tv Bipartisan Policy Center Discussion with House Democratic Freshman Women CSPAN July 13, 2019 11:22pm-12:14am EDT
in terms of support. what was interesting about the poll is that when they phrased the question in the presence of a competition, somewhat similar to what we had and the apollo era, the space race between that united states and russia, when it is presented that way now, as a space race between china or israel, support shoots up to 49%. if that kind of thinking gets our competitive juices going. then we have the apollo era competition spirit happening. but not right now. >> you can find all of the results at c-span.org, including the findings on american attitudes toward space force and the privatization of space exploration. this discussion with house democratic freshmen women their experiences serving in the 116th congress.
anniversary of the 12th installment of the series on leadership. the purpose of this leadership is to call -- of the series is to call on leaders from national politics, education, and advocacy to grapple with the questions that allow some people to enable a true leadership. what enables some of us to struggle to overcome the obstacles and unite the diverse interests that are part of any dynamic and true democracy? towe are extremely fortunate be having our first year anniversary with three legislators who live of this question every single day. i should note we are very proud to name this series in honor of the extraordinary service of bob and elizabeth dole. both are proud partisans in the truest sense. they have overcome a lot of real adversity and shown the
confidence and creativity to -- dignify differences. i should note as we enter the discussion, that when senator dole joined to found the bpce, there were a few ideas that provide a context for today. we are aggressively bipartisan. we are aggressively bipartisan. we're not nonpartisan or post-partisan, but actually recognize that the story of this country has not been 200 years of cohesion. we believe the essence of bipartisanship is creating the resiliency that allows it to have consistent policy moving forward. the second idea we talked little bit about in the green room is that they wanted to make sure we are in the arena. we are not a think tank in that sense of having people think big thoughts and hit print.
we actually try to combine advocacy with aggressive analysis and we have a team of lobbyists who come visit with your staff on an almost daily basis to share conclusions of our projects. finally, they helped us appreciate very quickly the fact that the vast majority of public servants are good people grappling with bad incentives. and to think about help we can find some ways to help you all overcome those challenges and get stuff done. entry that ih that should say a few words about the legislators to my left. first of all, going down to the end, representative chrissy houlahan from pennsylvania serves on the arms services, foreign affairs come and small business committees. she spent three years in the air force on active duty. 13 years in the air force
reserves becoming an air force captain. she also serves as the chief operating officer of several successful companies. we discussed the challenges roughly facing our desire to have a competitive capital society with benefits shared broadly. hopefully we will touch on that. next, representative elissa slotkin from michigan. she serves on the armed services and homeland security committees. pursue a career in national service following 9/11. spentted by the cia and three tours in iraq. she served in the office of director of national intelligence and acting assistant secretary for international affairs. and to my immediate left, representative abigail spanberger from the flood zone
of virginia seventh. she serves on the foreign affairs and agriculture committee. she investigated narcotics and money laundering cases and over eight years in the cia. she has also worked in the private sector up in colleges and diversities increase graduation rates. so here we are. who have teenage daughters might recognize that we came on stage to eight megan trainor song. i'm a force of nature, don't underestimate, i'm in charge. with that predicate, i will try to moderate this panel. i have a couple of questions for you collectively and a few to focus on your individual legislative accomplishments.
