Podcast — 34 Minutes

Episode 7: John Carswell

Podcast — 34 Minutes

Episode 7: John Carswell

The Iowa caucus, history & politics, and Star Wars

What is a caucus? Is Iowa the only state to have one? Who will win tonight? John delves into these questions and more and also gives some takes on the Star Wars franchise.

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Dr. Gwynette: Hello and welcome to the Autism News NetWORK podcast, episode seven. We are glad that you’re here with us today. This is going to be a timely podcast, including some very relevant material about tomorrow with some election activity happening. I am joined today by a 15-year-old male named John. John, thanks for being here.

John Carswell: Hi. Well, a course correction. I’m not when it’s actually tonight.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, it’s tonight.

John Carswell: It is tonight.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, boy. I’m getting off on the wrong foot. Well, let’s jump right into it. I understand that you have a pretty strong interest in not only history but also politics.

John Carswell: Yes.

Dr. Gwynette: Excellent. How old were you when you started getting interested in politics?

John Carswell: Well, I’d say I was about eight-years-old and the 2012 election where I preferred Obama, because I liked the color blue.

Dr. Gwynette: Excellent, excellent. Love it. Let’s take it to the present day now, I have a lot of people asking me, my family members and stuff, what the heck are the Iowa Caucuses?

John Carswell: So, the Iowa Caucus, which is occurring tonight, is an election, effectively, in a singular state, which is of course, Iowa. It’s the first caucus of the primary season. So basically what happens during the primary season is each state has delegates in the democratic national convention. And this is the primary, which is effectively just [inaudible 00:01:41] you go to a voting place, for the state board of elections, high school, whatever, and you push the button to fill in a ballot or poke a hole, the whole standard.

John Carswell: But, a caucus system, which is what’s happening in Iowa is where people physically go to like a party meeting at a public area like a school gymnasium or their town hall, and they all go in these big rooms. And what happens is for about three to four hours, they will debate over which candidates they support, trying to convince undecided voters at the caucus to join their candidates, so their candidate gets the majority.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: Now at the end of it, they have the people there either raise their hand, move into a different room, or separate into groups, depending on which candidates they support and the people there will be counted off in their precinct, effectively. And that’s how the votes are decided. In a certain precinct, if no one gets a majority, they can cut off everybody that got below 15% of the vote and do it again.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: So it’s a complicated system and if you want to watch the whole thing, you’ll probably be up to like 3:00 AM in the morning. Because that’s how complicated it is.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. So when you say majority, does that mean 51% or does that just mean the most?

John Carswell: Yeah. If no one reaches 50% they cut everybody off. But in the second round, whoever has the most, wins. They don’t need a majority in the second.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay, I see. That’s excellent. So do you know anything about when like the caucus type system originated?

John Carswell: The caucus system has been around for quite a while.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: I don’t know exactly when. Primaries and caucuses didn’t become the main way of deciding a presidential candidate for a certain party up until the 1970s, when in 1972 they had a brokered convention, in 1968 everything was also chaos, because Bobby Kennedy, who was the front runner for the democratic nomination obviously got shot. So they had no decisive figure to lead the party. So they had to have a brokered convention in order to decide it. And everything got flown into chaos.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: So after that they made some rules where the state democratic party had to hold an election for the people to decide which delegates would go to the convention and these delegates would represent a certain candidate based on what percent they won in the popular vote.

Dr. Gwynette: I see. So there’s a lot more than meets the eye, unusually.

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: Now, is Iowa the only state that does a caucus?

John Carswell: No, there are, I believe seven States that do caucus.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: They are Nevada, Nebraska, I believe, montana. It’s a few others.

Dr. Gwynette: So some of the States that are maybe newer and States that are out West further from here.

John Carswell: Yeah. Primary States are the most common way, are probably the best way. I kind of like how they have an open debate over which candidates they support because it just helps to have the last minute voters decide. But doing the system of just raising their hands, that’s not an effective way of deciding an election at all.

Dr. Gwynette: Right. Because people can see if there’s other people raising their hands.

John Carswell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. And it’s almost like, well if everyone else was going to vote, why shouldn’t I vote for this person?

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s interesting. Yeah. It sounds like there’s some good old fashioned like town hall aspects to it and maybe do you think the colonists ever did things like that?

John Carswell: I don’t think that’s how it would go. I’m sure public votes were probably more commonly used back then because they would definitely have a harder time counting ballots. But it is out of date now because you can, of course, use a ballot. Like raising your hand in a crowded room, obviously is going to have some miscounts.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, that’s right.

John Carswell: And currently the caucus is up in the air because caucuses, because of how the way they’re set up typically do not go the way they are polled previously.

Dr. Gwynette: Interesting. Yeah.

John Carswell: So for example, in 2016, in the Republican primary, Donald Trump was polling out 34% in Iowa and ended up getting 23%.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, wow.

John Carswell: Marco Rubio was polling out 11% ended up getting about 22%.

Dr. Gwynette: Interesting.

John Carswell: So obviously sways a lot. So, yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: That is really interesting that there is that sway. And we saw that in the general election, didn’t we? Where people were polling Hillary as almost the prohibitive favorite. And then she ended up losing the election. So you never really know.

John Carswell: Well, during the late game, a lot of swing States, Trump did have a surge last minute and a lot of the swing States got really close. Nationally, it’s still was about five percentage points apart, which it was closer in reality in the popular vote, Hillary still won the popular vote, but she lost the swing States where Trump had tightened.

Dr. Gwynette: The race.

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s really interesting. So I know you’re a history buff and just switching gears a little bit, what is like your favorite, I guess, aspects of history?

John Carswell: I’d have to say modern history post Napoleon or rather probably after the formation of the German State, effectively.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: So the World Wars, the Cold War, modern history and politics. That sort of stuff.

