Civil Liberties on the Midterm Ballot (ep. 18)

October 18, 2018
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The 2018 midterm elections will determine the fate of governorships nationwide, the party that controls Congress, and the outcome of hugely consequential ballot questions in many states. The stakes are high, including for key civil rights and civil liberties. This week, At Liberty features Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director, who discusses what we can expect from next month's ballot, and how the ACLU is getting involved.

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LEE ROWLAND
[00:04] I'm Lee Rowland. Welcome to At Liberty: The weekly podcast from the ACLU where we talk about today's most pressing civil rights and civil liberties issues. On today's show: the midterms.

The 2018 midterm elections are less than a month away. This fall’s vote will determine the fate of governorships nationwide, which party controls the House and Senate, and the outcome of hugely consequential ballot questions in many states. The stakes are predictably high, including for key civil rights and civil liberties.

Today I'm talking with the ACLU’s in-house political maven, Faiz Shakir, to hear about what we're likely to see in next month's midterms. Faiz is the National Political Director of the ACLU and he's overseeing the organization's political work as the ACLU enters the electoral fray like never before in its 99 year history. Faiz is a lifelong politicker. He's worked for both Democratic Party leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He also worked for many years at the Center for American Progress including as co-founder and editor-in-chief of the political website, ThinkProgress.org. Faiz, thanks so much for being with us today.

FAIZ SHAKIR
It's an honor to be here. Thank you, Lee.

LEE
You're a lifelong politico. Uh, when did you know that you had caught the politics bug?

FAIZ
[01:33] I was in college and I happened to get an internship in Washington D.C., and I worked for former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, and I was involved in a variety of things that summer, and up until that point my parents, like many of my Pakistani friends’ parents, were trying to convince me to become a doctor. And it was at that moment that I said, “Oh, doctor. No, that's terrible. I just found something that really appeals to me in life and I'm going to try to do this for a while.” And so from college of my junior summer on all the way through. I had another internship at the White House after that summer, then got in a car and drove to Washington D.C. after I graduated, and I've been there ever since — from 2002 till now, 16 years living in Washington D.C. doing a variety of policy and advocacy work. And of course, mostly, you know, started being motivated by 9/11, being a Muslim-American and feeling that at that moment civil rights and civil liberties for me was all too real. On campus, many of my friends were being questioned by the FBI. I felt that the positions I had on the Afghanistan war were very unpopular then. I didn’t think we should go into war then. Now I think the mood of the public has changed. And you felt very ostracized and very much isolated in those moments. And one thing I really remember, Lee, is that there weren't very many organizations who stood for you. But the ACLU was one of them. And it was ingrained in my memory from that point on and an honor, of course, to now be working at this institution.

LEE
I have to say your answer surprised me. When I give my origin story about how I ended up at the ACLU, it's remarkably similar because I found myself at the end of my college years thinking about going to law school. And one of the only people, in what I thought was a very progressive bastion — I went to school liberal arts school in Vermont — opposed to the war in Afghanistan, right, in the immediate wake of 9/11. The reason that surprises me coming from you, is because I felt profoundly alienated from party politics at that moment, precisely because almost every politician in this country jumped on the bandwagon to vote for that war. If that was your awakening moment, how did it color how you felt about working for a political party?

FAIZ
[03:42] So the reason that I got involved into politics is because I always sensed deep injustice in it. And I understand a lot of people look at the injustice and have cynicism about it. I’ve never tended to be that way personally — I understand it, but I tend to look at the system, say that thing is effed up and needs fixing. And if not me, then who? Who's going to help bring a different perspective and be an agitator for the... fixing the injustices that I so clearly see, or people like me so clearly see, but nothing is being done about them. So even in these moments when we're facing these grave challenges, I hope I maintain this kind of darkest before the dawn attitude or optimism that, yes there are pains and the Iraq War period was a grave injustice — one of the greatest moral sins in policy terms in our lifetime — and out of that, I think there was glimmers of light. And again now we're in a dark period and I tend to again be optimistic that it is the political system, because of its unique power in addressing societal ills and providing solutions that lift people, that you have to engage it. You have to figure out a way to make it work.

LEE
Can you tell me a little bit about your evolution starting within more traditional party politics and how you found your way to a nonpartisan organization like ACLU?