this national security woman thing, where did that get started and -- it's kind of fun. [laughter] whose idea was it? >> i'll take a crack of that. came as a serendipitous occasion when several of us were out as candidates are apt to do on the fundraising campaign trail and we ran into each other almost exactly at the same time in the same place in california and none of us reading from california. we were going to be having back to back-to-back events with the same group of people. we realized this was probably not optimal and we should probably do something innovative that all of our teams discouraged us from doing which was to join forces and have one event for all of us. in fact, we not only had all of us for the treat their but we invited to others who were in the area the same time and created the very first opportunity. in the power of that event, we
were able to share all of our motivations and stories. all of the passions that we had appeared it was more powerful with more of us. we discovered this opportunity on the campaign trail and we have now translated that into the work we do on the house floor and we continue to be at this point five bad asses -- because abigail would prefer not to be called a bad ass because she is from virginia and she is polite. i am from philly so i am not and i can use those terms. that is the inception of that idea. >> i will add that the idea of people who have served, then running for congress was a strong, powerful message in these last elections. there is some commonality among people who have served that run pretty deep so when we got
together, not only did we think this makes sense but we really enjoy each other and we purposely got offices close together as you can in the lottery system. we spend a lot of our time together. if someone has had a bad day, we ask if it is time to go out or rally somebody. as i think often happens in some women organizations, you go from working together and having a close working relationship to be ing each other's support and friend. so it makes it a pleasure, frankly, beyond the normal fundraising gig. >> if i might add, just before all of this happened that they are talking about, there was an element that we experienced when you walk into a room and talk about your background and someone comes up to you and says
you are kind of a bad ass. some of our backgrounds seem really unique because they have not been in the forefront other than tv shows. we have certainly had boring days in our prior careers but i think there was an element of it being new for a lot of people. virginian, so not so much. i think there was an element that came really natural because this was the reaction people were having to us so it became one of those things that people were saying and after a while, ok, fine. >> it seems important on a lot of levels. democracy is a team sport. politics is fundamentally about creating connections with people and having that level of trust. while we often talk about partisanship, we have recognized
over the years that democrats don't know republicans. and the anonymity of constant fundraising and air travel has deteriorated that quality of collaboration. people must be jealous of you guys. do you have a sense that this spirit of your club is something other people aspire to, that they can join? >> we actually did have a person ask to join. lamb who came in on a special election and wasn't part of the original -- there are bad asses and the guys. there are five women and four guys who have service backgrounds. conor lamb was a temp. we had the g-9 that someone named us. g=-9 plus conor. group andtended our
we think it is important to expand and say this is a model of how we should be behaving toward one another. it is about the fact we are a broken democracy right now and if we are not trying to find commonalities, we are doomed. >> i would add, we have an ongoing text chain and it is unending. it is on signal because we are all from the defense and security background. when heconor was in asked to be in the text chain. that is when he officially got into the club. i do think that congress is 435 entrepreneurs. it is not a chain of demand organization. most of us have worked in chain of command organizations and, therefore, the process of being a new freshman is getting to know these different members. and i have to be honest, you have to sort out the workhorses from the show ponies. and that is an ongoing process
and the group that when you have a service background -- like i never have to question whether i am with the workhorses. and if abigail says, i have a great idea for bill on rural broadband, if she suggested it, i will always read everything, but i am 99% sure i will get on it. whereas, if there is something else you just don't know what are they doing it for, what is the hidden punchline and i don't know that everyone in congress has a group that they know are like these are my workhorses who have similar, overlapping interests and i trust them with my reputation and with my voice the way we have. i think people are just a little jealous. >> just a little jelly. >> can i add one more thing on that. with the 10, we are diverse even though we are all of service. one of us comes from maine and one from california and one is
in the hispanic caucus and one from staten island. enough said. we don't have all of the same opinions and even though we may vote differently, we respect that the other one is coming with true intentions and it is interesting to listen to their arguments about one vote or another. >> i think there has been a challenge in the introduction to your question you are talking about politics is about finding solutions. i cannot remember exactly what you said, but i was struck by that because i think we are reaching a challenging place where sometimes people don't necessarily want to find solutions, which is astounding and challenging for me to face and digest.
and i think with some of us who came into congress together with similar backgrounds, we share some of that sentiment and we are constantly seeking people who want to work either across party lines, within our own caucus or on issues that may be of top priority to some of us and maybe not top of mind for others. but, i think another thing is we have been constantly churning trying to find people beyond what is a wonderful group of people and strong members of congress and we have been trying to get out and meet people, particularly on the other side of the aisle. having 10 of us out there all the time saying who can we work with and who can we bring to the table at a time where there are not a lot of people that want to come to the table, i think it is a good thing. >> we have found the table can be a scary place and the bipartisan death hug, sometimes we are accused of. let me ask you, you bring service together and have a common history. you are also kind of the majority makers in the democratic caucus. >> there is no kind of.
