Part of a Series

Devon Gray, president of End Poverty in California, joins the show to discuss the fight against poverty and how to grow the middle class. Colin and Daniella also talk about Alexei Navalny’s death and the state of reproductive rights in the United States with the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Maggie Jo Buchanan.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger.

Colin Seeberger: And I’m Colin Seeberger. Daniella, guess what?

Gibbs Léger: What?

Seeberger: It’s a big holiday for my home state of Texas. It’s National Margarita Day!

Gibbs Léger: Ooh. You know, I love a good margarita.

Seeberger: What’s your favorite kind? Are you frozen or on the rocks?

Gibbs Léger: That’s a great question. So when I’m in the tropics, it’s frozen. But when I’m here, it’s on the rocks. And my husband makes many different varieties of margaritas that are wonderful—my favorite being a harvest margarita, which is perfect for the fall. Think fall spices, but like, margarita.

Seeberger: Interesting. I like tequila margaritas. I like mezcal margaritas. I like prickly pear or just a classic—those are some of my faves. And usually I’ll do the salt.

Gibbs Léger: Yes. So whether you are drinking a margarita right now or just another cup of joe, let’s get ready for a great episode today. I talked to Devon Gray, president of End Poverty in California, or EPIC. We discussed his organization’s fight against poverty, how extreme abortion bans and tax cuts for the wealthy hurt struggling Americans, and the policies that are helping grow the middle class.

Seeberger: I’m super excited to hear it. But first, we have to get to some news.

Gibbs Léger: We do. And I know we talked a lot about Russia last week. But just after that conversation, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died suddenly in prison. Navalny was Russia’s most prominent and popular voice against Vladimir Putin, having fought to expose the Kremlin’s corruption for decades. He inspired countless protesters in Russia and beyond over the course of his life, and he survived multiple attacks on his life that may have been carried out by the Russian government. He was imprisoned by Putin’s regime in 2021 for “extremism” and was being held at a penal colony in the Arctic Circle when he died last Friday. While it’s impossible to uncover all the facts around Navalny’s death, world leaders and the press alike are pointing the finger with some confidence at Putin and his agents given their long history of using lethal means against their political enemies. We’ll get into what this all means politically in a moment. But first, I want to emphasize what a horrific tragedy this is.

Navalny’s death is a huge loss for the people of Russia. He represented hope for a brighter Russian future beyond Putin’s cold, corrupt dictatorship. He unified Russians of many different political and ideological backgrounds in his fight against corruption. More than 400 protesters have been arrested in Russia in the wake of his death, some simply for putting flowers on his memorials. Navalny’s death and the circumstances surrounding it underscore the danger Putin poses both at home and abroad. I mean, here’s a dictator whose political opponents mysteriously turn up dead, who feels emboldened to invade neighboring countries and violate their sovereignty, and who attempts to meddle in the democratic processes of other nations—that includes the United States.

Last Friday, special counsel David Weiss indicted Alexander Smirnov, a star witness in the House Republicans’ impeachment investigation of President Joe Biden, for providing false testimony alleging corruption by the president and Hunter Biden to the FBI. According to a court filing released earlier this week, Smirnov told Weiss that the information he provided to law enforcement actually originated from Russian intelligence services. Putin acts with impunity and clearly believes he’s above domestic and international law. The more he’s allowed to get away with this behavior, the more other nations like China will feel they can do the same.

Seeberger: That’s exactly right, Daniella. And that’s exactly why the Biden administration announced that, on Friday, it plans to unveil major sanctions against Russia in response to Navalny’s death. That’s, of course, a welcome step—and we’ll be keeping an eye on what the package will specifically include. You know, this is also why U.S. support for Ukraine and the war against Russia continues to be so essential. We’ve often said this is a larger ideological war between democracy and authoritarianism, and these alarming events really drive that point home.

