Monday is the winter Solstice. Slowly the light will return as the days grow longer. So, it is with change in our country as well.
While Biden won the presidency, the Democrats lost seats in the House and gained but one in the Senate. Though that number could increase on January 5 with the Georgia runoff election.
Americans have also begun receiving COVID 19 vaccinations. Yet, it may be six months or more before most Americans are vaccinated. Even longer before we all feel safe, perhaps by next fall. Still, the question remains: Will Trump’s base agree to be vaccinated?
Of course, a lot depends on the Georgia runoff. If the Democrats win both Senate races, Biden’s job will definitely be easier. Yet, ours will not. Regardless of the outcome in Georgia, the progressive movement will need to put maximum pressure on the new administration to act boldly on most fronts.
One exception is the coronavirus vaccination program where Biden seems committed to moving swiftly to ensure the wellbeing of all Americans. A second area where the president-elect appears to be making strong moves is fighting climate change. Biden has assembled a formidable team, headed by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, nominated to be Secretary of Energy, and former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in the new position of domestic climate tsar, to tackle this critical challenge. And, the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland, first Native American in a cabinet position, to be Secretary of the Interior is a very positive sign as well.
Biden could take forceful action by executive order in numerous policy fields that would affect the lives of millions of Americans. For instance, he could raise the minimum wage on federal contractors to $15 per hour, forgive billions in federal student loans and drastically lower the price of selected essential drugs. The growing progressive movement will need to keep pushing him on these and other issues.
At the same time, Biden appears willing to move to the right by contending that he can find common ground with some Republicans. A few Republican senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski may support some of his agenda to get the country back on track. Nevertheless, if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Mitch McConnell will be calling the shots. In which case, we can expect a great deal of obstruction, as was McConnell’s strategy from the very beginning of the Obama administration.
Biden was Obama’s vice president at the time. Hopefully, he learned something then about how the Republicans’ thirst for power overrides any sense of patriotic duty to support legislation to improve the economy or provide better healthcare for Americans. Unlike Obama, Biden cannot allow his desire to work across the aisle get in the way of providing effective solutions to the pressing problems of our nation.
More than anything, Republicans’ unwillingness to put their country above their own political interests may be the most persuasive reason for Biden to act quickly and decisively. He really has only two years to prove to the American people that the Democrats are the better party to lead the country.
With a very slim majority in the House, the Democrats may likely lose their control of Congress in the 2022 elections unless Biden and his party can produce results the voters truly appreciate. We must do whatever we can to ensure the Democrats get the job done now.
Bruce Berlin, J.D.
A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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