>> the majority makers in the democratic caucus. [laughter] >> she's back. not only did you flip three republican seats, but seats that have been republican for long time if i have my math right, 48 years. >> 50. >> over 160 years since chester county had elected a democrat. [applause] >> i have been to chester county. that is placing a tremendous amount of strain. the republican party is having the same kind of internal challenge. how are you finding the challenge of being part of a party system where there are certainly great distinctions between where you are and the president is, but also having a constituency that is not aligned
with the dominant energy, you call the show horse energy or the twitter energy of the democratic party? is that something you navigate every day? >> yeah. i think that the only reason we became representatives of these districts is because we are independently-minded people. and, we also had a stomach to say no to people even when they say everyone is doing this and you say and? it's not third grade. i think that if you are not independently minded and you are not looking to appeal to a broad base of people, you are not going to win in these districts. you can run, but you will not win. i think that -- i always tell people that come to lobby me on this or that, whether it is a union or a big company or whatever, i say i am in a really independently-minded district and i will be the person who reads every single bill because i can't just check the box when
the democratic party says this is the bill that we are all signing onto. or i can't sign on to everything that is bipartisan even though i want to because you have to really have your own mind of these things. it is amazing how many members of congress walk onto the floor on both parties and just look at how the leader of their party or senior people and they say this is a yes, we are yes. i do not think any of us do that and have the luxury of doing that. >> even at the very end where are we on all of this and why are we doing this? just to make sure you are making good decisions, especially right now with the defense authorization act. we have these amendments and a variety of perspectives and a couple of times where i go into it and this is why i think i'm a yes. why are you a no?
it is great to challenge yourself. i think the benefit of being from a district like ours is we have a challenge every day of swath to please a broad of people which is just impossible. we also have the challenge of understanding a broad swath of people because there are a lot of people in my district who did not vote for me and a lot that did. it is a responsibility that in order to continue serving all of my constituents, i have to be in tune with people across the perspective and the spectrum. and i think that seats like ours are the seats that can truly be the examples for how you lead a divided nation, how you try to bring people back together because if i can have people come up to me and say i didn't
vote for you, but and they say something they are pleased with -- that is the first step from getting away from this team sport notion where it is win or lose because that doesn't serve our district and it doesn't serve this country. >> let me ask you about the work, we have the pleasure of working closely with former senator olympia snowe who helped me realize that independent thought takes time and you have to be able to read legislation. one of the things that we are well aware of is there are a lot of demands on your time and not a ton of time to sit back and close the door and bring in policy experts. talk a little bit about how are you managing your time or make your time to bring independent thought? how can the caucus make that easier? >> it is incredibly broken and sometimes they will need all three at the same time.
and then you asked to be gaveled into be present and then literally leaving to be gaveled in at different meetings. we were basically there for your five minutes of fame to ask your questions. and that is why when you look at c-span, there is no one in any of the rooms because we are all somewhere else doing something else. so, it is a challenge to make sure you educating yourself on what u.s. was to be doing which is sitting in the committee and asking. one way that it is integrated there is a great group that i will say periodically to my team i don't know enough about this can you help me by bringing those people to brief me? and we will share with the office and you do that with hours. we are trying to collaborate even on how we are learning to make sure we are getting up to speed. an enormously broken
process and in addition to being at three different committee hearings, you can be asked to be fundraising at the same time. it is a very broken system. >> we have put a lot of energy in trying to help the committee on modernization because it feels like as metaphor and substance, that would be a place where we could provide those resources to give you the space to do what you are describing. are there any particular ideas that you would like? >> i got a chance to testify in front of the select committee on modernization of congress and i was frustrated about the issue of schedule. it's asinine that we had a classified reading for the entire congress at the very same time those were supposed to be called. we were supposed to, all 435 of us, be at two different places at the same time. when i testified my idea which i
don't think is a dumb idea is to do block scheduling like we do in high school. you have the opportunity to look rotate two different classes. why we cannot figure out how to manage schedules like that it , it blows my mind. i would love for you to help us on that. >> first of all, i tell people back home and they are shocked because they should be that votes are called about the same schedule as the verizon cable guy coming to fix your cable, between 10:00 and 4:00. you are like how can it be i have to wait for the cable guy from 10:00 to 4:00. that is how it is every day. throws off your schedule and i think that the one big accomplishment that has actually ofrted working is this idea if 290 members of congress actually sign on to a bill then regardless of where it is in the committee process, which is a
