Progress, what progress?
After a long big tent discussion within the Democratic Party, it would appear at the time of writing, the bipartisan infrastructure bill may reach the President's desk today. At the same time, the Build Back Better reconciliation bill will return to the Senate for consideration. As sure as night follows day, the battle will then begin to dismantle it. It is, as it was ever was and Dems will have to ask themselves was it worth it to hold up the infrastructure bill? As with all policy agendas, it's about maths. Do you have the numbers? On paper the Dems have the numbers but Manchin and Sinema chose to stand in the way of progress to enrich themselves. Putting aside the obstacle of the filibuster, the Dems were always staring down the barrel of a gun, simply because they could not come together as one voice to pass the full Build Back Better bill.
This inability to work together based on common Democratic values, is likely to become the a defining point for this administration. It may well even prove to be a defining moment in US social history, if it goes on to dilute what could have been a moment for huge transformational change. In normal times political missteps whilst frustrating, are rarely mission critical. However, at this critical inflection point, it may well prove to be beyond consequential.
Since Biden was elected, he has been subjected to probably the most significant political obstruction campaign in modern US history. The US has seen a huge coming out party for the white supremacy movement. This was encouraged under the previous administration and continues to feed into a new 'culture war' strategy. It's not for nothing that Kevin McCarthy is promising to introduce a 'parents bill of rights' if they take back the House. A wilful campaign by the right to extend the COVID pandemic by waging a war on science and truth, has proved very effective but deadly. It's really hard to adequately explain the seriousness of this authoritarian attack on democracy. The American people have literally become an expendable commodity in a rush to dismantle democracy.
The GOP have created a landscape of chaos on so many fronts, that it is hard to step back and take in the big picture. It is a carefully co-ordinated attack on democracy, designed to converge into a culture war just in time for the 2022 mid term elections. Voter suppression, criminalisation of the right to protest and removal of a woman's right to chose by subversion of constitutional law, is their new normal. Even a co-ordinated attempt to rewrite US history as story of white discovery and domination of minorities is their new yesteryear. Put together, this is the horrifying reality of what is on the ballot in 2022.
The mid terms are not going to be about policy and what is best for the American people, they're going to be about a culture war. The GOP can't allow it to be about policy, because they HAVE NO POLICIES. History will reflect that millions of Americans were victims of the biggest social deception campaign in history. It is no exaggeration to say, EVERY democrat has a patriot responsibility to come together to fight this cancer that is eating democracy alive. Words alone will not defeat this formidable enemy. It's going to take the most comprehensive ground game in US political history. It's going to take the biggest coming together of activists ever gathered under the Democratic banner, to monitor voter roll purges, register new voters and re-register those purged. It's going to take an army of people, connecting with and knocking on the doors of voters to sell the Democratic agenda. Phone banks are going to have to light up the communication networks to sell the same central message as those on the ground. Social media activists are going to have to put any petty policy differences and egos aside, to create a collective voice that is absolutely in step with the ground effort. No Democratic voter can be allowed to stay at home when it comes to casting their vote. If all these threads can be pulled together, the Dems simply can't lose and I say that with every confidence. The big question is, can we engage Dem voters to participate and there's the BIG challenge.
The above represents the election strategy, but there is a much bigger picture here. The defence of the House and Senate will depend on persuading independents and those who are uncomfortable with Trumpism to take the step to towards the Democratic agenda and that's no easy sell. In order to place the 2022 mid terms on an even playing field, there is one simple obstacle THE FILIBUSTER. There has never been a time in US history where the filibuster has literally stood in the way of the preservation of democracy. However, now is that moment. The GOP is terrified of it being reformed, yet they have opened the door themselves to a 'carve out' on voter rights. When Joe Manchin brought his version of the 'Voting Rights Act' to the Senate floor, NOT ONE Republican voted for it. This has presented an opportunity for Chuck Schumer to make the case for a carve out of the filibuster to really 'protect voter integrity'.
The filibuster is NOT part of the US constitution. There is no real way that 'reconciliation' can be used, because it would be all but impossible for any proposal the pass the 'Byrd Rule'. With this in mind, an alternative mechanism must be found. I have as ever, made sure I've read extensively on the subject and come to the following conclusion. It can be done and it might help you to read this great piece from Ed Kilgore in the Intelligencer. Here is the relevant clip from his article that explains the mechanism to achieve the objective.
