« The Weeds

What Republicans can do on Trump and Russia

2018-07-24

Matt, Dara and Ezra talk about Republicans, Trump and Russia. Plus: A research paper reveals how Dara lost on College Jeopardy. References and further reading: Politico Playbook piece mentioned by Matt, "GOP to the world: What would you like us to do?" Law Review paper "Separation of Parties, Not Powers" The Weeds has been nominated for this year's People's Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Weeds for free before Tuesday, July 31st at podcastawards.com.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Your way of humble ragging, to us that some high costs on the box, mediocre outcasts network get for adds that we vote for hours on Wheat Nelson's Ivan on well makes my our relations and cooperation on a low, welcome to another episode with weeds and the box media Potass network Matthew Place. He is here with us refine and when we got up out of even now called research papers I'm getting a lot of this type. Are I picked you saying I think say they gave a clear. I think that the fifth it raises a good point that I remember from my eleventh great american history class, but is about making huge lot professors dives remarkable. You learn about this love good history. We are going to be looking at a paper that is
the ways in which a separation of powers, separation of institutional branches in american government has been replaced by separation or sometimes non separation of parties, and how that is fucked up a lot of money. of accountability govern. Yet no aids with it relates to our other topics. It's like this. One of those sort of american lives like a play in three acts. It's an important bet you, but we wanted to talk about Trump and Russia. I am Congress. There was a good in the way that play, but can be great peace. Last week that Jake Sherman and his team did there, and it is drawn up the sentiment that Republicans on capital hell. This was last week. It like peak freak out about Helsinki and Republicans on capital. Hell were very upset, not so much that Donald Trump was wrecking american foreign policy, but that job
the kept asking them questions about this right and you know Republicans to the world. What do you want us to do was chairman's headline on this. And you know they wound up some quotes from people being uncomfortable and then he writes, but privately senior level. Republican AIDS and lawmakers had a second message. What the hell do want us to do, and it goes to the sentiment, which I think Republicans did not feel for any of the time Obama who was president, but that, as soon as Donald Trump became president. It turns out the Congress has no authority over american public policy development, Try to give a slightly more generous Republicans version of the playbook that yet with it with their argument, is, is look. We forced them into walk back. We ve passed a bunch of sanctions on Russia and done it by such big numbers. Hatted overcame presidential veto threat. I think,
did they. How like one or two other tiny things in their like that, the more investigation still going on they ve done a bunch. If he read hearing and at every hearing they have had the unequivocal view that were yes, Russia did try to intervene in the twenty sixteen election. So like their argument here was it. They have been clear that Russia tried to intervene and twenty sixteen. They have been clear that Russia should be punished for this. They have actually executed punishments on Russia. For this, so from there like. What do you want us to do like we can't control what the president does when he wandered around and and pals around a lot of air pollutants which are also It is true I just wanted to frame so brave there. Let me for the record- and I didn't get as far as the hearings organs and, in addition to the kind of substantive stuff on Russia Congress, and particularly the Senate, has done a decent job like they ve had Chris re back twice since he's been confirmed and they ve made sure he's asked
like about the independence of the F B. I it's not like. There's the kind of effort to shut down any attempts at oversight. You might see it. really just running covered, either Warner yeah, Lastly, a bird Warner investigation has, I think, most people has been, has been run in a serious way, unlike obviously the House noon who cares like my brain was an important right. Yeah house, Applicants have done a lot on the rash issue. They have been very active, extremely vigorous in undermining accountability. Radishes Senate Republicans have done a teen, see tiny bit in the other direction, so I would say on net, what house Republicans have done is greatly help. Donald Trump facilitate this cover up, and if every single republican member of Congress had literally done nothing right if they had just said nothing.
Voted. Nothing done nothing. They would have done more to constrain Donald Trump than they actually have an all out idea. Just for a second I want to. I want to know something I think you're saying there on the one hand, has been very specific hearings and ideas and come. Terry devoted to Russia itself and Russia's activities itself in general. I dont know quite as much about how the house's run this part of it, but but pursuing the Senate, there's been a pretty clear view on on. What's going on there, republican spoken more or less with one voice, a wretched did, try to intervene, etc, but, particularly in the house, when it comes to the actual Mahler investigation, trying to uncover the scope of what Russia did it in a do. What connections are were between Trump in Russia. There is. The overriding strategy has been to discredit Molly, undermine the investigation and also to distract from it. It is constantly What about her emails? What about the FBI? Straw, scholar, I
gonna throw goes a great today. Jim Jordan did a tweet in which he said did it when he said that the Pfizer warrants that had been released, backed up everything that was indebtedness is member right they just don't which they did not raise I also think this is important and novel he has like Nunez and Jordan, and these guys been saying this kind of stuff, but they have been very aggressive like on Fox NEWS, swayed because, like you can see, I think something Jonathan Bernstein and some others have written his look like in politics. Talk is action. I would you do is true, but it also matters where you talk. Rightly, talk off the record to Jake Sherman about her you're doing all that you can, and the president just has this irrational, be in his bonnet is a particular kind of talk right, and the purpose of that talk is to distance yourself from Trump, while also
trying to calm down the temperature in terms of actual pressure. Talk on Fox NEWS is delivering a message to trumps core supporters right and a thing you could do like. I dont think that Sean Hannity would refuse to book Paul Ryan. If he said, I would like to come on and have a This argument with you about pressure policy, I mean, maybe he monolithic, but child Hannity, completely refused polar bears what I mean he would have poor. There will be a hundred thousand. Probably what I mean you could do is right, but instead, like the zone, if you just watch Fox, you would just see these house Republicans doing this. And while Paul Ryan, because he's a silly
