body is a trained immune system. It's antibodies and T-cells and B cells that have memory that when they see, if they see that antigen, that spike protein again, it's going to say, I've seen this before you got to get out of here. So we know from a biological perspective that the risk for long-term consequences is really not there when it comes to vaccines but we know for certainty that the risk of long-term complications from COVID do exist and they can exist even for the pediatric population. Science, scientists, the data, et cetera, are not concerned about long-term consequences from the vaccine, because the vaccine does not stay in the body [00:51:00] long-term.
Sarah: [00:51:00] It's like we know just enough to be dangerous.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:51:03] Yeah.
Beth: [00:51:12] I would love to go back to risk assessment for just a minute. I want to be really respectful of parents who have immunologically compromised kids because I can't even imagine what this experience has been like for them and I feel like they write to us and I keep saying, hold on, we're going to get to that, I promise and I really want to get to that today. And I think that this conversation about risk assessment that Sarah and I've had a lot, keeps falling really flat with those parents because I, and I get this as much as I can without being in their shoes. We have talked for over a year now about how it is not about individual risk assessment, everything we do affects everyone else and if I have a kid who [00:52:00] cannot get vaccinated for quite some time and is very fragile to this, why do I have to walk in the land of individual risk assessment when that's not my reality yet? And I just wonder what we can say to those parents today that that might be at all helpful.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:52:15] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's why I try to be as inclusive as possible in my messaging because it's never a one size fits all and even when the CDC provides these updated guidelines, which often do forget, not just pediatric populations, but those people who are medically fragile and immunocompromised, that we do things like wearing masks and getting vaccinated because it's one of the most altruistic things we can do. It doesn't just protect the individual it's to protect other people. We're essentially using our bodies to create like a force field of protection around them. Right.
There are kids apart from COVID, who can't get vaccinated on the regular schedule or at all for some of these vaccines that have to go to school with other kids, which is why it's so important that we can't let, for instance, MMR vaccine rates to [00:53:00] drop below 90% because once we do immediately, we see outbreaks and that is it's putting those people at a much greater risk of not just getting the disease, but succumbing to the disease because they don't have any protection. So the baseline of public health really is community and understanding that we do things collectively.
Even herd immunity, which is a very specifically defined term in public health that is achieved through mass vaccination, presumes that we all kind of sign up to do this together because we benefit together when most people are vaccinated. We create dead ends where the virus, the virus can't jump from another body and then replicate and go on. We kind of make that choice together and I think that by those of us who have been fully vaccinated, who still choose to keep risk low and still choose to keep their masks on for me personally, those are the people on my mind. I am thinking about those people who are in group settings, who have to move on with their life, or who have to kind of go places with their parents. I'm thinking about I can make a choice to [00:54:00] reduce their risk even more, even if I'm not a huge risk to them. That's on my mind when I continue to wear my mask in public settings and mixed settings.
Sarah: [00:54:08] I think what's so hard about that is when we talk about public health and what we have all learned like in our cells this year is, it's not this like rational argument. We're all having together, right. That everybody's on this broad range of spectrum and we do, because it is a collective situation. We do have to think about the, the people who are going to need more persuasion, who were using our sort of political, that there is political capital to be spent or not spent or saved, that there is these sort of like emotional, not just ethical considerations, you know, just down to people's like willpower and how much like decision fatigue they're going to get when they're trying to go through these really complicated CDC charts and I think that's, what's so hard because it feels like it's life or death.
It's life or death [00:55:00] for me, or for my grandmother or for my immunocompromised kid, when it comes to public health, how can we all not see this the same way? And I just wonder how you think about that and how you sort of maintain your grasp of humanity when it's yeah that's, what's on the line and obviously what we've learned this year is it's really not that simple for people? Yeah.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:55:18] I mean, that's part of the reason why I struggled so much with the guidelines changing, because essentially what it's implying is that we have a honor system and there have been a lot of dishonorable things that have happened in our community, in our government, in our understanding of how to relate to each other with differing opinions. There's so much vitriol, there's so much ugliness and I think that there are plenty of people who will honor the honor system and, you know, follow it according to whether or not they're fully vaccinated and there are plenty of people who will be opportunistic about this and say, the government can't tell me what to do.
