Public pressure is always a factor in politics. Even corrupt politicians know they have to get reelected in order to keep their grift going. If you pressure them, they will cave on precisely as much as they think they need to cave on in order to keep their career intact. We see it time and again.
Public pressure does have to be applied smartly and strategically. It only works in instances where a specific politician can be convinced that they need to cave on that specific issue, or else they might lose reelection.
For instance Susan Collins gambled that she could vote for Kavanaugh in exchange for a ton of PAC money from McConnell, and it would be enough to get her reelected in her state, and unfortunately she was right. But in specific instances public pressure does work, even on corrupt politicians.
Manchin and Sinema didn’t want to cave on the COVID relief package or the first infrastructure bill. But they did, because the public pressure on them to cave was too much. Then on the second infrastructure bill, activists on our side mostly just spent the whole time yelling “they’ll never cave no matter what,” so they didn’t cave.
The dumbest thing you can ever do in politics is to yell “this person will never cave no matter what” when it’s someone who actually might have caved under sufficient pressure. In such case you’re just telling them they don’t have to cave. You’re just forfeiting.
We knew Collins wouldn’t cave on codifying Roe v. Wade, because she already sold her abortion vote. But others, like Murkowski and Sinema, may see the math differently. They’re not good people, but under the right public pressure, they will do the bare minimum to survive reelection.
The problem is we have people on our side who are so addicted to rage, they don’t WANT Murkowski or Sinema to cave. They want to lose, so they can feel the maximum rage. We have to work around these types while we’re trying to work around corrupt politicians. But then it’s always 10% of the people on our side putting in the work and winning battles, even as 90% of the people on our side just sit around and yell “we’re gonna lose.”
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report