Hi Aaron, here’s what I’d say:
1)This has been an argument often invoked: The Democrats could do so much more, if only the evil Republicans weren’t there! Not to say that it isn’t true — it largely is — but the reasoning cannot be used as an all-emcompassing excuse for a party’s poor performance on given issues. To determine what the performance of a given administration would be if unencumbered by Congress, we must look at actions which are almost entirely within the administration’s control to approve and carry out. Just two quick examples:
Let’s look at the Department of Homeland Security, an agency of which is the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement; these are federal agencies, under control of the government. Under the Obama administration, it carried out deportations of immigrants in record numbers, in much higher numbers than during the Bush years. I don’t think that separating families is a very progressive idea; and I don’t see any discernible influence from Republicans here.
How about the provision in the ACA barring the government from negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, enabling the Martin Shkrelis of the world? Did the Republicans write that piece of legislation? As far as I know, that provision was not an amendment written by them; and if it was, it wasn’t very well fought against, considering that, when the ACA was made into law, Obama had Congress on his side.
Aaron, I’m not saying that the Democratic party is constituted of a bunch of greedy folk deep in the pocket of Wall St. But we cannot defend the Democratic Party every time by saying, “But look at the Republicans — they are so much worse! And if they weren’t there, the Democrats would leads us to a new age of prosperity” etc. etc. It’s just not accurate, in my opinion.
2) It imagines no such thing. On the contrary — the argument assumes that were are too many people in the party who do not want these kind of state-driven programs. It should be the government’s job to appropriately regulate big corporations and assure basic rights to the citizens it governs and represents — including education, which should be a basic right. There are too many in the Democratic party who perhaps do not believe so, or aren’t doing enough to ensure that the government does that job.
By the way, Aaron, I published my first article on Medium yesterday, making the case for Bernie Sanders to Clinton supporters and undecided voters. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You can find it here, if interested: