‘Just Politics’ Season 4 focuses on freedoms

Our latest season, coming June 10, will explore the critical decisions the United States faces in 2024.

The 2024 election poses a critical juncture—and critical questions—for our nation as a whole and for each of us in particular.  Will we let relentless disinformation disengage us from current events and pit us against our neighbor (as the dysfunction is designed to do), or will we work together to build a livable future for everyone? Will we permit the creep of autocracy, or will we insist on our democracy and shared freedoms? Will we give into fear or lean into solidarity?  As Martin Luther King Jr. put it in the title of his final book, will we collectively choose chaos or community?

These are the questions that will be explored in Season 4 of the Just Politics podcast, which drops on Monday, June 10, 2024.

“What’s happening isn’t new; it’s old,” says Jim Wallis, founding director of the Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice and founder of the Sojourners community, in an upcoming episode of Just Politics. “But it’s bringing all the old fears back. The political trajectory is fear, which leads to hate, which leads to violence.” 

Last fall, Season 3 ofthe podcast, a joint project of U.S. Catholic and NETWORK, focused on democracy—what it means, what threats it faces, and how we can protect and expand it. This season brings last season’s theme into even clearer focus, as it engages the 2024 election and the issues that permeate it.  

Katherine Stewart, a journalist with expertise in the separation of church and state and religious nationalism, has keen insight into the stakes. “I think we stand to lose our freedom of speech,” she says in her interview with Just Politics. “Because [the far-right, Christian nationalist movement] is a movement that has made clear they want to go after journalists who criticize them or members of the political opposition.”

Just Politics, currently hosted by NETWORK staff members Joan F. Neal, Colin Martinez Longmore, and Sister of the Humility of Mary Eilis McCulloh, began in 2022 to explore the intersections between political issues and Catholic social justice. The podcast’s first two seasons tackled issues ranging from health care and wealth inequality to reparations and integral ecology.  So far, Just Politics has hosted a robust lineup of guests, including Catholic sisters, faith leaders, democracy experts, grassroots organizers and advocates, and members of Congress.

In addition to Stewart and Wallis, Season 4 will feature leaders such as Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and NETWORK executive director Mary J. Novak alongside younger justice-seekers such as Baylee Fingerhut, a college student and member of the first-ever cohort of NETWORK’s Young Advocates Leadership Lab (Y.A.L.L.) and Drake Starling, NETWORK’s senior government relations advocate for climate justice. The podcast’s guests—varying across age, race, ethnicity, geographic location, and more—reflect the diverse coalition coming together to protect the common good in the 2024 election.  

The exasperation many of us feel at the election cycle is not an accident. Rather, it’s deliberately cultivated by political factions—specifically, extremist members of Congress and candidates for office—whose tactic is to sow chaos and turn us off from politics so that we look away when they try to flaunt democratic processes or gut critical human needs programs. As Novak says in her interview with the podcast, “We have so many channels of information around us. And many of us are overcome and dominated by voices who just want to exhaust us, to get you thinking there is no making it better.”

Just Politics understands the need for hope and strength for justice-seekers today and aims to cut through the scapegoating and offer examples of solidarity and constructive action. That’s because a workable society for everyone requires that everyone engage. As Fingerhut says, “If we want to have things like dignity of health, equity, equality, justice . . . we need to participate in democracy. Democracy is like the guardrail for all of that to happen.”

When podcast guests such as Fingerhut speak about the things that allow communities to thrive, they reflect the freedoms named in NETWORK’s Equally Sacred Checklist. These include the freedom to be healthy, to care for ourselves and our families, to live on a healthy planet, to be free from harm, to participate in a vibrant democracy, and to live in a welcoming country that values dignity and human rights. Educating about these freedoms and the policies they entail is a central aspect of NETWORK’s ongoing election education campaign: “Vote Our Future: Everyone Thrives. No Exceptions!”

These freedoms are deeply human and deeply Catholic. They affirm the reality expressed in Catholic social teaching: True freedom is not simply being free fromlife-limiting constraints (negative freedom), but is also being free tolive well, with dignity, and in community (positive freedom). These freedoms constitute a vision of a society in which resources are shared for the common good, not for lining the pockets of the ruling class. Rep. Watson Coleman summarizes it well: “When I think of what Jesus Christ asked us to do, he said, ‘Feed the poor, take care of the children, take care of the elderly, visit those in prison. If you’ve got two shirts, give up one.’ I don’t think that that’s too much to ask for in the richest country in the world.”

Listeners of Just Politics Season 4 will quickly understand that while the stakes of the upcoming election are serious, nothing is inevitable. In the past, we have chosen leaders who have enacted policies that make it easier for everyone to thrive, not just a select few. It can and will happen again if we choose community, participate in democracy, and vote for a future that includes everyone—no exceptions. The conversations in Just Politics will help show us how.

Season 4 of Just Politics podcast drops on June 10. Listen to this season, and all previous seasons, on the U.S. Catholic website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Listeners can subscribe, sign up for email updates, and find additional reading at www.uscatholic.org/justpolitics and join the conversation about #JustPoliticsPod on social media.

To learn more about NETWORK’selection education campaign: “Vote Our Future: Everyone Thrives. No Exceptions!” visit networkadvocates.org/election-2024.

About the author

Virginia Schilder

Virginia Schilder is NETWORK’s communications specialist.

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