Sondra Cosgrove (00:00):
My name is Sondra Cosgrove and this is Compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast.
Will Rucker (00:29):
Welcome to Compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast. I'm your host, Will Rucker, and I am so grateful you have joined us again for this fourth season of Compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast. Joining us today is a wealth of information. You're gonna be absolutely amazed by just how much she knows and how well she shares what she knows and none other than Sondra Cosgrove. Hello.
Sondra Cosgrove (00:59):
Hello. Thank you for having me on, and thank you for that introduction.
Will Rucker (01:02):
Absolutely. I've gotten the chance to, to spend a few moments with you over the past few months, and you never failed to provide me something meaningful and above all else, you are so even tempered in spite of enormous obstacles that I just, I was like, I've gotta have you on the, on the podcast.
Sondra Cosgrove (01:21):
Well, thank you for having me. And you know, it, it, sometimes it can be hard to be even tempered. Cause right now it's very easy to be pulled into kind of this polarizing screaming at each other. But more of us need to kind of pull ourselves out and then center ourselves to say, I'm gonna do my best to be even tempered and compassionate.
Will Rucker (01:42):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And this season, of course we have focused on politics, which to be totally transparent, I was a little apprehensive about doing it first, but when I brought it to the team, everyone was so excited. Like, yes, it's exactly what we need to do. And now that we've been having these shows, I'm like, Yeah, this is what we needed to do right now. Because we approach politics from a different lens. I think people do like politics and the way I define politics, it's really just how do groups of people get along together, Right? But it's partisanship and that polarization that people are avoiding. So I'm so grateful for the work that you're doing. Could you give us just a high level background on who you are and the work that you're doing right now?
Sondra Cosgrove (02:27):
Sure. So I'm a history professor at the College of Southern Nevada. So I'm at a community college and I very purposely wanted to get hired at a community college because when you work at a university, your students come second, it's gotta publish books and you have to be going to conferences. And so students are kind of like this peripheral thing that you have to deal with at a community college. We're a teaching institution, so students are the center. So we're supposed to be very focused on them, interacting with them as much as possible. I've been at the College of Southern Nevada for over 20 years now. I enjoy it thoroughly lived in Las Vegas since 1986, so I'm almost an old timer. Not quiet, but almost an old timer. And I've, I've always loved living in Nevada and Las Vegas and sometimes people are like, Isn't it a crass kind of commercial place to live and does it really have any soul?
Sondra Cosgrove (03:20):
But the thing I like about Las Vegas and Clark County where Las Vegas is, people are very honest here. And sometimes that can be jarring when people are just who they are and they're living their life. And it might, you know, be something to offend you or it might be something that you're, you're not used to. But I think a lot of us here just have that spirit of be who you are, you know, have your friends come into town and spend some money cuz we like that. But, but that's, that's how our economy works. That's how our culture works, is everybody comes. They're their true self. They spend money, we have a good time, and then we can send you back home. You know, after you've come and you've, you've let off some steam. Does that mean we all agree with each other?
Sondra Cosgrove (03:59):
No, but it means living here, I'm more sure than any place else that if I'm interacting with you, you're being your true self, that I know who you are and that, that I'm gonna interact with the real well, you know, who will is and, and I can be who I am and that we can have our conversation that way. I, for the last about 12 years since the Great Recession, have just spent a lot of time doing in the public what I do in the classroom. And it's the how does the bill become a law? How do you get registered to vote? But even more so, how do I research candidates and what are ballot questions? I've never seen these before. And how do I keep out of the, the food fight that is our kind of polarized system while still being a civic citizen? Because in the United States, even though we talk a lot about how we value democracy and we value the right to vote, we don't value education. And if you don't have, you know, your civic life and education going together, then you just have people in the civic life being frustrated and not knowing how to engage. And then oftentimes they don't, they just drift off. So to me, if you're not providing voter education, that's kind of voter suppression too. If someone says, I don't know what to do so I'm just not gonna participate.
Will Rucker (05:12):
Wow. Yes. So many great things in that and not surprised, but I'm always left like thinking about so many different aspects whenever you share. Let's back up just a little to kind of one thing you mentioned in the beginning, which was about compassion. How do you define compassion?