FAIZ
So I began my career working at the Center for American Progress where I was an issue advocate on progressive policy issues, and I thought it was always the best grounding — I got fortunate in that sense — that it made you think about what are the issues that you care deeply about and explain why you think about them in a certain way. And then if you care about it, get involved in the politics to help change that issue course. So that's how I started. And then when I went to work for Leader Pelosi and Harry Reid I just knew for myself if I never laced up and tried to go inside government and do something about the things that I had been writing about and agitating about on the outside, I would feel regret. And, so, when an opportunity came and fortunately it was at a higher level of government, I jumped at it. And those experiences on the inside I think hopefully have shaped the person I am, which is essentially an issue advocate with burning desire to be a radical about some of the policy changes that I care about.

LEE
[05:58] Did you consider yourself a radical agitator within the party structure?

FAIZ
Yes. So when we built ThinkProgress it was, in some sense, a radical contravention on the Democratic Party. It was, for those of us who were trying to get out of the Iraq War, agitating on warrantless surveillance, agitating on Guantanamo, challenging a lot of the lies about “we're going to be out of Iraq in six months” and weapons of mass destruction claims — that those were the kinds of things that were not being heard from the Democratic Party. You had to agitate and fight them and challenge them to say something about it. And those were my roots. That's how I feel most comfortable, when I'm playing that role. But then to get on the inside and understand what are the forces here that stop you from doing the right thing? To understand that a little bit better. I feel like I’ve come away with a greater appreciation now having served in government to understand the political barriers that occasionally stop the right thing from being done.

LEE
Can you tell us about some of those barriers?

FAIZ
Well, certainly money is a big one, and I think that...

LEE/CROSS TALK
I'm shocked, Faiz, shocked that there's gambling going on in politics.

FAIZ
Money is the big one, but money felt in a variety of different ways. And I don't think it's as clean as maybe some people think that, “oh you know there’s just a bag of cash and it's the transaction.” No, money as in the form of who gets a voice and who gets influence? Who can make that call to the senator, or to the leader, or to the key people and members of Congress? Who can actually advocate in a direct way, with some degree of influence, to change the course of events?

LEE
[07:29] Did you see any meaningful distinctions in that order of operations between the House when you worked for Pelosi and the Senate and when you worked for Reid?

FAIZ
I mean the House is is a is a wild — I mean the people come to it with a lot of different character traits, personalities, and experiences. And to corral that into something resembling order is always very hard to do. And Nancy Pelosi — the one thing I take away from her, for sure, is an amazing ability to be diligent, pragmatic, and have a plan. To corral a House Democratic Caucus, or any Republican caucus for that matter, is a very hard thing to do and to count the votes and to make sure you got the votes and you got a plan that everyone has bought into despite their varying levels of concerns about whatever that plan might be.

LEE
It's really like herding cats.

FAIZ
It’s herding cats. And it was second instinct to her. To know, OK, if I do something, it’s gonna be 205 votes. But if I do this thing, it’ll be 220 votes, and just kind of knew where her boundaries were and having everyone follow her.

LEE
A lot of math, horse trading, chaos, yeah. OK.

FAIZ
Yes. Yes. And the House, as you know, is a very democratic institution. Once you get your majority vote you can do a lot of things. And, as long as you keep your majority vote, you can move it. On the Senate side of course it’s a very different ballgame where relationships even across the aisle are really critical to conducting normal everyday business. And Harry Reid's superpower was always understanding people. He could, like, he could sit down somebody, it feels like in five minutes, and get a really good sense of what drives that person, what motivates them, what are their incentives, and I'm gonna to try to work to get at it. Sometimes it helped him with fighting his opponents, sometimes it helped him with building unlikely alliances. But it was, in some sense, the critical thing that he needed in order to be a leader of the Senate.

LEE
So now you’re here at ACLU.

FAIZ
Yes.

LEE
Do you feel some of those forces that you felt operating against you, getting in the way of doing the right thing? Or is this a completely different universe?

FAIZ
[09:24] It feels natural in that I get to agitate, again, for a lot of the things I was agitating behind the scenes. Now I get to do it a little bit more forcefully, and publicly, than you do it as a staffer for a member or senator. And what you're doing now is you're hopefully trying to change hearts and minds, and build the movements for the policy changes that we seek, whether it's on reproductive health, or mass incarceration, or voting rights, whatever, you name it. Because of the ACLU’s unique power in this moment, with volunteer capacity and the ability to move resources, money, I think we have an ability to shape the discourse.

