EP. 27 - Bipartisanship Revisited, with Congressional Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.)

December 13, 2021

EP. 27 - Bipartisanship Revisited, with Congressional Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.)

Dec 13, 2021

A Democrat and a Republican work together for reason and compromise in our national politics.

 

Bipartisanship is how things get done in Washington, and what holds us together as Americans. So how’s that going in our nation’s capital?

 

“Things are not good, from a bipartisan perspective right now,” Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson from South Dakota tells us in this episode.

 

And Democrat Abigail Spanberger from Virginia agrees.

 

As members of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers’ Caucus,” these two Congresspeople have developed a reputation for trying to work together instead of tear one another down.

 

But they can’t do it alone. And so in this episode, they join us once again to discuss how Americans can help bring compromise back, and why it’s important for the corn industry.

 

 

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I value bipartisanship. It's being intentional with the desire to say, "I don't need you to agree with everything I'm about to say, but I want to have a discussion about this."

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

We need more citizens to be actively engaged in this process. They need to invest in media sources and in institutions and in candidates that are responsible. If they're only relying on news that preys on fear and anger, they're doing it wrong.

 

Dusty Weis:

Hello and welcome to Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association podcast. This is where leaders, growers, and stakeholders in the corn industry can turn for big picture conversations about the state of the industry and its future. I'm Dusty Weis, and I'll be introducing your host, Association CEO Jon Doggett. From the fields of the corn belt to the DC beltway, we're making sure the growers who feed America have a say in the issues that are important to them with key leaders who are shaping the future of agriculture.

 

Dusty Weis:

Bipartisanship. It's how things get done in Washington, and it's what holds us together as a nation. And yet today we're going to talk to two members of Congress who say bipartisanship is at an all time low. Republican Dusty Johnson from South Dakota and Democrat Abigail Spanberger from Virginia are two elected reps who are actively trying to change that on Capitol Hill, but they can't do it alone. So in this episode, how Americans can help bring compromise back, and what it means for the corn industry. But if you haven't yet make sure you're subscribed to this podcast in your favorite app. Also make sure you follow NCGA on Twitter @nationalcorn, and sign up for the National Corn Growers Association newsletter at ncga.com.

 

Dusty Weis:

And with that, it's time to once again introduce Jon. Jon Doggett, the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, and Jon, we are very pleased for the first time to welcome back two returning guests to the podcast. Although so much has happened since the last time that we spoke, it kind of feels like actual years have gone by since then.

 

Jon Doggett:

Well Dusty, it was March 12th, 2020, just hours before the world went on lockdown. We met with Representatives Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. And we talked about bipartisanship in Representative Spanberger's office in the Longworth House office building on Capitol Hill. And it was one of the last in-person meetings that took place in a congressional office building before we got locked down with COVID. So world's a much different place now, and just think about where we've been since then. We didn't know what social distancing meant. We didn't know what a Zoom call was. The tiger king was an inmate serving time for conspiracy to commit murder in a Texas prison.

 

Dusty Weis:

I didn't even know that much, Jon, at that point, and I was happier for it.

 

Jon Doggett:

You were happier for it. So for all the ways that our world has changed since then, and it's changed a lot, one thing remains the same, unfortunately. We're still a politically divided country, maybe even more divided than we were back then. So in this episode, we're going to revisit that same conversation with these same two wonderful members of Congress to see what we can do to find out more about that precious common ground that connects us. Two members of Congress from two different parties, talking about how they can get along and get something done for the country. So you've been on the program before, but I'd like both of you to take a moment to talk a little bit about yourselves, talk about the people you represent in Washington DC, and Congresswoman Spanberger, we're going to start with you.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Excellent. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. It's always a pleasure to be here with my colleague, Dusty Johnson. And I do remember very fondly that day when we all gathered in my office, I did not realize it was right as the world was shutting down. I guess there was sort of a pivot where time basically lost all meaning, but I represent Virginia's 7th congressional district. It is a long skinny district through central Virginia, and I have a majority rural community, agricultural community by land mass, but majority suburban by population numbers. My district to the northern portion is a lot of rolling hills, horse country, significant greenhouses, some really interesting farms that do specialty crops, great history of family farms.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

