Review: Chapo Trap House

‘All I want to be is El Chapo
Three-billion dollars in pesos
All I want to be is El Chapo’

– Gucci Mane, “El Chapo”

It’s funny how words can change based on the context you’ve heard them. Gucci Mane’s “EL Chapo”, for instance, is a fairly innocuous trap song about Gucci Mane’s admiration for famed drug kingpin El Chapo.

I’ve never heard the song outside the context of Chapo Trap House, where it serves as the podcast’s theme. So, when I hear Gucci Mane’s wounded teddy bear growl through my headphones every week, I don’t think of drugs or violence.

I think of revolution.

Chapo Trap House is a hard left podcast. Hosts Will Menaker, Matt Christman, Felix Beiderman, Amber A’Lee Frost and Virgil Texas have no time for the standard civility the typical American democrat espouses (think of Aaron Sorkin’s characters on the West Wing). Instead, they drill down into what the left really needs to do to gain power and secure protection for human rights: reach out to the labour class.

When America elected Donald J. Trump as President, I fell into a depressive state. I was at HubSpot’s Inbound conference in Boston, and for the three days after, I wandered the halls of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in a haze. I retreated into my phone, scanning posts on the Something Awful forums, searching for an answer as to how this could happen.

 I thought the democratic party was strong and there was no chance of Hillary Clinton losing the presidency to Trump. Heck, I even wrote a blog post for this agency about why I felt Hillary Clinton had a stronger digital strategy than Trump. But I, and many others, were wrong,

 Chapo Trap House helped me cope with the defeat. Not because they sugarcoated the situation and claimed it was just a bump in the road toward progress.

They did the exact opposite: they made me realise the system was broken from the ground up. They also exposed a hard truth I hadn’t considered before – that my worldview was wrong.

 See, I wasn’t ever politically involved before Trump got elected. It was a realm I thought I was too dumb to understand. But listening to Chapo made me realise I do have power in this, especially when it comes to spreading the news about policy.

 I also didn’t have a clear understanding of what policies I believed in. I didn’t think poverty should exist in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but then again, I had never thought of a solution to solve it.

 And I also thought the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) was the solution to America’s healthcare problems. After all, it was pushed that way.

 I was so, so wrong.

Listening to Chapo Trap House has exposed me to leftist ideas such as single payer healthcare, establishing a universal income, and creating 100% employment. But these aren’t just thought experiments. Chapo actually brings politicians currently sitting in office who have these policies baked into their platforms. And they share how we can bring these humanistic ideas into existence.

The main way to push forward progressive policies? Go out a spread the word.

Chapo Trap House explains the power of communicating ideas to people without bias. Too many times the Left assumes the Right won’t be receptive to their policies. But go out and ask blue collar workers in the Midwest if they think health insurance should be free, and they’ll tell you “Hell yeah!”

Almost 600 words in and I haven’t mentioned how funny the podcast is.

Will Menaker does a good job hosting and making sure the crew gets to all the topics. Virgil Texas and Amber A’Lee Frost lend credibility to the proceedings, with Virgil being a journalist and Frost brimming with exuberance about socialist action and policies. And Matt Christman works as the cynical curmudgeon.

But the humour of the show is brought mostly by the genius of Felix Biederman.

Felix has an absurdist sense of humour and has the innate ability to craft ridiculous worlds in a second’s time. In recent episode “”The United States of Care Lords”, Biederman spun this quip when speaking of the United State of Care principles:

“Affordable tastes in your mouth like tap water you left in your room for three days and it has these weird little bubbles on it.”

It’s the humour, the information, the movement and the ideas that have made Chapo Traphouse the appointment listening that it’s become in my life.

Oh, and they did explain why Hillary Clinton lost the election. She didn’t think she needed to do any campaigning in the Midwest because her algorithm told her Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were locks.

Another reason not to put all your trust into computers.

Review by Jesse

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