So of course, it’s terribly sad but not unexpected to hear silence from right-wing extremists on Navalny’s death. I mean, these are the same politicians who’ve all but abandoned Ukraine and are fighting tooth and nail to avoid sending more aid and funding to our ally in need. They refuse to acknowledge the dangers Putin’s regime poses to people in Russia, Ukraine, and those all around the world—probably because their dear leader, Donald Trump, has repeatedly praised Putin, who recently said he’d encourage Russia to attack our NATO allies. Make no mistake, turning a blind eye to Putin’s brazen actions, and even encouraging them, is cowardly. Putin is not a strong leader who deserves to be praised. He’s weak. Strong leaders, they don’t feel the need to kill off their opposition.

But with his failure to quickly and easily win the war in Ukraine weighing on his shoulders, Putin is desperate to consolidate power ahead of the upcoming elections. It’s critical that all of our leaders in the United States—not just the Biden administration and Democrats, but all of them—take a firm stance against Vladimir Putin for orchestrating both the death of Alexei Navalny, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Russia’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.

Gibbs Léger: It’s really the only way that we can honor Navalny’s legacy. Now, I wish we had some lighter news to turn to, but there have been a number of concerning and important stories we need to cover when it comes to reproductive care in this country. And here to help us break down some of the recent headlines is Maggie Jo Buchanan, senior director and senior legal fellow for the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Maggie Jo, welcome to “The Tent.”

Maggie Jo Buchanan: Good afternoon.

Gibbs Léger: So, since the fall of Roe, so much has changed around reproductive care and access. Can you break down some of the recent trends we’re seeing?

Buchanan: Sure. First, I think we need to start with recognizing the huge wave of outrage we’ve seen across this country since Roe was overturned. People have turned out in huge numbers to defeat state-based efforts to further restrict care, and voters have also proactively voted to expand care. This all speaks to the American people’s values and their belief that politicians shouldn’t be able to harm and control women in the way that they seem hell-bent on trying to do. But on the flip side of that, we’re seeing—despite this clear mandate from the public and the people that they’re supposed to represent—far-right politicians and their allies simply don’t care. They’re continuing to put forward bans, continuing to ignore the suffering that women across the country are going through. Because of these abortion bans that we’ve seen across the country, doctors are afraid to even treat women suffering from miscarriages. And those same women are on death’s door while doctors are grappling with lawyers if they’re allowed to give care to their patients. But those in charge of the Republican Party just don’t seem to care—and they keep going further and further.

Seeberger: Speaking of those in control of the Republican Party—last week, we saw reporting in The New York Times that Donald Trump privately favors a national 16-week abortion ban if he’s reelected. It’s a policy several right-wing lawmakers have proposed and advocated for. What would a national ban like this mean for reproductive rights and the ability to access care in this country?

Buchanan: A national abortion ban—any national abortion ban—would only further the culture of fear and confusion, while limiting freedoms and putting women’s lives very much in danger. I think we just need to be absolutely clear about that. You know, the reporting out of The New York Times indicated and explained that Trump was attempting to treat abortion policy as some sort of deal. That’s offensive, because we’re not talking about some contract to be worked out. We’re talking about people’s lives. We’re talking about people’s future. And while the vast majority of abortion care occurs very early in pregnancy, care sought later is often due to heartbreaking circumstances. So really, this “deal” that Trump is talking about would only hurt some of the most vulnerable.

Gibbs Léger: It’s really easy to see why Trump only expressed this stance behind closed doors while remaining vague on the issue in public. He knows a ban like this is politically unpopular and directly conflicts with what the majority of Americans want—which is, as you said, access to basic reproductive freedoms. But the policy folks in his camp don’t seem to care. Because further Times reporting last week revealed Trump’s allies plan to restrict medication abortion and other forms of reproductive care if the former president is reelected. The plans include manipulating federal agencies and their funding and renewing enforcement of the Comstock Act. What is the Comstock Act, and how would these strategies impact abortion access?

