Sometimes, and history I think bears witness to this claim, it falls upon the shoulders of an unsuspecting generation to save American democracy.
Professor Eddie Glaude, speaking last night on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Maybe this is just a low ebb. Maybe things will turn around. Maybe these apparently feckless, squabbling, seemingly delusional Democrats will realize that this actually isn’t the Before Time, and they’re in a war that’s being lost, while they sit astride unified government at the federal level for what may be the last time this century (or ever) – unless they wake up, smarten up, and start using the power they have, while they still have it, to rescue American democracy from the GOP and the scourge of authoritarian Trumpism. The way to go about this, of course, is to go after the wrong-doers, but also to put runs on the board, force through some solid legislative achievements, thus improving the lot of ordinary Americans and demonstrating to the masses that democracy still works for them, and that it’s the Democrats, and only the Democrats, who will do anything to help regular people. That part is absolutely crucial.
Instead, it seems, nothing’s happening.
Remember the $15.00/hour minimum wage hike? Way back when, that seemed like a good place to start, right? Easy to understand, and instantly beneficial to millions, just the sort of quick win the strategists would recommend. Besides, a lot of less fortunate folks, especially people of colour, were encouraged to get out in record numbers to vote in the 2020 election on the promise that economic equity would be a priority of the Democratic Party, and a minimum wage hike (to what would still, remember, be a quite meagre living wage of about 31K per year) was a big part of that. It was vital to show those people that making the increasingly difficult exertions needed just to cast their ballots was well worth their time.
Yeah, well, this is how that turned out:
Boop! Curtsey! Nope!
How about police reform? That was another thing that motivated lots of regular people to get out there and vote Democratic. It used to be the topic du jour, recall, how in response to the metronomic and often fatal beat-downs and shootings administered by thuggish white police officers against people of colour, as exemplified by the outright murder of poor, struggling George Floyd, begging for mercy and calling out for his mother, the Democrats were finally going to impose national standards and oversight. At last, the cops – who often seem as little more than an occupying army to those they police – would be brought to heel! Except, after months of negotiations, the Republicans did their standard Lucy-with-the-football schtick, and that was that. The Dems can’t do it on their own, of course – remember, the filibuster!
Then there’s voting rights. This one is existential to the Democrats, and to the American Experiment writ large. Republican-controlled States across the country are passing draconian, transparently racist voter suppression laws designed to lock in their structural electoral advantages, while at the same time pursuing the scientific gerrymandering of this year’s redistricting process in what amounts to RED MAP II, plus, just in case, passing yet more laws to make sure that honest public officials can’t get in the way again when it comes time to cry fraud and overturn future election results that don’t please The Donald. Bills to restore the SCOTUS-ravaged Voting Rights Act, and put an end to the blights of dark money, gerrymandering, and assorted other voter suppression tactics, simply died a death. A much more modest proposal, put forward by Joe Manchin himself, likewise went nowhere, even though his bare-bones scheme seemed almost to have been crafted deliberately to settle the (not at all open) question of whether the GOP was acting in bad faith. Hell, it even included voter ID requirements, the cherished silver bullet measure of all Republicans, both State and Federal. Yet Mitch almost literally laughed at the proposal. Oh well. Nothing for it I guess! The Dems can’t act on their own – remember, the filibuster!
So, all right, how’s it going with Supreme Court reform? Nobody doubts something needs to be done, and done fast; having stacked the court by nefarious means, including the refusal to seat Obama’s appointee, and the end-of-term stuffing of Amy Coney Barrett into her chair in outright violation of the purported rule Mitch McConnell previously pulled out of his ass to thwart Merrick Garland, we now have a brazenly partisan SCOTUS that seems determined to usurp the functions of government, and arrogate to itself the power to remake society in the GOP/Federalist Society image. There’s supposed to be a commission out there somewhere studying options for change, which maybe there is, I don’t know, and I’m not going to spend any effort looking into its status, because you can bet that if it’s doing anything at all, it’s taking a long, long time to come up with something close to nothing. Meanwhile, the Republican project continues apace. Nobody’s even threatening to expand the Court unless the bastards get back into line, and as for legislative reforms that might, say, impose term limits, or rotating membership, among many possibilities, well, whattayagonnado – the filibuster, remember?
A few weeks back, evidence piled upon evidence emerged, larded generously atop already bountiful evidence, that by the end Donald was pulling every conceivable string in a desperate, flailing bid to stage a coup and overturn the election, attempting, among other things, to bully the Justice Department into joining the plot, and scheming out a move to thwart certification of the election on January 6, via steps outlined in the now infamous Eastman memo, as bolstered, don’t let’s forget, by a violent mob incited to storm the Capitol by Trump himself, in person, on camera. Surely, at least some of this – maybe the “11,780 votes” call to the Georgia Secretary of State? Maybe inciting an insurrection? – was flagrantly illegal and amenable to some legal remedy that involves action by the Justice Department? Anyone holding their breath waiting for Garland’s DOJ to do anything?
