This week, former Missouri Senator and current MSNBC host Claire McCaskill made the claim that she foresees a time when red states will “empower citizens to go out and round up people they think look like foreigners.” The comments came amid a discussion about the fallout from the Texas abortion law that grants citizens standing to sue any medical provider who performs an abortion. McCaskill attempted to make a “slippery slope” argument as red states seek to impose restrictions on abortion. Without getting too involved in the actual abortion aspect of this, this statement from McCaskill allows us the opportunity to analyze some popular slippery slope arguments made on both sides of the aisle and how well they turned out.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The somewhat-popular 1985 graphic novel gained a resurgence when producers at streaming service Hulu decided that 2017 would be the perfect time to make the argument that if then-President Donald Trump had his way, this would be the world in which we would find ourselves. “The Handmaid’s Tale” centers around a world where women are brutally subjugated. Society is run by religious fanatics who, among other things, seek to control women.
The message: Donald Trump wants to turn society into “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
The verdict: Donald Trump did not succeed during his time as president, but his Supreme Court nominees may have a hand in reversing Roe v. Wade, and while this won’t be putting us in Gilead anytime soon, you can bet that if any part of Roe is overturned come June, you will see a number of women in red dresses and white bonnets (ironically, doing so voluntarily).
Okay, we’re going to have to be careful with this one. For years, one of the arguments Conservatives made regarding marriage equality was the slippery slope it would open. Normalizing polygamy, expanding the age of consent, and other deviations were all brought up.
The message: If you legalize one thing, what’s next?
The verdict: While nothing has legally changed over the fifteen-or-so years since legalization, there have been certain previous barriers that have been breached. LGB added a T, certain districts have allowed children to seek treatment without parental consent, and while polygamy has not yet been legalized nationwide, there are pushes for it now.
Defunding the Police
Following incidents of police-on-black violence in 2020, certain districts moved to defund police departments, impose bail reform, and have an overall lighter stance on so-called “nonviolent crime.” Opponents were quick to point out the implications of this and the harm that it would cause. Nowhere was this more of an issue than what crimes were deemed to be “nonviolent.”
The message: If you reduce policing, and become less harsh on criminals, crime will rise.
The verdict: This was not so much a slippery slope, but a jagged cliff. As cities even discussed being more lenient, crime rose. Flash-mob thefts became commonplace in California. City-wide votes to defund police departments were resoundingly defeated. The slope was certainly realized.
Rounding up Immigrants
Finally, let’s predict if Claire McCaskill’s slippery slope prediction of red states passing laws to allow citizens to round up those they think look like foreigners will come to fruition. Actually, this is not even the first time someone tried this. Back in 2017, a Virginia political ad featured several children being chased by a pickup truck emblazoned with Confederate and MAGA flags.
The message: This has been the Democratic playbook for years at this point. Scare voters into thinking that their freedom is at stake. If you let <insert politician here> into office now, this is what will happen.
The verdict: While there have been a few deportations of adults over the last few years, children can sleep well at night knowing that ICE is not coming for them, and neither will your next-door neighbors. And although McCaskill made this argument just this week, we can be assured that this one will not come to fruition.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.