S3-EP6: Debbie’s 90-year-old Dad Talks About the Most Extraordinary Election of His Lifetime
For this episode of The Gap Year Podcast, Debbie talks to her politically-minded 90-year-old father on the day after the 2020 presidential election. He says the divided vote might be okay and he talks about the need to think and act collaboratively. He reminisces about the memorable elections in his lifetime – this one being the most extraordinary.
Debbie Weil brings Frank Weil, her almost 90-year-old father, back on the podcast to give us his perspective on the turbulent 2020 presidential election, even as votes are still being counted. Her Dad is a prolific blogger at FAWideas.com, where he regularly offers his thoughts on Democratic politics, including cogent tirades about Donald Trump whom he regards as incompetent, amoral, and dangerous.
So who else to make better sense of this nail-biting week than her Dad?
He lives in Washington DC with her mother, Denie Weil; they’ve been married almost 70 years. In the late 1970s, Frank was an Assistant Secretary in the Dept. of Commerce under Jimmy Carter. In the decades since, as well as before, he has been deeply involved in Democratic politics. He’s been an informal advisor to Presidential candidates, including Barack Obama. And he always has an opinion. Plenty of them.
They recorded the conversation you’re about to hear in the early afternoon of November 4th. The frustration of the previous night was starting to give way to patience as key swing states and counties continued to count votes. At the time they recorded, there was general agreement that Joe Biden would prevail, narrowly, and become the 46th President of the U.S.
Frank says this is the most extraordinary election of his lifetime, both in terms of nail-biting outcome but also in view of the massive turnout and, because of the pandemic, the unusual phenomenon of massive early voting and increased mail-in ballots.
He tells us that his frustration of the past weeks and months has turned into “inspiration” as he ponders the fact that a divided government might be a good thing, because it will force Washington to compromise and therefore better represent the people. He and Debbie take a brief walk down memory lane for some of the most memorable elections of his lifetime, the first being FDR’s unprecedented third election in 1940 with Henry Wallace as his running mate, when Frank was nine years old. When Debbie was nine, she remembers waking up with excitement the morning after Kennedy was elected in 1960.
There are a few things Debbie and Frank didn’t get around to specifically discussing, including the record turnout, the highest in a century. And they didn’t have enough time to go deeply into examining the divide in this country, between rural and urban, educated and less educated, and the belief in astonishingly opposing narratives.
You can’t help but sense this man’s optimism, despite this difficult year and despite the real difficulties that lie ahead as we try to unite a deeply divided nation. He lets us go with a word of wisdom on the importance of collaboration even with those you don’t agree with.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Frank’s blog: https://fawideas.com
- Frank Weil’s bio
- Let Me Be Frank: From a Silver Spoon to the Knives and Forks in the Road of My Life (FAW’s autobiography)
- The Result Will Not Be Too Different From Expectations (his blog post on Nov. 4, 2020)
- Frank’s appearance on Episode 1 of the podcast
- Why counting the votes takes so long: Here’s what happens after polls close in a US presidential election (Pew Research Center, October 22, 2020)
- Memorable Elections (History.com, August 10, 2020)
- The 1948 United States presidential election
- The most famous election headline in U.S. history: Dewey Defeats Truman
- The 1960 United States presidential election
- Henry A. Wallace, the 33rd Vice President of the USA
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