LEE
Now that we've set up your bona fides as a Beltway guy, I'd love just a pundit’s view of what these 2018 midterms feel like to you, as someone who's been around D.C. for ages. What are you expecting to see writ large?

FAIZ
I, uh, I am hopeful about what we're going to see, which is an awakening of people rising up and asserting a democratic voice like they had not in 2016, or even 2014 and before. Maybe closer, hopefully, akin to 2008 when President Obama was elected when you had a large number of voices raising up…

LEE
When you say “democratic vote,” do you mean small “d” or big “D”?

FAIZ
Oh, I meant small “d.”

LEE
I figured, just making sure...

FAIZ
I just meant, people who are just, who have not voted, who have felt disenfranchised, who have felt that their voice didn't matter, again reasserting that voice, and saying that politics does matter. I think it's going to be reflected both in the composition of the folks who are going to come into office, but in the composition people who vote on Election Day.

LEE
From what you've seen, does the polling and registration data support that? Does it suggest that there's going to be a big participation bump for these midterms?

FAIZ
[11:10] Yeah. In special elections throughout the country up until November 6, you saw both jumps in registration, and also jumps in compositions of people. So you have African-American lieutenant governors in places, you have a transgender state lawmaker in places, you have women in offices that had not historically had women in those offices before. How many seats will that effect? I don't know, but the biggest thing that I'm looking at, I'll be honest with you Lee, is not the federal seats. It's really the down-ticket races. So I'm looking at everything from state governorships, to state AGs, to state secretaries of state, to state legislatures, if any of those flip, and district attorneys. I think the reason I care so much about those is I know those are the laboratories for real policy change, and if we're going to get expansions of reproductive health, expansions of voting rights, reductions in mass incarceration, it’s going to happen at the state level until federal politics changes radically.

LEE
Um, I'd love to hear more about these. From a civil rights and civil liberties perspective, what's on the ballot that could really change the floor of rights that people have in the states?

FAIZ
From ACLU’s perspective, we have 11 different ballot initiatives in 11 different states that we're involved with, at varying levels. I'm going to rush through these, but I want to let everyone know that there's a lot at stake, and they should just generally be aware of this. In Florida, rights restoration initiative for formerly incarcerated individuals — 1.4 million of whom would stand to get their voting rights back if this amendment passes with 60 percent plus in November. We're on a good track there, so knock on wood. In Michigan, fighting for a whole host of voting reforms including automatic voter registration in that state. We're on a good track there, according to the polling. We need 50 percent plus in November on election day to pass that. In Nevada, automatic voter registration there too. Those three states to expand the potential for 2 million people to be able to vote. 1.4 million, as I mentioned ,in Florida, 300,000 roughly in Michigan, 300,000 roughly in Nevada, who could stand to benefit if these reforms pass and would be great for participatory democracy.

LEE
And why did the ACLU pick those three states, Florida, Michigan, Nevada? Is simply because of the numbers of people affected, is it also the political realities on the ground?

FAIZ
[13:17] The short and honest answer is a combination of all of those things. When you look at Florida on the rights restoration initiative, they encompass roughly about a quarter of all disenfranchised formerly incarcerated individuals in America. So the fact that you have that many people, just in Florida alone, calls you to do something about it. And fortunately, in this cycle, with the support of people like Desmond Meade in Florida, who's been leading this initiative...

LEE
And he's actually been on the podcast, we talked to Desmond.

FAIZ
I heard that, he was great. And he had formed the groundwork for being able to do anything about this. And we were, at the ACLU, we were fortunate to be able to come in with some financial and volunteer support to lend it to his cause. And that is on a very good track and it's kudos to him. I really think, like, when Florida passes this measure, it will not only challenge you about what is possible on voting rights, it changes what's possible on criminal justice issues. You and I know that the word ‘felon’ has been tossed around for ages as the thing that you should be fearful of...

LEE
That’s your scarlet letter, yeah.

FAIZ
...and run away from. And to see now formerly incarcerated ex-felons getting the voting rights back and a major cross-ideological way with, hopefully, knock on wood, 70 plus percent of people voting for it across Republican and Democratic identities. It'll be amazing, to tell you what's possible there.

LEE
You also mentioned in Michigan and Nevada the issue of automatic voter registration. Can you explain that a little bit for people who may not be familiar with what that means?

