100 Days In, How's Everyone Feeling?
You know what I like best so far: that I don't have to give a single solitary shit about what the President of the United States is doing at any given moment of the day. I don't have to wake up to huge, frothy spoonfuls of rage and screaming, ready to be forced upon me from every conceivable corner like a goose being fattened up to be foie gras.
I noticed this weird energy almost immediately and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I assumed it was COVID: Biden took office in the depths of the pandemic and people (understandably) had other things on their mind. There might still be something to that, I suppose, but I really think that it's the fact that people aren't being screamed at 24/7/365. Cable news viewership has tanked. People might be remembering that there are other, more important things in life to deal with than "what dumb shit the President said today" and "what (usually turns out to be complete bullshit) scandal the media is raging about today."
So, 100 Days In, Three Up, Three Down:
1. Vaccinations. 100% credit where credit is due, Biden grabbed the baton and ran with it. 100 million Americans as of today are vaccinated. It's incredible to pull into a random grocery store and see signs saying: "COVID-19 Vaccine Available Here No Appointment Necessary." If anything was normal before all this, we're getting back to something. We're getting beyond this. And that's amazing.
2. Policies: You may disagree with everything he has proposed so far, but you cannot say that Biden is pulling his punches. Big, bold plans will, hopefully, force the Republicans to respond in kind. And then instead of two parties bickering over Culture War bullshit, they'll be bickering over big, bold policies to tackle our problems.
3. I've said it before and I'll say it again. In terms of moving the policy need and potentially locking in real lasting policy changes, the real winner of the 2020 election was Andrew Yang. Whether you want to call it UBI or direct cash payments, the idea of sending people checks seems to be catching on. If the Child Allowance gets made permanent that could be a real game-changer- as it's literally just sending people checks. Which is something the Federal Government is actually good at.
1. Vaccine Hesitancy. This is the next challenge the Biden Administration is going to have to tackle. The J&J Pause- whether you think it was a good thing or a staggering overreaction (the latter, imo)- seems to have put a dent in our vaccination rates. It seems like the Biden Administration is at least aware of the problem but whether or not they can reverse the trend and keep grinding this out remains to be seen. Either way, it was categorically unhelpful.
2. There are encouraging indications on the border- whether these numbers are true or not, I don't know- but there needs to be a fundamental sea change on immigration. If you're going to go Big and Bold for domestic policies, it's well past time to do something Big and Bold on immigration- and not just the usual, "path to citizenship" bullshit. (This is a podcast worth listening to on the issue- specifically Episode 303.) The moment calls for something real and something serious. So far, the Biden Administration seems merely content to manage the crisis.
3. The Educational Fallout from COVID is hard to quantify now and it'll be interesting to see if there are long-term ramifications on any continued school closures. If everyone is back in person in the fall, it'll probably be fine, but there are a lot of parents out there who are furious about this. There's only so much any given Administration can do on any given issue, but school re-opening should have been close to the top of the list and they should have been willing to be firm about it if they had to be.
I suppose in the interest of fairness, we should look at the Opposition. Right now I might be technically registered as a Democrat, but as I've said many, many times before: I hate these two parties with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, but if I'm stuck with them, I expect them to be at their fighting weight and I demand effective smart opposition. (Which I'm not really getting at this point, to be honest.) Here's Three Up, Three Down for the GOP:
1. Nobody likes the idea of court-packing: This idea is one of the missteps of Biden's First 100 Days and happily, no one seems to be crazy about the idea. While bringing the number of SCOTUS justices in line with the number of Federal District Courts (13) makes sense- that's not why this is being proposed. In a saner world, the GOP would be proposing things like retention votes every twelve years or so- anything to make SCOTUS appointments more democratic and less apocalyptic. (You can't complain about judicial tyranny if you're not willing to put some democratic checks on it.) But, we don't live in a sane world so they're content with being against this, which is fine.
2. No longer being fans of Big Business might actually be good for the GOP. But you gotta follow some of this rhetoric up by taking away some subsidies and tax breaks. Embrace your trust-busting instincts and actually do it. The rhetoric from the GOP here seems to be trending in the right direction, but you've got to match it with actual policy.
3. Voter ID and "election integrity." The Georgia thing was a mess, but what was actually passed seems to be pretty reasonable when you actually read the bill. I'm personally leery of anything that might make it harder for people to vote, but if a significant number of people have lost faith in the integrity of our election system after the last election, then doing something- or hell, even appearing to do something to restore that faith is something I can get behind.
1. Reflexive opposition isn't effective opposition. Take D.C. Statehood for example. "B-b-b-but the Constitution says so!" might sound like an effective argument, but it's not- because the history and wrangling over DC has been going on for a very long time and it's more complicated than that. A better response would be: "Fine, it can have Three Delegates with the same rights, responsibilities and privileges as any other member of Congress." would be an interesting counter-argument and more effective than just, "D.C's not a state."
2. Duct Tape Tucker Carlson's mouth shut. I think a large part of his rage-bait-y soliloquies of late are probably due to declining cable news viewership and staying relevant and in the news. But an equally large part of them are not and White Replacement Theory is something that GOP should want absolutely no fucking part of and he should have been loudly and blisteringly condemned for pushing that nonsense. Coming off an election where the GOP made gains with Hispanic voters from multiple nationalities in multiple states, shit like this will make those gains purely illusory. Never mind the fact that immigrants will come to this country, work six horrible-ass jobs to put their kids through school, or build a business out of scotch tape and baling wire. They are absolutely the kind of people that love the shit out of America and pull themselves up by their bootstraps on the regular. They can be your people, GOPers, but you've got to stop letting cable news define your brand.
You can still insist on border security and no illegal immigration. That's fine. But if you're going to venerate Saint Reagan, remember, we're a shining city on a hill. You might as well start talking to folks who came here and made the most of it.
3. No more lip service. This applies to Democrats too- but in an age where books like this make a lot of sense to people. I have a feeling that both parties are going to be judged on what they do and not what they say they're going to do anymore. Biden is bringing big, bold policies to the party. The GOP needs to answer in kind- like Contract With America level-shit that actually benefits people. If you want to be for working people and families, give us policies that make life easier and better and help working people and families.
(Case in point: JD Vance and Universal Childcare. His Tweet was ratioed into the sun for good reason- and yes, Josh Hawley has a thing that sounds sensible- for a refreshing change of pace- but it's very simple and it goes back to point one (see above) and it's also not helpful. Child care costs are a drag on families and the economy and if you think family values are suffering because both parents have to work to put food on the table, empower families not to do that with policy. Frothing at the mouth and declaring "A WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE" doesn't actually solve the fucking problem. You don't like their plan? Fine. Show me yours.)