Our guest is Chrissy Houlahan, a candidate for Pennsylvania District 6 on Nov. 6th. Want to send us feedback? Tweet us, email us, or leave us a voice message!
Quinn: Welcome to "Important, Not Important." My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: And my name Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: And this is Episode 37 and our question today, Brian, why does Congress – what are you laughing at?
Brian: Nothing. Shoot.
Quinn: Okay. Why does Congress need a female Air Force Officer/engineer/chemistry teacher/mom among its ranks?
Brian: It almost shouldn't be a question, even.
Quinn: Yeah, right. Our guest today, Chrissy Houlahan. She is a candidate for Pennsylvania District 6 on November 6th. We're going to dig into, man, one, the very personal reasons she is running.
Quinn: Two, what's so special about Pennsylvania? Three, the first thing she's going to do when she gets fucking elected.
Brian: She laid some interesting facts on us about Pennsylvania and its history.
Quinn: Yep. Turns out when you do your research, you get facts.
Brian: Yep. Wild.
Quinn: Wild! So weird. This is another one of our featured conversations in partnership with 314 Action. They're working hard to put STEM candidates in office on November 6th, which we are just fucking barrelling right towards.
Brian: Yes, I know!
Quinn: You can check them out and support them at 314action.org. New thing Brian.
Brian: Yeah Quinn?
Quinn: Yep. Note on our intros, and just in general: we're still new at this. We're just 37 episodes in now and we're still learning and open to all of your awesome feedback, including Brian's feedback, which mostly he refuses to give to me.
Quinn: But hey, listen, some of that recent feedback Brian, apparently long-time listeners seem to, for whatever reason, enjoy our banter.
Quinn: Very strange. And yet, this probably does not include my wife. And yet newcomers, sounds like might be having a tough time listen to us shoot the shit for six to ten minutes as they wait for the actual promised guest to come on.
Brian: I guess that is a long time.
Quinn: It is totally fair.
Quinn: Right? So again, going forward, learning along the way, the intros are going to be shorter, much tighter, more focused, and we'll get more or less, straight to our big question and featured guest. That's what most folks are coming for. Right?
Quinn: What are we going do to make up for it, Brian?
Brian: Well, I feel like maybe we should record separately some sort of, you call them "after dark" episodes.
Quinn: Yeah, people seem to have a lot of different names for these things.
Brian: Yeah, I actually don't know what to call it, but I think everybody gets it when you say that.
Quinn: Right, podcast aficionados know what we're talking about.
Brian: Right, right. That could be just us, me and you, for I don't know how long. It doesn't have to be crazy.
Quinn: 20, 30 minutes.
Brian: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Quinn: Nothing crazy.
Brian: Just doing a little chit-chat. We can have our fun little jokes and stuff-
Quinn: Little fireside stuff.
Brian: But then also some things that we've learned based on the feedback that we will get and are already getting. Thank you for that, by the way.
Quinn: There could be a once a month episode is just listener questions.
Brian: Oh yeah!
Quinn: And feedback.
Brian: That would be so cool! I like that a lot.
Brian: Yeah. Who knows, honestly?
Quinn: We could talk about why your choice in underwear is killing the human race-
Quinn: For example, without thinking, "Boy, we better get to our guest right now."
Brian: That is true. I think it will open up a lot of ... We won't feel rushed if there's something that we really want to get into.
Quinn: We'll be going down some rabbit holes.
Brian: I'm not doing briefs anymore, by the way. Well, we can talk about it another time.
Quinn: Yep. So anyways, of course they'll be clearly marked in your feed. We are here to give you evergreen conversations about the issues and questions that really matter the most to humanity and the planet right now. We try to have fun with it, not be doom and gloom. There's some exciting stuff, there's some not great stuff.
Quinn: Obviously, our candidate conversations are a little more timely, but we bring on these incredible featured guests that are out there fighting the fight and we want to make sure you're enjoying those and get out of it what you can, so you can get out there and kick some ass and take some specific action, which we think is something we do that's pretty unique.
Quinn: So Brian, on that note, let's go talk to Chrissy Houlahan.
Brian: Let's do it!
Quinn: Shall we? Awesome.
Quinn: Our guest today is Chrissy Houlahan and together we're going to ask, Brian, why does Congress need a female Naval Officer/engineer/chemistry/teacher/mom anyways? Chrissy, welcome.
C Houlahan: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.
Quinn: For sure.
Brian: We are pumped to have you, Chrissy.
Brian: Tell us who you are and what it is that you do.
C Houlahan: Obviously my name is Chrissy Houlahan and I am currently a full-time Congressional candidate and have been for the better part of the last year and a half. Prior to that, I have had a very extensive and eclectic background in a lot of other things. As you mentioned, I am an Officer. I'm actually an Air Force Officer. I'm an engineer by education and I have been, in the past, also been known to teach chemistry off and on. Most recently, have been engaged in early childhood literacy as well as having been an entrepreneur for a very long period of time.
C Houlahan: So I've got a very, very eclectic background, but I really think that the common thread through all of that is one of service.
Quinn: I love that, I love that. And apologies for mangling your specific branch of the Armed Forces.
C Houlahan: No problem. My dad would just be very offended because he is, in fact, a Naval Officer as was my grandfather.
Quinn: Oh you know what? I'm not going to get in the middle of that. It's not pretty.
C Houlahan: Yeah, yeah.
Brian: We got her name right.
C Houlahan: Those are not things we should get in the middle of.
Quinn: No. One of my best friends is an XO on a submarine and boy, if you even call a ship a boat, I mean, it's like he doesn't talk to me for a week.