whole other ball of wax, it will go to the floor. i think the first one we are poised to do that is a really important one which is the 9/11 compensation which is about to run out. we have a lot of first responders who are still dealing with serious health issues. we worked in a bipartisan fashion to hit 290 and force it to the floor. we have another couple of bills doing that. that to me is the single most important accomplishment because the committee structure is political and on its own schedule. this forces it if you do the work in both. one more piece, the procedural vote is the weapon of the minority party. what you end up doing is you go vote on a big piece of legislation. whatever party in the minority will put this forth this motion to recommit votes. it is truly controversial. so, it is mostly people who are making thoughtful decisions about pieces of legislation because they can't and don't want to. just vote with the party to do
so. they are the ones who are sometimes voting with the minority and vice versa. they really serve no purpose. they do serve a purpose -- it is later to use for attack ads. the really interesting thing is they are actually one of the most interesting times to be on the floor. you are on the floor because you just voted and that is when the motion to recommit goes forth. and then there is debate. you have almost every member of congress on the floor because we just voted. the motion to recommit comes up and you don't go anywhere. you have hundreds of people engaged, engaged together on what they are debating. wouldn't it be a beautiful thing if you were actually sitting there, almost all members of congress watching them debate the bill you are actually going to vote on as opposed to this vote that is a concocted version of something that is later going to be used to attack -- both
parties are using it and that is also another reason that there is less of an emphasis to get rid of it. if we can move towards a place , ine everyone agrees -- ok 2025, no motion to recommit, we will be in the majority and you do something like a corn call instead and 20 minutes of debate based on the actual bill. >> that would look like the way people think congress is supposed to work. a little bit of a policy issue and we will open it up for conversation. i was looking at what to ask and it was challenging because you have done a lot of stuff. these are things we are interested in. prescription drugs, we spend a lot of time thinking about this and it is an issue that seems to be a moment where you could see both parties feel compelled to move forward. i know you introduced the real-time benefits act. a little bit about why that is
on your mind these days. do you think we have potential? >> i think it is on the front end of my mind because i can't get through the grocery store without someone pulling me over and saying i cannot afford by kid's insulin. when you meet people that tell you their nephew is rationing their insulin or their daughter couldn't go to camp because they can't afford four inhalers, it is pretty raw in my district. it is compounded by the fact that i am from michigan so we have a border with canada and my own dad across the border to get his heart medicine. we know what we could be paying. i am focused on it because this and the overall price of healthcare have made a situation where people in my district are often paying more in healthcare than in their mortgage. that is upside down. that is untenable. that is why i am passionate about it. it is luckily, an area where democrats and republicans say
the right thing, where there is overlap and that is very important and it is why there is a possibility for bipartisan legislation. people need to do more than talk about it. it is a great political talking point and they need to actually turn it into legislation. i would love to see the president do exactly what he said he was going to do, allow medicare to negotiate in bulk for prices, period. he said it, it was such a great thing. there is legislation in the house and he has to use his influence with the senate republicans so that we can get that done. that would be revolutionary. i am passionate about it because it is coming directly from the bone in my district, and because i think despite everything, the average member of congress, democrat or republican, knows that this issue is out of whack and there is a political will to do something. >> i want to ask you about rural
broadband. we have been talking about it for 10 years. telemedicine, 20th century workforce, basic equity. we did it with electrification. it is talked about every three days. why can't we get that moved? why is this so hard? >> how much time do you have? >> three or four minutes. >> we actually had -- i am on the agriculture committee and the subcommittee had a hearing on this today. we had a doctor in town from georgia who is a specialist in stroke research and he as a physician conducts a lot of consultations with rural hospitals via telemedicine capabilities. he was telling some impactful stories and my question to him was, in my perspective, 10 counties, seven have substantial
access issues to broadband internet and the other three are fine. i live in the suburbs and i've had broadband from the time internet existed in my district, in my portion. and i was saying to him i go out to my suburban communities and i say do you know just 20 minutes down the road, they literally can't get connected in their house. you have kids going to mcdonald's to do their homework . you have farmers who are going to friends' houses to do their invoices and the business of running their business someplace else because they can't do it from home, their place of business. and talking to him, my question was how do we make this conversation bigger and stronger because what i'm talking about it and when i talk about it in the suburban areas, people will react and say i had no idea because why would they? what sort of groups need to engage on this? does it need to be the chamber of commerce recognizing the economic impact of attracting
more businesses? does it need to be veterans groups because when you have veterans that want to retire but they need to be able to receive telemedicine consultations from the v.a. is that a constituency that could engage? is it school groups, churches, religious organizations? the problem is that it impacts people who -- by virtue of the fact they have a farm in central virginia and they are working every day to make sure the cows are milked and their running their business and getting their kids off to school and living their life and calling my office, but they are not joining together to lobby and make sure their voices are heard. by virtue of who is most impacted, i think that is one of the reasons why we don't see a real shift. we have done a lot. it is truly bipartisan issue.
