Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 27 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/2/21

Progressives Can Make Truly Great Changes Happen During the Biden Presidency

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   3 comments
Become a Premium Member Would you like to know how many people have read this article? Or how reputable the author is? Simply sign up for a Advocate premium membership and you'll automatically see this data on every article. Plus a lot more, too.
Author 38935
Message Norman Solomon
Become a Fan
  (25 fans)

Unless consciously resisted, one of Donald Trump's lasting triumphs will be the establishment of such a low bar that mediocre standards will prevail for his successor. Of course, providing a clear contrast to the atrocious Trump presidency is irrefutably necessary but it's hardly sufficient.

To give high marks merely for excelling in comparison to right-wing Republicans is to cheer high jumps over very low standards. And the opening months of President Biden's term are an especially bad time to grade him on a curve, as top appointees take charge and policy directions are set.

With corporate forces fully mobilized and armies of their lobbyists deployed to constantly push the new administration, the need for activating grassroots counterpressure from the left should be obvious. Yet an all-too-common progressive refrain now is along the lines of "Step back and give Biden a chance!"

The refrain is understandable. And mistaken. It's essential to vigorously advance progressive agendas that are morally compelling and tactically effective to deliver notable improvements in people's lives and prevent the Republicans from recapturing Congress (as happened in 1994 and 2010 with big GOP victories just two years after the corporate-friendly Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama took office).

One of Trump's overarching "achievements" was to move the frame of feasible political options rightward. Now, the achievable options must be moved in a decidedly progressive direction not simply back to the future with a "third Obama term" aiming to reinstate the gist of a pre-Trump status quo.

Encouraging as some of Biden's first executive orders may be, they're not transformative. Last week, under the headline "Biden's Executive Actions Just Scratch the Surface," the editor of The American Prospect offered a sober assessment. "What Biden is doing, even if it extends only to reversing Trump-era rules and actions, will help a lot of people," David Dayen wrote. But, "in a lot of ways on these executive actions, the style is doing a fair bit more than the substance."

On January 28, when Biden signed an executive order on Obamacare, he emphasized his self-imposed restraint. "There's nothing new that we're doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president," Biden said. And: "I'm not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law. This is going back to what the situation was prior to Trump's executive order."

Prior to Trump, tens of millions of people in the United States were already uninsured or underinsured and that was before Covid struck.

Some reporting indicates Biden might now realize that chasing after Republican partners in Congress would be a fool's errand. Yet Biden has a bad history of reaching across the aisle to make harmful deals. "Mr. Biden finds himself managing the outsize aspirations of the progressive wing of his party while exploring the possibilities of working with a restive opposition that has resisted him from the start," The New York Times reported in a front-page story on Sunday.

Whatever the phrase "outsize aspirations" means, a key reality is that progressives must keep building pressure during this time of extreme crises with several thousand Americans dying from the coronavirus every day, economic catastrophes deepening for many, racial injustice continuing to fester, and the climate emergency still worsening.

Much of what Biden can do would require no congressional action. Dayen points out that, as per the Constitution, presidents "are implementers" and "they should implement to the maximum potential allowed by law."

When gauging the Biden presidency, we should throw away yardsticks that are designed to measure its distance from the Trump presidency.

So many people are dying from lack of health care, and Biden has yet to take or call for the magnitude of steps that are urgently needed to save lives. One proposal, initiated by Rep. Ilhan Omar and gaining support in the House, would provide recurring stimulus payments. A comprehensive plan, put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, would establish free health care as a human right for everyone in the United States, in effect Medicare for All, for the duration of the pandemic.

How to pay for such momentous programs? One bill, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, provides for a transaction tax on Wall Street that would raise vast amounts of revenue from people most able to afford it. One bill after another has sought to substantially cut the military budget and make the funds available to meet crying human needs.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Norman Solomon Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)
 

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Growing Campaign to Revoke Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

Clinton's Transition Team: A Corporate Presidency Foretold

Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?

Obama's Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

The Long Road to Impeaching Trump Just Got Shorter

Obama's Speech, Translated into Candor

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: