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Will Double Haters Park Their Votes on RFK, Jr?

April 5, 2024
Notes
Transcript
Matt Bennett of Third Way joins to discuss the end of No Labels, RFK, Jr., and other third parties as well as Florida’s new abortion law.

highlights / lowlights

Mona: Karl Rove admonishing Trump’s embrace of January 6 criminals (audio)

Damon: Why We Can’t Stop Arguing About Whether Trump Is a Fascist (Andrew Marantz, New Yorker)

Matt: How the No Labels 2024 Presidential Campaign Failed to Launch (WSJ)

Bill: Build Back Faster (Sean Kennedy, City Journal)

show notes

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:01

    This podcast is brought to you by Better Help. Welcome to Beg to Differ, the Bulwark weekly roundtable discussion featuring civil conversation. Across the political spectrum, we range from center left to center right. I’m Mona Sharon policy editor at Bulwark and syndicated columnist, and I am joined by our regulars, Will Saletan of the Brookings Institute in the Wall Street Journal, Damon Lincoln, who writes the sub stack newsletter notes from the middle ground. Linda Chavez is off this week, but our special guest is Matt Bennett of third way.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:44

    Welcome. Gentleman All. Alright. I’d like to start our conversation this week about third parties in general. Matt, the last time you were with us, we talked quite a bit about no labels and the potential spoiler effect that no labels might have in the general election.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:06

    Our own Will Saletan was a person who was involved in the creation of no labels, but then broke with them over that issue. Since we last spoke, a number of things have happened. First of all, they cannot seem to find a candidate to agree to run on their platform. And the other thing is that Joe Lieberman, who was one of the leaders of that effort has sadly passed away. So tell us where things stand with no labels, and then we’ll get into the other third parties after that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:39

    On the question of where do things stand with no labels, we don’t really know. No labels is a kind of bizarrely secretive organization. They, of course, don’t reveal who their donors are and they don’t reveal their processes internally or otherwise. They they haven’t revealed how they’ve picked the people they call delegates. They say they have eight hundred delegates.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:01

    We don’t know who they are. The meetings with their delegates are secret. And in particular, we don’t know their process for choosing a nominee. They have made a lot of noise about how their bringing small d democracy to this process. But in fact, their nominee is being chosen by a small group of elites who run no labels.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:21

    And lately, they have stopped talking to reporters about this. I’ve heard this from half a dozen reporters that their calls aren’t being returned anymore. In part, that’s because, as you noted at the outset, a lot of people have said no to no labels. They have offered their ballot line to at least two dozen people that we know of. Most of them former governors, people like that, but they include people further afield like Condeliza Rice and the rock and a whole host of folks.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:52

    They even offered their presidential ballot line to Jeff Duncan. And and this is the second most famous Jeff Duncan in politics. The first most famous is everyone undoubtedly knows as a member of Congress. The second most famous Jeff Duncan is a former one term lieutenant governor of Georgia. It’s that guy that they were gonna nominate for president, and he said no.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:16

    But then most famously,
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:18

    He is a good guy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:19

    I think that’s the others. Paul Bagal is not Jeff Dog is a great guy because he he’s on CNN and Yeah. And and look, I applaud Jeff Duncan for saying no to this, ridiculous enterprise. However, The the last person publicly to say no, and he did it very publicly, an interview in the Washington Post on the very day that Joe Lieberman passed away is Chris Christie and Christie was very clear. He looked at this very hard.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:46

    He did a poll checking to see whether he could be competitive in a three, four, or five way race. And the answer was absolutely not. And so he bowed out very wisely and we’re hoping that others will follow his lead, but we don’t know for sure.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:05

    Right. Right. Right. So Joe mansion, Larry Hogan, a whole bunch of people have turned them down. So we don’t know where that’s going.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:12

    Do you know how many ballots they
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:14

    succeeded in the morning? Nineteen ballots, including at least four battleground states, Wisconsin, which is the latest battleground, Nevada, North Carolina and Arizona, And then fifteen other states, they they claim to be gathering signatures in roughly another dozen And then there’s a bunch of states where they can’t yet gather signatures because the state law doesn’t allow it yet or because they don’t have candidates. And so they’re under the gun now. They they had said that they were gonna think of Canada around Super Tuesday. That’s now a month ago.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:50

    In New York, they cannot start gathering signatures until the sixteenth of this month of April, and they have to have named their ticket by then. And they only have a short window to gather forty five thousand signatures. So that’s a real problem for them. And if they claim as they do that they’re in this to win the election, which is laughable for a million reasons, not being on the ballot in New York is kind of a problem. So we feel like the windows closing rapidly for them to make a decision.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:21

    Okay. But that’s not the whole story regarding third parties. In this election, we have a significant chunk of the electorate that are the so called double haters. People who are dismayed by the prospect of either Trump or Biden, and a lot of those people are casting their lonely eyes at the moment on Robert f Kennedy Junior. He is just on one ballot as I understand it, Utah, But what’s your analysis of where things stand with him?
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:55

    I think he’s also on in Hawaii. So he’s racing forward, with two giant states, y in Utah. Look, our analysis is that he is likely to be on the ballot in most or all states. Because as you say, he has gotten a lot of attention. His name is Robert f Kennedy Junior.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:13

    That is the reason for most of his attention. And he has brought to the ticket. His vice presidential running mate is somebody with absolutely no discernible qualifications to be vice president other than she is over the age of thirty five and born in the United States. Nicole, Shannon, her huge advantage that she brings is that she was married to somebody who has a hundred and twenty billion dollars. She was married to sergei Brin, and unless she has a very bad divorce lawyer, she is very wealthy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:47

