Grand Obstructionist Party

On November 24th, exactly three weeks after election day, President Trump was still holed up in the White House, refusing to accept that he had lost and launching conspiracy-laden tirades on Twitter. President-elect Biden, meanwhile, was forging ahead, preparing for the long and difficult task of healing a divided nation. Instead of tweeting lies or launching frivolous lawsuits, he was beginning the long process of building his cabinet — selecting the men and women who would help him build the country back better. Just the other day, he had announced that Antony Blinken, a State Department veteran, would serve as his Secretary of State. 


However, not everyone reacted to this announcement well. One man in particular — Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — took to Twitter to vent his disdain. “Biden’s cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences & will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline,” he wrote. Rubio, who never once had a problem with Donald Trump’s Ivy League studded cabinet, followed this up with a threat: “I have no interest in returning to the ‘normal’ that left us dependent on China.” It was a shocking moment; before Biden had even set foot in the Oval Office, a Republican senator was already saying that he would refuse to confirm his nominees. 


If it were only Rubio, this threat could be safely ignored. But the Republican Senator was far from alone in his endeavour to sabotage the Biden Presidency. Scarcely minutes later, Senator Josh Hawley sent out a tweet branding Biden’s team of professional diplomats as “corporatists and war enthusiasts — and #BigTech sellouts.” Soon after, Senator Tom Cotton, best known for calling on the US military to violently crush the Black Lives Matter movement, also took issue with Biden’s picks. Ted Cruz, one of the more powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill, took it a step further. “As long as . . . the election result is disputed, I do not think you will see the Senate act to confirm any nominee,” he told Axios. These are not the isolated grumblings of a few disgruntled Republicans, but the GOP as a whole announcing that they will refuse to let the duly-elected President of the United States govern.


This is, of course, far from the first time that Republicans have trafficked in obstructionism. It was the modus operandi of the party throughout the Obama Administration — sabotage the President’s agenda at any cost. Mitch McConnell, for example, famously refused to even hold a confirmation hearing for Obama’s SCOTUS pick Merrick Garland. The GOP became so attached to obstructionism that it became the party’s sole reason for existence. In August of 2020, the Republican party failed to agree on a new platform and simply reused their platform from 2016 — which was to oppose the policies of the “current president,” Barack Obama. Someone had apparently forgotten to tell the GOP leadership that POTUS 44 had already left office.


Most of Biden’s first year in office will be spent mopping up the many messes that Trump made while in office — including the pandemic that has claimed well over three hundred thousand American lives. But Biden’s goal is not to return us to the status quo — it’s, in his own words, to Build Back Better, and make sure that this country emerges from this epidemic stronger than when it began. One of the bigger problems facing this country today is climate change. But Biden won’t be tackling it alone. To help carry out his agenda, he’s selected Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico to run the Department of Interior, and Michael Regan of South Carolina to run the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Regan, if confirmed, would be the first black man to run the EPA, and Haaland would be the first Native American to run the Interior — an agency that also exercises vast sway over life on reservations throughout the country. 


“If confirmed,” however, is an important caveat.


Both Haaland and Regan have earned the ire of numerous GOP Senators, and their confirmations are far from certain. This is to say nothing of Biden’s ambitious legislative plans, which a GOP Senate will certainly refuse to pass. And those plans aren’t limited to climate change. Biden’s bold proposals will include expanding health care, fixing our education system, criminal justice reform, and repealing the disastrous GOP tax cuts. Lindsey Graham, a former friend of Joe Biden, called those plans “dead on arrival.” 


Fortunately, we have an opportunity to flip the Senate this January.


Right now, the Senate is split 52-48. But during the 2020 election, neither of the Republican candidates running for the two open Senate seats in Georgia were able to get more than the required 50% of the vote. As such, the elections are currently proceeding to a runoff, with Democrat Jon Ossoff facing Republican David Perdue, and Reverend Raphael Warnock facing Republican billionaire Kelly Loeffler. Perdue, who has been embroiled by repeated insider trading scandals, was against giving any stimulus payment to working and unemployed Americans. Loeffler, who has faced insider trading allegations of her own, bills herself as “more conservative than Attila the Hun.” Both have pledged to oppose Biden with all their hearts if reelected this January. 


So we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.


If you can spare a minute to phonebank, do it. If you can spare a dollar to donate, give it. And, most importantly, if you live in Georgia, find a few minutes to vote. 


Because who knows? Maybe Perdue and Loeffler will finally see the need for enhanced unemployment benefits if they wind up having to use them this winter.