If you've read my thought of the day for today on Twitter, you can skip the next paragraph. I wanted to share it here, simply because I think yesterday was somewhat of a defining moment, when Joe Biden swept aside obstruction and obvuscation to hold out a hand of hope to America.
Almost 450,000 dead Americans, filings for unemployment rising, economy stalled, parents unable to put food on the table for their kids. Education paralysed, small businesses disappearing and NOT ONE Republican voted to move forward with the American Rescue Plan. This, despite overwhelming support for it from the American people. I think that’s called dereliction of duty. When political dogma trumps the well-being of a nation, there is a cancer at the heart of opposition politics. If there's one thing we’ve learned since November, it's that good grace, patriotism, honesty and decency no longer exists in the Republican Party. Where it does, everything possible is being done to eradicate it. Hard right fringe ideology, is the new normal and the welfare of the American people is secondary to creating an obstructive political environment.
The outrage over the use of Executive Orders, comes at a time of national emergency. A time when a president has to stand up and take decisive action to save the nation from the catastrophic failures of the previous self serving administration. Let it be known, that at a time of critical need for the welfare of those left hungry and thirsty in a desert of despair, one man and his team of dedicated patriots, stepped forward. They put the needs of the people first, to hold out a hand of support to those cast aside by a callous felonious president guilty of genocide. Joe Biden has instructed leadership to move forward on a $1.9 trillion rescue plan, in order to put food on the tables of the hungry, help keep people in their homes and help small businesses stay alive. Funding is to be provided for the crucial vaccination of the population and a federal action plan is being prepared to fire up the great American economic engine. The GOP answer? Objection, obstruction and not a single vote of support. The conclusion? Political dogma is more important than the future of America.
I'm tired now of saying the same thing over and over again. Republicans simply don't care, so there's no point discussing their own internal petty infighting and shift to a hard right fringe ideology.
As the late great John Lewis said, 'There is work to be done.' Joe was right to address the issue of the number of Executive orders he's signed and he gave a perfectly acceptable explanation. This is NOT legislation, he is simply looking to address the poor policy implemented by the previous administration. Trump was never fearful of using the tool, often for nefarious benefit. There is no doubt, that with a Covid death toll that looks set to reach half a million in the next few days, with an economy stalled, job numbers in reverse and hard working Americans on the verge of fiscal collapse, this is a time of national emergency. In these times, it is the solemn duty of a president to use all the levers of power to protect the American people and that is exactly what Joe Biden has chosen to do. Unity be damned I say, its time to march on and bring America back from the brink. All current polling suggests, this is exactly what the American people want.
It's now time for Dems to suit up, take off the gloves and if need be, fight this battle hand to hand in the political trenches. The Democratic leadership will possibly have a couple more attempts at using budget reconciliation, so they need to choose their battles carefully.
At the moment, Mitch McConnell is still holding off on agreeing a power sharing arrangement for the Senate. This leaves Lyndsay Graham still chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is therefore, able to stall the confirmation of Merrick Gardland as Attorney General. As things stand, only 6 out of 23 nominees have been confirmed, so you can see the balancing act Joe is having to endure, just to get his cabinet confirmed. The move to use budget reconciliation therefore encourages political retaliation and further stalling. However, there is no question it is the right thing to do.
I know we're getting into the weeds here, but I know people often ask me to explain stuff in a way they can hopefully understand. I want to try and unravel things so you can see why Dems aren't just marching on regardless because they won the election. The number one takeaway from the current situation, is that there are structural issues in the handover of power. This was evident as Trump deliberately slowed down the transition and now, Mitch McConnell is using the required power sharing agreement as a bargaining chip to retain the filibuster and other concessions. Is this wrong? Absolutely it is, but until you address the root of the problem, it will continue to get in the way of the work of the people.
Mitch McConnell knows that if the filibuster goes, this will put the Republicans at a huge political disadvantage, so he will defend it to his dying breath (I know what you're thinking, but let's be nice). Take look at this great piece by Amy McKeever at National Geographic. Origins of the filibuster—and how it came to exasperate the U.S. Senate
Democrat DNA is built around consensus politics. By it's nature, the Democratic Party has always been a 'big tent' Party and that's healthy in a modern democracy. Vigorous debate and disagreement are often the price of democratic policy, so compromise is something all Democrats have learned to live with. There will always be a diversity of views when you are trying to represent people across the demographic spectrum. Progressives by their nature, focus on the interests of those who are often unheard in modern politics. Their mission to create a more equitable society drives their policy agenda and that is much needed in today's America. However, as a result, they find themselves not only at war with the GOP, but also at odds occasionally with their own party, as they fight what many regard as 'same old same old' politics. They view moderate Democrats as Republicans in disguise and not without good reason in some instances.