Dr. Gwynette: Absolutely. I know a lot’s been discussed about, in terms of World War II being almost like a continuation of World War I, but I don’t think a lot of people know why World War I began. What would you say to that question in a nutshell?

John Carswell: Aggressive nationalism, militarization, basically the world had made large advancements in technologies. And the political balance was beginning to tip, with Western democracies popping up and all the monarchies beginning to fail. So basically tensions of nationalism, technology and all that sort of stuff collided together. And with the powder keg it only took one shot or it only took a spark to cause the whole thing to explode.

Dr. Gwynette: Sure. And that was the assassination.

John Carswell: Yeah, of France Ferdinand.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Okay. Very interesting. And so you’ve kind of been a student of World War I history going into World War II and then seeing how the fall out from world war II has impacted the most recent history. Yeah, that’s really cool. Now, were there any books that you recommend for our listeners? Like if they were trying to get a grip on World War II?

John Carswell: If they were trying to get a grip on World War II. There’s not any specific book I would recommend, because there’s so many books that tell the same thing to you. It’s all a matter of getting the accurate information. Because we often have a perception of like World War II that isn’t necessarily accurate. Oftentimes, like if you go on the History Channel or AHC, the standard history channels you’ll go on, they have these big dramatized events showing Hitler in Japan taking over everything. And the thing I always tell people is that Germany and Japan, people always hype up how powerful the Nazis were and always think it was like a big miracle that we won against the big German war machine.

John Carswell: That’s not the case at all. In my opinion, Germany was doomed in the war effort from the start. They simply did not have the resources, the population, they had the technology, but … they had a lot of production capabilities, but they didn’t have enough resources to sustain that production capability. Nor did they have the population to maintain such a perpetual war that they wanted to conduct across Europe.

Dr. Gwynette: Exactly. I’ve heard things like they had to bring an iron ore in from Scandinavia.

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: And they had shortages of oil.

John Carswell: Yeah, they had, so basically their tanks were running on fumes by the end of the war because they had no oil supply. They ran Romania’s oil supply completely dry over the course of the war. So they had their entire Army based tanks, effectively. And so they, the Blitzkrieg tactics, but they could not sustain maintaining these tanks. They had these big powerful armor tanks.

Dr. Gwynette: And fast.

John Carswell: Yeah, that were fast, but they didn’t have the resources to keep producing them. The Germans had a huge tank advantage towards the start of the war. But by the end of it, the Soviets were producing, by 1944 the Soviets were producing about 10 times the amount of tanks that the Germans were.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. That’s amazing. Yeah, I recently, as I mentioned to you in a previous discussion, read a book called If The Allies Had Fallen, and they were talking about that very thing, where the Germans not only fell behind in terms of their production, but also the British bombing campaign really devastated their manufacturing capabilities after 1942, probably. It became really tough to continue that output. So, even though the bombing was strategic and not necessarily pinpoint, it did have an impact.

John Carswell: It was. Germany’s capabilities to produce weapons of war were annihilated, but that didn’t even matter in the long run because the Soviets simply had the manpower to keep replacing their Army continuously. They had 20 million casualties, in the war, they could have sustained another 50 million.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow.

John Carswell: So Germany could only afford to lose 10 million men during the course of the entire war if they wanted to win.

Dr. Gwynette: So really, you’re right, it was almost predetermined before the start that they were going to lose.

John Carswell: Yeah. And oftentimes people say, “Well, why didn’t they just not invade the Soviet Union?” That was Hitler’s goal the entire time.

Dr. Gwynette: He wrote about it.

John Carswell: Yeah. He wrote about in Mein Kampf. And if he just waited till after he finished off the Western allies, once he faced the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union would have been prepared for the invasion. So it was kind of a no win scenario for Hitler at all.

Dr. Gwynette: Exactly.

John Carswell: And a lot of people seem to like to imagine the big hypothetical scenarios where the Nazis are marching in on Washington DC and flying the banner over the White House and that sort of stuff. Hitler couldn’t even invade the United Kingdom, naval-y.

Dr. Gwynette: Exactly.

John Carswell: The English had such a Naval superiority that the only thing the German Navy could sustain were submarines, because they couldn’t be detected going around Great Britain.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, exactly.

John Carswell: I mean, the Bismarck got eliminated in days. That’s how pitiful their Navy was compared to the British.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, yeah, exactly. You had mentioned earlier something about communication. I’m really fascinated by this enigma machine. The more I learned about it, what an ingenious cipher that they set up and then the British cracked it. Do you know much about that?

John Carswell: I do know some about it. God, what’s his name?

Dr. Gwynette: Well, apparently even before it went into the UK, there was, apparently the Poles had done a lot of work on a enigma, and when they were about to be invaded, turned the materials over to-

John Carswell: … the British.

Dr. Gwynette: The British just within a couple of days in time. Yeah. And then they went to work. I forget his name too, but that was pretty cool because they almost, I think the British had to, they knew so much about German operations, they almost had to-

John Carswell: … they had to get a, so there was this, so there was an enigma scientist that the British were looking for. So they got the scientist, brought him back to their facility where they enigma machines, they were trying to work on, and they were trying to crack the code. Turns out this dude had no idea how to do anything with code breaking. And he was a Marine biologist. But of course they had already spilled all of the classified information by that point. So they had to force him to stay on base and not leave.

John Carswell: So one day a German officer gets shot down from the channel and they find his code book in his pocket. So, but it’s all soaking wet and the ink is leaking and everything. So this Marine biologist comes up and goes like, “Hey, I know how to dry this without damaging the information.” And so we can thank this random mistake for the entire war effort.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s amazing. Yeah. That book I read, If The Allie Had Fallen talks about different hinge points where, if for instance, that Marine biologists had not realized how to dry that out without damaging it, what would have happened? It’s a pretty fascinating book. It was a tough route. It took me several months to get through, but definitely worthwhile. And I wanted to talk to you about some of your interests. I understand that you’ve been very active in the Young Democrats, is that right?

