This week, hosts Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld talked all things “(im)peach-y,” why Republican senators seem poised to once again protect Trump, and the tasks facing Joe Biden. For this episode, they were joined by political historian Kathleen Frydl, who talked about the potential for a transformative Biden presidency; and Joan McCarter, Daily Kos staff writer, who shared her thoughts on the difficulties the Senate faces with competing priorities thanks to the impeachment and senators’ regular work, as well as on Biden’s first few weeks in office.
The big event looming over this whole week is Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. With Republican senators once again lining up to stymie impeachment and protect Trump from facing real accountability, Markos wondered if they would “go down with this ship,” anticipating a kind of collapse of the Republican Party. Kerry replied:
It’s a level of stupidity that, frankly, is jaw-dropping. But on top of that, the betrayal of the country that they’re getting ready to pardon is just … this guy has not only been impeached once, and now twice, but in the last impeachment ... in Adam Schiff’s closing arguments, he predicted that Trump was a menace. And that if you didn’t teach him a lesson, if you didn’t convict him, this was going to be a disaster for the country. And then what did [Trump] bring to the country? Disaster. Like, the first president-inspired attack on the homeland, on the seat of national government, right? It’s never been done before. And now, apparently, 45 of them have already voted to set up this whole argument that supposedly you can’t convict a former president, a former official—which isn’t true.
Trump is costing Republicans all the “growth demographics,” Markos noted, as they are falling out of favor with young people, suburban white women, and people of color. Kerry mentioned the fact that the party at large will face inertia without a different strategy that relies on something other than voter suppression.
The pair were first joined by Kathleen Frydl to talk about the potential of the Biden administration and what it would take for Biden to deliver a great and potentially historic presidency. Frydl believes there is great promise for this new presidency and laid out the groundwork for what Biden must do to deliver for the country:
This presidency does have the potential to be a great, a historic presidency … but the task before Joe Biden echoes the task that Franklin Roosevelt faced, which is restoring confidence and legitimacy in government and making the federal government, especially, work on behalf of ordinary Americans. That’s a task that we have drifted away from, and it’s something that Franklin Roosevelt really presented to the American people and really forged an entire Democratic coalition on that precedent.
She also praised Biden’s leadership style, which she indicated has been less about his personal appeal or charisma and focused on “depersonalizing” his political persona—which he is likely bringing with him to the White House. Prior to Trump, Frydl believes, “we were engaged in a very performative political culture,” and a return to substance, policy, and regulation could benefit us. Because Biden centers policy and his Cabinet members, there’s a much better chance they will accomplish their goals and help everyday Americans.
On the future of the Republican Party, she had this to say:
Since 1968, the Republican Party has forged their presidential coalition—so, their national coalition—on a politics of whiteness … I’m talking about a party that’s dedicated to preserving the mechanisms of institutionalized racism … but the political destiny that awaits this country is quite different from the politics of whiteness.
What’s more, Frydl wondered if we will continue living in a country that is predicated on a two-party system, noting the extent to which whiteness is a unifying force in American politics and that, even if its power wanes, new power structures and factional lines will emerge to complement or replace it—especially in the Republican Party—long after Trump is gone. As she explained, “Republicans can’t win with Donald Trump, but they can’t win without him either. He was their Faustian bargain.”
Next, McCarter joined the show and offered her insights into how quickly the U.S. Senate can get its work done with impeachment looming over their heads, how Biden has been doing on the job so far, and if we will see additional financial regulations enacted in the coming years.
McCarter believes that the Senate’s work will still move quickly, especially now that Democrats have captured both the House and the Senate. Despite everything, she believes Biden has done well. As she said,
[He is] trying to get this government up and running [when] … Trump trashed absolutely everything—and the people who are left are downhearted, they are exhausted, they are depressed. They’ve got a lot of building-up of morale to do just to get the government functioning again … They want to get a lot of Obama administration back in to try to shore up where they’ve had losses, but they’ve got to weed through a lot of political people that Trump put in. So, that they’re moving this fast and doing this well considering what they’ve inherited—I’m impressed … Joe Biden, so far, is a really good president.
Markos then brought up Wall Street reform and financial services taxation, as this administration seems less likely to take it on directly. With many Elizabeth Warren allies in the administration, “most of the work done will be regulatory,” McCarter said, and corporate reforms remain at the top of the list of the administration’s priorities. This would be achieved through the Department of Justice and the Treasury and would “start to restore Americans’ view of government and what a government can do for them,” Kerry agreed.
You can watch the full episode here:
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