    And, and what that means is that Her money is what we call politics, hard money. Candidates can spend unlimited amounts in federal races on their own election themselves. And she’s a candidate. So all the money she brings can be spent on things like ballot access, which if she wasn’t on the ticket and a relative popper was in that slot they’d have to raise that from other people in, you know, thirty three hundred dollar increments, and that’s very hard to do.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:13

    Right. And you need to raise money because you need to hire the to get the signatures to get on ballots. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:18

    Right. You don’t have to hire them. Ross Perot was on fifty ballots. Then and he got there with volunteers because that was a grassroots effort that had a lot of excitement behind him. I guess it’s conceivable that Kennedy could do that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:32

    But, those signatures are a lot less reliable and, it takes a long time to organize volunteers that way. There’s no evidence that the Kennedy campaign has that kind of organizational prowess. I mean, Kennedy’s campaign manager was Dennis Cucinich. He quit the campaign. He replaced Cucinnege with his daughter-in-law, and she hired her nanny to be the chief of staff of the campaign.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:55

    So let’s just say it isn’t the a team running the Kennedy campaign, and, they’ve got a pretty long road to hoe to get on those ballots. So they probably have to hire people to do it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:06

    Bill, what’s your sense? So when when, Kennedy’s name first came up last year, There was a sense that he would hurt Biden, because he comes from a famous family of Democrats. And, But then people said, oh, wait. He’s a vaccine denier. He’s a he’s a, he his specialty is disinformation and misinformation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:31

    Therefore, maybe he’ll take votes from Trump. What’s your sense of it?
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:37

    Well, he has some high profile issues which would seem to overlap with Trump’s pretty substantially. So you might you might say that, but It is very difficult to describe the eclectic coalition of support that he’s put together. Because, you know, one of his one of his great emphasis is on health as he understands it. And so there are all these all these weird sort of health spin offs, and, you know, so He has he has some agricultural proposals that are very attractive to a certain portion of the green left He’s put out a proposal, for three percent mortgages for first time homebuyers, which is not the silliest idea I’ve ever heard by the way, which is very appealing to young people trying to get started. So there is no ideological consist see whatsoever to the coalition.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:44

    It’s a coalition of discontent. Which but there’s plenty of discontent to go around in the cut tree. And, you know, and he appears to be speaking a kind of language that is attractive to a bunch of people who are totally disenchanted with the status quo with politics as usual, with politicians, with the two parties, you name it. And as Matt said, when you add his name to that cocktail, you have a beverage that a lot people are finding to be potable. And and I I personally believe that when the dust settles on election day, there’s going to be the highest total highest chair of non major party candidates, you know, receiving votes, since probably nineteen ninety six.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:42

    When Perot got eight percent and others got about another two percent. And as we saw in twenty sixteen, when the, non major party vote total was just six percent, That was more than enough to skew the results. So this time, when people are polling not just three way races, but a five way race. And if no labels comes up with a candidate, they’ll have to do six way races. The and the analytical landscape gets very, very complicated, but, I’m pretty sure that out of that entire crop, RfK junior, is going to get more non major party votes than anyone else.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:33

    Damon, people when they look at his support have a tendency to say well, people don’t really know what he stands for. If they knew his crazy views, his support would be nowhere near the levels that we’re seeing, you know, ten percent of the electorate or something like that. But, you know, we don’t live in the world of sanity and politics anymore. We live in a world where tens of millions of Americans are happy to say that they wanna see Donald Trump back in the Oval Office. And so I’m wondering what you think about whether people just don’t care that RfK junior says things like, you know, he was the big propagator of the myth that vaccines contained microchips designed by Bill Gates to put in your body.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:31

    He is, you know, he he thinks that, you know, vaccines cause autism and he propounds that myth. He has engaged in some really gross, ethnic and and religious stereotypes saying that the virus that causes COVID, was designed to exclude Asians and Jews. He is a nut He believes that his father was not killed by sir Han sir Han, who confessed, but by the CIA on and on and on. He is like the, you know, embarrassing relative at the table at Thanksgiving that nobody wants to hear talk, but I don’t know. So what what do you think?
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:19

    Yeah. Another one. Another one. So what what do you think, Damon? Do you think they know and don’t mind, or do you think that once people are more familiar as they will be because Joe Biden has a pile of money?
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:30

    And by the way, Donald Trump has started to attack RfK junior too. He calls him a communist or words that thing.
  • Speaker 4
    0:13:38

    Sounds about right for our moment of politics. I would say, I agree with you. That RfK Junior cannot win the presidency. But I I am very worried about him and what he’s gonna do to Joe Biden. I, I to to start at one random place, perhaps.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:04

    Gallup released, its long standing survey in January, measuring satisfaction with the way things are going in the US. The result was that seventy nine percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied. With the way the country is going. That is a huge portion of the electorate. There’s pretty much nothing else where you can get almost four out of five Americans to agree about something in our time.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:35

    And he has that very large pool of people to draw on. I urge you, everyone here and everyone listening to this podcast to take a listen to a video that RfK put out on the night of the state of the union where he gave kind of his alternative state of the union. It was obviously done before he heard the speech of Biden so it doesn’t directly respond. To Biden, but it is about I think it’s nine minutes long. It is extremely compelling.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:09

    It is three to four minutes of pure mainline into my veins nostalgia. For mid twentieth century American greatness. Everything we did, everything the government accomplished. We went to the moon civil rights, triumph, all this stuff. It’s like straight out of something from like a Ronald Reagan speech.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:33

