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‘Making Sense’ of politics Talk show interviews Strader during live town hall broadcast
By: RICHARD REITZ Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Aryanna Strader came to Aaron’s Books in Lititz on Sunday afternoon to talk about her campaign for the 16th Pa. Congressional District. But her audience was broader than the nearly two dozen people that joined her at the event.
Strader, the Democratic challenger for the seat held by Rep. Joe Pitts, was a guest on The Making Sense Show, a political issues radio program hosted by Don Levasseur of Lititz and Laurie Ulrich Fuller of Lancaster. The show is broadcast live weekly to over 150 radio stations nationwide and as an internet podcast.
With rows of children’s books as their backdrop, the hosts discussed both local and national politics with Strader, asking their own questions and taking others from the audience. They also peppered their conversation with jokes and jabs at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, his running mate Paul Ryan, and at Strader’s Republican opponent.
The first audience question she answered was broad in scope: "How do we make the world a better place?"
"What we can do here locally is start with one person and watch it grow," Strader said. "Hopefully it’s with me." The way to change Washington, she said, is to change who we send to Congress. "That’s how we can start this huge monumental task of changing how the world works."
Fuller said she thought it would be great to see a candidate like Strader win on a shoestring budget, without the use of corporate contributions. "Eighty percent of my contributions have come from individual people," Strader said. "People that want to see change in the way Washington works."
To answer a question on the role government should play in helping small businesses stay competitive against large box stores and online retailers, Strader used Aaron’s Books as an example.
"Look at where we are sitting, Aaron’s Books, which is a small, locally-owned business, and competing against the Barnes and Nobles of the world," she said. "One of the things we can do on a community level is to start shopping local. Don’t go to Barnes and Noble. Come to Aaron’s, because that’s what keeps our local communities going."
Strader expressed her support for marriage equality legislation, as well as raising the minimum wage as a way to boost the working poor into the middle class, which she said in turn would boost the economy.
While she said that Republicans and Democrats didn’t get it quite right with Obamacare, she said it’s still important legislation and would not vote to repeal it. "Everyone needs access to care," she said. "Preventive medicine is very important."
Halfway through the show the lights in Aaron’s Books flickered briefly, a reminder that Hurricane Sandy was making its way toward Lancaster County. It also preceded their discussion on climate change and energy issues.
"We need to start making smart investments into alternative energy. Things like solar, things like wind," Strader said. "These are things that are going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."
An Iraq War veteran, Strader added that the U.S. military is already leading the way in these initiatives, realizing that "being dependent on foreign oil is a national security issue." Making those investments today will allow us to live smarter down the road, she said.
The conversation continued with talk about Strader’s debate with Rep. Pitts, where Fuller and Levasseur offered their suggestions on what she might say to Pitts during the forum. Other topics during the town hall included the American Jobs Act and women’s issues.
Strader, an IT consultant from Kennett Square (also Pitts’ hometown) and the mother of two, said that this is her first attempt at running for public office, and she has been energized by the experience of meeting with people in the 16th District.
This was her second time appearing on The Making Sense Show; the first time was through a phone interview earlier this year.
"What a great opportunity to have a town hall meeting," she said. "This to me is what good government is all about. We need to have more conversations like this."
The Making Sense Show began 2 1/2 years ago as an hour-long podcast that Levasseur and Fuller produced in a studio at Levasseur’s Lititz home. They cover topics related to progressive and liberal politics, often interviewing guests as part of the discussion.
While it was always their hope to one day expand their audience into radio, they were not expecting the call to come from Oklahoma. But in August they did their first broadcast with KKRP AM 1610, a rock and progressive talk station in Cowlington, OK.
"They had heard about our show and our podcast, and then contacted us to see if we wanted to broadcast through them," Levasseur said.
So now the show airs on Sundays from noon-1 p.m. For those who aren’t in a market where it airs (which currently includes Lancaster County), the broadcast is streamed live online. It is also available as a podcast on their website at themakingsenseshow.com
"It was our goal to be broadcast on radio before the 2012 election, and to be a syndicated radio program before the 2014 election," said Levasseur. "We are trying to cover things that the mainstream media isn’t covering."
"Our podcast is available globally, but we really hoped that our show would be picked up by a radio station," said Fuller, an author and a teacher at the Pa. College of Art and Design in Lancaster.
Sunday’s event was the 96th podcast of The Making Sense Show.
It also marked the first time that Levasseur and Fuller held a town hall show, going mobile with the studio and taking questions from a live audience. While they weren’t sure what to expect from this new venture, they were pleased with the results.
"It exceeded my expectations," Levasseur said. More MAKING SENSE, page A16