Brian: Are they not the same thing? Anyway.
Quinn: We're not doing that today.
Brian: All right, let's get this going today.
Brian: What we do here is we have a wonderful guest on, we will go over a little context as to what we're going to be talking about or a question we're going to answer, and then we are going to get out of you some very actionable steps that ourselves, and our listeners, and everyone can take to help the cause and help turn everything around.
Quinn: I think what Brian means by help the cause is save the world.
Brian: I meant to say, "Save the world." What did I say, "Help the cause"?
Brian: I meant to say, "Save the world." Yeah, so if that sounds all right to you, let's get going.
C Houlahan: Sounds perfect.
Quinn: Awesome. So Chrissy, we start with one important question. Something to set the tone a little bit. Instead of saying, "Tell us your whole life story," we like to ask, Chrissy, why are you vital to the survival of the species?
C Houlahan: Wow, that's a heady question. I'd like to hear how other people answer that question.
Quinn: Yeah, one day we'll put a compilation out.
Brian: Yeah, we should.
Quinn: Most people just laugh at us, but we end up actually getting something really good out of it. You're here for a reason, you started your campaign, you've lived a life of service for a reason, so tell us why.
C Houlahan: I also have kids. My kids are now 26 and 24-years-old and I raised them-
Quinn: Oh, they're real human beings.
C Houlahan: Yeah, they're real human beings. I raised them with a singular purpose, which was to challenge them to be the highest and best version of themselves and to constantly be asking themselves how they can be more useful and purposeful and happy in their lives.
C Houlahan: So I think the answer to your question would be how I challenge my own kids. I hope that I'm vital to the planet because I hope that I'm living my best version of my life in service in one form or another. Whether it's serving in the military, or serving by growing socially responsible businesses, or serving by educating our kids in STEM fields and otherwise, those are what I think I have done over the course of my adulthood to hopefully be vital because I think we're all put here to be special in some way.
Quinn: I love that, I love that. That's awesome.
C Houlahan: Thank you.
Brian: See? That always starts with a laugh but then, like you said, a really awesome answer comes out of it.
Quinn: Right. I mean, she's like, "Ugh, I don't have an answer" and then something incredibly profound-
Brian: Yeah, yeah. And, "Oh wait, no, I'm the best."
Quinn: And I've raised the two best people on the planet. Got it, got it. Cool. All right, awesome.
Quinn: I want to just set up a little context for today's topic, which is you. I got together some notes here on the history of females, and all of your other many service-based occupations, throughout Congress. Please correct us, like you already have once. That didn't take very long.
Brian: Right in the intro.
C Houlahan: Facts matter! Facts matter!
Brian: They are, they're important.
Quinn: Ah Jesus, yeah. Or runaway as fast as you can. Whatever works best for you.
Quinn: All right, here we go. 1916, first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. There have been about 270 plus women since. Some of those served in both the House and the Senate. There are currently, I believe, 107 women in Congress across the Senate and the House. 78 Democrats, 29 Republican woman. Kind of amazed that their husbands actually let them out of the house, but good for them.
Quinn: The point is 20%, just about 20% of Congress is ladies.
Quinn: That is not news, but is a huge part of the problem for a variety of reasons. More specifically, to candidate Houlahan here, there's 84 women in the House, about 19% of the total, which is actually the most ever, Brian.
Brian: That's insane!
Brian: That's not a good representation of the people. There's gotta be at least 50% women in this country.
Quinn: Here's two more for you. Only 33 of 50 states currently have a woman in the House.
Quinn: And Vermont has never sent a woman to the House or the Senate, which is kind of incredible.
Brian: Totally fine.
Quinn: Chrissy, if you could tell us real quick, how many ladies are repping the Granite State, Pennsylvania, today?
C Houlahan: Well, here in Pennsylvania, we also have some good data that you will find abysmal as well.
C Houlahan: Pennsylvania has 18 Congressmen and they are all men.
C Houlahan: And two Senators, and they are both men.
C Houlahan: We are in the largest state in the nation that has no women currently serving in Congress. We also have the dubious distinction of being number 49th in the nation in the terms of elected women in general because there are actually thousands of elected positions in the State of Pennsylvania and we are number 49 in the country in terms of our ability to elect women to those positions.
Quinn: And if you could just, for really our most basic listeners, how many states are there total?
C Houlahan: I believe there are 50.
Quinn: Got it, got it. So 49th out of 50. Perfect.
C Houlahan: Right.
Quinn: Killing it.
C Houlahan: #Math.
Quinn: Yeah, god. Well, you're going to turn that around come hell or high water. Now, this is getting pretty specific. I believe there are currently two female vets in the house, is that right?
C Houlahan: I think that you might be referring Senators, and I do believe that there may be more women veterans.
Quinn: Oh, okay.
Brian: Oh, got it.
C Houlahan: But there are quite a lot of women veterans running for Congress this cycle.
Quinn: Yes, awesome.
C Houlahan: I've been able to get to know many of them. They are remarkable, not just because of their chromosomal balance because of their service background.
Quinn: Sure! And from what I could tell from my overinflated Google skills here, it seems like from what I could find, there are currently two former female teachers in the House.
C Houlahan: I would think that as well.
Quinn: Which again, is crazy.
Quinn: If you partner that with, I don't know if you saw the "Time Magazine" stuff this week, Brian. Did you see those? The incredible covers they did about teachers in America?
Brian: Oh, no.