Before I talk about the danger of narrowing the appeal of the Democratic Party, I want to shout something. Are you ready for this? BLACK AMERICA WON THE 2020 ELECTION FOR DEMOCRATS AND THEN HANDED THE SENATE TO JOE BIDEN. Not poor people, middle income people or wealthy people BLACK PEOPLE. Why is that important? It's important because traditionally, their votes have been taken for granted, whilst their voice has been often ignored within the Party. I am not diminishing the contribution of the likes of the late great John Lewis, I'm just saying, that at bread and butter level policy making, minority communities have not been representative of their contribution to politics and indeed to the fabric of society. The election of the Biden Harris ticket puts Kamala Harris front and centre on the issue of representation and she strikes me as someone who will be at the forefront of structural change. It is a VITAL plank that MUST drive the policy agenda of the new administration.
America is by nature a centre right country. I hear many arguments that suggest it is really centre left. However, I would respectfully disagree. A country built on capitalism will always struggle to move to the left as Bernie Sanders can attest. Progressive values are by nature bestowed on the young, because they are somewhat untainted by the comfort capitalism can bring in later life. Of course I don't speak here of the rich entitled kids, I speak of the kids of everyday Americans. In particular, young Americans that are lucky enough to go to college and university. They are readily exposed to inequity and unfairness in society as part of their educational development.
So Universities historically have been the seat of calls for change. For a select few, this translates into organising and political activism, but for far too many, university simply leads them to join the ranks of the comfortable and so their sense of injustice mellows and turns into the 'because I'm worth it' mentality. In addition, recent elections tell us that young people often talk the talk, but don't turn out to vote. If they did, Bernie Sanders might now be president. Either that, or Trump would have trounced him as a socialist. You decide. For those reading that want a black or white solution to political progress. I hope you can now see it's a very very complex answer.
I'm making no judgment here, I'm simply talking about how life experience tends to make people more conservative as they get older. It's as much about the human condition as it is about politics. Let me give you an example that I've used before. So you earn $200,000 as a family right now. Do you need a stimulus check? The answer is likely no. Will you accept a stimulus check? Hell yeah! There is the problem right there. There is enough money in the system to allow all US citizens to live with some dignity and self respect. The arguments around a universal living wage is very controversial, but if you examine it in detail, it actually does have some merit and had it existed throughout the pandemic, I suspect Covid would have been under control in a matter of months. If you'd like a little more information on the concept take a look at this excellent piece in the New Yorker by Nathan Heller.
Since the days of Reagan, Americans have been sold the falsehood that is 'trickledown' economics. Make the rich very rich and that wealth will trickle down to the less well off. It's probably the greatest con in modern history and the population of almost every modern democracy swallowed the pill and has remained sedated by it. The genius part of the plan, was to convince wider society to allow the rich to control the flow of the trickledown.
This was where social responsibility became a variable and if you add racism to the equation, then minority communities become the segment of society that is left with a 'drip down' economy where the middle class have dammed the trickledown to create ponds of wealth for themselves. In short, creating division diverts attention from the fact that the wealth gap just continues to increase year on year. Were I doing this presentation at a Republican conference, they would be throwing the rope over he nearest tree branch. The fact is, that the truth is uncomfortable and make no mistake, as soon as the throttle is opened of the US economy later in the year. If we are not careful, there will be carnage at the bottom and fiscal refugee camps will be a reality. They already exist in places like California, but this could make that look like a back garden sleepover.
There have been few times in American history where strength of purpose has been more important. Democrats have an opportunity to prepare the nation for better times with just a few key adjustments and some smart policy making. I can't begin to explain how mission critical it is, to prepare for 2022 mid-term elections. The future of democracy depends on getting a bigger mandate in both Houses. I have some detailed thoughts on that campaign that I will share with you tomorrow.
Thanks for stopping by and stay safe out there.