MujahidTtalks with Imam Malik Mujahid in conversation with Alexandra Acker-Lyons
Interview: 11 AM Central Time Tuesday Nov 17. only on Muslim Network TV ##Election2020 #AmericanPolitics #PoliticalConsulting
Guest: Alexandra Acker-Lyons - Political Commentator, President & Founder - AL Advising a Philanthropic and Political Consulting Firm
Host: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid -- President of Sound Vision and Justice for All.
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Abdul Malik Mujahid 00:01
Salaam and peace. This is Imam Malik Mujahid you're watching Muslim network TV. On Muslim network TV is always there 24 seven, we air on a satellite galaxy 19 satellite, which covers the whole United States, Canada and Mexico. We also are available through streaming on amazon fire tv, Apple TV, Roku. And of course you can download our app on Muslim network TV on your iPhone or Android and watch there. Our website is MuslimNetwork.tv.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 00:40
And election and the transition and whole lot of people are worried dominate the election workers are cyclical workers. When elections are over, they get to do something with their lives. People who are in the government on a political jobs they will be, you know preparing their resumes and submitting people who are coming in. So out of hundreds and thousands of political workers. And there was a time when all of them will be accommodated somewhere actually, the President, according to our Constitution, in the United States has sole authority to nominate office holders. The appointment clause of the article two
Abdul Malik Mujahid 01:30
is specifically states the President, I quote shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consoles,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 01:46
that is of the Supreme Court and all other officer of the United States, whose appointments are not hearing within provided for and which shall be established by law that's in the Constitution.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 01:59
Oh, and it has been practiced in an amazing way. At one time, 75% of all federal employees were working in a post office.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 02:13
And in 1881, more than 50% of all federal jobs were just patronage job you work for the president helped him get elected. I'm not saying her elected because we haven't elected any of that kind. So he will just go ahead and keep appointing people. And actually, in 1988, President Cleveland, no, he's not named after Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio is named after him. He replaced nearly 40,000 postmasters around the country we get those are the guys, our supporter of the past president and now he needs to appoint his own people.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 03:01
One President James Garfield, actually was killed, shot and killed in 1881. By election worker and a job seeker. He wanted to be appointed as ambassador of the US ambassador to France. I don't know what happened to him, but he murdered the president because they didn't appoint him.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 03:25
Today is no longer such a party time. Nowadays, only 7000 people are appointed by
Abdul Malik Mujahid 03:34
President or they are called political appointees. Originally the system was called spoil system then it became patronage system. Now it has a more limited scope and there are politically correct word is
Abdul Malik Mujahid 03:51
And I don't know a whole lot about it. But when I was going through political science, I read somewhere that some president appointed actually more than 100,000 people. Well, that time is gone. Chicago was last city, I would say last country rather, who had the political patronage system running until a judge ordered something I think in late 70s. last century that system has started going check. So discuss with us is somebody who knows it all in this area, who works for politicians, raises money for them, help them get elected and is a political consultant and has written actually a book about insider tips on getting a job in politics. And no other than Alexandra Acker-Lyons. Welcome to Muslim network TV. Aleksandra
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 04:49
Hello, thank you for having me online.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 04:52
All right. Well, thank you so much. Alexandra is a recognized political commentator and
Abdul Malik Mujahid 05:00
When I was one of the elected leader of Democratic Party, she was head off young Democrats in the colleges I think
Abdul Malik Mujahid 05:09
Abdul Malik Mujahid 05:12
so, so tell me
Abdul Malik Mujahid 05:16
how the political appointments by President Elect Biden's are going right now?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 05:23
Well, the President Elect for those of us who decided to call him that yet,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 05:30
has started to make some staff appointments, he announced, Ron Klain will be his chief of staff. And Jen O'Malley going will be Deputy Chief of Staff has announced a couple of other positions. And there is a real stratification that how this work, you kind of have to appoint the top levels first, and then start to fill in. So the biggest advice I have to people who are looking to go into the new administration is to be patient.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 05:58
That includes people who worked on the campaign and may have close ties to those senior people being brought in. But it takes a long time to kind of get down to the the mid and junior level stuff that make up the vast majority of these appointments and 1500 of these appointments talk to be confirmed by the Senate. Of course, they start with the cabinet level appointees and the very senior staff. But that process takes some time. And it's a process that if mitch mcconnell is the majority leader, and he can slow down and force Joe Biden to negotiate over certain appointments, we saw President Trump make a lot of use of acting appointments that don't need to send a confirmation, but then they can only be in that role for 120 days. So