Quinn: There's five or six different covers and one cover will be a teacher in America sitting solemnly on a desk and there's a big bold quote that says, "I work three jobs and I"-
Brian: Oh, yes I did, actually.
Quinn: "I sell blood plasma and I can't pay my bills."
Brian: I did see that.
Quinn: It's like, "Great. Good, good, good."
Brian: No big deal.
C Houlahan: Yeah, we Tweeted that one.
Quinn: Yeah, it's just-
Brian: Honestly, some of the best people in my entire life were my teachers. No kidding.
Brian: It's just ridiculous.
Quinn: Yeah. Across candidate Houlahan's various roles that she has filled over the years, there is a glaring massive lack of perspective, not just from the female perspective.
Quinn: So, with that for some context, the question is why does Congress need a female Air Force Officer/engineer/chemistry teacher/mom anyways?
Quinn: Chrissy, I remember in 2016, sitting at my kitchen counter pulling my hair out when the Democratic firewall, of which Pennsylvania was a large part, crumbled. The President beat Hillary by 44,292 votes. I think Jill Stein got 49,000 votes but we're not going to get into that.
Quinn: The point is I don't think anybody really saw it coming, or at least Democrats clearly didn't. Did you? Should we have? What role did 2016 play in your running today?
C Houlahan: I was sitting in my living room that evening. On East Coast time, it was about 9:30 at night when Pennsylvania – and you're absolutely right. It was all our fault when the wall fell.
Quinn: Wait, now hold on.
C Houlahan: When the blue line fell.
Quinn: I just said that you led the way.
C Houlahan: I feel like it was all of our faults. I had been out canvasing for Hilary with my daughter, my eldest daughter was 24 at the time. We had gone home and changed. I got in my pant suit, she got in her white suffragette outfit. We went down-
C Houlahan: To the bottom of the driveway and voted. We sat down with our champagne and balloons and celebrate. We did not see this coming. We did not see this coming. The next, the night, about 9:30, probably 6:30 your time, was when we started realizing that the wheels were off of this and it wasn't going to end up the way that we thought it was and history wasn't going to be made in that particular way for us that evening.
C Houlahan: And so as a consequence of that, beginning, you know, sinking feeling of that I had clearly gotten this wrong, we had clearly not understood what was going on in our nation, that was the beginning of me – going back to how we started the conversation – saying, "What can I do about this? What is my highest and best way of thinking ourselves out of this?"
C Houlahan: The next part of my story is actually kind of sad, which is my daughter is gay and in the days and weeks after the election, she would not get up and go back to her adult life because she was so concerned about her community and what she thought our nation had promised her and people like her. Similarly, my dad is a Navy guy, as we mentioned and talked about. Served literally 30 years in the military, but he's also a survivor of the Holocaust and came here-
Quinn: Oh, wow.
C Houlahan: As a five-year-old. So my dad, the days after the election, was similarly, not exaggerating, in tears in my living room talking about the opportunities that we weren't guaranteeing each other and talking about building basements out to hide folks and worried about being a refugee again.
C Houlahan: When your dad and your daughter are telling you that you're doomed, in my part of the military, I worked in satellite technologies. When two satellites are telling you the same thing, it's your truth, it's ground truth.
C Houlahan: My dad and my daughter are my satellites and they were telling me that we needed to do something, so that's why I'm running for Congress.
Brian: Well, can't possibly think of a better reason than that to do anything ever.
Quinn: Well, there you go. I think Brian literally just, Brian's life just changed in the past 30 seconds.
Quinn: The look in his face right now. That's pretty incredible.
Quinn: There's this ... I'm working on a submarine movie with my buddy and my grandfather was in the subs. My whole family was in the military. There's this phrase when it comes to being depth charged, which nobody really knows. Doesn't matter how brave you are or how you're going to act when it happens because it's so terrifying. It's hard to blame some folks who are like, "Oh, we should move. We should do this and this" when Trump got elected or when all this shit started happening in the past year because it's pretty terrifying. This tide of democracy we've been promised the past 40 years is in deep shit, clearly, and not just here.
Quinn: I think it really shook a lot of people's worlds, but it's so commendable and impressive when someone like yourself says, "I have two very different perspectives coming at me from two very important people who represent a multitude of different demographics and interest groups and ways of life saying, 'This is not okay.'" And it's really impressive for you to drop all of those other things and all those versions of service that you've held to say, "Okay, then I'll fucking do it myself."
C Houlahan: Yeah and I think it was a little bit at a next level on that because my realization was that I'm a 51-year-old white suburban lady. My kid and my dad are normal, run-of-the-mill people. The idea that we could, frankly, move around our country with ease and be, effectively, invisible and not necessarily have to worry about the tide turning, as you're mentioning, was the fact that we were so worried made me realize that, "Wow, how about the rest of our population that may not be able to move with ease throughout our society? How worried must they be?" We need to be helpful. We can't runaway. This is the time when we need to stand up.
Quinn: I always hate saying this out loud, but I saw a Tweet the other day from someone very popular, that was essentially like, "I've never been scared of a black man or a Mexican or any other immigrant walking down the street. It's the guy with the raging eagle on the back of his car and a Make America Great Again hat that terrifies the shit out of me." Which is true.
Quinn: Like you said, maybe not for people who look like us up to this point, but for everyone else, if you feel this way, what about everyone else?
C Houlahan: Yeah.
Brian: Chrissy, if there is one answer to this, which one of your many previous careers would you say best prepares you for a career in Congress?
Quinn: You're what we call a utility player in baseball.
C Houlahan: Yeah.
Quinn: Where you're like, "Yeah, she can play shortstop. Why not?"