John Carswell: Well, not really. I’ve been active in the democratic party and I attempted to set up the Henderson County Teen Democrats, but of course that failed. We tried to get a core group of people. But that didn’t work in the long run. People were, it was an off year. People aren’t interested in politics, especially kids. We did it during the school, so people had already had plans, so we really just, it was not well-planned and we’re going to try again this year, but we’re going to try to get it started over the summer rather than during the school season.

Dr. Gwynette: Gotcha. And so did you just, like how does somebody get into being active in political party? Just walk up to a rally somewhere or how did you get engaged?

John Carswell: So, I just went on their website. I went on the County party website and just saw that they had a monthly breakfast, showed up to the first one in February of last year. Boom. The next thing I know I’m talking to the Chair Woman within an hour of the breakfast.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, that’s pretty neat.

John Carswell: Turns out it’s quite easy to get involved in local politics, especially when you live in a small town than you would think.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. That’s interesting. So you recommend, regardless of someone’s political persuasion, just to be part of the conversation?

John Carswell: What?

Dr. Gwynette: You recommend that young people should be involved in their community.

John Carswell: Oh, yeah. It’s much easier than you think. People think of politics as something that’s intimidating. If I can start making political speeches at people’s fundraisers just by showing up as the youngest person there, I think a lot of people could be very active in politics. Just be a volunteer with your local party no matter what party it is. They’re more than happy to accept you with open arms and they need all the help they can get. I don’t care what your affiliation is or anything, just be involved.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s great.

John Carswell: Try to make the world a better place, however you see it being a better place.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s awesome. Man, that is really fantastic. Yeah, and I had another thought, I’m going to have to edit this piece. Let’s see. So Young Democrats, I’ll have to put a star here. Come back to that. Okay. So we may come back to it when it hits me, but now we’re going to shift gears in a major way and talk a little bit about Star Wars.

John Carswell: Oh, boy.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Now you’re in the camp of, you have an opinion on the last couple of films and I’ve heard this from a number of people like Last Jedi and the Rise of Starwalker. What about Last Jedi, like what’s your take on that movie?

John Carswell: It’s probably, I’d say the prequels are worse but it’s certainly not … it was not an entertaining movie for me and it was certainly not a well-written movie. And it had a couple of very powerful and good moments. When it was good, it was good. But overall, it was just slow paced and bad, in my opinion. Just dumb moments, slow speed space chase is not entertaining. The whole movie felt like it could have been a 30 minute side episode of a TV show to me.

Dr. Gwynette: That it was too drawn out?

John Carswell: Just drawn out.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: And then meanwhile, here comes Rise of Skywalker, which feels like three movies all condensed into one.

Dr. Gwynette: Is that right?

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: I haven’t seen it.

John Carswell: Oh, boy.

Dr. Gwynette: Is it a mess?

John Carswell: It’s a very entertaining movie, but it’s just so fast paced. Like you want it to slow down compared to the last one.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, wow.

John Carswell: And the plot is very dumb at times and cliche. Overall, I really liked the movie. I thought it was really entertaining. I enjoyed the movie. There was not, I was not bored throughout the entire movie. I was always on the edge of my seat, but it was definitely not a very good written story at that.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. What’s your favorite episode on all the nine?

John Carswell: I like all of the original trilogy almost equally. My favorite of the new ones is probably Rogue One, but that’s, it was the only good one recently. [crosstalk 00:22:21].

Dr. Gwynette: Now, is Rogue One, is that a Saga movie?

John Carswell: No, that’s one of the story movies.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: But of the main series, there hasn’t been a good main series movie since 1984.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: Is that when Return of the Jedi came out?

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. ’83 maybe?

John Carswell: I think it was ’84. They came out, yeah, it was ’83. Because 1977 for A New Hope. 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: So it was, I know they were in three year intervals.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay. And so you’ve watched the Mandalorian?

John Carswell: Yeah, I have.

Dr. Gwynette: What do you think?

John Carswell: I thought it was really good. I thought the ending could have been a little bit longer. The last episode could have been two episodes, in my opinion.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay. Yeah. Do you feel like old Yoda or baby Yoda’s better?

John Carswell: Old Yoda, of course. He has the wisdom, he has the power, great character, you know?

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: Everyone loves old Yoda. Baby Yoda’s cute. But he has had no, he’s not going to live up to the original. I mean, come on.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, exactly. I asked this to a couple of guys about a month ago, if you took like Obi-Wan, Luke and Yoda at the peak of their powers, who do you take in a fight?

John Carswell: Luke, Obi-Wan, and Yoda?

Dr. Gwynette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Carswell: I would take Luke. Because even Luke at the height of his power got his butt whipped in Return of The Jedi, and then he gives up the force just a little bit late later.

Dr. Gwynette: My question was like, who do you think is the strongest of those three at the peak of their powers? Luke, Obi-Wan, or Yoda.

John Carswell: Oh, Yoda is the strongest.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s what they said too. And I didn’t realize that. They were like, no doubt. That he’s just a master.

John Carswell: I mean, if all of them had to fight, Yoda would be just destroying all of them.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. How do you know that? I didn’t know this?

John Carswell: Well, you see, Yoda has just a very, is very tuned to the force. Luke had no proper real, had no real training behind him and he was mainly inexperienced. He was not trained well with his lightsaber, either.

Dr. Gwynette: He’s just a farm boy.