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 06:54
be patient and let the process work itself out.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 06:59
Now, tell me the applying people a couple of people President Elect Biden has appointed whatever people are this.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 07:08
Ron Klain is one of the most respected political hands in Washington. He was Vice President Biden's chief of staff. When he was the vice president. He also was vice president Gore's chief of staff. He was the Ebola czar. He is just someone who really knows Washington DC knows how to get things done. In all the branches of government knows how to use soft power, for instance, how to get you know, outside lobbyists to kind of line up. He is an excellent choice for this role. General Malley, Dillon, who was Vice President, Biden's campaign manager is also an excellent choice. She is second to none in terms of being able to get vast organizations up and running. She's smart, she's savvy, and she has a very cool head under pressure, which is certainly a quality you need in the White House.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 08:09
He's also bringing in Cedric Richmond as a senior advisor. He is a congressman from Louisiana. He is African American and has close ties to Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders. And of course, it was black voters who really propelled Joe Biden to the nomination and to this win, so that will be a very important voice to have.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 08:33
Chief of his stuff has worked for President Ford He must be older than Biden, then.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 08:41
Ron Klain didn't work for Ford. He worked for Al Gore. I'm sorry. If I misspoke.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 08:47
Okay, all right. So, so are political appointment necessary, whatever, a good civil servant. You know, they did reform came into being in a spoil system to patronage system. And but there is a well established civil service, why not trust a civil servant instead of political appointees?
Abdul Malik Mujahid 08:47
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 09:14
I think it depends on the type of job you want. There are a ton of civil service jobs that are empty, the Trump administration caused a lot of longtime civil servants to leave because they were just so unhappy with some of the policies being put forward. And then a huge number of those roles were never filled by the Trump administration. So there are two paths. And you can also apply once you have been a political appointee, to become part of the permanent civil service. That is a slightly different process. But so there are kind of two paths, the political appointees tend to be more senior and the civil service roles obviously you're there under numerous administration. So you may not always agree
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 10:00
With the policies being put forth, but um, that's the job. Hmm.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 10:06
So why President Trump is dissatisfied with civil servants and civil service? I mean, they aren't there, he has introduced some type of executive order to make it easier to let them go or something like that.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 10:20
Yes, President Trump did put forward an executive order to essentially take away some of the protections that civil servants have for when they do disagree politically, with the administration, I can't see this being enforced. This is I think, one of those things that he decided one day and forgotten about the next day. But this is certainly a long standing tradition that the vast majority of what the government does should not be considered political. Things like getting the mail delivered, or the weather service should not be political. And unfortunately, we saw the Trump administration make them very political, I expect us to go back to some of the norms from the previous 240 years, where that was not the case. And where we just have good smart honest public servants who are doing the work to keep our government going at all levels.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 11:22
And I expected the by the administration, if that rule is put into effect will immediately overturn it. There are also a number of government workers who are members of labor unions. And so
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 11:36
you can't kind of wipe away those contracts with an executive order.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 11:41
Hmm. Well, plus, you know, in the historic system, post office has played a very large role, not only laters appointments, dismissing people but also because post office that time was the Internet of that time anyway, if you're not in post office, he cannot communicate and the government will subsidize, sending the material is still when government, you know, letters will come. I think government is not paying post office to send them out. They used to send newsletters and all of that stuff. But it still it is important. I mean, the current post Postmaster General appointed by the President makes more money than the Vice President makes. And he has played a very critical political role by dismantling all the machines and all that I have another surprise that post office was still able to deliver, despite all of those problems. So So it seems that the elected leadership and the existing civil servant there is there is a level of tension between them historically, but you know, it seems to have come to life much more when people are being dismissed, and some people are unsure about what they're going to happen. And that is also opportunity for President Elect, you know, how many Chief of Staff Trump has in last four years?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 13:10
