And Now We Know Why Sen. McCaskill Supports D.C. Statehood

A couple of weeks ago, Blue Dog Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (who isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed) was asked about Puerto Rican statehoold, to which she responded:

While I don’t like playing D.C. statehood against Puerto Rican statehood–if nothing else, the lack of Puerto Rican statehood got people killed–I do appreciate the support for D.C. statehood. And she gets extra points for realizing that D.C. not only has taxation without representation, but we have extreme taxation without representation.

So a woke McCaskill is very exciting! Until we learned why she is supporting D.C. statehood (boldface mine):

African American leaders in Missouri are frustrated with what they see as Sen. Claire McCaskill’s lackluster engagement with minority voters.

Frustrated enough that they refused to sign a letter pushing back against comments made last month by Bruce Franks, a prominent black activist and state legislator from St. Louis, who called on McCaskill to “show up” and earn the support of minority voters in her state.

“I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis,” Franks said to applause at a town hall he hosted Feb. 17…

Among those who were approached by McCaskill are U.S. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City and Lacy Clay of St. Louis, and state Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, the minority leader in the Missouri House…

I’m 100 percent certain that nobody signed it,” Cleaver said in an interview Wednesday with The Kansas City Star. “We talked about it very seriously and strongly and every one of us said, ‘We’re going to support her, but signing this letter isn’t going to achieve what she wants. It’s just going to make people angry.’ ”

…But as McCaskill works to burnish her reputation as a centrist, Cleaver and other African American leaders said they worry she’ll leave minority voters on the left with the impression that she’s taking them for granted — and it could cost her turnout in the urban centers that are crucial to her base

McCaskill’s campaign said she has a long record of standing with and fighting for Missouri’s African American community, starting with her time as a prosecutor and continuing with her work as a U.S. senator…

She touted her record on criminal justice reform and support of Pell Grants.

“I try to be the kind of senator who listens and responds to the needs of the African American community,” she said…

The last time Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, said he remembers McCaskill coming to his inner-city district was for a meeting at the Bluford Library a few years ago. Ellington said McCaskill’s lack of outreach to the inner city and African American voters is consistent with the way that the Democratic Party as a whole targets the inner city.

“They don’t,” he said. “They depend on our votes without trying to reach out to us. That would be true of her and the entire party.”

A couple of points. First, McCaskill will be better than any Republican candidate. Second, McCaskill is just one example of this: Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are also excellent studies in this sort of behavior. They don’t take any political risks on the big things, but will show up for the symbolic issues (D.C. statehood). Like most of the Blue Dog Democrats, McCaskill took a dive on recent banking regulation that would make it easier to discriminate against minority borrowers–despite Clinton’s debate point, it is often about the banks. In return, we get Pell Grants. Pell Grants are better than no Pell grants, but is this the deal on the table? A discriminatory law that lets the rich get richer in return for Pell Grants and symbolic statements about Chocolate City?

Blue Dogs are better than Republicans, but somehow there has to be a better deal for Democratic voters. Otherwise, they just won’t show up–and the lackluster polling for Democratic governors and senators suggests that might just happen. Better Democrats will win elections, especially in off-year elections when rallying the base matters.

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