Checks And Roblox

Audio Length: 00:45:13


S2: Hello and welcome to the checks and roadblocks episode of Slate Money, your guide to the business and finance angles of one of the craziest news weeks that I can remember. I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m here with Anna Shamansky of Breakingviews. Hello. I’m here with Emily Peck of Huff Post. Hi. We, of course, are going to talk about the crazy that happened this week, the storming of the Capitol, and what the implications are for the stability of the United States as an economic power. We are going to talk about the Georgia election results, which kind of got knocked into second place, but huge in terms of what it means the Senate might be able to pass in terms of legislation. We are going to talk about Spanx and iPods and companies going public and what’s happening there. We are going to make sure that Emily explains to us what roadblocks is, in case you don’t know. We also have a Slate plus segment on the Google Unión. It’s all coming up on Slate Money. So, Anna, you have spent many years, like I have reading headlines from Latin America about chaos in state legislatures and mobs overrunning and disputed elections and disputed presidencies and various different people claiming to be the legitimate winner of the election. And how does it feel for all of that to be happening in your home country?

S1: Well, on the one hand, it’s shocking. But then on the other hand, I feel like the last five years since Trump first started running was very familiar for anyone who has covered elections and governments in emerging markets. But that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t truly, truly shocking to see what we witnessed this week. And the one thing I will say, though, in comparison to many other countries is that thus far, after everything that Trump has put this country through, our institutions have held. And I don’t think we should discount that which institutions do you have in mind here, the election system? Joe Biden’s election was certified. Our Supreme Court did not kowtow to Trump all of our courts throughout all of his lawsuits. While, yes, we have certainly had individual legislators who have completely just discounted their allegiance to the Constitution, overall, our system is continuing to function.

S2: And I think this is an important point. If you look at what happens in Latin America on a regular basis, one of the things that presidents do is they pack the judiciary with their loyalists and then the Supreme Court will just say, oh, yes, you’re the president. This was clearly something that Trump wanted to do and something that Trump tried to do and something that on some level he failed, that we do have an extremely conservative judiciary now at the appeals court and indeed at the Supreme Court level. But there’s a difference between extremely conservative and willing to support an illegitimate election.

S3: I think what the riots, the insurrection at the capital sort of showed this week or sort of capped off like a decade basically of increasing political instability in the United States were not at the point of like the kind of countries you guys are studying. But I mean, we’ve seen these government shutdowns, radical swings back and forth between who’s in control of the government. It’s someone like Trump who’s going out and canceling trade deals, renegotiating or pulling us out of things, weakening our standing on the world stage. Another government shutdown, you know, that we had the Bush administration kind of weakened it, weakening us on the world stage. Also, in a great recession, the country gets blamed for there’s like these wild swings back and forth making the climate. Broadly speaking, a little more unstable than it used to be, and I think long term that’s going to be a problem.

S2: I was on Twitter asking about this, like Joe Biden and Tony Blinken, the incoming secretary of state, and John Kerry, the incoming climate person. And basically their job is to go out to the world and say, hey, the last four years have been an aberration and you can trust us now. And America is still like the global heginbotham and we can lead the world. And the natural question is they’re going to be asked by all of the other world leaders that they’re talking to is, well, sure, you guys are going to be fine for the next two to four years, depending on what happens in the midterms. You’ll be able to do things legislatively. But you have a two party system and it is certain that at some point the Republican Party will take the White House again. We don’t know when, but they will. And when they do, is it not certain that we will have more isolationism, more crazy? You’ve seen what’s happened to the Republican Party. It’s moved more and more in the direction of crazy. They always seem to nominate like the craziest nominee they can find.

S1: Well, I mean, the last the last I don’t know, Mitt Romney, I would say, is like the craziest nominee they could follow.

S2: Well, Romney wasn’t. But if you look what happened last time around, it came down in the final analysis to Trump versus Cruz. And we’ve seen what Cruz has been up to. Right. And if you want to get nominated by the Republican base, you you tack to the right. And that seems to be built into the political system now. And I just don’t see how the US can take on any kind of real global leadership role or exercise any kind of soft power in the world, given the certainty that this broken Republican Party is going to regain power at some point.

S3: Right. Because it’s normal for a country to see a swing back and forth between parties. But the problem is there’s no shared reality between the two parties. It seems like there’s no shared notion of truth anymore. So it’s like you can have a rational Democrat in control for four years and then you swing back to someone who doesn’t believe in any of the foundational facts that are required to have a consistent international policy.

S1: I would probably argue that if we do recover from this and if we are able to move forward on better footing, it’s going to be because moderates work to move forward, because that is the whole idea that I think you see people on both parties now saying, which is that if the other party gains control, the world will end. And while obviously I think Trump is, this gives you some evidence for that. But I think that idea, that thinking is a problem. Our system does not work. Essentially, no democratic system works. If people believe that if the other party comes into power, the world will end, the republic will fall even when one party is at fault. The only way a country can remain a functioning democracy is if members of both parties do the difficult work of building consensus. I know that may sound like a fairy tale, but in a lot of developing countries where one party has gone completely off the rails, the country is not returned to stability because the other party simply took power forever, but because moderates of all stripes did this difficult work or one party just collapsed.

