Is This the Darkness Before the Dawn?

Sorry for the absence. I needed a break.

There is a lot of doom and gloom in headlines today. President Biden’s poll numbers are tanking, the pandemic is still jerking people around; nothing is getting done in Washington. “President Biden has been in office for less than nine months, and suddenly everyone wants to declare his first term a failure,” writes Paul Waldman.

Let’s hope this is the dark before the dawn. A lot of what is going wrong is out of Joe Biden’s hands, of course. Even so, a lot of people are coming out of the wordwork to advise Democrats to give up on much of their desired policies and reforms and just pass something. And maybe that’s all they can do, given the deadly obstructionist duo of Manchin and Sinema blocking any means to successfully implement the President’s agenda.

Part of the problem may be that the old pecking order among Democrats has shifted. Marianna Sotomayor writes in the Washington Post that Liberal Democrats have become the mainstream of the party and less willing to compromise with dwindling moderates. Less willing than what? I’m sure we all remember that in times past, when “moderates” were the majority, they “compromised with the progressive caucus not at all. It was their way or the highway.

Moments after President Biden instructed House Democrats to make concessions or risk derailing passage of his economic agenda, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus hastily gathered in the depths of the Capitol on Oct. 1 to talk strategy about what policies they could sacrifice.

No one was ready to compromise.

According to several lawmakers who participated in the two-hour meeting, members stood up one by one to vouch for establishing universal pre-K, making the child tax credit permanent and guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid family leave. Others mentioned the need to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision, which would get them one step closer to the progressive goal of Medicare-for-all.

But with no set decision on what policies could be sacrificed, members of the almost 100 strong caucus left Friday’s meeting for a two-week recess with an agreement not to give an inch publicly while they continued to consider privately how to respond to the reality that some of their priorities would probably have to be jettisoned from Biden’s “Build Back Better” economic package.

“We’re at the table. Do not negotiate against ourselves,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC’s chairwoman, told her caucus, according to two people in the room, in a statement that has since become a suggested talking point for members.

They shouldn’t have to compromise with themselves. The people who are in the way — Manchin, Sinema, and the small contingent of conservative House Democrats — need to be the ones meeting and making a counter offer. But they won’t.

Changing the subject — Over the weekend I saw a television news story about how police officers in many parts of the country are refusing to get vaccinated and may be fired. Note that in 2020, covid was the leading cause of death among police officers.  “The grim trend has continued in 2021, with COVID killing more officers than all other causes combined, including gun violence and car accidents,” it says in the San Francisco Examiner.

This is going to cause short-term understaffing in a lot of police departments. I wonder, though, if this might not be a good thing in the long run. The refusers are likely to be hard-right Trump supporters, I suspect. Quality of policing overall may improve with them gone.