Stubborn for Party, Not Country

Terry H. Schwadron

July 23, 2021

Once again, we can plainly see the people’s business being set aside for the politicians’ business — from both sides of the partisan aisle.

— Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted this week on pushing for a procedural vote that could not win the day, one that should offer permission, basically, for debate to open on that part of the huge infrastructure package to which several Republicans had already agreed. But despite their spokeswoman, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., asking for a few more days to secure the votes of a sufficient number of Republican votes, Schumer went ahead — and lost, 49–51, well short of 60, adding his own ‘No’ vote weirdly to allow it to come up again.

— Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, launched a separate Republican broadside, insisting that his Republicans members will not vote the annual procedural vote to raise the national debt limit, because he thinks Joe Biden and Democrats are proposing too much government spending. Once again, regardless of what actually happens, this is one of those chess moves that threatens the government’s fiduciary promises and has the power to bring the national economy to a halt.

— Add in a refusal by Republicans to support a move to require that all — meaning the wealthy — pay tax by providing the Internal Revenue Service with money to enforce current tax laws.

We’re seeing the same kind of game-playing at both ends of the political spectrum for absolutely no gain for you and me. There’s absolutely no interesting backdoor maneuvering going on, just plain old bullheadedness and power politics. That’s bad enough when your side has the votes, but it seems hopelessly moronic when you don’t.

It was bullheadedness that led Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to appoint Republican members to a Jan. 6 select committee that he knew would set off Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who fell right into expectations by rejecting them and, thus, turning the investigation into a Democrat-run affair. Bullheadedness was undisguised as power politics.

The object of this government back-and-forthing is supposed to be legislative compromise and intelligence guidance for the basics of American life, but it all has become so perverted that almost none of it can be seen as worth our attention — until disaster strikes.

Pas de Deux

Meanwhile, the bipartisan group of 10 senators offered a statement to inform colleagues that there will indeed be 60 votes to proceed next week, actually predicting 62 or 63, once more detail is made public about the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. This is the same group that Collins had felt the procedural vote to be premature.

If it all sounds game-like one-upmanship, it’s because it is exactly that.

What is remarkable here is that there is absolutely nothing special in the handling even of a proposal from which both parties want to take immediate political credit. No one is against improvements to rotting roads, bridges, airports and even wireless connectivity, just on the best ways to pay for it.

But we have to go through a period of blame for “socialists” from the Democratic side trying to overspend tax monies and an equal tirade against Republicans who will reward corporate and wealthy donors with unsupported tax breaks worth an equivalent amount of money out of your and my pockets.

At least when it comes to the much larger “human infrastructure” proposal that Democrats cut away to consider separately under “budget reconciliation,” the Republicans can make clear that they have absolutely no interest in helping to address income inequality or built-in unfairness practices in housing, health, education, or the building imminent problems of Climate Change. Strangely, that clarity actually helps to keep us from wanting to disown these people altogether, since it eliminates any hope of reaching agreement across the aisle.

It’s just that these all are political games that address the concerns of politics, and not the country, and that seem staged as political theater meant to keep fund-raising efforts alive through sloganeering.

The Politics

Away from Washington, we already have lines of people starting to form of would-be replacement for the current crop of politicians. That process leads to party primaries, which are unduly tilted towards exaggerating the differences not only between parties but between factions of parties,

Thus, a Cleveland-area congressional race for clues about the direction of the Democratic Party, where liberal Shontel Brown is facing a more self-described progressive Nina Turner, both Black women who support Biden, about whose outlook most captures the current trend. Both are drawing outsized money and split attention from the likes of Rep. James Clyburn (Brown) and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (Turner). Set aside the fact that to Republicans, they are both “socialist.”

Among Republicans, Donald Trump is reportedly sifting through which challenger to Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is the most pro-Trump, the only issue that matter to him.

The point is that we’re setting ourselves up for lots more of the same. We’re not looking for candidates who will put the country first, only the needs of a faction.

Of course, in the meantime, we’re suppressing who can vote altogether through new restrictive laws, the Census shifts and gerrymandering.

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