I am overjoyed that Joe Biden won the presidency, but am also aware of the serious damage presented by the Republicans potentially controlling the Senate, giving them a major blocking tool.
We all know this. The key to understanding the Republican Party, and its serious threat to the nation, is that they are almost entirely the “Don’t” Party. So, the crucial differences between Democrats and Republicans requires one to understand how much Republicans don’t want to do anything
Assuming that Republicans retain control of the Senate, here is what that means (not exhaustive). Republicans don’t want to:
- recognize Biden’s presidency
- engage in democracy at the basic level — judicial appointments, cabinet appointments, keeping government open or not defaulting on the debt
- address Climate Change
- have a national health policy response to Covid-19
- wear masks
- listen to scientists or experts on any range of issues, including Covid
- expand, or care, about access to health insurance
- reform and modernize immigration laws
- financially support “first responders,” such as doctors, nurses, EMT, etc.
- alleviate the financial crunch on states and civil servants such as police, firefighters, nurses, school teachers, sanitation workers, and so on.
- provide necessary economic stimulus to help all injured economic sectors
- provide relief to tenants and college loan debt to millions suffering through no fault of their own
- address income stagnation and wealth inequality
- repair and upgrade (see Climate Change) the nation’s infrastructure
- provide or assist child care and parental leave
- expand access to healthcare or education
The list goes on and on — and it is noted by one thing: opposition, blocking, “don’t do” anything.
So . . . once all the recent punditry fades, I expect that this is where we will be — Republicans blocking everything and Republicans not caring about anything, policy-wise. Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen has written a whole book about how Republicans have become a post-policy party.
It is obviously a massive, nihilistic challenge. How do we deal with this? I am not sure. Jonathan Chait recently argued that Democrats need to give Republicans tax cuts for the rich in exchange for whatever we can wrangle in exchange. It’s not an unrealistic argument, except for it being depressing and utterly unworkable on any meaningful scale.
And, so, what is the alternative?
What do you do when the other side has no positive agenda, coupled with an obstructionist agenda? No problem they want to solve — even Covid, a Covid wracked economy, Climate Change or even something simple like Infrastructure?
This isn't “a Joe Biden problem.” This isn't temporary problem, a personality thing or a matter of “hard feelings” based off some election. This is permanent. It aint’ going away. It is our new reality.
So . . . what are our next steps?
I would have said that the answer is to win elections. That is still the answer, but num-nut Trump just got 70 million votes and Republicans over-performed on down-ballot races. FFS.
Because I am at a loss, the only thing I can say is that Democrats need a special, (presumably) younger and charismatic candidate. A talent appropriate to the times. It won’t be a Republican (and, tragically, it wasn't going to be an African-American Obama).
I get that this sounds vague and weak. But I think we are approaching something like one of those past, recurring periods when we needed to discover a talent like FDR or Lincoln. And, depressingly, neither of them was able to do anything without historic calamity (Civil War Great Depression, WWII). We are facing some tough prospects.
I am confident that I’m on the right side of the divide, but that is no longer enough. The current trajectory is unsustainable.