Margarita: I’m your aunt.
Julia: I want to start things off with my aunt Margarita—
Margarita: (Amid the commotion of a family discussion) … política, y no quiero entrar en política …
Julia: —because whenever my big Cuban family gets together in Miami to drink and dance and argue about politics, my aunt will get a few tequilas deep, and she’ll always say this thing.
(Music changes tone, becomes softer, more strings-heavy. A wine glass clinks.)
Margarita: ¡Que viva la Pepa!
Julia: And she doesn’t just say it; she’ll, like, revel in it, and take it into her soul and, like … (Laughs.)
Margarita: (Slowed down.) ¡Que viva la Pepa!
Julia: “¡Que viva la Pepa!”—long live “la Pepa.” Whatever that means.
Margarita: I don’t know. I heard it in my house. Like, old people in my house—wise people—used to say, “¡Que viva la Pepa!”
Julia: I mean, for me, it has always just meant that Tía is drunk. But recently I looked it up. It turns out what my aunt was drunkenly celebrating all these years … is democracy.
(Music changes tone again, becomes smoother and more electronics-heavy.)
Julia: “La Pepa” is a nickname for an old and dead constitution. Back when Cuba was a colony, Spain wrote “La Pepa,” and promised Cuba that they would have representation in government. They promised them democracy. And I guess people were into this. And so they started saying:
Margarita: (Even slower this time.) ¡Que viva la Pepa!
Julia: “Long live the constitution!” Of course, that promise … died. Democracy never came. Many revolutions were fought. But the saying stuck. And over 200 years later, you can still find tipsy aunts and uncles toasting to its everlasting life.
Margarita: It is an ideal. That’s what it is: an ideal.
(Music shifts tone once more, becomes more somber.)
Julia: You know, a toast is not a statement of fact. It’s more like a prayer, like a repetition of a hope. And I wonder if what my aunt was doing was trying to will an ideal into existence.
Margarita: In this country today, we need to have ideals.
Representative Dan Crenshaw: We are a country of heroes. I believe that. So should you.
Representative John Lewis: We have a moral obligation to speak up and get in good trouble.
Amanda Gorman: (Fades up.) … and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country … (Fades out.)
Julia: I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the moment we’re living in now, in the United States—
Representative Maxine Waters: (Over the shutters of cameras.) What are we going to do? How can a president …? (Fades under.)
Senator Chris Murphy: The most serious attempt to overthrow our democracy is under way.
(The sounds of a crowd play.)
Julia: —when the ideals of our own Constitution can feel far away.
(A crowd chants indistinctly.)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: We are not experiencing the best of times.