The Good Fight, with Ben Wikler








September 2014
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For decades, corporations have found Republicans ready to do their bidding thanks to a shadowy outfit known as ALEC. But Nick Rathod, a preacher's son, has a plan to fight back.

Direct download: 39_ALEC_Match.com_for_evil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EDT

Zach Wahls, as a teenage Eagle Scout, gave a speech that changed the nation. If you ever clicked the headline "Two lesbians had a baby, and this is what they got," that speech was what you got—a speech that shifted the way millions of people thought about marriage equality. But as it turned out, that speech was just his warm-up act. On the latest Good Fight, Zach Wahls tell his extraordinary story—a tale of family, growing up, and a David-and-Goliath struggle to rescue the soul of a great American institution.

Direct download: 38_How_the_kid_with_two_moms_saved_the_Boy_Scouts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23pm EDT

Mayday SuperPAC, Lawrence Lessig's anti-corruption moonshot, lost nearly all of its races in the 2014 midterms. Does that mean it failed? Or does the shadow of money in politics extend beyond mere wins and losses? Professor Lessig and the Progressive Campaign Change Committee's Adam Green take us behind the vote tally and into the heart of the campaign-finance darkness for part 3 of The Good Fight's Mayday 2014 trilogy.

Direct download: 37_Did_Lawrence_Lessig_waste_10_million.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:34pm EDT

2014 was the election that young people were supposed to ignore. But then came the voting anthem nobody can stop humming. Today on The Good Fight, the inside story of Turn Out For What—as recounted by Rock The Vote's Ashley Spillane and Dan McSwain, and featuring the voices of Lil Jon, Lena Dunham, Fred Armisen, and Whoopi Goldberg. It's the electoral viral mega-hit of the year, 10 million views strong, exactly when we need it most. 

See the video at, help turn out voters at, and remember to vote on November 4! 

Direct download: 36_Turn_Out_for_What.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:49pm EDT

Conservatives might have money, but progressives have something even more powerful: science. That's right: gigantic, statistically valid, scientifically rigorous experiments about the best way to win elections. 

If that's a surprise to you, there's a reason: the most fascinating experiments are all being kept secret. And that's by design. This isn't academia, where the goal is the pursuit of truth. This is politics--where once the other side learns what you've figured out, knowledge stops being power.

At the heart of the progressive electoral-scientific revolution is a little low-profile outfit called The Analyst Institute. It stays away from the media. But today, its Executive Director Tate Hausman emerges from the labs to fill Good Fight listeners in on some of the most crucial findings of the political data wizards—just in time for us to put the lessons to good use in 2014 to help save the Senate. 

Ever heard the phrase "the states are the laboratories of democracy"? Well, it's out of date. These days, the whole country's one big lab, and we're all test subjects. And thank goodness: science plus people power is our last, best hope to beat the billionaires. 

Direct download: 35_The_progressive_secret_weapon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EDT

Why haven't wages risen in 40 years? It's not just bad luck. The mostly invisible, ultra-powerful folks who run at the Federal Reserve have gone to great lengths to keep it that way. When too many people get jobs, when pay starts going up... wham! They knock things back down again. 

But lately, things have been a little different. The financial crisis jolted the Fed into superhero mode—and Janet Yellen, the new boss, seems determined to make the economy work for regular people. Trouble is, the old guard's not happy about it. What's needed is another jolt, a fresh infusion of real-world voices. And now, an unlikely group of outsiders is stepping up to provide it. 

Meet Action United's Kendra Brooks, the AFL CIO's Damon Silvers, and the Center for Popular Democracy's Ady Barkan—and go inside what might be the wonkiest and most important economic-justice fight of the year. Or the decade.

Direct download: 34_Fed_up_with_the_economy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27pm EDT

They promised the biggest climate march in world history. But when the big morning arrived, the Weather app showed a thundercloud. 

Hear what happened next—and feel the (renewable) energy of a giant, urgent movement hitting the streets together for the first time—as The Good Fight takes you inside the most ambitious grassroots mobilization of the year.

Direct download: 33_Inside_the_ginormous_huge-tastic_climate_march.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25pm EDT

The killing of Michael Brown, and the military-style police crackdown that followed, exposed millions of Americans to the wide-open Pandora's Box that is the American way of law enforcement. In the weeks since, as the nation wrestled with fundamental questions of race and justice, media across the country have alighted on what seems like an easy answer: just put cameras on the police!

Turns out, it might actually be a great idea. Not because it solves everything, or even because it generates world-changing footage.  In fact, as it turns out, the least important thing about body-worn police cameras is the stuff that actually gets recorded. But body cameras have a way of changing the way people behave, on both sides of the lens. Professor David Harris and community organizer Terrance Stone join us, in the wake of Ferguson, to examine the science and practice of a gizmo that could save more lives than the Apple Watch. 


