These days I am suffering the effects of political whiplash. The new Biden administration seems to me to be proceeding in a much more favorable manner that I had any reason to hope for. It is handling the pandemic quite as well as one could ask, despite troubling news about new variants of the virus. The flood of executive actions not only reversed a number of appalling actions by Trump but also staked out new ground economically (mandating a rising minimum wage in jobs controlled by the federal government), as well as in such areas as gender rights. All of us lost sleep over the prospect of Biden pursuing the mirage of bipartisan legislation, only to see him make clear moves toward enactment through reconciliation procedures after only 10 days in office. Commentators reading tea leaves suggest that the opposition of Manchin and Sinema to the ditching of the filibuster is soft enough perhaps to permit even statehood for DC. In short, the early signs are far more promising than I could have dreamed.
At the same time, the Republican Party is coming apart at the seams. Since the election of Biden, I have not seen a single coherent statement by any prominent Republican of what legislative alternatives they would prefer to Biden’s huge recovery bill. Instead, the news is filled with the craziness of Marjorie Greene, the attacks by Matt Gaetz on Liz Cheney, speculation about which foot McCarthy kissed when he went to see Trump, and reports of the belief in Republican circles that the California fires were caused by space lasers controlled by George Soros. Since a large enough section of the faithful Republican electorate is completely in thrall to Trump, there is no coherent political resolution of this civil war.
If I were Joe Biden (how is that for a counterfactual conditional, you logic buffs!), I would send out very delicate feelers to several Republican senators inviting them to leave the party and declare themselves Independents, consulting with Schumer about plum committee assignments and some hand in drafting bits of legislation near and dear to their hearts. The quid pro quo would be their willingness once and for all to kill the filibuster. This would make radicals like me scream bloody murder but it might very well consign the Republicans to permanent minority status and turn the United States into one great big California.
All of this assumes that we do not experience a series of political assassinations like those that made the 1960s so horrific.
As I say, I find this head spinning.