The Circus is Over, It’s Time to Govern


Sparky Mitra

Following the chaotic speakership nomination and election of Representative Kevin McCarthy, many liberals threw their hands up as the world feasted its eyes with relentless C-SPAN coverage of dysfunctional Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. While some of this unwillingness to collaborate was necessary during the nomination process for Democrats to hold their ground, that is where the dysfunction should have stopped.

Instead, what we saw was an onslaught of legislation from Republicans that faced zero scrutiny and vocal opposition beyond the chambers where the Rules Package was put up for a vote. Among other conservative policies, the rules package contains elements essentially barring congressional staffers from unionizing. While it is unlikely that Democrats would be able to stop this rules package from passing with them being the minority, they could have endeavored to connect other Republican constituents to what their congressmen were passing legislation on. 

With union busting on the docket of the Republicans’ first piece of legislation in the House, this could be a perfect opportunity for Democrats to go to midwestern towns where unions tend to endorse Republican candidates and show them how anti-working class their representatives really are. Instead, I see many Democrats, especially moderates relying on dysfunction to carry them through the next election. Instead of getting work done, they are simply pointing fingers at the misdoings of conservatives. 

Though this may be due to a general dislike for Republicans, another possible reason for this focus on dysfunction over progress and legislative accountability is the Democrats only lacking accomplishments especially when focusing on supporting unionized workers. Democrats, especially moderates, buckled under the pressure from the Biden administration when it came to dealing with railroad workers and imposing a poorly negotiated contract on them. Because of laws that specifically target railroad workers, and the economic impact that their striking would have, Congress was endowed with an authority that the Democratic-held majority abused to silence workers. This step among others alienated the very working-class voters that Democrats claim to support. Striking has economic implications, which is often why it works and Congress using that and some antiquated rules to bypass negotiations with labor unions is a low blow for working class constituents.

While Republicans like to hone in on the economy as a point of constant criticism of progressive ideals, it is important to note that Democrats succumb to this constant fire that conservatives subject them to. With this hyper-fixated outlook on economic implications, without considering the people who make the economy Republicans have long abandoned considering people before profits. But when neoliberals get frightened of this criticism, they also abandon the people they claim to support.

The economy is dictated by the success and failures of Americans. Of people. So it is the people whose success we should invest in. Striking laborers what, of course, put some stresses on the economy, but at the end of it, they would likely have greater purchasing power to then stimulate that very economy that was put under some temporary stress. This isn’t the first time that liberals have been scared of the economy, temporarily diminishing their positioning among people. When the coronavirus caused economic strife due to protective shutdowns, neoliberals eventually ushered in and embraced a new level of negligence towards the virus’ effect on again, the people, that led to premature opening. This was not the opinion of some but many including the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that they had once championed, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

While lukewarm progressives are not blatantly classist, they must remain the party of bold action for the people. Pointing out dysfunction in the opposition is important for elections. Not for governing. It’s not election season right now, it’s time to govern. Conservatives may block class and people-centered legislation, but liberals should at least focus on championing that legislation on and off The Hill, while reaching out, for example, to unionized constituents of both parties. Action for the people depends on Democrats taking progressive steps towards change. It’s time to step up and be more than the party of no harm. It’s time to be the party of good.

Image courtesy of Associated Press