FAIZ
We have a a silly voting system in America in which the voting rights are determined based on the place where you reside. And so you may live in a state in which it is easy to register, and you can vote by mail, and you can, you have a lot of easy paths to getting your voice heard. Some states, not so great. Michigan has been one of the worst states in terms of voting rights. It didn't have an early vote period. You, you had to register months in advance in order to be able to have a voice on Election Day. And of course, that, all of that is disenfranchising. When you see what goes on in Flint, Michigan you remember, these are people who, probably, have been stopped from being able to vote. They’ve got other important things in their lives, and when it came to Election Day, they were registered and they were told, “Yep, you don't have a vote.” So automatic voter registration just decreases the barrier to the ballot box. And now, everyone, hopefully, would be registered if they have gone through with a driver's license or state I.D., they would be on the rolls, and they wouldn't have to worry about when they show up on Election Day - “Am I able to cast my ballot or not?”

LEE
[15:38] Speaking of substantive voting rights, I've heard a lot of what I think are tragic stories in the last week, even, about decisions or practices that seemed designed to suppress the vote in certain places. So what I'm thinking of is the Supreme Court's recent opinion upholding a photo I.D. law that's very likely to disenfranchise Native Americans in North Dakota, for example. Or there have been a lot of reports about purges, and people not showing up as registered in places like Georgia and Florida, or problems with voter registrations being accepted in Texas. All of these are obviously close races where voting rights themselves become, I think, a political, if not a partisan issue. How worried are you? How worried should we be that those who will be able to cast a ballot is actually representative of people who should be allowed to vote?

FAIZ
Those are very rational and reasonable concerns. They should not stop you from voting. Let's be clear about that. They shouldn't depress you and feel like, “oh all hope is lost and I shouldn't even bother to go through the obstacles that they put in front of me.” You should absolutely try to go vote, but yes, they have put up obstacles for a reason. And I'll be honest about that. There are racial reasons, but I think one of the key reasons is incumbency. They just want to protect their office. They want to make sure that those who have power currently maintain that power.

LEE
I get that you seem to think a lot of politics are local. Um, I'm interested in your take on how things like the Kavanaugh hearing, the issue of child separation at the border, maybe the Mueller probe. How do those things play out when we're talking about a politics that fundamentally comes down to local issues. How do those interact?

FAIZ
So, I'm going to be direct with you, as a political person now.

LEE
Please.

FAIZ
[17:31] The thing that is motivating people is anti-Trump. And the common thread through all of those is Donald Trump. Whether it is family separation or any other thing that you could reference — Kavanaugh, et cetera. And I do think he is the most galvanizing force. He literally is on the ballot. I'll be honest with you, on November 6, it’s him, and his policies, that are going to have a referendum placed upon them. And what I worry about, in this regard, is that the votes that will almost certainly be there for rejection of his policies, also need to be translated into an affirmative vision, which will be incumbent upon those who come into office having ridden this wave of an anti-Trump fervor, to have a deep sense of why they're there, which is that Donald Trump is doing stuff that was really offensive.

LEE
Are you saying that the job of political advocates is to tap into that anger, but to translate into a proactive vision, as opposed to one that's just anti-Trump?

FAIZ
Right, after November 6th, I think the job all of us advocates is to turn the tide that has brought in a new composition in state legislatures and, hopefully, in Congress as well — to turn that into manifestations of policies that we care about, that reflect what people voted for.

LEE
Well let's turn to the ACLU. What are the ACLU’s top priorities? What what does this current moment in the country translate into as far as core policy proposals that further civil liberties?

FAIZ
We're fighting the fights that matter for communities that are being pushed around and trampled upon. And there's a reason why they're being pushed around and trampled upon because they are deemed to be politically unpopular. And there's a reason why Donald Trump talks about immigration nonstop, and warns about MS13, and talks about gangs infiltrating your cities. It is because he sees it as a political winner, and it is a political winner until it is a loser for him. And we have to figure out a way to make that a loser, to make immigration feel like something that people need to be thinking about in a proactive, affirmative and encompassing way that is more welcoming. And we took the approach that if you're going to try to change the politics on immigration — very big, difficult issue — you have to work from the bottom up. And we looked at a lot of sheriff races where, in many cases, sheriffs have inordinate power over your immigration rights and freedoms. They govern how your local police forces will be used, and whether you're going to participate with ICE and detention authorities. And we have gotten engaged in a number of sheriff races to make sure that those issues are on the ballot. The people hear that and feel that, if you care about what is going on at the federal level, you, maybe you can't do a thing about what Trump is doing up there, but what you can do is interject at your local level, a sense of your own community, feeling that we want to go in a different direction.