liar, like doesn't personally, engage in these kind of antics about the fire alarm like he picks the committee chairs. You know like he controls the forage end, and this is like what they are doing like they wake up every day, and they try really hard to perpetuate this cover up and, like that's fine ride like its partisan government. If republicans want to help Donald Trump be corrupt and help the russian government destroy american democracy just like they want to destroy every other aspect of american democracy like that is their right, but it really makes him mad when they they go like old, whining to access and political good wounds, ones to do fucking, nothing do nothing of it. So let us stipulate that quite possible Lake. There are hundreds of Republicans in either Chamber of Congress and lake. Maybe
people who are talking to Jake Sherman are not Jim Jordan yet raises the lackey point let em like I want you. I wanted just for the sake of this episode. Imagine that such a republican exists, because I think it is more likely that exists the knot and also because, like there are answers to what do you want us to do? You dont have to just throw up your hands and say lake? Well, we do anything because other people out there are trying to undermine any attempt at oversight of the President Lake. Just with things we ve already talked about in this. episode so far, one you could lift up the things that do underline the inclusion of the intelligence agencies, just like Jim Jordan is lifting up the light fiction that the final, location, validates the Nunez memo. You can lift up the things that do underlined your assessment of the case without picking fights with your colleagues to you. Could
and oh Paul Ryan could stop running interference for Nunez in picking fights with the d o j over what documents they're turning over, which is something that we know he has done three like if you're a standard back bent or you could be spending your time lifting up the Bahrwan Warner Investigation so that, even if you are a member of the house you're like sending the message that is, as you are concerned, there is a serious congressional investigation and there is a non serious one, for you could be making statements like in a congressional context. Yeah probably base doesn't work, those on the house floor, but the White House very well, my and like they are good, signals from Congress about what they're going to get a fight from Congress on and what they're not I think that is, I mean literally those or non legislative things. Those are literally just like what are they treatments you could give that would help indicate to president that there is not in fact widespread him
to say whatever he thinks and contradict the findings of the intelligence agency. Answer two things to do that. What one thing that that I do want to know it is, I think, a bit all Ryan's defence of Devon Nunez throughout this saga has, one of the truly unforgivable dimensions of his career. I mean I used to push back that's her. This description of Ryan but Ryan has tried very a very hard in his entire public presentation to make sure he's perceived as somebody who is deeply committed to the defence of core american institutions too, to the rule of law that he's speaker of the house, it is not just sort of one more partisan. Above the republican- and I think that he's quite in general- successful in that portrayal because he treacherously above things, but he is the person running a lot of this- he is a person who he could come out and say that I dont think definition is running oversight in
reasonable way, and this should not be partners in this part of it. Right here. Do not have the clown show of Devon Nunez be the House's contribution to a very, very, very serious foreign effort. undermine sabotage and otherwise change in american election that possibly has downstream effects of leverage on key members of the? U S? Government, on? U S government policy towards Russia, the idea that Paul Ryan, who has met Romney's vice presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, said Russia's our number one geopolitical threat, and this is what he has chosen to have happened in the house. It he runs. I think it's awful, but the other thing I did that was not as much on your list is something that really we could be doing. We should be doing, and this is not a specific investigatory effort. This is not a specific Russia effort. Is we have an incredibly unsafe, technologically rudimentary
election system, and there are a lot of good ideas out there about how to fortify it now. Neither Democrats nor Republicans in theory, should want election systems to be hacked. If you are a republican think about you, know large hacking groups on the left, who you may be afraid of Agra Democratic about Russia, our good ideas out their dimly, who used to be a box I and is now our technical, has written a lot about this care elections act and that that's a pretty fascinating bill actually element just described for a second but made before I do that we should take a break statistics. You may have heard of visit a company that is re, imagine the weight of fine and by court this they understand that life gets busy since it just like a great way to up your style gave a little bit. If you were somebody who is not shopping, enthusiast or or fashioned held personal right and you get a personal sharper. Does the work for you
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listening to package is great, but at some point later tonight you should really watch something check out boxes. New Netflix show it is called explained. Every episode is a fifteen minute deep dive into one important topic. This week's episode is all about cricket. I watch at last. I myself. It's separating cricket. If you know anything about it, you probably know that you do not understand it at all this episode. It really helps you get it they'd feature Stephen fry speaking out about his favorite sport and explores the question of like how did this like weird, incredibly confusing, like English gentlemen's game, become this incredibly popular phenomenon with a billion fans in South Asia, cleans the surprising history, the sport, how it got to be so complicated how it is sort of evolved, and it shows how beloved the sport is right in America, wicked is kind of a joke like how hard these weirdos with bats, but like one in seven people, on earth like a single cricket game between India and Pakistan, is a huge phenomenon in major parts of the world, and if it wasn't just like it breaks down the laws of cricket, they ve got laws, not rules, so you
actually understand it and like what's a test match like what's goin on who these players are, where it all comes from, so check it all out on Netflix or go straight to netflix dot com slashed explained Your election act, I think, is interesting here. It's a bipartisan bill in the Senate, it's from senators lank forward with club, HR and and once a gram, Kemal, Harrison Susan Collins and and Martin Heinrich right yet give it, and what we do is basically two things. We have a lot of paperless voting machines and the prompt people's voting machines is that if they are hacked, there's no effectively