Right. Yeah. I mean, the politicization of something like the Postal Service, I think infuriated a lot of those workers who don't see their job is political. Do you see it as critical infrastructure for keeping the country going? And I think we will, one of the big lessons learned, I think, over the last four years is that a lot of the norms that our government operated under, can be manipulated by bad actors. And so I think we will see and I know that there have been several different efforts, most of them bipartisan in nature to examine what some of those norms, norms are, and codify them into law so that we don't have these problems again.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 13:54
But yeah, Postal Service is huge. Lots of good jobs, lots of good union jobs, and obviously, in every corner of the country. So your introduction, when you talked about how that used to be a huge boon to patronage. That was certainly one of the premier premier jobs to have was to be the Postmaster General of an outpost. And now we have seen with the federal government expanding in the post World War II era,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 14:28
that those jobs are still absolutely critical, but not quite the same kind of political role that they used to be.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 14:38
Do you agree that, you know, the political appointments and these sort of patronage, not only at federal level, but continues that, you know, city and county and the state level as well? I mean, isn't this part of the accepted phenomenon that you work for a campaign and then you know, you will you will get into the adminstration and find some jobs.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 15:03
Certainly there are, I mean, the government hired, 10 fold the number of people that a campaign does. So there are certainly people who are hired into these roles who did not work on the campaign. And there are campaign folks, whose skills are transferable to other roles. But for instance, you know, you don't need a fundraiser in the government. So there are there are different paths that people can take but for sure a lot of those you know, 25 year olds who were field organizers in places like Florida and Arizona are all hoping that they get to immediate result to their fancy westwing job and and I you know, be Josh Lyman like on on the TV show, The West Wing? That's certainly what I thought when I was 25.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 15:54
You're watching Muslim network TV, and this is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with Alexandra Acker-Lyons. We'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 16:42
Welcome back to Muslim network TV. This is Imam Malik Mujahid, talking with Alexandra Acker-Lyons. Tell me what is the size of political workers say who who participated as a staff in the presidential campaign
Abdul Malik Mujahid 17:01
or maybe in Senatorial and congressional in the federal campaigns, any idea about the magnitude of this stuff.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 17:10
It's in the 10s of thousands, for sure. Obviously, it was a little bit different this year, because of COVID-19. And the Democratic Party doing primarily remote organizing. So there were people who were organizers for a battleground state who didn't live in that state.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 17:30
And maybe never even stepped foot in it, which is certainly unusual. But presidential campaigns are usually around 10,000 staff, some of them may be hourly, some of them only come on for the last couple of weeks. And then kind of the further you go down the ballot, the smaller the the staffs tend to be. statewide races like a senate campaign or a gubernatorial campaign, depending on the size of the state, and the number of voters may have hundreds or thousands of staff. And then you know that the size of the staff gets smaller, depending on the number of voters that you have to talk to.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 18:09
So who are these people? What's the you know, for the absence of another word? What is the profile of these people? One is you of course, but who are these people?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 18:21
Um, it depends. I used to be one of those people, my husband used to be one of those people where you kind of hop around from campaign to campaign and job to job.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 18:30
It is a an unstable lifestyle and paycheck to be sure. But you either are doing it because this is the career path that you have chosen. And it's important to work on a lot of different campaigns and kind of move up I my book is called the political ladder because you move up the political ladder, and get more responsibility with every job. And then there are people who are just really inspired by a specific candidate or a specific moment. We saw that with Barak Obama's campaign in 2008. Certainly the Trump campaign so this time around with people who just really believe in that candidacy and want to take some time off from their normal life and go work on a campaign for a few months, it is an incredibly rewarding experience. And
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 19:21
I sometimes joke that it's like going to war because you have this very short, intense period of time. Sometimes you'll only work with someone for a month and they will be your friend for life because you have been in the trenches together.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 19:37
So is so these people are mostly educated people, mostly young people. Is that true?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 19:46
mostly young for sure. In part because of the lifestyle in part because of the pay. Um, but it does vary quite a bit and for people who do this as a profession,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 19:59
