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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

INTERIM THOUGHTS

These are tumultuous, unsettled, uncertain times and it would be foolish of me to try to predict how things will go in the next few weeks, but I would like to stand back a bit while I watch reports obsessively on television, and make a few remarks about what I think might develop over the next several months. Let me say to begin that I am becoming more and more aware of how important the victories of Warnock and Ossoff will prove to be.

 

The Republican Party is clearly in crisis, triggered in part by the extraordinary fact that Republican senators, members of the House of Representatives, and even the vice president himself were threatened in the Capitol not in their role as representatives of others but in their own personal physical selves. Being rushed to safety by members of the Secret Service with guns drawn while a mob bangs on the doors really does seem to concentrate the mind something awful.

 

Here, stated briefly, is what I think may happen once we get past the present period of crisis. I think it is quite possible that several Republican senators will leave the party, declare themselves to be Independents, and vote with the Democrats in return for various political favors in legislation and the like, an eventuality made possible by the victories in Georgia. This in turn will increase the probability of statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, giving the Democrats a comfortable majority in the Senate and even making it possible to kill the filibuster. The enormous grassroots support for Trump will not disappear and there will be many Republican members of the House and some Republican senators who will continue to rely on it.  But so long as Trump (and Don Junior, his mini-me) continues to play an active role in national politics it will be impossible for the Republicans to maintain the unstable coalition of forces that has made them so successful in local and congressional politics despite their repeated failures at the presidential level.

 

If such a realignment takes place, it will have the effect, as I have observed before, of shifting Biden’s legislative program somewhat to the right. However, the way will be open for progressive forces to continue to build their strength in the party, if they have the wit and energy to seize that opportunity.

 

As an old guy who learned what he knows about politics when the mimeograph machine was still cutting edge, I am endlessly fascinated and surprised by how much information can be acquired through technology about the identity of the individuals who were part of the insurrectionist mob. I love the fact that even those rioters who were not so stupid as to take selfies and post them on social media from inside the Capitol building can nevertheless be placed there thanks to the fact that they all have cell phones that were turned on. I mean, good Lord, who needs secret police!

 

One final observation. Josh Hawley, as I noted, clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts. I would love to know what Roberts thinks about his protégé now.

6 comments:

David Palmeter said...

I don’t at all share your optimism about statehood for the District and Puerto Rico or for ending the filibuster. Manchin, for one, is against both. Republicans who leave their party won’t become liberal Democrats. They’ll vote with the Democrats on organization of the Senate etc, but I don’t see them buying into the left’s agenda. On strengthening the party down-ballot, I agree wholeheartedly. Obama pretty well ignored the party for eight years and the Democrats are still paying the price. Republicans flipped something like four state assemblies in November in what was supposed be a Democrat year.

I suspect Roberts shares Danforth's views on Hawley.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who may not be aware of what former senator Danforth has said about his successor, Sen. Hawley, you can find it here:

https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article248346830.html

You may recall that then Sen. Danforth was also the sponsor of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court.

s. wallerstein said...

I don't know exactly what will occur, but I doubt that the U.S. is going back to "business as usual" so easily after 4 years of Trump and the proto-fascist storming of the Capitol building.

I sense that U.S. politics in the near and maybe not so near future will be defined not by what the President and Congress do, but what happens from below, from the proto-fascist street forces and the progressive street forces, as well as by the huge influence of social media in influencing how people think politically, in positive and negative terms.

mesnenor said...

The last time the GOP published a party platform, it supported Puerto Rican statehood. I grant that this was probably empty talk, and that they included it based on the assumption that it would never happen. But still, it was there in the platform.

David Palmeter said...

From an Irish friend, not quite up to Heaney's standards:

A mob of the MAGA persuasion
Conducted a Capitol invasion.
Though many were armed,
They departed unharmed.
And that’s how we know
They’re Caucasian.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Hawley, retired senator Danforth seems to have a knack for picking the world's most awful proteges. First it was Clarence Thomas, now Josh Hawley, but this insurrection seems to join them in yet another way besides Danforth. Justice Thomas's wife "Ginny" is on a nonprofit that funded, organized, and transported 85 bus loads of rioters to the capital.