C Houlahan: You know, I think that I have a really diverse set of experiences and I am hopeful that I'll be able to be useful in a lot of different ways, whether it's committee settings or otherwise. A lot of experience working with a lot of different kinds of people as well. I'm looking forward to being useful.
C Houlahan: I think that probably the most ... The best parts of my background, I think, are those things that are pragmatic and practical. I think being a veteran, it prepares you singularly for being somebody who's willing to put our country above party, who's willing to be pragmatic and a problem solver, who's a team player, and who isn't about partisanship, frankly. I also think being a woman similarly prepares you for that. I think that statistically, scientifically if you want to go there, women are more collaborative than men tend to be and I think that we need more diversity at the table in that way as well.
Brian: Oh, maybe we need it.
C Houlahan: So I think both of those – yeah.
Quinn: I think that makes a lot of sense. You know, I've been thinking about this one a little bit, mostly because of people like Rand Paul, but I'm curious if you've ever felt like there are experiences in your past that might almost hamper your ability to get some work done in Congress?
Quinn: I think about, so we always say we want more doctors and scientists in Congress. And again, we're trying to fuel that as much as humanly possible. I'm a liberal arts major, but I'm a big nerd and recognize that people who can ask ethical questions is just as important as people who understand how chemistry works for a variety of reasons. One, just because you know how the scientific method works, but also why solar panels cost what they do.
Quinn: But what's interesting is Congress is such a unique place to work and some folks might have zero experience working in that kind of environment. It's almost ... It's not entirely fair to beg people who have only worked in an academic lab or things like that or worked in a dentist's chair, which is amazing, but it's very different. It's a hell of a learning curve, or at least it is right now. I'm just curious. I want to make sure we're asking these questions because basically, there's no grace period between election day and inauguration there is.
C Houlahan: Yeah, no and reelection too.
Quinn: But Chrissy, we kind of need you on top of your shit from day one.
C Houlahan: Yep, yep. I can understand and appreciate the question. I know that people with analytical heads tend to suffer from analysis paralysis. I think that can be a real thing. But also, part of my background, a large part of my background as an entrepreneur is I'm an entrepreneur at heart. You do have to think hard and think fast and move out smartly and make quick decisions.
C Houlahan: As an example, trying to decided whether or not to run for Congress, I needed to be analytical and think about whether or not I had an opportunity and chance. Could I win? Would I win? Go through all the data and all the different possible outcomes and branches of that kind of thing. And then you have to just make a choice because if you didn't jump in, you certainly weren't going to win. You can't negotiate with yourself on that kind of thing.
C Houlahan: Part of my strategy, frankly, was to jump in as aggressively as I could because I really wanted to make sure that I had a good battle plan. I think that I do have the ability to think analyticalally, but I also think I have the ability to move out quickly on decisions too.
Quinn: That's helpful.
Quinn: Backing up a little bit. I'm kind of curious. When you said your daughter suddenly felt like this way of life – I mean, frankly, she's young – that she's just embarking on is going to be threatened, especially after so many of the amazing progressions we've made in the best five, seven years on civil rights.
Quinn: I'm curious what the conversations were like between you two as you decided to run for office because theoretically – and it really does, that actually puts your family more in the spotlight – if there were any conversations about is this actually a good idea? What are the trade-offs for putting ourselves out there and saying, "Fuck no, this is what we're standing up for and we're going to do it ourselves and try to contribute" versus, "This might make things harder"? I'm curious.
C Houlahan: No, I mean, it was an absolute strategic and deliberate conversation as a family. We went away for a couple days before we collectively decided we were willing to put ourselves through this. I never intended to be in this position or be this exposed personally or from a family perspective.
C Houlahan: She and we consciously decided that this was definitely within bounds. It needed to be talked about because I think part of our conversation had we and she been more open, frankly, about that, then maybe some of our own family members who maybe had made a different decision on that election day would have made a different choice or voted differently or voted at all, if they thought that somebody that they loved personally might have been affected by this decision.
Quinn: Sure. Literally the last point you made, I always come back to the preexisting conditions stuff for healthcare.
Brian: Oh yeah.
Quinn: You know? I feel like back when there were actually civilized arguments about these things 10 years agoish, I always thought to myself, "Oh, you don't have anyone in your life who has a preexisting condition because if you did, just one person, you would understand how completely unfair it is." This is before Obamacare. It's so incredibly unfair and the things the insurance companies would get away with to call a preexisting condition.
Quinn: It's like when they say when you live in DC or Los Angeles or New York that you live in a bubble, but it's insane. Los Angeles is home to, I think, it's 200 plus, there's 200 plus countries where Los Angeles is the second biggest congregation of that nationality. It's like, "That's not a bubble."
Brian: Right, not at all.
Quinn: You wouldn't feel the way you feel about immigrants if you had that kind of exposure. For some people, it's not their fault. They might have grown up in the Midwest and not had enough money to move somewhere where they could be exposed to that sort of-
Brian: Oh, are you talking about my whole family?
Quinn: I get it. But obviously on the other hand, some folks aren't like that.
C Houlahan: No, and your issue with healthcare is a really good one. It's something that is probably the first issue that I heard people talking about in my community and is the last thing, literally, as I walked into this interview that somebody was asking me about. I think your analogy with preexisting conditions is also a good one. I think that's why, in my community in particular, there was such an enormous upswell of energy to try and make sure the Affordable Care Act at least remained intact and certainly that it would be hopefully improved as well on preexisting conditions.