    And then he pivots to the to the present, and that it is an endless litany of everything that has gone wrong. From the Iraq war to the response to COVID to, to withdraw from Afghanistan to surging rates of everything from obesity to, mental illness, suicide, addiction. It’s an What does he propose to respond to any of this? Nothing, but it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t need to win the presidency.
  • Speaker 4
    0:16:07

    But could he win ten percent of the vote by giving that message over and over and over again that these two guys Trump at least now I’m speaking as Kennedy on a debate stage. Trump at least recognizes all of this as a problem. But he’s a lunatic who you can’t trust to get anything done to fix it. And this guy, Biden, is implicated in all of it. And I am left here as the one man who’s standing up to tell you the truth about how broken the country is.
  • Speaker 4
    0:16:43

    That message I think will resonate, and I, again, not to win, but to pull Biden down such that we end up with a, you know, I could totally see. Like, I saw Paul the other day from Arizona. Swinkade Paul, and it had, I believe it had Trump at, like, thirty nine percent buying at thirty four in RfK in the high single digits. I could totally see that as a national, results. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:11

    So, it seems to me that the question is, who will he pull votes from? Now I haven’t seen the video that you mentioned, but it sounds from your description as if That appeal is not gonna peel away people who were gonna vote for Biden. It’s gonna peel away, maybe, people who are gonna vote for Trump. Although I’m not even convinced that anybody who’s planning to vote for trump can be peeled off Trump because they love him. And, and, you know, why would you vote for Robert f Kennedy when you can have the real thing, in interim sought I
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:53

    Could I just briefly just say my my answer to that question is he’s going to peel away low information voters who are generally disgusted by all of them. And Some of them will come from the Democratic Party. Some will come from the Republicans, not Trump’s core, but peripheral people who tend to get folded in to the Republican vote, by the time we get to election day. So just a few, fringey, you know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:26

    Okay. We’re
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:27

    talking three to five percent, maybe from each and and, and I because he’s a Kennedy, I tend to assume it’ll slightly tilt more toward damage to Biden. You know, he does come out of a specific kind of democratic party milieu. This is like college town anti Vietnam war protester hippies who kind of never left the town. And still sort of vote for Democrats, but they’re quirky and they don’t like vaccines and they distrust science and fluoride might be something by the government. Like, These are not us.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:05

    This isn’t people like us who study politics and talk about it all the time and fixate on it. These are people who who are really out there but they are in the coalitions of the two parties and could be wooed away. That’s what I worry about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:20

    Matt, what do you think about that issue? Who we pulls from?
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:25

    Well, I agree that it is very, very hard to know. I I I do wanna inject one thing. I just got seven thousand texts because no labels just announced they’re not gonna run a candidate.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:36

    Oh my god.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:38

    Yeah. So I apologize for being slightly distracted there for a moment because everyone on planet Earth just texted me. But,
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:48

    congratulations.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:49

    Yes, sweet.
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:51

    To all
  • Speaker 5
    0:19:51

    of us.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:52

    Whoa. Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:53

    I I I do wanna, just go back to something you mentioned earlier, my bill wrote two very, very important columns in the Wall Street Journal about this. I would guess at some personal cost to him because he put a lot of his heart and soul into that organization when they were doing good things. And so I just wanna thank him for his sacrifice there. And and there was a big coalition that worked on this, and I think it’s really, really good news. However, we still have problems as you were looting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:27

    And my feeling has always been that anything that divides the anti Trump coalition, is bad. Sarah Longwell insists, and I think she’s correct that this is the anti trump, not the pro Biden coalition, that for sure the truth. And we have gotta keep our eye on that. And we just don’t know how the Kennedy thing’s gonna cut. Bill made this point.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:51

    And and really when you look at national polling, like, it doesn’t mean anything. I mean, what we’re talking about are tiny numbers of votes in tiny places Well, not tiny places.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:01

    It’s in
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:01

    swing states.
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:02

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:02

    Right. In swing states, so like Maricopa County and Detroit and Milwaukee. And so are they fitness bros and vax weirdos or are they people who are just low information voters that like the idea of a Kennedy? You know, he’s been going around saying that he has very high, poll numbers. And my answer to that is, no, your father has high poll numbers.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:25

    Yeah. You know, like, those aren’t yours, dude. Like, those are people who who don’t know the difference because they’re not political obsessives
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:32

    who Yeah. But they vote.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:34

    But they definitely vote. And so that’s what I worry about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:38

    Yeah. Okay. Anything else about the other people in the race like, where are we with, with, Will Saletan and, and who else? Cornell West? I mean, are they still in the picture, and can they pull fractions of the vote?
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:57

    They are, but I would say there’s a couple of important things to keep in mind. One is West is not yet on the ballot. I think he may be on in one state, but not in any of the battleground states.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:07

    Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:07

    And it’s not clear to me that he has the organizational or financial where will all behind his campaign to do that as we discuss its can be hard to do.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:15

    If
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:15

    he does get on in one of the swing states, he’s a real problem. Stein is on the ballot in a couple dozen states because the green party has ballot access. But, one mistake that will is certain that the Biden team writ large, meaning the Biden campaign and and his allies will will not repeat from twenty sixteen is ignoring people like Will Saletan and Cornell West. We did that in sixteen. I think it made sense back then, given what we knew then.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:45

    But in retrospect, horrible error. We will make sure people know that Will Saletan is a Putin puppet she went and had dinner with him. She’s a terrible person. And she’s no one should park a protest vote with Will Saletan. And and, Cornell West is a completely different thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:05

