Grist for discussion part of a larger study of “Luther’s dear angels in Roger Williams’ garden?” An opinion piece just as the first Congress was sworn in after Trump lost the Nov. 3, 2020 election, suggesting GOP strategy to undercut incoming Biden administration on economic recovery for partisan reasons … comments within hours of its publication (Jan. 4, 2021 at 7:05 a.m. ET) suggest continuing partisanship at least among readers.
Mark Weisbrot, “Why Partisanship Will Increase in the Post-Trump Era,” MarketWatch , Jan. 4, 2021 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-america-will-be-even-more-divided-in-the-post-trump-era-11609730699.
Much more spending will be necessary just to pull the economy back to the levels of employment and unemployment that we had before the COVID recession, and to help the millions who have been hurt by the pandemic. We still don’t even know how much worse the pandemic itself will get before the effects of vaccination can seriously reduce infection rates.
Yet Republicans have fought tenaciously—even contributing to their own loss of the presidency—in order to block desperately needed funding for health care and education to state governments.
All this is just a glimpse of what one part of one big policy difference—on fiscal policy—between the two parties in power would mean for the most of Americans in the immediate and near future. Over the longer run, it means much more. For it is now well-established that America is structurally set up for minority rule. And that minority is the Republican Party.
In the past four decades these structures have grown in their political importance, size and scope. This applies to gerrymandering, as in the Republicans winning a 33-seat majority in the House of Representatives in 2012, with more than a million fewer votes than the Democrats. It applies to the Electoral College, with eight of the past 20 years under Republican presidents (George W. Bush and Donald Trump) who lost the popular vote; and to the Senate, where about half the U.S. population elects 80% of the Senate, while the other half gets 20%. And then there is voter suppression that targets minority and poorer voters, and disenfranchises them disproportionately.
Structural reforms will be needed just to make the country into enough of a democracy so that we can actually vote for governments that might treat some of the pathologies that have been cultivated over the past few decades.
These include an explosion of inequality that has doubled the income share of the richest 1%, and the institutional racism that in 2020 set off the largest protests in U.S. history. Not to mention the democratic governance we would need to move forward on the investments necessary to tackle the climate crisis before it is too late.
The Republicans, not surprisingly, are fighting and will continue to fight against all of the structural reforms that would democratize this country, and that would thereby vastly reduce their chances of holding national power. Together with the policy differences between the parties, this reality will remain the long-run, material basis for an increasing partisan divide, until these structural problems are resolved.
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is also the author of “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy” (2015, Oxford University Press).
- Houari G1 hour agoDemocrats are just as bad — did you not hear Schumer shooting his mouth off when he believed in the blue wave just a few months back? This is a response to the cancel culture which most people realize is wrong but is endorsed by a powerful few. It will never end.
- Herald er1 hour agoQuite the conspiracy theory there Weisbrot. At issue is there is no defense of the Democratic physical policies either!
- William DeMottHerald er27 minutes agoWhat are “physical policies?”Reply
MarketWatch is a website that provides financial information, business news, analysis, and stock market data. Along with The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, it is a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company, a property of News Corp. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MarketWatch 01-14-21)
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an economic policythink-tank based in Washington, D.C. that was co-founded in 1999 by economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot. CEPR contributors include Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences recipients Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Solow. Politically, it has been described as both progressive and left-leaning. In November 2020, the center’s Revolving Door Project recommended the incoming Biden administration, in the name of public interest, clean house of Trump loyalists. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Economic_and_Policy_Research 01-14-21)
Elizabeth Neumann, “It’s Time to Talk About Violent Christian Extremism,” interview with Zach Stanton, Politico, Feb. 4, 2021 https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/02/04/qanon-christian-extremism-nationalism-violence-466034.
[Excerpt from interview — Neumann was DHS Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy until March 2020 — she later campaigned with Republicans Against Trump]
Another factor is Christian nationalism. That’s a huge theme throughout evangelical Christendom. It’s subtle: Like, you had the Christian flag and the American flag at the front of the church, and if you went to a Christian school, you pledged allegiance to the Christian flag and the American flag. There was this merger that was always there when I was growing up. And it was really there for the generation ahead of me, in the ’50s and ’60s. Some people interpreted it as: Love of country and love of our faith are the same thing. And for others, there’s an actual explicit theology.
There was this whole movement in the ’90s and 2000s among conservatives to explain how amazing [America’s] founding was: Our founding was inspired by God, and there’s no explanation for how we won the Revolutionary War except God, and, by the way, did you know that the founders made this covenant with God? It’s American exceptionalism but goes beyond that. It says that we are the next version of Israel from the Old Testament, that we are God’s chosen nation, and that is a special covenant — a two-way agreement with God. We can’t break it, and if we do, what happened to Israel will happen to us: We will be overrun by whatever the next Babylon is, taken into captivity, and He will remove His blessing from us.
What [threatens] that covenant? The moment we started taking prayer out of [public] schools and allowing various changes in our culture — [the legalization of] abortion is one of those moments; gay marriage is another. They see it in cataclysmic terms: This is the moment, and God’s going to judge us. They view the last 50 years of moral decline as us breaking our covenant, and that because of that, God’s going to remove His blessing. When you paint it in existential terms like that, a lot of people feel justified to carry out acts of violence in the name of their faith.