The Suburban Women Problem

This Year, Let’s Choose Conversations Over Chaos (with Gisele Fetterman and Sherry Luce)

January 18, 2023 Red Wine & Blue Season 3 Episode 1
The Suburban Women Problem
This Year, Let’s Choose Conversations Over Chaos (with Gisele Fetterman and Sherry Luce)
Show Notes Transcript

Season 3 of the podcast is here and we are so happy to be back with you all! On today’s episode, Amanda Weinstein, Jasmine Clark and Rachel Vindman catch up on everything that’s happened since they last sat down together: from Jasmine and Casey being sworn in to Republicans in disarray in Ohio and Washington. Chaos is looming around every corner, but we can counter it by continuing to have authentic conversations with our friends, family, and neighbors.

The hosts are joined by Sherry Luce, an organizer in Pennsylvania. They chat with Sherry about how her state was able to swing blue in last year’s midterms, her unconventional approaches to politics (pajama party, anyone?), and what she's seeing in the coming year for Pennsylvania.

Then Amanda gets the chance to sit down with Gisele Barreto Fetterman, whose kindness, authenticity, and style are truly one of a kind. Amanda and Gisele chat about her charities, immigration, how running for office is a family affair, Brazil’s recent “January 6th” riot, how Gisele stays positive in the face of criticism, and even her long-time celebrity crush.

Finally, Amanda, Jasmine and Rachel raise a glass to Jasmine’s 40th birthday, some unexpectedly positive experiences on Twitter, and to Rachel’s daughter Sarah and the importance of reaching out for support in this episode’s “Toast to Joy.”

Troublemaker Trainings are back! Our next Training is Thursday, January 19th and it’s all about school boards. Join us to learn more about how to fight against book bans, how to make your voice heard at school board meetings and join together with your friends and neighbors. You can learn more and sign up here.

For a transcript of this episode, please email theswppod@redwine.blue.

You can learn more about us at www.redwine.blue or follow us on social media!

Twitter: @TheSWPpod

Instagram: @RedWineBlueUSA

Facebook: @RedWineBlueUSA

TikTok: @redwineblueusa


The Suburban Women Problem - Season 3, Episode 1

Amanda: Hi everyone. Thanks for listening. I'm Amanda Weinstein. 

Jasmine Clark: I'm Jasmine Clark. 

Rachel Vindman: I'm Rachel Vindman.

Amanda: And you're listening to The Suburban Women Problem. We are back! It was nice to take a little time to rest and recover during the holidays, but it's so nice to see you all again. I can't wait to chat with our Troublemaker this week and to share my interview with Gisele Fetterman, but first we have to catch up. It has been a while since the three of us have talked like this!

Jasmine: It has! It really, it feels like it's been like months. It hasn't been, but that's what it feels like. It just feels like it's been a really, really, really long time.

Amanda: I know! We had the holiday break that would never end because my two littles had surgeries and then right as school's supposed to start, they all got sick from all this stuff that's going around, and so now it finally feels like. winter break has just now ended.

Jasmine: Yeah, I think you know, after getting Warnock elected and then deciding I wanna take a little break, except for pretty much once the elections are over, like we jumped right into things. So I traveled so much in December. A lot of it was work travel too. It wasn't even all like fun travel. But pretty much the majority of the month of December I was not at home, so it didn't feel like a break necessarily because I was all over the place.

Amanda: And swearing in! We saw your cute picture with Jada. Oh my gosh. She's gotten so much taller. 

Jasmine: Yeah. I cannot believe how much she's grown. 

Rachel: I was shocked and I'm like, I, I wasn't even at, I didn't even know you guys then, but I'm just like, it happened so fast. They hit this age where I just, they just look so much older. My mama heart can't take it, guys. 

Jasmine: I know! And, and a lot of people I know were reminding me of when I first ran for office, Jada was 10 and she was still into baby dolls. Like she was really into them. So she brought them to every Democratic party meeting, every volunteer thing. She always had a baby doll in her hand, and they were like these really realistic looking baby dolls, they call them Reborns. And so people were like, “that cannot be the same little girl that was like carrying around baby dolls!” And I'm like, “oh my gosh, y'all are so right.” Like, I'm just like, it's a, it's amazing what can happen in such a short amount of time.

Rachel: She's a beautiful young lady with a great heart and I think that's the best thing is she was with you and campaigning and attending those events before and now she helps you campaign and campus and attends your events now. So at least we have that through thread even though she is growing up. 

Jasmine: I know, I know, I know. It's kind of crazy to me. And even my son is starting to get into politics as well. He worked on Wes Moore's campaign. So I'm like raising these little… I don't know, I don't think they're gonna go into politics at all, but they're at least very aware of what's going on around them and how politics affects their lives.

Rachel: But isn't that what we want? I mean, you know, like we definitely need good people to run. I mean, certainly that's, that's true. But I just love that they are aware enough to be part of this and they know that it isn't just voting, it is participating, it's supporting the candidates that you want to help and that isn't always writing a check, especially when you're 16, right. There are lots of things. Things that you can do. And it is incumbent upon all of us to be part of the process.  

Amanda: And I love that they're aware of this, even, and they understand the importance of kind of voicing their opinions and what that voice means and what it means in terms of real outcomes. 