Buchanan: Well, at its most basic, the Comstock Act should just have absolutely no relevance for abortion. But it was a law passed in the late 1800s—which to be clear, was well before women had the right to vote. And the law prohibits the mailing of “obscene materials” through the mail, which included basically anything about abortion. It also empowers the Postal Service to enforce the law. Now, after Roe was decided, Comstock’s abortion provisions became null and void because of the constitutional right to an abortion. Now however, after Dobbs, there are efforts to resurrect this law in order to severely curtail access to medication abortion. Now medication abortion, which is currently available through the mail, is also the most common form of abortion and is taken very early in pregnancy. What this is, is an attempt to continue to build on a culture of fear so even people who are able to access medication abortion in person and not through the mail, they’re going to feel like there’s somebody watching over their shoulder. Because what the right is seeking is essentially to have post office workers in charge of rifling through Americans’ mail to try to find medication. It’s really unconscionable. 

Seeberger: Of course, it is not just politicians who are playing games with Americans’ reproductive freedoms. I do have to ask you about a decision that came out of the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday. It qualifies frozen embryos used in IVF treatment as people. How is this ruling linked to the anti-abortion movement? And what are the ramifications of this dangerous decision for IVF patients and doctors?

Buchanan: I mean, at the end of the day, the decision is yet another example of the extremism on the right, as well as their willingness to hijack the most private personal decisions to assert an ideology. We don’t know entirely yet how the court’s decision will play out or how it will be enforced, but we already know it’s having a chilling effect on the availability of care. The University of Alabama at Birmingham has already announced that they’re suspending IVF treatment just to try to figure out what the heck this decision means and what it does to care. Couples have been quoted as fearing legal consequences for just trying to have children. So there’s a link between the far right wanting to be able to control everything about when or if to have a child, but it’s also a step forward toward this idea that a woman’s life is secondary to her pregnancy. And it’s trying to create this idea of personhood with an embryo over the rights, the freedoms, the health, the well-being of the woman herself.

Gibbs Léger: Well, Maggie Jo, I want to both thank you for all of the work that you do in this area, and I want to thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent” today.

Buchanan: Thank you so much.

Seeberger: That’s all the time we have for today. If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod. That’s @TheTentPod.

Gibbs Léger: And stick around for my interview with Devon Gray in just a beat.

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Gibbs Léger: Devon Gray is the president of End Poverty in California, also known as EPIC. He joined EPIC in 2022 while he was serving as Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs’ chief of staff and was named the organization’s first president the following year. He also previously served as special adviser to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff and was a policy adviser to Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign. Devon, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Devon Gray: Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk to you.

Gibbs Léger: EPIC just put out a documentary called “Poverty and Power” that documents the voices, stories, and ideas of people living in poverty. Can you talk about the statewide listening tour that led to this project, and why narrative is such a powerful way to move the policy needle?

Gray: Absolutely. So EPIC, or End Poverty in California, was founded a couple of years ago by former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who maybe your audience is familiar with, and who is best known for starting the guaranteed income movement both in the first pilot program that was led by a mayor in his hometown, which was then proliferated to hundreds around the country now. We do policy advocacy around a range of things, including housing policy, criminal justice policy, and access to our state safety net. And we started this organization because we felt there was a real need for urgency around what I describe as the paradoxical economic crisis that California is experiencing, where despite all the things that we do really well—we have the fifth-largest economy in the world; we have more billionaires here than anywhere in the world except for the rest of the U.S. and China; we have the best public universities, best tech companies—I could can go on and on. Yet again, California has on average of our three-year average the highest rate of poverty of any state in the entire country. We have a third of our families struggling to make ends meet. So we recognize that there’s a real disconnect between the resources that we have available and the outcomes for Californians up and down the state.

And to add to that, we have political capital more than we could ever ask for in the state—super majorities of Democrats in both chambers of the legislature, every statewide elected officer being a Democrat, most big city mayors being Democrats who, at least on paper, are committed to, if not ending poverty, certainly reducing it. So there’s a real disconnect between the resources that we have and the lived experience of people. And our theory of the case as to why this is happening is because we think that the story that we’ve been telling about poverty—about why certain people experience it, why it exists at all—has been faulty and has ultimately led us to not being able to take the action that we could to make real differences for working people up and down California.