Sondra Cosgrove (05:31):
Compassion means that I extend grace to you and you extend grace to me that if you and I are interacting and were in partnerships or coalition or just if we're friends, that if I do something inadvertently that offends you or you know, that is maybe harmful to your community, that you extend me some grace and you pull me to the side and say, Hey, you know, I know you didn't do this purposely, but can we have a conversation about what you said? And then I extend grace back to you and I'm not offended. And I say, Absolutely cuz I don't, I don't wanna offend people, Please let me know what I did cuz I don't want to do that again. And so that it's that grace that you extend to the people around you and especially to the people you disagree with. Because sometimes just having compassion for them and trying to help them understand why what they did or said hurt you or hurt someone else, is it that you're much more likely to say, Well I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that. If I'm yelling at you and you're yelling at me and we're screaming and calling people evil like we see on TV with the candidates all the time, then I'm, I'm gonna say that's a toxic relationship and I don't even wanna be involved with you or your community. We're losing something if that happens. We need to be in each other's lives. We need to understand lived experience. So if we're not having grace and compassion for each other, how am I supposed to know what you're experiencing or you, or you know, what I'm experiencing?
Will Rucker (06:55):
That's so true. And I always try to be gracious. That's one of the things that is always in my mind, in my heart. Just be gracious because people can't in being their true selves also be quite a lot to deal with. Mm-Hmm. you are running a ballot initiative right now, which is one of the ways that you can change things in our state, right? And just you're catching it from all sides . So how, how do you stay motivated to continue when it seems as though there's no right path forward for you?
Sondra Cosgrove (07:34):
I kind of feel with a ballot question, if everybody's mad, you're probably doing something right. Because if you're doing fundamental change and fundamental reform, that means you're getting to, to the core of the status quo and everybody's kind of invested in a status quo to a certain extent. So if you're trying to break up the status quo, everybody's gonna be mad at you for something. But if you react angry back at them, you're not gonna get anywhere. And so instead what you need to do is say, I understand why you're upset. I understand that this is gonna disrupt your life, it's gonna make things maybe a little bit harder for you, but is there a way that we can just sit down and understand where each other's coming from? And we might not agree at the end of the conversation, but I would like you to know why I'm doing what I'm doing what I think I'm trying to accomplish.
Sondra Cosgrove (08:22):
And then I'll be quiet and I'll listen to you. That's worked. So, you know, back about seven months ago when we were doing, you know, gathering signatures, there were people at the highest level that are being the most threatened by changing the status quo. Those folks never reached out to us, They didn't talk to me, they didn't call me on the phone, they didn't say, Let's jump on a zoom. They just assumed that I was a threat to them and that I needed to be destroyed personally in order to eliminate that threat. I could have been very easily shot back at them and tried to do the same thing and do a personal attack, but instead I tried to focus on the argument they were making, not on the person and then just keep moving forward. When other people saw me behaving that way, they then contacted me and said, Hey, I, I'm seeing what's going on, what's going on?
Sondra Cosgrove (09:14):
Can you tell, explain this to me? And so over the course of time, going to different meetings, getting on Zoom calls, talking with folks, a lot of people have come over to our side and said, said, I understand what you're trying to do and I actually agree with it. Or they've said, you know, I think there is a problem. I might not necessarily agree with your solution, but I'm willing to allow you to run the ballot question, have a conversation and let's see what happens. So I'll just be quiet while you do this cuz I do recognize that this is direct democracy and that what you're doing is actually constitutionally protected.
Will Rucker (09:49):
So just for our audience to give them better context, what is the ballot initiative that you're running and why does it matter?
Sondra Cosgrove (09:56):
So the ballot initiative we're running is called Final five Voting. It does, it does two interrelated things. So the state of Nevada uses what's called closed primaries in the primary for our federal races, executive branch races. So that would be like the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of State. So those statewide officers and then our legislature, if you wanna be able to participate in picking who's gonna move forward to the general election, you have to register as a Democrat or a Republican. And if you're a Republican, you get no say the Democrat moving forward. And vice versa. More and more young people, women, there's a lot of people of color who are saying the political parties just seem really toxic right now cuz they're just yelling at each other. They seem, they're slandering each other. My students say that. They say based on what I see on tv, everybody's bad.
Sondra Cosgrove (10:47):
So I don't know who to vote for. And I think the parties don't realize you're suppressing their vote because they're don't know who to vote for cuz they see everybody being bad. So we're saying we want open primary it. So on our judicial races, currently our judicial races show up on everybody's ballot, whether you're Republican, democrat or nonpartisan or independent. But if you're an independent, that's all you see as far as the top level races. You see your local races like school board and, and count city council. But you don't get to participate in having your voice heard at those top level races. I really feel that's causing the polarization that's causing the problem. Cuz you're having a very small group of very engaged, partisan people deciding who's going to move forward. So the people who are being left out are seeing the candidates going, well that doesn't rep, they don't represent me.
Sondra Cosgrove (11:38):
You know, I didn't have any say in this. So what we're asking is to go to open primary so that all of our top level races look like our current judicial races. Everybody's on one ballot and there's no partisan barrier to voting. So everybody's gonna get the same ballot. Every voice gets equal weight. Everybody gets to contribute in deciding who moves forward. If the political parties want to do a convention or a caucus or something outside that taxpayer funded primary to endorse a candidate, they're free to do so. But they're not allowed to use our taxpayer funded primaries to pick their endorsed candidate. If we, the voters say we don't want them to do that anymore, we just want everybody having a voice in deciding who moves forward. The second part of that is instead of two candidates moving forward, we want five candidates moving forward.
Sondra Cosgrove (12:26):
Because what we've noticed, and I noticed as a historian, the two candidates that move forward are the people with the most money. So they tend to be the loudest voice in the room. We want five candidates. Cuz will, I can tell you when the first time I met you at a shepherd's breakfast and, and I was so taken by your personality and your Viv and oh my gosh. And then I thought, oh no, Will's gonna lose and I'm never gonna see him again. Because that's what happens in the primary, it's candidates like you get mowed down and then my students who were, they're gonna relate to you. They just see people that they don't relate to moving forward and then they don't wanna participate. So I want five candidates so that we get more will Rutgers moving forward to the primary, but then you have a problem because if you're gonna put five people on the ballot for each of those top level races, the Nevada Constitution says the person with the most votes wins.
Sondra Cosgrove (13:18):
I teach Latin American studies, if you've got five candidates, that means somebody could technically win with 21% of the vote. In Latin America, if a president gets elected with 21% of the vote, we call that a coup waiting to happen because that means 79% of the voters said not that person. And they're going to be upset that that person got in, which is just gonna cause more fighting and polarization. So we're also saying we want rank choice voting in the general election where Ivy to pick my favorite candidate as my number one pick, and then I get to rank the other candidates by preference. And in ranked choice voting only the people, the candidates with at least 50% plus one can win that way we're getting to consensus. So, so we're sure if somebody wins that about 51% plus one of us said, Yeah, okay, I'm okay with that person.
Sondra Cosgrove (14:08):
So that person goes into office with a coalition already behind them and people say it that ranking is, is confusing. I, I don't understand why they say that I can rate five, I like chocolate ice cream first, then strawberry, then vanilla, then Neapolitan, then chocolate chip. And that's the preference I want it. So in the first round, if nobody gets 50% plus one, it goes into an instant runoff, the candidate with the least number of votes drops off. But then if I pick that person as number one, my second choice vote moves up to my second choice candidate. So my vote still stays in play and you just do instant runoff till we get that 50% plus one to know that that's the consensus pick.
Will Rucker (14:49):
Let me ask you this, you mentioned your students in particular not being able to engage because, and I I've heard this constantly, the ads are all negative, everyone's horrible. You know, every candidate's under federal investigation, even when they admit on debate stages, Well I don't have anything to support you being under an investigation. Like it's really toxic.