So part of what happened after Casey was sworn in was we had the Republicans in disarray in Ohio, which sounds familiar. And they're, you know, of course, fractured between the moderate Republicans and the extremist Republicans in Ohio as they are elsewhere. And so they had a whole tizzy about who was going to be Speaker. And it was originally supposed to be a pretty extremist Republican Speaker. And the moderate Republicans teamed up with the Democrats to get a moderate Republican in there. And the moderate Republicans were censured by the Republicans for voting for a Republican. Oh. It was a whole lot of drama.  

Jasmine: How do you feel, like if you're the Republican that won and you're like, “Wait, people are being censured for voting for me? But I'm on y'all's side! Like I am a Republican!”

Amanda: It's crazy. So it was like a lot of drama all in a couple days, which was super fun. 

Jasmine: But at least y'all got it done. I mean, what we saw at the federal level was… oh my gosh. 

Amanda: The memes were amazing though. Did you see the memes that came out of that? We're gonna be able to use those for years.

Jasmine: But you know what's really interesting about it was like Lauren Boebert barely won her election, like literally, barely. And then immediately came in with all the audacity as if she's so big and bad. I'm like, lady, you were so close to not even being there and now you're all like with your chest all puffed out. Like, I just don't understand, like, is that like what extremism does to you? It just makes you that delusional? You still think like you're so big and bad when the voters clearly almost fired you?

Rachel: I mean, yeah, I think there's a lot of insecurity there and you know, I mean, she was all buddy-buddy with Marjorie Taylor Green, and then they had a falling out over this whole thing and okay, whatever. But I think that's fundamentally because they don't actually have anything that they believe in. It's all for personal gain. So if that is, you know, if the selfishness or self-centeredness or just Me First type is what is your guiding principle, then that's all you're going to seek to do. And I really think that's what we saw play out the first week of January. Unfortunately, I think it's, we're gonna see it play out for two years. 

Amanda: I think that's how they prefer though, like, they like chaos over policy. Right? And they're like, “oh, let's vote that you can now smoke in the Washington DC Capitol instead of like, I don't know, fix inflation.” Like, come on. Like the chaos is what they really love.

And it's interesting to see the Republicans in disarray in Ohio meant that they're like, “well, we have to work with Democrats if we want our caucus to win.” And it's interesting to see, I don't really see that happening in DC, finding some Democrats who will vote with you and that you can get some bipartisan things done which will help more Americans. But really that's not, that's not their goal, right? 

Rachel: I mean, I think on the state level you probably see more people who are generally interested in representing and actually getting good things done. And on the federal level, I think a lot of times we don't have that. But the real problem… foreshadowing! Let me just tell you, you're gonna hear me say this a lot this year! I think we have to stay diligent and we have to keep talking about their dysfunction, right? Because they, you know, if you recall, they tried to portray it as “democracy is messy” and you know, all this stuff. This hasn't effing happened in a hundred years! Sit down and shut up. This is not the way it works. 

 Jasmine: They could not govern. And on top of that, they kept saying, like, “oh, the democratic process is transparent.” No it wasn't. Closed door meetings, backroom deals. Like all of that's what we saw play out over four days. People still didn't exactly know what was promised to these people for their vote. So no, it wasn't messy. And it wasn't necessary. What it was was them putting on display exactly how the next two years are going to go. Lots of backroom deals. Lots of negotiations happening to basically hold on to power. McCarthy is basically a man with a piece of wood, not really a leader with a gavel. Like that's pretty much what we're dealing with right now. 

Rachel: Look at what I found! It's this nice little hammer.

Amanda: It's a lot of people who are out for themselves, right? They're the party of George Santos. I came back from break and I kind of ignored a lot of this over the break and I was like, “whoa, who is this guy everyone's talking about all a sudden? And what is going on with McCarthy? Casey, like give me like the Cliff Notes version here.” 

How did George Santos get into office, is what I want to know. Like I do more, I vet 300 applicants for a job at my university better than the Republicans, Democrats, the media and the voters of New York. Like I feel like I might be a little harsh here, right, but how does this guy get in office? 

Jasmine: I vet the type of vacuum I will buy more than that.  

Amanda: Oh my God, I know! All my appliances were broken, I'm like texting, texting everyone, like, “please tell me what to buy, should I get an air fryer? What kind of air fryer? What are the pros?” My air fryer got significantly more vetting than George Santos.

Ladies out there, if George Santos, who doesn't know how to tell a truth even about himself, can get into office… like you might be in your house right now, like, “oh my God, I didn't get like my kids a breakfast this morning,” but you could do better than George Santos in Congress right now. 

Rachel: But also what's dangerous is that McCarthy et al… no one has a problem with him serving. I mean, they're gonna, you know, he just got this new job and he has been very vocal about he's not going to resign and they've already brought ethics charges against him and the Republicans are like, “yep, that seems good.” Because you know, why not?

I mean, first off, let's not even talk about how he is a counterintel risk like nobody's business. Because whatever he’s hiding, they can hold that… they'll find out what it is too and they'll use it against him. So this is telling us, you know, what it's going to be like for the next two years. I think especially in 2023, that's when we're gonna see, I think the maximum chaos. They're gonna have to get a little bit together before the 2024, like, heavy campaigning. But I think this year, sorry. hi, I know it's only January 18th, but I am telling you it's gonna be a disaster. You know, just don't expect much and then I guess you won't get too disappointed.