ought at them. So in theory, you think all that's great. You know paperless it's a future, but if something goes wrong in a paperless voting machine is very hard to figure out if anything is gone wrong. A paperless voting machine. So so one thing it would do here is basic put a bunch of money to eliminate voting machines. It do not have a paper redundancy behind them, since that would be one good thing, but the second piece which is important for from taking the first piece matter is to make audits routine throughout american elections. think back to twenty six to ratify between sixteen election. There. There was an effort, I think you'll Stein was raising money for it, an anonymous remembering to fund audits of the electoral results in Wisconsin Michigan Pennsylvania, some, the closer states were people were concerned, and that was taken- and I think correctly by a lot of public,
as you know, in an effort to deal legitimacy election results, you noted to cast doubt on it. People right now react to the idea of an election will be audited as a implication that wrong doing was done in the election, and so you then have a kind of secondary thing of that. Can you get over the very high bar we ve created for auditing election? What this What do you say that all elections are audited, that it is a normal part of american election systems that we do statistically responsible post election auditing just make tremblings fine? It's Attica, stubborn anyone, it's just to make sure everything went the way. We thought it day that everything matches up and also then to act as a deterrent, because of hackers know that everyone can constantly be audited. Will then be the the upside of hacking is lower because you know your pride gonna get caught. So that is a bill. The like you just could have passed. You can pass ad and a package of other things to fortify are
total security against cyber incursions and other things it is, that's tough, hasn't been done either right. There are real problems here. We could solve problems here that wouldn't even be about Donald Trump and are not solving those either right and I'm gonna dig into a little bit. White has kind of happened on election security because there was like earlier this year. Congress is willing to approve three hundred and eighty million and like state block grants for elections security, but like as a follow up earlier this month. The Democrats on the house Restoration Committee release was essentially a minority report. This kind of a call for more funding, a long white. The lines of what s it was talking about that are actually identifies like a couple of tears of states that are regularly vulnerable, including literally a tier of states, including Anna Florida Illinois Indiana Kansas New Hampshire, Tennessee Texas and was constant, all of which close
may not be planning on using federal assistance to address their biggest vulnerability is like literally, they sent them their money and now their concern that very they have identified problems that are not going to get fixed using that money and that a you know, ITALY again it was a minority report and there were elections, security experts at the time extremely concerned that this kind of thing, which you know was drawing a bunch of input and testimony vit. That shouldn't be something that really party is endorsing so like, even if you do necessarily want to put the lake billion of dollars toward whatever, because you're a fiscal conservative or like, even if you have a problem with Martin Heinrich- and you know, Europe senator and you're, driven by ego and so you're, not going to sign on to Martin, Heinrich feel like there findings. The would be much we're validated if they were by partisan that are currently partisan that you could sign onto. Yes, I think you know
legislative mode where, were you see a real opportunity here, is on trade policy stuff right where it's not like strictly linked to the russian election meddling issue, but a question where Donald Trump appears to be creating large divides with? U S, allies is in asserting that there is a national security risk involved in relying on european cars or canadian aluminum. Things like that. Many Republicans who have spoken on this indicate that they don't agree with this policies is not even a question of like you should give something up to restrain Donald Trump on foreign policy, but they have not legislated swayed the existence of a national security. Discretionary Lou Paul is a law that Congress path.
And Congress created an Jeff flacon Bob Corker have sort of talked about rolling this back, but the leadership has not like put a bill on the floor. It's possible that some Democrats might actually back trumped up in a vote like that act. As a lot of congressional democrats have been somewhat sceptical of trade. I think they probably wouldn't, but you could make real go add you know to say that look. America's treaty allies are exempt from national security, tear swear. That would be a way of signalling to the world that, like the United States, has enduring treaty commitments that have real value and real meaning and that that transcends like whatever Donald Trump happens to say at any given afternoon. I think is very obvious. Why republicans don't do it, which is that they don't want Trump to put them on blast and they think that the internal solidarity of their costs,
Sweden dissolve if Trump started fighting with them. That's a reason, but it's not like it's a good reason like like that you put in the history books. They, I think, is a perfectly good reason may get it explains. What's going on it's good explanation, it's not reason gear yet right exactly, and this also goes to the sort of most obvious thing is that congressional democrats have been trying for ever to get trumps tax returns and other financial information disclosed. An congressional Republicans keep not doing it? We don't know like maybe whatever trump his covering up. There has nothing to do with Russia, but it's a pretty obvious sort of question to ask and no congressional publicans again like it's easy to understand why they don't want
do it particularly because they would be picked off as individuals right of one person starts saying. Well, you know we should do this, then Trump is going to start attacking them. That particular person's going to be at risk. He's going to feel, while my colleagues will probably throw me under the bus and then you wind up. You know this wounded, shame dog like that flake all. That said, like the fact that Trump has already irrevocably destroyed the political careers of Jeff, Flake and Bob Corker and like they now act, not like angry that Trump wrecked,
and now they are gonna wreck him there, like whimpering around flake, said he was gonna, put a hold on circuit court confirmations until he got a trade vote, then a Supreme Court seat became vacant at flake was like well, you know this isn't going to extend to the swift cord and then a couple days after that he agreed to back down on his circuit court hold in exchange for a non binding resolution. Unlike that's just I don't know like he has some leverage he considered using it, and then he it is not too, and I want to say for no reason, but it's like they are, or acting even the ones who are retired as like deeply embedded. Members of party networks and like the Republican Party, really wants to keep confirming circuit court judges and nobody, including guys on the way out, including Dissect Lindsey, Graham who made fun