Sondra Cosgrove (15:09):
Will Rucker (15:10):
And I've been doing this a long time. I've been knocking doors a long time. I've been volunteering for candidates a long time. And when you show up to actually talk to someone about the candidate mm-hmm nine out of 10 don't wanna engage. Do you think this, this will help people to actually participate in the process?
Sondra Cosgrove (15:30):
I think so because luckily for us, Alaska adopted a very similar model to what we're proposing two years ago. So they are actually trying it out for the first time now. So we can kind of watch what's happening there. Their member of Congress, Don Young passed away last spring, I think it was in May. So they needed to do a special election to replace him and then do a regular election to decide who goes on for the next two years. So they did their open primary, the top four candidates cause they do top four instead of five. There was an independent, a Democrat and two Republicans. The independent was shocked that he actually got onto the ballot and said, I'm not ready to actually run a campaign. This has never happened to me before. So he dropped off but he told his voters I would like you to support the Democrat Mary Peola.
Sondra Cosgrove (16:15):
So it meant three candidates move forward. But when you're in a race where you're not sure if somebody's gonna get 50% plus one and you're probably gonna go at least one instant runoff round, you have to be thinking who out there second votes can I win? So you're gonna be looking at your opponents not as opponents, but how much do we have in common and can I go to Will and say, will we have a lot in common? Eh, can you tell your voters to make me their second choice if I'm tell my voters to make you second choice? That way we both have more opportunity to make it through that, that first round of instant runoff we see in Alaska. That's what Maryelle to did. She's an indigenous woman, she's Native American. And when she ended up winning and when they asked her, you know, how did you feel about this new process?
Sondra Cosgrove (17:02):
She said, This is like tribal council. You have to talk to everybody. You gotta keep talking. My black friends have said that this is what they do at church. You keep talking until everybody agrees and then you move forward. And so she fit right into this new style of talking to your opponents voters. Not as bad and evil, but can I get your second choice vote? The Republicans did not do that. And Sarah Palin was one of those Republicans, she actually went in the other direction an attacked for other Republican competitor Nick be. So Nick dropped off when they did the first round cuz Mary got 40%, then it was like Sarah Palin with 32 and Nick Va got 27% when Nick dropped off and we watched the, his, the second choice votes come up half went to Sarah Palin because those voters said I'm a Republican so it's gonna go to, to the other Republican.
Sondra Cosgrove (17:50):
Half of the, the half that was left went to Mary Peola. Half of them said we actually would prefer Mary than the other Republican. And then the rest of them only voted for Nick and said, I don't wanna vote for Sarah Palin, I don't wanna vote for Mary Peola. And when they started doing polling, exit polling and they asked these Republicans, why didn't you rate the other Republican? They just said no, I do not agree with Sarah Palin. I don't like the way she behaves. I don't like her policies. I didn't wanna vote for her. So I either voted for Mary Paola, she came and talked to me or I didn't vote, I didn't do a second ranking. And so we clearly saw from a voter's perspective, they understood strategy. They were not confused. You know, there were some that said I I like Nick, it's not Nick, I don't want anybody.
Sondra Cosgrove (18:36):
But then there were some that said, you know, I trust Mary. She came and talked to me so I'll go ahead and give her my second choice. That's the power I want to give to voters here in Nevada. I want you and I to maybe sit down over coffee and say, let's talk about what our voting strategy is gonna be. Here's why I'm picking first, here's why I'm picking second, you know, what are you thinking? So that as voters we can maybe come together into coalitions and say, even though we're picking different number ones can then we cross over in number twos. This is what happened in New York with their city council. The New York allows rank choice voting at the local level. Their city council has like 52 people on it. And I have no idea how they get anything done but be beside that.