Direct download: 32_Will_police_body_cameras_prevent_the_next_Ferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37pm EDT

Lawrence Lessig's Mayday Super PAC stunned the political world by raising $7 million to fight corruption. Now comes the hard part: using money in politics to kick money out of politics. Lessig returns to the show to bring us inside the battle.

Direct download: 31_Mayday_Super_Pac_Strikes_Back.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:24pm EDT

Before the Win Report, before, Garlin Gilchrist II was exactly the person Detroit couldn't afford to lose: a brilliant, entrepreneurial computer engineer and civic patriot. He left. But now he's back. Here's his story.

Direct download: 30_Garlin_Gilchrist_II_Detroit_diaspora_and_destiny.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

The soon-to-be legendary live taping of The Good Fight from Netroots Nation 2014! Hear amazing stories from NARAL president Ilyse Hogue and newly-elected NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, thrill to a live Win Report with Garlin Gilchrist II, and march through the streets with Mark Ruffalo and a big crowd of Detroiters as they try to get their water turned back on. Netroots is a massive annual gathering of progressive activists, organizers, and media/tech people; featured speakers this year included Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. But the highight of it all happened in room 320: the Good Fight Live.

Direct download: 29_Live_from_Netroots.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT

For decades, criminal justice reform was political Kryptonite. But Cory Booker isn't from Krypton. Booker joins us to explain why he's tackling this fight—and how, in a Festivus miracle of bipartisanship, he teamed up with Rand Paul.
Direct download: 28_Cory_Booker_and_Rand_Paul_partners_on_crime.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:35pm EDT

UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary takes us behind the scenes in the insurgent, devastatingly effective campaign to make the anti-feminist backlash backfire. The strategy: using cutting-edge online advocacy to put a political and economic price on sexism. The good news: it's working. Hobby Lobby, watch out. Find background info, links to sources, and how to get involved here:

Direct download: 27_War_on_women_meet_the_resistance.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT

In this week's Win Report, the Supreme Court rules on Hobby Lobby  blocking birth control and home-care workers' rights. Good news and bad  news on climate change. Plus, marriage equality in Kentucky, a gay police chief in South Carolina,  and more updates from around the country. 
Direct download: Win_Report_07-03-2014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48pm EDT

When Jose Antonio Vargas was 16, he discovered his green card was fake. At 26, he won journalism’s biggest prize. At 30, he outed himself as undocumented.

Vargas’s powerful new film, #Documented, tells his story—and it will change the way you think about immigration. He joins The Good Fight to discuss his life, how it felt to see his mother after 21 years, and what it’s like to be asked by journalists "Why don’t you just become legal?" More info:

Direct download: 26_Pulitzer_winner._Undocumented._American.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

What if you’re doing the wrong thing with your life? That’s what 20-year-old Aaron Swartz asked Lawrence Lessig. In response, Lessig transformed his career. Today, he’s got an insanely audacious plan to kick billionaires out of politics… with help from billionaires. Hear his story:
Direct download: 25_Lawrence_Lessig_Aaron_Swartz_and_the_Super_PAC_to_end_Super_PACs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12pm EDT

A stand-alone Win Report! The latest victories and defeats in progressive fights throughout the country, including Gov. Rick Perry's stupid comment about homosexuality and Obama's recent and awesome executive orders.

Direct download: Win_Report_06-20-2014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42pm EDT

Obama's new carbon pollution rules are the biggest step ever taken by the U.S. government to fight climate change—but they're not the biggest step taken by the country. The most important win is one that's taken place invisibly, in city by city battles over the last decade: a grassroots campaign that's blocked 90% of proposed coal-fired power plants (182 in all) and shut down a third of the existing coal plants in the nation—165 and counting. 
It's a wave of unheralded victories that set the stage for surge in renewable energy, created the political space for the new Obama policies, and could open the door to a global climate treaty that seemed impossible just a few years ago. 
This episode of The Good Fight brings you inside one of the most successful environmental fights in U.S. history, the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, as recounted by the people leading it. If you think the fossil fuel industry is unbeatable, put on some headphones and make sure you're sitting down. 
Direct download: 24_The_347_climate_wins_youve_never_heard_of.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

The National Popular Vote campaign is on track to do the impossible: fix the broken, crazy, undemocratic way the USA picks its presidents. The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg takes us inside the fight. Plus, a new Win Report.

Direct download: 23_The_plot_to_bring_democracy_to_America.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EDT

Rev. Jim Wallis left evangelical Christianity to fight for social justice—and then found his vocation by mixing them together. Now, he's a spiritual adviser to Obama, a force in immigration, and our guest. Plus: a new Win Report.