To that end, I thought it was interesting. We went to Oklahoma this weekend to see my niece who was in a play and the state superintendent, which is an elected position, is really just crazy and he wants to essentially eliminate public school funding. And to give parents choice, which means, you know, the parents would get money to go to a private school.

But in a lot of places, in small towns, a school district is the number one employer. This is a thing that people so much don't understand and no one is explaining to them. The second and third order effects of so many of these policies that are being sold to them are absolute crap. Like they will destroy the life that they think they are saving, this way of life, this cultural thing that they, they want to keep.

And it's something that I think we really have to talk about. And not just complain about it and make fun of it, but really, you know, show it to people. Especially, you know, this year when we have a little bit less contentious moment in politics, again cause just not high stakes cause it's not an election year, that we continue to talk about this and have these conversations.

Amanda: Yeah, it's important. I think that's a good point, like, from now till the next big election next year, we have to keep having these conversations. 

So our next guest knows how far authenticity can take us in politics and in life. She's a mom and an organizer in Pennsylvania. Sherry Luce, welcome to the Suburban Women Problem!

Sherry Luce: Hello. 

Amanda: So congrats on all the good news out Pennsylvania in the midterms! You flipped Pennsylvania blue. That deserves a round of applause. What do you think was a secret to your success? Because I know there's a lot of Ohioans who would like to know.

Jasmine: Georgians too. 

Sherry: Well, let's be clear. We flipped the House, but not the Senate. But we gained a little momentum in the Senate. But to me the most exciting thing is flipping the House was a long shot, but by really targeting specific areas and communities, we made it happen. 

Amanda: So I know in Michigan, they talked about when they flipped both of their Houses, that this was not something that happened overnight. That this was a plan that they had crafted eight years ago. So I'm assuming in Pennsylvania this wasn't just like a “click your heels and we will get to the Democratic, you know, home” or whatever. So how, what was the journey like and how did you get there? 

Sherry: Well, Pennsylvania had some pretty key issues at play, choice being number one. And the Republicans really tried to put their head in the sand and pretend that wasn't going to kick up. And it did. It absolutely did. Especially with women in the suburbs. Knowing what would happen with Senate Bill 106 on the table, that would be able to pass legislation making abortion illegal in Pennsylvania, but blocking our governor from vetoing it by changing the Constitution. And the moment we took the house, it meant Senate Bill 106 was over. It's done in Pennsylvania. 

The other issue in Pennsylvania is we've had some really chaotic school board situations happening, and in some of our largest districts in the state, so people didn't expect it to happen. But people ran for school board as moderate Republicans before the general public really knew about Moms for Liberty and all these extremist organizations. They won their seats and then co-opted the whole board. So Pennsylvania, for 2023, school boards are going to be really hot. And we know repeatedly, every survey is showing, parents do not want school boards focusing on keeping our LGBTQ children from feeling safe. They do not want books banned. Focus on education. Focus on safety in our schools.

Amanda: Yeah. And teacher shortages. Like, come on, there's so much that we want done, and you're not looking up our list at all. 

Jasmine: Exactly. I feel like every time they do that on ours, I'm just gonna be like, we have a safety issue and this is what y'all are choosing to focus on. And it really knocks them back on their heels because that safety used to be their thing. And now it's the Democrats saying, y'all are focused on these like identity politics and social wars and meanwhile our schools don't feel safe and people are afraid to send their kids to school. Let's focus on that. 

Sherry: Well, Jasmine, it's really funny you said that because I know someone who has attended a few Moms for Liberty meetings in Pennsylvania, and she said, “You're not gonna believe what they wanna talk about in school board this year. They're going to try to start attacking some of the school boards that have a pretty even mix or possibly Democrat-led, saying, did you hear there's been an increase in violence in the school?” But their safety issue is not about keeping, you know, disadvantaged children safe. It's not about keeping guns out of our schools. It's about “there's kids fighting in the halls because these liberals are not paying attention to what's happening.” So be aware that that may be a hot topic for them. But coming from a different perspective, which again makes no sense at all.

Amanda: Misinformation, coming to a school district near you. 

Sherry: And unfortunately in the last week, the Board up in Central Bucks dug in deeper and issued a warning to teachers of what will happen if they have a pride flag or anything to indicate that they are an ally in their classroom. So they're under investigation by the ACLU and everything that's happening. They're digging in deeper. Which is going to be actually good because the public doesn't want that. So they're going to start to oust these people to take control back. 

I will say, Red Wine and Blue, we're all over it. Really amused, an article just came out citing, some of them are anonymous sources and some were named, but the Pennsylvania GOP, who were at a loss, saying “This election cycle was really bad for us in the midterms. Not only did we lose Governor, we lost, you know, of course Lieutenant Governor cuz they go hand in hand. But we didn't pick up any seats at all. We lost the house. We didn't pick up seats in the Senate. And this was really bad. What happened to our red wave?” So they're funding a program right now to do sort of an autopsy. The number I saw was a hundred thousand dollars. They're investing to find out why they lost. 

Jasmine: I can tell them.

Amanda: I was just thinking, I can do some research for half that if they're looking for research!

Rachel: I have a very reasonable consultant's rate of about $20,000 a month.

Amanda: Ah shoot, Rachel just underbid me. 

Rachel: Sorry. 