Sondra Cosgrove (19:18):
You know, it was like 26% of the people on the city council were women. Then they implemented rank choice voting. It's now 61% very diverse women because lots of women could run but you didn't split the vote. So I could say I wanna, I want a woman of color to win. So I'm gonna rank this woman of color, this woman of color, this woman and this woman. So no matter what, I wasn't splitting the vote. My vote was aligning with everybody else that was saying I want a woman of color. And that worked. And so you see opportunities for people that don't have a lot of money to really talk to voters in a strategic way. Especially if they're in marginalized communities saying, let's go to the community center and talk about strategy because you have that power. Now
Will Rucker (20:00):
It's not often that a political conversation makes me feel warm inside. Mm-Hmm . But hearing those stories really does they are heartwarming because it brings us together. Yep. And that's the mission of this podcast is really to amplify hope. And I feel like what you're talking about is a seed of hope where we can have vigorous disagreement. Compassion doesn't say we ignore our problems or our challenges. In fact a compassionate community is an uncomfortable community cuz we're dealing with real
Sondra Cosgrove (20:31):
Will Rucker (20:33):
And it's the way that we deal with them, which is collaboration. I don't love the word compromise. I'm not a fan of that because I feel like that means I brought my idea to the table. You brought yours and we both lost. Right? I the idea of collaboration, which is I'm bringing my ideas, you're bringing your ideas and together we're building something with that in mind, there is an idea right now that on the conservative side, in order to really engage in this way, they have to compromise their morals. Mm-Hmm. on the more liberal progressive side, it's an idea that they have to be complicit with injustice. Mm-Hmm. And I can absolutely understand that sentiment. Yes. And I feel that anytime I engage in, in any kind of endeavor, whether it's, you know, politics or, or education or just hey, figuring out what's for dinner. Right?
Sondra Cosgrove (21:24):
Will Rucker (21:24):
So what are your thoughts around those two forces and how can we kind of bring those together?
Sondra Cosgrove (21:31):
And I've had these conversations before. Well I think sometimes we get so in the weeds about controlling people's behavior that that's where the conflict is actually happening. So let's say, you know, we're talk, we're trying to control speech. We're gonna, I'm gonna control what you can say. Let's have a conversation and move it up a level and talk about the First Amendment and talk about Supreme Court rulings and define what speech actually is and say, okay, can we agree that speech is something that advances a person's ability to get their ideas out and a person's ability to get information. But can we agree that you shouldn't be harming people that I, my speech should not make you feel threatened that you're physically going to be harmed and your speech should not threaten that I'm gonna be physically harmed. Because that's where we historically, we see the courts being able to weigh in on you can't, you know, yell, fire in a crowded theater.
Sondra Cosgrove (22:22):
Can we stay above that and agree that we both like freedom of speech, but let's define it in a way that we both feel free, but we're not gonna feel like we're being threatened or that our lives are being put on the line. So I think sometimes we need to move things up a level in the conversation and have a more holistic conversation about, you know, who's gonna say I hate education. No, we like education. We're gonna disagree on how we think it should be reformed. But let's start with that. We both like education and talk about why we like it and then start talking about is there a way for me to achieve my al education outcomes and for you to achieve your education outcomes that doesn't actually harm anybody. And start laying on the table different things we could do where we're both winning.
Sondra Cosgrove (23:07):
Cuz I agree with you, if we're compromising, nobody's winning, but are there, are there solutions that allow us to both win? So you might say, okay, you might say I'm for school choice and I might say, Well I don't agree with school choice. Let's have a conversation about why we both, you know, take those positions and then we start to realize is because we think that's the best way to achieve education outcomes. So let's dig into that and actually see, and then let's be honest about, I need to be honest about why choice makes me afraid. Cuz historically speaking, when choice happened in the 1950s, it was to get around Brown V versus Board of Education. And I need to explain to you what actually happened and why the PTA was not an organization that was actually doing the right thing. It became a tool of white supremacy where white parents used the PTA to give more money to their kids' school so that they wouldn't have to give to a school that was integrated.
Sondra Cosgrove (24:00):
It's not that way now, you know, it got completely changed. Now. It actually is a tool for good, but I need to explain to you why that scares me. And then you need to be able to understand that. And then I need to listen to Heat to You so that you can tell me why you think choice is gonna help your child. Because your child might be autistic and CCS d does not do a good job to take care of our autistic students. So you feel the only way to take care of your child is your school choice. And I can understand that. I think it's wrong that your autistic child is not getting an education. Is there a way for us to both get what we want and can we sit down and map that out so that at the end my fears are being taken care of and your child's being taken care of? Cause I I promise you, if we spend more time working on how do we get to the outcomes, we're not going to be just fighting with each other. We're gonna come to that collaborative moment.