policy the centre of their personal politics, like nobody wants to stand in the way this fast. I think sexually brings us back to that that initial question in any useful way. So after Donald Trump Helsinki meeting with Lattimer Putin and then after Donald Trump said, I won't Putin to come to the White House, so we can hang out a little them or in fall right before the mid term, relax all right before the mid term elections. This Republicans come out and say what what would you have us do, and I think it's a good actually worth now taken this in a more specific way. What they are saying is that we also don't want Donald Trump doing this. more potent and they dont debate they did not like that. They were very clear about it. They may be. They spoke in a clear way about it and they normally do companies ebbed like oh, maybe he did mean to say, wouldn't
as opposed to what, but, but for the moment they didn't like it. So the question is like what leverage do they have to make him stop doing the thing they don't like him doing, because he other things are not clearly things that they don't like. So they want to bind his actions. Is there a lover check, as you just mentioned, with flake? One of the issues is that a lot of the leverage they conceptually have on him is in a way leverage. They have on themselves right. They want the circuit court judges approved. They want almost everything on the Trump agenda to happen, with the exception of trade and with the exception of the sort of weird Russia stuff which is not taking a legislative vehicle on its taking, moreover, interpersonal diplomatic vehicle, and so the core thing with Republicans, having fought for some time
I am now has been that party, their critics like like us, look at them and they say you're not doing anything you're just talking and only occasionally the answers that they prioritizes stuff quite low, like, I think my sense when I when I talked to them in and when I others talking to them, is it if you really like shot one opposition pentothal and sodium Pentothal really worked and asked like how they felt was all going. They would say that you know substantively. The Trump administration has been a pretty huge win, for them they ve got in more than they thought they would he's been much more aligned with them that than they thought yet he himself oxen and erratic kind of crazy somewhat embarrassing way, but I shall not that important to them he's not pushing anything about Russia incongruously like what they wish would happen. Is it everybody would stop paying attention to anything. Donald Trump does reset
just like watch the GOP agenda and nominations and whatever and then it's all going fine and I think, like the ultimate answer to the question like what would you have us to do is like the thing I'm not saying is that the things they could do would cost them more than the thing they're trying to stop Actually hurts them, but here I this is like a widely hovered around, but you it is not true right, like making Donald Trump discloses. Financial records would not cost them any. We totally disagree that low. How can you say it's like? Let's imagine that what you think is going on is true, and there is something Buck terrible. Almost returns of labour mobility brought it, but I want to draw a distinction here, ready COS. Thing is like oh mad. You wanna. Still, I give up on our conservative policy agenda to stop Donald Trump. Am I guess I do because their conservative policy agenda is horrible their agenda like has no merits, but setting that aside right, I just it's important. I think to be
clear, I think there's been a lot of bending over so far backwards to apologize for these guys. The people lose sight of it. Rightly what I am asking them to do at a minimum is to stop the active complicity in the cover up, but they engage in active complicity in the cover up, not because it like hope, some confirm judges, but because it will help them when the election like they believe that Donald Trump is guilty of serious malfeasance and that it is important to them that that malfeasance not come to light, because if the american people knew the truth about Donald Trump, they might lose some house races. So like that's, not them, quoting quote, not doing anything right like they are doing. Psych every day,
they got up and they they contribute. To this end, it is true like fundamentally, if what they said to Jake Sherman was like fuck, you man, we just don't care about this. I think that's right. You don't care about worthing, something quite summer with different emotional balances. What they said to Jake Sherman was there is something we do care about. We don't like what Donald Trump in Helsinki. But we don't really have something that we think can stop it. We have done the other things we think we can do that. We care about and like we're, not gonna stop. now, you're moving it over right. It's like. What's up on the tax returns to your point right, they actively don't want that because they feel the tax returns remaining secret helps them not hurts them, and I just think that's a it's, not sympathy or non simply it's not generosity or non generosity. It's just like that's! What's going on like that of the true bottom line here like they, they are not just like complicit in it. They accepted. If signed the contract, they think it's like a positive
deal for them. So the thing is that leg, it's not a contract, its praxis right. It's a decision that their essentially making every day, and so it like it behoves us to think of that, to, like me, be. They think of that is a sun cost. It's not. We are less than two years into a potentially eight year presidency, as far as like congressional report we are concerned. There are not doing anything to stop it from being a in your presidency, and I think you guys have correctly identified that there are two different operating definitions of what is the cost benefit analysis of Donald Trump, and one of them is a policy on like I'm gonna keep getting. My judges confirmed. We pass tax reform last and the other one is the political one of the base of our party really loves him. It's not clear what my path to victory is without the base of my party. Therefore, I'd better stay on his good. Suddenly, those are separate. The problem is that either of them can fail at some point over the next six plus year
like. If their theory is the Donald Trump, is such a political genius, then yeah they are assuming that he's going to keep winning elections for them, but, like that's a lot of answers that the american public has to turn against this extremely polarizing figure with a lot of vulnerabilities that shouldn't cast aspersions on the Republican Party or republican policy agenda in theory, because there are things that didn't happen, that, like weren't the Republicans, they were Donald Trump. but that your tying your you know your tying yourself to the mast on that and from policy perspective like we are seeing that Trump thinks of himself as more independent from the Republican Party on policy as he gets more familiar with it he's getting more aggressive on trading, then he wasn't his first year now he is continuing to lake, go down the line on judges, but it's not that inconceivable that either the cost benefit of Just verses lake ruinous, aid. Wars is going to change or at some point decided no longer has anything to the Federalist society like it is past.