Sherry: We'll just split that hundred grand between you guys.

Rachel: Haha. Yeah. Yeah. 

Sherry: But the one guy, the quote that made me laugh the hardest is he was saying how Republican parties have just become social clubs and they're not really focused on electing Republicans. And his quote was, “We need to get back in the business of actually talking to friends and neighbors about candidates and getting them registered to vote.” Is that Red Wine and Blue or not? 

Amanda: Oh snap. 

Jasmine: They've been listening to the pod.

Sherry: I know, exactly. So we laughed and said, that's right. The relational organizing works and we're up and running. We're ready to go for 2023. 

Amanda: We'll just be better at it. Speaking of making friends, I have not done this with my friends in a long time, but I heard you organized a pajama party to support your State House representative. That sounds like so much fun. How did this come about? 

Sherry: Well it was virtual, we didn't actually get together in our pajamas, but I would've been happy to.

Jasmine: Hey, I'm getting ideas.

Amanda: I know, me too. That's what I was just thinking. 

Sherry: Well, Lisa Borowski, who won thankfully, and is my state representative here in Pennsylvania 168, she was just sitting at home one night and her son came home and told her there was going to be budget cuts here in our school district.

And so she hopped in her car because the school board meeting was happening right then, but she knew it was wrapping up and she didn't have time to get dressed. And also she just threw her coat on over her, you know, flannel pajama bottoms and everything and jumped in the car. Drove right to the school board and spoke.

But that wasn't enough. She then ran for school board and won. That wasn't enough. After fixing a lot of problems at our school board, she then ran for our township commissioner and was running our commissioners until… like, she's going to have to be replaced now because she won this seat and now she will be in Harrisburg for us.

And I just love, here again, it's a woman balancing her career, parenthood, everything, who said, “I will find the time to do more for my community, for the children…” 

Jasmine: “Even if it's in my pajamas!” 

Amanda: So what are your hopes for Pennsylvania this year? What comes next? 

Sherry: Get sanity back in our school boards that started to go the wrong way, educating people. One of my favorite events that we did here, a local independent bookstore wanted to do a book ban event during National Book Banning Week, and the first restaurant that she was going to use to host it backed out not long before it because they got emails from people using talking points for Moms for Liberty. So they said, “we wanna be Switzerland,” and they backed out. 

Another local restaurant stepped up and said not only are we hosting, they made three signature cocktail drinks for the event. Like a Fahrenheit 451, a Tequila Mockingbird… 

Amanda: Ooh! I want an event like this. I will try all those drinks. I will make Casey DD.

Sherry: So I mean, that showed me, when people realize what the issue is, they do care and they're going to be getting engaged. And right now, thanks to these extremists in Central Bucks and Penn Ridge and some of our other school districts, they're getting news and it's not positive news, right? Your property value is going to start to suffer as people are looking for where do they wanna buy a home. And it's a tough real estate market already, but all of a sudden they're gonna be thinking, “wait a minute, that's that school district that's in the news all the time, and they're not a welcoming community. I don't wanna buy a house there.” 

So we're gonna keep talking about that. So that's what we're doing. It's gonna be focused on educating voters, and then getting them using relational organizing to talk to everyone they know.  

Amanda: I love the way you talk about politics, Sherry, because you talk not just about all of these things that you're doing, but how it actually affects us, affects our families, affects our kids. We're talking about the education we're providing for our kids, the safety our kids get in this school. All of these things really, really matter to our kids and to our communities. And I love the way you talk about it. Just making that connection for people. Because I think part of the misinformation or disinformation is breaking that connection where people don't realize it. It just looks like a show they don't wanna be part of. But we all need to be a part of this. 

So thank you for joining us, Sherry. Now we're gonna take a quick break and when we come back we'll have my interview with Gisele Fetterman.

BREAK

Amanda: All right, so our guest today is an activist, philanthropist, mom, and the former second Lady of Pennsylvania, or SLOP, as she likes to put it. She's founded multiple nonprofits that support lower income families and her style and personality bring a spark of fun to American politics. Gisele Barreto Fetterman, thank you so much for joining me on the Suburban Women Problem. 

Gisele Fetterman: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here. 

Amanda: Well, first of all, congratulations on your husband's Senate win. I know the whole nation was watching especially that race, so there was a lot of good news on election night, but the Pennsylvania Senate race was high on our list and everyone's list. It must all feel like such a whirlwind. How are you doing? 

Gisele: I'm good. You know, adjusting to a new role, new routine, figuring out living, you know, John will be in DC, I will be mostly here. And just figuring out a new, what the new routine for the family looks like. 

Amanda: Oh man, that's always hard. Cause I know when my husband is gone too, it's like coming back can be even harder sometimes. Cause you're like, “No, that's not where that goes anymore!” 

Gisele: Yes. People are like, “oh my God, you must be so sad and I’m ilke, “I’m ok. This is good. It’s fine.”

Amanda: Haha. So you ran a different kind of campaign, more social media savvy, more quirky, and definitely authentic. Was that a decision that you talked about or did it just kind of happen organically? 

Gisele: It was just who we are, you know. And we, I've always had social media. It was just what I've always done, who I've always been and him as well. And I think people connected with us because you could tell it wasn't a team doing this. It really was the two of us doing most of it. So I, I think it was just us being ourselves and I'm glad that people were able to connect with us.