Will Rucker (24:55):
Yeah. We need a second podcast just to talk about that piece. Because what you're, you're talking about is what I do in my cultural transformation work. Yes. Which is more people from strategy to values. So the strategy divide us, but when we really look at the core values, the the heart underneath it really is a unifying way to do business. Let's talk about this piece. Democrats, liberals, mm-hmm. and which, you know, I love many, but it, there's this reputation of being a bit elitist. And I think you experience this with the ranked choice Open Primaries initiative. It seems as though there's this idea that you can't actually provide voter education. That people aren't capable of understanding complex issues. My perspective is we need to do the complex things. We need to do the hard things. Mm-Hmm. if we're going to move forward. I'm looking at this upcoming recession. Nobody's talking about the fact that we predicted a recession three years ago Right. In the previous administration because of tariffs. And that wasn't a partisan statement. That was, this is what happens when this circumstance arises.
Sondra Cosgrove (26:06):
Right. It's academics.
Will Rucker (26:08):
Yeah. But nobody is saying that now. Mm-Hmm. , they're saying, Oh, we've got inflation. We've gotta bring this like as if it, it's a surprise. Right. And they don't wanna take the time to remind people of your subject history. Right.
Sondra Cosgrove (26:19):
Will Rucker (26:19):
Talk a little bit about how we change this narrative within the, the progressive Democrats spheres that people just don't understand.
Sondra Cosgrove (26:30):
In my history classes, and again, let me talk, go back. I te I work at a community college because my job is to take things that are very complex, put them into plain language, not simplify them, not dumb it down, but take the legal ease out because an attorney wrote it. Or take the political jargon out of it. It doesn't need to be there. Plain language explanation. And then ask, do you have questions? Do I need to, to give you an example. So for instance Alexander Hamilton wanted to assume the war debt from every state after the Revolutionary War to to pay it off. And that sounds like your crazy thing to do. Why would somebody want somebody else's debt? Well, the US government needed a credit rating. So just the same. If I want to buy a car and put it on credit, if I've never paid off anything, I don't have credit.
Sondra Cosgrove (27:14):
I don't have a credit rating, I can't buy the car. So I need to go into a debt and then pay it off. Now I have a credit rating and I can buy a car. Well, that's what Alexander Ham with Hamilton was doing, assuming some other people's debt, paying it off. Now he is got a good credit rating, He can go to European countries and ask for a loan. See how easy I just made to Alexander Hamilton's economic system sound because I, I say, Okay, you understand this, This is just the same thing. And then I'll show you how that's all it takes. People get it right away. And so when, when we, when we proposed open primary with rank choice voting, and the first pushback came from liberals who said, We can't do this because it will confuse communities of color. I was highly offended by that because it's that, that progressive achilles heel that they have had since a hundred years ago when you had white performers coming out of colleges and universities saying, We have the benefit of education, black and brown people.
Sondra Cosgrove (28:08):
So we're gonna do things for you because we know better and we don't have time to educate you. So we're just gonna be in charge. We're going to lead, we'll make decisions for you. You can imagine that did not go over very well. You know, people do not like to be treated that way. And so you ended up having the progressive movement kind of split into the Teddy Roosevelt branch, which is very authoritarian, will do things at you and what I call the Jane Adams branch, that when she was the one that did the settlement houses in Chicago where she said, I'm gonna go live with immigrants and listen to them and work with them and help them do what they want, that's still exists. Where you have the people who are in leadership and the progressive movement that feel, Oh, I had the opportunity to be educated, so I'm just gonna tell you things.
