Schumer’s the Majority Leader, but McConnell’s Still Running the Show.
It’s time for Democrats to stop letting Republicans dictate their policy.
While the riots that took place on January 6th on behalf of Donald Trump understandably overtook the news cycle through the days that followed, amidst the chaos it became clear once the Georgia runoff races were called for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Democrats were going to have control of the Senate. Just hours after being sworn in one of Vice President Kamala Harris’ first actions was to swear in the two newly elected Senators on January 20th, and Chuck Schumer has been left to figure out how to take the position of Senate majority leader in a Senate with such a narrow Democratic majority, Kamala Harris would serve as the tie breaker if need be.
Unfortunately, in less than a week, we’ve already caught a glimpse of how these next two years are going to go.
Even with Democrats technically in the majority, Republicans have been holding the hearings for Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees while Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell attempt to come to a “power sharing” agreement in the 50–50 Senate. Recently, CNN reported that the two were close to reaching an agreement, with Democrats setting the schedule but sharing an equal number of committee seats with Republicans. Talks stalled however, with McConnell insisting that Democrats protect the filibuster.
For me, the question is why Schumer is even entertaining the idea of a power sharing “agreement” at all.
Whether liberals want to admit it or not, Mitch McConnell is probably one of the most effective, skilled politicians in Washington D.C. He has spent the entirety of his career and the past eight years in particular deliberately making himself an active barrier to anything beneficial the government might do for its citizens. Whether it be the infamous holding up of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick for nearly a year and then pushing through Trump’s pick with just a week to go before the election, or holding up desperately needed relief for millions of people struggling in the midst of the greatest public health and economic crisis in modern American history for eight months, arguably no one has come to a better understanding of how to wield their own power in office than Mitch McConnell.
Imagine, just for a moment, if the shoe were on the other foot.
Imagine if it were McConnell as Senate Majority leader with a 50–50 Senate, and Republicans controlling not only the White House and Senate but the House of Representatives as well. Are we really going to pretend that he would even entertain the idea of giving Democrats an equal number of committee seats? Would he even bother acknowledging any of Chuck Schumer’s demands?
There is absolutely no denying this past election was a referendum on Donald Trump and the Republican party. The grassroots get out the vote efforts in cities like Detroit, or in states like Minnesota and Georgia did not take place because organizers and voters were hoping the Democratic party would hold out their hand and allow the Republicans to dictate what happens moving forward. One might hope that the fact that the majority of House Republicans denied the legitimacy of this past election and Joe Biden’s right to lead would be an indication to Chuck Schumer that we are no longer living in 2001, but predictably Democrats continue to cling to the hope of civility and bipartisan agreements between reasonable people.
As frustrating as it might be to watch Democrats continue to capitulate to Republicans for nothing more than the praise of corporate media personalities and pundits, I’m not sure even the most conservative of Democrats would deny that these are incredibly polarized times. Of course, they would stop far short from suggesting that the only way to even begin to move beyond this incredibly tense period in history is to ensure that the economic stability of Americans and their families is restored, remains in tact, and that we confront the role of not only economic anxieties but fear of “the other” and White Supremacy in getting us to where we are today. They would stop short of suggesting that the good of the public must always come before “civility” with their Republican colleagues.
If we want to stop the ever-growing right wing movement in this country before it takes us to a point of no return, then frankly Democrats are going to have to take some notes from people like Mitch McConnell as opposed to catering to them, and use their power as effectively as they have.