Saturday, April 25, 2020

Win The Day

Make sure we keep the politics out of politics.
All that being said I remain of the mind that the logic of risk aversion—or at least this much risk aversion—is not persuasive. Trump is getting people killed. There are things he’s doing and that he’s done that voters have a right to know about before they go to the polls, even if investigating them might “look political.” (If you think that Democrats aren’t overly driven by a fear of “looking political” here’s Nancy Pelosi telling Chris Hayes that her advisers didn’t want her to say Trump’s failed coronavirus response has killed people because it “looked political.”)

Not looking political (or trying not to look political) might be winning the day in November election polls, but it’s a terrible fit for the moment. This crisis, by its nature, keeps giving rise to new ones. First the country faced the task of containing a virus. Then suddenly we had to keep the economy propped up while the public entered isolation. Then we realized the act of voting in person would create intolerable risks. Then the United States Postal Service was on the brink of failure, and state budgets collapsed. What began as demands that Democrats fight corporate bailouts and help workers quickly grew into demands that they protect the election by including absentee voting requirements as the condition of emergency legislation, and now includes the imperative to rescue the post office and provide direct aid to states so that hundreds of thousands of teachers, cops, and firefighters, don’t lose their jobs and worker pensions don’t get raided. None of this can be done without playing hardball with Republicans, which can’t be done without “looking political”—which may explain why we’ve gotten nowhere, and why you need a crowbar to unclench your jaw.

I generally disagree with their favorite strategy of hoping the Republicans set themselves on fire at just the right moment and then tripping over the finish line, but I'll admit that if your only goal is to win elections it does sometimes work. But the habit of running from the most important issues of the day has a nasty pattern of facilitating the deaths of numerous people, or at least not making clear that you were solidly against those deaths when the reckoning arrives. And it isn't clearly an electoral strategy with a very good winning record over the past couple of decades.

People are dying, the country is collapsing (I know I can be gloomy but I am not usually pessimistic like this), and strangely the way to do politics is by doing politics and the people tasked with doing politics are called politicians. Really weird.