Sondra Cosgrove (28:54):
And, and it really, you start to see where that weakness is. As soon as you say, No, we can actually just educate people and they'll be fine. They don't wanna give up power. They, they want to have the power to make the decisions. And even they will tell, you know, I'm doing it for other people, you're doing it for yourself because you want power. If you do it for the right reason, you're not gonna have power. You're gonna give power to other people. And so I feel, as a older white woman with a PhD and all kinds of privilege to spend all day, it's my job to be on the front lines and let them take shots at me. Because as a historian, I can explain exactly what they're doing, just like I explained it to you. And I can talk about what white man's burden is and I can shame them and say you're behaving in a racist or a sexist way. You need to maybe have some introspection and maybe talk to the people that you're doing things at because they don't like it. And you can tell by my voice, it makes me angry.
Will Rucker (29:50):
Yeah. And I'm, I'm just, it's, I see it. And the other part of it is, as someone that's been a pastor for more years than I'll care to admit on air and has been in, in positions of power, like I lead a national non-profit and you know, have teams under me. And sometimes it is easier and I'm doing air quotes for those that are listening. Sometimes it is easier to just do things at people to just say, this is how it's gonna happen. Yep. And that rarely yields the best outcome In my experience. The part that I do factor in is when you go into a, a community that has been traumatized or that is currently in, in experiencing trauma, their executive function is offline. And so they're in survival mode. They, they are in that fear-based, what's the immediate thing I can do to stop the bleeding?
Will Rucker (30:42):
And not, And their brain just biologically is not ready to say, Okay, why is it bleeding? Let's go back to what started the bleeding. Let's go back to history. Right, Right. Through all these things. So I, I think it's important to deal with that trauma and to reset that nervous system. I do a lot of breathing and meditation and that sort of thing, visualization, right. To help come back into themselves. And the way that you articulate the ideas, I think does that because you put them in a safe time, a safe space and then walk them through like, this is what it is. And I, I'm in the middle of a lot of this and I still learn for in the way that you explain things. And I've heard you tell the, the, the ballot initiative probably a hundred times now. And every time I'm like, Oh yeah. And that's a new point that's even better about it. And yes, you know, I'm not, I'm not endorsing like for anybody that's gonna be like legal about this. I'm not saying yes or no on this, this show. I'm just, the idea to me as a compassionate human sounds like a compassionate thing to do.
Sondra Cosgrove (31:46):
So if, if you listen to my presentation of the ballot initiative six months ago, it's very different today. And the reason is, is because when I do the presentation, then I stop to listen and to hear what the questions are, to hear what the concerns are, and to take those to heart and then build in responses to that. Like you say, if someone's being feeling traumatized by it or they're very confused and frustrated by it, I need to then change my presentation. Cuz I don't want people to feel threatened or frustrated. So my presentation has evolved because I need to make sure I'm listening to what people are telling me and then be responsive in a way that helps them so that they don't feel threatened or as threatened.
Will Rucker (32:27):
Yeah, absolutely. So in our last few minutes together, I wanna change direction just a bit. Okay. I wanna hear, what music are you listening to right now? What's getting you through your days?
Sondra Cosgrove (32:37):
You know, this is gonna sound corny, but I really like Imagine Dragons because the band is not just a get on the stage and then we're gonna play a bunch of music, but, but you, they get, you know, they've got the, the lead singer and there's, he's talking about see a therapist, it's good for you. How are you feeling? He gets out in the crowd. And so it's, it's entertainment but it's also somebody feeling like I have a responsibility when I'm in front of people to normalize talking to a therapist. You know, Dan Reynolds is very much, you know, I've been to therapist, I've had these problems, it's okay, we can make it together. You know, And, and he even gets on there and says, I can't lose you. He's talking to like 50,000 people and, and you sit there and going, Oh well he says he can't lose me. You know? And I see little kids at his and so I really, I love them, they're good, it's good music. But I'm like, I wanna see more people in the spotlight who, who seizes that spotlight and said, I can do something besides just make money.
Will Rucker (33:33):
Okay. So I've gotta go back just to hear cuz you, you did spark something I think is important to talk about and it's the idea of who runs for office because you mentioned the idea of holding onto power mm-hmm. and there are many people that I think would be exceptional as legislators mm-hmm. who are horrible at campaigning. Yep. And how do we bridge that gap just in, in your idea?