And all throughout my district, more towards the center portion of my long skinny district, we've got a pretty significant and important cattle industry and forestry and the southern portion of my district we've got a bit more row crops. And again, it's a long skinny district, not nearly as big as Dusty's, and then to the east of the rural communities, agricultural communities I represent, we have heavily suburban communities that encircle the city of Richmond. Virginia as a state, our number one, private industry is agriculture, then tourism and then forestry. So people may not always think of Virginia if you're not from Virginia as being such an incredibly important agricultural state, but we truly are. It's our history, and it is so foundational to our communities, particularly those that I represent.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I was elected in 2018, when Dusty was elected, and proudly serve on the agriculture committee as the only Virginian. Although I guess Dusty can say the same, the only South Dakotan on the agriculture committee. As the only Virginian on the agriculture committee, I take that as a major point of pride and claim all of the things that Virginia has to offer between aquaculture, our peanut industry, and not to mention the agriculture that's really present within my district. So good to be with you again, and thanks for having us on.

 

Jon Doggett:

You bet. Thank you. Congressman.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Yeah, thanks for having me back again. I grew up in a large working class family in South Dakota and listen, it's a great state. I can't speak about it quite as poetically as Abigail spoke about her district, they should put her on commercials. But South Dakota, corn is king in eastern South Dakota. An overwhelming majority of the farmland is a corn bean rotation. And listen, people really love what they do. You guys understand the incredible cultural impact of those family farms. West River, South Dakota is a lot of forestry and we have the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota out there.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

I would just note that think South Dakotans, regardless of where they follow on the political spectrum, not universally, but I think overwhelmingly, appreciate a kind of practicality when it comes to politics. They understand that politics is the art of the possible and that it needs to be about addition and multiplication rather than about subtraction and division. And in that way, I'm honored to represent them. I think with Abigail and Dusty, this Dusty, maybe the other Dusty too, but at least with Dusty Johnson, I think you get a couple of workhorses rather than show horses. And, oh my goodness, wouldn't I love to have fewer show horses in the US House.

 

Jon Doggett:

Amen.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I motion to second that.

 

Jon Doggett:

All right, so on a very serious, real journalism note. Congressman Johnson, we're going to start with you. What show or shows did you find yourself binge watching to forget about the pandemic for a moment?

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

I was told there would be no difficult questions, Jon, on this podcast. First I will note, I neglected to dimension cattle and livestock in western South Dakota. And that is a grievous error that I needed to correct right there. But as far as binging, it's sort of all Office all the time. It's such a great show and it holds up. It's pretty cringy, but I think the humor holds up pretty well. Lupin, Netflix show out of France, just a great suspense show. And then I enjoy older gritty movies like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner, so those were pandemic watching as well.

 

Jon Doggett:

Congresswoman?

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I did watch Tiger King with the rest of America. My children all-

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Carole Baskin killed her husband.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I also embarked on a bit of a movie watching escapade. I have three daughters. They are now 7, 10 and 13. And so they wanted to watch every Marvel movie in the order in which they were produced. So that was a bit of a family endeavor that I mostly joined them for.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Are they any good? Of course the ones with Chris Evans are great, but other than those are any of them any good?

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Also, I want to maintain the positive relationship I have with my 10 year old daughter who is a Marvel fan. So I'm going to say they're amazing, every single one, and every minute I've spent watching Marvel movies have just brought such delight to my life. So yes, when we made it through that, I recently watched Ted Lasso, which I thought was just a delightful, delightful show, and I see a lot of depth to it that perhaps was not intended, but it brings me great joy, thinking of the kind of role of a joyful American on the world stage trying to bring people together, seen as being a little bit goofy at times, but always with positive intent. Whether it was intended to be a metaphor for who we are as American people or not, I'm going to perceive it as such and go with it.

