Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Mitch McConnell’s cowardly and anti-democratic legacy

Mitch McConnell’s cowardly and anti-democratic legacy

Jennifer Taylor-Skinner on why the Kentucky Republican leader will not be remembered kindly by history

This episode is a very special one because I'm excited to announce that here at Flux, we are adding another podcast to our network, The Electorette, hosted by Jennifer Taylor-Skinner.

To introduce Jennifer to the Flux audience, I wanted to bring her on Theory of Change to talk about her program, and to discuss a big news event, the retirement announcement from Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will be resigning as the Republicans’ leader in the Senate. There's a lot to talk about with his legacy. And I think it's pretty clear at this point that Mitch McConnell paved the way for Donald Trump in many, many different ways, and we'll get into that.

The video of this episode is available. The conversation was recorded March 1, 2024. The transcript of the audio follows. Because of its length, some podcast apps and email programs may truncate it. Access the episode page to get the full text.

Cover photo: Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Leader, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Richmond, Kentucky. October 11, 2023. Credit: PEO ACWA/CC 2.0

Theory of Change is part of the Flux Media network, please support our work and get more content like this by subscribing.

Related Content

Audio Chapters

00:00 — Flux is adding a new podcast to our network, "The Electorette"

05:06 — Mitch McConnell announces he's retiring and didn't designate a successor

09:49 — McConnell attacked democracy for decades but he is despised by far-right Republicans

21:15 — Although Donald Trump and McConnell hate each other, they were still close allies

24:49 — Nikki Haley's doomed presidential campaign is an echo of the death of Republican foreign interventionism

30:33 — Haley and the quandary of right-wing women being in a party that wants to control them

39:37 — Alabama supreme court granting full rights to embryos is the latest example of how extreme Republicans have become

43:22 — Issues and ideas to watch in the general election

Audio Transcript

The following is a machine-generated transcript of the audio that has not been corrected. It is provided for convenience purposes only.

MATTHEW SHEFFIELD: Welcome to Theory of Change, Jennifer.

JENNIFER TAYLOR-SKINNER: Thank you, Matthew. I'm happy to be here.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it's, exciting, and I'm glad to have you as a member of the Flux Network.

And so before we get into the topic of the show, though, can you tell my audience and the Flux audience just a little bit about your show and how long you've been doing it and what you do there?

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Sure. The Electorette, it's a play on the word electorate, of course, Electorette. I started the podcast, I think in mid or late 2017, a lot of things were happening in 2017. We know what the biggest thing was, of course, it was, Trump's inauguration, the election after the 2016 election. For me, I was really frustrated at all of the misogyny in the media and in the political discourse, directed at Hillary Clinton.

And we don't need [00:02:00] to revisit that. There was a huge problem. I mean, there was a huge problem. And one of the primary reasons why I believe that she lost. And what I wanted to do with the electorate was to get people used to hearing women in leadership roles. Hearing women express their expertise in the context of politics, because I think that's, that, that's part of the problem.

If you look at some of the statistics, like very few of the experts back then, at least who were talking about politics on television were women. Right. And so I wanted to kind of change that with the electorate. And so what I do is on the electorate, I interview only women or people, anyone who isn't a, man, about things that are really important in politics right now. Anything that's important to social justice or any cultural issues. And we kind of have these in depth conversations about, what's happening, and that's what The Electorette is. And it's been really helpful for me.

Actually, it's been kind of cathartic for me after that kind of post [00:03:00] 2016 PTSD or trauma we all have. But yeah, so I've been doing it for a while now. It feels like it hasn't been that long, but it's been a while. So that's what The Electorette is.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it's also and it's also important, I, do want to say, from my standpoint, that I feel like that the podcasting space, especially the political podcasting space, doesn't have enough women in it as well, and that's a serious problem.

A lot of men, regardless of what their race, they don't have as much at stake when it comes to these far-right policies that are being shoved on everybody now with increasing frequency, like a lot of them, they just. It just doesn't, it's not as real to a lot of men.

And that's why I personally, try to have as many women on my shows and, work with women because it is an imbalance that needs to be corrected, I think.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Yeah. And I just want to clarify that it isn't a lot of people when they think about podcasts, [00:04:00] like The Electorette, they think it's a show about women's issues and it's not because all issues are women's issues, right?

It's about all issues, we can talk about the economy. We, we talked about climate change. The thing is that the, conversations that you're getting are through the lens of women, right? So climate change will affect everyone of all genders, all races. It'll affect some people more than others, but the solutions will look different through the lens of someone who is.

We'll be more affected through the lens of someone who's marginalized through the lens of a woman. So that's what I wanted to do. So it isn't just about women's issues. I mean, if you want to categorize abortion as a woman's issue, it's, sure, that's fine. Abortion isn't just a woman's issue.

