The nagging will continue until morale improves
It seems the media is doing its job in successfully kneecapping Biden to keep the horse race going for ratings, like they did for Trump.
We've seen plenty of pieces on the higher price of milk and gas et al, but none on the child tax credit and how its helping families and lifting kids out of poverty, or the massive job creation and low unemployment, or the millions of lives saved by Biden's successful vaccine rollout, or the incredible positive impact the infrastructure bill is already having nationwide, or Biden's influx of millions to help families pay for heating, or how he just raised the minimum wage to $15 for federal workers.
Mostly, we've been treated to numerous, relentless hit pieces on Afghanistan, the constant pounding of inflation (which, if the media was honest, is to be expected in a pandemic), and interminable droning on his lousy poll numbers, created in large part by the media. It's all negative, all the time. It's truly frustrating and sad.
The problem for Biden is that, as the saying goes, you dance with the one that brung you to the dance and two different, opposing suitors are claiming the title. The gap is one of age: a younger, woke Obama cohort from 2018 and an older, moderate Jim Clyburn one from 2020.
I might personally identify more with the latter, but frankly, I get that we didn't deliver the same landslide margins as in 2018 to claim a mandate. That means the path to actual legislation runs through a dozen or so Senate Republicans looking for a Trump offramp (if they exist, and I say a dozen because none will want to be the 10th vote overriding a filibuster and ending their careers). That leaves Manchin, who has actually proposed plausible legislative solutions, driving the train.
If you're a progressive swept into the House or Senate in 2018, you've already gotten rolled by the establishment on BBB because there just weren't the votes or a clear path to passage and something - infrastructure - was clearly better than nothing. Still, leadership overpromised and then caved. Voting rights, meanwhile, is existential, prompting a further debate on blowing up the filibuster. The problem here is that voting rights is viewed and messaged through the lens of race in the midst of a rightwing coup.
We keep having the wrong debates over bloated bills ticking off the constituency boxes versus nothing. The right blend of ECA reform and John Lewis could address the most dire problems; the rest will take more votes and more seats in both houses in 2022, which at the moment is a long shot. Unfortunately each side has a claim on Biden; he needs the Clyburn side for the Senate and the Bernie/AOC side for the House.
The progressives are understandably tired of taking one for the team, but while the broader public is with them generally on Covid, the economy and the social safety net, it balks at the particulars and the cost. That was the 2020 vote; no on Trump, meh on Dems. The progressives have to blink and serious Republicans have to get off their asses and commit to a democratic future. Period, full stop.
Another way to look at this is that things are setting up very nicely to trend in the right direction for the Dems
1) The Omicron wave is definitely going to be over in short order. A lot of people are going to have immunity one way or another. Things will finally be normal. Hopefully we avoid another variant, of course. But we finally have all of the the pieces in place (good masks, rapid tests, vaccines) to navigate whatever comes next. We're ready, but hopefully we won't need to be.
2) The Republicans will look like sociopathic fools for what they did to their own voters. The data on vaccinated/unvaccinated will be undeniable. How do you trust a party that sent their own voters to the grave just so they could use the pandemic as a wedge issue? What are they going to do to jobs and your 401k with their debt ceiling nonsense? You think they care about your pocketbook if they don't even value their own voters' lives? They are a bunch of white grievance losers who thrive on chaos.
3) If the love for BLM ran out of steam last year, maybe this anti-CRT/anti-teacher crusade will face a backlash this fall. Maybe having a state-controlled anti-teacher gulag won't be seen as conservative or American.
4) With the omicron wave over, hopefully some of the inflationary pressures will subside with supply chains resolving themselves. The chip shortage is going to be a persistent problem... but I think for most people if grocery store and gas station trips improve, that will be good enough.
5) It looks like a lot of the stock market pain for rate increases and asset purchase taper is already priced in - or will be priced in during the first quarter. So hopefully a rising stock market from Q2 onward.
6) They look competent on the Russia/Ukraine situation, so far.
7) Trump won't go away. With all of these legal cases against him piling up, he's going to be out there front-and-center, wanting to make 2022 all about 2020. It's going to divide the Republican party, to a degree.
8) The Dem base is fired up - and we have a solid coalition of people who realize what's at stake here. I personally can't wait to kick in the teeth of these trash clowns, who think they are on the verge of a wave election. We really could take the gov mansion in FL, TX, and GA. It's exciting.
