The future of America rests largely upon the rising generation, a generation that is being taught to embrace far-left progressive ideology about America and its founding.
Carol M. Swain, vice chairman of the commission, joins the podcast to explain how she and the other 17 commissioners intend to encourage patriotism in America’s schools. Swain also discusses what she hopes to see from Congress in 2021, and why this year is such a critical moment in the nation’s history.
We also read your letters to the editor and share a good news story about two NFL players who gave one little boy the ability to run this past Christmas.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
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Virginia Allen: I am so pleased to be joined by Dr. Carol Swain, award-winning author, host of the “Be the People” podcast, political science professor, and the vice chair of President Trump’s brand new Advisory 1776 Commission. Dr. Swain, welcome to the show.
Carol Swain: I am so delighted to be with you today.
Allen: We spoke in June of 2020 on The Daily Signal’s “Problematic Women” podcast. And we talked about the time in history that we’re living in, with violent riots taking place across the country, of course, for much of 2020, and this rising anti-American sentiment, which is really being furthered by things like the 1619 Project.
So could you just explain a little bit of the mission of the president’s Advisory 1776 Commission, and how you see this commission as a tool to really push back on some of those anti-American sentiments that we’re hearing about in the nation?
Swain: Well, the commission itself is situated in the Department of Education. And the goal is to educate young people about our nation’s founding, by starting with 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.
And it’s so very important, not just for young people, but for all Americans to read the Declaration of Independence and to understand how it has impacted our nation.
And at the time the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed, slavery existed, women did not have the right to vote, but those principles that were embodied in that document, they became the vehicle that undergirded our Constitution as well as our nation in a way that made change possible.
Allen: Those founding documents, it’s so critical that we recognize those as not only kind of being this foundation for our nation, but we really embrace them and think about them of, “OK, how do we incorporate those kind of almost into our daily lives as Americans?” Thinking through, “What do those mean for me as an American?”
And of course, that plays such a big role in schools and really incorporating that curriculum. So it’s really exciting to see the president take such strong action in this area.
We’re going to continue to talk about the commission in greater depth in just a moment, but before we do that, I want to ask you to share a little bit of your own story because you do have an incredibly powerful story. In many ways, you’ve lived the American dream. Could you share a little bit about how you grew up?
Swain: Well, I’ve definitely lived the American dream. I was one of 12 children born and raised in rural poverty. And my mother and father were divorced at an early age. So I never knew the time period when my mother and father lived together. I had a stepfather. The relationship between my mother and stepfather was very abusive.
And the poverty that I experienced was a grueling type of poverty, where for a part of my life there were about nine of us living in a two-room shack. And the house, it was really a shack, had no indoor plumbing.
For the early part of my life, I slept on the kitchen floor with some of my siblings, and we did not have proper clothes. And so when it snowed or when the weather was really cold, we stayed home from school.
There was one winter that was particularly bad, that we missed 80 of 180 school days. And everyone in the family, all the school kids failed because we’ve missed so much school. But through it all, my mother never encouraged us to see ourselves as victims.
We would have qualified for free lunches and free school books back then, and she would not take welfare. Now, she later relented and took welfare. But when I was growing up, she had that Protestant work ethic. And my stepfather, he worked as a farm hand. I don’t know what his wages were, but it couldn’t have been very much.
We sort of lived, in a way, like sharecroppers, in a sense that this place where we lived, this land that we lived on, the owner had a store and we would have to go to that store. And the children would go to the store with the list to get credit, to ask for stuff.
And back then, 25 cents, and this was the ’60s when I would have been old enough to go to the store, you could buy bread, you could buy baloney and cheese and pork and beans. And these were like treats for us.
But I can remember going to that store and having the store owner say, “No. Your stepfather hasn’t paid his bill. No credit. No food for you.”
Swain: It was so different from the poverty that people complain about today.
The other thing is, I was born in ’54. That was the year of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated schools across the South. But it was ’68 before schools were desegregated in my part of Virginia.
But I watched the changes take place with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the 1968 Open Housing Act. And as a child, I was very interested in watching the politics that were taking place on television.
And it’s so interesting, but we were poor, but we did have a television set. At one point we had a television set and we had electricity. But I saw opportunities open up for people like me.
Even though I dropped out of school and married at the age of 16—I probably dropped out a couple of years before I married and had my first child by 17—I was able to get a high school equivalency in my early 20s, go to a community college, get the first of five degrees, graduate with honors from a private liberal arts school that was nominally white, and earn five college and university degrees.
And I ended up becoming a professor at Princeton. I got early tenure. And I had a very successful career in academia. My career led me through full professorship, but then I had a Christian conversion experience.