I just want to make sure that's clear. So it isn't just issues like that. It's anything that you can think of, but through the lens of, women. So men, listen to The Electorette to, or if you're not a man, anyone, everyone's welcome.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Well, and yeah, I'm excited for people to be able to do that in a [00:05:00] somewhat greater numbers. So I'm, glad to have you on board.

Mitch McConnell announces he's retiring and didn't designate a successor

SHEFFIELD: All right, so the news topic that we're going to go through today, I think is that it's one that is pretty significant is, which is that Mitch McConnell who is now the longest serving Senate majority leader in history announced this week as we're recording that he was going to be resigning.

In November and that he would serve out his, term in office but he would step down as the leader of the Senate Republicans and, and it's it's a little weird because I feel like to some degree, the. It didn't get as much coverage as I thought it would. Did you feel that way at all? I mean obviously we have this hellish news cycle.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right, we have a hellish news cycle. I mean I feel like, so granted it only just happens, right? And like you said, we have a hellish news cycle. I think there was a, [00:06:00] bombing or a, a, bomb scare, I think in Alabama that happened, on the same day around the same time.

So there's a lot of things to cover. And honestly, that maybe there was probably more coverage of it online between, Politicos and, going on about, why they're so happy that Mitch McConnell is stepping down. I think that maybe some of the, joy on the left, on our side was maybe a little kind of premature or misplaced because, Mitch McConnell, when he does step down as majority leader, he's going to be replaced by someone who is younger and who's probably more extreme.

I'll just say that.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Well, and, definitely somebody who will be more even more, beholden to Donald Trump. Because he's going to work very hard to try to put his stamp on that Senate leadership election.

Trump, of course, was very instrumental in getting Mike Johnson to be the Speaker of the House because before originally the, guy who was going to take over from Kevin McCarthy was [00:07:00] going to be Tom Emmert, who Trump explicitly said he did not want him to be the Speaker.

And, magically the party that, that, that claims to hate cancel culture, Magically, they canceled this guy and he did not have a chance at it.

And so, Trump's it'd be interesting to see who he tries to put, put his finger on the scale for but that's definitely gonna, it's probably gonna be a thing.

That's going to be a months long kind of summertime. Discussion, perhaps whoever can kisses ring the hardest, I guess,

TAYLOR-SKINNER: The only exciting thing that I see the thing worth celebrating in relation to Mr McConnell stepping down is that regardless of who replaces him, he was pretty effective in bringing forth this kind of right wing Christian nationalist vision across the country, right, on a national level, just in relation to his [00:08:00] judicial appointments and reshaping the Supreme Court.

And so why I think that him stepping down is, a good thing for, our side is that I can't imagine anyone replacing him who will be that effective. Right? I mean, he, if you're on their side, he was really, good at what he did. Just thinking of the Supreme Court judicial appointments, the way that he finagled getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and denying, Obama, a chance, President Obama, a chance to appoint a Supreme Court justice and, with Merrick Garland's and then flipping the script when Ruth Bader Ginsburg got died.

And then within weeks having hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, like that was kind of. If not, I hate to use the word evil, but you know, it was kind of masterful and I can't imagine, I can't envision anyone on the Republican side being as effective as he's been. Right. So if anything, that possibly could be a good thing for [00:09:00] Democrats.

We'll get someone, it's kind of a circus right now, thinking of who's, left, who's remaining.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And that is actually a good point because when you look at the House side of things, they're just incomplete and total chaos and they all hate each other and they're all constantly going after each other and tearing at each other's throats.

And as a result, they really can't pass anything like this, because under the Johnson speakership, this has been the most unproductive Congress in terms of bills passed in a very, long time. I think depending on the metric at least, in the past 100 years or and I've heard somebody claim it was since the civil war, but I didn't look up the stat on that.

But yeah, no, and I think that's a great point.

McConnell attacked democracy for decades but he is despised by far-right Republicans

SHEFFIELD: And it's also, funny though because. Yeah. The right wing hates Mitch McConnell and and it was funny because when I was on the, in, in the right wing media space. I liked Mitch [00:10:00] McConnell because I did see him as effective and skilled at at, legislative strategy and tactics.

And I would tell that to my fellow Republicans who hated him and they just, they did not want to hear it.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right, right. Well, look what we have now, right? I mean, lots of people did see Roe v. Wade being overturned, but you can chalk that up to Mitch McConnell, right? It's on his plate. He did that, right?

Affirmative action. All of those really huge decisions that have gone through the Supreme Court are due to his remake of the Supreme Court by, not only did he make, over 200 judicial appointments broadly, but, he, there were three big Justices on the Supreme Court under, Trump due to Mitch McConnell and his leadership, I guess, and speaking of, yeah, speaking of the house side we were mentioning the house Hakeem Jeffries had.

Nancy Pelosi is his mentor, presumably, right? They work very closely [00:11:00] together, and he's been very effective. He will be very effective, if, Democrats regain the majority there. Whoever takes over for Mitch McConnell, because Mitch McConnell is His health status is kind of questionable. We don't really know what's happening with him.