9) The Biden admin is not filled with dumb, delusional people- they can see all of this data just as clearly as the rest of us. Rather than waiting for a midterm blowout, they can hit the reset button now and hopefully deliver on the Electoral Count Act and maybe a few pieces of BBB this year. I would be shocked if 2022 looks anything like 2021 - they will be a much more disciplined operation this year.
Anyway, yes, if the election were to happen RIGHT NOW, the Dems would be screwed - but a ton of things look like they will naturally trend in the right direction, and significantly so. Maybe a little patience/optimism is warranted here.
It seems to me that the recent failed push for the voting rights bills came at the urging of James Clyburn. As he was the man who led the Democratic Party away from the likes of Elizabeth Warren to back the Biden nomination, The Bulwark should be somewhat in sync with him. Why don't you invite him on the podcast to discuss the voting rights/voter suppression topic? Similarly, James Carville had Sherrilyn Ifill on his podcast on this topic and she made quite an impassioned and convincing case. But Carville gave her mostly softballs - let's hear her engage with a more skeptical Bulwark host. A good healthy debate could help define a more constructive way forward.
I'm not sure there is much choice at the moment. I scream messaging, but what I am really screaming is....attack the Trumpism brand. There was an article about liberals needing to push back on trolls sites that attack the Democratic brand. Democrats are a vast coalition now, made up of both liberals and conservatives. This wasn't strikingly apparent until after the election. Its as if all the people that use Inductive Reasoning moved to Dem and all those that use Deductive Reasoning moved Rep. They have a simpler thought pattern, a more cohesive group, and they are willing to burn it all down to be right over wine cooolers vs. whiskey, pepsi vs. coke, UA vs Nike. Except, I am a whiskey, coke drinking UA dressing liberal and I think you are a seditionist dupe who has never read a single page of James Madison's thoughts. Take my American flag off and put on the flag of your conspiracy theory confederates. We need to pass a national database for police officers, so bad apples cant move from one force to the next. We need to pass a child tax credit and supplement childcare instead of corporate welfare. We need a national medicine buyers club for over 60. Just focus on these 3 things, separately, it touches most demographics. And add the word seditionist to every chat room, every journal article, every broadcast....Seditionist Ted Cruz, Seditionist Taylor Greene, Seditionist Trump. Just do it for 3 months and see what happens.
The question arises, with respect to Ruy's bill of particulars: who among the Democratic leadership is saying these things? Pelosi? Schumer? Hoyer? President Biden? Vice President Harris? DNC Chair Harrison? Any of the DNC vice chairs?
If not any of these people are spreading these unhelpful messages, what do you propose they do about it?
Is the problem really with the Democrats, or is it really a matter of the noise machine making up narratives and focusing laser-like on “the left” of the Democratic Party? I think we all know the answer.
It seems to me that if the GOP wants to make this a contest between Trump and Biden, I can't see Biden losing except by statehouse vote controls. If he was to lose a legit election, people have an appalling lack of recollection about the former administration.
Losing the congress is another matter. I see way more deep left influence than I want to see. While we may not be a center right country, we aren't a progressive left country either. Dumb stuff like "Defund the Police" or "free college" will not tug at America's heartstrings.
I think that in the next few years, we are going to get the government we deserve. That is not to say that individuals will be getting the government they deserve or have worked for (as individuals), but that our society at large will--because this whole thing is a cooperative effort.
A large number of people and organizations have cooperated to bring us to this pass. There is more than enough blame to go around.
Most of that blame, rightly, belongs to the voters. They actually DO have the power to change things (at least for now). Why are politicians such pieces of excrement? because you incentivize them to be that way. You reward them for it. You elect and re-elect them.
Why does nothing happen in government? because that is the general consensus--you elect and re-elect people who work hard to make sure nothing much actually happens.
I could keep going, but you get the point.
The media owns a big chunk of that blame, as well. Their primary goal/interest is to make money. That shapes what news is reported and how it is reported. That means that most news is not very "serious," not very informative, and rather shallow. This goes not only for factual news but also for opinion writing. this extends to corporations, at large, whose only real interest is profit... and usually short term profit at best.
Even when it isn't, it is usually located somewhere that a lot of people never see or look ar and the people seeing and looking at it are, themselves, often not competent to make substantive judgments regarding it.
The politicians own some blame as well--mostly due to lack of courage, lack of principle, and lack of actual leadership.
When I give it due consideration, I am actually amazed that things have gone as well as they have for as long as they have.
I am not so bold as to go on record as to what that government will be or how (exactly) it will function. I will be so bold as to say that, at first, it will seem like pretty much any other government (on the surface) and that a lot of people will find it acceptable for a variety of reasons.
