Talking Politics: A Conversation with Brian Tate

Brian Tate Podcast

I am excited to introduce you to a special guest. Most of the time people who listen to this podcast expect to hear the Governor, or a state legislator, or a mayor or city council member, or a candidate for public office. Today I have a guest so special that he doesn’t fit into any of those categories, I have Brian Tate. 


Introducing Brian Tate: Another Perspective

Brian was my roommate at BYU in 1983. The reason I wanted to have Brian on today is because out of all my friends, really of all my friends, he is the one person that I have no idea how he feels about politics.  I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. 

And one of the things that happens in politics is that sometimes those who are politicians or who think about this stuff on a regular basis we have a thing called echo-chamber. Eco chamber is when we think we know what the people think, and we really don’t because all we do is talk to each other.  So by having Brian on today, we can get to the heart of America, to the average American, Brian Tate. 

“I was raised in the forest by wolves, so a little atypical, but you know from there I went to school, I wouldn’t go to school my entire life.  I just finished another degree this last September. I’ve been having a long career in working for a lot of different companies. I mostly worked for bigger companies. I always thought it would be interesting to have my own business, and I did sort of from time to time, Like I raised things and cows for a little bit. It worked out pretty good overall and now I’m in the process of fading into obscurity and poverty. “

Experience with Politics

I asked Brian to share his experience with politics:

“My only one brush with becoming a huge political success was when I applied to be a reviewer for movies for the city of Provo.  They had a movie review board and I applied for that and I didn’t quite make it.  I think the main reason is that I wasn’t living in Utah anymore but otherwise I think I would have been perfect.  But I have had a little bit of political experience when I lived in a community where we had some serious flooding and I had a fair amount of success in getting the political figures in the area to help us with some flooding issues and it was an experience, but I really enjoyed it. At first, I had a hard time, I think this is common, I had a hard time getting any help, but I remembered back to the day when I had a roommate at BYU, a pretty well-known guy named Rod Fudge, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the guy.”

“I remember Ron Fudge telling me that there are two ways you can get a political person to help you. The first one was not so great. They are motivated that by not doing something it is going to be an embarrassment or trouble for them. The much more preferred method is that if they get involved it’s going to look good for them. I suppose a lot of things are like that.  But I always remembered that. I try to remember that when I was trying to get people to engage with me.”

“Eventually I got our county executive involved because it really was a federal issue with this flooding. I got our congressman involved with this at the time and that was really interesting. He ended up reading some of our work in the federal register, and that’s one of the things I’ll remember about my life probably far longer than anything else, that was really a great thing. We had a fair amount of success we had take some obstructions out of the river and things like that and so it was really gratifying to be involved in the process.

Thoughts About Election

“What really hit me was the question that was asked in the vice-presidential debate from the young woman in Springville. I’ve been feeling like so much fighting and bickering and everything like that has been going on. So, I felt much like the person who asked the question. With politics, I like to be involved, I like to be informed, but sometimes I just have to turn it off.  But I was really impressed with Pence’s answer.  There have been some problems with how the debate has been carried through but he’s right. The debate is fantastic, it’s something, it’s a right that we have, it’s a privilege it’s something that really works when done correctly. His response really helped me feel more at ease with the process. I thought if you just kind of ignore, let the stuff that isn’t working quite right slip away, and just concentrated on the debate itself, I felt a lot better about that. I think debate is an important part of our political process.  I think for most of us it’s hard  because we have a pretty good idea what we believe anyway. It’s always hard to try to change somebody’s mind., All of us human beings are kind of fickle though I think sometimes it is a little bit difficult to figure out what’s what.”

Thoughts on Fake News & Bias in the Media

I asked Brian what he thought about fake news and bias in the media. He shared,

“When it comes to fake news, I think that there’s been quite a bit of abuse from the media. I kind of applaud Donald Trump in a way, because he likes to turn the media on its head once in awhile, I think it’s kind of deserved and kind of stirs things up a bit.  I think maybe he’s kind of helped straighten it out a little bit, by weeding out the bad players. It’s hard to know.

