Unity. Certain Democrats have hawked that concept since before Joe Biden claimed the presidency, even if few have bothered to do more than talk about it. Alas, the midterms draw nigh – and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) knows his time may be running out. The lead Democrat wants his colleagues to find friends amongst the GOP. Can the Democrats stave off electoral doom by reaching across the aisle between now and the 2022 elections, or – after so long and so loudly resisting Republicans under Trump only to attempt to bulldoze over them under Biden – will this attempt to win political brownie points with the people fall flat?
Unity? Only on Our Terms!
“The charges leveled at former President Donald Trump have always contained one central tenet: He was first and foremost a divider,” wrote Liberty Nation Editor-in-Chief Leesa K. Donner. She continued: “The Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign exploited this accusation exponentially and preached the gospel of unity ad nauseam. Who knows how many Americans, sick of the daily dose of divisiveness, went to the polls in search of this elusive precept?”
Indeed they did, and they continued talking that talk well after the election, though – thus far – few Democrats have walked the walk. They wanted unity as soon as the election results showed Joe Biden was president – but they had no stomach for it when Trump was in office. They wanted unity when it came to bills that could be defeated by legislative filibuster, but didn’t deign to bother with it when reconciliation would suffice. Democrats were, as LN’s Sarah Cowgill pointed out, quick to try and give Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) the boot from Congress when she presented articles of impeachment for Biden – just as they had for Trump.
Desperate Times …
As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And few have as much reason to be desperate for an image change as Sen. Schumer. Democrats control the White House and, in theory, both houses of Congress. However, the narrowness of their majorities means that Democrats – in the Senate, at least – must rely on Republican support to get most bills passed. So far, we’ve seen Republicans attacked as racists and terrorists when they dare question the Democrat narrative and ignored entirely when their votes aren’t really needed to pass a bill. Calling for unity, all the while abusing the minority, creates two image problems for the Democrats. First, they appear petty to all but the most diehard progressives. Second, they appear ineffective to those progressives they’ve so thoroughly pandered to, as they’ve wasted their trifecta of power.
Neither option – petty nor ineffective – looks good come midterm election time. History isn’t on their side, either. Typically, when one party takes majorities in both chambers of Congress and the White House, that party takes a major hit two years later. Perhaps it’s a desire for balance – or maybe it’s exactly these two issues Schumer faces now. He has to balance his desire to leave a legislative legacy and push the party agenda with maintaining – or regaining – an image of being above petty partisanship.
If Schumer can make the GOP look like the petty partisans for not signing on to “bipartisan” legislation, he might even be able to convince those in the party who have, thus far, objected to nuking the filibuster. Sen. Angus King (I-ME), for example, said that he would rather do things in a bipartisan way, but that the future of the filibuster depended entirely on how Republicans handle bills to come. “If the minority hangs together and regularly uses this power to block any and all initiatives of the majority (and their president),” he explained, “supporting the continuation of the rule becomes harder and harder to justify.”
Which will be more important to Schumer and his colleagues: passing laws without need for GOP support or putting up a façade of bipartisanship to stave off electoral doom? In the end, it won’t matter if he can’t convince both the voters and the skeptics in his own party.
Read more from James Fite.