Well to imagine that cost benefit calculus changing, and I do not think that republicans are actually sitting down and asking themselves. What is the point at which the cost would overwhelm the benefit for me, and here is why? Because I think If they are there not committing themselves right. Last year we saw some Republicans draw what they thought was a bright line. They said if he tries to fire out, rose and seeing if he tries to fire up, there are not saying that as much anymore, partly because it's become clear that he does sometimes want to fire rudders unseen. He did at one point consider fire rubber mother, like they the only bright line they were comfortable drawing in public was one that they never thought was gonna get Matin than they kind of hushed up about it like ensue. Science, science, there's a movement to pre register your hypothesis right, so that you're not just doing data mining you're not dislike. Finding what the circumstances right now are like. What's the most advantageous way, you can spend that you're actually saying I have a theory about what
should be going on here and either. My theory is correct, or is it nobody is pre, registering their sense of Donald Trump. Nobody is saying here are the things that make Donald Trump worthwhile for us here why we are sticking with him and then allowing themselves to say well, he now failed those conditions. So now I'm turning away there like there. Gauging in the kind of stuff that in science leads to like just spinning the results, and the thing you're never going to like looked at a lot of data and say: oh there's, no correlation here whatsoever, you're gonna, torture, that data until you gotta positive correlation, but you're, just defining victory down. This is a good bridge to the paper. I think yes, this week, which, as my co host, have reminded me as a lot review paper. So not a white paper. Apologies to all Lascaux professors at their first for the shade, I, like my apologies to love professors out there for the segment we're about to engage in and which are going to discuss our view article, despite none of us having like
double our now. I totally disagree. I'm not crazy. We do that every way this is this: pay About you said to me by a reader I called the separation of parties, not power, or is it an o six paper? So do you think about the context of a sex by Darrell level? then, and Richard pities, its argument is that the? U S, government was set up to have the separation of powers. Some you learn about this in every place. Civics course, apparently mats had a more revisionist view of this that I is clearly correct, but I never got that in this. Of course, is I took, but so basically that that the framers set up this separation of our structure where accountability was supposed to be ensured, because the ambition of each branch would counteract the ambition of every other branch that basically failed like immediately. The framers did not want parties, they set up a political system expecting it to be resistant to the formation of political parties. The immediately set up political party,
after they form their political system, thus changing the way it worked almost instantly, but never going back in forming core core pieces of how the structure itself worked and so what? continent and pity say, is that this changed how a man in government works in ways, constitutional law and even our generalised discussion about it, often don't given of credit to so they write as competition between legislative and executive branches was displaced by competition between two major parties. The machine that was supposed to go of itself stopped running until the basic argument. They make. Isn't it rather than american politics being defined by constant self perpetuating competition between branches. It's not defined by periods of Cross party cooperation across branches.
Or on competition, when you have divided government and to the parties, are competing across branches, as though this has different ups and downs? Like one of the one of the things you have put your seeing right now? Is it when the same party controls part of that? the presidency and the Congress, but also in this case by the Supreme Court. The incentives for accountability are much weakened because, as we are saying Conceptually would make a lot of sense to try to figure out what's on Donald Trump tax returns, but Republicans want to win the next election and so analyses it very well may not. That is not how the system is supposed to work conversing You have divided government in the system we ve built. You have a lot of paralysis. You have a lot of gridlock. You have a lot of competition that they can be an in some ways destructive. I would actually say our weakness of this paper is in a kind of o six context there much more pro things like the filibustering in sewing everything down because they should have
I think of his now this now. You view that that's gonna create consensus, driven legislation as opposed to total paralysis, wherein The minority party realises the best outcome is not something they like, but nothing at all, so that people turn on the majority party for getting nothing done. But so, trying to do- and this is- is both reconstruct a more realistic vision of how american politics actually works and then in a way that I think, is a laudable as persuasive come up with some ideas, for how would you reform the american political system to just say that the crucial institutions are not the branches but the parties? yeah, I'm really glad that you brought up the filibuster thing because its I want to read this verbatim because its wild too, of people saying this in twenty six, given what we know, as happened in the meantime, routine, use or threat of the filibuster would incur.
The appointment of politically moderate judges, injustice with views closer to those of the median senator and voter than those of the median senator of the dominant party. Like the problem with this, Is that it under estimates Mitch, Bacchanals party discipline, right, weirdly, furred paper about part, Yes, it's never really clear about how it imagines kind of Inter party dying. Mixed working, and I think one of the ways in which it fails to do that is it fails to anticipate behind of use of. Minority parties ability to take the majority parties agenda as you are saying, but like that kind of does get to a bigger problem at the paper. Rightly it can only imagine a world where senators are working. In their own interest, the visually and therefore they're gonna default to there, these interests, but if a really moderate judges getting appointed and there in a really swinging district, then they're gonna break ranks. That's not the world that we
of, and so it's not super clear what their alternative account for, how parties themselves decide what they're doing works. So one of the the real sort of mysteries, I think of american politics weight is you the U S Senate today right and the median senators, are Susan Collins, a veteran moderate senator from a moderately blue state who is a republican an LISA Macao Ski, a newer senator who lost the Republican Party nomination one, relying primarily on the votes of Alaska as Democrats, so she's like I really like a Republican in name only in a literal kind of sense and the two of us, have again she and Joe Mansion whose, like a democratic cross, pressure, democratic upside, and if you listen to what those three senators set, they are technically a very moderate policy vision
right, like my Cowskin Collins, think that Roby wage should be upheld. They did not want to define plan parenthood, they sign onto a net neutrality petition. You know Bob Bob. and so one way the american government might work is that the people who control the pivot points consistently control the policy outcomes. And they do some high sprite like wind, Mitch, Mcconnell like gets together, and it's like we're going to do a big health care repeal bail. It turns out that the pivotal senators do control the policy outcomes and like if you can't get Colin to my passkey to sign onto it. You can't the bill? But when you go through the de Roo, making process like something really weird happens, where its expected that the republican senators will confirm the republican press and now many years, even though we all know that
the nominees both to this soup courts to the lower courts and the executive agencies that they reflect a much further right. Orthodox conservative vision right and this happens even though there's a bunch of appointments ride like it would be crazy, obviously, for Susan Collins to demand that she single handedly control all executive branch appointments, just because she is that the pivotal person, but there's hundreds of people going through there, and you might think that, like the deal, would be a large chunk of the appointments have to reflect. Susan Collins's views, the mere Mcconnell views, but the party network doesn't work like that and any goes on. The flip side, right like it, was very clearly understood in the interest group and political world that part of what oh bomber was doing with the clean power plant at the end of a second ministration was it he could get. Moderates