 

Jon Doggett:

Congresswoman, I'm so glad you brought that up because I talked to a good friend of mine early this morning and she said, you remind me of Ted Lasso. And fortunately it was a phone call rather than in person, so she didn't see the blank look on my face. So I did have to go and look it up and I'm going to take it as a compliment, but I'm not good with modern culture at times.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

She might also mean, I don't know, do you have a tendency to use phrases and expressions that sometimes leave people scratching their heads often, with maybe animal references or sayings that people have to sort of think, what did that mean?

 

Dusty Weis:

A little bit of rural folksiness in Jon Doggett? Nah, nah.

 

Jon Doggett:

Yeah, a little bit of Montana ranch kid. My dad had a lot of expressions that were not always the kinds that you could probably use on a show like this. So we'll kind of avoid some of those, but yeah. So let's talk a little bit about bipartisanship and again, this was such a welcome podcast a couple years ago, and people just really ate up the fact that hey, we've got folks that actually can talk to one another and be civil with one another. So bipartisanship is more a journey than it is a destination. And if that's true, where are we right now? And how has that changed since we last talked?

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

You know, I think by of partisanship is also a choice journey, destination, all of those things. It's also a choice. And I think in the past year there's been a lot of discussion about what's the point or what does it mean? And so I have spent time discussing with my constituents or people I represent, or frankly, colleagues that I value bipartisanship because I value the creation of broad coalitions. And frankly, that's not always bipartisan as in Democrats and Republicans, sometimes it's within the scope of our own parties. It's bringing people to a discussion who might not naturally have shown up at that discussion. It's being intentional with a desire to say, I don't need you to agree with everything I'm about to say, but I want to have a discussion about this. And in the legislating space, that's okay, this is a priority that I want to work on. Where can we come to some agreement on this? Where might we be able to partner?

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

So Dusty and I work on a lot of different issues legislatively because we both work on the Ag Committee because we also have some similar priorities, but we certainly don't agree on everything and that's fine. We don't need to agree on everything, but we certainly agree on issues related to livestock production and supply chain issues and telehealth priorities. And maybe we don't always agree even there on how we want to better the system or legislate in a way that's supposed to meaningfully impact our constituents, but we have found and sought out places where we know that things could be better or we can through our role as legislators do good work. And so then it becomes a question of what is that good work.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I think that those conversations and any effort at bipartisanship, or even just talking with anybody who's of a different mindset and in our realm, in our day to day that's politics. In our day to day, that's Democrats, Republicans, occasionally an Independent. In other people's realms, it's somebody who lives in a rural community or somebody who lives in a suburban community. One of the most kind of noteworthy stories I've ever heard from a constituent, I've heard many incredible stories from a constituent, but I had a dairy farmer in one of the communities I represent talking about how he was at a Home Depot. He was buying a swing set for his child and it was in the suburban community.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

He had driven across the county line, not that far, about a 20 minute drive to the Home Depot, he was buying a swing set and while he's sitting there talking to the young woman who worked at the store, she asked him what he did for a job. And he said, I'm a farmer. And her reaction was one of great surprise. And he made a joke about like, I guess she expected to see overalls or a typical farmer wear when I'm out at home Depot, but I'm at Home Depot buying a swing set. I'm not going to wear with the clothes I wear when I'm out with my cows. And I remember it being so interesting because these people live about 20 minutes apart and this woman's reaction was so notable that he again recounted it sometime later to me, but it speaks in my mind to the divisions and in this case, not necessarily a negative one, but the divisions or the lack of understanding where just that sometimes exists within our communities.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

And so there should to be an intentionality. And I think it's helpful to have an intentionality with trying to understand people of different perspectives, different life experiences, different origins, different childhoods, all of it. And in the day to day that becomes political. But there's such a space where we can learn from other people, where we can try to do right by people, and I remain focused on it because the way that we actually make meaningful impact in the communities that we represent in the country that Dusty and I choose to serve is by building broader coalitions. And when Congress is represented by Democrats, Republicans, and a couple of Independents, those coalitions should, and oftentimes need to include people across party lines.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