    There’s a lot of folks in the civil rights community that are working to kind of try to convince doctor West that this is probably not the year to do this, and I I just don’t know what’s gonna happen there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:14

    Okay. One more third party question, and that is the libertarian party has gotten on the ballot. I think in all fifty states, in the last, like, four or five presidential cycles. There has been talk of a Kennedy, link up with the libertarian party, which would truly be strange bedfellows, but then again, the libertarians can be a little strange too. So what any any insights on that
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:43

    Well, not many because the libertarians are an odd bunch, but I can tell you this, there was a kind of hostile takeover of the libertarian party by a radicalized faction. They’re kind of mega, but kind of not. Some of them are very anti Semitic and they now control the party. The woman who is the national chair is from that. They call it the Mises faction.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:07

    And they are attracted to RfK because he is famous and you know, his his ticket has a lot of money behind it. Which I guess they feel is good for their brand. But if you look at RfK’s positions on everything other than basically vaccines, he’s kind of the opposite of the libertarians. He’s a big government liberal. And,
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:30

    so also just can I interrupt briefly? He also recommended that, the Koch brothers when they were two, that they’d be taken to the Hague and put on trial for war crimes. You know, the Coke brothers have basic underwritten every libertarian organization in America.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:47

    Yeah. It’s completely bananas for them to even consider endorsing him. But, you know, money and fame get you a long way.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:57

    I could just add a couple of things.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:59

    Yeah. Sure thing.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:00

    First of all, The libertarians I’ve noticed are as capable of political cynicism as any other group. And putting RfK junior at the top of their ticket would be the best thing ever to happen to the libertarians as a political force, even if ideologically and programmatically, it makes no sense whatsoever. So that’s point number one. Point number two just to illustrate how imponderable the entire situation is when you add the third parties to the mix, let’s go back let’s go back to the survey, that I think, Damon was alluding to. In the two way race in Arizona, according to my home newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, trump has a five point edge, forty seven to forty two.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:55

    Now what happens if you move from the two way race to the five way race. Answer Trump has a five point lead in Arizona. But this time, thirty nine to thirty four, Kennedy gets thirteen percent west to stein one. So you tell me from whom is Rf k junior drawing more votes. And the answer is I don’t care how sharp you are with a pencil.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:27

    There is no way of figuring this out, and there probably won’t be. And I’ll add one more thing you know, based on our experience with parole, it depends on the the question of whom he draws more from Depends on how high a vote total he ends up with. Because if he ends up with half of thirteen, that half will not be a microcosm of the thirteen. It will have a different composition. And so we can keep on asking these questions, but I assure you we won’t have the answers until election day and perhaps not even then.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:05

    Well, and what happens between now and election day can affect that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:09

    Oh, god knows. Yes. Of course. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:11

    You know, so so, yeah. I mean, gonna be up to the campaigns to try to educate people about the things that he has set in done. But, yeah, Damon, you wanted you wanted to make a comment
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:21

    Just a quick comment, about Cornell West and whether he’s gonna be someone to worry about. I agree that if he did win and if he did run and had ballot access. He would be another big worry. But I’ve been working on actually a piece about a lot of this stuff that hopefully will be out in the next week. And I as part of doing that, I looked up Cornell West and his campaign.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:45

    I wanted to see of his speeches and so forth. It’s hard to even find anything. I don’t really believe he’s running. He’s he’s going on trip around the country one or two a week. He’s apparently giving talks in the in these places, but he doesn’t even really post the videos.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:04

    Like, I couldn’t find video of him giving a speech within the last three weeks. That is not the behavior of someone who’s running president. I think I think he likes the buzz around him that he’s one of these candidates and he does have a whole bunch of issues he cares about and he’s the I think at this point, he’s the prototypical example of a guy who’s running in order to get his, get his issues talked about, but he is not gonna, he’s not gonna last.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:31

    Interesting. Yeah, I’ve re it reminds me of, I think it was in two thousand. I can’t remember the exact year, but when Fred Thompson was talked about as the, Republican possible Republican candidate that year, And people noted that he too was kinda lazy about doing events and wasn’t really putting his heart into it. And, somebody came up with the great Bonmo, they said, yeah. There was an eerie lackawanna on his part.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:02

    Alright. Well, let’s leave that for, for this week, and we will move on to another topic. But first, let’s, hear from the folks at Better Help. So how is your social battery right now? Do you feel drained?
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:18

    Do you feel bursting with energy? Think about why that might be. I mean, it is springtime, and some of us are getting out. We’re being invited to backyard barbecue grills, and we’re seeing more of our neighbors. And if that makes you feel great, terrific, but a lot of people get anxious at the idea of being out and socializing more.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:40

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  • Speaker 1
    0:30:09

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  • Speaker 1
    0:30:48

    That’s betterhelp h e l p dot com slash beg to differ. Alright. So this week, the Florida Supreme Court came down with a decision that could be highly significant, because they did two things at once. One thing that they did was that they held that the, right to privacy that is in the Florida constitution does not cover abortion. And therefore, the legislature’s enactment of an of a six week abortion ban is institutional and may go into effect next month, May first.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:31

    They also ruled that the question of whether, abortion can be on the ballot as a constitutional amendment is proper and can be voted on in November. And so this sets up Florida a very important state as a place where abortion is very much, not only is it going to be on the ballot in November, but between now and then, There are going to be lots and lots of people who are going to experience the effect of a six week abortion ban, which as everyone knows, is, you know, early enough in pregnancy that many or most women don’t know they’re pregnant at that point. So I’m gonna start with you, Matt. What do you think is the significance?
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:25