Move up through the ranks. And you know, you go from being a field organizer to a regional field organizer to a field director to perhaps a campaign manager that takes several cycles. Or you you move up over the course of a presidential campaign, you start off junior and kind of work your way up with more responsibility. Um, education level varies, but yes, primarily, college educated, and increasingly more diverse. There have been a lot of efforts through organizations like Repower and inclusive, and the arena and so many others to help make this a more stable career cycle, especially for lower income young people, people of color, to try to have more stability in between jobs, so that this can be their chosen career path.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 20:58
So, so it is increased diversity in their
Abdul Malik Mujahid 21:05
I mean, these people are the one who studies a social sciences mostly or people who ever studied. other subjects also get into this.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 21:14
Yes, often a lot of political science majors like me, but certainly not all. Communications backgrounds are very important. Increasingly, computer and digital skills are very important. Data Analysis and things like statistics are very important for targeting for polling in even for fundraising, and these days. So generally, if you have a good attitude and are willing to learn, you can find a place in these campaigns, but having a little bit of prior knowledge of of what to expect can be helpful.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 21:55
So are there people who train people to get into this or once you get hired, then you get some training?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 22:01
both there are organizations that help train you. Before you go on a campaign. Sometimes it's
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 22:10
a very intense week long training. That's something that an organization like Emily's list does, where they train campaign managers and fundraising directors and field directors.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 22:22
Often you have some experience, but are learning to gain additional skills. And then yes, once you go on the campaign, kind of depending on your role, you are formally or informally mentored and trained on what to do.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 22:39
And this will probably those relationship of are formed, which takes you into consideration when a candidate wins and wants you to continue to work for her.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 22:53
Absolutely, yes. Um, so if you,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 22:57
you know, worked for I have more senior staffer, or were a really standout Junior staffer, it is certainly easier to get hired more quickly. But like I said, there are there are more government jobs than there are campaign workers. So if people are patient, and they did a good job on the campaign, they'll be able to find your role.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 23:21
Hmm. This is very important line which you had the more government jobs than there are political workers,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 23:29
Very much. So I mean, it might not be the most important or flashiest job in the world. But there are thousands and thousands of roles to be filled. And a huge number of people who work my campaign don't want to go into the government, this was something that they were doing for three or six months or a year of their life. They don't want to move to DC, or they don't want to, you know, leave their family.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 23:58
We will see how all of that is impacted in the next six months or so with everyone working remotely. And we'll see how this remote workforce kind of continues into things like government. But for the most part, there's there's plenty of jobs to go around if you proved yourself on the campaign.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 24:19
So So you're saying that a large number of political, you know staffers in the campaign don't necessarily want to go to DC or work for the government and things like that. So why you know how they can afford to quit their job. dedicate this time? Are they really so secure financially? Are they not like you?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 24:45
It varies a lot. So and something that we've seen increasingly in recent democratic campaigns is is a workers forming a union, precisely because it is insecure and we have
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 25:00
have gotten better as a party about walking the walk and providing things like health care and keeping keeping people on their health care even after the campaign is over, which is something that the Biden campaign is doing.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 25:13
So, it does, it does vary. I mean, there are people who I used to live in Silicon Valley, there was an organization that would help train tech workers to go be the tech staffer on on a campaign and they were very financially secure and could afford to take that pay cut for six months or three months. For a huge number of people, um, you know, campaigns don't pay well, but they pay more than, you know, a service industry job. So you have to plan accordingly for periods of unemployment between campaigns. But one of the good things about this election cycle is that we're going immediately into a very competitive midterm election, after redistricting and reapportionment, so there will be an even higher number of very competitive elections in 2022. And so a lot of people who worked on this campaign might take a couple of months off, if they don't want to go into the federal government or another government role, those elections will will start to staff up in the coming.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 26:27
So, so this fascinating, this is how these people, political,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 26:35
you know, electoral workers, how do they communicate? Do they have their own group chat systems and WhatsApp systems, how they talk to each other how they work,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 26:47
