No More Excuses

A moment of truth has arrived for Democrats. With two narrow victories in runoff elections in Georgia for U.S. Senate seats, the Democrats now will have control of both houses of Congress as well as the White House. The last time Democrats were in that position was at the beginning of the Obama Administration, and they squandered the opportunity to make sweeping changes.

A lot can and probably will happen between now and January 20. President Trump is on his way out, but will undoubtedly try to burn down as much as he can before he’s made to leave. So will congressional Republicans who are falling out of power. What so many of them have done to indulge the president’s fantasies about widespread voter fraud and cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the election—without a smitch of evidence—won’t be the end of it. Our democracy is proving durable enough to survive the onslaught, but these irresponsible antics are still doing immense harm to public confidence in our democratic institutions. Our country will be paying for that for a long time.

What’s been playing out in the aftermath of the election makes one thing crystal clear. Most Republican politicians are deathly afraid of their increasingly unhinged base. There’s been no limit to what they will say and do to remain in good stead with the extremists in their ranks.

While Republican politicians are afraid of their base, the Democratic base seems afraid to expect or demand more from the party’s leaders. Those leaders have refused to embrace Medicare for All even though it is widely supported by the public. Even when Democrats have had control of Congress and the White House, the federal minimum wage has been kept at $7.25 an hour, a poverty wage. It hasn’t been increased in well over 20 years. Antitrust laws haven’t been meaningfully enforced for decades, and corporate power and control over our lives has grown steadily over those decades, decimating family farms and small businesses alike not to mention endangering our democracy. As I wrote in my book Unscrewing America: “Over the past several decades, the list of new ideas or policy innovations for the 21st Century coming from the left is a short one. Even the signature Democratic policy reform in recent memory—the Affordable Care Act—was borrowed from the right-wing Heritage Foundation and was known as Romneycare in Massachusetts before it became Obamacare nationally.”

Yet those who’ve been at the forefront of the party’s leadership have not been cast aside. They’ve been kept in power by the party’s base. These politicians have done nothing to deserve it, but they’ve been given another chance to deliver results for the American people. It’s time to put up or get out of the way.

Mike McCabe

January 6, 2021