    Florida is a hell hole and a swamp for Democrats in American politics, which I loathe with every fiber of my being. I am
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:36

    a Don’t hold back, Matt.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:37

    I’m a gore person. And I have terrible, terrible memories of, that night when when they announced Florida for us, and the step I was with Gaur. We ran out into the hallway, and we were hugging his daughters, and we’re dancing. And then the whole Yeah. Thing that happened later.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:56

    And then that happened again in two thousand four. It did not quite the same way, but Florida is I believe fools gold for Democrats. Every it’s like, you know, pick your metaphor. Charlie Brown, the football. Every year, it looks enticing, and then we lose by six.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:16

    And I think if we spend a lot of money in Florida, because of this abortion decision, we are insane. The I I hope the Republicans have to spend a lot of money. There are some interesting house races in Florida. There are there are people there who are out of touch with their constituents and I think there’s places where there’s real opportunity. But I do not believe that either Florida or Texas are on the near horizon for Democrats, and I hope that we don’t take the bait.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:44

    Damon, I see you nodding. I will note that Trump won Florida by three point three points in twenty twenty. So not six, Matt, but But but we
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:54

    won that year Like, you know, in
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:57

    years, we moved. We
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:58

    lose way more.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:59

    Yeah. Yeah. But I I hear you. But look, it has been it has been trending very red, in in recent years, but The fact is that Florida was, pretty much the only state in the Southern United States where abortion was legal. After Dops.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:22

    So it is now going to be the case that it’s going to be for anybody who wants to get an abortion. They’re gonna have to travel from all the southern states, including South Florida. They’re gonna have to travel as far north as Virginia or Illinois up you know, go west northwest. So it’s, you know, it’s it’s significant, and it’s also the case. Just playing Devil’s advocate here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:50

    In every single election, since Dobbs, where abortion has been on the ballot, the pro the the the pro choice forces have succeeded, even in red states.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:02

    I have a couple things say on this. One is I was nodding when Matt was talking because I appreciate, that kind of of what I see as kind of sober calculus about where Democrats are likely to pick things up and not. And I am skeptical, especially about Texas, and I agree that Florida has been painful many, many times. I don’t think it’s likely to flip. And I think if Democrats spend a lot of money, they’re thinking they’re going to win, that would be a mistake.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:32

    However, Biden has a lot of money in his war chest and Trump absolutely does not and will never because even if they get more money, he’s gonna siphon it off to pay for his lawyer bills. And so if you can convince the Trump campaign that they are vulnerable in Florida, by making a push and make them have to spend there, even if they don’t really have to, but make them fear they have to, That could, could be an effective kind of mind game to play with the Trump campaign. So that might be worth it. The other thing I would say is I very much remember quite vividly the two thousand four campaign and the kind of crowing that you heard from people like Carl Grove about crediting Bush’s victory that year. To putting on the ballots around, I think, eighteen states around the country, gay marriage, events, or anti gay marriage, amendments on state ballots, to drive up, the voter turnout and it, and it, you know, at least it contributed.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:40

    I don’t know if it was the decisive variable. But it helped to drive turnout for Republicans. If the Democrats can get these kind of ballot initiatives on states around around the country, it could make a real difference in making sure. Not just that, like, yeah, a lot of, a lot of Democrats especially women are exercised about this issue, but it’s kind of noisy and there are lots of things going on, and it’s been a couple of years. And maybe they’re not remembering how important this issue is.
  • Speaker 4
    0:37:12

    But if it’s actually on the ballot at the state level in that same year. That’s an extra added incentive to make sure that those motivated voters are motivated enough to show up that morning. So if, you know, if this if this rumbling in Florida is a sign of that kind of a strategy, I think it’s a very healthy one and I hope it I hope it prevails there and around the country. Even if the Democrats still end up falling short. And Florida, it could end up leading to the opposite of results in places that are much closer.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:51

    Bill, I’d love to hear your reaction to what Matt and Damon both said, but also I wanna present this. This will probably force Trump to weigh in. I mean, he is after all a resident of Florida. He’s going to have to answer whether he’s for the six week ban, or not. And, you know, he has been very slippery about this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:17

    And has clearly decided that the abortion issue isn’t isn’t a winner for Republicans might might make things a little uncomfortable. What do you think?
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:26

    Well, a couple of points. First of all, he vociferously rejected the Super suite band. During his competition with DeSantis and to turn around and embrace it now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:39

    That’s true.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:40

    Well, for any other person in the universe, I would say raise credibility issue. What can I say? Now, to match point, to to match point, I was a Gore guy too, you know, I feel his pain, as a matter of fact, shame on you for making me rel reliving. But but, I note I note the following with some interest. There have been two polls taken in Florida.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:21

    In the, you know, in the past month. Trump was, of course, ahead in both of them. In one case by six points, in another case by seven, but interestingly, he was below fifty percent in both of them. And, you know, I think that the Democrats could make a lot of mischief in Florida. And so if they are awash in cash, I think of the political malpractice not to play there.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:52

    On the other hand, you know, remembering back to twenty sixteen, they had better make it make pretty darn sure that they’re, you know, that the allocation of time and resources to Florida especially candidate resources would not come at the expense of states that are much more winnable footnote here to North Sarah Longwell. Which is also a stretch, but not as much of a stretch as Florida. If you look at the party registration figures in Florida and the trends over the past decade, They are disastrous for Democrats. The last time I looked, which was yesterday, I think the Republicans now have a registration edge of nearly eight hundred thousand in Florida.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:39