Amanda: I love that you called you both a team, because that's how I viewed it too from the outside, is you both seem very much a team, which I think makes it really hard for an opponent to know that they're facing both of you and you are also a formidable opponent.

Gisele: Thank you. Well, I think, you know, I say when someone runs for office, their whole family does, right? It's, it's such a sacrifice, you know, my dogs suffered and the kids and… so it really was, you know, a whole family thing. I think that's how it has to be because you're getting the whole, the whole messy bunch.

Amanda: Yep. And I mean, campaigns take so much that the whole family, that's kind of how you keep the family together, is the whole family kind of has to be involved in going to some events. Otherwise you would probably never see your husband.

So you've mentioned before that it was a family decision to run for a Senate seat. Can you tell us a little bit more about how your kids were involved?  

Gisele: So we make our decisions together, but for me, it's really important that politics be a very small part of their life. So while I was on the road with John a lot, my mom was here with the kids, you know, I let them go to two events. They attended two rallies in two years. Because I want Daddy's job, or this world, to be a very small part of their world. You know, I care about their basketball games and their play dates, and I really prioritize that. 

So, you know, we shared, you know, “John is thinking about doing this. What do you guys think?” And they're like, “Okay, fine.” You know, they don't really, they're really normal and great kids. And I thought the funniest part, heading to inauguration, they said, “do we have to come to this?” I was like, “Yes! You do. Your dad is becoming a Senator. This is not optional.” I think I did such a good job of making it not a big deal that they were not sure if they needed to come.

Amanda: That's awesome. I know we try with my husband, try and share with the kids just like the funnest parts of politics and a lot of politics can be fun. So I think if we can have them being part of, you know, the fun part of politics, then I think that's great. And I think part of that, people know that you're a family, so you care about families and you can connect with people on that level very well.

So in addition to being a political spouse and working with nonprofits and advocating for issues you care about, and being a mom, you also just became a volunteer firefighter! Where does all of this passion for helping people come from and where do you find the energy? 

Gisele: So I'm in the process. I'm becoming one now. It's been amazing. I have training actually and hopefully pass my test at the end of the month and then I can officially say I'm official-official. 

I think that's what we're here for, right? I think I always say like to the kids, you know, our job is to minimize suffering. Whatever job we find, whatever our role is, is like, how could we make the suffering less for the next person, for the neighbor, for the next generation. So that's really what gives me drive. Otherwise, I think I would be so tired and not into it, right? I get so excited about this, this work and my nonprofit work. It's really what gets me up every morning and, and I look forward to it. It's not a chore. It's just a part of my life. It's like as, as I breathe, this is the work that I do. And I think it's always been that way. I'm really grateful for, you know, living in this country. I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful for the chances I've had. I wouldn't wanna live any other way.

Amanda: That's awesome. Man, those firefighter suits are heavy. I have tried one on, they are very heavy and very hot.  

Gisele: They are. And you have to put it on very quickly. That's part of the test. So how quickly I can put it on. 

Amanda: Oh man. I actually read a book to my youngest daughter about, it was one of the first female firefighters in New York. And the test they used to give had super advantages to men. And she was like, “how about you test me on things firefighters actually do? Like putting on your suit? And actually change the test to make it more realistic of what you would actually do.” And when they changed it, then she became a firefighter.

Gisele: Amazing. I love that. I'm gonna have to get it. 

Amanda: Oh, it's a great book. It's cute. 

All right. So as a woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind, you've become a popular right wing target, of course. And some of the criticisms about your husband's stroke last year were really nasty too. So how do you deal with all of this social media nastiness and politics, all of that combined, and still stay so positive and so kind?  

Gisele: I've learned to just quiet the noise. You know, I really care about the opinions of people who I care about. I don't care about the political opinions of Fox News or people I don't respect. So for me it's, I've learned to quiet the noise and as a Pisces, you know, it's been something I've had to learn. I do want people to like me, I do take things very personally. But I've learned not to. 

It's taken a while to get there and I remember, you know, crying about something every other day and my grandmother said, “Gisele. You give love because that's what's inside of you. And what you see other people putting into the world, that's what's inside of them.” And it gave me a perspective that I needed. And now when I see these things I think, “oh my God, their insides are so sad.” Or like, it's so devoid of goodness and it helps me to not take it personally. 

Amanda: Mm. That's awesome. Yeah, I wonder sometimes, like, what is it like to live with this person who is saying this really nasty thing? And I'm like, I feel like, not fun. 

Gisele: No. Or even to be that person. It has to be terrible to live that way. And it makes me feel sorry for them, you know? I mean, there's no excuse for putting hate out into the world, but also to be the person who does that must be terrible, like you said. And I'm just grateful I'm not that person. So, you know, other than that, I really care about what those I love think about me, my kids, my family, my husbands, you know, my constituents, not those people.

Amanda: No. Yeah. So you mentioned your grandmother talking to you about this, and your mother, you know, helping with the kids. I know for me, my mom is super helpful. She lives nine minutes away from me and comes and helps a ton. And it seems like you have a really strong connection, you know, with your family, with your mother, with your grandmother, and it seems like those connections, you know, really help you as well. 

Gisele: Definitely. You know, we grew up in a multi-generational home, as many immigrants have. You know, when we came to this country, it was just my mom and us and my grandmother was always a constant. And you know, my kids are very close with my mom. I hope that that continues and that is something that we keep, even though now we live here and not in Brazil. But those are very, I think, immigrant traditions and cultures. 