S2: It’s like, I think, back to what happened to the Conservative Party in Canada not so long ago, which used to be a very big party, and it just went to zero, basically, and it imploded. Right. But they’re not a two party system. Yeah. So that’s that’s the thing which I worry about. Like, I think the it’s hard to to look at the current state of the Republican Party and the current people who are getting elected every level of election from the local to the federal in Republican primaries and say, well, yeah, what we’re going to have is a swing back towards the center and a new moderation. I just don’t see that happening. We’re seeing like Kuhnen supporters getting elected. And that’s what worries me, is that we don’t have the Republicans moving back towards the center and we don’t have any replacement for the Republican Party. There is no third party that, like the never Trump has, can move towards beyond the Democratic Party. And like no one wants a one party system.

S3: Yeah. And I feel like it’s kind of a little both sides are prisms to say, oh, each party says if the other one takes over, it’s going to be the end of the world because like literally, Trump has been in charge for four years. And look, it’s the world isn’t literally ending. However, things are very, very bad. And the president incite an insurrection this week. And I don’t think Democrats are being overly dramatic when they say, if we are, we elect more Republicans, the world’s going to end.

S1: Because kind of is I’m in no way saying that somehow the Democrats are. As culpable as the Republicans, I’m certainly not saying that what I’m saying is in order to move forward, you can’t have a rhetoric where you say that the other side is the end of the republic, even if right now it seems that that might be the case. That’s my point.

S2: Well, I mean, obviously, like the rhetoric of the Democrats is not the problem here.

S1: I completely agree with you. But the problem is that that doesn’t matter if you want to move forward. Staying in this type of thinking is not going to make you move forward. Even if it’s not fair, it’s not fair. It’s been the Republicans who are doing this on most steps of the way.

S2: But I understand what you’re saying here. I just don’t think that the extreme polarization that has got worse and worse over recent decades and really reached its apotheosis in the past few years is something that the Democrats can really address. Every Democrat in living memory has come into office saying, look, I want to reach across the aisle and work with the Senate Republicans. And in the Senate, Republicans have just like thumb their noses at them and said no way. It would be great if we could go back to the days of bipartisan consensus on anything. I just don’t think that in reality that’s on the table.

S1: I agree with you that I think Democrats have been attempting to do this. So the reality is it is going to be up to the moderates in the Republican Party. To me, those are the people who are going to have to have the gumption and the leadership to basically be able to break away from what has been happening in this party. And if that doesn’t happen, then I don’t see how we move forward.

S3: One thing I wanted to maybe talk about a little bit is the business community really allowed Trump to flourish the past four years, I think. I mean, Facebook and Twitter gave him a platform, didn’t really rein him in at all until what this week other business leaders supported him, were excited about his tax cuts. And only this week did you know some of them say, oh, he needs to be removed from office. Maybe one way to reign in the Republican Party and make it more moderate, as ANA suggesting, would be. I mean, is the business community going to do anything here? Like are they scared straight? A little bit now?

S2: Really, really good question. And we had this week a meeting of CEOs that very big name CEOs who unanimously agreed. And now we don’t know how much this will hold, but they did seem to agree that they wouldn’t give any money to any of the elected who voted to overturn the Pennsylvania election results. So that’s one hundred and thirty six members of the House, seven senators. And that might make a difference. Your point about Facebook and Twitter was absolutely well taken. Facebook in particular seems to have been leaning towards the Republicans quite strongly over the past four years. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. They’ve been trying to appease the right and that has done damage to the republic and leadership from the business class. In terms of I mean, the headline this week that jumped out at me was Gary Cohn, the great enabler of Donald Trump, who came in and orchestrated the tax cuts, just got appointed vice chairman of IBM. OK, so there’s no Trump teams, you know, in the business community, if you worked for Trump and if you supported Trump, IBM will happily come along and give you a multimillion dollar job.

S1: I think that that may have changed, though, I think after what happened this week, I think the people who were still around Trump to this point are not going to be able to just get on board as easily. I take your point that some of those early figures like Gary Cohn have clearly been able to to make that move. But I don’t know. I think the response we’ve seen immediately from the business community and the response we’ve even seen from some like conservative Republicans to what we saw, I think that a lot of companies are very concerned about reputation. They’re concerned about ESG issues because they don’t want to be shamed in social media.

S2: And so I don’t know if that if there isn’t a Trump team, you don’t think Hope Hicks will be able to get like a million dollar job at News Corp. And you then think Steve Mnuchin will be showered with offers the minute he leaves Treasury?

S1: I really think that it is possible that the revolving door will not be quite so revolving. Now, I could be wrong, but that’s what I think we did see this week.

S2: The National Association of Manufacturers calling for Trump’s removal from office, which I thought was like mind blowing, coming full circle here to the whole sort of experience that Andrew and I have with literally banana republics like Ecuador and Nicaragua is hilarious to me that like the great pressure group that is going to cause people to invoke the Article 25 of the Constitution is the National Association of Manufacturers, if you like. That’s something you find in Bulgaria, is it really?

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Dan Richards 1 week ago Member's comment

Thanks for clarifying on what a 50/50 split actually means. I had thought this gave control of the House to the Democrats, due to Harris being the tie-breaker. I didn't realize what this ACTUALLY mean.

Anne Davis 1 week ago Member's comment

Great podcast, and yes last week was quite shocking.

Texan Hunter 1 week ago Member's comment

Much of what they say is true and yes, it does seem that Trump tried to launch an insurrection last week, but they make it sound like "all Republicans = bad, all Democrats = good). And that's just not true.