    Just another example of the evils of immigration because that’s all those new residents of Florida, the conservatives who are moving in from out of state.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:51

    Well, interestingly, That’s a great contrast with North Carolina where it’s more upscale professionals who lean liberal. Yeah. You know, moving into the research triangle, etcetera. So the tectonics in North Carolina are just the opposite of what they are in Florida. And I I don’t know whether this is a North Carolina year for Democrats, but I think it’s a reasonable prediction.
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:15

    Though, although it’s been a will of a wisp, really, you know, for most of the past forty year, close to fifty years now, that it’s not it’s not gonna be out of reach indefinitely.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:30

    Yeah, but this year, I mean, just I’m not a political professional. I tend to focus on policy, not not campaigns so much, but it just You’re in the wrong country more. I’m afraid so. True. True.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:45

    Anyway, but Like, I, considering the razor thin margins these days, I would spend all of my money in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Nevada, Nevada, places that are swing states and not try for, you know, oh, maybe we could win Florida. Maybe we could win North Carolina. You know, because those are very not very unlikely, but unlikely enough. So
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:07

    Well, we’re we’re agreeing vehemently.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:09

    Okay. Alright. Alright. Thunderous agreement there. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:12

    Let’s talk about a poll that came out, this week about what Americans think is important to American identity. And I found so the way the reason I wanted to talk about it is that the people who who commissioned this poll, presented it as good news. Look look how much agreement there is about basic American values. And I looked at it and I thought, oh, please. Only twenty one percent of American adult think that democracy is the greatest system of government.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:47

    It also found that a minority of Republicans think that freedom of the press is a is key, is a key American value. What did you think, Damon, of the survey. Am I reading your name?
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:00

    No. I think I think the survey is I mean, it’s the kind of thing that we’ve been talking about noticing for a long time. I think especially younger Americans are sort of unmoored from the deeper narrative of the last century. I mean, for people of my generation and over, which is pretty much everyone on this podcast, There was a kind of deeply, entrenched and accepted story of of world history and America’s role in that history that that sort of begins with roughly the second world war. And America reluctantly joining the fight coming out of that fight, as of the, you know, preeminent world power having defeated the access powers, hoping that this would be the end of of having to engage that powerfully in kind of leading the world and then only to discover, oh, our sort of allies on the other side.
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:09

    The Soviets have, you know, pushed out Rob, Germany, into, eastern and then Central Europe, and they’re not they’re not stopping. They’re staying there. They haven’t withdrawn. Oh, no. Are are we like now facing another possible war?
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:27

    We’re we’re responsible for these war destroyed, nations of western Europe and also Japan. Then there’s the Chinese revolution, and it looks like communism is spreading around the globe and we’re in the Cold War. That story that then culminates in the the end of the Soviet Union and the late eighties and the unipolar moment to quote Charlie Sykes Crowhammer from the early nineties. Francis Fukuyama, the end of history, could this be the final stage of of of government the most satisfying form of politics imaginable. All of these arguments.
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:07

    Some of them too extreme for my taste to to rosy. Triumph. Triumpolous. But, you know, when you actually read into things like, Fukuyama’s great book. You see that it’s it’s actually a very nuanced and extremely interesting and compelling book and but the important point for this context is that it created a narrative.
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:32

    In which things sort of made sense. And you had to assimilate events that happened to home and abroad into that story. And I think for young people today who are born after the end of the cold war, let alone those like my current students today at Penn who were born after nine eleven. That is a distant memory that they barely know about. From history classes.
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:58

    And they just sort of look out at the world that’s been presented to them since, the September eleventh attacks. And everything’s kinda up for grabs. Oh, communism. That sounds interesting. I kinda like that.
  • Speaker 4
    0:46:10

    Like, it’s all it’s it’s unmoored from actual historical experiences, and I think we do a very poor job of trying to, teach those lessons to our kids, and the result is findings from that survey. Now I’m assuming most of the people on the more depressing side of those answers are younger people don’t wanna sound like an old man yelling at the kids these days, but I do think it’s worth saying a little bit these kids these days, man, on on that issue, at least.
  • Speaker 1
    0:46:42

    Matt, so the cold war was in spiriting, I would say, for for Americans in the sense that it it clarified who we were, why our values were important, what we were against. We were against you know, that as, I think Orwell put it, you know, the boot on the neck of humanity forever, which is what the the communist totalitarians were for, and, it gave us a sense of self confidence and a sense of mission and meaning that is very much gone. But even before the cold war, there was a kind of civic religion in this country, respect for the founding and for, you know, individual liberty, and there were all of these ideas were were American ideas even before the Cold War And yet, these these survey results seem to suggest that, even such basic ideas as freedom of speech, you know, being being essential and essential American value, it doesn’t seem to have the same purchase. Are we are we not conveying to young people or to the whole society. Those traditional American virtues?
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:02

    I think there’s no question that we’re failing to do that. The thing that strikes me about what Damon said about a student’s And I was a pen in the eighties is how far we are, not only from the cold war, and the kind of object lesson of totalitarian communism, but world war two and the object lesson of totalitarian fascism. And and young people have absolutely no lived experience of that. My father was a history professor. I can tell you, like, they have no understanding of history.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:37

    Bill may remember this twenty years ago when third grade was just being founded he helped us on a poll that we wanted to do, and we asked an open ended poll question, what was the cold war? This was in two thousand five. And we graded on a curve. So if you said anything that was remotely right, Russia, communist, we graded those right. Forty five percent the people in two thousand five could say could utter something correct about the cold war.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:04