Amanda: You mentioned that you were born in Brazil and you came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant when you were seven years old. What do you wish more people understood about what it's like to be an immigrant and how the system works or doesn't work?

Gisele: That it's so hard. And you know, these are people just like your family, these children are just like your kids, and everyone just wants an opportunity to be their best and that chance. And I, I always say like no one is better than someone else because of where they happen to be born. That is just pure luck. It's just a spin of the globe. 

Amanda: It turns out you did not choose where you were born. 

Gisele: Right? It's just, it's something that happens and that doesn't make someone better than someone else. And there's a really beautiful poem by Warsan Shire called Home and she says “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” And it goes on much longer than that, it's really beautiful and very sad. These are choices folks are left with because they don't have another choice. And, you know, how can we be the most welcoming? How can we ensure that, you know, your child is safe at home? Why wouldn't we want that for all children?

And for me, it's something I've had to really wrestle with understanding how someone can think so differently to me, to my kids. It's so natural that I want everyone to thrive and I want everyone to feel safe and feel welcomed. And to think that there's folks who view immigrants like myself so differently, it's painful and it's something I really struggle to understand.

Amanda: Same, especially when you're talking about, I mean, anyone, but especially children. Like, there's just, I can't, I can't understand why anyone would not want every child here and everywhere just to thrive. 

So speaking of Brazil, there's a lot of news out of Brazil right now with basically January 6th in Brazil going on there right now. How must that feel for you?

Gisele: It's awful. I cried most of yesterday and I feel like we still have PTSD from, from January 6th and now we have January 8th added to that. In Brazil, the joke is always, like, Brazil always copies America, like with different things. Right? And, and I wish we'd copied the good things.

And so it's been really difficult to watch. I lived in Brasilia for a few years. I'm from Rio, but I've lived in, in, in the capital for, for several years. And thankfully, you know, I, right now we're working to recognize and identify people, like we did here with January 6th. And I'm just grateful I have no family members or anyone I know would be a part of, of such terrorism. It's heartbreaking. And it's heartbreaking because we, Brazil, watched what happened here, right? We watched what it was like when we elected Trump and then they elected someone just like him. And, and now this. It's just, it's very devastating to watch and, and very heartbreaking.

Amanda: So I think one thing that you and your husband are kind of known for, at least in my mind, is that you connect a broad diversity of people, but especially people from different backgrounds and people from lower income backgrounds and kind of, you know, all the different types of people who are considered kind of working class backgrounds. And we're, you know, we're talking about what's going on in Brazil and you know, the rise of populism, and I think it's interesting to me that you have someone like Bolsonaro or someone like Trump who is able to connect with working class people, but not actually helping them. But to me it seems that, you know, you and your husband are actually doing things that help people that are working class backgrounds and help them succeed and their families succeed and their children succeed.

How do you think about both of those two things happening in the US and in Brazil at the same time?

Gisele: I think that, you know, here they wanted to choose something they thought was so different from the usual politician. So they went with Trump and in Brazil, I think they went… I don't know, they did the same thing. There's no way to explain it. It's really hard to understand and to explain. 

And I always try to put myself in someone's shoes. And I think had I grown up in a different home, had I been taught different things, would I believe these things? Would I be okay with them? And I believe the answer is no. But it's really hard to, to know that people can think so differently in ways that you believe are just so morally wrong, but they do, and they're in leadership positions and they’re parents and their kids go to school with your kids and you're gonna work with them or you're gonna go to college with them. It's, it's hard to think about all of that. 

Amanda: I know. So I think it's important that you said people wanted someone different than the politicians that they saw, and I think for you and your husband, people see someone different because you are so authentic. I think it is really fascinating the way that you use that authenticity to connect with people and to use those stories and even when it's hard.

So I know your, you know, your husband's stroke, like it was a really hard thing for your family to go through. But I think you do it with such honesty, and I don't know, you probably have to at some point when the news is out there and you have to respond to it, but it's amazing how well that you and your husband just come off as very authentic and this is who we are, and I think people respond to that.

What would you say to, you know, other people thinking about running for office and how do you kind of run and be authentic, but also like protect yourself and your family? 

Gisele: I mean, I can control what I share, right? In regards to my kids. But, you know, Instagram, I've always loved Instagram because my family's in Brazil and this is how we watch each other grow and stay in touch. And so I've always loved Instagram for that reason. I've always been very, I think, open. I think sharing stories is important because it encourages others to share stories. And that's how the world gets smaller and we get more connected. But I think with John they saw a real person, like a guy who loves his family, who dresses, you know, maybe like they do, who cares about people. And we're used to seeing something different, right? We're used to seeing so much, you know, planned out and poll tested. You know, I got so much criticism because my children dressed like kids and showed up to inauguration... 

Amanda: You mean they weren't wearing suits and ties every day? 

Gisele: Right? I mean, I want my kids to be comfortable. I think most people do too, but you know, it was such severe criticism for that. Again, it doesn't affect me cause I think this is the right way. Right? I think kids should be kids and should be allowed to kind of find themselves and figure it out. And unfortunately they have to do it in, in some sort of a more public light, but I'm still gonna ensure that they have their autonomy and they get to make those decisions. So I think people see that and people connect with that.

