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An Interview with Cassie Gilson - Part 2

As promised, here are Cassie’s thoughts on the world’s most pressing issues. She touched on some of these in our last article, but we wanted to see what she thinks the single biggest challenge facing us right now is.


It's got to be climate change because if we don't have a healthy planet, all the other issues that we care about can’t be the most important thing. It’s not just the direct challenges that climate change creates: species going extinct or rising sea levels, it's mass migration, food shortages, health risks – all those things flow in part from climate change. In terms of what we can do about it – we need to remember it’s not all black and white. For example, we need cement for building roads and all kinds of things, but cement has terribly high greenhouse gas emissions when you make it. Even if you put all sorts of controlled technology in, the nature of the chemical reactions is that it has a high greenhouse gas emissions profile, and so the question is what do you do about that? This is one of the things that is interesting about being a lobbyist. You’ve got to figure out those tough questions - we know what we want to do but we need a deal that works both substantively and, of course, politically. We've seen this nationally – take Joe Manchin who takes positions that are wildly unpopular in the Democratic Party, but the coal industry is in his state. It creates jobs and voters vote for that. So, if you want him to do what you see as the right thing, how do you provide the political cover for him so he doesn’t get voted out in the next election?


Cassie’s thoughts on politician’s electability falls on the backdrop of a groundbreaking Midterm election, and we were interested to hear how she was reading into the results:


They're very heartening to me because they flew in the face of the conventional wisdom of the midterms which typically swing against the incumbent President. They're even more heartening to me because folks like Donald Trump and Herschel Walker didn’t prevail. And these are people who, to me, go beyond political parties but a vote for them is a vote against a sane individual who is intelligent, honest, and has experience serving. This helps me believe that the voters care because what we have seen recently is that voters are just voting based on the R or the D – they’re not even looking at who the candidate is. What worries me a little bit is that Democrats may take too much of a victory lap or become too confident because of the outcome, because a lot of the votes were some combination of: I care a lot about abortion, and I’m not prepared to support the Republicans. Candidates like those endorsed by Trump were so egregiously unqualified or took positions that were so objectional that if you bring in someone who is more traditionally Republican, the outcomes would be quite different. I worry a little bit about the next election - yes, it's good to get rid of Trump, but at the same time you're going to indirectly bring in folks that voted for the Democrats now who will vote for the Republicans''


Trump may have seen setbacks in these elections, but his campaign for President in 2024 has traction – we were keen to see how Cassie anticipates this playing out.


I find it hard to see him winning again. He's always going to have his core base of people – I remember when he said I could walk down 5th Avenue, shoot someone, and still win. At the time we thought that's outrageous, but it turned out to not be totally wrong. One of the indications of the outcome of the midterms is that there are a bigger group of people in the middle who are ready for a different kind of politics where reasonable people who you really don’t agree with but think aren’t crazy get elected, and so I think he’s unlikely to win.


Considering Trump’s campaign, a Biden-Trump rematch has been touted as a possibility, so we were curious about Cassie’s opinions on the candidates in the Democratic party.


I am the sole person I know who says that I don't think Biden is running. I am a moderate democrat so socially very liberal, but a little more fiscally conservative. What I really want is a Democrat to win – I’m a huge fan of not letting the perfect be the enemy. One of the things that I worry about, and it's partially why I'm a moderate Democrat, is the extremes of the party who I feel are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. You’ve got to make sure that your candidate can win, and if the country is as split as it is, who is that? It’s not a real progressive. It's somebody who is more moderate - so when I look at that and think about who could fit that bill, I think Gretchen Whitmer from Michigan, both politically and because she comes from a swing state would be a great candidate. If you look at the big states that you must win to win the Presidency, Michigan is one of them and she should be able to win Michigan which is a plus. You’re also going to need a woman or minority as the candidate for Vice President or President, and she fulfils that.


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