    So people have no frame of reference for any of this. And they have grown up living in a in a in, you know, the relative freedoms that we enjoy now with no understanding of how tenuous they can be and how scary it could be to lose them or what that would look like in their lives. And I think in addition to our failure to teach civics and our failure to understand how the American system works, people don’t have any idea how bad it could get. And, if you look around the world, the rise of right wing authoritarianism illiberal democracies, like Hungary, it it is a terrifying moment for Americans not to understand all that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:46

    What do you think, Bill?
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:48

    Sure. I I hate to be the skunk at the garden party here because, you know, I can give a cultural pessimism speech as well as the next man. But are we talking about the same poll?
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:02

    Go for it. Alright.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:04

    Let me just let me just put some results on the table. I I assume that we’re talking about the poll that AP teamed up with the National Opinion Research Center, Bulwark.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:15

    Correct.
  • Speaker 4
    0:50:16

    To do.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:17

    Okay. And I haven’t looked at the internals of the poll, but here are some top lines for our joint consideration. You know, the percentage of the US adults who say the following is extremely or very important to American identity. Equal protection under the law, ninety one percent. Right to vote ninety one percent.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:40

    Freedom of speech, ninety percent. Right to privacy, eighty eight percent. Freedom of religion, eighty four, right of the people to assemble peacefully, eighty three, freedom of the press, seventy seven, and on on the press without breathing hard, I know why there’s, you know, I don’t even have to look at the internals to know why it’s seventy seven rather than the high eighties or the nineties, but if the criterion is the breakdown of consensus on constitutional essentials, then at least on the surface, the results of this poll tell the opposite story. So why why should I add to my already exaggerated sensible arm based on this survey. That’s my question.
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:29

    Okay. Well, let’s talk about the freedom of the press one. So, the you know, and we all know why it’s seventy seven and not ninety seven, and that’s because Republicans you’re grown very disenchanted. But it is one thing to say, I don’t like the way we are using our freedom. And it’s another thing to say this freedom is not essential to American, life.
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:57

    Right? Or is that distinction too fine for a for a poll?
  • Speaker 3
    0:52:01

    Look. Look, I I mean, if you ask fine grain questions, you can get fine grain answers. The only thing I’m saying is that, you know, I have many reasons for alarm about the state of American constitutional Republican democracy. This poll, I have to say, the delta
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:24

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:52:24

    The additional alarm is indistinguishable from zero.
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:28

    Okay. Alright. That’s good. Good. I like that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:30

    Let let me just note that there’s also a PBS Marist poll. There were a few other organizations in it too long to say them all. But anyway, they found that, One in five, twenty percent of Americans say that they we may have to resort to violence to get the country back on track. And, that, oh, and and forty one percent of Americans overall say that, the country is so far off track that it needs a leader willing to break rules and that was, including fifty six percent of Republicans said that. On the other hand, Bill, there’s a glimmer of light there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:13

    They also asked who was leading in the presidential preference. And guess what? Biden was ahead of Trump in this poll.
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:22

    All I can say, Mona, is that I’ve been part of a team conducting survey research now for more than a decade And in the past five years, we’ve we’ve asked exactly those questions and gotten exactly those answers. Yeah. And, So so, yeah, I’m not I’m not gonna I’m not gonna deny that having helped to create this consensus. Yeah. But still, the the and we have a lot to worry about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:53

    Okay. My
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:53

    only point is that this latest poll doesn’t add to the sum of worries.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:58

    Fair enough. I’m glad you begged Beg to Differ. Alright. Let us finish up with this and have a note now from miracle made. Did you know that your temperature at night can have one of the greatest impacts on your sleep quality?
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    0:54:14

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  • Speaker 1
    0:56:01

    And we thank them for sponsoring this podcast. Alright. We have come to our final segment highlight or low light of the week. Damon Lincoln.
  • Speaker 4
    0:56:09

    Well, you know, I’m tempted to say that, no labels failing to find a candidate is the highlight of my week, but I can’t with Matt here. Can’t take
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:18

    it now.
  • Speaker 4
    0:56:18

    Yes. Exactly. We never do that, but now it gets mentioned yet again. I I’m actually gonna go back to a New Yorker piece that ran a little over a week ago on March, twenty seventh. Titled why we can’t stop arguing about whether Trump is a fascist.
  • Speaker 4
    0:56:36

    There’s a new book out that collects essays on different sides of that question titled, did it happen here? Questionmark, scholars debating, the f word, if you will. And what the debate itself, reveals not only about Trump but about contemporary American politics and academic trends. The book itself looks very interesting. There are good people in it.
  • Speaker 4
    0:57:00

    But the piece by Andrew, Marantz, is is actually very nicely done. It’s it’s enjoyable, interesting. Lots of good quotes in there. And, you know, I’ve been involved in some of those debates. I think there are very important questions raised on both sides.
  • Speaker 4
    0:57:19

    I think some of the people who contribute to the debate are arguing in questionable faith, or or are perhaps and I have various of, of their own, kind of political access to grind that undermine some of their points, but they’re worth hearing, nevertheless. And, if if listeners are interested in, taking a measure of those arguments, I think that New York piece an excellent place to start. So I highly recommend.
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:48

    Okay. Thank you. Matt Bennett.
  • Speaker 2
    0:57:50

    Obviously, my highlight is the no label’s decision not to go forward. I think it’s all kidding aside. I think it’s really, hugely important. I applaud them for making this decision. They said from the beginning, that if they didn’t have a path to victory, they wouldn’t proceed.
  • Speaker 2
    0:58:06

    There are people that would have taken their nomination out there, but they chose not to give it to just anybody, and I’m grateful that they made that choice.
  • Speaker 1
    0:58:14