How would another carve-out for voting rights work in practice? Distinguished scholars Norman Eisen and Norman Ornstein explain at the Washington Post:
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) would raise a point of order that cloture on election-related legislation can be decided by a simple majority vote, which would be denied by the presiding officer (acting on advice of the parliamentarian). The leader would then appeal the ruling to the Senate — in a vote that, if done in reconsideration of a failed cloture vote, is not subject to debate. The Senate would then vote on the appeal. If the appeal won a simple majority, the new precedent would prevent the filibuster of voting legislation. It would leave the filibuster in place for other legislation.
I know that Dems love to play fair and to honour that trait, this could be sold as a 'one time' carve out to protect democracy. Further reform can then be sought later once a stronger political position presents itself. Joe Manchin, having failed to get a single vote following his previous attempt to bring a bill to the floor, really would have no argument against it. When Schumer Brought the vote to the floor this week, Manchin DID vote Yea. This is an electoral imperative move for Democrats, because if they don't get some federal mitigation measures in place to deal with the widespread voter suppression laws enacted in red states, the best ground game in the world won't save them and democracy will fall.
Filibuster out of the way, the next piece in the jigsaw is in the hands of the Jan 6 Committee. I am a big fan of Don Winslow who is no shrinking violet when it comes to activism and voicing opinion. There is no question that Don, is seething right now and he's not stepping away from sharing his views. Whilst I think it is not as simple as getting angry, Don reflects the growing discontent amongst activists at this passive approach by Dems to the threat posed by the GOP. Activists are the DNA of the electoral machine and they need to be onside and well motivated. To ignore them is political suicide. I have been beyond shocked by the woeful response by DOJ to hold those responsible to account for their involvement in the insurrection. I simply DO NOT accept that in the modern world of criminal investigation, federal agencies with virtually unlimited budgets can't gather together the phone records of those onsite and look at the activity of lawmakers sympathetic to the cause of overturning the election. Just start with all those members that openly supported overturning the election result. If they are innocent, then the should have no reason to fail to co-operate. It's not for nothing that Josh Hawley is obsessed as to whether authorities have requested metadata dumps and that Kevin McCarthy threatened comms companies that there would be future retribution for and disclosure of said information.
The problem is, the system is not well equipped to deal with this level of political deep-rooted corruption and malfeasance in public office. Merrick Garland is in my view, mindful that delivering real justice will look like the kind of political retribution better known in failed states. The reality is, Trump effectively created a failed state and there is a reluctance to admit that the systems of checks and balances were so woefully inadequate that they failed to prevent it.
If justice is to be respected and NOBODY is truly above the law, Steve Bannon would be behind bars as would anyone else that failed to answer a congressional subpoena. Donald Trump should be under indictment for malfeasance in public office amongst other fiscal crimes. Any Republican lawmaker offering open support for the insurrection would have been expelled from office. What's more, any lawmaker wilfully promoting disinformation that places the American public at risk would also be subjected to sanction. Unless the law imposes the law without favour, then the law is not the law. It is an optional participation sport for the rich and powerful to use to hide their wrongdoing and to silence their enemies.
So my appeal to the DOJ, to the Jan 6 Committee and any other body examining crimes against the American people, is to simply DO YOUR JOB. Act swiftly without favour, providing due process to those charged with any crimes. DO NOT allow the court process to be used to slow walk judicial accountability. I encourage total transparency throughout the process, so as to cast no shadow of partisan victimisation. This is not beyond the realm of possibility and anyone who tells you that it is, is simply lying. Stop treating the American people like idiots that need to be kept in the dark and fed bullshit. Shine a bright light on the egregious crimes against them and only then, will the trust and confidence of the people be restored.
If all of the above are done, the Dems will win a landslide victory in 2022 with majorities that will truly allow transformational change to take place in America. I'm sorry I have gone on a little today, but the frustration I am feeling right now is off the chart. I want politics to be about a war of ideas and policy, not a war on who can deceive the American people better. That's not who America is.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to meeting up on Monday to continue our daily chats. Stay safe out there.