So to get a better understanding of what that story is, we decided to go on the road. And we started a listening tour of the state that’s still ongoing. But we brought a camera crew for the first year of our tour, where we visited half a dozen communities across California, and held community listening sessions where we just asked people what their ideas would be for ending poverty both in their neighborhoods, in their communities, and across California, and also wanting to get a better understanding of the misconceptions that they believe were being excluded from the larger California narrative. I think the narratives that are so harmful are familiar to all of us, right? We have so internalized this idea that poverty is at its core an individual failing—that people are poor because they choose to be, because they’re lazy, because they’re addicted to drugs, or otherwise untrustworthy with money. But I think for all of us who either grew up in poverty or spend a lot of time proximate to poverty, we recognize that that’s not true. And that’s really what our film “Poverty and Power” tries to depict by showing people three-dimensionally, showing their entire life stories. Through the context of this listening tour in the state, we’re trying to push back on the harmful narratives and really trying to advance a more accurate and authentic narrative that we believe identifies poverty as principally a consequence of policy choices and structures that hold people back.

Gibbs Léger: Truly a really important undertaking. Congress is currently considering an expansion of the child tax credit that could be implemented as soon as this tax season, if approved. Could you explain, what could an expanded child tax credit do to help alleviate child poverty?

Gray: So I think we know what it can do because we’ve seen this show before. We’ve seen this policy play out in the past. So during the American Rescue Plan of 2021—which I think was among President Biden’s greatest achievements during his administration so far—we saw every family making below $150,000 get an extra three grand to $3,600 a year for every kid in their household. And the effects of this were unmistakably positive. We saw a decrease of poverty to a record low of 7.8 percent. And we saw child poverty being cut nearly a half down to 5.2 percent, which were, again, unambiguously positive outcomes from a policy that I think was the cornerstone of the first year of the Biden administration. And it’s been a priority of congressional Democrats since then to keep this policy in place.

But we also saw a disastrous outcome when Congress failed to renew it the following year. We saw the largest-ever single-year rise in poverty in history, and child poverty increased by 138 percent. And in California alone, child poverty increased from 7.5 percent to nearly 17 percent. So it was a disastrous policy outcome that happened because Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin (D-WV) decided that the policy wasn’t worth keeping in place. And I think what’s so tragic about it is that it’s another example of how bad narratives can dictate awful policy decisions and create permission structures for policymakers to do things that are unambiguously harmful. And we know this was the case because Joe Manchin was quoted as saying that he didn’t want to expand or keep the expanded child tax credit because he thought that families would use the money on drugs and alcohol. And it didn’t matter that all the data in the world showed that people use this money on basic essentials—groceries, rent, utilities, school supplies—just like any of us would. It didn’t matter that the recipients of the child tax credit actually had higher workforce participation rates than folks who weren’t on the program. The point was that the bad narrative was strong enough to thrust 3 million kids back into poverty who wouldn’t have been otherwise.

But the latest expanded child tax credit deal is really promising, I think. It’s not going to be as robust as the version we saw back in 2021, but I think it would give families, on average, an additional $900. So that’s really significant and meaningful. And though it comes with some giveaways for Republicans, it comes with some tax breaks to businesses, I think on balance it’s certainly a win for the American people and something that congressional Democrats and the president should support.

Gibbs Léger: So you talked about the American Rescue Plan. I want to talk a little bit more about President Biden. He’s been laser focused on growing the middle class. So how are his other signature economic bills impacting your work? In what ways are they helping to lift Americans out of poverty?

Gray: I think President Biden’s domestic agenda has been overwhelmingly successful in lifting Americans out of poverty. We talked about the child tax credit, but I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I think the Inflation Reduction Act has certainly worked. Inflation has been basically stopped, and we staved off a recession that many economists said was inevitable. It just didn’t happen, and I think it’s largely because of this administration’s policies. And through the Inflation Reduction Act, we’ve seen huge investments in clean energy, which, of course, is going to be really meaningful for the folks who stand to lose the most due to climate change, which is people living in poverty. Now, we’ve also seen lowering prescription drug prices through the Inflation Reduction Act as well. And I think more broadly, President Biden has been probably the most pro-labor president in our generation—certainly in my lifetime.

