Matt Lewis Show: Molly Ball On Political Perspectives

Campbell North Contributor
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“Gradually, you’re always finding a piece of the elephant in the dark.”

Molly Ball, staff editor for The Atlantic (read her stuff) and mother of three, sat down with Matt yesterday to discuss post-grad adventures, finding your voice, and the unique way Trump slices up the electorate pie.

After graduating from Yale with newspaper internships under her belt, Molly struggled to find a job in a shrinking industry. She looked abroad and lived in Cambodia as an expat working for an english-language newspaper.

“I was there when they got their very first fast-food restaurant, it was a Dairy Queen,” she said, “and I was there when the country got its first escalator—no one had seen one before so they had to post guards at the top and bottom to help people.”

Living in a third world country changed her perspective of America upon returning to the states.

Still, breaking into D.C. journalism was a challenge. Moving there with no job, a nine-month old baby, and a similarly unemployed husband, Molly remained persistent in her passion. She eventually got a short stipend with Politico and later moved to The Atlantic.

As the politics editor, Molly says the 2016 election is full so many fascinating idiosyncrasies that it can reveal hints about the collective American psyche.

“I feel like it’s been mind-blowing for this to happen.” she said. “No one expected this to happen and that teaches us something really profound about American politics and the American electorate.”

She concludes that it is responsibility of journalists to remain humble and curious in the face of such profound phenomena.

“Ask how and why is this happening?” Molly said: “I went down to the Mexican border with Trump, to Trump rallies with Trump supporters and gradually you’re always finding a piece of the elephant in the dark.”

“So much of this campaign has felt like traveling between different universes because the world of a lot of Trump supporters is so separate from the world of a lot of urban, well-to-do-liberals and these are long-term trends of 40 or more years of polarization,” says Molly.

“And that is part of why we feel so divided right now, because we don’t know a lot of people who disagree with us or who comes from a different cultural context.”

Stream the full podcast with Molly Ball here, and download the latest from Matt Lewis and the News on iTunes.