They're not being very transparent with that. We're not really sure if there will be that kind of back and forth mentorship. Right? Will he be able to mentor someone to be the kind of leader that he has been in the Senate? I very much doubt it. So that's another good thing for Democrats.


SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Well, and on the judiciary side of things besides. Reshaping it, in a pretty much a wholesale fashion because of how long he was the leader. He, the, what he did with that is, is really important because. He, I think he understood before almost any other Republican that the public isn't going to vote for their explicit agenda.

So, they're not, the [00:12:00] public isn't going to vote for privatizing social security. They're not going to vote to. Criminalize abortion. They're not going to vote to get rid of same sex marriage. They're not going to vote to eliminate the department of education. Get rid of the affordable healthcare act.

They're not good. They don't want any of these things that Republicans have been obsessed with for decades. Right. Those those ideas are unpopular, but McConnell figured out that if he could rig the judicial system in favor of Republicans, they could still get Those outputs through the courts in a way that would also not jeopardize their electoral futures.

I mean, it is incredible what he figured out in that regard, because basically that strategy has allowed, cause the Republican party is very different compared to right wing parties outside of the United States in the industrialized world, [00:13:00] they're much, much more radical. They're much further to the right.

And that happened because of Mitch McConnell, even though he, was not on the, he wasn't directly aligned with the Freedom Caucus types. He protected them through the filibuster and through his takeover.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right. Right. Right, exactly. And, although you can't get the majority of the public to vote for those specific legislative aims, right, you can get them to vote for Donald Trump. For some reason, there's a disconnect there.

And presumably it's because Donald Trump doesn't really talk about legislation at all. Right. If he kind of skirts around it, he basically just talks about his grievances when he does rallies. He's only recently started to talk about abortion saying that, he's up for it.

Like a 16 week abortion ban. I think he's reduced it to 15 weeks. But the people who are steadfast Trump voters are not really, I don't think they're really listening to that. Right. [00:14:00] They're just voting for their man, Donald Trump. So. Yeah, it was a really good merits there. Trump and McConnell together to kind of remake the country in, their image.

It's not really good, great for everyone else, but actually it's not really good for anyone. It's not good for anyone. Even the people who are voting for Trump, it's actually terrible for them. And, hopefully someday they will wake up and see it. I doubt it, but yeah.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And and it is, and that combination, it is, it's been really important because I think the other thing about McConnell is that, because he is You know very, he's very intelligent.

He, is well dressed, he's well spoken, he's articulate. I mean, he's not particularly exciting, but you know, he, his stature within the Republican party gave permission to a lot of people who are, sort of white collar upper middle class people to, be like, well, see, this is still the same [00:15:00] Republican party that it was always.

That Trump didn't, he didn't take, he didn't become a dictator. We constrained him. We, hemmed him in and, and, he really gave them permission to think that. And so like, it'll be interesting with him gone, if that affects anybody's permission structure. I don't know.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Huh. That's interesting because I think Mike Johnson also gives that same appearance, right?

They give this appearance of kind of these, non emotional, rational, intellectual Republicans. But if you step back and you look at their positions, they're essentially the same. As Donald Trump, right. Mike Johnson is a very extreme. I know we're talking about the house again. He's a very extreme.

I mean, we don't need to go into him, but but yeah, I could see how Mr. McConnell, has that image of, being kind of a non reactionary, comparing him to someone like, I don't know who's on the Senate now that

SHEFFIELD: Josh Hawley.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Yeah. That's a great example. Yeah.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. [00:16:00] And so, and he has a better, and it's, who knows what the guy believes because he never really talks about it in terms of religion.

Right. But, at the very least he knows not to wear it on his sleeve the way that a Josh Hawley or, some of these other people, very much are interested in doing And that's important because and, I'm speaking from my own personal experience here that, when I was on the right wing, that as a secular conservative person, I really wanted to believe that people like me, were equal partners in the party or even slightly above.

I didn't want to, I desperately did not want to think that I was You know, in some sort of junior arrangement with religious fanatics. Because I mean, the reality is, the people who have these extreme, viewpoints about whether it's suppressing women or going after non Christians or anti LGBTQ stuff or [00:17:00] racist stuff.

Like they, fortunately they are still a pretty small, they are a minority in the United States but they're, they have a lot of power in the party and Mitch McConnell gave them that power. He knew who they were, he knew what they wanted and, he decided, well, I want to be the Senate majority leader, so I'm going to go along with it.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: And you're right. He is kind of a closed book. It's hard to know what he's thinking. I think the most emotive I've ever seen him was, during the Obama administration, during Obama's term, he said, my, my goal is to make, Obama a one term president.