C Houlahan: My daughter that we were just talking about, she's now just turned 26, and so that, of course, triggers a bunch of things in terms of her accessibility to healthcare. You have a whole different conversation to have there too.
Brian: You gotta be like a superhero to her. I can't imagine being in that position and your parent goes-
C Houlahan: Yeah, I'm still a mom. I still mess up all the time.
Brian: Right. Well, sure, sure. But man, what a person to have stand up to this man that is in office assaulting your daughter and many others. That is incredible. Wow.
Brian: Chrissy, why do you think Pennsylvania went the way that it did?
Quinn: What have you learned, I guess, in the past year and a half on that front?
C Houlahan: I do think that there were a lot of things going on in Pennsylvania. There's a reason why we're the firewall or where we're the red meets the blue. That is kind of who we are as a people. I try to explain to folks out your way, we are really fundamentally a purple people. We sit in the middle of the spectrum. We're not really red and we're not really blue.
C Houlahan: So I think that there is a population of folks who were voting on single issues who may have voted for President Trump or for people, frankly. A good analogy would be fourth stage cancer patients who have tried the blue pill and that didn't work, and now they're going to try the red pill. I think that those folks need to be acknowledged and honored, frankly, in their decision because I think that I don't believe that a huge part of our population are misogynistic bigots. I do believe that there was some pain involved in some of those decisions, which is what I struggle with, trying to find out how I missed that.
C Houlahan: I think that there's a combination of people who voted for President Trump and they are those kinds of folks. I think there's a lot of apathy here in our community too where we just sort of frankly thought that things would go the way that they had been going in the right direction. As you mentioned, in the last 40 years, the arc of justice has bent in the right direction, generally speaking, so the apathy was definitely there.
Quinn: Yeah. You know, it's one of those things though. I think a lot of us, our eyes became pretty glazed over. We put the first black family in the White House. They were amazing. They weren't perfect, but they did a lot of wonderful stuff, especially on Civil Rights, things like that. They tried on healthcare. They actually tried to do something bipartisan on healthcare. It worked for a lot of people; it didn't work for some people. From taxes to coal mining, to things like that.
Quinn: Like you said, it's very easy, right after the election, it was, "Oh, it was old white people that did this. Oh, it was just racists that did this. Oh, it was just the Midwest." It was all these things. But you're right, there's a lot of people who go, "This is the single thing that matters to me the most" and that might be really different from the six people that you share an office with. You're all voting in the same direction, but for six different reasons. That cascades down to where did we take our foot off the pedal?
Quinn: I do think it's been – I'm going to use an analogy here I've used a few times – kind of like-
Brian: We have a bunch today already. I like that we're continuing down this past.
Quinn: It's just horseshit. But it's basically there was a time when Batman got his back broken by a villain named Bane and some people were like, "It was necessary."
Quinn: The Democrats, a little bit, had gotten incredibly complacent and we knew that we'd lost all of these down ballot races from Congress to governorships to State Legislatures and Secretaries of State and school boards and judges, that none of these groups would have emerged had Hillary won. So many of these women and scientists and engineers and doctors wouldn't be running.
Quinn: As painful and as very truly painful and dangerous as it has been for some folks and it will continue to be for a little while, hopefully at most, it was almost necessary for us to really get our shit together in a very comprehensive way so that we can look at not all those six people in your office that each have an issue, but if we can help half of them, then that's a hell of a difference.
C Houlahan: Yeah. I actually share your sense of hope. I am hopeful as well. I know that I would have remained probably on my couch in my life had this not happened. I have met so many people, hundreds and thousands of people at this point in time, who have similarly come out of their comfort zones. I'm personally an introverted person and this was something certainly out-of-body for me to put myself into.
C Houlahan: I think a lot of us have just done that. Answered that call in whatever way that we can, whether it's door knocking or phone banking or just talking to a neighbor about an issue that you'd never talk to them about is, I think, an important first step.
Quinn: Yeah. Like I said, your kids are fully formed human beings now as opposed to mine who, I try to let them make their breakfast cereal one morning and it's a nightmare.
Brian: They're going to get there.
Quinn: My kitchen floor looks like "Saving Private Ryan" in Cheerios. But I do, look, they're at the age where they can ask, boy, a hell of a lot of questions and I think if there are still books in 20 years or an America, that they will look back and say, "What did you do when the shit hit the fan?" Of course, my answer is, "I started a podcast," but-
Brian: Chrissy's is a little bit different than yours.
C Houlahan: But we're all doing what we can, right?
Quinn: Thanks Brian.
C Houlahan: We're all doing something important.
Quinn: Thanks Brian.
Brian: Just kidding.
Quinn: But it does matter, it does matter.
Brian: Are there experiences from your past or any of your specific careers that you want to angle toward with your own legislating? What specifically has you fired up?
Quinn: Besides day-to-day, "Oh my god, I need to persecute these people."
Quinn: You're, "Now I'm running for office and I might actually get a chance to do this." What do you want to do?
C Houlahan: I'm obviously interested, let's first and foremost put the things that we all should be worried about: healthcare, great jobs, great education. That's, first and foremost, what we should all be worried about. And then in terms of my own specific experiences and what I have to offer, I'm very passionate about STEM education and STEAM education.
C Houlahan: I spent a lot of time benefiting from it, I spent a lot time worrying about it, and executing on that.
C Houlahan: I'm interested in cyber security. I'm interested in bio security and national security in general. I have a background in that.
C Houlahan: I'm interested in making sure that we are a healthy community and that has to do with not just national security, although I think climate change is an example, is definitely a national security issue, but just make sure that we have a healthy planet to live on and that we are healthy people living on that planet. Those are kind of all the things I'm hoping to be helpful with.
