53 minutes | Aug 24, 2021

Nebraska's Ben Nelson on the Death of the Senate

Ben Nelson has lived an iconic political life...two terms as Governor and two terms in the Senate as a Democrat in deep red Nebraska - and the key swing vote on landmark legislation from the Bush tax cuts to judicial votes to Obamacare. In this conversation, he talks his political career - beginning with his first Governor's race (starting at 0% and winning by 42 votes). And he goes into depth about his time in the Senate - weighing in on colleagues that impressed him and disappointed him, and touching on the themes of the breakdown of the body in his new book Death of the Senate.  IN THIS EPISODESenator Nelson reminisces about growing up in idyllic Western Nebraska…The significance of being an only child…A memorable first experience in the Nebraska’s Governor’s Office as a 17-year old…Senator Nelson talks about the importance of his political hero Senator George W. Norris…The value of a unicameral legislature…Why Senator Nelson gravitated toward Democrats despite growing up in very Republican turf…Senator Nelson’s academic background in Philosophy…Winning his first race for Governor by 42 votes…Senator Nelson talks about his lone loss in the 1996  open Senate Seat…How he came back four years later to win a Senate race…Which of his new Senate colleagues were the biggest surprises to him?Senator Nelson pinpoints the transition from Trent Lott to Mitch McConnell as the start of the breakdown of the Senate…Senator Nelson talks his vote for the Bush tax cuts…Did he get close to switching parties?Senator Nelson explains his early primary endorsement of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton?Senator Nelson walks through the process that led to the passage of the ACA Obamacare…Setting the record straight on the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback”…The letter Senator Nelson wrote correcting Justice Scalia…Why did Senator Nelson forgo running for re-election in 2012?Senator Nelson’s “rough” perspective on Donald Trump…Weighing in on the debate over eliminating the filibuster…Senator Nelson’s advice on hiring and managing…Senator Nelson’s itinerary for getting the Nebraska Experience…AND….Barbara Boxer, John Breaux, burrow-crats, Robert Byrd, Dick Cheney, circuit breakers, conference committees, Tom Daschle, Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, hollow math, the Hyde Amendment, Interstate-80, Jeffersonian principles, JFK, kooks, Lala Land, laboratories of democracy, Joe Lieberman, Trent Lott, making it rain, Joe Manchin, One Nebraska, party theology, Harry Reid, ridiculous carrots, sophists and skeptics, Tom Sawyer, Saul Shorr, Olympia Snowe, so-called autobiographies, stare decisis, Toadstool Park, unfunded mandates, Wildcat Hills, & more!
Play Next