2023 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Limited Series finalist

Bedrock, USA

About the Project

Days after the events of January 6, on the other side of the country in the town of Sequim, Washington, a mayor who had openly praised QAnon elicited fears of a coup when he fired the beloved city manager. Sequim is politically purple, in a bellwether county that had voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1980. The battle for the heart of this town is emblematic of how far-right ideologies are reshaping American life at the neighborhood level.

The stories in Bedrock, USA are about what happens to towns, cities and counties when even basic local government functions that are supposed to be nonpartisan devolve into fights over truth and conspiracy.

In Shasta County, California, a coalition of militia leaders, secessionists, Christian conservatives and disaffected Republicans were also pissed off at local leaders. They organized to recall one of them, a Republican ex-cop, because he hadn’t fought hard enough against pandemic mandates. Recall leaders hoped to outline a blueprint for people across the U.S. to remake their county governments in a far-right image.

In Sarasota, Florida, one determined mom remade not just her own school board, but exported her own template for how to assert an agenda of “parents’ rights.”

Throughout host Laura Bliss’s journey in this podcast, she documents how alarmingly easy it is to chip away at these foundational levels of our democracy. But she also meets city council members, election workers, public health officers, and local residents who are fighting, in trying conditions, to keep our systems going.