I would agree with you. My entire life the media has always come across as ‘We’re unbiased, we’re fair to all parties, we’re just seeking the truth, we don’t have a slant because we just want you to have just the truth.’ What we’ve discovered in the last four years with Donald Trump is that every media outlet has bias. 

And sometimes the bias is something we like, so we watch that particular channel.  Sometimes it’s not something we like, so we ignore those channels when we watch the news.  Sometimes it’s the print media, but all the media has bias in, and we shouldn’t be too surprised because every person has their own bias, sometimes it’s unintentional.  We’ve been talking about racism lately. There’s this unintended bias that we have that we don’t even know that we have sometimes because it’s out of sight out of mind. But every piece of information that you read has some bias in it, whether you like it or not. 

“A few years ago, I was working on my PHD in education and we talked at great length in almost every class about bias.  You know they want you to go to great lengths to eliminate any bias in the research that you do.  On the other hand though, I think some media outlets they acknowledge, they tell you that they’re biased in a certain way. That’s okay if they tell you up front (if anything) that they’re heavy to the right or heavy to the left and so forth.  A person shouldn’t have to be left to themselves completely to try to figure that out when they’re listening to a broadcast of some kind. It should be unbiased or should be really clear how it’s really clear how it is biased, I think.”

Yeah, it’s a really interesting part of America.  Around the world now there are governments that are trying to impose laws to prevent fake news, to prevent bias.  And we have this little thing called the constitution and this thing called the first amendment. You know no one is going to pass some laws about fake news in America because it’s a constitutional right to be able to say what you want to say.  In the political realm, you can’t say anything you want to say about someone and just flat out lie in the ordinary course of life. But if you’re talking about politics, you can say whatever you want.  That’s one thing that I discovered when I was running for office and held an elected office, people can say whatever they want about you and it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.  Shoot, there have been times I’ve run for office and I don’t even recognize the person they’re talking about.  It’s interesting how America’s consumption of political information has kind of changed over the years. 

I asked Brian where he goes to find out what’s going on in the political realm.

“Oh, mostly it’s pretty limited. I’m somewhat of a hermit. I listen quite a bit to our local news radio station which is actually a Bonneville station.  And they’re pretty good in their recording. Most of what I listen to is local new but they have the national news on at the top of the CBS news at the top of every hour when I’m listening to the radio. And the local TV news and then I look at the internet, not a lot, but some.  Sometimes I just have to turn it off for a while, I feel like the young girl in Springville that asked the question in the debate the other night.”

Politics Based on Conflict

We have this romanticized perspective of what politics should be. I think one of the fairy tales is that somehow we’re going to get all of the political parties to like each other and to come together and to hold hands and sing “kumbaya” as they are working for the best interest of our country. 

Found of Our Nation Based on Disagreement

That’s not really the way it works, if you go looking at the founding of our country, even the constitution, well first of all we were involved in a revolution, then we get to the constitutional convention, and that was coming up with the constitution was extraordinarily difficult.  It is a miracle those people came together and crafted that document.  And of course its cost us to have well over 200 years of freedom and liberty in this country.  Hamilton The Musical is a great example of how there were these factions and these factions were fighting against these other factions.  Sometimes there were personalities and sometimes they were principles and ideals and beliefs.  But we’ve been having this contest of wills since the very being of our country.  So I just find it really interesting how we kind of all want to have this “Please put aside your differences and come together for the good of the country” when that’s not really what our country was founded on.

Debate is Good, But We Need to Support Each Other

“I think it’s perfectly fine and it’s good to have lots of debate discussions and so forth.” “But the thing that really saddens me is once somebody is elected, everybody should be behind them.  You don’t have to be 100%. You don’t have to be dancing in the street and what not. One of the things that really saddens me is the bickering and stuff that goes on after someone is elected, you know if your candidate doesn’t get elected, make the best of it, support them until you have an opportunity again to change it.  I think that’s one place where we’re really, really lacking a lot.”

Yup. We have a tendency to criticize each other and I think you’re right, I think when someone gets elected we should all want them to succeed, because if they succeed and do what’s right for the country, we all succeed. So, you’re right.  Here’s another observation that I’ve had, occasionally there’s these calls for bipartisanship. They don’t happen very often. Interestingly enough, I have not heard many calls for bipartisanship the last couple of years even with all of the polarization of the country. 

