29 December 2020

Looking ahead, politically

Soon the time of Trump will give way to a Democratic presidency and House and hopefully a 50-50-plus-Harris control of the Senate.  Some things to keep in mind:

1. When 2022 and 2024 arrive, most of the Democratic voting base will judge Biden and the Democrats in Congress mainly by results.  Has the pandemic been vanquished?  Have jobs and wages (not "the economy", which takes in all kinds of things, but jobs and wages specifically) recovered?  Has federal legislation to protect voting rights from state-level gerrymandering and vote suppression been enacted?  Has Medicare access been expanded or some other kind of public option been provided?  Have DC and Puerto Rico become states?  If the Democrats achieve results, our voters will care only that it was done, not how it was done.  Conversely, if little or nothing is accomplished, nobody will much care about whatever reasons or excuses are offered.

2. Achieving such results will partially depend on two intermediate steps -- abolishing the filibuster, and enlarging the Supreme Court or otherwise neutering the ability of its current McConnell-Trump-imposed hard-right majority to block progress.  The obstacle that a few Democrats oppose abolishing the filibuster should be surmountable -- Feinstein needs to hear, vociferously, from a few million of her constituents, and Manchin can perhaps be brought around with the offer of some major benefit for his state, etc.  One or two Republicans might even be brought to support the move.  But if Democrats control the Senate and don't abolish the filibuster, the reasons for not doing it won't matter -- it will just mean they've handed the Republicans the rope to hang them with.

3. Don't assume we can coast through the first two years without getting things done and then enact the full agenda after 2022 when we'll pick up a bigger Senate majority.  Yes, the 2022 Senate map is very favorable to Democrats, but we could lose the House that year, especially if not much has been accomplished and our voting base is de-motivated.

4. We're going to be flying blind for the next few elections because nobody, including pollsters, can accurately predict turnout.  The surges in Republican votes that elected Trump in 2016 and saved so many downballot Republicans in 2020 were real and largely unexpected.  The blue wave of 2018 was also real.  Nobody knows yet what this means in the long term.  Are we now in an era when Republicans do better in presidential years than in off-years?  Is it some effect unique to Trump which will fade when he's out of politics?  Something else?  The point is, we can't count on polls to tell us what's going to happen, and even less on intuition and gut feeling.

5. We did very well in 2018 and fairly well this year despite state-level gerrymandering and vote suppression.  Federal legislation to stamp out those things is the surest way to boost our advantage further.

6. Stop pointing to demographics as a reason to be complacent.  I've been guilty of this myself, but if the Republicans were in inexorable decline already, we wouldn't keep seeing knife-edge-close results in state after state that "should" be getting bluer, nor seeing some states actually getting redder.  There's more to the demographic issue than the common liberal view of it allows for -- I'll have a post about this sometime in the next few weeks.

7. Stop trying to make everything about race and racism.  Yes, racism is an important issue, but there are other important issues which have nothing to do with it.

8. Stop saying stupid shit that drives voters in the sensible center (yes, they exist) toward the enemy.  There's no way of knowing how many votes we lost because of talk of abolishing private medical insurance and "defund the police", but it was probably quite a few.  Yes, yes, I know "defund the police really means blah blah" -- shut the fuck up.  If you say "defund the police", normal people are going to think you mean "defund the police".  If you mean something else, then you need to use different words that accurately express what you mean.  Similarly, we must firmly squelch any perception that we are, as Bill Maher put it, the party of "silence is violence but vandalism is not".  Disagreeing with somebody is not violence.  Smashing windows is violence.  It doesn't matter what excuses or explanations anybody offers.  This is dangerous bullshit and costs votes we can't afford.

9. It's very possible that Republicans will be cripplingly divided for the next few years.  A lot will depend on what Trump does after leaving office, and how long the cult-like fervor toward him lasts.  But we can't count on such divisions to smooth the way for us.  One way or another, they'll involve a split between the Trump cultists and those on the right who seek a return to reality and sanity -- and the latter group may not be large enough among Republican rank-and-file voters to have much impact.

