February 1, 2021

President Biden: Go Big

I understand President Biden’s desire to bring the country together. “Unity” is an attractive concept, but it can be a slippery one. Sometimes, the best path toward a goal is not the most obvious and direct one.

The president has a long list of policy objectives that were, in part, responsible for his election. (Admittedly, not being Donald Trump may have been his biggest asset in the 2020 election.) Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that Mitch McConnell and his minions are intent on seeing that Mr. Biden achieves as few of those objectives as possible.

If the Democrats are to build a lasting working majority and defeat decisively the anti-democratic, power-hungry elements of the GOP, they cannot do it with rhetoric, whether about “unity” or anything else. They can only do it by passing landmark legislation that will appeal to those voters who have felt that the government has done nothing for them. The Biden program can do that and can contribute to the defeat of the GOP’s rule-of-minority strategy.

A group of Republican senators is trying to get the president to scale back his relief bill, thereby giving the GOP credit for “fiscal responsibility” and minimizing a potentially significant Democratic victory. This is a trap; the president should simply say, “No thank you.”

President Biden may be able to accomplish some of his goals through reconciliation, but certainly not all of them. Instead, he needs a Senate that can pass whatever Democrats want to enact. This includes such objectives as achieving D.C, statehood.

To reach such a happy state, the filibuster, at least as it’s currently implemented, must go, and go soon. (Let Republicans talk forever if they are up to it.) If eliminating the filibuster requires squeezing sensitive parts of Democratic senators’ anatomy, then so be it. Having a true governing majority will be worth the effort.

If Mr. Biden’s program is enacted, the country, despite a small number of “conservative” crazies, will follow. Joe Biden has an opportunity to become the next FDR. Or, he can follow President Obama’s path of having one big accomplishment and being blocked from obtaining others by unyielding Republicans.

There are many possible definitions of “unity.” Getting along with GOP politicians is not a useful one. Uniting the voters in their appreciation of compassionate and effective governing is.

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