That's probably the most emotion I've ever seen from the man. It was, like boarding on anger, I guess, perhaps. But yeah, it's, he's a, closed book. That one.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, and I think he said that he believed his most significant accomplishment was keeping Merrick Garland off the [00:18:00] Supreme Court, which, that's probably accurate to say, and certainly unfortunate as well.

So, but I mean, the other thing about McConnell that I think is worth thinking about and talking about is in the context of him as sort of the. The last survivor of the Ronald Reagan republicanism.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: When I think about those years, one of the things that I do remember about Mitch McConnell is that, and that's really relevant in the battle that's happening right now with aid for Ukraine is, he used to be a staunch supporter of NATO, and that used to be an issue that you could count on, either side of the aisle, right? Republicans and Democrats, during those years, he was a staunch supporter of NATO. And now that's all off the table. And that's specifically due to whatever Trump has going with, Putin.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And it's also that. McConnell was, in his line of thought, it was more of the, robust militaristic foreign policy tradition, whereas Trump clearly identifies more with [00:19:00] the, libertarian isolationist kind of thing.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Yeah. I mean, I'm not really sure Trump thinks about foreign policy that deeply.

I mean, that's another conversation. I mean, I think that he's just taking direction from some unknown, invisible, source. I really don't think that he thinks about foreign policy that, yeah, I don't think he has a philosophy. I don't think he, even libertarianism, the isolation, if he is an isolationist and, he arguably is, it's not an idea that came from his own head.

It's disadvantage the, disadvantage democracy to disadvantage us in some way, but I think, what I'm getting at, and, again, that's a whole other conversation.

SHEFFIELD: We could talk about the specific people if you want, but to be honest, like those articles, and I've seen a couple of people do those articles, I don't know that's necessarily going to be the only candidates that are going to be along because like RFK junior, for some reason, endorsed [00:20:00] Rand Paul to be the Senate majority. Yeah, so what do you think? Do you think it's worth talking about these other people or not?

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Not really. I mean, because honestly, I've seen the names have been floating around mainstream media or the people who might replace McConnell, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a wild card. It's someone that we haven't thought of kind of like Mike Johnson, right? And whoever that person is going to be, they're going to be younger and they're going to be very extreme.

The only thing that I think that we might have going for us is the fact that they, won't have that strategic mind that Mitch McConnell has, and they'll be less effective in the end, right?

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah, it'll, I think that's right. I think that's what will happen. And probably we'll have more chaos in the Senate Republican caucus, which, it's certainly bad for America, but it is good that they can't get their act together.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, in some [00:21:00] ways, yes. We do need two functioning parties.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Although we don't need a strong Republican party. Thank you.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: No, we don't. We don't need a strong Republican party.


Although Donald Trump and McConnell hate each other, they were still close allies

SHEFFIELD: I guess before we move on from McConnell though, I did want to touch on that in some of the, valedictory coverage or review of McConnell coverage that you're going to see this idea that he was some sort of opponent to Donald Trump.

And I think that's only barely true. So to the extent that they opposed each other, it was a matter of particular strategy for specific events. It wasn't their overall agenda. They agreed on most things overall, because they're in the same party and. And I mean, ultimately, when Mitch McConnell had that chance.

To go after, to get rid of Trump, he could have gotten rid of him during that second impeachment, because the house [00:22:00] explicitly impeached Trump before he had left office and left several days for that trial to happen while he was president and Mitch McConnell deliberately refused to try Donald Trump during that time window and then after Trump had left office and then after Trump had left office, explicitly said, well, we can't vote to convict him because he's not the president anymore.

And then not acknowledging at any point in time that, oh, and I made it so that, that was the case. I mean, it's just really, dishonest. And, like, ultimately he never opposed Trump in any meaningful way. And I really hope that the mainstream media doesn't do that. Doesn't lie about that or get that wrong.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right? I mean, the thing is, if there's 1 consistent thing about Mr. McConnell, or 1 reliable thing is the fact that he, is interested in furthering [00:23:00] conservative power, no matter how that happens. And I think that he realized at some point that. Supporting Donald Trump, supporting him by just being quiet or like letting him get away with things was helpful in him furthering conservative power for the longterm, right?

He probably didn't like. Donald Trump's style, he's probably a bit of a snob in that sense, but he realized that, A, they, like you said, they, neither of them have scruples. That's the one thing they have in common and they kind of made, an uncommon, atypical pairing that kind of worked well for furthering this extreme right wing agenda.

On a national level, they kind of worked well together, even if they're nothing alike, even if they don't like each other personally. And so I think Bishop McCollum at some point realized that Trump was, useful in helping him further that agenda, maybe faster than he realized that, he could do it on his own.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And it's, it's One of the things I often say is that it's important [00:24:00] to, for people to distinguish that most of what calls itself conservative in America is actually reactionary. It is not conservative because a conservative is somebody who wants to keep things how they are, whereas a reactionary wants to roll back modernity and attack the foundations that everyone.

