Even if our party’s filibuster-philes hog-tie the Biden-Harris admin’s legislative agenda and sacrifice it on the altar of senatorial comity while Mitch McConnell cackles with glee and red state governors plot the Trump Restoration, there are still cool things the executive branch can do:
Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the National Security Study Memorandum on the Fight Against Corruption
JUNE 03, 2021
STATEMENTS AND RELEASES
Strengthening the resilience of rights-respecting democracies is one of the defining challenges of our era. Corruption eats away at the foundations of democratic societies. It makes government less effective, wastes public resources, and exacerbates inequalities in access to services, making it harder for families to provide for their loved ones. Corruption attacks the foundations of democratic institutions, drives and intensifies extremism, and makes it easier for authoritarian regimes to corrode democratic governance.
Corruption is a risk to our national security, and we must recognize it as such.
The sleazy Trump gang was an object lesson in how corruption undermines democracies. To me, the most astounding revelations about Paul Manafort were not the crimes themselves but that he so openly peddled influence and trafficked in bribes for decades. And he’s just one dude.
Public corruption in particular and white collar crime in general do “eat away at the foundations in democratic societies” in all the ways outlined in the memo. They also generate cynicism and apathy, which make it easier for homegrown authoritarians at every level to slither into positions of power. It really is a national security issue, and kudos to the president and his team for recognizing it as such.
Speaking of our filibuster-philes, Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times gives voice to how many of us are feeling these days:
Democrats hope that Manchin, who has said Democrats should have faith that there are “10 good people” in the Republican caucus, will lessen his opposition to filibuster reform when Senate Republicans repeatedly prove him wrong. It’s harder to know what Sinema actually believes and thus what could sway her; she seems above all dedicated to a view of herself as a quirky maverick, and delights in trolling the Democrats who elected her. In April, after infuriating progressives by voting against including a federal minimum wage increase in the coronavirus relief package, she posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a ring spelling out a dismissive obscene phrase that begins with “F” and ends with “off.”
This gap between the scale of the catastrophe bearing down on us and the blithe refusal of Manchin and Sinema to help is enough to leave one frozen with despair. Democrats have no discernible leverage over Manchin and little over Sinema, though they ought to consider primarying her. (Unlike Manchin, she’s not the only Democrat who could win a Senate seat in her state.) Those who want our democracy to endure have no choice but to keep asking, imploring and cajoling these two lawmakers to value it above the false idol of bipartisanship, but so far there’s little sign they will.
So we’re stuck. The overarching story of American politics right now is that Republicans are laying the groundwork to accomplish legally what they failed to do by force on Jan. 6. Sinema could help fortify our country against a tide of Trumpist authoritarianism that could soon wash away everything that makes it worthwhile. Instead she’s showing us her ring.
“Frozen with despair” is an excellent way to describe it. One Michelle Goldberg is worth metric fuck-tons of Douthats, Stevenses and Brookses, plus a Jupiter-sized conglomerate of Bruenigs.
Maybe Republican overreach will save us. They can’t control or stymie the federal government right now without colluding with delusional Democratic senators, but red state governors and statehouses are busily making citizens’ lives worse every day by converting daft conspiracy theories about voter fraud, critical race theory, shootin’ arns, blastocyst sentience, minimum wage-scorning layabouts, trans youth plots to dominate women’s sports, Antifa super-soldiers, etc., into real laws.
It’s pure performance art, and most of these measures DeSantis, Abbott, etc., preen about on Fox News aren’t popular with the citizens of their states, let alone the country. Maybe the states, meth labs of democracy, will heighten the contradictions at last? Hahaha, probably not!
I get tired of waiting for unaffiliated and/or apathetic Americans to rise up and say enough is goddamn fucking enough, but here we are. At least there’s corruption to squash, and if Team Biden puts teeth into those efforts, it will leave bite-marks on Republican asses nationwide.