This is a time like no other. But Democrats in Congress seem to be blind to what’s at stake.
Instead of working together to ensure Biden has a successful presidency, something that is crucial not just for the United States but for the rest of the world — more on that in a moment — they are entrenching themselves in their positions, thus far refusing to budge over their differences.
Progressive Democrats say they will oppose a $1 trillion bipartisan bill unless a larger $3.5 trillion package is approved. They view the much greater one as a unique opportunity to bring transformative change with a universal Pre-K program, child care provisions, expanding Medicare’s coverage, among other investments. Moderates say the larger spending package is just too rich.
Adding to the dysfunctional spectacle, the government is facing a deadline to fund its operations. Without action, another bizarre, unnecessary government shutdown could come within a week unless Congress approves a new budget. But it’s not just the Republicans getting in the way.
With the Democrats’ minuscule majorities in Congress, any small group of Democratic lawmakers can derail the legislation, since Republican support is all but out of the question on the big spending bill. Instead of building defenses against the threat to the republic, these elected officials seem drunk on their own power, flexing their muscle instead of doing what it takes to compromise.
The alarm that united Democrats during the Trump years has apparently dissipated. The euphoria that greeted Biden’s victory has been replaced by politics as usual.
During a different, less perilous time, that might be acceptable. But not now.
Republicans, ever more compliant to Trump’s wishes, are positioning themselves to capture the Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024. And, by all indications, some are planning to do it by any means necessary, including stealing elections.
Now Trump is tightening his grip on a party that was once respectable and has now turned it into a cult of personality where not even an overwhelmingly, categorically proven truth, like who won the election, can survive.
To stamp out this unprecedented, systematic effort to destroy American democracy for the sake of one man, Democrats need to help Biden have a successful presidency. That means sacrificing some of their personal political preferences for the sake of pushing forward important legislation.
That’s true even for those who think Biden should have done some things differently. In fact, supporters of democracy everywhere — even outside the United States — should be hoping he succeeds.
At a time when autocracy is gaining ground across the globe, when repressive dictators are trying to make the case that autocracy is superior to democracy, it’s essential for the US president to deliver. It’s imperative that Democrats in Congress take a moment from their internal differences to consider the looming threat. Remember how the world looked before January 20. The danger has not gone away.