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Duration:08:41
Uploaded:2016-10-21
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Montana has had a very strange thing happen this election. A gay, American Indian, Democratic woman was nominated to run against the incumbent (former Navy Seal, Ryan Zinke). Stranger still, several times she has polled within the margin of error.

Full Interview Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeMerAkiO3I&feature=youtu.be

To be clear, it was always (and remains) unlikely that Superintendent Juneau will win, but government is defined by more than just the winners of elections. Who we consider, how close races are, and the conversations that they bring to the table.

I wanted a chance to just talk with Superintendent Juneau...with anyone really...who has a knowledge of government and also faith in government. I don't think that any politician is free of blame when it comes to hyper-partisanship, but I don't think we can move away from it without humanizing politicians and asking them to humanize each other.

You can find out more about Denise Juneau here:
https://denisejuneau.com/
https://www.facebook.com/denisejuneau/

Thanks to Nick Jenkins, Nicole Sweeney, and Caitlin Hoffmeister for getting up way too early in the morning to help with this. And, of course, to Superintendent Juneau who took time out of her ridiculously busy schedule to talk to me.

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Hank: Good morning John! I'm at the office, it's too early. Hey Nick and Nicole!
Nick: Hi.
Hank: Hi.
Nicole: Hi.
Hank: We're doing something weird today. I'm gonna show you in just a second. Hello!
Denise Juneau: How are you?
HG: Good, how are you doing?
DJ: Good.
HG: This is Superintendent Juneau. She is running for Congress.
DJ: Yes!
HG: To represent the state of Montana. Umm you're talking to my brother right now.
DJ: Hi! How are you?
HG: So we do all our shooting down here. Oh, yeah! That looks good!
DJ: Aw thank you!
(Hank claps)
(voices in the background)
HG: Super... Super official.
DJ: Hi!
HG: This is my audience!
DJ: Hi audience!
HG: And also my brother.
DJ: Hi John.
(laughs)
HG: I wanted to talk to you and I'm so grateful for you for doing this because I don't really want to talk about policy or about your campaign and what you are gonna do for Montana when you're in Washington, which I imagine is most of what you talk about. Which is good. I just want to talk about, like, government, being an elected official, which you are right now and, you know, how things have gotten very partisan and how that affects you running for office and you as a person also because I think often times we forget that politicians are people. But before we get into any of that I'm gonna give you a pop quiz.
DJ: Alright!
HG: I think you will know the answers to all of these ones...
DJ: I hope so!
HG: You are running for...
DJ: US House of Representatives.
HG: And that is...
DJ: A House of Congress.
HG: So members of the House of Representatives do what?
DJ: They make laws.
HG: And the final question in the pop quiz is: How do you expect to afford the rents in DC if you win?
DJ: Well, that's gonna be a tough one! Probably get roommates and have to figure out who my friends in Congress are going to be!
(laughs)
HG: You got all the questions right. This is a goat.
DJ: Oh, awesome! Thank you so much. 
HG: Everyone gets a goat!
(Man's voice, out of camera): Everyone gets a goat!
HG: You guys don't get goats, I'm sorry, I was lying!
DJ: At the MSU campus they actually - the - they've been doing a lot of work registering voters and they have a vote goat. 
HG: Oh, okay.
DJ: That they put on campus...
HG: Is it a live goat?
DJ: It is a live goat!
(laughs)
HG: Is it, like, if you vote, you get to, like, pet the goat?
DJ: I don't know, it's just a vote goat that goes around with them to draw people over so that they can register them to vote. 
HG: Now we're on to everyone's favorite topic, which is their own self. So we're gonna talk about you! So you currently hold an elected office, you are the Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
DJ: Correct!
HG: Which is just like the head of schools.
DJ: The head - we, yeah - it's the head of all the schools of Montana, basically.
HG: Right.
DJ: Every four years people vote for this position, it's one of our state-wide offices per our state Constitution. 
HG: Was your campaign for the state-wide office... Was that significantly different than what you are experiencing now running for a more high-profile thing? 
DJ: Yes, totally! You know, the issues are bigger, there is more scrutiny... You there's all - there's a... there's a larger microscope on you. You also get a bigger megaphone, and so that's good too. 
HG: Uhum... I imagine there's also tough parts of that, like not a lot of time scheduled for sleep... Also, there's a lot of people who are gonna be saying nasty things about you.
DJ: Sure.
HG: I'm just curious what the worst part is.
DJ: It is that! I think it's the negativity in politics right now, it's the divisiveness... Good ideas sometimes don't get to be discussed because we draw ideological lines and then talk about, you know, fear-based sorts of issues rather actually talking about issues that matter.
HG: So is it safe to say that during this campaign you kind of came out? 
DJ: Uhum. So I introduced my partner. You have someone in your life and they... they need to be there to support you.
HG: Did you feel like that was something that you needed to do for political reasons as well as personal ones?