John Carswell: Yeah, just a farm boy. He had a very aggressive tactic, but he was, yeah, he was just not … he was skilled and he was tuned to the force, but he was not good with fighting with the force. He could feel the force very strong with and connected to the force, but he could not harness the force to use it as a weapon for good. Obi-Wan was very good at defense. He was able to hold his own against much, much, much stronger opponents. And eventually wear them out to the point where he could defeat his much stronger opponents.

John Carswell: But Yoda, I mean, Obi-Wan would be destroyed in five minutes if he had to fight Yoda. So Yoda, he had the style of flips, jumps and just overall use of the force. And if not for Palpatine using his environment around him, he could have easily killed Palpatine.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: But Palpatine got them high ground on him and just started flinging things at Yoda.

Dr. Gwynette: Gotcha.

John Carswell: So the only two people that were able to defeat Palpatine were Mace Windu and Yoda. And it’s been confirmed by George Lucas that in episode three, Mace Windu actually defeated Palpatine. Like he didn’t just fake his defeat to lure Anakin, Mace Windu actually defeated Palpatine in combat.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow.

John Carswell: And Yoda would have too, of course, if not for being flung off a building.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Gotcha. Well, thanks for enlightening me on that. I’m learning about not only the nine movies, but also the side projects and the overarching storyline. I wanting to go back to your political career. Tell me about the Governor’s Page Program, and congratulations on that by the way.

John Carswell: Yeah. It’s a thing held in North Carolina where you go out to work with the Governor, the executive branch of the North Carolina state government.

Dr. Gwynette: How awesome.

John Carswell: I don’t know what it entails. We’re mainly doing work with the offices of the Governor and we won’t, I will not really be working with the Governor directly.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: So I’m excited and I hope it goes well.

Dr. Gwynette: I’m sure it will. I’m sure it will be great. Now, how do you apply for that?

John Carswell: You just apply for it and you have to get a teacher recommendation, and I non-teacher or parent recommendation.

Dr. Gwynette: Gotcha.

John Carswell: So I got the County Democratic Party Chairwoman to give me that recommendation.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s so awesome.

John Carswell: Along with Brian Caskey, who’s running for State Senate as a Democrat. So obviously I got some pretty top tier people to recommend me.

Dr. Gwynette: Absolutely. And I think you’re going to make the most of that opportunity. Congratulations on that. And who knows, maybe you’ll get to meet the governor and it be a stepping stone-

John Carswell: … well, I probably will be able to get the governor, but it’s going to be like a five minute shake hand, say hi, sort of thing more than likely.

Dr. Gwynette: It’s a tremendous honor.

John Carswell: But anyway, I’m excited for the Iowa caucus tonight.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: Should I give my prediction of who’s going to win?

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Please do.

John Carswell: So basically, my thought at the moment that Senator Bernie Sanders is probably going to take the nomination. I personally support Vice President Biden and his run. But Bernie Sanders currently has the advantage in Iowa, though a poll released today, a very last minute poll released today, had Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the lead by two points over Bernie Sanders. But four of the candidates were all within 4% of each other.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. So they’re really clustered. So that sway you talked about could go almost in any direction.

John Carswell: Yeah, that 11, like upwards of 15 points sway could go in any direction if they do the elimination thing cause no one will, since it’s so divided, it’s likely no one will reach a majority at all. I think … I believe that … here’s the thing, if Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets below 15 points, which I don’t know if he will, he could for all we know, according to this recent poll, he is the front runner, but according to other polls he’s pulling at about 14-15%, so if he gets just below 15% and it’s cut off, most of his support’s going to go to Vice President Biden. And then Amy Klobuchar is polling it about nine, 10, 11% so if since no one will reach the majority, Klobuchar’s going to get cut off and most of her support will go to Vice President Biden. Elizabeth Warren is polling 15 or 14% right along tied with Pete Buttigieg, for the most part, not counting the most recent poll.

John Carswell: So if she gets above the number, that’s bad news for Bernie Sanders because if Buttigieg and Klobuchar or just Klobuchar or just Buttigieg get cut off all his support will go to Joe Biden. So effectively Bernie’s best hope is for Warren and Klobuchar to get below 15% and since Warren has more support than Klobuchar, Warren’s support will go to Sanders putting him ahead while Klobuchar will go to Biden.

Dr. Gwynette: this is going to be really interesting.

John Carswell: Moving him down. It’s going to be very close, is what I’m trying to say here.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: There’s a bunch of hypothetical scenarios that I could talk about for hours. But I’m just waiting for whoever you … I will not, we will not know who’s the front runner until after the Iowa caucus, and I cannot state this enough, but the Iowa caucus is so vitally important to a presidential campaign, it has decided every presidential campaign since the year 2000.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. So it really has [crosstalk 00:32:12].

John Carswell: Since 1996, if you want to count Bill Clinton winning it. Of course, he didn’t face any primary competition. So it doesn’t really matter. But, the difference this time is that if Bernie Sanders wins, Biden’s supporters aren’t just going to go flip to Bernie Sanders. Because it’s mainly an older demographic who do not support Bernie Sanders, his policies. So, I don’t know if he’ll have the same impact cause Howard Dean’s support, they could easily move over to John Kerry. Joe Lieberman’s support could easily move over to Al Gore. Hillary’s support easily moved over to Barack Obama. I don’t think this will be the case this time.

John Carswell: So we’ll just see how it goes.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, it’s really an interesting political science discussion. It’ll be fascinating to watch how this all plays out. And man, I really appreciate you coming in and sharing your expertise with us and coming on the air and we’ll hope that you’ll do that again with us sometime.

John Carswell: All right.

Dr. Gwynette: Does that sound good?

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay, cool.

John Carswell: Thank you.

Dr. Gwynette: Well John, it was great having you in the studio with us.

John Carswell: Great talking to you.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, absolutely. And thank you to our audience for joining us on episode seven of the Autism News NetWORK podcast. My name is Dr. Frampton Gwynette From the Medical University of South Carolina. And until we meet next time, have a great day.

