Say one thing for the Republican Party right now: you may think many of them are pandering sycophants to Trump, but they have definitely learned the power of banding together to get things done. It’s something I wish Democrats could figure out half as well. There were many things Trump did over the course of his presidency that I wasn’t keen on (to say the least), but his party rallied around him to get even the things they didn’t really agree with all that much done. Today, you still have many Republicans who are so beholden to Trump that they seem to have to see what he wants done before they take any actions themselves.
Of course, it can be argued that the reason they’ve all gotten so good at sticking together is because they’re becoming more and more of a minority with each passing year. In that situation, they have realized that unless they all stick together, there’s no chance they’re going to get anything accomplished for the foreseeable future. Paul LePage is running for governor here in Maine again. He won twice before, each time due to the fact that a third party candidate had come along and split the opposition vote enough to let LePage come out with the W. I am (naturally) concerned that might happen again.
Look at what the Democrats are up to right now in Congress. Biden has an agenda he’d like to push through. They have control of both houses, and they could use the very same shenanigans the Republicans used to get things pushed through when Trump was president. However, they show a consistent reluctance to do anything of the sort. Instead, they bicker about whether it’s too ambitious or not ambitious enough. And in the middle of all that squabbling, nothing ends up getting done at all.
I could pick apart the things they’re trying to get done that I like, and the things they’re trying to get done that I don’t, but on the whole, I’d rather they get something done than just sitting around arguing with each other. Of course, this isn’t to say they haven’t accomplished anything. Many different stimulus bills made their way through during the pandemic, and the third one certainly came under their watch. But as far as making any real lasting changes to pretty much anything, they seem to be laser focused on letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
It just feels to me in many ways like the Democrats think they’re still playing a game of chess when their opponents moved on to boxing a few years ago. And so Democrats hem and haw over moves on the board, even as Republicans just beat them silly with their fists. “Don’t ditch the filibuster!” Democrats cry. “We might need that when we’re in the minority again.” Meanwhile, Republicans have shown a willingness to do literally whatever it takes, including making up rules and guidelines on the fly, to get whatever they want done. Supreme Court vacancy pop up at an inconvenient time? No problem. Just make up a new “guideline” for when you want to consider the new nominees. Is that guideline inconvenient in the future? No problem! Make up a new reason for why you can ignore it.
Of course, the larger concern for me is the seeming inability of our country to have any meaningful compromise around issues that all of us (or most of us, at least) recognize are problematic. Instead, we yo-yo between big conservative talking points and lukewarm Democrat dithering, with the country moving more and more toward the conservative side, simply because they’re the only ones out there who have their act together enough to push for specific changes.
I also want to stress that it’s not just the politicians who have a problem with this. The Republican base is much more organized and unified than the Democrat base is. All you have to do to recognize this is see how many Republicans have been willing to vote for and support a candidate they personally don’t care for at all, just for the sake of getting some of what they want done. If Democrats (the people, not the party) would show a readiness to swallow their own personal agendas for the benefit of “what can we actually get done,” then I think they’d have a lot more success.
Ironically, I think that would also cause Republicans to start playing by the rules better as well. If they know they’re up against a real opponent, then they might be more cautious about making that opponent irate. Instead, we’ve got a playground bully running rampant, and no one’s organized enough to stand up to them.
Anyway. I don’t know that I have any other point here other than to complain. It’s not like I like what Republicans are doing, and it’s not like I’d like more of it to happen on both sides of the aisle. But as long as this is the reality we’re living in, then I don’t see much of an alternative. Any suggestions I’m not seeing?
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