Now that Democrats are on the doorstep of power, will the extreme left of the party move forward with its agenda, or will there be push back from more moderate corners?
Over the past few months, we have seen the rise of social movements with a distinctively left agenda. What has empowered many of these movements is the support, whether overt or tacit, from the Democratic party. Biden’s victory seems to have shown that a great many people in our country are ready for, or are open to, just such agendas.
Considering this, and the fact that the “Blue Wave” did not happen, how will these agendas translate into actual laws, and to what extent will the majority of Democrats support such legislation?
There have already been some rumblings within the party regarding the lost seats in the House and the seeming stunning victories of Republican women. Many sitting Democrats have blamed these loses to the use of the term “Socialism” as well as the “defunding the police” movement. However, it is unclear if what they mean is the “use” of these terms, or the actual movements themselves.
Whether or not the party will move ahead with these proposed ideas overtly, or by stealth, remains to be seen. While many Americans have made their choice of President based on political ideas, many others voted as a protest against Trump; their intense dislike of the man lead them to vote for the Biden/Harris ticket, but whether they will fully support many of the proposed legislation may be another matter.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) insists that the progressive agenda that she and the other members of “the squad”—viz. Ihan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib—have espoused have not in the least hurt candidates who have run on it. She points specifically to Mike Levin (D-CA, 49th District) who was an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal—he kept his seat.
But that is California. How will things play in the Mid-West and South?
That is a question that can only be answered after January when Biden sits in the Oval office and the rancor over the election results has subsided. Once the new administration gets down to business, theory and practice may indeed collide. They will also have to deal with a hostile Senate, that may well prove to be a cement wall to the progressive freight train.
For practical purposes, the answer will either be compromises to proposed legislation, or a navigational move to the center. Not the actual center, mind you, but the outer limits of same. It may be just enough to garner support from the anti-Trump voters to create an appearance of moderation and common sense.
But there are many voters who put Biden and Harris over the top who have strong ties to highly progressive movements. These voters will expect “payment” for their vote in the form of passing legislation. They will hold Biden’s feet to the proverbial fire and insist that reforms be carried out.
Moreover, the hard-left wing, many of whom did not originally support Biden’s candidacy, will no doubt be quite forceful and vocal.
What more, since Republicans in congress may prove to be a stumbling block, Biden may be forced to satisfy the squeaky wheels by using Executive Orders. Indeed, he may find that most of the legislation that is being demanded may have to be satisfied in this manner.
The war among Democrats may be a quiet one right now, but come 2021, it may ignite into a fiery internecine battle, one that could throw an exceptionally large wrench into the progressive machine.
We have indeed seen a remarkably interesting year in 2020. The coming year may prove to be even more interesting as the country decides whether to make a choice for “the road not taken.”
Joseph M Bianchi is an independent journalist based in South Carolina. His work has appeared in national and international publications.