Democrats to vote for EPA nominees and to vote for courts who would uphold EPA rulings that those exact same senators would not vote for if it was put forward as legislation right so part of what you have in the interplay of the branches and partisanship. Is this kind of hide the ballgame, we're like clear Mechanical can say like she never voted for any cap and trade plan, but she like voted for all the ball, who we're gonna make the cap and trade plan happened, and that's a really like salient and significant aspect of, but how the government works in the real world in and I do think it would be constructive. At least four, when judges talk about, what's going on interbank conflict to distinguish between like genuine conflict, which happen sometimes and like fake conflict with
which also happen sometimes, and I don't know exactly how that cuts in different issues but, like we know, that's how it works. Ride like sometimes Executive branch is taking the lead on things, because members of Congress will want to duck the issue and other times ride like with them die. Right, like Obama was doing something that congressional Republicans clearly did not want him to do and like they said so, there was an election. Resign right leg, you could really say there that, like for better or worse what he was doing, it was like taking action in defiance of Congo versus some of the earlier things he did like he was taking action, because that's what Congress wanted him to do. So I think that springs two things so one is that if you look at recent decades in the U S, son There are reasonably few periods where, let's say, seven senators could not
show the agenda. I mean right now in a period were two or three control entire agenda, because John Mccain is out and- and it's so closely divided, but but even if that's a partition close. It about it. Senate were usually Anna in a situation where a couple could do it, and you know that you're you're focusing on on moderates. But there are a lot of different coalitions of concern. There are criminal justice coalitions of concern, Rand Paul has said, he's undecided on Cavanaugh, because he is concerned. I acted on a why, but them MT so executive power. Surveillance surveillance available so and other senator sure concerned about things from a civil authoritarian perspective. The white pearl as you can have a lot of shifting elections coming up and down and then exerting a lot of leverage to get their things for a great mystery of the Senate. To me, This is why so few of these coalitions arise and actually tried to do what they want to do. This is something I had on unbind viewpoint,
Senator Michael Bennett, whose democratic Colorado, while backing we're talking about this for a long time- and I discussed it, kept asking this question- I will why why dont five senators? Why, when I talk to all of you in your office, is due republican Democrat, you endlessly complained about a terrible everything's, but then nobody uses the actual power they have to change it or to change. Outcomes are to change legislation, This is not a great answer. I mean parties have power, but they don't have that much power anymore. So party discipline doesn't make much sense, except for, and this gets another point that I want to make IRAN on what that said. I think that one of the strengths of our understanding of law- six has been pretty heavily kicked out in the last couple of decades. Is that primarily the way people are allies parties, and in particular the way our politicians are working is that they have some optimal vision of policy, and that is their highest
and they pursue that and they ally with a party, because a party we hope and pursue that an on line even about a little bit true, overwhelmingly their view of how to be able to Wield power is to win back power, and so there Very, very, very, very, very few votes that they will not take with the one overriding question of: does it make it more likely that we gain power in the next election or win back the chamber with have a currently, and so when you do that right, you you completely restructure the decision tree such at the first question is not do I like the spill, but the first question, What will my vote on this build due to who controls the whole place next time? as being in the minority socks, and nobody wants to do it, and so I think that is actually become a different, a different kind of,
listen the system, because it just means that a lot of the fixes you might put into place Felix at according quote fixes that would make it easier for for individual legislators to holdings are to be held back senses. It just really makes it easier for minority coalitions too to make everything worked very badly, and bodily Democrats would this too I mean Mccall has been much more aggressive on it, but if you look at say filibustering over time, it's more intense among Republicans, but the trend like Democrats tend to be like three years behind Republicans on procedural innovations. But it's not a hundred years behind Republicans on procedural obstructionism, and so so these things really matter. But the reason I want to talk about this paper is not, as I think it has a way of fixing any of this very clearly. Doesn't it
that I really think that frolic map might have learned. This eleventh grade the degree to which we still talk about american politics as if the branches constrain each other and as if party competition has not in quite fundamental ways corrupted the vision of the founders of the well system we live under is really flawed. We really miss how far reaching all this, how much it is broken I mean even you have all these Republicans going on to the Supreme Court singing regional lists, who are trying to go by thought by the letter and the original intention of the founders and being nominated for the Supreme Court, because they are highly partisan members of a party being nominated by powerful party in order to help it chief that parties objectives on the Supreme Court like if you're the originals are yourself, are like now a The violation of the intent of the the founders- and this something original, Pelagia, leaning original, isn't the new hardness, and I think that like this is actually where it interesting right is like how would the people
engaged in the election of eighteen hundred have thought of political competition where they really is high minded about political capital. This whole account Madison is thinking when he writes the. You know right, bs that that's all fair like what is in people's hearts and what human beings are complex, but I just think this is all much more broken and and the place where you see it. Isn't things like the election security, Russia, you know, among other things, we have in a way we did it use do, but but its changing american history. We have long its american Israel, requite wearily had divided government and long periods really quite frequently had divided government. right now, one things were seeing. Is it in a period with unified government? You very very little underlying push for accountability, which means of among There are things that the way the constitution designed its features to ensure executive accountability, which Congress was the key, Are there impeachment was a key remedy their? It doesn't really work
actually never had unsuccessful, far reaching impeachment proceedings underneath a unified government structure, every impeachment proceed it has got in anywhere in American. History has happened when the opposite party controlled the Congress. just like just absorbing the idea that we don't even have a government that can reliably ensure accountability of the president when the President's party controls Congress, like that's bad and its up bad, because you shouldn't people, majority parties running things him in its approach. True democracies work it's bad because it means our accountability. Mechanisms are fucked up it too easy politicize. So any I think the thing about this lake there are insufficient Harry Potter, references on Comcast and thinking about who, I would say so, yeah I'm It's a generational deference. We the thing about what you said there is. There is a vote in which Molly wisely tells her. Then eleven year old daughter like what have I told you dont trust anything if you can't tell where it hides its brain and like that's essentially, this paper, rightly, we have trust
the division of the tripartite structure of the federal government we should now because the brain is actually not there like these three things, I have independent brains, the brain is actually located in the parties and the parties use the branches as tools you family sold me on more Harry Potter. Reference arrogance boom. The question that This is, for me is ok. What is the parties brain? Where is the parties brain who is actually like if this? the agent in american politics, where does that agency, come from and we have seen very substantial evidence that political parties, as official institutions are strong as people thought they were right. Like we ve already rehashed on this podcast, I dont need to again the kind of operating theory of Sixteen that everybody, had gotten on board with the political science idea that the party decided in primaries, and then the party decided not to decide and Donald Trump Card elected that lake. That's any very important point to make one we're saying that parties are the relative.