Amanda: Oh man. Fighting on outfits is one fight I do not have with my children, like ever. And you know, they have their own styles. I have one daughter where tie-dye is definitely her style. And a number of people have noted she really likes tie-dye. I'm like, “yep, she does. And that's fine.” I'm not, that's, you know, that is not an argument I'm going to have. I think there's a lot of moms out there like, yep, I'm not gonna have that argument. 

Gisele: Right. Like, someone saw the criticism and they said, “I’m just glad when my kid puts a shirt on.”

Amanda: Oh, same! If they're wearing, you know, something appropriate for the weather, that is a win. Like if there's, if it's snowy out and they're not wearing shorts, I'm like, yes, that's my win for the day. 

Gisele: Yeah. I just don't think it's that serious. I think it's not, I think you take the work seriously, but not yourself. Right? Like, we don't take ourselves seriously. We have fun with each other. We genuinely love each other as a married couple. I think these are things, you know, not everyone is used to seeing in politics.

Amanda: No, that is definitely not. They're used to like scandals and affairs and like spouses that pretend to like each other.

Okay, so this has been so fun. But before we go, we always ask our guests a few rapid fire questions. Are you ready? 

Gisele: Ready.

Amanda: Alright. So besides your husband's election of course, what was your favorite win last year in the midterms? 

Gisele: I mean, Warnock for sure. I mean, I followed all those races so closely. Brazil's win, you know, was one I followed closely as well. I actually wanted to be at that inauguration too, but they were too close together and I couldn't be at both. But yeah. Warnock coming through there at the end was, that's great. 

Amanda: All right. So you're famous for your fashion and your style– proof that we can do good and look good! So what is one of your favorite pieces or just go-to outfits? 

Gisele: I mean, everything is thrifted. Most everything is thrifted. A favorite go-to... I, I wear a lot of boots. I love boots year round, cowboy boots, short boots. And I have this coat I love, which is like this denim. Ralph Lauren. It looks kind of military but isn't. And it's a go-to. I love, I wear it all the time.

Amanda: What's your favorite thing about being Brazilian? 

Gisele: I just think we're optimists. You know, I love, I think it's ingrained in, in, in our culture to just choose happy. I think we're just naturally happy people. I think that, I think that that would be the one I would pick.

Amanda: Oh, I love that. Wait, what's your favorite Brazilian dish?  

Gisele: All the desserts. So I could eat strictly Brazilian desserts all day long, all the little desserts. Like in Brazil, you wanna go to every birthday party you get invited to because like the dessert sections are just amazing.

Amanda: Oh, nice. Alright, so we won't tell anyone, but who's your celebrity crush? 

Gisele: Bill Murray. 

Amanda: Oh, I was not expecting Bill Murray!

Gisele: Always, forever. Bill Murray's been the forever crush . 

Amanda: So what's something you like doing with your kids on a weekend? 

Gisele: Lots of stuff with the dogs. Like we, you know, go out with the dogs a lot. Lots of art. We're artists here. So I think that would be the two things we do a lot of. 

Amanda: Oh, nice. What are you most excited for about 2023? 

Gisele: A Blue Pennsylvania! For the first time since 1962.  

Amanda: Oh yes! We need some tips here in Ohio. Do you have any good tips for Ohio, how you did that?

Gisele: Aww, we did a lot of campaigning with Tim Ryan, I'm sorry for the outcome. 

Amanda: I know, that was a sad loss. We did all right on Congress. But Tim Ryan was a sad loss for us. I know. 

Alright, so that is the end of our rapid fire questions. Where can people go to find out more about you and your work? 

Gisele: They can find me on Instagram or Twitter. And then you'll get links to everything there. Free Store 1504, For Good Pittsburgh, are some of my projects.

Amanda: Awesome. This was so great. Thank you for kicking off Season Three with us on the Suburban Women Problem!  

Gisele: Thank you so much.

BREAK

Jasmine: Welcome back everyone! Amanda, it sounds like you and Gisele had a great conversation. She's so authentic. She's really nice. I really enjoyed, you know, hearing everything you all had to say.

Amanda: She is genuinely kind and kindhearted and it is so nice to speak with someone like that cause you hear the other side, and I don't wanna judge, but some of them just don't sound kind hearted, like ever. So to hear how kindhearted she is and this big heart she has just for making her community better and the people around her who don't have better opportunities was really nice to hear. 

Rachel: It's easy to tell where people's strengths lie, because you can tell how they're attacked by the other side.

Jasmine: Oh yeah. 

Rachel: And the Fettermans were constantly attacked as being fake and it just wasn't true. I mean, you could see with your eyes, like you might not agree with all of someone's policies or what they wanna do, John Fetterman is very progressive and I have to think that there are some moderate Democrats who might not, you know, be in favor of all his policies and, and probably some moderate Republicans as well, but clearly he won them over. 

And there's a thing about authenticity when you are authentic, when it's like, what you see is what you get. This is who I am. You might not always agree with me, but I'm a genuine person and I'll take that over George Santos any day of the week because I know what I'm getting, 

Jasmine: Right? I think when people attack kindness as fake, it's because they're very mean.

Amanda: Oh, they're telling on themselves.

Jasmine: And they are like, there's no way anyone is that nice. And it's like actually everyone is not mean like you. I think that there are just people out there that think that the only way to move through life is to just be mean. 