there are always kind of post campaign email listservs. And that's how a lot of job notices and things get passed around. I am sure that there are all kinds of other forms of communication that I as a 42 year old, I'm not familiar with it. Um, you know, and, and certainly WhatsApp threads and text threads. But, um, the there's usually something formal that the campaign sets up to be able to communicate with staff after the campaign. And then of course, there are informal communication channels as well.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 27:26
So in the, in the, in the before, before the election in the primaries, when there were so many presidential candidates, you know, Biden has about 10,000, staff working for him? How many all of these,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 27:44
you know, presidential candidates small, and the large, I mean, they do they have the staff in, say, two 300 or larger?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 27:51
Yes, a lot of primary campaign staffers did eventually go over to the Biden campaign, or went to some of the organizations that kind of exist around the campaign. So the 501 C, four organizations or super PACs, or consulting firms that are working, maybe not only on the presidential campaign, but on down ballot races as well. So there is this large ecosystem, where the Biden campaign was kind of not the only game in town. Um, and I, some of those folks are hired seasonally, just for the election cycle, and some of them are brought on in a more permanent basis. And it just kind of varies depending on what their role is. But like I said, because we're heading into this competitive midterm, the lull between that will will be shorter than it has been in the past.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 28:47
Tell me this what is more important relationship connections, or that you have bundled a whole lot of money?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 28:56
Oh, I definitely think relationships and, um, you know, I didn't come from a politically connected family or wealthy family. And I just kind of went out there and tried to meet as many people as possible and was a very diligent and keeping track of my contacts and
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 29:17
keeping in touch with people year after year. And I that has proven to be incredibly helpful. Not only for me, it's it's the advice I always give people. I'm certainly if you have donated or raised a lot of money for the campaign
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 29:36
that is nice and helpful, and they look kindly on it, but there are many, many more ways to be helpful than that. And obviously, as a young person, unless you come from a wealthy family, that's not going to be your entry point. You're going to have to go do the work and prove yourself. But that's true for the bundlers as well. There are plenty of wealthy people
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 30:00
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 30:02
I are sometimes more trouble than they're worth, in terms of what they give versus the headaches that they cause.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 30:11
Well I heard that I mean enough course, some President got shot because somebody wanted to become ambassador of France. And he didn't make him the ambassador of France. But I heard that if you have bundled about a million dollar, you can get, you know, some type of small embassy appointment, because ambassadors are either career diplomats or political appointees. So is there some truth to that?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 30:39
There is some truth to that, um, unfortunately, I think it's a terrible way to appoint ambassadors. But, um, it's also Unfortunately, the case that when you are an ambassador, part of your job is throwing parties and your budget isn't necessarily very big for that. And so they do kind of look to wealthier folks to fill some of those roles because they can supplement their income in their budget. It's something that I hope we'll see less of in the Biden administration. It's something that we saw somewhat less of under the Obama administration. And certainly, there are some people who are bundlers because they want something in return. And there are some people who are bundlers just for the good of the cause. And there are, there's politics in every job in every industry. But of course, there's a lot of politics and politics.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 31:36
That is so true. Everywhere human beings are there is some politics about power. And, and politics. Definitely. It's all politics, right? You're watching Muslim network TV, this is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with Alexandra Acker-Lyons, and we'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 32:24
Welcome back to Muslim network TV, this is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with Alexandra Acker-Lyons. Tell me, why did you decide to write that book about?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 32:34
Um, so I used to be the executive director of an organization that has now evolved and its mission, but at the time, democratic gain was the professional organization for political operatives, and spends a lot of time
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 32:53
doing resume workshops and networking workshops and trainings and helping people figure out how to navigate getting a job in politics. And a good friend of mine, who was a tech industry insider had written a book called The Google resume. And she said, You should do this for politics. And I said, No, no, no, there was not enough people who would who would need this, you know, we have all these informal channels. And then I sat down one night with my husband, who also used to work in politics, and started to outline what would be in a book and then started to write, and it was easier than I thought it would be. You know, it's, it's not very thick. It's not Tolstoy. But I, I thought that there was a lot of advice that I just gave over and over and over again. And it would be easier to just kind of point people in one direction this was back in in 2011. And so, you know, times have changed. And now I could just kind of make a medium post and tell tell the world but