Dr. Gwynette: Hello and welcome to the Autism News NetWORK podcast, episode seven. We are glad that you’re here with us today. This is going to be a timely podcast, including some very relevant material about tomorrow with some election activity happening. I am joined today by a 15-year-old male named John. John, thanks for being here.

John Carswell: Hi. Well, a course correction. I’m not when it’s actually tonight.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, it’s tonight.

John Carswell: It is tonight.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, boy. I’m getting off on the wrong foot. Well, let’s jump right into it. I understand that you have a pretty strong interest in not only history but also politics.

John Carswell: Yes.

Dr. Gwynette: Excellent. How old were you when you started getting interested in politics?

John Carswell: Well, I’d say I was about eight-years-old and the 2012 election where I preferred Obama, because I liked the color blue.

Dr. Gwynette: Excellent, excellent. Love it. Let’s take it to the present day now, I have a lot of people asking me, my family members and stuff, what the heck are the Iowa Caucuses?

John Carswell: So, the Iowa Caucus, which is occurring tonight, is an election, effectively, in a singular state, which is of course, Iowa. It’s the first caucus of the primary season. So basically what happens during the primary season is each state has delegates in the democratic national convention. And this is the primary, which is effectively just [inaudible 00:01:41] you go to a voting place, for the state board of elections, high school, whatever, and you push the button to fill in a ballot or poke a hole, the whole standard.

John Carswell: But, a caucus system, which is what’s happening in Iowa is where people physically go to like a party meeting at a public area like a school gymnasium or their town hall, and they all go in these big rooms. And what happens is for about three to four hours, they will debate over which candidates they support, trying to convince undecided voters at the caucus to join their candidates, so their candidate gets the majority.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: Now at the end of it, they have the people there either raise their hand, move into a different room, or separate into groups, depending on which candidates they support and the people there will be counted off in their precinct, effectively. And that’s how the votes are decided. In a certain precinct, if no one gets a majority, they can cut off everybody that got below 15% of the vote and do it again.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: So it’s a complicated system and if you want to watch the whole thing, you’ll probably be up to like 3:00 AM in the morning. Because that’s how complicated it is.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. So when you say majority, does that mean 51% or does that just mean the most?

John Carswell: Yeah. If no one reaches 50% they cut everybody off. But in the second round, whoever has the most, wins. They don’t need a majority in the second.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay, I see. That’s excellent. So do you know anything about when like the caucus type system originated?

John Carswell: The caucus system has been around for quite a while.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: I don’t know exactly when. Primaries and caucuses didn’t become the main way of deciding a presidential candidate for a certain party up until the 1970s, when in 1972 they had a brokered convention, in 1968 everything was also chaos, because Bobby Kennedy, who was the front runner for the democratic nomination obviously got shot. So they had no decisive figure to lead the party. So they had to have a brokered convention in order to decide it. And everything got flown into chaos.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: So after that they made some rules where the state democratic party had to hold an election for the people to decide which delegates would go to the convention and these delegates would represent a certain candidate based on what percent they won in the popular vote.

Dr. Gwynette: I see. So there’s a lot more than meets the eye, unusually.

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: Now, is Iowa the only state that does a caucus?

John Carswell: No, there are, I believe seven States that do caucus.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: They are Nevada, Nebraska, I believe, montana. It’s a few others.

Dr. Gwynette: So some of the States that are maybe newer and States that are out West further from here.

John Carswell: Yeah. Primary States are the most common way, are probably the best way. I kind of like how they have an open debate over which candidates they support because it just helps to have the last minute voters decide. But doing the system of just raising their hands, that’s not an effective way of deciding an election at all.

Dr. Gwynette: Right. Because people can see if there’s other people raising their hands.

John Carswell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. And it’s almost like, well if everyone else was going to vote, why shouldn’t I vote for this person?

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s interesting. Yeah. It sounds like there’s some good old fashioned like town hall aspects to it and maybe do you think the colonists ever did things like that?

John Carswell: I don’t think that’s how it would go. I’m sure public votes were probably more commonly used back then because they would definitely have a harder time counting ballots. But it is out of date now because you can, of course, use a ballot. Like raising your hand in a crowded room, obviously is going to have some miscounts.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, that’s right.

John Carswell: And currently the caucus is up in the air because caucuses, because of how the way they’re set up typically do not go the way they are polled previously.

Dr. Gwynette: Interesting. Yeah.

John Carswell: So for example, in 2016, in the Republican primary, Donald Trump was polling out 34% in Iowa and ended up getting 23%.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, wow.

John Carswell: Marco Rubio was polling out 11% ended up getting about 22%.

Dr. Gwynette: Interesting.

John Carswell: So obviously sways a lot. So, yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: That is really interesting that there is that sway. And we saw that in the general election, didn’t we? Where people were polling Hillary as almost the prohibitive favorite. And then she ended up losing the election. So you never really know.

John Carswell: Well, during the late game, a lot of swing States, Trump did have a surge last minute and a lot of the swing States got really close. Nationally, it’s still was about five percentage points apart, which it was closer in reality in the popular vote, Hillary still won the popular vote, but she lost the swing States where Trump had tightened.

Dr. Gwynette: The race.

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s really interesting. So I know you’re a history buff and just switching gears a little bit, what is like your favorite, I guess, aspects of history?

John Carswell: I’d have to say modern history post Napoleon or rather probably after the formation of the German State, effectively.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: So the World Wars, the Cold War, modern history and politics. That sort of stuff.

Dr. Gwynette: Absolutely. I know a lot’s been discussed about, in terms of World War II being almost like a continuation of World War I, but I don’t think a lot of people know why World War I began. What would you say to that question in a nutshell?

