I strongly believe that our system works best when Democrats and Republicans compromise, particularly on big problems. However, this only works if both sides a) care about solving problems, and b) both sides have a healthy respect fundamental democratic principles and institution and operate in good faith. If one side cares primarily about power, then bi-partisanship doesn’t work.
I believe congressional Republicans and GOP leadership have become authoritarian. There was a sliver of hope that might change afeter Trump leaves office, but that sliver has all but vanished for me. The way the Senate Republicans are responding to the impeachment trial–I believe 45 voted that it was unconstitutional–is part of this. If one of the rioters killed Pence, I am actually unsure if they would respond differently.
And let’s look at McConnell, who at one point publicly said that Trump committed an impeachable offense:
2/2 And, to spell this out:— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) January 27, 2021
-On January 13, when House voted for impeachment, McConnell said Senate could not consider it *until* Trump had left office.
-From Jan 20 onward, McConnell has said Senate should not consider it *because* Trump has left office.
If Republicans have become authoritarian–giving up on liberal democracy–the first step for Biden and Democrats is to recognize this–or at least be ever aware that this is a likely possibility. Professor Eddie Glaude expresses this notion fairly well:
But after this acknowledgement, what should Biden and Democrats do? First of all, I don’t think they can allow Republicans to obstruct and thwart the effectiveness of government–as a way to deprive Democrats of political victories. This seems like an unreasonable view of Republicans, but they don’t seem serious about solving problems, except in some instances. They seem to believe that ineffective government won’t hurt them politically–and it may even benefit them, as it breeds more public disgust and more people giving up on politics. Biden and Democrats can’t just let this happen. At the same time, they have to be careful not to undermine key democratic norms and institutions. Indeed, an important part of their task is to revive and strengthen both. This makes their task even more difficult.
At the same time, I think they have to be really careful not to do so in a way that doesn’t subvert or violate key democratic principles and norms and weaken important democratic processes and institutions. They have to strengthen our republic as well. Can they do this while strengthening the republic? That’s the challenge. To be continued…