Senate Control: Setting Expectations
- by Steve Garone, Member, Wayland Democratic Town Committee
NOTE: Views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily those of any other WDTC members.
This blog is one of a series to be published by members of the Wayland Democratic Town Committees and guest contributors.
To say that we Democrats are “feeling good” about the Biden/Harris administration and the election of two Democratic senators from Georgia and enabling Democrats to have a majority in the Senate would be a gross understatement. After four years of lies, cruelty, and lawbreaking, I for one feel as if a 500-pound weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The problems ahead are daunting, but we know that the executive branch, and much of Congress, are now in a position to address them with knowledge, experience, and facts.
Of course, we will have insurrectionists, bigots, racists, and other extremists to deal with. We also need to get real about what “control of the Senate” actually means.
Different constituent blocks will be looking for great things from the Biden administration and Congress. Progressives will want their agenda aggressively pursued in areas such as climate, healthcare, systemic racism, and income inequality. Most Democrats look to President Biden and Congress to bring us back to a state of normalcy – an effort which has already begun with a set of executive orders that, among other initiatives, put us back into both the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization. Other groups will be pressuring Biden in a direction that suits their political and personal agendas.
One thing we can count on is that bills that are supported by the Biden administration and the House will actually make it to the Senate floor. Hopefully we’ll see the stack that sat on “Moscow Mitch’s” desk for all this time can actually see the light of day. We all need to keep in mind, however, that having a one vote majority based on party has implications for what can actually get done. Many pundits have made the point that a very slim majority in the Senate will likely result in many “deals” that will reflect a political middle ground. Progress toward policies reflected in the Democratic platform may have to proceed more slowly than many of us like. As one commentator recently put it “The tiebreaker may not always be Kamala Harris. It may be someone like Joe Manchin”.
In short, we need to wear “reality glasses” when evaluating the legislative progress we can make going forward.
No sooner did we finish with the 2020 elections when many began to work toward 2022. Holding on to the House, and keeping – and maybe growing – our Senate majority, may depend on two factors:
Ensuring as Democrats that we deliver on what we promised. Only by doing so can we keep our coalition together to win in 2022. “Voting against” was no doubt a strong motivator in 2020 to evict Trump from the White House, but while we will hear from him, he won’t be the target he is been for the past 4 years. Voters will need good reasons to “vote for” – those reasons being rooted in policies that have positive impacts on their lives.
At the same time, wearing the aforementioned “reality glasses” will be important so that segments of coalition don’t go into self-destruct mode. If we are not able to pass the full Green New Deal or Medicare for All in the next two years, will progressives walk with their votes in 2022? If police reform is not as quick or expansive as minority communities want, will their votes dry up? Would an aggressive move toward single payer health care erode union support?
Over the next few years – and beyond – we will all need to find the right balance between “ideology” and “electoral strategy”. I will say more about this in a future blog post, but we all need to remember who the alternative is given our current two party dominated system. We lived with it for four years in the extreme, and much longer in more “sane” forms, when Republicans held the White House and controlled Congress.
Smaller steps forward always beat walking backward.
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