If the question is what's the status of bipartisanship, because I think a lot of what Abigail said was very, very artfully said, but things are not good from a bipartisan perspective right now. Jon, you alluded to the fact that they may be worse. And I think that is an unfortunate but accurate diagnosis. And we could spend a lot of time probably apportioning out blame and that's not my interest, of course. Almost certainly everybody has their share of blame and then some, but I would just note this, because I think maybe we'll talk a little bit about January 6th and that clearly I think was an impediment to feelings of goodwill toward the other party. Probably more on how folks on Abigail's side view Republicans. And so then I'll talk about the frustration also from the Republicans as they view Democrats. And again, this is not to apportion blame, but we're a very closely divided country.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

I mean I think Speaker Pelosi has four or five votes to spare in the House. The Senate is literally 50 50. And I think in that sort of an environment, you would hope it would be tailor made to have all of the solutions to the major issues that vex our country be overwhelmingly common ground based, trying to thread the needle carefully between the camps of this closely divided nation. And we don't have to necessarily diagnose why, but I think almost everybody would acknowledge that that has not been the case, and that the solutions to the major problems have been far more one party based. And I think that has elevated frustration on the side of the Republicans. And so to sum up Jon, where we're at right now, Abigail's right, this is a choice and it's an important choice for people to make even when it's not easy to make it.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

But the frustration, the Democrats are really, really upset at the Republicans. The Republicans are really, really upset at the Democrats. The entire environment, rewards, rancor, and toxicity and one party solutions. And so it is really difficult. I'll be honest. It's really difficult for those of us who believe in bridge building and common ground. It's harder today for us to conduct our work. Now to try to put a brighter end on it, I would tell you that I think bipartisanship and positivity in politics is a supply problem. It's not a demand problem. The American people want this and we just need to continue to make sure that good people get elected and that they feel the same passion for this work that we do. But it isn't easy. So if any of your listeners pray, I would ask that they say a little prayer because for a lot of us, this work has grown more difficult than it had been.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Yeah. I gave a little bit of a cheery ideal of bipartisanship, but I do want to agree with everything that Dusty just said. It is far more challenging here on Capitol Hill than it was in our first term. There's a gulf at times between parties. And I think some of the rancor is newsworthy. Some of the rancor garners engagement. So people are incentivized in a really negative way to fight or to be vocal with their disagreements. And I've always been the person, and I think Dusty's falls in this category as well, that I don't want to have a fight with someone. I want to understand someone and I want to come to some sort of ultimate solution, but it's a really challenging time here. But our constituents wanted it.

 

Dusty Weis:

Representative Spanberger and Representative Johnson, from your positions, you serve in the Problem Solvers Caucus, where you join one Republican, one Democrat at a time. And that's certainly been the source of a lot of your friendship and cooperation as well. But as Representative Johnson said, this is not a demand side problem. This is a supply side problem. And so as two Representatives who are willing to work with people from the other side, what else can you do? And what else do you do in Washington to facilitate less rancor? Each of you gets face time from time to time with party leadership. Do you ever have the opportunity in your day to day affairs to talk to party leadership and say whoa, hey guys, can we dial it back a little bit?

 

Jon Doggett:

I think the Congresswoman has been noted for being rather direct with her leadership. And I think I remember a quote that came out of a meeting that you were rather eloquent in saying hey, we need to head towards the middle a little bit on some things, which I think was a wonderful piece of bravery on your part.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Thank you, Jon. And I appreciate you somewhat euphemistically, gently acknowledging I was perhaps, shall we call it terse or colorful in the ways I express myself? I'll be very honest. I try to have these conversations. I think that there exists a problem where I'm going to deal with both sides. Dusty, if you disagree with me, let me know. I think that leadership on the Democratic side of the aisle, leadership on the Republican side of the aisle, in both the House and Senate at times from the front row seat, I can view it at times as a observer watching television like the rest of America. I think there is an absence of trust that exists between leaders that is so significant and severe that even when someone like me or someone like Dusty or any of the others who are really trying to move forward with good bipartisan legislation, put a focus on that.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

It can at times be difficult to overcome the lack of trust that was potentially years in the making, but has made it so that we've arrived at a place where motivations are always questioned, I think on both sides of the aisle. And then to be very clear, we have a small Democratic majority. There's significant desire on the other side of the aisle to see that flip. And so between the fact that rancor gets attention and potentially fighting is a part and parcel of the electoral process that would put one party in power or the other. I think that the benefit that I have a little bit different, I think, for Dusty, is I represent a district that has a very big mix of voters. I'm a Democrat, I'm the first Democrat elected in my district since 1968. So I represent a lot of people who agree with me.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I represent a lot of people who disagree with me and on any given day, I'm making somebody somewhere not happy with me back home in my district. And there's something pretty freeing in the fact that any day of the week, somebody's going to be mad at me, so I get to do what I think is right and I get to do what I promised to do, and I get to prioritize what I think are the principles that will do good things for my constituents in Virginia. But other people that may be in districts that are more skewed towards more party alignment extremes, the conversations become very different.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

I think that for some of our counterparts who can go a week or a month and never encounter someone who talks to them as a constituent of the other party or different ideological positioning, be they a Democrat in a strong Democratic district or a Republican in a strong Republican district, you can become disconnected from the fact that there are so many ideas across this country and that if I'm representing my district well, I'm hearing and responding to the opinions of people who are naturally inclined to disagree with me because of their historic party affiliation or who outright completely and totally disagree with me, as well as the ones who agree with me and may or may not have voted for me. So I think some of the structures that exist make it really difficult for not just party leadership to rebuild that trust, but also for some members who are from districts very different from mine to see the value in hearing various ideas, because they may not be as prevalent back home in their districts.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Yeah. I think there's a pretty substantial cultural difference between Abigail's caucus and my conference. And I think you see that in how members interact with leadership. The Republicans, they ran out Speaker Gingrich. They ran out Speaker Boehner. They were preparing to run Speaker Paul Ryan. The Republican caucus or conference rather, doesn't do a very good job of being deferential to leadership. Now, maybe that's a strength, maybe that's a weakness. It probably depends on the day. But what Speaker Pelosi has done is absolutely remarkable in modern political times. You will never have a Republican be the head of our group for that long, as long as she has been.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

So if the question is to what extent have I delivered those messages to leadership, I have, but one of the heads of the French revolution, Jon, said, "There go the people and I must follow them for, I am their leader." And I think to be a leader within the Republican conference these days really requires very much in touch of what the conference values and views are, because that conference is always agitating to throw you out of that position. And so I have never had the sense that I'm working for Kevin McCarthy. I think he really presents more of the sense that he's working for us.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

If I may say, as someone who did not vote for the Speaker of the House, not once, not twice, I work for the people of the seventh district, if I may just add that.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Right. Although I think a lot of observers would indicate that Speaker Pelosi seems to have ... Control isn't maybe the right word, but I think more of an ability to move her caucus more quickly than perhaps McCarthy can do with his conference. So the reason I mentioned that, Jon, is that I've delivered that message to leadership, but frankly it is not a message that they're getting from an overwhelming number of the members of the Republican conference. And I can lament how unfortunate that is, but when I try to talk to my colleagues in this sort of hand to hand rationale they would say, "Wait a second, we had a $2 trillion COVID package shoved down our throats with nary a bipartisan discussion. We had Build Back Better done in a similar way. Now, Dusty, now you want me to listen to you about how we need to do?"

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Because Abigail and I've worked together on livestock issues time and time again. And she's really been a wonderful ally in those areas. But when I talk to my colleagues about some of these smaller singles and doubles that are bipartisan basis, it's hard when the triples and home runs have been predominantly one party solutions for me to convince leadership that a totally different mindset is required for the singles and doubles. It doesn't mean that it's not work worth doing. It just is acknowledging the difficulty in doing so.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

And on the other side of the aisle, people say, "Well, they wouldn't join us for this bill and for this bill and for this bill. So then why are they going to join us on the singles and doubles?" And the message is exactly the same, just the inverse. And not to mention, and this is of course, before you and I got here, Dusty, but then it's "Well, when they had the majority they did.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Exactly. Exactly.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

They didn't work with us then.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

And really, neither Abigail nor I doubt very much that when the Republicans seize back the house, whenever that is, that there will not be this return of harmony and beauty and calmity. We just know we're in a really difficult environment.