10. One factor that may help break the wingnut "fever dream" alternate reality is the future course of the pandemic.  Red states are still being hit hard, and this will continue to be the case as they reject masks and social distancing and, perhaps, largely reject the vaccine as well.  It will soon reach the point where a large fraction of the population knows somebody who has died of covid-19 or has survived but suffered permanent, serious harm from it.  At the same time, they'll see life slowly returning to normal in the blue cities where the vaccine is in wide use.  A realization that they were wrong about the pandemic might open some right-wingers' minds to the possibility that they've been wrong about other things as well.  Again, though, we'd be foolish to count on this.

11.  There will be some violence from the right wing, perhaps even an assassination or two. But there won't be an insurrection or violence on a large enough scale to have a real political effect.

12.  At some point, somewhere, something big and completely unexpected will happen.  It always does.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Oh, the MAGAts will raise hell.
The Trumpists that Cheeto embedded in the government with lifetime appointments will slow down things for Uncle Joe's admin.
Moscow Mitch and the odious repugs will stonewall everything.
But at least IMPOTUS will be out.


29 December, 2020 03:43  
Blogger RO said...

There is 1 job I've always said I never want and that would be the President of the United States. I just don't know how anyone could handle that type of responsibility or pressure even for just a year! If I got elected, I already know that I'd want to give that job right back after just one day. (lol) The 2nd job I would never want is a person who wraps gifts for a living. Definitely meant for a person with loads of talent to get it wrapped perfectly in a timely manner. Much easier to just drop it in a gift bag and keep it moving. So much stuff happened in 2020. Here's hoping for a safe and wonderful 2021! Happy New Year! RO

29 December, 2020 06:02  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

"A realization that they were wrong about the pandemic might open some right-wingers' minds to the possibility that they've been wrong about other things as well. Again, though, we'd be foolish to count on this."

I agree with your last statement on this. I read their blogs to try to understand their reasoning and have come to the conclusion that rational thinking is not part of their mental processes. I blogged about one guy who calls for maskless congregating because everything the CDC has told the American people is an assault on their freedoms and liberties. They truly, truly believe this; and, I'm afraid, they are unreachable with facts.

29 December, 2020 08:29  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

PT.1: Interesting read here, politically ... at least to me, because I'm way more confused and unsure these days, much has changed since I started blogging in 2008. I kind of lost faith in some of the polls myself ... and there are so many different interests than the past today, so much manufactured professional looking news, etc ... so I/we need to be extra careful on what news we embrace the most. I'm a progressive type independent, but vote Democrat, been voting since 1974, even voted Republican years ago, but today see Republicans as way different than past. And as far as NWO agenda, conspiracies etc, as I was telling a guy the other day here in Dallas, who says it's all one big conspiracy ... sure, I think folks conspire for their individual group agendas, but there are SO MANY different groups and interests, and all out to outdo the others and gain power. Ther economic agenda is quite different and larger, being that, that is structuring the future of the ecomony, and that is done/ designed by the wealthiest, has been historically.

As far as things like defunding police ... it's not cool in my view, the more public stuff we defund, tends to bring in private intestors, when you defund and privatize, it becomes privately owned. Everyone knows you need police enforcement, even Antifa, regardless of how they may think they don't ... and you sure as Hell don't want to hand that over to wealthy investors ideas on how to police our communities. Folks like like Kochs for example would love to see everything from Post Office, to police, fire, or anything to be privatized, or to make a buck.