And perhaps what’s most relevant for the work that we do at EPIC is that we’ve seen huge wage gains among the lowest earners in the country. Over the last few years, we’ve seen real hourly wages for people in the bottom decile of income earners grow by 9 percent, which is massive; it’s actually outpaced wage increases for other folks higher up in the socioeconomic ladder, though they’re doing well in addition to that too. I think the inflation-adjusted income for folks across the board is around 3.5 percent, so really big strides in income growth for folks up and down the economic ladder. We’ve also seen record low unemployment rates for Black and Latino workers, and a host of other victories that I think this administration can hang its hat on. And of course, we have a long way to go. We still experience far too much poverty, certainly in California and across this country. But I think from our perspective as advocates in this field, this administration has been a real ally.

Gibbs Léger: So I want to contrast the administration’s approach with proposals we’ve seen from extreme lawmakers in Congress as well as former President Donald Trump—proposals such as tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations. How do these types of proposals worsen economic disparities? And what are the impacts on those most in need?

Gray: From a policy perspective, it’s fairly straightforward that these really extreme tax breaks for the wealthiest harm the rest of us because it means, at least on paper, we have less of an ability to spend tax dollars on the types of programs that help people move into the middle class. But I think it’s also worth taking a step back to view how these types of policy choices reveal who matters in government, who matters in society, who has real power and a stake in the policy decisions that get made. Who gets to be a winner and who gets to be a loser? And I maintain that it comes back to the narratives that dictate these policy choices, and perhaps more perniciously give cover to the bad types of policy decisions that harm people. And I think it matters because even if we set aside the sort of zero-sum nature that tax policy can oftentimes fall into, the narrative that says that investing in low-income Americans is ultimately a waste of time—that keeps us from advancing the types of policies that we know are going to help people even if we had all the money in the world. We can’t really escape the bad narrative that says, “Well, poverty is always going to be with us, so why would we bother spending money on helping people?” Or the narratives that suggest that, “Well, people are poor because they’re the ones who make mistakes. They choose to be poor, so why would we bother with the types of benefit programs that we know can lift people into the middle class?” It becomes less of a conversation about how interests are pitted against each other and whether we think people are worth investing in at all.

Gibbs Léger: We’ve seen a number of headlines about abortion access in the past weeks, including Donald Trump allegedly privately saying he’d support a 16-week abortion ban, and states like Alabama continuing to severely restrict reproductive rights. What economic ramifications do these attacks on reproductive rights have? And how do they end up disproportionately harming people living in poverty?

Gray: I really think that the fight for reproductive justice and the fight for economic justice are two sides of the same coin here. I don’t think we can have a world without poverty if half of our people don’t also have full bodily autonomy. And of course, people living in poverty are always going to be the ones disproportionately harmed by abortion restrictions. I think the statistics show that three-fourths of abortion patients are either poor or low income. And of that 75 percent, nearly half live at less than the federal poverty level. So we have to understand that attacks on reproductive rights are simultaneously an attack on people living in poverty. And I think it’s one big piece of a larger story where, when we don’t have access to a real safety net, or child care is prohibitively expensive, or health care is often too inaccessible, what we’re doing is we’re stripping people of the rights and the resources that are really crucial for attaining economic mobility.

Gibbs Léger: So I want to turn to something a bit more positive. You focus a lot on state and local policies that help fight poverty in your work. So what policies are you seeing that excite you? What are some of the innovative ideas that cities and states are using to help ease burdens for their most economically disadvantaged residents?

Gray: There’s a lot of great stuff happening in California—and certainly elsewhere in the country too. But I think we really pride ourselves on being the first to do some of the big things that can then be adopted by other places in the country. I’ll start with the growth of guaranteed-income pilots, which has been really exciting, obviously coming out of the Stockton experiment, but having spread to dozens around the state, hundreds around the country now. And for folks who maybe aren’t familiar with how these pilots work—essentially, a city or a county or other entity identifies, you know, a few dozen to a few hundred families to receive monthly checks, anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand bucks—crucially, with no strings attached. I think that’s the main distinction between these guaranteed-income pilots and many of the benefits programs that we’re more familiar with that might have work requirements, or reporting requirements, whatever it might be—the guaranteed-income pilots focus on being trust-based, no strings attached. So folks have the autonomy to spend the money how they best see fit, because they’re experts in their own lives.