The government, can't check what I'm doing. The government can't monitor my behaviors, et cetera, et [00:56:00] cetera. And so, because of that, I feel like I'm not ready to jump into the deep end of less risk. I'm going to ease into it. I also think we have to have compassion on those who are just baseline re very risk averse and then because of this very traumatic and isolating experience of COVID be very, very weary of stepping into pre COVID normal life. I mean, I, I've also been on the record saying like pre COVID normal life is really not the goal. We don't want to go back there. How well, that's how we got here. Right? We did not value public health. We did not value research in this industry for a long time and that put us at this horrible unprepared situation that we were at come February of 2020. Yep.
We have to look forward. How do we move forward as a community, as a population that has no survived a once in a century type pandemic? Now, do I think it's going to be another century till the next one, I don't know. I don't think so, but I can't predict that to any [00:57:00] certainty. I just know that for me, in my training, this is not surprising. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened and I think one of the many lessons we've learned, if you look back at history. You know, 1918, that flu kind of taught us that hand hygiene was really important. This pandemic has really taught us the importance of mask wearing. I don't think that's going anywhere for awhile. I think that's part of people and for some that might be a crutch because they're really not ready to jump into the deep end. For some people they're like, I get it.
When it's flu season and I have a tickle in my throat, it has benevolent of me, it is gracious and kind of me to bring my mask. To not go to that meeting. To instead, now that zoom is so normalized, like take it from home or to like change your travel plans or something, or bring plane masks on you with a plane. Like, I literally cannot even imagine going on a plane without at least having a mask next to me in the far future. So I think that it just requires a lot of grace and empathy to move forward, because we're [00:58:00] not all on the same page. We don't have the same experiences from COVID and we definitely don't have the same kinds of privileges that can allow us to just move forward, whether those are physically health privileges or like the privileges of the kind of flexibility that many of us have had to kind of adapt to whatever we've been doing to get through this year.
Beth: [00:58:21] The point that we're not going back to pre COVID as the goal makes me think about something that I've been on a tear about lately and I said on our show recently. I am disappointed that we have not scaled up at home testing, especially for schools. To me if we had prioritized safe experiences at school, it would have involved a significant component of at-home testing and real instruction about how and when to do that and a bunch of people after I said that on the show sent me pictures of where you can buy an at home COVID testing kit, which I appreciate and I'm excited that you can get that.
It is also kind of not what I mean, [00:59:00] because I think about how ubiquitous it is to have a thermometer and when you sign your kid up for preschool, they say, here is the temperature. This is the number, right and if you're at this number, you don't send your kid in until 24 hours after they don't show this anymore. I just wonder if there are things like that, that we could foresee happening, especially as we start to look at the school year coming up and not all kids being vaccinated.
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [00:59:22] So you probably will be a little bit disappointed in me in saying that like, I have not been a huge proponent of at home testing partially because I have been so close to COVID data and COVID data is a mess and in public health emergencies, we need as much data as possible to understand what the rate of transmission is like, what is happening with severe cases in the hospitalizations and where clusters are emerging. So I, and there's no, we didn't even have a data infrastructure capable of handling laboratory based tests. It would have been an absolute dumpster fire to try to combine that with and make sense of at home rapid testing.
Now, moving [01:00:00] forward in a kind of post vaccinated world where we are kind of doing our own risk assessment and decisions on how to be back into society, I do think there's a lot of innovation that is on the table right now for figuring out how can I make sure that when I leave my house, I'm not putting myself or others at risk. I think that's on the table. I think that there are going to be probably saliva tests to do that and other tests, you know, swab tests that you can kind of quickly assess am I carrying a virus that I shouldn't be like spreading right now? We're just not there yet in, in technology and precision and in cost, right?
These are not cheap. Even the ones that you can buy right now are like very prohibited for a lot of people and you would, especially in the context of school, you would think you would need enough for every day, for 360 for the school year, right? That's just not even close to where we are right now because of how our healthcare structure is, is built and how we don't, you know, compensate for that kind of stuff. You don't like [01:01:00] subsidize it. So I think we have a long way to go, but I think we're going there to, to a degree of figuring out ways that we can do some kind of syndromic surveillance at home to figure out how we can protect our households and our communities that we're a part of.