we haven't yet found a firm bipartisan solution, but there is a real recognition that this is impacting our community and i had an amendment for an appropriations bill, i guess two weeks ago that would increase funding to a popular program by $55 million which only represents a 10% increase. but last year, the applications for every three dollar result one dollar available. we had over 400 people support that amendment. we did a recorded vote on the floor. it is an issue that when given the opportunity to engage, people recognize it is a strong issue. i think back to my committee hearing today, how do we beat that drum and get people to care about it in a way that the government is willing to say this is an issue of infrastructure and the change of trajectory our country is on. if we don't make a change, we will have whole communities that
are decades behind their neighbors down the street. >> i will ask you and entirely unfair question. it builds on the conversation we had a month or so ago. so, half the eligible voters under 40 are expressing a preference for socialism over capitalism. a couple of democratic presidential candidates were booed for expressing their view of capitalism was a vital approach to entrepreneurship and social betterment. you have some history with these set of questions having focused on the issue. how do you hear that? how do you think about what we should be doing as a country to make sure that the benefits of that kind of entrepreneurial possibility are shared more broadly and are you worried about what is happening in the democratic party? >> to give everybody a little bit of background, part of my
entrepreneurial journey was to be one of the cofounders and chief operating officer of an organization called benefit organization. this was in response to running an organization that i thought was a beautiful company called and one. not to justlly hard make really cool basketball clothes and make money, but also tried to do really well by our community and employees and the environment as well. when we sold the organization, the person who bought it did not think it was important and destroyed the culture and the company. the benefit organization concept is something i am very passionate about and you heard some of the speeches for our current candidates in terms of mandating this. i don't currently believe the for-profit economy should be mandated to do good and well, but i think that it is incentivized by the current millennial population to do the right thing for customers. customers care about what kind of company they are buying things from.
i think we are being incentivized by investors. investors care that the kind of company you're working in is not just making cool products, but thinking about how you are treating employees and the environment. investors care, employees care. they want to work at a company that thinks about those things and also allows you to bring your whole person to work at one time. 80% or 90% of the economy is the for-profit sector of the economy. a very small part of the economy is either the government or the nonprofit sector. we have to harness capitalism for good. i think we are headed in the right direction. i am anxious and frustrated when i hear the malignment of capitalism because it is a force for good and i think we are just not seeing each other in our conversations when people are talking about the power of ism to understand we are really making an impact. to that end, one of the things
people don't hear about is this really large group of people who are part of the new dem coalition. the new dem coalition is 103 strong coalition of democrats to caucus over pro opportunity, pro people, pro-business. we are the largest ideological group that no one has ever heard of. >> we have heard of you. . >> i'm glad. 40 of the new freshmen, more than 40 are part of that caucus . we are trying to make sure, it is like broadband, that people hear this message and we hear how important it is that we are taking care of our businesses because they are the heartbeat of the economy. that is why i am one of the freshman leaders of the new dems. it is why i am passionate about serving on the small business subcommittee. i think we have a lot of work to do to be a better economy and be better businesses but i think we
are heading in the right direction. >> it is so cool that i know people want to ask you questions and you have other events where people will be giving you money which we will be not. as a demonstration to your commitment for public service, i am sure you are willing here to stay longer. if you could grab a mic and let us know who you are. >> [indiscernible] every year, we conduct the annual military lifestyle study and one of the glaring results from that study is the unemployment rate for military spouses, which is between 24% to 30%. compared with the unemployment rate right now, it's a big challenge. i was wondering what your thoughts on partnering together to help solve the problem? >> as a military spouse, i feel passionate about this and my husband is 30 years in the army and i have a stepdaughter who is a brand-new officer in the army.
i think about this quite a bit and if i hadn't run for office, one of the things i was going to do was harness the power of military spouses in a for-profit venture because i think it is a capable workforce. you could be particularly left out of your potential. are to do in our state right now. get reciprocity for spouses. you won't have to get your teaching certificate all over again. we don't have a huge active-duty military presence. but i think it is a simple, logical, concrete step that state legislators understand.