Quinn: Any specific perspectives on women in the Armed Forces?
C Houlahan: What specifically are you looking for there? I have lots of perspectives. I think we're fabulous.
Brian: Perfect answer! Next.
Quinn: Great, next! Next.
Quinn: What do you feel like, again, you've raised two wonderful humans at this point who will now go off into the world and, again, clearly make great change because you're their mom. How do you feel about moms in Congress? If there were 20 of you coming in, what specific changes do you feel like you could be a force to make or to encourage?
C Houlahan: The things that – and there are a lot of women running with young families. What's interesting is there's a new conversation about, "Isn't this interesting? All these people running with young families?" But there's been men running with young families for a very long time. That is an interesting thing that we're parsing in that way.
C Houlahan: But I think that we are singularly interested in things like women's health, women's education, making sure that women and men are treated equally in their jobs, living wage, equal pay for equal work. Those issues of family, preexisting conditions are things that resonate with women and their families. I think something like 50% of us who are under the age of 65 have a preexisting condition.
C Houlahan: Yeah. I think something like one in four kids also do as well, whether it be asthma or my own children have various things too.
C Houlahan: It is interesting that we, as women, and women with families, are being talked about in this way in this cycle. But it is also, I think, interesting that we have the ability to hopefully worry about what our umbrella does as women's issues, but I feel them to be family issues. As a consequence, I believe them to be issues of the economy and issues of jobs.
Quinn: I think it makes a lot of sense. You mentioned, there's either been older men with families or young men with young families running, but clearly, we fucking blew it on that front.
Brian: A little bit.
Quinn: It's not to say it's on you guys to do it, but men didn't cut it. Yeah, it's definitely family issues, but clearly we need much better, more specific, hard-nosed leadership on those fronts. Get anything done. When you see that, what is it? It's like American and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries without paid maternity leave?
Brian: It's so bonkers.
C Houlahan: Yeah.
C Houlahan: It would be funny if it weren't not funny.
Brian: Yeah, right.
Quinn: Right, right.
Brian: What about teachers? I'm curious, being a teacher yourself or a former teacher.
C Houlahan: Are you asking whether it's good to have teachers in Congress?
Brian: Sorry, no. Anything that you would do in Congress-
C Houlahan: Oh, I've had a very eclectic career, as you guys have said, and of all the things I've done in my life, being a teacher has singularly been the most challenging thing I've ever done. I have an enormous amount of respect for teachers and I think the way that we're treating teachers in our nation right now is really horrific in terms of their pay and in terms of the way that we think about their position in this important ecosystem of raising up next generations. I'd very much like to see a way to support teachers.
Quinn: Yeah. It's such a complicated one. My mom is a kindergarten teacher. My sister's a teacher. It should be so much better than it is. We've been having this argument for the past, oh, shit, 50 years, but specifically the past five years on raising the minimum wage. Corporations and small businesses either pushing back or supporting it and say it will make it more challenging and they'll have to raise prices or things like this.
Quinn: I think the lazy thing is to say there should be a minimum wage for teachers, even though there should be because the problem is so many local school districts are broke. While we should have some sort of minimum wage or much better compensation, we have to find ways to pay for that because it's not just some corporations paying for it that can just raise money. I'm not sure what the answer is but-
C Houlahan: Education in general is one of those investments. Investing in your citizenry, whether it's small kids or bigger kids or frankly adults as they are in the economy as it exists now. It's dynamically changing all around us. This is what we should be investing our resources into. It makes a better country, it makes a stronger nation.
Quinn: Would you rather pay a million teachers or have a space force?
C Houlahan: Yeah, you know, teachers are definitely critical in this ecosystem. Yeah.
Quinn: God. So slightly wonky. You're actually running for a freshened up 6th District. Totally redrawn last year because some very bad men went too far and they had to redraw it.
C Houlahan: As men are apt to do it, yeah.
Quinn: So interesting. How does that feel? What's that actually been like on the campaign trail because you're running through some neighborhoods that weren't on the map recently?
C Houlahan: In wonkyness, it really is interesting because the 6th Congressional is where I'm running. It used to be four different countries wide. It used to be called the dragon or the salamander because it was shaped like a dragon or a salamander, and pretty much very surgically, very deliberately gerrymandered so that a certain result would happen with each election. In the newly drawn 6th Congressional District, if follows what the court asked for which was more compact, more consistent, frankly constitutional, I think, was the word of the court.
C Houlahan: Now, it's just one a third counties wide. The bulk of it is one of the counties. It happens to be the one I've lived in for the past 23 or 24 years. Then the rest is another country, Berks County, which is the remainder of the district, 20% of it.
C Houlahan: It's interesting because Chester County used to be divided into three or four Congressional Districts; now it's unified into one. Even though it seems very, very different, it's very, very the same because in the 18 months that I've been running, I was still running through Chester County. There was really no differentiation between, "Oh, now this is the 6th and this is the 7th and that's the 11th." No, it wasn't' really very easy to see because those lines aren't actually drawn anywhere.
C Houlahan: The consequences of unifying the district is that people's vote matters. Now it actually is still a 50/50 Democrat and Republican district, but it's much more unified and much more common sensical. People actually know who their representative will be. That matters.
Brian: Good, good.
C Houlahan: Yeah.
Quinn: Basic shit.
Brian: What are your biggest obstacles and/or challenges so far?
Quinn: I guess what's surprised you or something you've really needed to overcome, hash out?
