The Democrats are saying and doing all the right things right now when it comes to paying attention to the left, but they’re playing with house money.
There will be no major legislative efforts regarding reining in police brutality, erasing inequality and more in the coming months. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are eager to hit the trail to support Donald Trump or Joe Biden, and a whole lot of them also are making their case for re-election.
Meanwhile, America remains distracted because of (or if you want to spin it positively you could say it’s focused on) coronavirus, protests about police actions, the intensity of the Black Lives Matter movement and that upcoming election. Not to mention a whole lot of the country appears determined to take that summer vacation, the explosion of coronavirus cases be damned!
For Democrats, the symbolism of kneeling in the Capitol, walking with protesters and addressing public or private events offers hope to left, inspires others who might fall in the center (or dare I say on the right) to join in the movement and provides a blueprint for what Democrats want to do through legislation.
If their words and actions in the summer and fall of 2020 translate to significant success at the ballot box on Nov. 3, the house money runs out. Especially from the left, there will be expectations of immediate and meaningful legislative success. (Whether those expectations align with how Congress works, well…) In addition, if Biden is sworn in in January as the next president, he’ll be spending significant time fixing the messes made by Trump at home and internationally.
Will the Democrats deliver the kind of legislation the loud and omnipresent protesters want? Will they also meet the expectations of Americans who aren’t walking the streets but who are committed to change?
Remember, Biden is not going to be an agent of change. He doesn’t inspire the electorate the way the two previous Democratic presidents did. In fact, a case could be made that his Vice President — who almost certainly will be a woman and who very likely will be African-American — might be the rock star on the campaign trail.
Biden would be an adult in the Oval Office, and he wouldn’t shame the Office of President of the United States the way the current person has. He might rely on his Vice President to rally Congressional Democrats and to engage with the public. That decision might increase the chances for success.
If you’re sensing I’m skeptical about how much major legislative action responding to the current protests we’ll see in 2021, you’re right. Democratic unity often is as stable as jello. Political action on coronavirus might be necessary (can you say stimulus?). Getting Americans back to work must be a priority.
Count me among those not yet convinced the Democrats will convert success at the ballot box to making America better.