Direct download: 22_Meet_the_minister_Glenn_beck_hates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

The documentary Citizen Koch was almost crushed by the Koch brothers' power. But filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal fought back. Today, the story behind the movie America's ultra-conservative power brokers don't want you to see.

Direct download: 21_Beating_the_Koch_brothers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:19pm EDT

Opponents of raising the minimum wage like to claim that economists are on their side. They're wrong. In this episode: the truth about minimum wage economics, the fight in the field, and the reason the jobs debate is a sideshow. Learn more at

Direct download: 2020Why20economists20want20a20higher20minimum20wage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:35pm EDT

For two long decades, gun safety reform was a nonstarter. And then came the Newtown massacre. Outrage swept the country. Politicians vowed to act. And in Zionsville, Indiana, a stay-at-home mother of five logged on to Facebook and created a page that would become the epicenter of a new movement of moms to demand action and save lives. 

That mom, Shannon Watts, was a political neophyte, but her communications expertise—honed in her past career as a PR pro—made her an instant force to be reckoned with. Within a year, she and her network became the grassroots partner of Michael Bloomberg's campaign to stem the tide of gun violence in America. And this week, Bloomberg and Watts announced a new organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, and a $50 million plan to hold anti-safety politicians accountable in this year's elections... with far greater investments possible down the line. 


Today on The Good Fight, Shannon shares her story, her strategy, and the reasons why change is possible in a country where tens of thousands die from gunshots every year.

Direct download: 1920Meet20Bloomberg27s20supermom20secret20weapon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:45pm EDT

Everyone working at the border crossing knew that it was happening: brutal violence and abuses by border patrol agents. Sometimes even lethally. But the U.S. Customs and Border Protection wasn't talking, and politicians seemed more concerned with increasing its size and military power than in holding it accountable. 
Enter John Carlos Frey, muckraker. 
An investigative reporter of the old school, he got a tip about a secret videotape of a killing, in which a dozen border patrol agents brutally beat a hogtied migrant. Where thousands of reported abuses hadn't made a dent in official policy, maybe this video could spark a change. And so the dogged hunt began, leading to an expose that would trigger Congressional outrage, a buried investigation, and finally an official shift that could pave the way to lifesaving changes. On today's Good Fight, we examine the power of an image to awaken a nation to an outrage—and look at the dark side of the political drive to "secure the border." 
Featuring John Carlos Frey, activist Hannah Hafter, and a Win Report with Garlin Gilchrist II of
Direct download: 18_The_muckraker_and_the_border_patrol.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

Big Oil. Bankers. Global mega-corporations. Those are the powerful. But sometimes, the powerless win too—and this episode is about one of those times. It's the story of the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights in New York, and the surging movement across the country of nannies, home health aides, and other domestic workers who are fighting for the rights and dignity that every worker deserves. 

If you think taking care of kids all day isn't work, that's probably because you haven't done it. But for decades, even the most basic labor laws haven't protected the millions of Americans whose job involves taking care of others in their homes. 

Our guests are at the vanguard of closing that ludicrious loophole. Ai-Jen Poo, head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Barbara Young, longtime nanny turned NDWA organizer, tell us how the movement began, what it took to win the first statewide law in America—and how their vision now extends not just to protecting domestic workers across the country, but to ensuring that every family can access the support and care their loved ones need. 

All that, plus a Win Report that you won't want to miss.

Direct download: 17_The_nanny_uprising.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

An all-Win Report episode! The latest victories and defeats—plus a special Winportunity report from MSNBC's Irin Carmon, who just watched the Supreme Court argue over whether corporations can have religions... and if so, whether corporations like Hobby Lobby can refuse to cover birth control prescriptions for their employees. 
In the Win Report proper, we cover Georgia's crazy new gun law, a ban on plastic bottles that will bring a smile to the heart of every bottle-nosed dolphin in the Pacific, and a bevy of other fights from across the country. Tune in, spread the word, email us at, and learn more here:
Direct download: 16_Guns_in_libraries_Hobby_Lobby_birth_control_happy_dolphins.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:44pm EDT

For 5 million unlucky Americans, health care reform currently means... zilch. But as Ron Pollack, the country's leading health care advocate, explains on this episode, this is a fight we're going to win. And as you'll realize as he tells amazing stories about the battles he's helped win in decades past (you'll find out how Nixon was essentially hoodwinked into launching the national Food Stamp program), Ron's a guy you should listen to.  