John Carswell: Aggressive nationalism, militarization, basically the world had made large advancements in technologies. And the political balance was beginning to tip, with Western democracies popping up and all the monarchies beginning to fail. So basically tensions of nationalism, technology and all that sort of stuff collided together. And with the powder keg it only took one shot or it only took a spark to cause the whole thing to explode.

Dr. Gwynette: Sure. And that was the assassination.

John Carswell: Yeah, of France Ferdinand.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Okay. Very interesting. And so you’ve kind of been a student of World War I history going into World War II and then seeing how the fall out from world war II has impacted the most recent history. Yeah, that’s really cool. Now, were there any books that you recommend for our listeners? Like if they were trying to get a grip on World War II?

John Carswell: If they were trying to get a grip on World War II. There’s not any specific book I would recommend, because there’s so many books that tell the same thing to you. It’s all a matter of getting the accurate information. Because we often have a perception of like World War II that isn’t necessarily accurate. Oftentimes, like if you go on the History Channel or AHC, the standard history channels you’ll go on, they have these big dramatized events showing Hitler in Japan taking over everything. And the thing I always tell people is that Germany and Japan, people always hype up how powerful the Nazis were and always think it was like a big miracle that we won against the big German war machine.

John Carswell: That’s not the case at all. In my opinion, Germany was doomed in the war effort from the start. They simply did not have the resources, the population, they had the technology, but … they had a lot of production capabilities, but they didn’t have enough resources to sustain that production capability. Nor did they have the population to maintain such a perpetual war that they wanted to conduct across Europe.

Dr. Gwynette: Exactly. I’ve heard things like they had to bring an iron ore in from Scandinavia.

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: And they had shortages of oil.

John Carswell: Yeah, they had, so basically their tanks were running on fumes by the end of the war because they had no oil supply. They ran Romania’s oil supply completely dry over the course of the war. So they had their entire Army based tanks, effectively. And so they, the Blitzkrieg tactics, but they could not sustain maintaining these tanks. They had these big powerful armor tanks.

Dr. Gwynette: And fast.

John Carswell: Yeah, that were fast, but they didn’t have the resources to keep producing them. The Germans had a huge tank advantage towards the start of the war. But by the end of it, the Soviets were producing, by 1944 the Soviets were producing about 10 times the amount of tanks that the Germans were.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. That’s amazing. Yeah, I recently, as I mentioned to you in a previous discussion, read a book called If The Allies Had Fallen, and they were talking about that very thing, where the Germans not only fell behind in terms of their production, but also the British bombing campaign really devastated their manufacturing capabilities after 1942, probably. It became really tough to continue that output. So, even though the bombing was strategic and not necessarily pinpoint, it did have an impact.

John Carswell: It was. Germany’s capabilities to produce weapons of war were annihilated, but that didn’t even matter in the long run because the Soviets simply had the manpower to keep replacing their Army continuously. They had 20 million casualties, in the war, they could have sustained another 50 million.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow.

John Carswell: So Germany could only afford to lose 10 million men during the course of the entire war if they wanted to win.

Dr. Gwynette: So really, you’re right, it was almost predetermined before the start that they were going to lose.

John Carswell: Yeah. And oftentimes people say, “Well, why didn’t they just not invade the Soviet Union?” That was Hitler’s goal the entire time.

Dr. Gwynette: He wrote about it.

John Carswell: Yeah. He wrote about in Mein Kampf. And if he just waited till after he finished off the Western allies, once he faced the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union would have been prepared for the invasion. So it was kind of a no win scenario for Hitler at all.

Dr. Gwynette: Exactly.

John Carswell: And a lot of people seem to like to imagine the big hypothetical scenarios where the Nazis are marching in on Washington DC and flying the banner over the White House and that sort of stuff. Hitler couldn’t even invade the United Kingdom, naval-y.

Dr. Gwynette: Exactly.

John Carswell: The English had such a Naval superiority that the only thing the German Navy could sustain were submarines, because they couldn’t be detected going around Great Britain.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, exactly.

John Carswell: I mean, the Bismarck got eliminated in days. That’s how pitiful their Navy was compared to the British.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, yeah, exactly. You had mentioned earlier something about communication. I’m really fascinated by this enigma machine. The more I learned about it, what an ingenious cipher that they set up and then the British cracked it. Do you know much about that?

John Carswell: I do know some about it. God, what’s his name?

Dr. Gwynette: Well, apparently even before it went into the UK, there was, apparently the Poles had done a lot of work on a enigma, and when they were about to be invaded, turned the materials over to-

John Carswell: … the British.

Dr. Gwynette: The British just within a couple of days in time. Yeah. And then they went to work. I forget his name too, but that was pretty cool because they almost, I think the British had to, they knew so much about German operations, they almost had to-

John Carswell: … they had to get a, so there was this, so there was an enigma scientist that the British were looking for. So they got the scientist, brought him back to their facility where they enigma machines, they were trying to work on, and they were trying to crack the code. Turns out this dude had no idea how to do anything with code breaking. And he was a Marine biologist. But of course they had already spilled all of the classified information by that point. So they had to force him to stay on base and not leave.

John Carswell: So one day a German officer gets shot down from the channel and they find his code book in his pocket. So, but it’s all soaking wet and the ink is leaking and everything. So this Marine biologist comes up and goes like, “Hey, I know how to dry this without damaging the information.” And so we can thank this random mistake for the entire war effort.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s amazing. Yeah. That book I read, If The Allie Had Fallen talks about different hinge points where, if for instance, that Marine biologists had not realized how to dry that out without damaging it, what would have happened? It’s a pretty fascinating book. It was a tough route. It took me several months to get through, but definitely worthwhile. And I wanted to talk to you about some of your interests. I understand that you’ve been very active in the Young Democrats, is that right?

