Make no mistake: I still feel the sadness and outrage at the state of this country that I felt when I made my last post, before the election outcome was certain (I’m assuming that none of the incumbent’s nefarious schemes to overturn the results will gain any traction). It’s still obscene that the lying, smarmy, incompetent incumbent received close to half the number of total votes cast. We’re still in a world of trouble, and it isn’t going to get significantly better for Joe Average in the next four years, by all indications. I have no illusions we’re headed for an extended idyll of lollipops and rainbows. We can’t just heave a sigh of relief and go on our merry way. The most we can hope for is that the ACA isn’t completely scuttled, or that Uncle Joe can implement a similar plan if ACA is struck down by the Supreme Court; that some of the worst environmental assaults are tempered; and that militia groups are not called upon to stand by. I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to vote for whomever I want in the 2022 midterms without a police-captain supporter of Biden’s publicly wishing to put a bullet in my head. Also, there’s some consolation in the fact that governing-by-Tweet will be a thing of the past. Everything else is an unknown quantity, due to the President-elect’s chumminess with Wall Street, Big Pharma, and credit card companies, among other large donors.
The ray of sunshine I do see — and I’ll take what I can get at this point — is that, though some of his critics allege [absent real evidence] that he’s slipped into the early stages of dementia, Joe Biden is not a psychopath with violent tendencies. He may occasionally stammer and come out with seeming non-sequitur comments, but at least he doesn’t openly condone kidnapping plots and assassinations of innocent protesters. I vehemently object to his idea of putting GOP members into his Cabinet; it smacks of Obama’s appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni, only worse. Even so, Biden believes in science and is smart enough to know when he isn’t the smartest guy in the room. Do I think he’ll pander to the MIC? Without doubt; we’ll be lucky if he doesn’t start any more wars. It’s a given that the military budget will continue to increase every year, at the expense of rebuilt infrastructure, if necessary. The other nations of the world know who Biden is, and will treat him like the career politician he is. In other words, he’ll get lip service. We simply have to trust that he’ll put capable, savvy people in place at the Department of State, rather than the unqualified hacks we’ve seen in the current Administration.
As for the likes of Mitch McConnell, it’s been suggested that Biden pretend that he’s LBJ reincarnated, and play hardball with the senator from Kentucky. After all, Kentucky gets much more from the government in the form of assistance than it remits in taxes. Biden knows where a good number of the bodies are buried, and he may be able to manipulate the purse strings, if he has the will and the moxie. Playing nice is not going to work; the strategy of reaching across the aisle is DOA, and one of Barack Obama’s biggest failings was not learning the lesson that the GOP would never cooperate with him. Uncle Joe’s vaunted bipartisanship may have succeeded decades ago, but it should remain ancient history. Appeasing bullies — for that’s what Mitch and company surely are — is a losing tactic. If it gets ugly, so be it. It can’t be any uglier than the last four years have been.
Where does that leave us with the Supreme Court and its 6-to-3 conservative majority? Adding justices is a sound idea. There is precedent going back to the Civil War, and there’s no specific number stipulated in the Constitution. If the two Senate run-off races in Georgia go to Democrats, appointing more justices would be quite feasible. If the Senate ends up evenly divided, Biden nevertheless would hold the upper hand, as Kamala Harris could break the tie in confirmation battles. If both Georgia seats go to Republicans, then Biden would have to bring pressure to bear wherever there’s vulnerability among GOP senators.
If the decision to add justices is abandoned, then the only recourse, again, is political strong-arming, which Biden shouldn’t hesitate to do. The GOP has been known to do end runs around SCOTUS decisions, and that maneuver should be added to the Dem playbook as well. Fastidiousness has no place in high-level gamesmanship unless or until the Republicans adopt civilized approaches, as they did once upon a time.
Since Biden was nominated, the entire Democratic party, establishment members and progressives both, has pulled together for the sake of winning the Presidential race, with many of them who absolutely know better sucking up their misgivings and outwardly praising Uncle Joe. Some, such as Bernie Sanders, have qualified their enthusiasm by pointing out that they disagree with the party’s official platform on some points. Others, such as Norman Solomon, have declared that electing Biden was the beginning, and after that, the object would be to hold his feet to the fire and make him advocate more progressive values, while combating “corporate” Dems. Logic tells me that, as Biden no longer needs the progressives, he’ll turn a deaf ear to entreaties to ban fracking and proactively push for universal healthcare. I may be wrong; he may have an epiphany brought on by reasoned argument or, perhaps, new climate disasters, for example. I’m not holding my breath for Biden to see the light, however. If he can keep the militias under control and effectively address the pandemic, we on the left will have to do as much as we can to stoke the progressive fires and plan for 2024. If Uncle Joe somehow changes his spots, it will just be easier to build momentum for the next contest.