Jeff Greenfield makes an excellent point about the American Rescue Plan: it has absolutely nothing to do with the identity politics obsessions that have consumed so many in and around the Democratic party. And that's a very good thing!
"With the American Rescue Plan, Democrats are offering something very different: a package that is in a key sense a throwback to its roots first planted in the days of Andrew Jackson. It is an unapologetic assertion of the power of government to redress a set of grievances without any assertion of identity politics; while the stark facts of the pandemic mean that it has hit with special force in Black and brown communities, the remedial power of government is directed to the victims defined by circumstance, not color.
The political potential here is impressive. Consider a 2022 midterm where the future of the now-temporary child tax credits is on the line, and where every Republican House and Senate incumbent will have to explain to the electorate why they voted against them. Consider the votes of tens of thousands of small-business owners—the entrepreneurial heart of what Republicans rhetorically celebrate—whose enterprises survived because of the law enacted with a clear partisan split. Imagine a Republican arguing that only a small fraction of the law addressed the costs of the pandemic, when there are countless parents of school-age children, restaurant workers, retail shop owners, hotel clerks, freelance consultants, who know exactly what happened to their lives when Covid struck.
This is a possibility that Republicans simply may not have imagined, given their midterm successes in running against the initiatives of the past two Democratic presidents, and inflicting on Clinton and Obama successive political catastrophes.
This time, the benefits of the new law are easy to grasp, and will be—literally—in the hands of Americans within weeks. The scope is broad enough to encompass both the poor and large elements of the middle class, which is why it now enjoys a level of support almost unimaginable for a law passed along such partisan lines. There is a hint that an outbreak of public happiness may be about to begin; when American Airlines tells its workers to “tear up those furlough notices!”, it portends the chance of celebration with every reopened restaurant, with every eviction notice burned. More broadly, it appears to contain provisions that leapfrog a dilemma that has plagued Democratic social programs in the past: When they are perceived as helping one class of voters, they meet with a powerful backlash, (often one infused by racial resentment). When a program reaches broadly—Social Security, Medicare and, increasingly, the Affordable Care Act—it becomes politically potent.
Potential is not prediction. There are plenty of ways that 2022 could be another Democratic disaster; perhaps inflation will accelerate, or the looming issues of an overwhelmed border and rising crime may override good economic news, or the Republican efforts to limit the vote in state after state will prove too formidable.
But what does seem clear is that, unlike past measures that required huge congressional majorities, a radical change in the social fabric of the United States has become a reality—and with it, an opportunity for the Democratic Party no one could have imagined 50 days ago."
This attack of political common sense is to be welcomed. But you gotta keep it up under pressures both without and within. We'll see if the blue team can do it.
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