it could sweep the country and do much good immediately. >> i am a third-generation military. my grandmother and my mom were military navy wives. there was really no opportunity for them at that time. they wanted to be part of the active-duty member career trajectory. my mom is the smartest person in my family. we started something called the service women and women's veteran caucus. you don't have to be a woman or a democrat.
we are on the issue of women of service. about 20% of active duty members are veterans. but some of us wives are veterans as well. making sureing on we have the opportunity of continuity of education. my mom had to piece together a masters degree and a phd in the process. host: this is not a shy crowd. my -- i am thrilled to hear from each of you, and what you brought to congress. you have inspired women across the united states.
i am working on the issue of retirement security. to ask you to think about this issue. 50% of americans have nothing saved for retirement. 50% of businesses don't have a retirement plan. survey, 4000a , in which you give i will youans -- display in and you can go back to congress and introduce it. person contributes 1.5% of your salary, and it is matched
1.5%, that iss by 3% invested. retired, they will get a monthly paycheck for the rest of their lives. that gives you affordability. -- peopleretirement change jobs all the time and all of their retirement is attached to their job. i would love to discuss this with you. the bipartisan center has their own plan. if you could take up the issue of retirement security, it is important for women, because they change jobs all the time. thank you. >> i think that is super interesting. not only for women, but millennials.
>> 86% of millennials like this idea. that is really interesting. i was a federal government employee. we had a savings plan. then i moved to the pentagon. it moved with me to the pentagon. then i reopened it under congress. this is super interesting. i would love to talk with you. >> one more question. >> thank you so much for being here. i am interning with congressman rose. [laughter] as a college women interested womanitics, -- interested in politics, you guys are inspirations to me. >> i have three girls.
my advice to you is, life is long. do what you are passionate about. find something that motivates you. use the skills that you have in the best way you can at the time you're there. like one decision is the end-all, be-all decision. i had for it very different careers. -- four very different careers. nothing is a permanent choice. if you choose something that ends up not being right, use what you learn and do something else. there is too much pressure on you guys to figure out with the right college and major is. chill. it will be ok. >> i wish you were my mother. [laughter] >> don't tell my mother. [laughter]
>> i would echo everything she said. i have three girls as well. i have made a number of changes. if you had told me 10 years ago that i would have left my dream home, because it struck me as a great idea to bring my kids back to virginia, close to my in-laws and my parents and live in the suburbs, i would have thought you were crazy. became a point in my life where it was actually the right choice. i worked in the private sector. it was really right for a time. things changed and i felt compelled to be a part of something beyond myself. that is what drove me to run for congress.
i was thinking, what i do this? none of it makes sense. looking back, it makes perfect sense. do what you are passionate about. what can help you contribute in whatever way you think is valuable. recognize there are different ways to contribute to your community, to causes and ideas you think are important. i hear fromhings people, particularly women, i would love to do something like what you are doing, but i could never run for office. you don't have to. are one hundred different ways to contribute meaningfully to politics. you can be supportive of candidates. you can write postcards. you can dive deep into policy and advocate for your community.
are 100 and one different ways you can be a part of what you think is important. it does not have to be the most obvious choice. success,o define choose it, and create it for yourself. you will hear people tell you all of the things you should be doing, but if you have greater faith in yourself and your choices, you will create a path for yourself that will lead in and allowdirection you to be the strongest, best contributes to the larger community. i will bring up the rear. most people, especially most women, no in their got the right choices. their head gets in the way.
i think of luke skywalker in star wars. you have to to control your mind to lift the big ship out of the swamp. impression is coming any second. of success is being able to control your mind and quiet your mind. and listen to those gut instincts and not let the screaming voices in your head dominate your decision-making. i was assistant secretary at the pentagon. we had a large office. on the gender issues, i would do career help for people who want to do talk about where they were going in their career.
i had to action officers, one male and one female. same resume. intoan would come onto -- my office and say, i am ready for my first level of leadership. he would leave. in, same would come background. i have been on the job for two years. i am not sure i have mastered it. i am not sure i am ready for leadership. i am not sure. it was amazing to me. jedi mind trick. quiet voices. -- the voices. >> we. on that. stop on that. [applause] there have been few evenings that clearly remind me why we