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, you know, my wife and I have raised two kids and we have two granddaughters and I got to spend some time with them over Thanksgiving and they're six and eight. And to convince them that, "Hey guys, if you remember every single thing that your sister did that you didn't like, guess what? She's going to remember everything that you didn't like." And we seem so consumed in this country, particularly in Washington, but across the country, and let's find somebody to blame because I certainly can't be responsible. And I think that's the problem is we abdicate our responsibility when all we do is find blame with whoever disagrees with us. And it's so frustrating. And that's why it's important for us to come back to this conversation. Because again, it's been one that my membership has said, "Hey, can we have more of that? Can we please see more of that?" And I think that's something that we need now more than ever and certainly now more than we did when we last talked in March of 2020.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

And Jon, if Abigail was perhaps a little too rosy to kick it off, I've probably been a little too cynical in my last two answers. And so cattle in this country eat a lot of corn. So I think this is very on point with the overall podcast. Abigail and I were leaders on a cattle contract library that passed out of the Ag Committee a few weeks ago, unanimously. And there's a pretty good shot that we'll be able to get that through the House by the end of the year. That's remarkable. That will provide unprecedented transparency into the cattle markets, which have increasingly migrated from the sale barn to alternative marketing agreements. And is that going to lead the 6:00 news? No. Will Cuomo or Carlson spend 15 minutes on it on their shows? No, but I do think that for people who are serious policy makers, like I think we try to be, the fact that we're getting that done even in an environment that doesn't seem to value it very much, I think should give your listeners a little bit of a feeling of goodwill.

 

Jon Doggett:

What we'd like is a little bit more of man bites dog kind of story.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Right.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Well, and it matters. The bottom line is it matters. It matters to the cattlemen across Virginia, it matters to the cattlemen in South Dakota. It's impactful legislation if you are impacted by it. And I think that that gets at the heart of what we try to do is find places where we can have impact on the people we represent and Americans across the board, and do it. And maybe there are going to be downstream consequences of a positive nature for folks who are buying beef in the grocery store. You don't have to have a cattle farm to be wholly impacted. You don't have to be the corn grower feeding the cattle to be wholly impacted. But these are things that are going to go unseen and unnoticed unless you are directly impacted. But for those who are impacted directly, it's really important.

 

Jon Doggett:

So tomorrow I will be heading to Montana and I'll be on the family ranch the day after that. And on behalf of my family, thanks to both of you for doing what you did. It has been noticed at least by my family. And I don't want you to ever think that some folks aren't noticing the good things you're doing, we just need to make sure or that we do more to point that out.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

It's all good and well for us to identify that there's a problem, that bipartisanship is more difficult today than it should be. If I was a listener, I'd want to, oh, no, okay, so what? What is the call to action? If bipartisanship is a supply problem and not a demand problem, then I think we need more citizens to be actively engaged in this process. They need to invest in media sources and in institutions and in candidates that are responsible. If they're only relying on news that preys on fear and anger, they're doing it wrong. They need to find reasonable sources of information. If they're only sending $15 donations to candidates that yell and scream and get upset and call the other side of the aisle traitors day in and day out, they are doing it wrong. And so I think the call to action is this week, before the end of the week is done, think about how you in a modest but important way can invest in an institution, a media source, or a candidate that tries to be responsible.

 

Jon Doggett:

And I've said on this podcast a number of times, if you're looking at voting for somebody that says they're going to go to Washington and fight and fight, don't elect that person and then say, why can't they get anything done in Washington?

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

They should go to Washington to work, work.

 

Jon Doggett:

And listen.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

And thank you for validating me, Jon, because on the campaign side everybody loves to talk about all the things that they're fighting for and fighting about and fighting over. And whenever I would review any sort of copy coming out of my campaign side, I would always say it's working for things.

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, I think Congressman Johnson had the best line last time. And that was scooch don't yell.

 

Dusty Weis:

Scooch. Don't yell. Did you ever print out those bumper stickers?

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Did I say that? I have no recollection of that.

 

Jon Doggett:

Oh, you're on tape, Congressman. I'm sorry, but we got you, we got you cold on this one.

 

Dusty Weis:

And here comes the part where we replay that tape in the finished version of this now.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Rather than just run these people down on Twitter, if we can scooch a little bit, this is how we can actually get it done. You don't get as many headlines having private coffee as you do going on cable news, but you make a lot more progress that way.

 

Jon Doggett:

So scooch don't yell.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Yeah. Right.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Sounds like a bumper sticker.

 

Dusty Weis:

The idea being that there should always be some room to scooch instead of yelling at one another.

 

Jon Doggett:

Oh yes.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Well, listen, I am eloquent so often it's hard to remember the line by line.

 

Jon Doggett:

Oh, all right. So Congresswoman Spanberger, I live in the district just north of her and we've been treated for some months now with a whole barrage of election ads because we have the off year election in Virginia, but next year we're going to have another election and it's kind of a big one and elections have a tendency to bring out the worst in us. I look at all those ads that I saw from all those candidates in Virginia. I didn't see a single one where somebody said, "Yeah, I want to get elected, because I want to do this because I think it's important for our state." So how can we help each other not go and do that this time around? How can we make these elections better? And I think Congressman Johnson, you started that thought and I think it was a good one, is we got to be better followers if we're going to find better leaders.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Well, and I'll give Abigail kudos. It is often difficult to hold your colleagues accountable, but there have been two occasions on which I can remember in Problem Solvers Caucus meetings, where she has just said, "Hey, listen, we have got to be responsible for the way in which we campaign. You cannot run television ads or Facebook ads talking about your opponent as a vile human being, and the other party is evil and then expect to walk into this room and convince us to work with you." And I think it's an incredibly effective message. And it's something that not just the 58 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus need to hear and believe and live, but we've got a lot of others who, the way they campaign is, it degrades the American experience and it is unworthy of this great Republic.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Thank you for the kind words, Dusty. This is something that I think is a really hard, but also just incredibly easy question to answer. You know, campaigns are tough. You're saying vote for me because I am better for these reasons or I've done these things and I will do these things and that person has not done these things or they've in fact, voted against these things, or they would vote against these things. And back to Dusty's last comment about people need to also take ownership of where they seek their information and their messages. And anger drives people. Anger is an emotion that is motivating in a way that's perhaps more motivating than, "Oh, well, that's great."

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

If you see an ad on television and you think, "Oh, well, that's really good. That's a very interesting priority that they're working on," you're not amped up. You're not calling your friends and posting on Facebook and getting so amped up to the fact that you're motivated by anger, by fear. Motivating people by anger and fear, unfortunately, tragically works, which is why people continue to do it.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Again, going back to my district, I'm going to be a tough campaigner. I'm going to tell people all the reasons why I am representing my district well, why I am working harder than anybody else would in this district, why I believe in the work that I'm doing and I'm going to make an argument for the things that I've supported. Richmond has a really inexpensive media market, so I also put a lot of TV commercials up to highlight all the things that I'm doing, because I want people to vote for me. Very candidly. I want them to be eyes wide open about who my opponents are, so that they can be eyes wide open about them, but then also feel that they can say why I am voting for someone.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

And in the comments that you referenced that I made before our caucus, that was my whole point. Let's tell people what we're for. If we believe that our ideas are good and our policies are important and worthy of pursuit, then let's talk about them. Because frankly, if we're not talking about them, then what's the point? And the anger and the division, it does another thing, which I think is incredibly detrimental to our democracy. If you turn on the television and all it is just anger, anger, anger, anger, anger, and be it on the news, or be it in campaign ads or be it wherever you may find, people turn away from that. People, they stop watching the news, they want to separate themselves, politics is terrible, all politicians are awful. All of the superlatives that are not in any way a positive reflection of, I think, the job or the duty that Dusty or I want to pursue here on Capitol Hill.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Then when you have people turn away from it, the people who end up staying are the ones who want to be driven by that anger, by that fear, by that negative emotion. And the people who say like, "I just want y'all to work together. I just want you to fix it. I elected you to do a job. I have a job. I have kids, I have this. I don't want to be the Representative. I don't want to know everything about everything. That's why I hired you with my vote." And when politics and the day to day becomes so angry and divisive, it's people of that mentality that are the first ones to turn away. And I think that our democracy writ large is stronger and better when people are engaged.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

And when we're able to say, "Well, that Dusty Johnson. Boy, I agreed with them on this and I disagreed with him on that but blah, blah, blah, blah. I went to his town hall," and that's an appropriate response to somebody that you might agree with or disagree with. I don't agree with my husband 100% of the time and I'm happily married. You're not going to agree with your elected Representative 100% of the time, and if that's your expectation, then you're going to be sadly and sorely disappointed. But you should be able to know enough about what they're doing and what they're working for that you say, "Yeah, I like what they're working for or I don't, and I'm going to decide accordingly." But this real anger, the incentives are just so profound, but also perverse. And that's why a lot of people who just want to see government work step away from it all.

 

Jon Doggett:

I'm going to ask you each one sentence. What can voters do to make this a better election and Congressman Johnson, I'll go with you first.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Vote for candidates that do not prey on your fear and anger.

 

Jon Doggett:

Congresswoman?

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Spend a little bit of time reading about what your candidates or what your elected Representatives have done. Listen to them. And to Dusty's point, vote for the ones that are focused on being productive and telling you what they will do and what they will focus on, and not who they're not in an effort to vilify the other side across the board.

 

Jon Doggett:

To watch the two of you interact, and it's very clear that you like one another, you respect one another, you work well together, it's so refreshing to see that. But it's kind of sad because it seems like it's all so, so rare and becoming more so. So please let us know anytime, how could we help you guys make relationships like yours in Washington to be more normal than they are rare? And you're right, there is more of a demand than supply, what we need to do is we have some of these problems with supply chains right now. Maybe this is another place that we need to work on.

 

Rep. Dusty Johnson:

Yes, I would call out the bill by Democrat John Garamendi of California and Republican Dusty Johnson of South Dakota that would address the supply chain problems. And I do want to say one more thing because you said let us know what you can do to help us. I mean, let's just take a minute to call out corn as a national organization that does not feed into anger or fear and consistently tries to articulate good policy, regardless of whether it was thought up by a Republican or a Democrat. Or regardless of who holds the gavel in one committee or the other, you all should take tremendous pride in how you navigate these political waters focused on policy and good government.

 

Jon Doggett:

Thank you.

 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger:

Ditto.

 

Jon Doggett:

Thank you. Thank you. Well, thank you so much. This has been, as always, a great conversation and we look forward to doing this some more in the future. And I am looking forward to the day where Capitol Hill is completely opened and we can start dragging our farmers up and down the hallways. And when we do, I would like to have an opportunity for the two of you to sit down with a group of our growers because what you have done today is what you did back in March of 2020, and that is, you've had a conversation that is just so cool to have. And thank you so much, not only for corn growers, but for all of America. So with that, I'm NCGA CEO Jon Doggett, and we hope you'll join us again soon for the next episode of Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association podcast.

 

Dusty Weis:

That is going to wrap up this of Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association podcast. New episodes arrive monthly, so make sure you subscribe in your favorite app and join us again soon. Visit ncga.com to learn more or sign up for the Association's email newsletter. Wherever Jon May Roam is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association with editing and production oversight by Larry Kilgore III. And it's produced by Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses, podcampmedia.com. For the National Corn Growers Association, thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.

 

.