Just took a trip into town to run errands. From Camp Swampy in rainy season, this entails a harrowing 1.5 miles through a washed out pig trail / dirt road frequently bisected by giant puddles that may qualify as wetlands (good thing I drive a Jeep), then the hardtop road into town. On the way, I listened to David Plouffe’s podcast: Campaign HQ. His guest was Claire McCaskill.
McCaskill is super-optimistic about Biden’s chances of beating Trump, which improved my mood a bit. I didn’t always agree with McCaskill when she was a senator — her brand of centrism tries my patience. But she is smart about politics, and she understands the type of voters Biden needs to win.
Plouffe and McCaskill also discussed the filibuster, and both are on board with getting rid of it, but they have grave misgivings about the consequences. McCaskill said laws will whipsaw severely when parties swap power, including legislation governing basic functions like healthcare, choice and immigration.
I think she’s right. But it also occurred to me that maybe that’s what needs to happen. Republican Party policy isn’t popular. For decades, Republicans in Congress used their lack of absolute control as an excuse for not enacting policies their base loves but that are unpopular with Americans more broadly, such as outlawing abortion. To be fair, Dems do this too, but Democrats’ policies usually are popular and not a rhetorical sop to an extremist base.
Republicans’ performative votes to repeal the ACA are a great example. They voted to repeal, defund, deauthorize, etc., literally dozens of times. Then Trump came into power with unified control of Congress, and not only were Republicans unable to kill the ACA, it’s more popular than ever.
It’s awful that basic rights and policies that address acute needs can be stripped away by congressional vandals, but maybe that’s what it will take to make it obvious to those who aren’t paying attention that, yes, there are real and significant differences between the two parties, and it matters which is in charge.
Anyhoo, the last segment of the show addressed things that could go wrong in the presidential election. Two things keep Plouffe and McCaskill up nights: 1) the Trumpist AG in KY may decline to prosecute the cops who killed Breonna Taylor and time the announcement for maximum effect, setting off civil unrest that benefits Trump, and 2) Biden may have a bad first debate, never having debated a lying psychopath before.
Though borrowing trouble is often my wont, I’m not too worried about either of those things. Biden did just fine in his debate with Sarah Palin, who is in fact a lying psychopath — and one who is marginally more functional than Trump, I’d argue. Also, Trump can’t resist pouring gas on flames, so I don’t imagine he’d handle further civil unrest in a way that would redound to his credit.