We tend to hear calls for bipartisanship when you’re in power.  When your party is in power everybody says, “It’s time for bipartisanship.” When the other people are in power, you never hear the calls for bipartisanship. And so it’s kind of interesting how it happens, you’ll be doing whatever it is that you’re allowed to do under our constitution, under the rules and then you’ll start hearing these cries from the other side, “We need bipartisanship.” You’re sitting there thinking, “Why didn’t we have bipartisanship when you were in charge?” And the truth is, in America when one party has power, they use that power to their advantage.  

Supreme Court Nomination

With this Supreme Court nomination, you keep hearing these cries, “You need to wait until after the election is over until the will of the people is in the election.” But that’s not what the constitution says, that’s not what the statutes, the laws say.  The way the process works is, the party that is in power of the presidency and the US senate gets to choose the replacement for the Supreme Court. 

 And the fact is that four years ago President Obama was a Democrat, but the senate was governed by the Republicans. This gave the Senate the opportunity and the Democrats an opportunity to delay the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice until they had a Republican president.  They played by the rules of the game.

 So now we’re four years later and we have a Republican President and a Republican Senate and Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died and they’re playing by the rules of the game.  But to hear the news media, you would think they are violating the constitution, they are overturning the will of the people, when the truth is they are following the rules as set out from actually pretty much day one of this country with the way we’ve designed a strong executive branch, a strong legislative branch, and a strong judicial branch. 

Partisanship

“I agree with you wholeheartedly. Being a good loser if your party doesn’t get voted in, you just gotta go with it and support them since that’s apparently what the majority of the people want and then vote them out later.  I’ve thought a lot about the Supreme Court as have you. I think what happened with Obama was really terrible. I think that it should be a big deal but really it’s not and  it should be done quickly.”

 “I believe in Elvis’s motto.  I went to Graceland a few years ago and Elvis has this motto on the tail of his airplane and everywhere  else “TCB in a flash.” It means taking care of business in a flash. Everything should be done in a timely matter, I believe. They are starting today right about now with the hearing. They should go through that process and get it done pretty quickly if she’s a good person which it looks like she is.

Yeah, we have not heard the opposition beat up on her yet, but I believe that’s all starting this morning. The funny thing about politics is you could start off with this person who is beyond reproach who has done great things in their life, who really has incredible character and integrity, but by the time they get through this process, you kind of wonder about them because they just get beat up and criticized.  Look Brett Kavanaugh is a good person. He is not a bad man. You would have thought based on what the opposition said to Brett Kavanaugh that he’s a rapist, he’s a drunk, he’s all these things. Yet, you look at the family and he’s got this wonderful family.  You look at his accomplishments and they are wrong, he’s done some great things.  By the time he got confirmed, he was a dirty rotten scoundrel and should have been in jail according to some of these people. It just makes no sense. 

“I think there was some real wrongdoing in this case, I mean he didn’t seem to be a choir boy to me especially in his college days and stuff. But people do change and get better. People should be forgiven for some things, but yeah the opposition was very scandalous and wrong in that case.”

Due Process

 What so you think about “Due Process” Brian, are we really innocent until proven guilty?

“Oh that’s always been an issue. You know, the system could never be perfect. There are just bad things that happen. There are judges that are not so great. There are attorneys that are not so great. Overall it works very, very well. Like you said our system has generally worked pretty good for 200 years. There’s lots of countries that have horrible, horrific problems with their political and judicial system.  But as a whole, I think it works pretty good. It’s just there’s no way to immediately weed out the bad people, the bad processes.  Just kind of have to work through those.

Improving Judicial System

Sometimes innocent people get convicted and they go to jail, we’ve seen that many times.  What can we do to improve our judicial system Brian? You’re just an average guy but you’ve got a whole bunch of degrees so I’d say you’re as qualified as anybody to answer that question.  

