Assuming Joe Biden’s election withstands voting challenges and Republicans hold their US Senate majority after the impending runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, the stage will be set for legislative gridlock in the next session of Congress. That’s a good thing for now. Clearly, the financial markets approved with stock indexes staging a substantial post-election rally. Had Bernie Sanders been elected president those indexes would likely have plunged. Gridlock is a barrier to extremist upheaval.
Had Democrats won the presidency and the Senate to add to their House majority, there’d have been nothing to stand in the way of their radical transformation of America — to the joy of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, AOC and the rest of their ascendant, loony left-wing faction.
During the Democrat nominating process Biden walked a tightrope, flirting with but not fully subscribing to his party’s socialist agenda and running as the practical alternative to the full-Bernie. Predictably, after winning the nomination, he shifted marginally to the center, denying or muddying his earlier positions like a ban on fracking and openness to the Green New Deal. He campaigned primarily as the anti-Trump and courted moderate swing-voters as a “uniter.” His pivot to the center didn’t really risk losing the Bernie bros; their hatred of Trump dictated that most would stay in the Democrat fold, at least for now, rather than “symbolically” wasting their votes on a Green Party or Socialist Party presidential pretender.
On election night, Biden offered the age-old political platitude that he’ll govern as president of “all the people.” That may be true in the technical sense that he’d be the only president we have. But no politician can enact the conflicting agendas of all the people, since on so many fundamental, major issues we don’t all agree and the national divide between our two major parties is as wide as ever.
As a local illustration, my congresswoman is Dianna DeGette, one of the most liberal Democrats in the US house, whose voting record appropriately comports with her like-minded left-wing Denver constituents who just reelected her with 80% of the vote. On public policy, we agree on virtually nothing of importance. She certainly doesn’t represent me, nor does she care a whit.
So, now all the campaign babble is over (thank heavens) and actions are what matter. Biden will have trouble even unifying his party much less the country. The Democrats’ Marxist cohort — far to the left of the American mainstream — is already threatening him. They’re rabid, impatient and primed to take to the streets again to have their demands met. Rejecting the utopian socialist fantasies of this crowd, which certainly wouldn’t unite the American public, may require more fortitude and will than Biden possesses.
Given his age and mental health, Biden will likely be a one-term president, if he even makes it that far. That affords him some independence and liberates him from reelection considerations. While Obama promised to “fundamentally transform America” in a statist, leftward direction, Biden could help mitigate our country’s divisions by pushing Democrats back toward the center if he truly means to be a uniter.
As president, he could use his influence to shape a new culture of compromise between Democrats and Republicans in Congress that would break the impending gridlock, with each side giving a little. Now, it’s a Democrat president’s turn to appoint liberal judges to the federal courts. Senate Republicans shouldn’t be obstinate. A reasonable COVID-19 compromise relief-bill should be quickly passed, without unrelated add-ons now that House Democrats don’t need to engage in pre-election theatrics.
Immediately after Trump’s election in 2016, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrat majority joined the anti-Trump resistance, committed to stonewalling the Senate Republican majority and ultimately impeaching Trump. One early compromise was a GOP offer to legalize the status of DACA Dreamers in exchange for House Democrats agreeing to appropriate $5 billion for a border wall. That was rejected out of hand by Pelosi to deny Trump a victory on a campaign promise. Compared to the $5 trillion and more we’ll be spending on COVID-19 relief, $5 billion now seems like small change.
The Republican Senate Majority will block Democrats from packing the Supreme Court and prevent statehood for Washington DC and Puerto Rico, which would add four more Democrats to the Senate. For obvious reasons that’s not negotiable. But so many other things are. A symbolic signal and a practical way to restore congressional collegiality might start with House Democrats voting to replace Pelosi as Speaker. She’s certainly no uniter and has burned too many bridges.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
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