I became more conservative. In 2009, I officially became a Republican. And I can say that my life changed dramatically. The more conservative, the more Christian I became, the less value I had for the academy.
Allen: What was that drive in you? Because I think so many people would look at your life circumstances and just kind of say, “Well, it’s not possible to achieve all of those degrees and kind of come out of this really hard place.” But you have. You’ve done it and you’ve done it with grace and you’ve done it with boldness. So what was your mindset through all of that?
Swain: I’ve always had a can-do mindset, and I give my mother credit today. And I can tell you, if you spoke to me 15 years ago, I would not have given my mother credit. And if you spoke to me 20 years ago, my mother was the villain of all of my stories. I’m close to my mother now. She lives with me.
But I always had a sense of urgency and a belief that there was something I was supposed to do. And now that I’m a Christian believer, I really focus on Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans of good and not evil, to bring you to an expected end.”
I believe that God foreknew me, and that God has always been a part of my life even though I did not know him. So I believe that my footsteps were ordered.
Many of the people that came into my life then encouraged me, because I never had an interest in becoming a university professor. I didn’t see that happening. They were not believers. They were not Christian believers. Many of them were Jewish, some of them were atheist, most of them were white men, conservative.
And when I hear people call conservatives racist and all these things that they tell young blacks today, in my experiences in academia, it was the conservatives that pushed me, encouraged me, and made me believe that I could do anything.
And maybe I wanted to believe it because I never saw myself as handicap because I was black, I’m a female, at parts of my life I was a single mother. And I just never saw myself as disadvantaged.
And when I got to graduate school, that’s when I was flooded with those theories of oppression, the critical race theory. I did not study it, but I was exposed to it. But by then it was too late. I had already tasted success and I had already formed my beliefs. And so it could not stop me.
But if I were someone who had internalized the messages that have been sent out to young people about victimhood, I’m not so sure I would have worked as hard as I did. And I worked hard as an undergraduate in a four-year college. I was working full time, nights and weekends, at the community college library.
So I started off as a work study student. I was hired by the library to work nights and weekends. And I stayed on that job for about five years while I finished two degrees, the two-year degree and then the four-year degree. And when I finished my bachelor’s degree, where I graduated magna cum, full-time, they dissolved the job at the library and hired two people because I moved to another city.
Allen: OK. Wow. Dr. Swain, your story, every time I hear it I’m just kind of taken aback by, wow, just the drive you have.
And like you say, it’s so evident that the Lord did order your steps through all of that. But your personal determination is incredible. And I think it just speaks so powerfully to, like you say, kind of growing up with a mindset of, “Oh, no, I can do that. I can achieve great things.”
So when we think about the mindset that we’re instilling in the next generation, what [role] do you see this 18-member 1776 Commission really playing in reaffirming to the next generation of Americans that this is a nation of opportunity, and as an American, you too are not a victim and you can achieve great things?
Swain: Well, first of all, I hope the 1776 Commission continues regardless of what happens with the outcome of the contested presidential election. Because if Joe Biden is president, he could eliminate the commission with the executive order.
But I can tell you that we are determined that there will be a report. And that report will really much educate people about the importance of the founding and the trues that come from the Declaration of Independence.
And right now I can’t speak for all the commissioners, I can only speak for myself, but I do know that there is a commitment, there’s a love for America, and that we will take advantage of the opportunity that the president has put in place before us. And I also want to say something about President Trump.
Swain: I really admire him so deeply and I identify with him. And people that know me, I don’t call people names unless I have to. So I don’t identify with that part of his personality. But I know that God chooses people before they’re born. He knows what kind of personality that they’re going to have, and he uses how they’re made for his purposes.
What I love about President Trump right now, as we are recording this interview, is that he is such a fighter for truth, I think, and principals. And people have lost sight of principles.
And what I would like to see come out of the 1776 Commission is that we remind people of values and principles that our Founding Fathers, and I call them my Founding Fathers, were willing to risk their lives to die for.
We don’t have that fighter spirit anymore. We have a defeated spirit. So the people that have encouraged the president to concede the election omits all the evidence of voter fraud. And I’m speaking as a political scientist, I followed everything very closely.
I am appalled about what took place in the 2020 elections and how race was used. Because the Voting Rights Act was never meant to be twisted on its head. And all of a sudden to ask people for identification or to ask them for signature verification or proof of citizenship, … that is voter suppression.
What I see is the progressive left using racial and ethnic minorities to advance their agenda. And President Trump is bold enough to speak out. And unless we get the election reform in place and to the bottom of what happened in 2020, then our nation is doomed.
I’m hoping that enough people of goodwill, of both political parties, will want a fair and free elections. I keep wanting to say clean and fair elections, but there’s so much corruption. And if we don’t address it now, it will get worse.