I tell folks around me, to NOT be fooled by what we are fed ... such as making us think that taxes are evil, and that our structure or justice systems are evil, etc ... this is exactly what the wealthiest want, for us to lose all faith in our system(s), and even politics, taxes, etc, so they can mozey on in and take/buy/control more, making us more dependent on them ... and no, I'm not a communist. I think taxation is VERY importante, and is for the common good of our society. Our problem is how taxation benefits are distributed (I also feel that there should be a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United). And as you brought up about the filibuster and much else ... so many issues we have. You get a stimulus pack these days, instead of stand alone bills (why did stimulus bill need 5000+ pages?), makes our taxes disappear, as they are wrote by lobbyists mainly, and has hardly anything to do with the title of the bill. Give Congress a couple hours to review the bill, which is double in size of a big city phone book, and vote ... CLEARLY calculated to milk us. Example: why do we need to give Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady a million dollar PPP, when he just signed a $50 million contract, and was already worth $240 million, and his wife worth $400 million, for his so called "small business" sporting goods store? ... I'm a big fan and love Tom Brady too, one of my favourite all time quarterbacks ... but use some common sense. Our spending is insane, especially now in our situation. I'm all for independence, pulling bootstraps, etc ... I, like millions of other Texans been pulling my/our goddamn bootstraps for years ... I'm about as bootstrap pulling as a motherfucker can get. The help we get, and the response to this COVID situation is also going to impact how voters think of our Congress collectively for midterms too (right now, according to POLLS, it has a 13% public approval, which sounds like feedback I get in the community). Right now, folks, both left and right are really pissed ... and who the fuck can blame them.

29 December, 2020 08:32  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

PT 2: The healthcare situation is a bloody damn mess, and how did we get to it being 18% or so of the GDP? ... I think you know and most know how and why that is. I/ we know how difficult a transition would be to straight Medicare 4 All (regardless of how bad many want it, including myself), on the economies related, because of this ... again, this is how your largest wealth makes it so you need them more, by embedding themselves more into the economic fabric, and enlarging and monopolizing their playing hand. IF ... President Biden, could even just make a sort of buy in plan to a public option, a small start only, it would be such a big plus ... and WON'T put whiney insurance giants and medical providers out of business, but make them compete, and prices level out some, we have not enough competition, across the board, not just healthcare. And if he can push some adjustments to pharma prices, etc ... these things can be a big plus alone, as far as how how Americans view this Administration. I do NOT expect Biden and crew to fix everything, but anything will help ... we have too big of a mess for ANY President, or super hero to fix, let alone in a few years. I do feel that President Biden is far from perfect, but better that another 4 years of Trump ... I mean, as I was telling a couple guys last night ... he should be imprisoned at LEAST. Sadly I feel that Trump MAY become a folk hero over the next 4 years, if Biden doesn't make a mark that stands out. First of all, he will play the victim of election fraud, cloaking himself in things like a religious patriotic hero of sort, who tried to break the establishment, writing a book or 2 making millions. Start up his old or new tele show ... he'll be tweeting till the cows come home on how evil Washington and liberals are, saying things outrageous enough, that it will get him ... AGAIN, 4 years of free MSM publicity, etc, etc. I hope I'm wrong on this, but this guy is more than I anticipated from the get-go ... so I don't expect him to forget and just chill the next 4 years. HAPPY NEW YEAR Infidel

29 December, 2020 08:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biden is not going to enlarge the Supreme Court.
Republicans will be forced to spend because of need, like the virus.
Taxing the rich (4 trillion) will not be enough to pay for all the programs Democrats promised during the primaries.
The liberal left of the Democratic party will not get what they want from a Biden administration. Biden made it clear during the primary, that he disagreed with their agenda.
If Republicans win majority in the Senate, Biden will not get his tax increases passed and will have no money to pursue his agenda.
By the end of Biden's first term, we will be 36 trillion in debt.

29 December, 2020 10:00  
Blogger Mary said...

Number 12 is always the thorn in the side. I can only say I’m glad I’m old. I hope things turn out OK in the long run, but with rampant conspiracy theories, lack of the ability of critical thinking in a large segment of the population and corruption run amok and just plain willful ignorance, I don’t see a lot of hope in the near future.
And the thing is, I won’t see it either way, change or more of the same... because time is not on my side.

29 December, 2020 11:51  
Blogger Mike said...

I'm glad we have Harris as VP. If Biden bits the dust in the next 4 years I think she will step right up with no problem.

