This morning on Meet the Press Chuck Todd asked his panel, “Will this be a functional bipartisan government?” It was his feeling that we would know in eight days. Sadly, I think, if we listen to what Republicans are saying we already know the answer and the answer is no. Republicans do not like Biden’s plan to rescue Americans from this “COVID” economy nor do they agree that an infusion of money is necessary to keep the American economy afloat until we can vaccinate enough people to reopen safely. They are livid that Biden has included a boost in the minimum wage and they contest that this will ruin each of their particular red states. They are pointing to the deficit once again. They did not lose enough seats in the Senate or the House to feel a threat to their “putsch” for power.
On that same politics-round-table this morning, where the round table has become a zoom meeting, Todd also asks if we had to choose what Biden should prioritize, would we want him to go “big and bold” or stick to “bipartisanship?” Other talk shows were highlighting the same choices.
If Republicans persist in obstruction of Democratic priorities, should we end the filibuster rules and make every item subject to a simple majority vote? The reason Democrats keep hesitating to scrap the filibuster is that doing so may work against them at some future moment in time. Do we live for today? Are we at an existential moment when policy decisions will matter enough to buck tradition, and perhaps hurt us in the next election which is only two years away. Which way will the scales tip?
From the things we are already hearing Senate Republicans say we should hold out almost no hope for bipartisanship. Keep your eyes on them. If you are happy to have them simply hold the current line until they regain power in two years or four years then you will have to give some things up, like a better rollout of vaccinations, like opening up our economy, like getting kids back in school, like making it through these tough financial times without ending up on the streets or living in your car. When that eviction order ends, and you can lose the apartment you call home because you are unable to pay all your back rent, will you be glad that you chose the Republican way?
Biden knows and likes many of the most moderate Republican figures, many of whom are not politicians, but are writers and professionals who are married to Conservatism. The Democratic Party is paying far more attention to ex-Republicans who helped Biden win than they are to the Progressives who know where the party needs to go in the future. Conservatives did not stop being conservative when they stopped being Republicans. David Brooks is not really with us, nor Jennifer Rubin, nor David Frum, Michael Steele. I have come to appreciate all of these people, but not their conservatism. Conservatism has not served America well. Conservatism harbored racism in its bosom as long as the racists kept relatively silent. Will these “nice” Conservatives steer the Biden agenda, or will Democrats assert themselves and help Biden do those big and bold things America needs so badly right now. He doesn’t even have to go full-on Progressive to go big right now. Democrats know what America needs to do. Tap into some of those memes on Facebook and build party confidence. Proudly take the stage and govern. Show no empathy for those who have to sink to conspiracy theories to demonize the party. Let success change their minds.
Democrats are relieved and ready to accept far less drama in our politics. The spectacle of that domestic insurrection that seemed intent on overturning our government as we know it has helped us, like opening a pressure valve keeps a kitchen pot from exploding, but the pressure will build again and Republican obstruction will feed it. Keep your eyes on them. The fever for power is still alive and well in them.
If the Democrats accept obstruction and accomplish little or nothing they will be blamed. Americans are not very subtle about their politics. Those who say that first the Democrats must win on their issues and second they must trumpet their wins, own their wins, use their wins to win again are perhaps offering the best advice. And there are only two years before the next election so it all has to happen fast. Whether things can turn around enough in two years remains to be seen. VP Harris, President Biden needs your counsel; advise him well and prod him to be the somewhat progressive voice America needs right now. Right now Biden seems on fire, but can he make that fire burn beyond the Oval Office?
Ousting Donald Trump is just the first step in restoring American sanity. Either the Republicans help govern or they also must go. Right now they are still the party of insurrection. Democrats can’t have gone through all this just to let the Republicans take back the con in two years.