So the state of California itself is actually funding two large guaranteed-income pilots for former foster youth where we’re going to see 150 recipients in Ventura County, which is in southern California, and 150 recipients in San Francisco receive anywhere from $1,000 to $1,200 a month over 18 months. And what we’re hoping to see is funding for these types of programs expanded and maintained, ideally for the rest of the decade. But we’re really seeing the narrative on direct cash aid totally change in the course of the last 5 or 10 years, which has been really exciting to see—and we’re seeing that in other jurisdictions as well.

Second, and related to the guaranteed-income work, is really how we’re trying to think about how we can take the lessons and the principles of guaranteed income and incorporate them into our existing safety net, which is certainly robust but has a lot of holes in it and barriers to entry. So how do we make our safety net programs more trust-based, more accessible, and award higher amounts to actually get people out of poverty? So we’re working with counties across the state to try to make adjustments to our programs to reduce the reporting requirements, to eliminate what we call the benefits cliff where you make one too many dollars and then you’re kicked off the program entirely, which then makes it very hard for people to get a foothold—other aspects and challenges that we found are pretty ubiquitous across the state. So I’m excited about that.

And the last piece is housing, which—I think the future of California’s livability really depends on our ability to make housing affordable and to keep people housed. And that’s going to require two different types of policies being both implemented and enforced at the same time. And we’re seeing real progress on this in California too, even if it can be a little bit faster.

The first is on renter protections. Last year, California passed a bill called the Homelessness Prevention Act, which is meant to protect California’s low-income renters from things like unjust evictions and exorbitant rent increases. So we were really happy to support that bill and for it to get over the line. But the enforcement challenge there is quite high, and it’s going to require work from the attorney general and district attorneys across the state to really make sure that landlords—especially large ones—are being held accountable. But I think we have some real allies in California who are going to be doing that. And second is the increasing of the supply of housing at all rates, but especially affordable housing. And it’s really a question of whether we’re willing to generate revenues as a state to fund affordable housing. But we also have to make it easier to build. And I think what’s really interesting and exciting is that there’s an ongoing legal fight between the state, led principally by our Gov. Gavin Newsom and our Attorney General Rob Bonta, against local jurisdictions who’ve really dug their heels in and don’t want to build more housing. And this fight is over something called the builders’ remedy, which basically allows developers to bypass local zoning laws to build housing if a city doesn’t have a real plan or real tangible plan to increase their housing supply on the road. So that’s being adjudicated in the courts right now. But I think that if we were able to see a win here, it’s going to open up the floodgates a bit and allow for more housing to be produced that’s driving down the costs for all people in California.

Gibbs Léger: Well, Devon, I think that is a great way to end this interview with some hope and some great policies that are working at the local level and can hopefully be replicated across the country. I want to thank you so much for all the work that you do, and for joining us on “The Tent.”

Gray: Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Gibbs Léger: Thank you.

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Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Before we go, we’ve got to talk about two things—two Bs: Beyoncé and “The Bachelor.”

Seeberger: Oh, some of my favorite Bs.

Gibbs Léger: Let me tell you, this Beyoncé song has had a chokehold on me since it came out. I cannot stop listening to “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

Seeberger: It is such a fiery track. I saw that she’s actually the first Black woman to top the charts for a country record.

Gibbs Léger: That’s right.

Seeberger: That’s incredible.

Gibbs Léger: It really is. And you know, there has been some controversy—because of course there is—with some country stations not playing her song, because we’re saying she’s not country. Like, OK.

Seeberger: Get out of here.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. Get all the way out of here. If people need a reminder about the origins of country music, it comes from Black people. So please miss me with that. Again, she can do whatever she wants, but this is definitely a country song. And it is catchy, and I love all the dances, and I’m very happy for her. Yeah, I love it.

Seeberger: I’m so happy for you. Another thing you love, Daniella: Bachelor Joey.

Gibbs Léger: When Daisy was like, “Are you real?” I, like, laughed. But like, it’s a valid question.