29 December, 2020 11:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: Let's hope we can at least neutralize Moscow Mitch via Georgia. As for the Trumpanzees, let them bitch. I suspect they'll soon shift much of their focus to Trump being prosecuted -- which will have nothing to do with the federal government.

RO: I wouldn't want that job either. I wish Trump had been smart enough to realize how badly it would suit him. It would have saved everybody a lot of trouble.

Shaw. In most cases that's probably true. Personal experience does seem to have more impact that abstract argument, though.

Ranch: The Republicans have certainly changed. Back in Lincoln's time they weren't the ones waving Confederate flags, that's for sure.

The people using that "defund the police" slogan claim they mean various other things by it. Well, it's their own damn fault that people thought they meant exactly what they were saying.

I think these bills get so huge because they have to add extra items to them to get this or that Congressman's vote, so they end up full of extraneous odds and ends that dozens of different people asked for in exchange for supporting it. Also, the government is pretty complicated. But obviously they can't all read the whole thing before voting on it. Five thousand pages is like a dozen sizeable novels.

Part of the reason healthcare costs so much in the US is that there are huge, expensive hospital bureaucracies and huge, expensive insurance company bureaucracies which exist only to fight each other over whether the insurance company should pay for things or not. Countries with government health systems don't have that. It wastes an enormous amount of money.

I hope Trump will be too busy fending off lawsuits and prosecutors to cause much more trouble. We'll see.

Happy new year!

29 December, 2020 14:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: Biden is not going to enlarge the Supreme Court

Correct -- that's Congress's job. If Congress sends Biden an enlargement bill, I don't think he'll veto it.

Taxing the rich (4 trillion) will not be enough

But it will help. To really fix the budget, we'd need to tax the churches. That will take a while longer.

The liberal left of the Democratic party will not get what they want from a Biden administration.

Well, the far left didn't have the numbers to get the candidate it wanted. They'll have to settle for a more moderate agenda like what I've outlined here.

However much debt we have at the end of Biden's term, it would have been much worse with a Republican in power. It always is.

29 December, 2020 14:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: An unexpected game-changing event could be good or bad. These days it's increasingly likely to be something technological. But by definition there's no way of knowing in advance.

Obviously I don't know your personal situation, but I hope you're around for a long time.

Mike: That's a positive. I don't expect Biden to keep going until he falls in his tracks. If he reaches the point age-wise where he knows he can no longer handle the job, I think he'll resign to allow for a planned and orderly transition of power. He seems pretty sharp for now, though.

29 December, 2020 14:49  
Blogger Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Very good report, Infidel. I agree with all of it, especially #12. You're brave to post this. Your responses are well informed and respectful. I think it's wise to not expect too much from Biden-Harris out the gate, but as you suggest, this could be very damaging in the long(er) run. It'd be nice to see the left stop self-sabotaging.

Cheers and a very Happy New Year to you.

29 December, 2020 19:40  
Blogger Procopius said...

I'm convinced we aren't going to see any "return of jobs and wages." In fact, I believe we're going to be in a serious recession, if not a full blown depression reminiscent of 1932. Biden really believes in "balancing the budget," which to his mind means cutting Social Security. My opinion is based on his words and actions for forty years and the people he has appointed so far. Neera Tanden for OMB? The Republicans are going to sweep both Senate and House in 2022.

30 December, 2020 13:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Robyn: Thanks. My expectations aren't as high as they would have been if we'd done better in Congress and the state governments. And no new administration in US history since the Civil War era has come into office with such a gigantic mess to clean up. But things will get done. Especially if we the voters keep pushing the people we elected to get them done.

Procopius: Nobody ever won a fight by giving up and declaring it lost before it even started. Every serious analysis I've seen expects the overall economy to rebound strongly during 2021 -- the question is how the benefits will be distributed (the rich have made out like bandits during the pandemic, even as jobs for ordinary people cratered). And Biden certainly knows that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Much will be possible if we can just keep the radical nuts from throwing spanners into the works when they don't get their own way.

31 December, 2020 04:56  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

we need Georgia to pull it thru for us. Then we can get some shit done.

31 December, 2020 15:26  

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