denominator of power in american politics. We do actually have a very good account of how political parties set their agenda and make their decisions, and when I say we I don't just mean observers I mean like the people with, the system do not appear to have a very good account of who is making the decision which is a lot of why we see so much deference to Donald Trump. A person who, like most members of Congress, would tell you does not have a brain for policy. that is not why he is in this game, and they are allowing him to make a lot of policy decisions because they can I assume that he has the relevant agency. That may be true and medical sense. It may not be true. It may be a function of what I learned from the political side Juliet area, but I know a lot of political scientists have talked about. It is weak parties, strong partisanship which, like the culture Wharf occasion of party identity, but it doesn't really give us a satisfactory account of how does and get made if the thing that is actually making the decisions is an entity that we'd,
actually know how its decisions from her way, and I wish that this paper had cleaved itself or more clearly into what I think of his like two projects for constitutional reform and the United States. One is like would or ideas that we have to make things work better right and in terms of this paper I think most concretely. Their proposal is that, when judges do rulings about Inter branch conflict, they should follow the example of Robert Jackson's whirling in the youngster on case and right cognizant. Italy of parties right and not characterize what a democratic Congress did fifteen ago, verses what a Republican Congress is doing today as like Congress, but like right as if they know that, like there is a change in like regardless of how you rule that, like that's why the case has risen, ride so
that's good. I don't know where it gets you but, like, I think, that's correct. It is often strange reading these rules. If like? What are you talking about, Clearly, the judges no did there's partisanship in America. they sometimes pretend there isn't. Another project is like when I think of his like message in a bottle right, like in case the american political system, goes into catastrophic failure, mode. And then we try to rebuild. Do we do what happens in Argentina, which has every time there's a catastrophic failure? They just stick it back to there and there like. Let's give democracy and other run right, and then it falls apart again or do we try to put something different in its place, and I think there is a good suggestion embedded here, success and I have made before which is like when the United States government had to rebuild democracy in Germany, they built a very different political system, one that play
is now used in lots of countries that works a lot better and part of that as Dara says, is there is a formal legal basis of the german political parties so that you can ask who is the head of the Social Democratic Party? What authority does he have as the head of that party through what means would he be, posed as head of the party and replaced by somebody else right way. Now we have these some very powerful actor in american politics, but they like we don't understand how they work, but like also like they dont work in any particular way right. It's always changing and there's like a field of study, of like american political parties and the scholars in that field. disagree about things, but what they would all agree on is that it changes over time and he directly really long books about like how the party system evolves.
But which is fine but its ah to have bed rock elements of the constitutional system lack any kind of clear, formal definition right. It's like. Can the institutional Republican Party like make a decision about american policy towards Russia and, like the answer, is no rattling, there's no meeting where you get hash that out, there's just like that's trump there's hawks in Congress and there's the programming decisions of Fox NEWS, unlike somethin comes out of that, and then you'll have to see right and like maybe this. Court, which I think is very partisan, but it operates with a laugh
right, like Clarence Thomas, is clearly a conservative republican, but he was put on the bench in modes like a million years ago, unlike who knows what he thinks about completely novel issues. So that's like a super practical model for reform, but like it is worth saying, like things really badly wrong. Sometimes in countries like it is worth considering that, if that does happen like we should do something very different. Last though, I've come to think that it's like prestigious to think about deep structural causes, but that some words are going on in America is just like a lack of individual initiative by people who happened to be in you, no significant positions and then at some points in American
story like people who have a lot of authority. Just like cannot go Rogan do their own thing, and it like happens to be the case that, like centrist members of the Euro zone, it like have not acted in a particularly underpin area way, but it could have- and they might say you're recently time like pouring in Season Collins to pull their pants up antics and personal responsibility. Well, I mean. If they want to issue, is sometimes Congress can become like a hammock. Visor Azure were counted it well like you can sit around the table and mobilise data that can be bought. Why don't you and like a dozen other be warm body leave without? Why don't you do something about that, and I think I could give you a fury
why they don't, but it's not like a theory of like why they don't fly to the moon generally mean it's like this stand, furs more so than the principles are very embedded in the party structures right, unlike the switch from person to person like Michael Bennet, staff right is not primarily composed of guys from Colorado who are like specifically rooted in Michael Bennets Life trajectory or the electorate, they're they're, just like Democrats from wherever, and they constantly operate in induces really on the Republicans. I'd too, they keep the principles, thinking in terms of party teams, men, ship and then people themselves that the senators are human beings. So they also like to thank the terms of teams, especially when everyone who
for them encourages them to do that, but every once in a while, like people transcend that's right, like Jim Jefferson's in two thousand wine over the in retrospect, incredibly petty issue of subsidized Vermont dairy production, just like that all the pieces of the chess Board, switched parties and went from not just being a moderate Republican, he became a very left wing. Democrats or John Mccain walked out on the Senate floor and like in the most dramatic thing I basically happen D, seen happen the horizontal just like turned his thumbs down. Unexpectedly Android Obama Carroll and see you I like why John do they do that? Rather then act in concert with him, moderate Democrats till I reshape the structure of the Senate, and the answer is that John Mccain personally is like very much a maverick but he's like an impulsive guy.