Except as their, as, as our current way of life, like a conservative would be in favor of keeping Roe versus Wade rather than wanting to overturn it. And, and McConnell, I think, it really illustrates that, The partnership of, between conservatism and reactionism that they are allies ultimately, and that, and that a conservative generally speaking is not willing to oppose reactionism.

Nikki Haley's doomed presidential campaign is an echo of the death of Republican foreign interventionism

SHEFFIELD: And I guess the other person though, that kind of is at that intersection is Nikki Haley though. And for, if McConnell was sort of the last empowered conservative in [00:25:00] Republican politics, she's kind of like the. I don't know, like the dying breath of, that Reagan conservatism if you will.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: It's really hard to pen Nikki Haley down. Right. I, can't really get a good sense of who she wants to be politically and who she wants to be seen as broadly, in some senses and in some ways, she wants to parrot the most extreme.

Right wing talking points. Right. When she was given a chance to clarify the Republican or the conservative position on, what was the cause of the civil war, which was clearly, slavery. She said something like it was just freedoms or some, something random. Right. She didn't give the right answer.

She knows what the right answer is. She knows what the right answer is, but she performed the most extreme right wing answer. That she knew was floating around at the time and the same thing with IVF, if you'd asked Nikki Haley about IVF five years ago or three years ago, she would not say what she did the other day in [00:26:00] her interview with her interview.

I think it was on MSNBC. She said, I think of embryos as babies. Let me get her exact quote. She said you can cut this out. She said, in her interview, I think it was on MSNBC. She goes, Embryos are babies to me, embryos are babies, newsflash that's the wrong answer.

That's the wrong answer, but it's the extreme answer, right? And she's in this really interesting position where, you know, people who are at the far extreme of conservatism right now, usually fall in line under Trump. they fall on their, Trump voters, their MAGA. But she is also.

Taking these extreme positions, but she's also one of the only Republicans who, is, openly and publicly speaking out against Trump, right? So I'm not really sure what, who she's hoping to capture, who her audience is and what she's planning to do. I mean, one theory I have is that she's hoping something will happen.

she's hoping something will happen to Trump. And that, that, that's my longstanding [00:27:00] theory that she's hoping that, one of these cases will come through in her favor and she'll be elected because she's not winning any of the primaries. but I don't know. I, she's not in touch with who the conservative base is right now.

I think it's clear to them that. She is just parroting these points and she may or may not actually believe them. So anyway, that's my first take on Nikki Haley. Yeah.

SHEFFIELD: Well, and when you look at the, exit poll results, I mean, yeah, to your point that she's, getting nowhere, anywhere close to the majority of, self identified Republican voters in the primaries and, she's getting independents and Democrats that's who is voting for her.

But she also doesn't want to speak to them or like actually court, like, figure out, well, why are these people voting for me? What do they want? How can I give them what they want? Instead she keeps, grasping [00:28:00] in vain for the MAGA coalition, which despises her. And that's been, and she'd been doing this and all the Republican candidates who ran against Trump, except for Chris Christie, they all followed this same strategy.

They refused to tell the truth about him. And then, as a result the, voters kind of, well, they didn't choose them. Like it's, hilarious that Republicans, Republican consultants always love to say. But you need to draw distinctions between the parties and the candidates.

And that's what will make voters go to you if you do that. But they never did that with Donald Trump. They never, and, they were all afraid. They were all afraid of, him. That he would attack them. Even though, of course, he still attacked him anyway. Like that was, that's the even more absurd situation about it is that.

They thought somehow that if they didn't attack him directly or, in a, tough fashion, that it would [00:29:00] somehow redound to their benefit. And it never did. And this didn't work in 2016 either. It's just, it was amazing to me, the incompetence and, timidity from Republicans with him.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Another interesting thing about Nikki Haley's place right now in the Republican party and, also running against Trump in this primary is that. Donald Trump never has to say her name. He laid the groundwork for how his base feels about people like Nikki Haley, long before she ran against him.

He laid the groundwork for how conservatives and Republicans feel about people like Nikki Haley. Way back in 2015, arguably, and he was making all of those misogynistic points about Hillary Clinton. He was telling his base how to feel about women as leaders, right? And that is, that's the context within, where Nikki Haley is stepping into the Republican party and conservatives do not like women, arguably they've never really liked women and they like [00:30:00] women even less thanks to Donald Trump.

Right. So he doesn't have to utter her name. They don't like Brown people. Nikki Haley, of course is Indian American. They don't like Brown people. They don't like women. And also, he's been making comments about the way women look, if they aren't, young and blonde, like his daughter.

Yeah. That's also a strike against them. So he's laid the groundwork. She, he doesn't have to say her name at all. And I think that's one of the challenges among many that she has.