“My concern is that people go through the judicial system and just lie and get off the hook; that’s not right. And we need better people.  You know we need to get back to the basics of what made this country great and everything.  I understand when people came to this country most people had just one book they really cherished, that was the Bible. And now people go through their family’s stuff and they throw them in the trash. They have records, old Bibles written with family history and so forth, those get trashed.”

“I hear about gun control and things like that we need better trigger laws and things, we need to keep our guns locked up better. But really, we need to get back to the basics of teaching right and wrong and having people spend a day in church. I don’t even care what church it is, but spend a day in church rather than on a jet ski or going to a football game. That’s the real crisis and that’s the real solution to many, many of our problems.

Remember Why We Came to America: Religious Freedom

Brian made the point that “We need to get back to what made this country great.  The opportunity people had to come here to worship, to have a good family life: that will solve a huge number of issues.

Sometimes we forget don’t we what got people to come to the new world. You were putting your life in danger to be willing to come to this continent when there was no one else.  When the Mayflower left it wasn’t like, “Hey, this is an opportunity for, you know riches, or for adventure.” This was about religious freedom.  They came because they were trying to worship God the way they wanted to worship him.  I find it interesting that on our currency we have “In God We Trust.”  Those who came here came so that they could worship God. Your point that we turned away from that and that we’ve generally become a secular society is a, great point. Really we could speak for hours about the consequences of doing that.  

“I’m surprised it hasn’t been removed yet the “In God We Trust” from our currency.  It’s probably not too far off.” I said we could look at our Pledge of Allegiance.  I mean the part that is under attack today is “Under God.” “One Nation Under God”. And there are people that go nuts over that.

“Getting rid of all these statues and monuments and things, yeah some of it was bad but you should remember the bad so that it doesn’t get repeated again.  It’s just history, that’s all it’s just history.”

Using Today’s Prism to Judge People in the Past

One of the really interesting things that I find is that we use today’s prism to judge people in the past.  And I’m not sure anyone can stand that scrutiny.  I find that we criticize Christopher Columbus for some of the things he did, we criticize Abraham Lincoln for some of the things he did, and we criticize all sorts of famous Americans because they don’t meet our standards of 2020.  It seems to me that we should be looking through the prism of their time. Did they do things that were acceptable in their time?  We don’t have to condone that behavior, but we should acknowledge the fact that they were a product of their generation. I find it really interesting.

Many times we condemn America’s founders, even the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, for all the things they were doing at the time. Yet when you read their each individual story by itself, they sacrificed pretty much everything for the founding of this country.  I just find it interesting that on the one hand we see that they helped create America, this land of opportunity, this land of freedom and liberty and the opportunity to succeed and to fail. And yet we criticize them because of the various aspects of their lives that we don’t like.  It’s a dangerous trend because when we start doing that, we start undermining the very foundations of our form of government and what makes America America. 

Where does that leave us?  We essentially attack the those that did great things because we judge them from the prism of today, the standards of today rather than the standards of their generation.

Hypocrisy  

“I had an experience like 20 years ago and I’ve been trying to find someone for like 20 years time.  I was traveling every week for a year to Virginia for work and I would usually go through Washington D.C..  I was traveling back one day and I’m really a people watcher, some things are more obvious than others. This one particular day, I was traveling from Washington D.C. to Seattle and our Senator at the time, the Democratic Senator Annie Murray was in first class and the Republican Senator was traveling in the same airplane in the cheap seats next to me.  I always thought that was richly symbolic of something, but I’m not sure what.  Maybe it’s just coincidence or what, I’ve always wondered about that, what does that really mean?”

 That is funny you should bring that up.  I was just reading last night about Maxine Waters, a very prominent Democrat in Congress, who represents Oakland or somewhere in California. Her Republican challenger has a video now where he’s in front of her house and it is a $6 million home. She represents some of the greatest poverty in the state of California, but she doesn’t even live in her district.  He was pointing out the hypocrisy of it all. 

