I reflexively dislike sentences that begin, “The Democrats need to…” because what follows is often nonsense. Maybe this is too, but given our increasingly urgent situation with the pandemic, perhaps the Democrats need to release a comprehensive national plan to fix it. Now.
Politically, that’s almost certainly a bad idea — Trump and his Republican enablers are stomping their own dicks in golf spikes daily, so why interrupt them? Any realistic plan to get the virus under control will require pain, which means it will present copious opportunities for demagoguery. So politically, it’s probably best to let Republicans self destruct as denial blows up in their faces.
But politics aside, can we afford to wait until Trump is defeated and Congress turns over to fully address the scope of this problem? Don’t ordinary people — who are about to get increasingly desperate as housing, food and education insecurity rise — need to hear the straight dope on what it will take to tamp this down?
Biden has a plan, and it’s a good one within the confines of a presidential campaign. But it assumes the country will be largely salvageable after six more months of this dystopian shit-show. I don’t know about y’all, but every day, I grow less confident of that.
Maybe the thing to do is to level with people. I don’t just mean Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee but the Democrats as the opposition party at every level — starting with the schools issue since Trump helpfully raised it and back-to-school time is filling parents with fresh dread on a number of levels. Here’s an outline:
- We CAN and SHOULD reopen schools around Labor Day
- The only way to do it safely is to get the virus under control right now
- That will require another 3-week shutdown followed by phased reopening using scientific data to guide policy (since Trump squandered the gains of the original, piecemeal state shutdowns by bullying governors into prematurely reopening states)
- Congress must provide another — more generous — round of stimulus to families and businesses, plus fund local governments and schools, to get through this hardship
- A massive mobilization of people and materials must take place now so that proper testing, tracking and tracing assets are in place for reopening schools and businesses to avoid repeating the Republicans’ failed spring strategy
Democrats at various levels have said all or some of this, so maybe we can reach a broad consensus on this or a similar plan. None of it will happen in the short term because Trump is the POTUS, Mitch McConnell runs the Senate and between 27% and 40% of our fellow citizens are morons.
But my sense is the majority — the real “Silent Majority,” as opposed to the 1968 fantasy bloc Trump keeps tweet-screaming about — is starting to understand that it’s going to take something this drastic to get out of the fix we’re in. They’re looking for answers.
We can’t go on ping-ponging between half-assed responses and denial, not unless we want to experience Great Depression II and massively fail a generation of children. And while Democrats don’t have the power to enact a national plan, they have a platform to tell people the truth — with one voice — about what it’s going to take to end this nightmare and get on with life as every other industrialized country on earth has done or is doing.
Maybe my perspective is off because I’m sitting in the most failed of the failed states right now (12K new infections announced today after yesterday’s record-breaking 15K — and that’s with the books cooked!), but this sure seems like an existential crisis to me. It’s all well and good for Governor Cuomo to say he’ll quarantine visitors from Florida, but how does he enforce that without throwing up roadblocks at state borders?
This thing is bigger than any single campaign, so the response has to be bigger too. We tried Trump’s “let’s pretend it will go away” plan. It failed. It’s going to take a national mobilization on the order of WWII to tamp this virus down to levels where it can be managed. Democrats can’t do that without power, but we can build consensus now for what must eventually be done, and that’s a start.