It will slowly get worse. It will slowly get more noticeable. More openly authoritarian and corrupt.
But as long as it is someone else getting the shaft it will remain acceptable... at least to those not getting the shaft (and how would they really know, anyway).
In the end, I think we need a true and extreme excrement extravaganza to drive a lot of things home to people. Obviously the last round wasn't extreme enough or excrement-y enough.
Don't worry, we will get there. It is hard to overcome raw emotion, unenlightened self-interest, ambition and greed.
Then we might straighten our act out for a bit, only to return to the same cycle again. We happen to be unlucky enough to (as the Chinese curse goes) live in interesting times.
I am currently reading a book (fiction) titled "Isolate." It is speculative fiction, set in a world that is similar to ours but with some clear differences (one of which is that there are people who are empaths, who can sense emotion, manipulate people, and even use emotion to kill). The author is L E Modesitt, who specializes in this kind of stuff. The book is mostly about politics and political structures and human interaction in those contexts. It is clearly informed and shaped by the American experience of the last several years/decades.
Some interesting ideas in there. The story isn't action filled and exciting... but that isn't its purpose. It would be a horrible movie or TV show LOL.
I and a few others have been asking Charlie to have more left of center guests on his show. Charlie, thanks for following through on the letter of our request but not so much on the spirit of our request. Instead you went and found a liberal that just agrees with you.
When Amanda and Tim fill in for you periodically they bring on guests that don't necessarily agree with them and they have fascinating conversations with lots of give and take.
I wish you would follow their example. It'd be nice to hear you have a conversation with liberals who don't necessarily agree with your takes and listen to you both hash it out. We complain about echo chambers all of the time and it looks to me like you've set up the Daily Bulwark podcast to be it's own echo chamber about how stupid and hapless the Democrats are and then complain when some fail to immediately join the Grand Coalition to Save Democracy(TM).
If you are taking requests for podcasts, ruth ben ghiat (CAVEAT - I am a Lucid substack subscriber) or Timothy Snyder (CAVEAT - Thinking About substack subsriber). His book On Tyranny is a great book and written for this very moment.
You know, if you are taking requests, these are my two!
Have you ever asked Professor Heather Cox Richardson to be on your podcast? I follow her as religiously as I read and listen to the Bulwark.
I think the conversations with the average voter are going to be very fun in about 10 years. Asking how they traded "more common sense on COVID" and "not defunding the police" and "woke-dumb liberals" worked out after the authoritarians took over. Someone's gonna feel pretty dumb - or maybe not? Seems like a lot of people out there like that future.
Here in California the Dems biggest problem is the attack on single-family neighborhoods. This is being instigated through mandated zoning changes that allow 10 or more housing units to be added to any single-family lot. These laws are promoted as making housing more affordable, yet the real and inevitable effect of upzoning is that it makes properties more expensive, which has the further effect of squeezing would-be homeowners out of the market in favor of investors who have the access to capital to redevelop these properties.
There is no more kitchen table issue than whether you have a right to own the kitchen in which that table rests. Unlike the building industry and big tech, homeowners don't have lobbyists to defend their interests before elected officials, but we should at least have the media examining whether progressive housing policies will really solve climate change, equity, and affordability, or it's just a ruse to give developers unfettered access to redevelop urban neighborhoods.
This issue shouldn't just be on the media's radar, it should be blinking in the middle of the screen.
My favorite part of The Weekly Standard cover is that you have Newt Gingrich on the cover swinging from a rope over a lake of fire wearing an ammo belt and blasting his automatic pistol, which is totally reasonable, and at the bottom it promotes a story by Andrew Ferguson called: "Are Dems Crazy?"
I was very happy you finally got Texeira on the pod yesterday. These Democratic constituencies are not a monolith of whatever comes out of the Twittersphere, and the Cassandras like Texeira and David Schor who realize it simply get ignored or canceled.
Whew, that Weekly Standard cover has some extreme mid-90's vibes. What a decade.
I agree with Ruy Teixeira's diagnosis of the Dems' political situation. One thing we should bear in mind is that accurate analysis of the place we're in and its almost certain electoral consequences is unlikely to sway the recalcitrant left. I teach in one of the most progressive--I often prefer "left-wing authoritarian"--precincts of the academy, and what I hear from young progressives is a lack of concern about the consequences of their culture-war politics. This is because their politics aren't strategic, they're moralistic.