The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that Claire McCaskill is being cagey about how she’ll vote when The Orange Simpleton’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, comes up for a vote. The article notes that she’s in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. The state went for Trump in a big way, but she still needs the Democratic base support she’ll likely lose if she breaks ranks with her party, rolls over and gives Gorsuch the thumbs up.
This analysis is probably true. Nevertheless, the decision ought to be a no-brainer for McCaskill. Does she think she’s going to get any of that Trump vote? Ever? Or that moderates are really impressed by wish-washy, to hell with my principles and my party voting?
And speaking of that base and what they might to do if McCaskill stands with the GOP and hands the Supreme Court over to the corporations and Christian fascists, maybe it’s time for a real primary challenge? Somewhere along the line fainthearted Democrats have to learn that there’s a price to pay for playing the odds. I know I’m tired of a congressperson who doles out her votes in a one-for-them, one-for-you kind of way.
I am aware that talk about primary challenges has in the past seemed like crazy talk. Who could we even put up against Claire McCaskill? The Democratic bench in Missouri isn’t exactly rich in strong, charismatic progressives. But right now there is one proven political player in Missouri who’s currently out of a job: Jason Kander.
— Would Kander run against such an established Missouri leader? Who knows. I certainly don’t know enough about the how political incentives work behind the scenes here in Missouri to even hazard a guess, nor do I know anything about Kander’s proclivities. I do recollect, however, that McCaskill herself primaried Bob Holden back in 2004. And won. And then lost.
It’s worth noting in this context that Kander is definitely making sounds that indicate he doesn’t plan to fade into the woodwork. He’s sending out regular emails to Democrats that suggest he’d like to lead the Missouri resistance to the GOP Trumpathalon. He’s hit upon important themes such as voter ID that resonate with progressives in his public appearances subsequent to the election.
—Could Kander win a primary and in the general election? Again – who knows. But I bet he’d put up a notable fight. He’s shown that he’s a smart, very able campaigner and has good ideas about how Democrats can win. Despite the 2016 Missouri Trump juggernaut, he came within three points of unseating a very well-established sitting senator, earning 228,000 more votes in Missouri than Hillary Clinton. He’s recently been lauded as a “celebrity in national Democratic politics.”
As for the general election, there’s also the chance that as Trump’s incompetence becomes more manifest and as folks realize what the real Republican agenda has been all along, there may be a backlash against knee jerk Republicanism that will be potent even against gun love, religious authoritarianism and bigotry. I concede that this may be wishful thinking, but if it pans out, even just a little, add that to Kander’s native appeal and you might have a big winner.
— But, but Kander’s not a progressive. Wouldn’t we be trading one “centrist” Democrat for another? Maybe. But this is Missouri after all. During the campaign, Kander expressed views that are weak in some of the same areas where McCaskill lets us down – he claims to support a balanced budget amendment, for God’s sake – and he showed a tendency to pander when it came to minor memes flogged in the right-wing press. The proof, however, will be in the pudding and we might as well get ourselves a new pudding – especially when the act of getting it sends a message to saggy puddings everywhere.
— Would voting for Gorsuch be enough to totally zero out McCaskill, or should we give her another chance? Maybe. But I know that I’ve been giving her one more chance again and again. Sometimes she comes through, but on the biggest issues she’s often not where we need her to be. The bill has to come due sooner or later.
As for the Gorsuch vote specifically, the thing to remember is that this issue is bigger than just this individual and does not even take into account Gorsuch’s extreme, non-mainstream judicial views, unsavory racist associations, as well as possibly exaggerated resume claims. All this aside, no self-respecting Democrat should even consider rewarding Republicans for defying their constitutional obligations and shutting out President Obama’s nominee, the well-qualified moderate Judge Merrick Garland. Ever.
Republicans broke the process, and we can’t pretend like it’s old times again. Now is the time to say no, say it loud and proud, and if McCaskill isn’t up to saying a forceful no, then maybe that’s what we have to say to her come 2018. Maybe Jason Kander could be the way we say it. Maybe not.