LEE
[20:23] Right. How on earth, as national political director of a nonpartisan organization, can you uphold that promise of nonpartisanship, while entering fully into the fray of a political environment that is, I think, fair to say, crazy polarized and partisan? How do you think about maintaining the ACLU’s principles, while also being an effective bare-knuckled political fighter? Are those reconcilable?

FAIZ
I think the ACLU can be a political organization, while refusing to be a partisan organization. I make a distinction between the words political and partisan. When you're partisan you are of course aligning with a party, and a candidate, for office. You can avoid doing all of those things while still maintaining that you're a political advocacy organization, which is to say we're going to use every political tool at our disposal, to affect policy change in this country. From me, the fact that the ACLU gets involved in elections, isn't an abdication of our values and principles. It's a demonstration of how much we care about them. It always felt odd to me, and I guess I come to it from my own lens, that you would say, “I have all of these concerns about this Kansas secretary of state, and all of the voting repression schemes that he is doing, and I'm going to fight him in the court of law. Try to stop him at every turn.” And then he says, “You know what, I think I'm doing amazing stuff. I'm going to run for governor.” And at that moment do you go muted? Do you literally walk away from that and say, “Hey, I have nothing to tell the voting public about your stances because you've now announced that you're candidate…” For me it's a demonstration of how much you care about your principles that at a moment where a Kris Kobach, in this instance, decides to run for governor.

LEE
And that's the Kansas secretary of state now running.

FAIZ
The Kansas secretary of state now running for governor. That you would have some message to share that is nonpartisan, but based out of your principles and your values and your concerns, — the things that are consistent with the things you would have fought him on what he was secretary of state — to raise those with the voting public, because it is at that moment, in that election, when you have the possibility for the greatest hope of policy change and policy effect. Right, that’s when candidates’ eyes and ears are most open and most welcoming to the pressure and to the change, and obviously, I understand, that we want to make sure we don't become tarred with the perception of partisanship.

LEE
[22:38] Are there any issues, where the ACLU is spending money in these elections trying to, you know, increase voter education, that are likely to redound to the benefit of a Republican nominee?

FAIZ
So, we, we took a little bit of heat for a couple of things that we did in this regard in supporting a Republican officeholder. So, Justin Amash, congressman from Michigan, has, had taken a number of stances both against the Muslim ban and on family separation. We took out an ad in his hometown paper, extolling some of his positions and applauded him, not an endorsement, but just said we would like you to maintain your civil rights and civil liberties principles. We also recently did it with Jeff Flake. It's an interesting example right, when he calls for an FBI investigation on somebody who we thought, during the course of Kavanaugh hearings, he calls for an FBI investigation, the investigation ended up being shoddy and useless. But he still asserted a moment of courage. Right. I think he did at that moment do something that required standing up to his own party, required standing up to Chuck Grassley. Again, we took out an ad in the Arizona Republic, and other places to say, thank you Jeff Flake.

LEE
Are there ways in which the ACLU’s broad and complex mission, creates constraints for you as a political actor? And should it? Can you give us some examples?

FAIZ
For sure. Before I say that - real quick quick we also criticized Democrats. Right, now Senator Dianne Feinstein, we were pretty loud and proud about her position on torture and Gina Haspel’s nomination, urging her to be true to her own values. The ACLU mandate on civil rights and civil liberties is, I think, focused on a select core set of issues. There are other issues outside of those main highways that the public cares deeply about that we sometimes don't assert a louder voice on. Those surrounding economic justice, tying not only our racial justice causes, but with our class injustice. You look at Medicaid expansion, does ACLU have a role in Medicaid expansion? Well we know low income African-American women — people who are trying to get reproductive health access, are hurt disproportionately when Medicaid is not expanded. Now it's on the ballot in a number of states. Money in politics, as I referenced to you, one of the greatest issues, at least that I felt when I was in government, knowing that it was, it was corrupting politics. So those are areas, I think, like, hurt our ability to do advocacy around.

LEE
[25:09] Do you consider yourself still the same kind of radical agitator you might have been within the party? I'm assuming from party politics you kind of use every weapon at your disposal. Right? And I'm assuming that the ACLU’s mission might take some of those weapons out of your arsenal. Right? The ACLU cares about free speech and due process in ways that might get in the way with jumping on some bandwagons. Do you see your role as pushing the ACLU to join those fights?