Amanda: No, I, so my field of economics is kind of weird cuz we're very weird–  well not weird, jerky– where we're very, like everyone is self-centered and that's the most rational thing is to be completely self-centered. But I feel econ is starting to move to realize, like, actually as human beings, we're a social species and we do better by working with each other. Right? And caring for a family is the best example that I tell my students about. A mother does so much stuff for her kids, not out of her self-interest. Right? Like, what is that? And that for a long time is kind of left out of our analysis, I think, in politics and economics and a whole bunch of stuff. 

Rachel: Wow. That's interesting. 

Amanda: Yeah. That we can be better off by working together and by helping the people around us, it actually helps us, helping others. 

It's very much like a, Sum Of Us thing too that, you know, Heather McGhee who we've had on the podcast talked about, so I think it's interesting to hear Gisele kind of talk about the kindness and wanting that for other people, but how that community kind of helps everybody, that community spirit. 

All right, so let's do our Toast to Joy, our first Toast to Joy of 2023. Jasmine, what's your toast? 

Jasmine: My Toast to Joy is that I celebrated a birthday at the end of last year, and so I am officially in the 40 club now. 

Amanda: Welcome!

Jasmine: I'm really excited to turn 40. I didn't really get to do a party or anything because at the same time I was turning 40, the whole Earth decided to get really cold. Well not the whole earth, but the whole United States. And it started to get really cold. And so it ended up being like 12 degrees outside on the night I had planned to celebrate and I was like, “Hey everybody, I love you and because I love you, I'm not gonna ask you to come out in 12 degree weather for me.” So I ended up just doing something super low key. But that just means that my birthday next year or like this year I will have to celebrate both 40 and 41 to make up for ice Mageddon uh, 2022 that kind of took over my birthday. 

Amanda: Oh, lowkey birthdays are great. 

Jasmine: All right, Rachel, what about you? What's your Toast to Joy? 

Rachel: So last week I posted something on Twitter that I, I try to do on our daughter Sarah’s birthday. I always like a reminder about… Well, I'll, I'll read my tweet. It said,

“14 years ago today, I gave birth to an angel who was born much too soon. She lived for one week before her body could no longer support her. And every year on Sarah's birthday, I share this. If you're hurting right now, if you're struggling to find meaning, if you're missing someone so much that you're in physical pain, I urge you to hold on. It will get better.” 

This podcast will be released on, it'll be 14 years since the day we said goodbye to Sarah on January 18th, 2009. And on that day, I didn't know if I would ever be normal again. I was pretty sure I wouldn't. In fact, I remember asking someone to give me medicine just so I would go to sleep and not wake up again. And they didn't do that, just so you know. That is not something that people will generally react to at a hospital, but that's how I felt, is I just wanted to just go to sleep.

But eventually, through my husband and my friends and family and my faith, you know, I did learn to live again, but it's because life is meant to be lived. And it was never gonna be a tribute to Sarah if I died with her because that's why we're here. And I received the kindest, kindest comments on Twitter, which is a place that's not so kind these days. I mean there were probably some not nice comments, but I didn't see them. 

So that's kind of my Toast to Joy, but also my Toast to Joy is to say, remember to hold on and hang in there. January can be hard for a lot of people. The letdown of the holidays, the gray weather, the 12 degrees, Jasmine, I mean, all that stuff, it can really wear you down. And hang on, brighter days are coming, but don't forget to reach out. Don't forget to talk to those people to know that you matter. Wherever you are, find that someone to connect with and make sure that you're living the life that you're here to live, to make a difference in whatever way you can. And I hope that that will bring you joy. 

Jasmine: Oh, I love that. I love that so much, and I love that you at least got, at least for one day, even if it was just one, of a positive Twitter. 

Amanda: All the positive Twitter, all the great comments. I love that actually. So my Toast to Joy is a little similar in that it's related to Twitter, but I recently asked, I was getting ready for classes and with all the sicknesses of my kids, I didn't have as much time as I was hoping for, and so I asked for a couple things from Twitter people and one was like appliance recommendations when all my appliances broke. And I got lots of those, which is super helpful.

And then the other thing I asked for, cause I'm teaching an urban economics class, was just, what's your favorite city song? So I like to make a playlist for every class I teach, and I was like, just tell me your favorite city, cause it kind of gets the students in the mood to listen to the song and why did this person write about it about this city? And I was like, “man, I just hope I get like a couple songs. Like I'll be super happy if people can gimme a couple songs.” And oh my god, I think I got like 900 songs. It was a lot. And like some, some I had never heard before and I added them to my own playlist too, to like run to and stuff.

So it was really awesome to see the people on Twitter come through and give me some appliance recommendations and some songs to add to my playlist. So that was fun.  

Rachel: Well, hey, Twitter can be just like the real world. There are assholes out there and they're really great people out there. Who are you seeking out? Who are you seeing and, and who is gonna have the loudest voice in your head? You know? But only you control that. So that's really important. I mean, you know, new year, new habits, you know, like we gotta reinforce the good ones and get rid of the stuff that doesn't make sense anymore.  

Amanda: Yep. All right. Well, thanks so much to everyone for joining us today. If you're enjoying the show, please share it with someone you know. We'll see you next week on another episode of The Suburban Women Problem.