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 34:07
a number of people have told me that it's been helpful to them. And I certainly didn't write it to make any money. It's always on sales, and I'm happy to give them away. Because I just want people to be able to have the advice and feel like they can get a handle on this and not feel like they have to be wealthy or be well connected in order to break into this industry.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 34:31
There used to be something called plum book. But what is a plum book?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 34:37
The plum book is the list of political appointees that the President has to make. And it is really the guide essentially for people who are looking to go into the administration. It will kind of tell you, not only what jobs are available, but what what department they fall under
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 35:00
Part of the administration who they report to, so you're able to kind of get a sense of where your experience falls in. But yes, that's on the government services administration website where you can just google google plum book.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 35:17
Generally, incoming administration set up kind of a clearinghouse website for you to apply. Generally to these jobs without having to get too specific, you can kind of indicate which department or which areas of expertise you have, so that you're considered for a number of different roles. And not just one of those 4000 listed in the plum book. And the by the administration, has indicated that this is also how they will do it. And so you kind of have to have to work your inside game and your outside game. So you need to go through the formal channels of applying. And then work your contacts and work your relationships and tell people who might have more experience or more connections than you what types of roles you're interested in, and just be very persistent.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 36:13
So our are there so plum book is not out for this year and Biden administration hasn't come up with a website, either. It seems like
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 36:22
the plum book is pretty consistent from administration to administration. But no, I have not seen the job application website up for the Biden transition yet, you should, if people are interested in working for the Biden administration, they should regularly check the transition website. They also have a transition Twitter account, that is helpful for that kind of information.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 36:50
But they probably are not able to formally launch that until the GSA says that he is the president elect. And the formal transition begins, which unfortunately, is being delayed for political reasons now.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 37:06
Well, so so it will come and they will have a shorter time to go through probably these people who have connection and relationships, they're probably already submitting their resume, don't you think?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 37:18
Very much. So. And that is something people should do, you should be updating your resume and sending it out. And then the formal process will follow.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 37:28
And we'll put the link for your book up there. So but we'll hopefully that will be. Now give me some lessons which your book has for people who aspire to work for the government. I'm in public service. And my view is a very big responsibility. I mean, one should be very humble and prepare and
Abdul Malik Mujahid 37:54
seek God's help to serve people serving people is a beautiful thing to do. I don't know if the government jobs provide more or less as compared to corporate jobs probably provide less.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 38:09
But it says service people need to aspire to serve not to make money there. But what are your tips if people are motivated to serve work they should do?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 38:20
Yeah, all of your all the things you just said are absolutely true, you do need to be very humble, you're likely not going to be you know, setting foreign policy as a junior staffer in the Department of Agriculture. So, um, but the most important thing is to have a good attitude. And to go in being willing to serve, willing to learn willing to listen and understanding your role and I think it's um, it is a distraction, that some people have come to diminish the role that that these government workers play both civil servants career cert career, appoint career, civil servants, as well as the political appointees, because the vast majority are doing it out of the goodness of their heart and are doing it to serve. And
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 39:16
I think we should recognize that that there are a lot of people who could be making a lot more money doing other things and instead choose to be part of our government, whether for short term or long term, and that that is admirable and should be applauded, rather than dismissed. So have a great attitude and kind of set your expectations going in. The The best way to kind of get one of these jobs is to try to network and network can kind of sound icky to people it can can sound like you're, you know, being a slickster who's just out there to have transactional relationships with people but um, you know,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 40:00
Go have a virtual zoom,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 40:04