John Carswell: Well, not really. I’ve been active in the democratic party and I attempted to set up the Henderson County Teen Democrats, but of course that failed. We tried to get a core group of people. But that didn’t work in the long run. People were, it was an off year. People aren’t interested in politics, especially kids. We did it during the school, so people had already had plans, so we really just, it was not well-planned and we’re going to try again this year, but we’re going to try to get it started over the summer rather than during the school season.

Dr. Gwynette: Gotcha. And so did you just, like how does somebody get into being active in political party? Just walk up to a rally somewhere or how did you get engaged?

John Carswell: So, I just went on their website. I went on the County party website and just saw that they had a monthly breakfast, showed up to the first one in February of last year. Boom. The next thing I know I’m talking to the Chair Woman within an hour of the breakfast.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, that’s pretty neat.

John Carswell: Turns out it’s quite easy to get involved in local politics, especially when you live in a small town than you would think.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. That’s interesting. So you recommend, regardless of someone’s political persuasion, just to be part of the conversation?

John Carswell: What?

Dr. Gwynette: You recommend that young people should be involved in their community.

John Carswell: Oh, yeah. It’s much easier than you think. People think of politics as something that’s intimidating. If I can start making political speeches at people’s fundraisers just by showing up as the youngest person there, I think a lot of people could be very active in politics. Just be a volunteer with your local party no matter what party it is. They’re more than happy to accept you with open arms and they need all the help they can get. I don’t care what your affiliation is or anything, just be involved.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s great.

John Carswell: Try to make the world a better place, however you see it being a better place.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s awesome. Man, that is really fantastic. Yeah, and I had another thought, I’m going to have to edit this piece. Let’s see. So Young Democrats, I’ll have to put a star here. Come back to that. Okay. So we may come back to it when it hits me, but now we’re going to shift gears in a major way and talk a little bit about Star Wars.

John Carswell: Oh, boy.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Now you’re in the camp of, you have an opinion on the last couple of films and I’ve heard this from a number of people like Last Jedi and the Rise of Starwalker. What about Last Jedi, like what’s your take on that movie?

John Carswell: It’s probably, I’d say the prequels are worse but it’s certainly not … it was not an entertaining movie for me and it was certainly not a well-written movie. And it had a couple of very powerful and good moments. When it was good, it was good. But overall, it was just slow paced and bad, in my opinion. Just dumb moments, slow speed space chase is not entertaining. The whole movie felt like it could have been a 30 minute side episode of a TV show to me.

Dr. Gwynette: That it was too drawn out?

John Carswell: Just drawn out.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: And then meanwhile, here comes Rise of Skywalker, which feels like three movies all condensed into one.

Dr. Gwynette: Is that right?

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: I haven’t seen it.

John Carswell: Oh, boy.

Dr. Gwynette: Is it a mess?

John Carswell: It’s a very entertaining movie, but it’s just so fast paced. Like you want it to slow down compared to the last one.

Dr. Gwynette: Oh, wow.

John Carswell: And the plot is very dumb at times and cliche. Overall, I really liked the movie. I thought it was really entertaining. I enjoyed the movie. There was not, I was not bored throughout the entire movie. I was always on the edge of my seat, but it was definitely not a very good written story at that.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. What’s your favorite episode on all the nine?

John Carswell: I like all of the original trilogy almost equally. My favorite of the new ones is probably Rogue One, but that’s, it was the only good one recently. [crosstalk 00:22:21].

Dr. Gwynette: Now, is Rogue One, is that a Saga movie?

John Carswell: No, that’s one of the story movies.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: But of the main series, there hasn’t been a good main series movie since 1984.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: Is that when Return of the Jedi came out?

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. ’83 maybe?

John Carswell: I think it was ’84. They came out, yeah, it was ’83. Because 1977 for A New Hope. 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: So it was, I know they were in three year intervals.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay. And so you’ve watched the Mandalorian?

John Carswell: Yeah, I have.

Dr. Gwynette: What do you think?

John Carswell: I thought it was really good. I thought the ending could have been a little bit longer. The last episode could have been two episodes, in my opinion.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay. Yeah. Do you feel like old Yoda or baby Yoda’s better?

John Carswell: Old Yoda, of course. He has the wisdom, he has the power, great character, you know?

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: Everyone loves old Yoda. Baby Yoda’s cute. But he has had no, he’s not going to live up to the original. I mean, come on.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, exactly. I asked this to a couple of guys about a month ago, if you took like Obi-Wan, Luke and Yoda at the peak of their powers, who do you take in a fight?

John Carswell: Luke, Obi-Wan, and Yoda?

Dr. Gwynette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Carswell: I would take Luke. Because even Luke at the height of his power got his butt whipped in Return of The Jedi, and then he gives up the force just a little bit late later.

Dr. Gwynette: My question was like, who do you think is the strongest of those three at the peak of their powers? Luke, Obi-Wan, or Yoda.

John Carswell: Oh, Yoda is the strongest.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s what they said too. And I didn’t realize that. They were like, no doubt. That he’s just a master.

John Carswell: I mean, if all of them had to fight, Yoda would be just destroying all of them.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. How do you know that? I didn’t know this?

John Carswell: Well, you see, Yoda has just a very, is very tuned to the force. Luke had no proper real, had no real training behind him and he was mainly inexperienced. He was not trained well with his lightsaber, either.

Dr. Gwynette: He’s just a farm boy.

John Carswell: Yeah, just a farm boy. He had a very aggressive tactic, but he was, yeah, he was just not … he was skilled and he was tuned to the force, but he was not good with fighting with the force. He could feel the force very strong with and connected to the force, but he could not harness the force to use it as a weapon for good. Obi-Wan was very good at defense. He was able to hold his own against much, much, much stronger opponents. And eventually wear them out to the point where he could defeat his much stronger opponents.