One of the things that got me excited about doing a podcast is that I wanted to bring out the hypocrisy in politics and it’s not just reserved for any political party, Brian. I’m telling you on almost a daily basis you can see people who, one day they say one thing and the next day they say exactly the opposite. There is this huge double standard in politics where you literally can say the sky is blue today and tomorrow you’ll say the sky is gray and although with clouds you really get that opportunity ,don’t you? But you can see exactly the same sky today and it’ll be the same sky tomorrow and call it a different color.  So as we see some of these things happen there’s just kind of this hypocrisy. I think you’re right, seeing one of the US Senators in coach and the other in first class says something.  It’s symbolic, isn’t it? And it may be the Democratic Senator was using frequent flyer miles, I’m betting that’s what it was.

“That’s kinda what I thought. It’s a funny thing to me.”

They may not even be putting another penny on the taxpayer rolls, but just the visual optics of it all, it says a lot, doesn’t it?  Particularly because the media wants to craft a narrative that the Democrats represent the working man and the Republicans represent the rich.  Where that’s not true, that’s not true at all.

In fact, I think you could make exact opposite case just as easy as you could make that case.  But it kind of goes back to the news media and their bias and the way that thy pitch things. The other thing that is funny about the new media is that you get these political operatives that are totally Republican all the time or totally Democratic all the time, and they’ll come into the media and somehow be this unbiased voice of reason. Then you’re like “Well, you weren’t the unbiased voice of reason last year at this time. You weren’t the unbiased voice of reason five years ago. What makes me think you’re going to be the unbiased voice of reason today

When President Bush was running for his second term in 2004, he had a hot mic experience within days of the election where he was criticizing a New York Times reporter for being liberal and for being not fair. That was a major news story because President Bush had the temerity to say that person was not fair, and of course he used some language he shouldn’t have used.  And yet today, after 2020 we all understand that the NYT is biased, totally biased and that really every news media outlet has bias of one sort or another.

 If I were a reporter, I’d be biased, I’d try as hard as I could to not be biased but my bias would seep into the stories.  It’s the way you use words. It could literally be your use of a word in a sentence or it could be the way that you put the sentences together.   That’s enough for you to exhibit a certain bias in a particular issue or particular story. 

Last Thoughts on Politics

“That’s a good way to get back to what you just ask about last thoughts about politics.  My state of Washington is so divided and there’s many reasons actually. One of the biggest reasons is that property taxes have just gone crazy in the western side of the state.  You could buy a house on the eastern side of the state for about almost a tenth of the cost and the property taxes are maybe a fourth of the cost, it’s dramatic.”

“Also, the political landscape of western Washington is very Democratic, mostly Democrats and the eastern side is mostly Republican.  We have a very interesting race for Governor right now. We have Hensley who’s been in for some time now. He’s running against the Sheriff, a Republican Sheriff in eastern Washington.  I don’t quite understand it, I think Hensley will win, that’s an interesting dynamic.  I lean mostly Republican, more than anything. like most people I believe in voting for the right people.”

 “There’s many reasons for moving.  Just a slower quality of life, traffic is crazy.  I’ve gotten to know a little bit about our Secretary of Transportation through his podcast.  One of the things that he’s mentioned is that if people wanted to travel at 60 MPH in western Washington, the gas tax would have to be something like 7 or 8 dollars a gallon.  The needs for traffic are just horrific. They can’t keep up with the traffic needs because there’s been so much increase in the population.  I’m really pleased to be here, it’s a gradual process, I still have my place over there but I have a mansion here in Cle Elum.  When I first got it, I thought that I could see the curvature of the earth in my floor but what I realized is that the foundations was crumbling, that’s why I could see the curvature in my floor.”

Brian it’s been wonderful having you on the podcast today, we learned a lot.  I’m grateful for our friendship. We’ve known each other for a long time.  Certainly, as people see all these political figures and then they’ll see Brian Tate, I think that alone will get people to listen to the podcast, they’ll say “who is that guy?”  You’re very interesting and glad to have you on today.

Lessons Learned:

Brian is just an average, everyday American citizen, longtime friend and he wanted to be on my podcast.

  1. Our political debate needs to be more civil.
  2. Once somebody is elected, everybody should be behind them. Make the best of it and support them even if your candidate doesn’t win.
  3. Get back to basics of teaching right and wrong.
  4. As we were summing it up, he said, “Look I lean Republican, but I want to vote for the right people.” I think that’s something that we all aspire to.