Living in Society

Politics in the Biden Administration

U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

I wrote four posts tagged politics since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated. I feel we are in a new time, where politics matters less than other parts of society.

The longest piece was a dirge about losing a sense of community I barely got to know before it vanished. There were also two book reviews and a letter to the editor of the newspaper. Compared to where this blog has been in 14 years, that’s not many political posts.

In the early days of the Biden administration something has changed about our politics. I can’t determine what it is. Our politics continue to matter and the slim majority Democrats hold in the Congress will likely pass the first major bill later today in the American Rescue Plan Act. The Senate passed it already and House Democrats say they have the votes.

Yesterday 13 non-controversial bills were pulled from the docket in the U.S. House. Rather than passing them on a voice vote in quick succession, a Republican asserted their privilege and called for a roll call vote on all of them. I’m not sure the purpose of this stunt which irritated both Republicans and Democrats. The roll calls would have delayed the vote on the American Rescue Plan Act and House Democrats would have none of that.

Biden’s history as Barack Obama’s vice president shows. He’s taking no quarter with malarkey. While Obama beat Biden by signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Feb. 17, 2009, 27 days after inauguration, negotiations for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took a year by the time Obama signed the law on March 23, 2010. The lesson Biden learned from Obama was a new president does not have that kind of time to spend on a single bill. When we are a year into the Biden-Harris administration, the window of opportunity to pass substantial legislation may well be over. Biden appears to have taken the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words to heart:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.

March on Washington Speech, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Aug. 28, 1963

Changed politics during the Biden Harris administration is a feature, not a bug.