    Amen. Will Saletan.
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:17

    I should start off by saying that I found both of the advertisements you know, for today’s show extremely thought provoking. You know, the promise of self cleaning sheets is enormously compelling. I must say. And, and, you know, the idea that the path to better health lies through setting boundaries. Excellent as well.
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:45

    I’m gonna get into big trouble for what I’m about to say, but I am not deterred. You know, this is the new, you know, what the hell full speed ahead bill on display. And, It reminded me, this is, I guess, this is New Yorker week of a New Yorker cartoon that caught my fancy some years ago, you know, two doors in an office building. You know, and the left door said, doctors without borders. And the one next to it on the right said, mothers without boundaries.
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:21

    And I just I just love that. Okay. But moving moving on to my you know, my highlight of the week was written by an author that I’m now very angry at because he wrote exactly the piece that I wanted to write, except he wrote it first. His name is Sean Kennedy, it appears in the city journal, which is the house organ of the Manhattan Institute. Yes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:55

    Liberals read the city journal. And the title of the piece is build back faster. And, yo, it’s immediate topic is, of course, the key bridge. But in talking in talking about the challenge of rebuilding it, mister Kennedy, offers a number of examples of accelerated reconstruction of important infrastructure collapses, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and elsewhere, and what it requires above all is a commitment at every level of government to reducing bureaucratic red tape, making decisions not one after the other, but in parallel and quickly. Reducing the time needed to approve a major infrastructure pro a project from the multiple years that typical for the United States to a matter of months.
  • Speaker 3
    1:00:57

    It can be done if the will is there. And I think the rebuilding of the key bridge you know, offers a high profile example of what might happen if there’s a will yo, connecting Baltimore, Maryland and the federal government to get this done and not to spend year after year on environmental reviews and, you know, and the other sorts of red tape that is clogging up the system I’m not against environmental reviews, but I am against ten year approval periods for a major infrastructure project.
  • Speaker 1
    1:01:37

    Yes. Thank you for that. Alright. I would like to praise Carl Grove, which, is a little unusual for me because I was highly critical of Roeve, not when Matt Bennett was critical of him in two thousand four, but But because I was not on the Al Gore team, though I respect the way he handled things very much. But, but I have noticed, you know, that since Trump came on the scene, Carl Grove was sort of, you know, an anti anti person.
  • Speaker 1
    1:02:14

    Like, he wasn’t pro trump, but he wasn’t anti trump either. And in twenty twenty, he actually advise Trump’s reelection campaign and, so forth. And I found that hard to understand how anybody of good conscience could, could support Trump’s reelection in light of all the things that he did even before January sixth. But, okay, he did that. But the other day, he was on a panel with, with Ari Melbourne, of MSNBC, who asked him about the way Trump is using January sixth, so called hostages, in his campaign appearances in his rallies, and Carl Grove gave a response that I actually want to praise and I wanna play for you all.
  • Speaker 1
    1:03:07

    Because it took me aback. I was surprised to hear it coming from Roe, and it is the sort of thing that every Republican, should be saying. And so I wanna thank Carl Roe for doing it, and here it is.
  • Speaker 5
    1:03:21

    If they were smart, they’d take the January six and go hard at it. And they would say, he wants to pardon these people who attacked capital. I worked in that building as a young man. To me, the Congress of the United States is one great examples of the strength of our of our democracy and a jewel of the constitution. And what those people did, when they violently attacked the capital, in order to stop a constitutionally mandated meeting of the Congress to accept the results of the electoral college is a stain on our history and everyone those sons of who did that, we ought to find them, try them and send them to jail.
  • Speaker 5
    1:04:01

    And and if and if And one of the critical mistakes made in this campaign is that Donald Trump has now said, I’m gonna pardon those people because they’re hostages. No. They’re not. They’re thugs. There were people.
  • Speaker 5
    1:04:14

    Some of them had automatic weapons at a hotel in Virginia hoping to be able to be called up. We had people saying where’s Nancy Pelosi? We had people who were you know, taking desks is sitting at the desk of the speaker of the house and attempting to, you know, find people in order to bring them to justice and saying to the to the yelling at the police killed them, killed them all. And so why Trump has done this is beyond me? If he had said, you know what?
  • Speaker 5
    1:04:39

    I trust our jury system. I trust law enforcement anybody who assaulted the capital out of beef. I mean, he said it once or twice, but now he’s got he’s appearing at a video with people who assaulted police officers with an attempt to take the capital by force. So, you know, look, I’m a republic I don’t wanna have a Democrat president. I wanna have a Republican president, but we’re facing as a country, a decision in New York.
  • Speaker 5
    1:05:04

    Everybody gets to make it. As to what kind of leadership we’re gonna have. And to me, it is a mistake on the part of the Trump campaign to allow the president’s impulses to identify himself with the people who assaulted the capital rather than people who stand for law and order.
  • Speaker 1
    1:05:20

    So thank you, Carl. Rove. That was very clear and, and I’m very, very happy to hear it. And with that, I want to thank Matt Bennett, our guest. I’m so glad we had you on on a day when, we received this news, Matt.
  • Speaker 1
    1:05:36

    It’s a huge coup for you. It really is.
  • Speaker 2
    1:05:38

    Thank you. It was a team effort, and they’ll help
  • Speaker 1
    1:05:40

    And, yes, Bill’s bill too. Alright. And then, I would like to thank our producer. Jim Swift, and our sound engineer Jonathan Last, and our wonderful listeners and viewers, and they could definitely turn extra
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