Monday, November 9, 2020

The day after



By Isaiah Thomas
Board of Editors with
John Heartsfield in Berlin

The issue has been decided.  The guns have fallen silent except for a few scattered fusillades from an industrial zone in North Philadelphia.  The occupation is over.  The Tangerine-Faced Loser has been ousted from power, even though he continues to rave from his bunker.  Slowly at first the stunned inhabitants who survived the cataclysm (so far, at least 235,000 have not) return to the streets.  They celebrate.  They dance.  

Now what?

To focus attention on that all-important question and to recognize that the four-year Reign of Terror has ended, we have retired our former section heading in favor of this bright, shiny new one.  We like it because it contains the answer to the question.

As often happens, history provides useful guidance.

Here's what Berlin looked like in May 1945:

Here's what the same part of town (Potsdamer Platz) looks like today:


How'd they get from there to here?  Berlin has almost too much history to digest, but we'll focus on one group, who rose out of the rubble of their destroyed city.  They looked around at the endless overwhelming destruction and they decided they were going to clean it up, one brick at a time:

Now it turns out that not all German women spontaneously braved the pain and violence of postwar Berlin to clear rubble.  But some did.  And we could do worse than emulate them.

At first glance the destruction seems so immense as to defy human effort to rebuild.  The Supreme Court remains under the control of anti-democratic Republican hacks, mouthpieces, extremists, and sex offenders.  The Senate may stay under the thumb of Moscow Mitch and his band of spineless weasels.  The structural impediments to democracy – the Electoral College and the 50-state Senate – remain.  And of course Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression, sanctioned by Republican-dominated courts, continues in its full fury.

Already the usual suspects, all of them white and most of them men, tell us that we need to reach out to those whose jackboot was firmly planted on George Floyd's neck and beg them for whatever crumbs they will brush our way in exchange for impunity and privilege.

But just because the task is daunting is no reason not to try.  And as with any other massive rebuilding job, it proceeds brick-by-brick.

So let's pick up a few bricks.

The first brick is the Georgia Senate runoffs.  Winning both of them would give Democrats control of the Senate and the ability to legislate in the public interest.  It would also give them the ability to fill a Supreme Court vacancy without begging robustly healthy uxorious husband Mitch McConnell.

That's not a brick; that's a meteorite.

We are assured by the white dispensers of conventional wisdom that this is out of reach, that Republicans always win runoffs in Georgia, that it is a quest as hopeless as beating Moscow Mitch in Kentucky or saving Doug Jones in Alabama.  Except for one thing:

Oh, yeah, that. 

Before the election, that font of Conventional Wisdom, Politico, assured us that “the prospect of turning Georgia blue for the first time since 1992 is a stretch.”  

Stretch this, Politico.  

So when we're told that the two Senate runoffs are, um, a stretch, don't mourn just yet.  Despite the insane attraction that white racists feel for the Tangerine-Faced Loser, who wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire, Georgia appears to have voted for Biden.  Imagine what might happen if in the absence of the TFL on the ballot, every single person who voted for Biden voted on Jan. 5 for Warnock and Ossoff.  Does anyone think that white Republican turnout will be higher in the runoff?  

The path is clear.  If there are stones in the road, let's bend from the knees, pick them up, and clear them. You can contribute here.

The next barrow full of bricks are things that Biden and Harris can do without the consent of Moscow Mitch and his minions.  

A whole bag of bricks can be cleaned up just by replacing corrupt extremists like Torquemada Barr, Betsy deVos and Ben Carson with effective, honest leaders.  Just imagine what could be done in a Justice Department with a Civil Rights Division that devotes itself to, wait for it, civil rights.

Next come undoing the damage the Tangerine-Faced Loser did by rule and deed alone.  We can and will rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord.  We should be able to restore the Iran nuclear agreement.  And just generally we can stop disgracing and degrading ourselves in the eyes of the world by no longer issuing passes to blood-drenched thugs like Putin, Xi, and Mohammed bone Saw.

The Biden Administration can repeal or simply concede defeat on a slew of illegal and monstrous immigration rules including the noxious public charge rule (now back in effect today), booting asylum seekers back to Mexico, separating children, barring refugees who have been individually vetted or those seeking to visit the United States from various Muslim-majority countries, and claiming that border-crossers are somehow a public health menace while COVID-19 rages out of control here. 

The same is true for environmental regulations, although sane efforts to limit the damage caused by global warming and other environmental assaults may need to be fought in courts now dominated by hack Republican judges.  But you fight every case, and with the return of a competent and respected Justice Department, maybe you'll win some.

Not to mention, but we will, undoing Pres U Loser's efforts in areas as divergent as worker protection, housing discrimination, financial system regulation, and thousands of others.

Then even assuming we narrowly lose the Georgia runoffs, there's a big pile of legislative bricks that can be lifted:

Like reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act.  Who knows, maybe Wilfred M. “Profiles in Courage” Romney and Susan “The Great Moderate” may have an attack of conscience and let this come up for a vote in the Senate?  Stranger things have happened.

Then there are a pile of bills that could curb Presidential power, which may attract more Republican interest when a Democrat is President.  Just for starters, the President's expansive and dangerous emergency powers could be cut back.  If you want to read something terrifying, here's the Brennan Center's Elizabeth Goitein summarizing how insanely expansive current law is:

The Brennan Center’s original research cataloged 123 statutory authorities that become available to the president when he declares a national emergency. Many are measured and sensible, but others seem like the stuff of authoritarian regimes: giving the president the power to take over domestic communications, seize Americans’ bank accounts, and deploy U.S. troops to any foreign country. Given how broad these powers are, it is critical to have adequate safeguards in place to prevent abuse. 

Yikes.  We especially like closing down the Internet.

Then you could throw in some laws requiring Presidential candidates to release their taxes, subjecting Presidents to all federal conflict-of-interest law, and just for laughs creating a private right of action for violations of the Emoluments Clause.  

Last but not least we can clear the rubble of disinformation and deceit around public health and the current pandemic catastrophe just by returning control of COVID policy to competent scientists and administrators instead of Fox News frauds and assorted mixed nuts.

That's a pretty big pile of bricks to clean up on day one.  But if we're willing to do the heavy lifting, maybe someday our country will look like this:

It could happen here.

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