C Houlahan: You know, I don't think that there are ... I was worried, frankly, about apathy in my community. I was worried that our obstacles in this process would be exhaustion or apathy and that every day there's a different atrocity in the news cycle of, "Oh my gosh, it can't get worse than this." No, it did. So I was worried that people who are not running for Congress would feel like they needed to look away, like they needed to take a break and check out.
C Houlahan: But that has not actually happened in the community. In fact, we're 50 days away from the election and now I'm starting to see not just the energy that has remained, but also new energy from some of the very communities that we've been talking about, people who are looking for a fresh candidate and a fresh set of ideas and who are really looking for somebody who's for things, for good healthcare, for great education, for a good job. I think that is really cool.
Quinn: What are the numbers like on other women running for Pennsylvania districts? Please tell me that you're not the only one.
C Houlahan: Yeah, here's the great news.
Quinn: Thank god.
C Houlahan: There are 18, as I mentioned, Congressional Districts in Pennsylvania. Seven of the 18 districts have Democratic women who made it through the primaries.
Quinn: No shit.
C Houlahan: Yeah and also one of those seven has a Republican woman who also made it through the primary.
C Houlahan: So no matter what happens, a woman will be elected to the State of Pennsylvania's Congress.
C Houlahan: That's really good. In fact, I think things are looking pretty darn good in some of those districts. I'm hopeful that we might be able to bring a couple few women to Congress on behalf of Pennsylvania.
Quinn: That's gotta just ... That feels like it blows minds for ladies in Pennsylvania. Like, "Holy shit." It's so easy to homogenize it but, "There's someone who I have some sort of connection to that's representing me on a most fundamental level."
C Houlahan: It's pretty remarkable, but I think if you had asked many women in Pennsylvania, certainly this woman in Pennsylvania, two years ago how many women are in the Pennsylvania delegation? I wouldn't have known. It just didn't occur to me to ask that question. Yes, we are grateful that we might be represented at the table, but I don't think that we really knew that we weren't to begin with.
Quinn: Yeah, right.
Brian: And now it is occurring to people to find out and ask.
C Houlahan: Yeah.
Brian: That's amazing.
Quinn: Yeah, yeah. That's the key. All right, so like I said, we build to action steps our listeners can take, whether they're in the 6th District of Pennsylvania or Pennsylvania or around the US. Where can we help, specifically? Give it to us straight.
C Houlahan: This is Pennsylvania, you may not live here, but there is actually an election happening November 6th everywhere, in the entire country.
Quinn: Most important day to vote.
C Houlahan: Yeah, it is very, very important. So tune into what your voter registration requirements are to make sure that you are registered to vote. Make sure that you help other folks to be registered to vote. And frankly, regardless of how people vote, you have a voice, you should have a vote. Talk to your friends and your family and your coworkers about how important this election was. If we learned one thing from the last one, it's that every vote matters and your vote counts.
C Houlahan: Organize. Organize yourselves and figure out what you can do on a local level, on a state level, on a national level to be helpful.
C Houlahan: For my particular campaign, you can find out more about me at ChrissyHoulahanForCongress.com. I'd love it if people would follow me because I love watching the numbers go up how many people follow me. This is all sarcasm. No, I do Twitter and Facebook and that kind of thing. But do, look around, because there are races all over the place, all kinds of places that you can follow people and that you can be helpful to people and races that really matter.
Quinn: Awesome. I'm assuming people can donate at your website?
C Houlahan: Yes. That would be lovely. If you go to ChrissyHoulahanForCongress.com, there's a not-so-small button that says, "Donate Here." @HoulahanForPA is my Twitter handle. I do come from an expensive part of the world. I am trying to communicate to a large group of people in the Pennsylvania media market and I would very much appreciate help.
Brian: I'm into that.
Quinn: We're into it.
Brian: All right, I'm Brian, I live in the 6th District in Pennsylvania. What do you really want me to know?
C Houlahan: Ah. I really want you to know that there's a human being out there running for Congress and, in fact, several humans running for State Reps and for State Senate and for Governor and for Senate who are sane and who are rationale and who care about generally, the same 80 or 90% of the same things you care about as well, that we can complete full sentences and we don't Tweet at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, that we're sane and rational representatives of the people of Pennsylvania.
C Houlahan: We'd love your help either in getting out the vote, either door knocking or phone banking or text banking, or just grabbing somebody November 6th and taking them to the poll. That's what I would like them to know.
Quinn: You set a pretty high bar here. No Tweeting in the middle of the night. I don't know.
C Houlahan: I know, right?
Brian: We're going to remember this.
C Houlahan: Crazy, crazy.
Quinn: I don't know.
C Houlahan: I tell my kids, "Nothing good happens after midnight."
Brian: That's right!
C Houlahan: Yeah, yeah.
Quinn: That has always and forever will be true.
Quinn: Who? I think it was Ricky Henderson who told that to rookie baseball players when he was-
Brian: Yeah, that's still right.
Quinn: Stealing bases at 47-years-old. He's like, "Listen kids, nothing good happens after midnight. Sounds fun, doesn't at all."
C Houlahan: Exactly, go home.
C Houlahan: Put it down.
Quinn: Right, put it down.
Brian: All right, so what is it? 2:00? We've had you for a while.
C Houlahan: Yes.
Brian: We really appreciate it very much. Thank you so much for being here.
C Houlahan: You're very welcome. Thank you for having me.
Brian: Of course!
Quinn: Almost done with you here. Brian?
Brian: Yeah, all right, we just have a little lightning round of a few questions here. Quinn's going to start you off with a long one.