O.K., then, maybe the January 6 Commission will do something instead? Maybe, but it’s not entirely clear what, or by when. The subpoenas they’ve issued are being resisted – in Steve Bannon’s case outright defied – and it’s not clear the select committee has the will to do anything about it, which in any case would mean recourse to the courts (so see you in 20 years) and/or criminal referrals to Garland’s DOJ, which would require prosecutions (and we’ll see you in 20 years), and what does it matter what they find out anyway? We already know more than enough to have induced a reflexive, spasmodic immune response in any healthy polity. Any fit body politic would long since have vomited Trump, McConnell, McCarthy, and all the rest of those miserable MAGA malfeasors into history’s great toilet bowl, and all that would be left in the aftermath of that huge flushing sound would be the enactment of volumes upon volumes of legislation, salted with stiff penalties throughout, to make sure that nothing like the Trump administration could ever happen again. It’s not happening. Extra evidence doesn’t matter. It’s not going to make any difference if Cheney and Kinzinger can further prove that stooges like Boebert or Gaetz were giving pre-insurrection tours of the Capitol’s corridors and entrance points to the Proud Boys, or that Jim Jordan was actively plotting with Trump and other participants to pull off the assault on the Capitol. Yeah? So what? Who cares? It’s already baked in. In MAGAWorld, that makes them patriots. Tell you what, though, if we can really get them all dead to rights we’ll make another criminal referral to the DOJ, see what comes of it.
And hey, we just got through with another round of farcical debt ceiling extortion – perhaps the single most ludicrous example of governmental dysfunction in a system that features almost nothing except farcical dysfunction – and this time McConnell blinked, sort of, agreeing to supply votes to stave off global economic armageddon until December, when we can all start dancing again. Mitch, his knickers in a twist over the strip that Chuck Schumer tore off him in a spirited, spiteful bit of oratory following the vote, the leathery old snowflake, has vowed there’ll be no more GOP help ever again on this issue, which is only in line with his nihilistic position, maintained all along, that the Dems have the power to deal with the matter on their own, so why should he help? Never mind that the aim is merely to pay the bills already racked up by Trump during his record-setting 7+ trillion dollar deficit spree, accomplished on Mitch’s watch. Of course, the old lizard’s right, technically, the Dems do have the power, via reconciliation – if you don’t understand budget reconciliation, never mind, just know it’s a trick on the books to allow limited ways to circumvent the filibuster – to solve this on their own, in the short run, if they could just get Manchin and Sinema to agree to a reconciliation bill. Long term, moreover, there’s no legislative bar against doing away with the ridiculous debt ceiling altogether, except, remember, the filibuster.
What about that reconciliation bill? Well, arguably, the whole success of the Biden presidency now turns on the achievement of some form of his Build Back Better agenda, an ambitious project which would supplement an already Senate-approved physical infrastructure bill with trillions worth of what amounts to humanitarian assistance for downtrodden working Americans, all of it paid for by richly-deserved tax increases on the highly wealthy scofflaws who aren’t even paying the minimal taxes they still owe after Mitch and Donald got through handing them trillions worth of breaks. The filibuster can’t stop this one, those are the rules, but Manchin and Sinema won’t go along, and as far as we can tell won’t even say what it is they want. Manchin speaks vaguely about the imperative to avoid the creation of an “entitlement society” (i.e., one in which citizens are, damn them, entitled to a basic minimum standard of well-being along the lines enjoyed by everybody else in the the liberal democracies to which America is usually, and increasingly inappropriately, compared).
It also bears emphasis that genuine, potentially planet-altering green initiatives are another key facet of the disputed reconciliation bill, measures that will never again see the light of day if the Dems fail to enact them now, and the GOP retakes Congress. One gets the impression that Manchin and Sinema don’t see the urgency, and that in this, and possibly many other respects, they merely serve as the public stalking horses for other “moderate” Democrats who either remain reluctant to do anything that might upset oil and coal interests, or simply don’t believe that climate change is an existential threat to civilization.
They’re not even any good at tooting their own horns about what they have achieved, these frigging Donkeys. Case in point: part of the last round of emergency COVID relief was a generous child tax credit, opposed vehemently in both chambers by every single Republican legislator, that lifted something between three and four million children out of poverty, a happy outcome that Biden wants to make permanent with his beleaguered Build Back Better bill. It’s reckoned that fully 61% of the population has benefitted from this, yet, in a recent Politico poll, only 47% of the happy recipients associated the tax break with the Democratic Party, and only 38% thought it had anything to do with Biden, perhaps in part because immediately upon failing to stop it, Republican legislators ran back en masse to their constituencies to claim credit for it.
Jesus Christ, they can’t even oust Trump’s toxic troll, a profoundly distasteful prick on wheels named Louis deJoy, from his chair as Postmaster General, from which perch he continues, in various ways, to degrade and dismantle America’s most beloved public agency while engaging in self-dealing and generally acting unethically and maliciously. Yes, yes, it’s complicated, Board of Governors, only termination for cause, blah blah blah, don’t come at me with that bullshit man, I heard it. Bottom line: the President of the Fucking United States has the muscle to replace the fucking Postmaster General. Here, read this and woof your cookies:
Oh deary me, what to do? Mitch has us hamstrung! It’s not fairrrrrrrrrrrrr. What’s that you say? Nuke the filibuster??? Are you crazy? What, says Manchin, and destroy democracy?
No shit, he actually says that. I won’t be the Senator who destroyed democracy. By putting an end to the GOP’s unprecedented obstruction, which, currently, is actually destroying democracy. I shit you not.
Sometimes it falls upon the shoulders of an unsuspecting generation to save American democracy. Sure, but what if those shoulders can’t take the load, Eddie? What if that generation remains obstinately, obtusely unsuspecting, sitting on its collective hands, pretending all’s well until finally all’s lost? There’s about a year until the mid-terms. That’s what’s left. After that, this bullshit continues, we’re going to see white minority rule as effected by grinning white Jack-o’lanterns of Mitch’s ilk into the indefinite future, and those idiots will run America into the ground. They don’t care. They’ve got their gated communities, I guess. I guess they figure they have safe hideaways to run to after the smash-and-grab. I hope they’re all drowned in their subterranean safe rooms by the rising sea levels they didn’t think were real. I hope their hilltop mansions burn in the wildfires. For all the good that’ll do the rest if us by that point.