The Biden administration has entered office with a whirlwind of activity. “Whole government” initiatives and executive orders on racial inequality and climate change are married with an ambitious covid-19 relief plan. There are briefings galore, with both experts and White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki, who on Wednesday gave us a peek into the sort of salesmanship the administration is employing to gain bipartisan support. The president, the vice president, the director of the National Economic Council, the domestic policy director, the chief of staff and the legislative affairs team are talking to individual lawmakers, the Problem Solvers Caucus, relevant committee members, mayors, governors and more to seek consensus on a covid-19 plan. There is no room for downtime, let alone complacency in this White House.
To many, it is stunning to see such energy, urgency and activity coming from the White House. Whereas Republicans are loath to even acknowledge crises for fear of indicting their own former president’s performance, Democrats have plans, executive orders and bills to address dozens of problems, not to mention a fleet of nominees waiting to get started.
And what are Republicans doing? Well, over in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took days to agree on an organizing resolution to get the new session underway. The vast majority of Senate Republicans said they do not want to have a trial to hold the instigator of a violent insurrection accountable. (How typical it is for them to stage a vote to tell us what they do not want to do.) They are stalling on the confirmation of a new homeland security secretary. They have no alternative relief package for covid-19. Most of their time seems to be absorbed whining about “censorship” or claiming Democrats are being “divisive.” They are offering no response to any of the multiple crises we face (e.g., climate change, the economy, health care, racial justice, domestic terrorism). Their “big idea” is to wait and see if the pandemic and economy get worse.
For years, the Republican Party has not been about policy or governance. It is certainly not about encouraging voting or expanding its party to reach new demographics. Instead, it has become a select club of malcontents. It has created a self-perpetuating grievance machine designed to further inflame their base.
Why do Republicans even want to hold power? Aside from appointing judges, the Senate has accomplished virtually nothing of significance since the 2017 tax cut. While running for reelection, the former president was continually stumped when asked what he would do in his second term.
The party’s antagonism toward the federal government has now morphed into hostility toward truth and governing at all. Its agenda is a list of buzzwords and lies to justify why it should do nothing (Climate hoax! Socialism!), culminating in the mother of all incendiary messages: the Big Lie that the election was stolen. The GOP seems to exist solely to promote resentment and to engage in performance art for intellectually dishonest and vapid right-wing media.
Maybe Republicans should give up running for office altogether because they have no interest in policy or governing. They can cut out the time-consuming task of showing up for their day jobs and devote all their time to what really drives them — raising money, stoking anger, tweeting and appearing on right-wing media. They at least demonstrate some interest and talent for those activities.