A non-apologetic Biden lastly says goodbye to the centrism that hobbled the Democrats for many years
In fact, President Joe Biden was quick to abandon many of the old Obama-era battles that upset the Liberals and eventually pulled them into the streets to protest government inaction. Biden has already sent a bold immigration bill to Congress that clearly includes a route to citizenship, expanded access to green cards, and a strengthening of the DACA program for dreamers established by Obama in 2012. Biden also immediately canceled approval on the Keystone XL pipeline – an action Obama failed to take. After years of pressure from climate activists, it won't be until 2015. Building on the many highly competitive victories of the Obama era in LGBTQ equality, Biden quickly signed an order that was the most aggressive interpretation of Title VII protection for transgender and gay Americans in Drives employment, housing and education.
Sure, these are old battles. And to some extent, Biden has benefited from a natural evolution of the subjects for over a decade. This is especially true of the policies regarding the LGBTQ movement that emerged from Obama's presidency light years before it began. But it is also a measure of how far the progressive movement has come in the last decade that we do not have to fight immediately with a democratic government that seems less concerned with promoting liberal concerns than using it as a basis for negotiation to achieve other goals. So far, this remnant of '90s Clinton politics appears to have finally been buried in the Biden White House.
The departure clearly throws some Washington journalists on a loop after decades of watching Democrats crouch down against Republicans.
During Thursday's White House press conference, Michael Shear of the New York Times discussed why President Biden stopped extending olive branches to Republicans as Obama did in early 2009. For example, Biden has no GOP cabinet members like this one as Obama Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – a holdover from the Bush administration. Shear wondered about that too Biden's initial directives were "largely aimed at erasing as much Trump legacy as possible with executive orders" – the conclusion was that such an aggressive rejection of Trump policies would scare Republicans off and destroy all compassion. What happened to "elections have consequences"?
Part of what has been lost in translation for journalists is the word "unity," which Biden peppered no less than eleven times in one form or another in his inaugural address. Washington journalists view the word almost exclusively as a measure of a bipartisan compromise. And to be fair, Biden's emphasis on working with Republicans during the Democratic primaries worried many Liberals as well. Whatever Biden meant by his campaign compromise, his definition of unity now seems to focus on coming together to save America's democratic experiment. This political moment is just as "bad" as White House press secretary Jen Psaki put it, so worrying. In Biden's view, no true American patriot needs to sacrifice his or her values or beliefs in order to mobilize against white supremacy and the caustic scourge of disinformation.
In his inaugural address, Biden declared "lies told for power and profit", citing the truth as one of the "common objects that we as Americans love". Lawmakers, he said, "who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation "have a special responsibility to them ""defend the truth and defeat the lies. "
Biden also declared war on white supremacy and implored the Americans to unite to fight the nation's "common enemies".Extremism, lawlessness, violence. "
In response, many Republicans are already returning to their old tricks. They call Trump's impeachment divisive – as if it were a great unity to berate a murderous mob in the Capitol in order to overthrow an election. They say they are uncomfortable holding a trial of a president who is no longer in office – as if the vast majority of Americans would not find it uncomfortable to watch the nation's director general unleash an attack on the homeland.
As House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi told reporters this week, "The fact is that the President of the United States has committed an act of incitement to insurrection. I don't think there is much agreement to say, "Oh, let's just forget about it and move on." That's not how you unite. "
And the same Republicans who saddled taxpayers with roughly $ 2 trillion in debt to give the rich and corporations a huge tax gift are now facing Biden's $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package to fight the Americans and prop up the economy.
"The only thing that concerns me that no one seems to be talking about is the enormous debt we continue to build as a nation," said South Dakota Senator John Thune, who did not raise any such concerns prior to the occupation of his 2017 vote for the GOP tax premium for the nation's richest.
The White House has consistently said that Biden believes the aid package's priorities, such as funding unemployment insurance, vaccinations and opening schools, are non-partisan. "What are you going to cut?" Stated Psaki at their first press conference on Wednesday.
Psaki said Biden plans to personally help support the package. However, it also did not rule out using the budget vote process as a means of obtaining relief by a simple majority in the Senate, instead of the 60 required to bypass a GOP filibuster. Biden was here back in 2009 when the country stared at the great recession and negotiations with Republicans left a modest $ 787 billion incentive that ultimately hampered a quick recovery, as many economists had warned. How much patience Biden has to haggle with Republicans in this moment of need remains to be seen.
But what springs out of his first days in office is both Biden's determination and his unapologetic use of the tools at his disposal to take decisive action. He seems uniquely clear about the dangers of this political era and what it takes to meet them – a clear break with the centrist dogma that has ruled Democrats for nearly 30 years. And Congressional Democrats across the liberal to moderate spectrum seem to fully agree with Biden's vision.
Republicans, for their part, play very small balls. The best any of the more sane can manage is to cling to the same tired Reagan-era talking points that left the party open to kidnapping by a vulgar populist demagogue. It is safe to say that it will take a lot more inspiration and creativity than we are currently experiencing for the Republican Party to build an electoral coalition of voters over the next few years.
If President Biden keeps climbing up until now, the unity he creates is ultimately less about winning GOP votes for his policies than about uniting 65% of Americans against a factional but dangerous party of insurgents.