So is Gardner’s form of hostage-taking scalable? It’s certainly worth a try among Trump-averse Republicans in the Senate, given that chamber’s slim 51-47-2 GOP majority (with the two independents caucusing with Democrats). But there are some unique aspects to the presidential buy-in on pot legalization.
First, Trump favored state decision-making about marijuana when he was on the campaign trail. Second, keeping the feds out of the enforcement business in pot-legal states is widely popular — 70% in an April Quinnipiac poll. (Straight-up legalization is now polling at 63%, a percentage no president has ever achieved in the popular vote.) And finally, let’s not forget that Trump isn’t exactly shy about tweaking Jeff Sessions.
Favorable conditions aside, Gardner clearly forced the issue. The Senate is designed to be obstructionist, to thwart the ambitions of presidents and House members who want to get things done fast. For those senators who consider the president a challenge to the fundamental ideas of conservatism, Gardner’s example is instructive. Instead of merely standing athwart C-SPAN’s view of history yelling “stop,” they should use the power the Constitution and the Senate’s rule book gives them and stick out a foot when the president walks by.