Blocking Biden

“There is no darkness but ignorance.”

– Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

When I was a kid in sleep-away camp, I dreaded the onset of August because it meant we were nearing the end of a glorious summer and heading back home.

That’s similar to the way I feel about the Biden presidency. I don’t want its August to come. I want the enlightened July of the Biden administration to go on and on because the 2022 midterm elections make me worry the Republicans will take control of the Senate again at a crucial fork in the American road: do we go left or right. And maybe the House, too.

I worry because these aren’t normal times with normal Republicans who are not afraid of compromise for the wider goal of the commonweal.

Many Republicans are far right extremists who think first of party and staying in power instead of America and its people. And they’re led by a senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, 79, who is bent on obstructing any progress achieved by Democratic initiatives. He said so himself.

“One hundred percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration,” he said recently. “What we have in the United States is total unity from [moderate] Susan Collins to [far-right] Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country.”

Of course, he never defines that except with extremist epithets that don’t stand up to reality. What the Biden administration is trying to do is to improve life for all Americans, not only for the wealthy. But the conservatives are trying their hardest to block that, just as they did with President Barack Obama.

Not one Republican voted for the For the People Act, which is intended to override the voter suppression laws enacted by Republican-led states, or to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol.

“Right now I think the Republicans are definitely more united of the two parties and the Democrats at a certain point are going to boil over because while the first big bill [coronavirus relief] went fine, everything since has not,” the Guardian quoted Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“As long as they [the Republicans] keep the filibuster, he’s [McConnell] guarantees to succeed,” he said. “I can’t find 10 Republicans who will break with McConnell on anything. They wouldn’t break with him on a weather report.”

Invocation of the filibuster means it takes 60 votes to end it rather than the usual majority vote needed for passage of budget bills under what’s called reconciliation.

For me, the result of Republican takeovers of at least one house of Congress and maybe, in 2024, the White House, would be the death knell for the progressive, much-needed changes President Joe Biden is trying to bring about following a devastating disease that has killed 600,000 Americans and the catastrophic Trump years that contributed to the death toll.

And those years haven’t ended even with the Republican’s loss of control of two of the three branches of government; the Supreme Court is theirs. So is the Senate filibuster rule, it seems.

Conservative Republican leadership would raise the specter again of nationalist authoritarianism in this beleaguered, divided, quarreling, tired country and return it to tax cuts, deregulation, environmental degradation, all in favor of the corporate world and rich GOP donors.

The inane culture wars go on despite the Republicans being out of power, somewhat. See critical race theory (CRT), the academic pursuit about systemic racism that conservatives are fighting to keep out of school curricula. It’s not being taught, though a full accounting of American history should be mandatory in classrooms nationwide.

How many high school kids have heard of Juneteenth or the massacre of about 300 Blacks in Tulsa, Okla., 100 years ago?

Of course, the far right is making a big deal out of CRT, with Fox News broadcasting it over and over in hopes it will catch on with voters, another arrow in the conservatives’ quiver aimed at Biden and liberal Democrats. Some GOP-led legislatures have banned it from schools.

Fox News, the propaganda machine of the Republican Party, has mentioned CRT 1,860 times this year compared with only 132 times in 2020, The Washington Post reported, citing a count by Critical Mention, a media monitoring outfit.

We needed that $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. We need to rebuild our roads, bridges, airports, ports and expand broadband to rural areas. We need better education, better child care, racial reform and the freedom to vote unencumbered by Jim Crow laws.

Like a variant of COVID, Trump’s back. He went on the hustings for the first time since he lost the election, conducting one of his signature rallies in Wellington, Ohio, near Cleveland, Saturday night, wallowing in the applause and cheers from his followers.

He aired his customary grievances, even getting the tried and true “Lock her up” from the crowd in reference to Hillary Clinton, and insisted again that he won re-election. Typical bull and lying, nothing we haven’t heard before.

As for camp, I attended mostly when Dwight David Eisenhower was a two-term president in the 1950s – a vastly different Republican from what gets elected today in a far different country.

Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.