Well, it is not difficult to figure out what we need to do. The problem is getting enough people behind us to do it.
1. Win the presidency and take back the Senate.
2. Abolish the filibuster in the Senate.
3. Add two seats to the Supreme Court and while we are at it, add two more circuit courts of appeals and a raft of progressive appeals court judges. This just takes majorities in both houses of Congress and the signature of the president.
4. Grant statehood to the District of Columbia, adding two more reliably Democratic senators. This also just takes majorities in both houses and the signature of the president.
5. Then start passing a raft of progressive legislation to recapture so much of what we have lost in the last 30 or 40 years and to advance some measure of social justice and greater equality of wealth and income.
There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? The problem is not figuring out what we need to do. The problem is getting what is basically a conservative, even reactionary, country to do it.
I think we will win the presidency and I am increasingly hopeful that we will take back the Senate. I think it is almost certain that Biden will try to “work across the aisle with my friends in the Senate on the Republican side,” but unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, he is going to discover what Obama never quite got through his head, that the Republicans of today are not really interested in working across the aisle. I suspect that the desperate urgency of the virus and the consequent economic disaster will put such pressure on Biden to get something done immediately that perhaps he will be forced to agree on getting rid of the filibuster.
If the Republicans succeed in filling the Ginsberg seat with a reactionary, the pressure to expand the Supreme Court will be enormous. Whether that pressure will be sufficient, I do not know. By the way, a fact well known to constitutional historians but of which I was until recently blithely ignorant, the size of the Supreme Court has been changed several times in American history although not, I think, in the 20th century.
The real problem will be getting the Senate – and perhaps the House as well – to pass genuinely progressive income redistributing legislation. We know that Biden doesn’t want to do that – he said so to a group of Wall Street bankers and I take him at his word. The House Democratic Caucus has been moving to the left lately but it is nowhere near as far left as it would need to be to pass the sort of legislation I have in mind. The fault for that does not lie with the politicians whose names we know but with the scores of millions of people who elect them. So that is what the struggle will have to focus on in the years to come.