DJ: Uh yeah, I think it was a mixture of both. People expect access, they want to know who their candidates are, and I think stepping up to this level, from Superintendent to Congress, it was important to make sure things were out there because of the negativity that can sometimes happen.
HG: Uhum. 
DJ: And it really hasn't become an issue, which is... 
HG: Yeah, it's great!
DJ: ...Great! I think, particularly when we look at Montana we - you know, the stereotypes around our state and its people... It actually hasn't become a political issue, which I think speaks volumes for our state and our country, and the direction we're moving. 
HG: I was on your twitter yesterday...
DJ: Right.
HG: It says on your bio: 54th generation Montanan, which made me laugh. I just wanna know, how you've come to that particular number.
DJ: I just figure it's a long time and um... You know, you can try to disprove it but it started like... American Indian people have been here before America was a country, and it's important to bring that aspect of history to this race as well.
HG: If you aren't that tuned in, mostly what you hear about government is the most dysfunctional things. 
DJ: Right.
HG: In America we have very strong local government and I'm - I'm worried about the future in which young people aren't that interested in that.
DJ: Yeah.
HG: Because they see government as dysfunctional or because they just see it as, like, an unpleasant task to try and get into that.
DJ: Right... Uhum. For every message you get and every letter you get that says "I hate you" and "you're doing the wrong thing" and "you're horrible", you get three or four that are really good. Or you run into people who say "my kid would not have graduated were it not for Graduation Matters Montana". And yet, you're always gonna get the haters but umm, you know, the good stuff always outweighs those.
HG: I believe you, I guess.
DJ: Yeah, you should!
(laughs)
HG: What do you think politicians can do to make it feel, like, to put the government, like, the running of our country ahead of winning the election?
DJ: Be present. 90% of politics is showing up. And you show up where people are gathered and you listen and, you know, you put aside your partisan hat and you actually listen to people about: what are your issues, why are they challenging and how can we make them better. I mean, that's really what the function of government is to make things better and that's why elections matter; it really does matter who sits in those seats that can actually get down and do the business of good government.
HG: How terrifying is a debate?
DJ: Oh it's scary!
HG: It seems so scary!
(laughs)
DJ: It is! I mean, it is something where... I mean, you kind of have to guess on what you're going to get asked, it's always a curve ball, you never know. Getting up that a stage... it's something!
HG (whispering): I can't imagine!
DJ: I mean, you are definitely awake! 
(laughs)
DJ: Last debate actually had an audience question: if you're elected, how will you help LGBTQ people in the country? That, sort of, was a new question we hadn't been asked in previous debates and so my answer was: "Number one, get elected."
(laughs)
HG: That's not fair!
DJ: It's very fair!
HG: So I guess my last question is just how do you umm... How do you help Americans believe in government?
DJ: Well I think... Number one, get elected! I mean, I'm not naive about, you know, there is a lot that needs to be fixed in government.
HG: Uhum.
DJ: And we need to really start moving away from such divisive politics but through my life and through my role as an elected official, I know good things can happen, so I do - I'm optimistic. And I think most people who ran for office... They want to make sure that things get better for the people that they represent.
HG: Uhum.
DJ: You're stepping up. You're putting yourself on the line. You're opening yourself up for scrutiny. But you're also opening yourself up to have real conversations with people and, when you're elected, to make a difference and make a positive difference for the people who elected you. And I think that's really powerful! 
HG: Well thank you very much! 
DJ: Yeah, thanks!
HG: This was fun. Umm, John, I'll see you on Tuesday! (this is how I end my videos)

Hank:
John, there are so many serious arguments that need to be had, so many issues that need to be discussed that it can sometimes feel hard to justify just having a conversation with a person who is being voted on to be in a public office, as if they are a person. But I think that it's really important to try and do: to imagine these people as people, especially at this moment when the information silos and the voter "?" communication strategies are combining to create the most extreme partisanship I've ever seen in my lifetime. The result of all of this is that no one ever talks about the thinks that work and so everybody thinks that everything's broken - but it's not! Yes, things need to be maintained and we all need to work to do that maintenance. But that doesn't mean that it's never been worse and that we're losing and that everything is crashing down around us. Americans - humans - we have problems right now, but we are good at taking on problems. 

I obviously cut a lot out of this interview. The full interview was like a half hour long. I would love it if you would go watch the whole thing. We got deeper into several of the topics from this video and then talked about stuff that isn't in this video at all. I thought it was a fascinating conversation and I hope that you will as well. You can watch that video here - uh click there or there is a link in the description.

And of course as a final reminder, educational videos are exempt from the time limit, so... Stop talking about punishments in the comments.