They’re angry with one another – Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley, running in the tightly contested U.S. Senate race in Missouri. McCaskill is doggedly pursuing re-election and shows remarkable energy for someone who is 65. Hawley is trying to help Missouri Republicans overcome the stain of their last young knight in shining armor, former Governor Eric Greitens.
Let me suggest ways in which at least one candidate, McCaskill could make her campaign more honest, spend far less money, and do the voters a real service. Here are some proposed talking points for Claire to say:
- I’m a moderate. Lots of Democratic voters want me to be a progressive. Lots of independents and some Republicans want me to be in the middle. By being in the middle, I will pick up a few conservative Republican votes, but probably less than my previous strategy would indicate.
- Why am I a moderate? I’m not sure. It’s partly a calculus I have made to maximize my chances of winning re-election. Now there are those on the left who think that I would do better with a more progressive agenda, but I don’t think that’s a formula to win state-wide in Missouri.
- If I wasn’t running for the U.S. Senate, I’m not quite sure where I’d be. My inclinations are to help those who those who are least enfranchised in our society – women, minorities, differently abled, etc. But I’m somewhat hung up on this “Missouri values” thing, whatever the hell that means. So, I’m not Elizabeth Warren, but I’m certainly not Mitch McConnell.
- The money I raise. I guess you get inured to it after a while. Really what I do is beg. I know that if anyone outside of politics was asking you for money multiple times a day you would call the Better Business Bureau, or the prosecuting attorney (I once held that job in Jackson County [KCMO]). It’s true that our current laws and the way that they have been interpreted by the Supreme Court allow me to do just about anything that I want to in terms of raising and spending money. But it just seems, well, unseemly. I have a distinct name advantage over my opponent. How much is any advertising going to help me? So, I’m going to stop asking for money, stop accepting money, and stop spending money except for bare necessities and communications that elevate the conversation.
- About my husband. My instinct is to say “that’s none of your damn business.” But, the fact is that we often live under the same roof and we have shared values, concerns and assets. If I could re-write the script, I would not want my husband in a line of work in which he interacts with the federal government. In fact, I know that the whole idea of nursing homes for profit is somewhat distasteful to many, but there is a need for housing for the eldest and most infirmed among us and he is providing needed facilities and care. As best I know, his facilities are not scandalous like so many that come to our attention.
- About my opponent. I don’t want to personally attack him. But if I don’t point out certain inconsistencies or curiosities about his views and positions, who will. He says that he supports care for pre-existing conditions, but at Attorney-General of Missouri, he has filed suit to eliminate this protection. And his notion that sex trafficking occurs now because of the sexual revolution of the 1960s makes you wonder about the history classes that he took. In any event, however charming he might be to some, he is so far to the right that he will likely jeopardize the well-being of anyone who needs a government safety net to get over tough times.
- And about Donald Trump. I know that many Missourians like him and what he is doing. I have to admit that I’m somewhat surprised that he has not done more visible damage to the United States than we have seen. But in insidious ways he is decimating the federal government, particularly the agencies that provide necessary services for all of us, yes, even those of you who think that everything revolves around “Missouri values.” If I was conservative, I might find Trump to be charming. But his humor is mean and so are many of his policies. If it hurts me politically to distance myself from him, so be it. Even I have standards.
- One final thing. It’s been a good run for me; nearly twelve years in the U.S. Senate. I never claimed that I would term-limit myself (as Susan Collins did), but three terms will be enough, especially since at age 71 my political ambitions are likely done. So, if you re-elect me, I’ll be “one and done.” Fresh blood is a good idea.
I actually think that this might be a good strategy for McCaskill and if she has sleepless nights, this might help reduce them. I won’t remain awake waiting for her to take this strategy. But if she did, what a breath of fresh air it would be to our political process.