Walter Shaub: Hey, Virginia Heffernan.
Virginia Heffernan: Well, hello, Walt Shaub.
Walter Shaub: Guess what.
Virginia Heffernan: What?
Walter Shaub: I'm doing a podcast with journalist Virginia Heffernan. She’s been a columnist, a book author, the host of Trumpcast, and is currently the host of her own podcast called This is Critical. And you know what else?
Virginia Heffernan: What?
Walter Shaub: She has a PhD in English. That’s Doctor Virginia to you.
Virginia Heffernan: Guess what I’m doing?
Walter Shaub: What?
Virginia Heffernan: I’m doing a podcast with Walt Shaub, Esquire. He’s a lawyer who used to be the head of the Office of Government ethics. He’s now a senior ethics fellow for the Project On Government Oversight – POGO.
Walter Shaub: What a coincidence! POGO is sponsoring the podcast.
Virginia Heffernan: Welcome to The Continuous Action. This is a five-part podcast exploring the labor of democracy. We’re going in search of the government our nation deserves.
Walter Shaub: The title comes from the words of the late John Lewis. He said: “Freedom is the continuous action we all must take. And each generation must do its part to create an even more fair or just society.”
Virginia Heffernan: We’re not afraid of sincerity on this show, and we’re gonna try to pin down exactly what our troubled republic demands of us ordinary citizens right now.
Walter Shaub: And we’ll be interviewing experts who can help break down some of the biggest issues our democracy faces—
Virginia Heffernan: —and identify some paths forward.
Walter Shaub: Hey, that’s my line.
Virginia Heffernan: Oh, oh wait. Do you wanna do it over again?
Walter Shaub: No, I think it works.
Virginia Heffernan: Okay. Tell them about the first episode.
Walter Shaub: It’s about voting rights. Let’s hear a clip from our interview of Janai Nelson. She leads the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund.
Janai Nelson: There is a distinct effort for the elected officials in these states to guard their power. So there is certainly an incentive for incumbents to maintain the power that they’ve amassed, but also to put a lid on what is a bubbling up of change and transformation that is coming from the ground up and that many people in power fear and do not know what to do with, and therefore want to do away with it.
Virginia Heffernan: Talking to Janai Nelson was enlightening. We also have Supreme Court superstar journalist Dahlia Lithwick. Here is some sage advice we got from Dahlia.
Dahlia Lithwick: Let’s just start without illusions, and that will be healthier for everybody.
Walter Shaub: No illusions. Got it.
Virginia Heffernan: We’re gonna get into issues like voting rights, government surveillance and whistleblowers. We’re gonna talk to experts and truth tellers who have confronted lies.
Walter Shaub: Here’s one of our truth tellers now. This is Randy Fertel reading the words of Ron Ridenhour, who exposed the My Lai massacre.
Randy Fertel: What you have to understand about the government is that the motherfuckers lie. That’s the first thing. They lie. About the big things. About just about any goddamn thing you can think of when it serves their purpose.
Virginia Heffernan: So we’re going in deep.
Walter Shaub: So look for our launch in early April.
Virginia Heffernan: The Continuous Action is sponsored by the Project On Government Oversight — that’s POGO — hosted by Walt Shaub and me, Virginia Heffernan, and produced by Myron Kaplan.
Walter Shaub: Very good, Virginia.
Virginia Heffernan: [laughter]