Sondra Cosgrove (34:02):
I think people who are horrible at campaigning just have a hard time vilifying their opponent or saying things they know that are not true. I'm hoping, and this is why I like the ballot question that has top five, that maybe the, the, you know, four and five candidates are gonna be people who can go to the Shepherd's breakfast. You know, they can go to Hispanics and politics, they can go out to, life is beautiful and one on one just to have conversations with people and one on one get enough voters because I want the number of votes that you have to get you forward Now how much money, not whether you perform, not whether somebody at the top gives you a blessing, but just because you went and had a private conversation with enough people that you get to move forward. Because if we get enough people like that, that move forward, they might not win the first time around.
Sondra Cosgrove (34:49):
But maybe the person that's number one or number two is like, wait a minute, Will has voters, that could be my second will. I notice that you're talking about, you know, compassion. If I added that into my plank, you know, my platform, would you talk to your voters for me and say that I would be an okay to be their second? That validates the fact that you did not vilify people. You just had conversations and you brought voters along with you. And so I wanna see, like you said, I wanna see more fresh faces, young people, people of color, whatever that that don't campaign the normal way. Let's make that normal.
Will Rucker (35:24):
Mm-Hmm. . So it goes back to really changing the core foundation of how we do it. Yeah. Thank you for that. And I, I agree. I think that that makes a big difference. Cuz the system itself reinforces this bad behavior. We see.
Sondra Cosgrove (35:37):
It does. Yeah. It rewards it.
Will Rucker (35:40):
So what book, if any, would you say, this is what I absolutely recommend Every single human reads,
Sondra Cosgrove (35:47):
This is gonna sound weird, but it's called Guns, German Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. And what the book does, and I I use it in all my entry level courses. And it, there's a PBS video. What it does is it says you can't look at contacts. So as the human species was evolving and society's developing and say, well these, these groups were advanced and these groups are primitive. And that's actually a progressive way of describing the world cuz they were always advanced and other people were primitive. And what he says is, he says, human beings are human beings. We all have the exact same capacity. We all behave the exact same way cuz we're human beings. But the environment you grow up in is gonna give you advantages or disadvantages. So Europeans evolved and developed into society that had lots of domestic capable plants, lots of domestic capable animals, which then also and inadvertently gave them immunity to diseases that came from animals.
Sondra Cosgrove (36:40):
The people in other parts of the world did not have those advantages. So they had to struggle more to have large populations cuz they didn't have agriculture to feed their population. And so it's not that the Spanish were advanced and then crush the primitive Indians. The Spanish were dirty in disease ridden and brought smallpox over and Native Americans lacked immunity and that's what wiped them out. And so you have to understand it's an environmental problem, but if I think of the world that way and you're struggling, then what I can ask you is will, how can I help you change your environment or your setting? What do you think would give you, you know, help you to advance or do whatever you want. So I'm not saying will, there's something wrong with you. I'm saying, will your environment needs to be enhanced? Tell me how you want it enhanced. That's a different conversation.
Will Rucker (37:25):
You don't blame the lettuce for not growing
Sondra Cosgrove (37:27):
Will. Right. Maybe, maybe your soil needs to be changed, Maybe you just don't have enough water. But I need to listen and you can tell me what you need and I can help enhance your environment and let you do whatever you want to decide what type of full person you're going to be.
Will Rucker (37:41):
There's so much more I would love to get into, thank you so much for just sharing with us being so open and for the work that you're doing in the community and that you've done for years and years. I'm so grateful that you joined the podcast today. Is there anything you wanna leave with our audience before we close?
Sondra Cosgrove (38:00):
Just to, to say if you're feeling frustrated and you're not sure what the solution is, that's okay. You don't have to agree with a ballot question or a candidate, but just make sure that you're engaging somewhere where you can talk about how, why you're feeling frustrated, interact with somebody else and maybe find coalitions where you can work on some other reform. Because it worries me that people just drop out of our political system. Cuz to me, if you're frustrated and you drop out, that's voter suppression too.
Will Rucker (38:29):
Wow. Well I think we can leave it there. This has been compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast. I'm Will Rucker and as I always remind you, you are not just a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop and what you do matters. So live compassionately. I'll see you on the next episode.