GOP abandonment of government poses dilemma for Democrats
They must find a way to defend democratic standards, while making all possible progress.
Donald Trump sent shockwaves through Washington when he posted a video in which he called the $ 900 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress on Monday a “disgrace”, suggesting he would not sign it. While it’s impossible to predict what will happen next, the best explanation for what the president just did came from journalist Michael Kruse in an article on Politico titled, “Is Trump Crunching Under the Weight of the Loss?” The obvious answer to this question is “yes”.
Outside of this drama, there are some things we can learn about how Congress is likely to operate under a Biden administration based on what happened with this legislation. The first thing to keep in mind is that, as has often happened in the past, important pieces of legislation were added to an omnibus spending bill. Congress has not only passed a covid relief bill, but annual appropriations to keep government running. That is why you hear members of Congress complaining that the bill was over 5,000 pages long.
Negotiating something this massive allows members to insert their favorite projects – some of which survive, while others don’t. That’s what Rep Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez was to complain about when she tweeted that a provision in the bill would make illegal streaming a crime. She wrote that: “Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5,000 pages, arrived at 2 p.m. today, and we’re told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours. It is not governance. It’s a hostage-taking. She’s right. A democratic republic needs transparency as the process of government unfolds.
On the other hand, Jonathan Chait points out that included in this massive bill was “a broad package of energy reforms that will lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gases. He suggested that this is how major legislation is likely to be passed in the future.
The biggest lesson here is that in the modern age, constructive legislation is still possible – as long as the problem stays under the radar. High-level political fights tend to become water for the right-wing media, and once Fox News is on the case, there isn’t a compromise reasonable enough that it won’t be presented. to conservative viewers as a socialist plot. But negotiating the issues privately, throwing them into a giant must-have bill and pushing it through in a matter of hours shorts the cycle of demagoguery.
Chait is absolutely right. Like David Frum so accurately noted Ten years ago, the real GOP leaders were right-wing television and radio figures with no interest in compromising or governing. Their business model depends on distributing red meat to their viewers / listeners in order to keep the cycle of demagoguery going.
This is the dilemma Democrats face due to Republicans abandoning the Democratic process of government: they can either further erode Democratic standards by hiding important legislation in huge laws to pass, or they can fall short. the challenges we face as a nation. Contrary to popular belief, transparency is more likely to kill legislation than to advance it.
At this point, Democrats are the only party defending democratic standards. To abandon these mores is to join the Republicans in the rabbit hole of authoritarianism. But the GOP went into this hole precisely because it was prepared to sacrifice democracy on the altar of power. Meeting the needs of the American people is not their concern. If, by defending democratic standards, the left allows itself to be castrated, that simply gives power to the Republicans. In 2011, former GOP agent Mike Lofgren Explain how it happens.
A few years ago, a Republican committee personnel manager told me frankly (and proudly) what the method was for all this obstruction and disruption. If Republicans were to succeed in preventing the Senate from doing its job, it would further reduce Congress’ generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of a government institution, the party that is programmed against the government would emerge the relative winner.
As with all dilemmas, there are no easy answers to this one. But denying the reality of what Democrats face, while simply defending one answer or another, only makes the problem worse, cutting off the paths for a real solution. Democrats who promote transparency as an essential part of the government process make an important point – as do those who insist their party do what is necessary to make possible progress.