Haley and the quandary of right-wing women being in a party that wants to control them

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, no, good point. And she herself also is kind of illustrative of this quandary that right wing women are all in because, like, when you, when I was on the right wing that all the women that I knew who worked in Republican politics, all of them, with the exception of two, I knew hundreds of women. All of them, except for two were very religious. All of them. Because like, if you're not super religious, there just [00:31:00] isn't really any incentive to be in the Republican party if you're a woman.

And because the party is, as you said, it is actively hostile to you. It is trying to take, control of your body. Late last month, there was a controversy on the right wing about a video that was posted on TikTok of some women dancing.

And these reactionary Christians and, their incel allies. They were enraged about this, it looked like some sorority had put together a group event to go to a Mardi Gras party. And so they were dancing to this local rapper who wrote a song about a guy that just goes around and films Louisianans having a good time.

And does, and really, and like that guy, the guy actually is is a fun It's really a fun personality because, what he does is. It really does show like there is something that is special and unique about the culture of Louisiana especially in regards to the South. Like [00:32:00] it is a really integrated place.

Where people of all races are hanging out and having a good time and acknowledging and sharing in each other's humanity not just you know, sharing a drink or a cigarette but you know, like Actually being there with each other and hanging out with each other Like that is my favorite thing. Absolutely about New Orleans and that whole culture Which of course is why the right wing was so angry about it because you can't have A bunch of white women dancing to a rap song that's not allowed.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right, right, right. Wow. That's a whole other show we could go on about that. Yeah, I agree with you about New Orleans. I love New Orleans. It is a place where, there is a lot of, cultural intermingling thing about that video and the sorority girls or the sorority women, rather it's a white women, dancing to this rap song.

When I first heard about that story, I mean, the first thing that came to mind is that their, ire, [00:33:00] their anger towards Taylor Swift. I don't know if he made that connection, but they have an expectation. They have an expectation of white women, right? Especially white women who look a certain way, that they adhere to certain cultural values, right?

And so publicly they were saying, Oh, Taylor Swift were mad at her because she might endorse Biden, right? That doesn't really, that never really made sense to me. What they're angry about is that I, think this is just my theory that they are that they are. That's the word of the guy had a great word in my head that they suspect that, or they are upset that she is a, I guess messing with the NFL, but her boyfriend, Travis Kelsey he is kind of very similar to that culture that you might see in New Orleans and that, he's kind of, has one foot in black culture, he's not, he's not Tom Brady.

Right. His longtime girlfriend before Taylor Swift was a black woman. Right. And I think that's just a little bit too cold. I don't know if you know that. Did you know [00:34:00] that? I didn't know that.


TAYLOR-SKINNER: And so I think, so that's been my theory about one reason like maybe they're not aware of that. I think Taylor Swift is just, flirting too close culturally outside of what they think white women should be and how they should behave.

If that makes any sense.

SHEFFIELD: Oh yeah. I mean, throughout history, it has always been the case that, reactionaries, especially religious fundamentalists, one of their top priorities is controlling the bodies of women. And whether it's controlling them, what they can do with their reproduction, but also just what they're allowed to do in public that, they basically, should be kept, that they are communal property. That's what women are. They, do not, they are not human. They have no human rights.

They are there to serve men. And, by this, this collection of women just out there having, and, and, maybe they didn't know that this was from a Mardi Gras clip. [00:35:00] Perhaps they didn't know that. And that's what this I mean, you go to anyone goes to New Orleans in February or the entire state of Louisiana. That's you're going to see this scene, hundreds of times because that's just what it is. But, like, let's say they didn't know that shorn of the context.

Yeah, it was a violation of the social contract that they envision yeah. For their women and they think of them as their women that women do not have agency. They do not have yeah, they don't have agency over any aspect. They should not have agency over any aspect of their life. That's what this really, the freakout really was about.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right. But I agree with that. And, bringing this back around to Nikki Haley. So there is no, environment in conservatism where a woman could really, truly be in leadership. Right. Cause you can't not have agency and also lead. So I'm not really sure what she's doing. [00:36:00]

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. I mean, and, it says, in the Bible explicitly that, a woman should not be over a man and a woman's desire should be to her husband and, like that's, and, I'm always love, watching that interplay between right wing women, because like that was, seeing all of that rage against these women just for dancing and public and having a good time and they were not being sexualized in any way in their behavior. Not really at all.

They were modestly clothed if if that's a thing that you're supposed to do, but whatever, like there's not really any basis that they could have criticized them. And they weren't doing drugs

but so a lot of these right wing Christian women, they looked at that, that this outrage of the far right Christians, especially the men, but even some of the, a lot of the women, like they looked at that and, they were appalled by it because it was going [00:37:00] against everything that they're trying to do, which is to keep, because like, basically like there's this saying that right wing Christians have about and, that have about people who are lesbian or gay, which is.

They cannot reproduce, so they must recruit. You ever heard that one?