John Carswell: But Yoda, I mean, Obi-Wan would be destroyed in five minutes if he had to fight Yoda. So Yoda, he had the style of flips, jumps and just overall use of the force. And if not for Palpatine using his environment around him, he could have easily killed Palpatine.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay.

John Carswell: But Palpatine got them high ground on him and just started flinging things at Yoda.

Dr. Gwynette: Gotcha.

John Carswell: So the only two people that were able to defeat Palpatine were Mace Windu and Yoda. And it’s been confirmed by George Lucas that in episode three, Mace Windu actually defeated Palpatine. Like he didn’t just fake his defeat to lure Anakin, Mace Windu actually defeated Palpatine in combat.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow.

John Carswell: And Yoda would have too, of course, if not for being flung off a building.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Gotcha. Well, thanks for enlightening me on that. I’m learning about not only the nine movies, but also the side projects and the overarching storyline. I wanting to go back to your political career. Tell me about the Governor’s Page Program, and congratulations on that by the way.

John Carswell: Yeah. It’s a thing held in North Carolina where you go out to work with the Governor, the executive branch of the North Carolina state government.

Dr. Gwynette: How awesome.

John Carswell: I don’t know what it entails. We’re mainly doing work with the offices of the Governor and we won’t, I will not really be working with the Governor directly.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: So I’m excited and I hope it goes well.

Dr. Gwynette: I’m sure it will. I’m sure it will be great. Now, how do you apply for that?

John Carswell: You just apply for it and you have to get a teacher recommendation, and I non-teacher or parent recommendation.

Dr. Gwynette: Gotcha.

John Carswell: So I got the County Democratic Party Chairwoman to give me that recommendation.

Dr. Gwynette: That’s so awesome.

John Carswell: Along with Brian Caskey, who’s running for State Senate as a Democrat. So obviously I got some pretty top tier people to recommend me.

Dr. Gwynette: Absolutely. And I think you’re going to make the most of that opportunity. Congratulations on that. And who knows, maybe you’ll get to meet the governor and it be a stepping stone-

John Carswell: … well, I probably will be able to get the governor, but it’s going to be like a five minute shake hand, say hi, sort of thing more than likely.

Dr. Gwynette: It’s a tremendous honor.

John Carswell: But anyway, I’m excited for the Iowa caucus tonight.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: Should I give my prediction of who’s going to win?

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah. Please do.

John Carswell: So basically, my thought at the moment that Senator Bernie Sanders is probably going to take the nomination. I personally support Vice President Biden and his run. But Bernie Sanders currently has the advantage in Iowa, though a poll released today, a very last minute poll released today, had Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the lead by two points over Bernie Sanders. But four of the candidates were all within 4% of each other.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. So they’re really clustered. So that sway you talked about could go almost in any direction.

John Carswell: Yeah, that 11, like upwards of 15 points sway could go in any direction if they do the elimination thing cause no one will, since it’s so divided, it’s likely no one will reach a majority at all. I think … I believe that … here’s the thing, if Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets below 15 points, which I don’t know if he will, he could for all we know, according to this recent poll, he is the front runner, but according to other polls he’s pulling at about 14-15%, so if he gets just below 15% and it’s cut off, most of his support’s going to go to Vice President Biden. And then Amy Klobuchar is polling it about nine, 10, 11% so if since no one will reach the majority, Klobuchar’s going to get cut off and most of her support will go to Vice President Biden. Elizabeth Warren is polling 15 or 14% right along tied with Pete Buttigieg, for the most part, not counting the most recent poll.

John Carswell: So if she gets above the number, that’s bad news for Bernie Sanders because if Buttigieg and Klobuchar or just Klobuchar or just Buttigieg get cut off all his support will go to Joe Biden. So effectively Bernie’s best hope is for Warren and Klobuchar to get below 15% and since Warren has more support than Klobuchar, Warren’s support will go to Sanders putting him ahead while Klobuchar will go to Biden.

Dr. Gwynette: this is going to be really interesting.

John Carswell: Moving him down. It’s going to be very close, is what I’m trying to say here.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah.

John Carswell: There’s a bunch of hypothetical scenarios that I could talk about for hours. But I’m just waiting for whoever you … I will not, we will not know who’s the front runner until after the Iowa caucus, and I cannot state this enough, but the Iowa caucus is so vitally important to a presidential campaign, it has decided every presidential campaign since the year 2000.

Dr. Gwynette: Wow. So it really has [crosstalk 00:32:12].

John Carswell: Since 1996, if you want to count Bill Clinton winning it. Of course, he didn’t face any primary competition. So it doesn’t really matter. But, the difference this time is that if Bernie Sanders wins, Biden’s supporters aren’t just going to go flip to Bernie Sanders. Because it’s mainly an older demographic who do not support Bernie Sanders, his policies. So, I don’t know if he’ll have the same impact cause Howard Dean’s support, they could easily move over to John Kerry. Joe Lieberman’s support could easily move over to Al Gore. Hillary’s support easily moved over to Barack Obama. I don’t think this will be the case this time.

John Carswell: So we’ll just see how it goes.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, it’s really an interesting political science discussion. It’ll be fascinating to watch how this all plays out. And man, I really appreciate you coming in and sharing your expertise with us and coming on the air and we’ll hope that you’ll do that again with us sometime.

John Carswell: All right.

Dr. Gwynette: Does that sound good?

John Carswell: Yeah.

Dr. Gwynette: Okay, cool.

John Carswell: Thank you.

Dr. Gwynette: Well John, it was great having you in the studio with us.

John Carswell: Great talking to you.

Dr. Gwynette: Yeah, absolutely. And thank you to our audience for joining us on episode seven of the Autism News NetWORK podcast. My name is Dr. Frampton Gwynette From the Medical University of South Carolina. And until we meet next time, have a great day.

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