meeting with people who had jobs that are interesting to you, and learn what their path was to those jobs, it's often not linear, it's often that, you know, you do something over here and you meet someone over there, and that person is helpful to you over here. rather than it being that you start as a junior person in one role, and just move your way up if you you can find new opportunities and jump around and take on additional responsibilities.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 40:36
So, so relationship, of course, you need to prepare yourself and resume a did do they need to declare the in resume the political work they have done?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 40:48
Yes, that's helpful, um, even even volunteer work is extremely helpful. And one of the big things I talked about in the book is this idea of translatable skills, that, you know, you don't have to have been a government worker before in order to have a skill set that will be valuable in the government. In fact, I think having a wide variety of backgrounds is more helpful. But be able to talk about what you accomplish, rather than just what your job responsibilities were. So for instance, on a presidential campaign, there are thousands of people who were field organizers. You all have the same type of job responsibility and could write the exact same bullets on your resume. So why were you a good field organizer? What did you accomplish? If you were in a if you were, you know, on the Biden campaign, but working in a republican area, were you able to increase democratic performance? Even if you didn't win that area? If you were a fundraiser, what creative things did you do during a pandemic to be able to draw people into the campaign. So listing your accomplishments is really important in these roles. And certainly being able to
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 42:07
put that succinctly on your resume is important.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 42:11
How important are resume and references in the resume?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 42:16
I'm sorry, say that again,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 42:17
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 42:19
references, I usually don't list references on my resume, I have them available and think, um, think about who is the right reference for this job, you may have a list of five or six references, who will say nice things about you. But who are the two or three who can speak to this particular role, or maybe who know someone who might be involved in the hiring process.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 42:50
And I, you know, I joke also that LinkedIn is the best spy tool we ever created for finding a job. You can not only find people who you know who might be able to be helpful to you. But you can find people who have a role similar to what you're looking for, even if they are 10 or 15 years older than you, you can kind of look at what their career path was.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 43:14
And you know, even the busiest person has some time to be able to help someone coming up. I had so many people early on in my career, who would take me out for coffee and give me half an hour of advice. And I could ask the silly questions.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 43:32
And almost everyone is willing to do that, because we had people do that for us. So you have to kind of pass pass that baton on as you move up in your career, and help out people just coming up. But they're, they're willing to help if you ask for it.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 43:49
So if someone is watching, and they're interested in public service, they have resume as ready references are available. But there is no place for them to submit their resume
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 44:03
not yet there will be and then also think about, um, state government. Think about that infrastructure and ecosystem that is around government of think tanks, consulting firms, advocacy organizations, if there's an issue that you're passionate about, going to work for an organization, like the government might actually get you the right kind of experience and the right kind of connections to then go into government and influence the policy more directly. So there's a lot of ways to be helpful other than the kind of traditional government path.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 44:44
Now when they announced the website, is it going to be a news or it will just go in among the staffers.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 44:55
I'm sure it will be publicly announced. I'm not sure that it'll be you know,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 45:00
a media story. But again, that the Biden transition website will be very helpful
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 45:07
to people in looking for that kind of announcement or that news.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 45:13
Let's talk a little bit about,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 45:16
you know, the Democratic Party has gone all the way I heard that its bylaws require each delegation to be balanced with minorities and to inclusive inclusivity and diversity.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 45:33
But Trump has been successful in increasing the voter share in the minority.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 45:40
What has been what he has done to be successful to increase the minority share, which essentially used to be realm of democratic party?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 45:50
Yeah, um, he increased it, nominally. I mean, he went from about 8% support among African Americans to 11 or 12% support. Um, one thing too, is, exit polls are notoriously unreliable. So we do need to wait a few months to get the actual data back to see but, you know, he spent a lot of money and a lot of time, targeting primarily young African American men, young Latino men, and trying to, again, tinker around the edges of that vote share. And sometimes it was in the hopes of not necessarily getting them to support Trump, but getting them to dislike Democrats. So um, you know, to his credit, he did pass criminal justice reform.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 46:39