Sarah: [01:01:14] Are we going to be getting COVID boosters for the rest of our lives? Can you answer that question for me?
Jessica Malaty Rivera: [01:01:18] Yeah, we just don't know. The data is not there yet to tell us that we need them. We are preparing them just in case. So I think a lot of people get really tripped up in the whole durability vaccine conversation because the data from Pfizer and Moderna says it's durable for six months and people are like only six months. Like, no, it's at least six months data doesn't predict the future. Data tells us what's available. The data that's available shows us it has been at least effective for that much. Remember how long I told you the first person was dose was March 16th, 2020. It's been over a year, but that data has to be analyzed. It has to be peer reviewed. It has to be published before we can make these kinds of claims about how long they last.
I expect the nine months mark [01:02:00] mark is probably around the corner. I imagine we'll probably get a data readout in the next few weeks from Pfizer and Madrona saying that the vaccine is effective for at least nine months and then again at 12 months, and then probably again at 15 months, would it surprise me if at the 12 month mark, they say, okay, We think it would be beneficial to get an annual booster maybe, but it's hard to say. We are 50% fully vaccinated now in the US. That is awesome news. We are getting closer and closer to having more coverage, but so far the variants haven't shown to be escaping vaccines, the vaccines that we have available protect us against the variants. So it just kind of depends on time, but I, I would, I'm kind of preparing for both scenarios.
Sarah: [01:02:52] Thank you so much to Jessica. We really appreciate her coming on the show. For outside of politics today, we're going to tackle a question we got on Instagram, [01:03:00] which is a listener is turning 30, and she wants to know if we have any advice for her next decade. What do you think Beth?
Beth: [01:03:07] I think the thirties as a decade for me that I can, I can now say this since I'm clear out of them um, we're such a strange mix of feeling the most lost I've ever felt in my life and then really finding myself and so if I could go back to myself at 29 or 30, I think I would say, listen, this is the decade when you're going to start settling in. It's just not going to feel like that for awhile because a lot of pressure starts to form around you in your thirties. A lot of adult responsibilities really start to accumulate. They become more the norm instead of feeling like you have hashtag adulting days, it's all day, every day as you get into your thirties and I know that these are broad generalizations, not true.
Some people have that experience in their teens, right? Because of the circumstances of their lives in my life. The truth of it was I had a [01:04:00] very blessed and privileged educational experience. My twenties, I spent mostly on my education as well. I got married in my late twenties. Didn't have kids until my thirties and so I really lived in a luxurious way until my thirties and the thirties was when the pressures of just being a person who's trying to raise a family and make the living and plan for the future kind of narrowed in and I think like most things through that pressure, some really beautiful things have been formed and I really do feel more at home with myself now. I know who I am and what I'm about and so I just want to offer that optimism for anyone who's experience is similar to mine.
Sarah: [01:04:41] So I have a month and a half left in my thirties. I really loved turning 30 because I did not like my twenties at all. Not a fan. It's not that I didn't have, you know, really cool experiences in my twenties but I just felt very lost and I knew I wasn't in the right [01:05:00] space for most of my twenties that I wasn't, you know, where I was supposed to be, because I don't really think you're supposed to, you're supposed to be in your twenties. I don't think twenties is the decade to be where you're supposed to be and I kind of knew that and I was just, I wasn't exactly killing time, but a little bit I was and so I was very excited to turn 30.
You know, I had Griffin when I was 28, Amos when I was 30 and Felix, when I was 34. So definitely my thirties was filled with young motherhood. Lots of littles, lots of pregnancies, lots of breastfeeding, lots of sleep deprivation, bedtime, all the, all the good things and, you know, I I've often said that becoming a mother is definitely sort of the, the definitive thing that happened to me in that time period. It just clarified, you know, I think that's sort of the work of your thirties generally, whether you choose to have kids or not, it's just very clarifying because you're, for the most part in your career, or maybe like really transitioning into a [01:06:00] new career or figuring out, you know, it's not a tie, it's not purely a time of transition, which I really think of more as my twenties.
But like you said, it's, it's more of a time of like, Settling in and settling down and figuring out and, you know, I, I ran for office in my thirties, which had been a lifelong dream. I wrote a book with you in my thirties, which had been a lifelong dream. I found this, this career that I could have never expected in my twenties and it just, you know, it was a really, really amazing decade and I'm so grateful for it and I'm so grateful for even the hard things. You know, I lost a pregnancy in my thirties. I lost an election in my thirties and my husband lost his job in our thirties. It's just, you know, there were some really hardcore challenges as well and I think that's part of what was so clarifying is you look back and you see the things that made that decade worthwhile and some of those were [01:07:00] struggles and some of that was suffering that really clarified what was important to you and what wasn't, but you know, I wouldn't trade it. I think it is such an amazing stage of life and you know, definitely my most favorite decade so far was the time I spent in my thirties. I'm so excited for all the 1991 babies turning 30 this year.
Beth: [01:07:26] I am too. I know that everybody's experience is different and I can't lay down any like hard and fast principles for this decade, but I will say like, it's a good time to start really knowing yourself and choosing to live as yourself. I think that what I did in my thirties, if I could crystallize it is I stopped fighting with who I am and allowed myself to go with my strengths instead of trying to shore up my weaknesses all the time and decide what kind of life I wanted to have, not what kind of life other people [01:08:00] expected me to have and it's been just a remarkable gift and I, and a gift that I would wish for everyone.
Sarah: [01:08:07] Well, and I think I did a lot of personality exploration in my thirties. You know, it's when you said that about strengths. I remember reading the strengths finders in my thirties and being like, oh, I thought I was just supposed to, like you said, it's supposed to be chipping away at these weaknesses. You mean I can just lean into what I'm good at. That's great. I love that, you know. The infamous Enneagram I discovered in my thirties and love languages and all these different tools that I think I use now and figured out what works for me and just got to know myself better. Got better at, at, at responding instead of reacting to everything too. I think that was a big journey. I think so much of my twenties was really, it was emotion centric, which I know I cry a lot and you probably think I'm still very emotion centric, but you guys have gotten so much better.
Beth: [01:08:53] The other thing I would say about the thirties is I think it's easy to slip into like a cultural narrative that this is when you're going to start running [01:09:00] out of time. Like this is the prime of your life. This is the decade you've got to get all the things done. I think that's just nonsense and bananas.
Sarah: [01:09:09] Who are those people?
Beth: [01:09:10] And I, I just feel, I honestly feel younger as a 40 year old than I felt as a 30 year old, uh, because I don't feel burnt out from schooling. I feel very in control of my decisions and choices, and it's like a blank slate almost. It's it really feels like the best is ahead of me, not behind me. Um, so if you're feeling old or something at 30, let me just look back from 40 and say, I think like I'm excited to be 50 now that I'm 40 and just realize like how much fresher life gets with more perspective and experience behind you.
Sarah: [01:09:43] Well, so let us just say, have the best thirties available to you, for sure. Or forties or fifties or sixties, whatever decade you're in, we wish the best for you and we thank you for sharing moments of your precious life with us here at Pantsuit Politics. We will be back [01:10:00] in your ears on Tuesday and until then keep it nuanced, y'all.
Beth: Pantsuit Politics is produced by Studio D Podcast Production.
Alise Napp is our managing director.
Sarah: Megan Hart is our community engagement manager. Dante Lima is the composer and performer of our theme music.
Beth: Our show is listener supported. Special thanks to our executive producers.
Executive Producers (Read their own names): Martha Bronitsky, Linda Daniel, Ali Edwards, Janice Elliot, Sarah Greepup, Julie Haller, Helen Handley, Tiffany Hassler, Barry Kaufman, Molly Kohrs.
The Kriebs, Laurie LaDow, Lilly McClure, David McWilliams, Jared Minson, Emily Neesley, Danny Ozment, The Pentons, Tawni Peterson, Tracy Puthoff, Sarah Ralph, Jeremy Sequoia, Karin True.
Beth: Amy Whited, Joshua Allen, Morgan McHugh, Nichole Berklas, Paula Bremer and Tim Miller
Sarah: To support Pantsuit Politics, and receive lots of bonus features, visit patreon.com/pantsuit politics.
Beth: You can connect with us on our website, PantsuitPoliticsShow.com. Sign up for our weekly emails and follow us on Instagram.