Plus:'s Anna Galland tells us why Bobby Jindal's administration in Louisiana is suing for telling the truth; a real-life emotional moment at Good Fight headquarters; an epic Win Report... and a listener contest you'll definitely want to enter. |

Direct download: 15_The_dumb_reason_5_million_are_uninsured.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:23pm EDT

In Uganda, under the new anti-gay law, you—you reading this now—would almost certainly be a criminal. Know gay people, but don't report them? Prison. "Promote homosexuality" by posting on Facebook or Twitter about gay rights, or doing an interview for a podcast? Prison. Gay yourself? Life sentence. 

But Frank Mugisha, an openly gay activist for equality, isn't leaving. And his allies, in Uganda and around the world, aren't giving up either. 

In this episode, through interviews with Frank and with Andre Banks, who runs the global advocacy group All Out, we tell the story of the fight against Uganda's insanely harsh new law—a law whose origins are uncomfortably close to home.  

Learn more at

Direct download: 14_This_interview_is_illegal_in_Uganda.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26pm EDT

A year ago, President Obama did something jaw-dropping, and not in a good way: He proposed, in his budget, cuts to Social Security benefits. This year, though? The cuts were gone. To understand why he made the proposal, and why he reversed course, you have to understand a much bigger battle. The debt ceiling, the rolling fiscal crises, the doomed Grand Bargain—they're all actually one story, and to understand the Social Security showdown is to see how they fit together. In this episode, we take you behind the scenes of the progressive flank in that fight, and celebrate a win years in the making. 

More info:

Direct download: 13_Social_Security_cuts_DOA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

The Iran sanctions bill was the kind of measure that usually passes Congress unanimously. And, as always, dozens of Senators signed on right away—even though the law would've destroyed the most promising US-Iran peace negotiations in a generation, and put us on a road to war. 

But then, suddenly, the bill collapsed. 

What happened? On this episode of The Good Fight, we take you behind the scenes of the rapid-response, highly strategic progressive mobilization that pulled Democratic Senators away, at the last second, from an incredibly dangerous vote. It's the story of a movement that learned a key lesson from Iraq in 2003: the best way to stop a needless war is before it begins. And it's the win that keeps hope alive for the agreement that the US, Iran, and other countries are negotiating even now, a deal that could offer a transformative breakthrough for peace after decades of hostility. 

All that, plus the Win Report... and an encounter with an overenthusiastic vacuum cleaner. Find links to sources, music credits, and more at

Direct download: 12_War_with_Iran_canceled_until_further_notice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48pm EDT

The story of Utah's same-sex marriage movement starts with chutzpah and ends with a ridiculously, touchingly exuberant series of victory celebrations. You might get halfway through before you mist up, but don't count on it. Telling the story are Mark Lawrence, the man behind the lawsuit that struck down Utah's vicious anti-equality constitutional amendment, and his friend Troy Williams, an activist who more than earns his unofficial title as "the gay mayor of Salt Lake City." Plus, a delightful non-war with Iran and a win-tastic Win Report guest-hosted by the New Organizing Institute's Bridget Todd.

Episode notes and email signup:

Direct download: 11_Gay_marriage_in_Utah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

When Heather McGhee's new job was announced, Elizabeth Warren called her "a champion," the head of the AFL-CIO said he was "thrilled," and Chris Hayes hailed her as "hands down one of the most impressive, ferociously intelligent, committed, passionate people I've had the great fortune to meet in progressive politics." 

She's 33. She recently helped pass a law that saves consumers $20 billion a year. And she was just chosen to become the president of one of America's leading think tanks. 

In this interview, a special mini episode of The Good Fight, you'll meet Heather McGhee, one of the first of the millennial generation to lead a major political institution and one of America's foremost voices on inequality, money in politics, and the path to reform. You'll hear her story, you'll learn about your country, and you might just shed a little cynicism along the way.

Show notes and email signup:

Direct download: 10_More_leaders_like_this_please.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03pm EDT

A guy commits some crimes, gets caught, goes to prison. And then everything gets weird. Plus, before that: 2014's first #WinReport, and an exclusive global traffic and weather update that stretches from Sochi, Russia to Chris Christie's New Jersey highways.

Find show notes, and sign up for our email list, at

Direct download: 9_This_prison_is_weird.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59pm EDT

The Good Fight's own annual awards show—recognizing the wins and losses in the most important fights of the year. Your hosts: Garlin Gilchrist II, Ben Wikler, and Winifred the Win Horse. Plus a window into what 2013 meant for people the marriage equality movement, and the fight for equality as a whole, with activist Darlene Nipper.

Thanks to Karl Frisch for joining us as the announcer! Find show notes, and sign up for our email list, at

Direct download: 8_-_The_2013_Winnie_Awards.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT