Let’s Get Incremental

It’s possible that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s statement yesterday that he was done negotiating on his party’s big social and climate plan was just strategic. Maybe if progressives just finally accept the honest $1.5 trillion price tag over ten years that Manchin has wanted it will be back on track.

I kind of doubt it, and I’m not so sure it would be such a good thing if that did happen. It might be best just to declare defeat and move on to more manageable ambitions.

If the last year has taught us anything it’s that America remains a centrist, if not a center-right, country. The bulk of America is not looking for “a political revolution” or “big, systemic change.”

We want progress, just not too much too fast. And, ya know what? I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m more than okay with that.

Sure, I would have also been fine with the whole nine yards, the big enchilada, Build Back Better unfiltered. But now that that’s apparently dead, it’s time for Democrats to get real, to hunker down and to focus on what’s next.

And what’s next could be really big. It would be nothing less than defying political gravity: maintaining their majorities in the House and Senate against the odds. Since WW II the party in the White House has lost an average of 26 seats in the House. It would take only three to flip the majority next year. Even if BBB had passed, Democrats probably would have been punished for their good deed, just as they were after they passed Obamacare. In an unexpected way, Manchin may have given them a new lease on life.

What’s clear now is that the view of moderate Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia has prevailed. Last month, after tough sledding in the few 2021 elections, Spanberger said, “Nobody elected him (Biden) to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.”

Yep. Sure looks that way now.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger. Americans just want some normalcy.

The thing for Biden to do now is just be himself. Competently manage the latest COVID surge, do what he can to beat back inflation, and most of all, just sound re-assuring and positive. He doesn’t need to have any more big plans. In fact, big plans are nothing but trouble for him.

He can, however, wait and see if events give him a little more room to maneuver. Oddly enough, Omicron might create an opening for Biden to bring back some of his BBB agenda. If things get bad enough, there might be an appetite for another small stimulus bill that might at least include an extension of the popular child tax credit. We’ll have to wait and see.

The worst possible thing for the Democrats to do would be to listen to their hard-left progressive wing. They should read this as a sound rejection of their big plans to transform America. America does not, apparently, wish to be transformed. Just accept the verdict and move on.

In fact, as a moderate, left-center, liberal-ish kind of guy, I find myself wanting a different choice. I’ll never vote for the Insurrectionist Party, not a chance. But I also don’t especially want to vote for a party of preachy, wokey activists who know what’s best for me.

My sense of it is that I sit just a shade or two left of where the bulk of the American people are at. I despise Donald Trump, I love Joe Biden. But what I really love is normalcy, stability, competence, common decency, common sense and a little bit of peace and quiet. I’d vote for the Boring Party in an instant.

It’s time to face it, deal with it, accept it and, most importantly, adjust to it. This simply is not a country that shares the agenda of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

It’s very much more the country of Rep. Spanberger. Let’s help Joe Biden just be normal. Who knows. Maybe that will give the Democrats another two years in the majority, where, if they’ve learned a lesson here, they could continue to make incremental change.

Welcome to the 305th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!

Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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