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Oh, no, I haven't. I've been away for long enough, thankfully I haven't heard that one.

SHEFFIELD: And that's not true needless to say, because of course there are plenty of people who are bisexual, or even who, might identify as exclusively homosexual, who might occasionally have heterosexual sex, like, that's not true.

Independently of that not being true. They themselves, the Christian right is actually in this situation now where they actually cannot recruit because like there's, and I would love to hear from people if you know of anyone of a woman who has willingly, converted to far right Christianity.[00:38:00]

I just don't see that happening, unless you were brainwashed from an, as a girl into having some guilt and, desire, desire that this is the right thing for you to do. Unless you, if you had no contact with, A Christianity of any kind. I don't think that any woman is gonna sign up for far-Right Christianity.

So. And then at the same time, their, ideas are also so, there's claims about the world, evolution is not true, the earth is 6, 000 years old, there was a flood of Noah, and there was a burning bush and, I mean, all this stuff that just ludicrous and, more mature Christians don't believe happened.

there were no ancient Jewish people in Egypt that massively came out like none of that's true. And so like mature Christians don't believe that. But because those beliefs are so absurd and so obviously absurd now. People are not signing up for this stuff, so they [00:39:00] can't recruit and so they must reproduce like right of this situation.

And so, and like, and I think that ultimately is the, main reason why they are so obsessed with controlling women, because if they can control women's ability, to have children. And, do it at their command, then they still have at least some semblance of a chance of the future because they sure as hell aren't getting Congress in the United States.

Alabama supreme court granting full rights to embryos is the latest example of how extreme Republicans have become

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right, Which I guess brings us around to what happened, I guess, was it earlier this week, or was it last week, the IVF decision out of Alabama, which sorry, I just shifted the conversation on you.

SHEFFIELD: Oh, no, it's all right. Yeah, well. And that's another example of that, that, and I think Tommy Tuberville, when he was asked about it, he was like, well, we need more babies. And it's like, [00:40:00] who, says that? Nobody says that we have plenty of people in this country and there's plenty of people coming in, like if, it's not your business however many babies there are and if you really believe that you would give incentives for.

You would approve mandated maternity leave and federally funded maternity leave and paternity leave. If you actually believe that, you would do these things.

They're not, they don't have any consistency of being pro life, quote unquote, because they love the death penalty. Then, and, even with the IVF stuff, like you are seeing that the national party is, at least pretending to support IVF because I mean, as a polling matter, like there's plenty of Republican families that have done it.

But this is a great example of how, this is a party that has become so much more radicalized, just in the past, let's say 10 years or so, maybe since the tea party.

That are, 10, 12 years [00:41:00] that, they have to maintain this fiction for people, right? I think, and especially for women, like, I mean, is that in your own travels and work and whatnot? Like, have you seen women who have this? Fiction about the Republican party. What are, have you seen that?

TAYLOR-SKINNER: I personally don't know anyone in my sphere of friends. Or, because I think that it's obvious, right?

I think it's, very obvious, right? We have people saying, I mean, you think about, five years ago, even just, I was going to say 10 years ago, but even five years ago, the idea of granting an embryo. In the freezer personhood would be, we would have laughed at that we would have literally laughed at that, 10 years ago, so I don't know anyone who can't see that the 2 parties.

Are not the same, right? And I'm kind of thankful for that. Yeah, [00:42:00] so that's all that. that's the answer to your question. I don't know anyone who thinks that thankfully, right? I mean, it's just so obvious and so many different levels, right? And so many different ways and legislation. So,


but unfortunately, though, like, I mean, the national media to a large three does operate under that fiction in a lot of ways.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Yeah. And I'm not really certain why they do that. I think maybe, part of our conversation, I think we were having it earlier offline about, some of the editors or people behind the scenes could be more conservative than they are liberal or progressive.

I don't really understand how they aren't, I mean, I understand in that they believe that they should report on the parties equally, but that's under normal circumstances. We, aren't. Under normal circumstances, right? We are a skirting with a reporting with rather authoritarianism, right? And, having these extreme ideas and legislation take over the country.

So they have an obligation to report [00:43:00] that the 2 parties are not the same. And, and I think, for the most part, and it's just be just because. It could be biased because of the news stations that I'm watching that, the reporters that I'm watching aren't really saying that, but enough are that it's not really making it out to, all the constituents.

Issues and ideas that will likely have an impact in the 2024 presidential election

SHEFFIELD: All right, well, I guess maybe let's wrap then. What do you think are kind of the big themes that we're going to see emerging in the general election and the presidential contest?

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Oh, wow. Oh, the general election. It's, I'm curious as to where this IVF case will land in terms of voters, particularly white women.

I mean, me as a Black woman, I'm always thinking, so when I go into general election, the thing that's foremost on my mind, I'm not thinking about what will Black people do, right? That, doesn't worry about me, right? I worry about, how will white. women vote, right? Because they've been kind of voting for Republicans for a really long time.

