In 2018 a student newspaper at the University of Manitoba in Canada summarized the state of affairs of our two major political parties. They argued that weak Democratic leadership helps the Republican party to hold back positive progress.
They note that the Democratic leadership in the Senate caved to Republicans on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In negotiations, Democrats did not stand up for a path to citizenship which Republicans opposed. Instead, they compromised with Republicans and asked for more money for defense than was requested by the White House. This even though we spend more on defense than the following eight countries.
President Biden has proposed ambitious legislation for infrastructure. One exciting and laudable feature of the infrastructure bill is reducing child poverty in half—a significant deal. In 1968, Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign was pushing for something like that. He planned to overwhelm Washington with protests and demonstrations until such efforts were started—”closing [DC] down if necessary.”
But Biden is wasting precious time negotiating with Republicans when McConnell is on record as saying Senate Republicans will not support any of Biden’s agenda. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez complained that the Democrats were burning precious time negotiating with the GOP, who won’t even vote for a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, saying, “McConnell plans to run out the clock. It’s a hustle. We need to move now.”
I am a long-time critic of Biden’s “going along to get along” approach to Republicans. For a while, I thought we had a new Biden. But he is still being played by them.
This weakness of Democrats did not just begin. It has been evident for some time, especially during the early part of the Obama administration when Obama proposed the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Democrats had a supermajority in Congress and did not need Republican support. But the Administration wasted time seeking elusive bipartisan support.
Then, in a vain and foolish effort to partner with Republicans, the proposal was watered down.
The idea for the ACA had been developed at a conservative think tank and implemented by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. A nice Republican feature of the program was that it was a windfall for insurance companies.
If Obama had ended this seeking bipartisan support folly early on, perhaps he would have implemented a more comprehensive program without unnecessary and costly concessions to businesses (insurance companies). In the end, ACA (ObamaCare) is much better than what existed before, but it is still problematic as it leaves 27.5 million Americans population uninsured.
Currently, there is the voting rights bill that needs enactment and the filibuster that needs abolishment. But Senator Joe Manchin’s idiocy is holding up the voting rights bill as well as the filibuster. So once again, Democrats are helping Republications and not the country.
And then there is the Justice Department, which has had some good moves—for example, the patterns and practices investigation of police departments. But there have been some head-scratching moves, such as supporting a William Barr-led Justice Department brief that supported Donald Trump against one of his rape accusers.
We expected a by-the-books approach from the Justice Department under Merrick Garland; however, this action is shocking. In 2019, writer E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a New York City department store in the 1990s. In reaction, Trump said several horrible things about her, and she sued him for defamation.
The Department of Justice filed a brief arguing that Trump was acting in his role as president when he made those remarks and therefore could not be sued. Yet, surprisingly, the Garland Justice Department filed a brief supporting that laughable argument.
In another move over a month ago, the Department of Justice stated that the so-called Arizona Senate audit recount might violate federal law. But the Department has made no move yet. Why the delay? The rules say the ballots should be possessed by election officials, not the State Senate or an independent agency.
While progressives have moved party leadership closer to the positions of the majority of voters, it has not yet provided the party with a backbone.