Seeberger: It is.

Gibbs Léger: He is the most emotionally mature bachelor.

Seeberger: Intelligent.

Gibbs Léger: Intelligent.

Seeberger: Yes.

Gibbs Léger: Like, kind, thoughtful. He listens. He does repeat backs, so you know that he heard what you said.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: Like, honestly.

Seeberger: He has been to the bachelor finishing school is what you’re saying.

Gibbs Léger: It’s exactly what I’m saying. He’s perfect. They could not have created a better bachelor.

Seeberger: Charity knew how to train them.

Gibbs Léger: She sure did. There’s a reason why we all love them so much in Charity’s season. I will say that, again, he has his group of women. I don’t know how he’s going to choose, because he has a strong connection with all of them. Obviously, Maria’s above everybody else, I think.

Seeberger: She’s so much fun.

Gibbs Léger: She’s so fun. Their date had me laughing and giggling like I was on the date with them.

Seeberger: If she doesn’t win “The Bachelor,” she is “Bachelor in Paradise” gold, to be clear.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, yes.

Seeberger: And I have taken a hiatus from watching “Bachelor in Paradise” for a few seasons, but I will most certainly be tuning back in.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, I would definitely watch it if she’s on. To be clear, I’m going to watch it anyway.

Seeberger: Fair, fair. And totally agree with you—her date was just electric.

Gibbs Léger: So great.

Seeberger: I mean, they seemed like their energy was magnetism. I mean, they were just glued to one another pretty much.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: And I think she really set a high bar that the other women are going to have to reach. I do also have to say, I was sad to see Lexi leave the show—

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Seeberger: —after their timelines for their future plans not really being in sync. Of course, because she has spoken publicly about her struggles with infertility. And of course, I understand and respect her charting her own destiny and seeing that through. But I also really thought that they had a strong connection, and I think he was really taken aback and caught off guard by her departure.

Gibbs Léger: I think so too, but I think it was such an important conversation to have.

Seeberger: Mmm hmm.

Gibbs Léger: And I applaud her for not just being open about discussing it with the rest of the world but understanding that no matter what her feelings for Joey might be, that she has to move on a certain timeline and she can’t stick around until maybe he might change his mind, right? So her taking agency over what she needs to do that’s best for her—it was sad, but I also thought it was a really great message for young women and girls—for anybody, actually, in a relationship to understand that you got to put yourself first and know what works for you.

Seeberger: She really respected herself and what she wanted.

Gibbs Léger: It was really good. Again, like, since “The Golden Bachelor,” I don’t watch the show to get emotional, to cry, to get deep life lessons—

Seeberger: She’s verklempt, folks.

Gibbs Léger: —but I’m just saying, these two seasons—and even Charity’s season—they’ve just been good. I don’t know if they got some new producers or what, but like, even the quality of the show is better, like the production quality.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: It’s great.

Seeberger: Claps to casting.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: Claps to casting.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: Well, finally, speaking of “Golden Bachelor,” I’m not sure if you saw earlier this week—some of the ladies from “The Golden Bachelor”—

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: —were actually in town to visit a really hot French spot in town—French restaurant, that is—very, very popular.

Gibbs Léger: We all know what one it is.

Seeberger: Joey was just in town, met with [the] second gentleman and Vice President Harris recently for Valentine’s Day. So all the “Bachelor” stars, they can’t stay away from D.C. So we invite all of you “Bachelor” stars. Heck, if you want to come join us on “The Tent,” I’m sure we could find a place for you.

Gibbs Léger: This is an open invitation, please and thank you. Joey, any time you would like to come on the podcast and talk about whatever you want to talk about—I’m here. And on that note, that’s all we’re going to have for today. Thanks for listening and take care of yourselves. We’ll talk to you next week.

Seeberger: Happy Pisces season.

Gibbs Léger: “The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Léger, and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer, Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer, Em Espey is our booking producer, and Muggs Leone is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Colin Seeberger

Senior Adviser, Communications

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Mishka Espey

Senior Manager, Media Relations

Muggs Leone

Executive Assistant



Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.


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