Quinn: Ugh, I know. I know. I'm working on it. Chrissy, when was the first time in your life you realized the power of change or the power to do something meaningful? Take your time.
C Houlahan: I don't know. I was sort of always told by my dad that I can do anything.
Quinn: I love that.
Brian: Yeah, that's pretty powerful actually.
C Houlahan: So I've always thought that I could do things.
Quinn: That is such a simple, fundamental thing.
Quinn: And something I try to remind myself with, with my kids, even if it's just doing the monkey bars.
Brian: If we had your daughter on and we asked her this question, I feel like she would basically say the same thing. It's because, "My mom's a badass and if she can do it, I can do it."
Quinn: Right. Chrissy, who is someone in your life that's positively impacted your work in the past six months?
C Houlahan: I would have to say, speaking of badasses, we have collectively called ourselves the badasses. We are the women veterans and Women of Service candidates who are running as Democrats in this cycle. They give me inspiration and get me up every day because this is a pretty out-of-body process and experience. To have those other women that I know that are out there doing the very same, very hard things every day, that really inspires me. I've gotten to know them only over the course of the last months.
Quinn: That's awesome.
Brian: That's amazing!
Quinn: What do you do when you just feel overwhelmed by all this?
C Houlahan: I get in my pajamas and I get in my room and I watch, inevitably, my favorite shows now are "The Americans" or "Game of Thrones."
Quinn: God, how good is "The Americans"?
C Houlahan: I know, right?
Quinn: So you're not done yet though, clearly.
C Houlahan: I am done. I just finished, which bums me out. I literally finished last week.
Quinn: But incredible finale, right?
C Houlahan: Yeah, no it was actually really good. It's one of those shows that got better every season.
Quinn: That show is a near, dear part of my life.
Brian: Is it?
Quinn: It's just incredible.
C Houlahan: Well, and I grew up in that period, Cold War, and I served that period, so it actually resonates with me. Turns out, the Russians are not good guys.
Quinn: So weird.
C Houlahan: Yeah, it's so weird.
Brian: That's actually why I like "Game of Thrones" so much is that from the time I was born.
Quinn: Oh, something you can identify with.
Brian: Yeah, I can completely relate to it and I can't wait for the new season to start.
Quinn: Great. The Uncle of Dragons, Brian.
Brian: When does it start, like 2040?
C Houlahan: Yeah, exactly. Never.
Brian: Chrissy, how do you consume the news?
C Houlahan: I read "The New York Times," I read "The Wall Street Journal." I do that on my phone primarily. I read "The Atlantic." I read "The Economist." I do that in paper form.
Quinn: I'm sorry, in what form?
Brian: Paper. Paper form.
C Houlahan: In the actual paper form that used to be a thing.
C Houlahan: "The Inquirer" my local paper of record that comes to my cell phone with an update every day and I click on various things. I am a multimedia consumer of news.
Quinn: I dig it.
Brian: Excellent. Okay, if you could Amazon Prime one book to Donald Trump, what would that book be?
C Houlahan: I just read a book that was called, I believe it was "Mountains Beyond Mountains." Speaking of the theme of this conversation, it was about Haiti and about this one doctor who really made a huge difference in tuberculosis and kind of like a modern day Mother Theresa. Well, Mother Theresa's pretty modern day.
C Houlahan: I would send that to him so that he would understand that humans have an impact. One person can have impact and that he is having an impact with his incredibly destructive – not just for our nation, but for the planet.
Quinn: Sure, sure. That's awesome. I can't wait to check that out.
Quinn: I heard this. Last thing. I heard this quote the other day from someone saying we don't really understand it here because, unless it's Russia or maybe England or France, it doesn't really affect the American people when someone is elected the president of another country. But for so many other countries in the world, it really matters who the American president is and that is such a different perspective that we need to get a handle on and that I don't think he totally grasps, or maybe he does entirely and that's the problem.
Quinn: Anyways, Chrissy, this has been awesome.
C Houlahan: Thank you.
Brian: Yeah, really awesome. Thank you so much for making the time for us.
Quinn: We really appreciate it. You already did this. Where can our listeners follow you online one last night?
C Houlahan: @HoulahanForPA on Twitter, Facebook of course, ChrissyHoulahanForCongress.com. I think it's @HoulahanForPA and Chrissy Houlahan on Facebook.
Quinn: Rock and roll. Well, thank you so much for your time, for all that you do. Good luck over the next 50 days.
C Houlahan: But who's counting?
Quinn: Yeah, hey, no.
Brian: Who's counting? Thanks for being such a great mom and a great teacher too.
Quinn: Yeah. It's a hell of an inspiration. We will definitely catch up with you once you're in office. It will be very exciting.
C Houlahan: That'd be fun. Come visit me.
Quinn: Awesome. Yeah, we will. Careful, Brian's getting on his motorcycle. Careful what you ask for me.
Quinn: All right Chrissy, go get 'em.
Brian: Thank you.
Quinn: We're proud of you. Keep it up.
C Houlahan: Thank you. Talk later.
Quinn: All right.
C Houlahan: Buh-bye.
Quinn: Thanks. Buh-bye.
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute, or awesome workout, or dish washing, or fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at ImportantNotImportant.com. It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @ImportantNotImp.
Brian: So weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram @ImportantNotImportant, Pinterest and Tumblr, the same thing. Check us out, follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal. Please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. If you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcasts. Keep the lights on. Thanks.
Brian: You can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website ImportantNotImportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music, to all of you for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks guys!
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