The Real Winner of The 2020 Election
Y'all, I'm shook.
When it comes to politics in this country I am deeply, deeply cynical. It's my default state when approaching politics. Looking at state legislators around the country and unfortunately, the Majority Leader who apparently read Green Eggs and Ham to make some kind of point- one hopes about food safety and not about cancel culture- it's enough to make one become positively Libertarian. Some of these people shouldn't be allowed out in public places, never mind voted into elected office. Looking at our landscape of clinical insane right-wingers and champagne socialists, the wisdom of P.J. O'Rourke ("Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards") seems particularly appropriate.
And then... they finally passed the COVID Stimulus Bill.
I'll be honest. I didn't much care. I know a lot of Twitter was all butthurt that Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin did some procedural shenanigans to make the Senate actually read the bill aloud before it passed- but I could understand the principle of that. Too many of these omnibus bills just get a sort of slapdash hand-wavey response from Congress. "We'll know what's in the bill when we pass it." Like, what the fuck? You people are in charge of making the fucking sausage and you don't know what's in the sausage? Gross. And the hilarious part for Senator Johnson is that he couldn't leave either- oh no, none of this, "Ha ha ha, you've got to read all 700 pages of this damn thing and I'll be in my office." No, the punchline is that he couldn't fucking leave either. So whether that's being hoist on one's own petard or just standing on principle, I don't know, but I enjoyed the fact that Congress had to find out what was in the sausage before they made us eat it. I approve of that.
So, it passed. I was looking forward to my $1400 stimulus check- but then, I randomly stumbled across this stuff about the child allowance. Holy shit, y'all- this quote:
The legislation would provide $3,600 per child under the age of six and $3,000 per child age six through 17 for a single year. The full benefit is available to single parents earning up to $75,000 annually and for couples earning up to $150,000. Payments would phase out after those thresholds.
Okay, it's only for a single year- but there's a push already to make this permanent. But... it's.... actually really smart social policy. So smart I'm well, like I said, a little shook. I'm not used to a government actually doing something helpful. I'm not used to a government actually doing something competently. There's no big bureaucratic expansion here. There's no paperwork to navigate it's just the Federal Government doing the one thing it's actually really fucking good at: cutting checks and putting them in the mail.
This is breaking my damn brain, y'all. It's so simple and despite the fact that no Republican Senators voted for the bill- once this gets going in July, it's gonna be popular. I won't lie: it's going to be helpful for my family. It could be downright life-changing and a difference-maker for so many other families out there- they reckon it could cut child poverty rates in half. HALF.
I meant what I said in this post. There is a political realignment starting out there and the faultlines are shifting and everything could up for grabs for either party-- but I felt at the time that the Republicans were a lot closer to putting it all together than the Democrats were and I still do-- but only if they had the policy to match their rhetoric to appeal to working-class voters. I think Democrats have rhetoric- and a cultural problem- when appealing to working-class voters right now- of all races. But if this child allowance is any indication of the kind of policy they're gonna play with, I think they have less of a policy problem than they think they do.
(Look at the arc of history starting with NAFTA: a lot of counties across the Rust Belt were absolutely devastated by it and the cringey, "well, just make different doo-dads" or "we'll get you new job training in computers and stuff" responses from politicians in both parties over the years never actually brought direct relief to any immediate problems in some of those places. You don't want to be told "just make different doo-dads, how hard can it be?" when you're trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over your families head. When Obama ran in 2008 on Hope and Change, I think voters- not just in the Rust Belt, but all over this country were willing to back anyone they thought might actually do something to help them out a little bit. Obama was the optimistic change candidate- when that didn't pan out after eight years, they went with the Oranger Angrier Change candidate. And that obviously didn't work out either- if this is an indication that the government is actually thinking about how to directly make a difference in the lives of people and not special interests-- god damn that could be a transformational moment for this country. Really and truly.)
I know a lot of people are upset about the $15 minimum wage going down*. But perfect should never be the enemy of good. Politics is the art of the possible and if you can get $10 this year, get it to $10. Or, change your approach to the minimum wage entirely and do this instead- which strikes me as a lot smarter and a lot easier to sell. Continuing the avalanche of "Good news, everyone" it sure seems like Joe Manchin is open to the idea of making the filibuster an actual filibuster again. (For real: do this. Some crusty old gasbag of a Senator is going to think twice about being obstructionist if he's gotta hold the floor without breaks and without sitting down for umpteen hours. Raise the costs on obstruction in the Senate and fewer Senators will be willing to pay the piper. Because nixing the filibuster entirely will come back around and explode in Democratic faces. Futzing with it for judges sure did.)
You want a spicy hot contrarian take for this post? Here it is. We're living in the strangest timeline of all- because, in a way, neither Trump nor Biden is the real winner of the 2020 election.**
Andrew Yang is.***
*Sinema got a bad rap for her vote. Whether it's a climbdown or a genuine position, I don't know- but she's already issued a statement saying she was against it in the COVID relief bill, but wouldn't necessarily be against it in another bill. (Click on the "do this instead" link. I'll bet you Sinema would go for that- a lot of moderate Dems would) All politics is local and when she's up in 2024, she'll be up against a blood-red, meat-eating Republican. She ain't gonna be voting with Bernie Sanders on a lot of stuff. A Democrat that votes the way you like 75% of the time is still better than one more Republican Senator.
**No, this isn't an endorsement of any nutty-ass election relation conspiracy theories. Of course, Biden is the President. Of course, Trump lost. I'm talking about the candidate in 2020 that ended up moving the policy needle the most here- and that was, really and truly, Andrew Yang.
***Also, I'm sorry enthusiastic Yang Gang girl who made a sales pitch to me at the Iowa Caucuses. I should have rallied to your cause.