FAIZ
I am myself growing and evolving and learning how to be a good political director within the ACLU confines. So, I'll tell you, we have a board policy, it’s called 519. It governs our nonpartisanship. And, when, yeah, I understood it to say, you know, we don't endorse or oppose candidates for office. And one of the interesting things, Lee, that it has forced me to do is that every race that we get involved with, we go, my team and I sit down and we do a scorecard of that race on the issues. And we really dive into what is your posture on immigration, what’s your posture on this criminal justice issue, what’s your posture on reproductive health. It forces us to go find exact language that they're suggesting or have uttered out of their mouths. And it forces you to see, is there any delta, is there any difference between these candidates on those? And if we can't find anything there, then don't even talk to me about this race, because you're looking out for the wrong reasons. Maybe you like the identity of a particular candidate. Maybe they just spoke to your heart in a different way. Those aren't reasons to get involved in that race from the ACLU perspective. If you can't find that delta on a policy issue, or if you can’t identify that policy issue that is most critical, that voters need to hear about, then, then we can't get involved in that race. And I'd say you could look at that as a detriment and a hamstring on me, but, I think, it also forces a kind of calculus and analysis that is healthy. It means that when our contribution comes in, it feels and looks different, and it is hopefully staying true to the mission of being voter education that's additive to the debate.

LEE
[27:07] How different is it doing voter engagement for a multi-issue organization that, I think, sometimes takes on unpopular issues, like, defending sex offenders, or death row inmates? How does that translate into advocacy to a group of members that may be somewhat loosely associated in what their key priorities are?

FAIZ
We got something for everyone, Lee.

LEE
And often something to offend every one of those people as well.

FAIZ
Also true! Uh, dissent is patriotic at the ACLU. I really think that when you're doing political advocacy, you're trying to figure out what your key goals are. And if the key goal is to advance an issue in a particular race, then we have to be level-headed about what language will the public respond to. Right, not what makes us feel good. Let's try to move the debate, so we have, you know, more so than ever before, spent money on polling in a lot of different races for these ballot initiatives, and candidate races, to get a sense of where the public is on some of our issues. And it challenges us to say well, you know, the public might not use the language that we do about nonviolent felons, right? That is one of the most common utterances of politicians, “nonviolent felons,” and we would say, ‘hey, you know, there's a lot of people who are quote unquote, violent felons, who we should be thinking about reducing sentences of.’ And if the public isn't there, it forces you in that context to see what gradual improvements or successes can be had in the near term future while we fight the bigger fights overall. And, I think, that that is what, I think, changes the most, is finding that gradualism of our cause that may not satisfy everybody, but will take one step forward for the overall civil rights, civil liberties agenda.

LEE
Do you think that this investment in electoral politics is likely to continue or even increase as, at least at the Supreme Court, right, as, as of this week, we have a majority that's less likely, say, to produce victories in civil rights cases. Do you see this investment in direct action as a necessary corollary to the reduced power of civil rights litigation?

FAIZ
[29:20] So, you know this Lee, but I was fighting for it even before the Supreme Court started to shift in a different direction. I believed it because there's really huge gains for civil rights and civil liberties if you can get engaged at the ballot box. People asserting a civil rights and civil liberties voice can have huge impacts. But now, as you suggest, if you're looking at the trend of national politics and what is going on at the federal level, the presidency, the Supreme Court, it is closing off a lot of avenues that we had hoped would be there for a civil rights expansion. And so if they're going to be there over the next four, five, six years, it's going to be at the state level and the wonderful thing about that is, I think, that there's a great role for advocacy to play in shaping the future successes of civil rights and civil liberties that, ultimately, if we win at the state level, they're going to be won at the national level in years to come.

LEE
I'd love to know, have you ever considered stepping out in front and putting your name on the ballot ever?

FAIZ
Don't force me to ever do that, Lee. I've, I’ve uh, seen it up close, running for office. It's horrible. It's one thing I've definitely never felt an inclination to do because I'd know the pains and the challenges that it encompasses. Nothing about that seems appealing.

LEE
Is your mom still disappointed you didn't become a doctor?

FAIZ
I think there is never going to be any consoling them about the path that I should have gone down.

LEE
Well we’re happy you’re here. Thank you so much for coming to talk to us today, Faiz.

FAIZ
Thank you Lee, appreciate it.

LEE
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