It didn't go far as far enough as Democrats would have liked. But it was something and he spent a lot of time communicating about what those reforms did to, in particular, young black men who are who are often you know, those that find themselves in in the criminal justice reform in the criminal justice system rather, spent a lot of time communicating
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 47:03
with a Latino voter, Cuban Venezuelan and other Central American countries dissent in Florida, with a anti socialism message that clearly worked? Because he was able to significantly increase his vote share in Miami Dade, I think there is an element a with some young men who like that he's brash, who like that. He's not a typical politician, and respond to that over policy disagreements that they may have. So it's certainly something that Democrats are talking about a lot internally about how I'm how we bring those voters back.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 47:53
Now, among the Muslim voters. I mean, I interviewed I checked the Associated Press exit poll.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 48:02
Also CAIR, which is a Muslim organization, nationally, their poll, exit poll, but also someone who did this survey
Abdul Malik Mujahid 48:13
earlier in the year in March in April, when primaries were still ongoing.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 48:19
And he doubled, by all accounts, all three surveys some and Muslim support for him was about 14 -15% in this time, 35%. And this is the guy who came up with the Muslim ban. And has things to say just like about all Latinos are rapist and all Muslims are this and the you know, the country's defining them with the S word and all of that. It's just amazing how he was able to do that. And I have difficulty understanding. But tell me this, these same groups who have come up with these surveys, a couple of them say that Muslim political activism has increased, what is your observation? When did you start in political work and if you compare at that time Muslim participation of people, which you know, after, of course, the your personal experience as compared to now, as Muslim political activism increased?
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 49:21
I have certainly seen an increase. Um, so I started in politics, and I was a volunteer in 96. And then my first part time paid job while I was still in college was in 1998. And in 2000, and 2004, especially 2004 when I was working on john kerry's presidential campaign, we primarily talked about Muslim voters through the lens of Michigan. And obviously that is still where a huge concentration of Muslim voters live, but obviously they're enormous pockets of Muslim voters all over Minnesota, Texas. I mean, virtually everywhere.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 50:00
But it's where those larger pockets of the community are, where they are wielding significant political power. And in my home state of Colorado, we just elected our first Muslim American woman to our state legislature, which is great. And we've certainly seen with the increasing profile of, you know, Representative Omar representative to Talib really being able to bring attention to the community. And I think that it's absolutely terrific. I love that the two Muslim members of Congress are both young women.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 50:38
And I obviously also, Keith Ellison being inside office in Minnesota being huge. So, um, it's something that I think we've really seen the community start to come into their own as a political force. And see that exists outside of just the traditional, you know, Dearborn, Michigan
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 51:01
example. But one thing that is also really interesting that I've seen, wearing kind of my fundraising hat is seeing more Muslim American political donors, and a political bundlers on both sides. And
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 51:19
I do think that the increase in support from President Trump's interesting I want to kind of dive into that data and see both a nation of origin, how many generations a voter has been in the United States, whether or not they're a small business owner. All of those factors, I think will will influence
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 51:45
a voter and they think that that's something we're also seeing in the Latino community, the longer a voter has has been in the States, whether it's that they themselves are, are older and have been here their whole life or their family has been here for several generations, that identity as an immigrant,
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 52:07
become less of a factor in their votes. So this is something we'll certainly start diving into once we start getting the actual voter file data back.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 52:14
Well, thank you so much. Thank you so much for being with this fascinating conversation. Alexandra Acker-Lyons lines is the recognized political commentator and the author of the political ladder. If you are looking to climb that ladder, that information will be available there. So thank you so much.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons 52:35
Abdul Malik Mujahid 52:36
eah. And thank you, Sherdil Khan, our producer and Dr. Abdul Waheed for producing today's show. You have been watching Muslim network TV, we are 24 seven, airing on galaxy 19 satellite. And of course, you can watch our live stream on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and your own cell phone by downloading our app, Muslim network TV and our website is also Muslim network.tv peace Salaam
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