Allen: Yeah. I think for me, personally, I feel like 2020 was the year when [former President Ronald] Reagan’s famous quote, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” that hit me in a whole new way this year.
And you realize, “My goodness, that is the truth.” That we truly have to fight for freedom, and the integrity of our elections is at the very foundation of that.
So as we look forward to 2021, what would you like to see from Congress? Both in terms of looking at the integrity of elections at a state and federal level. And then also just, just as a conservative, what are the priorities that you really hope that they focus on?
Swain: Well, first of all, I don’t know what the Congress will look like in 2021, but I would like to see Congress committed to the well-being of the American people, which would mean that Democrats and Republicans both would have to move away from their agendas and look at what’s good for the whole.
I think that until the Democratic Party awakens and realizes that it’s been taken over by progressives that are Marxists, there’s no hope for that party.
And then the Republicans, I am dismayed by Republicans. And there’s a part of me, I am a Republican, I want to be a Republican, but I’m more of a Donald Trump Republican.
If there’s a such a thing as a Donald Trump Republican, I am, because I don’t like the deep state. I don’t like these people who are afraid to fight for values and principles, who roll over. And I believe that the Republican Party of the leadership, it’s full of weak-kneed compromises, people that are not driven by values and principles, and they are backstabbers. They don’t know how to operate as a team.
And no matter how corrupt or immoral … some of the Democratic leaders have proven themselves to be, the Republicans act in such a way that they’re just not behaving in a responsible manner.
And I think that if they don’t get it right, that they will find that there may be a split—like what happened in 1850—and the Republican Party may go away and there may be another party.
I think we will always have a two-party system, but it doesn’t have to be this Republican Party that doesn’t have an identity, it doesn’t know what it stands for, its bleeders are all weak.
And I would like to see a constitutional amendment … for term limits. [If we] can continue to have the same people in Congress year after year after year, they become so much a part of the system that they’re working for themselves, they’re not working for the American people.
Allen: Well, and of course, every year is a fight to maintain that freedom, but it certainly does feel like 2021 is going to be a big year for our country, where we are making our decisions about how do we want the future of America to look.
Dr. Swain, you have done so much writing and just wonderful, wonderful research on some of the subjects we’ve talked about today. You have an excellent podcast. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about how they can find and follow your work?
Swain: Well, first, I want to say to you that when you mentioned Reagan’s quote, when people like me speak to Young America’s Foundation or the various groups that are working with conservative youth, we always say that quote.
And you absolutely right, that now we see the importance of it. And I’m hoping that an army of young people like you, and some of them are already out there, some of them in the White House, that you will do a lot of the fighting.
I believe that the older generation, that we have let you all down. But I have confidence in your generation. And I believe that we can stand together. But at the end of the day, there’s so much at stake. And we do have to recognize that we can’t take America for granted. We’re at the point that we could lose our nation as we know it.
And we see how quickly coronavirus, how the politics around coronavirus has been used to strip us of our civil liberties. And that’s not acceptable. And so that’s a concern I have.
As far as myself, I’ve started a new show that’s a YouTube and Rumble show—and Rumble is a new video platform—called “Conversations With Dr. Carol Swain.” And the show started about four weeks ago, before calling yourself a doctor became controversial. I am a doctor.
And so that I’m doing as well as my podcast, “Be the People.” And I’m posting a video and a podcast interview once a week. And then for Bott Radio, I do a two-minute vignette called “Two Minutes to Think About It.” And so I do that.
I’m working on a book. I have a 501(c)(3). I am so busy. I’m doing more than is humanly possible, but God gives me the strength to continue.
And I do it because I love America. And I love the American people. And I’m really fighting hard against the “diversity, equity, inclusion” industry that has turned America upside-down, and is engaging in reverse discrimination.
I believe they’re violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act, and it is reverse discrimination against white Americans.
And I’m urging other minorities to stand up and speak up, because we’ve reached a point where people are being bullied and shamed because of the color of their skin, which is unacceptable. And it’s unacceptable to do it to black and brown people. It’s unacceptable to do it to white people. And I think that’s something that if you have a Biden-Harris administration, it’s going to be much worse.
I am hoping that we will not have a Biden-Harris administration. I’m hoping that the Supreme Court and people who are in authority will stand up and will investigate the election fraud that took place in 2020, and President Trump will served the second term that he was elected to serve.
Allen: Dr. Swain, truly, we’re so thankful for leaders like yourself, who are speaking out with such incredible boldness. Like you say, you’re keeping yourself so busy. You hardly have any time.
But as a young person, thank you for everything that you’re doing, for being a powerful voice, and for being bold. It’s really encouraging to see such leadership from people like yourself. And thank you so much for your time today. Just always a pleasure to have you on the show.