And because they're voting against their [00:44:00] own interests, it kind of affects all of us. So I think we have to watch for that because the IVF decision, the majority of people who use IVF are white women. It's that demographic that the Republicans rely on. Um, their, affirmative action is also something that will affect them.

So I think it's something to watch out, like, where is the needle going? And I'm curious if, If we look deeper at that breakdown of voters for Nikki Haley, those kind of independents or those, people who are voting for her over Trump. I wonder if those are white women who are hoping to, not bring on another Trump term, but can't bring themselves to vote for Democrats.

So that's something to watch out for. I guess the second thing that I'm, that's foremost on my mind is misinformation and disinformation. Right. That's a huge one. It's kind of this invisible monster. Thinking back 3 years ago. I can't remember how long it's been since Elon Musk took over Twitter, for.

The X, formerly known as Twitter, but, we were all hand wringing about the [00:45:00] disinformation that's going to, kind of be proliferated in that space. And we just we stopped talking about that. And I think the assumption is that it's something that's going to happen in the future, right?

It's kind of in the back of our minds. It's something that's going to happen. We're in the middle of it right now. Right. Every time you watch a video or you get a headline or some, you read something online, especially with, all of the upheaval, in relation to our foreign policy, you should assume that information has been manipulated in some way, and you should always double check.

Right. So we are in the middle. Of the disinformation age of social media, specifically on Twitter, you're living it right now. Right. And I don't really know if there are any measures to counter that. I mean, Twitter is a private company, but that's something that kind of, frankly, keeps me up at night. So that's, probably the second thing.

And I guess I guess, a close third would be, foreign interference in our election. And that's, [00:46:00] related to the disinformation. We still really haven't gotten to the bottom of, that, what happened in 2016. Actually, I think we have gotten to the bottom of it, but, the media doesn't really cover that.

I had a guest on a couple of weeks ago on the electorate, Jackie Singh, and she's a cybersecurity expert. And we were talking about that and how. Whenever you talk about this information or whenever you talk about foreign interference in an election, cycle, there's kind of this collective eye roll, I think, among people, especially people on social media or people who think that they're really tied into into social media.

SHEFFIELD: Russia collusion hoax.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Right, exactly. And it's just like, well, it's. These are conspiracies. There have been legitimate organizations who've uncovered that these things have happened. And I think that, frankly, the collective reaction has been a part of the manipulation that we've all been under, right?

If we've somehow been taught to dismiss it and to downplay it, right? Doesn't really make sense to me. Yeah, so that's, [00:47:00] those are the three things. And I, honestly, if there's a fourth thing, I guess I'll lump those last two things together as number two, but the, third thing I think is, there are judges planted around the country, conservative judges who are willing to they had a playbook from 2020, they know what to do and what not to do to help, Donald Trump when, take over an election that he hasn't actually won. And I'm just, I'm, a little nervous about how that will play out. state legislatures. Exactly. So I'm very worried about how that will play out. There are people who are sitting in, willing and waiting to help Donald Trump.

Still an election. Yeah, exactly. I, try to avoid saying that word because they also accuse us of stealing an election. But I mean, it's like, they're the ones who sold the election. But anyway,

SHEFFIELD: yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, yeah, no, I think those are definitely all things to keep an eye out. And, I think that we yeah, it's been a [00:48:00] great discussion and

I look forward to having everybody see a lot more of you in the future flux and on this show and some of the other the other ones that we're doing. So I'm really excited.

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Matthew. It's really fun. I love talking to you.

SHEFFIELD: And so for people who want to keep tabs on what you're doing on social media, what's, the best way for them?

TAYLOR-SKINNER: Well, I'm mostly on Twitter, fortunately, or unfortunately at Jay Taylor Skinner, right.

Or Twitter formerly known as Twitter. I went on X as Jay Taylor Skinner, right. I don't really do Facebook that often, but yeah, find me on Twitter. Ranting or two N's about something, two N's. That's right. J. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

SHEFFIELD: Okay. Awesome. All right. So that is the program for today. I appreciate everybody joining us for the conversation. You can always get more. If you go to theory of change dot show, you can get the video audio and transcript of all the episodes. And if you are a paid subscribing member, you have unlimited access.

Thank you very much for your support. [00:49:00] That makes it possible. And if you can't afford to support at this time, financially, you can actually really help out the show. By subscribing on whatever platform you are using to listen to podcasts. And, if you can leave a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify, that's actually really helpful as well, it helps people see the show, a written review can be even just as short as one sentence.

Saying it's great, five stars. That's much appreciated. And if you're watching on YouTube, you can just click the like and subscribe button. Please do that. I really appreciate that. So that'll do it for this episode. I'll see everybody next time.

Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? Join Matthew Sheffield and his guests as they explore larger trends and intersections in politics, religion, technology, and media.