institution building so like you didn't like John having done that and not been struck by either lightning or image Mcconnell, why didn't Jeff flake then go out and turn the just? You know the thumb down on tax reform when it got clear that he'd been role, and it may be that you know these folks, like look. Not John Mccain, but but your flacon and others who were universe, bits like us, are looking for. A television show right that there are some things that you need to be preserving yourself. You no matter. I often have the sort of structuralist force individualist arguments I member, which did a public event years ago, were like. I gave some rough on wife on american politics is broken about like yeah, but was a nice guy does not think that all these people is being immoral individually and I think there's something to that it to the point mounts making a very big believer in a bad system will defeat a good person most times. You know, I think of the system is in send devising
What to do the wrong things? Overwhelmingly, people do the wrong things and the cases are people stand up against sat are both very very important and very laudable, and also quite rare, but They sent it to me, and it just goes to your point about John Mccain not being struck by lightning. It isn't quite that system like it isn't so clear that you can't survive is a real maverick. In fact like for a long time, John Mccain became one of as most popular politicians by doing Mavriky things and clearly that ample is up for someone to take it up for a bunch of people to take it, and you seen a bunch of different times happening. My sense talking to people from from my reporting is it. The two sides are held in place loathing of the other side there when you really get down to brass tacks. The reason they don't, This kind of thing just stop everything is there that the argument that works with them as you will remember when they did this to us and then it's like theirs, is
constant both like retroactive and prospective escalation in retaliation happening in Congress. The really is important. The psychological dynamics of the people in it, but again why Lamar, Alexander and Michael Bennett- and you know you name for others- that there are these Susan call intake. There are these folks in their who you talk to them. They like the way it's going and they do not stop it, and I don't think, there's a good answer. don't think this is one where the system has such powerful modes of retaliation. That I don't think you be unpopular ages, it's very, very, very unclear to me. So I've been reading plenty about Theodore Roosevelt.
is a guy who you really like scrambled up the pieces on the chessboard and and sort of on did a very polarized party system and an interesting fact about him white is that the super polarize gilded age parties came out of the civil war in which you know exactly. As I was saying right any time somebody would say like. Maybe we should, but people like remember The time the Democrats, tragic literally destroyed the country or a right remember when the Republicans sent a giant army and burn down your brother's house, so we would like very bitter and when eventually the torture political leadership passed. Two guys like Roosevelt, who had little kids during some more like
individual ambition, like maybe I could become president. If I did some crazy popular stuff and like I could master the system like started to rise above it ripe and Donald Trump at time, seems like that kind of figure. Right like somebody who was not invested in the particular partisan disputes of Bush era right who is just like, do something else right in. Like Republicans, don't want me to do this, like I'm just going to go, I'm going to speak to the people I'm going to go on tv, but then he personally, he has the gumption two like scramble partisan alignments and to not do what you're supposed to do, but he just does not have the intellectual capacity to like followed. Right and rich and complex anything or it's just not in his interest, because there was a vote was like one of the youngest ain't, the youngest ex president, which has trivia that I know for reasons. I will not go into
Punkahs Bay was because your own jeopardy. There was this. This is. This is why I lost, but you also know yeah yeah it was it was. It was like a decade ago guys at a really gonna talk about it, but then why is it like? Did our Roosevelt also was operating in a system that hadn't yet passed presidential term limits so like the fear by which he was gonna. Do this early in his career and then continue to steer a ship of, if not state, then at least a political party for like decades was via whereas Donald Trump is like? Seventy Gunnar leg, be president that's. Probably the last major thing he's gonna do with his life. It's not clear that there is any benefit for him in try to do anything. That's gonna last after, he's gone rather than kind of like ride. The gilded ship of state into port can can, I ask, final question to be altered in the pot guessed it is mine, but every no its not could be about everybody. I have not read
good book on Theodore. Roosevelt would either view we have under recommend. Is her Biographia viewpoint, on Roosevelt. I have not read any Roosevelt biographies. I am just tainted by rage, as a strenuous life is excellent. I just finished it. Ok, I should phrase it body, I hate you. I air evolve that's the way. What is it we ask eyes thanks to Alex her back to our producer? Bridget Armstrong, our engineered a retainer extra sponsors of you out there, glistening listening. If you can pose any questions in the form of answers, enemies, Facebook group, We were going to suffer the questions in the form of answers and we don't understand those questions. That is not our elicited a dimple in Vienna public about right. All questions are formed in the port of Antwerp signs. Barbara comments barometer added a question mark at the end of it, and you know why you're much
a pretty. I keep in mind that the weeds has been nominated. This year's people's choice pod cast you can vote for the weeds for pre by going to progress towards dot com or by tapping them in the show. No voting ends Tuesday July thirty first, so do not wait for the podcast cast awards. Dot com right now to Castro, wrote for the weeds and we'll be back Frank.
Transcript generated on 2021-09-12.