2021 began with much optimism for President Biden’s first term. Despite unrelenting obstructionism from the Republicans in Congress, much was accomplished, especially President Biden’s Infrastructure bill which will go a long way in revitalizing roads, bridges, and broadband connections throughout the country, whether in red or blue states. Indeed, it is both hilarious and frustrating to see Republican Members of Congress proudly tout the benefits of a bill they were united in opposition to. President Biden confirmed progressive judges at a rate faster than any of his predecessors, and many environmental travesties were reversed by executive fiat.
But we end the year on a somewhat uncertain note: The Build Back Better Act is held up due to the obtuseness of the Senators from West Virginia and Arizona. Originally slated to pass before Christmas, it has now been pushed to the new year.
But more worrisome is the lack of movement on the Voting Rights Act. With Republican administrations in several states actively undermining election practices and making it more and more difficult for certain areas and communities to vote, there is a real fear that the United States may be locked in minority rule for the foreseeable future unless action is taken to safeguard the voting rights of all people. Reverend Warnock, the Senator from Georgia articulated this worry well when he said, '…the vast majority of our Republican friends have made it clear that they have no intention of trying to work with us to address voter suppression or to protect voting rights. They have embodied by their actions the sentiments of conservative strategist Paul Weyrich, who dared say in 1981, quote, “I don’t want everybody to vote.”'
So what’s in store for 2022?
For progressive activists like us, there has to be a multi-pronged effort to save American democracy.
- First, we need to communicate with our representatives that securing voting rights is critical to our success in future elections.
- Next, those of us living in West Virginia and Arizona must find a way to put pressure on our respective senators to pass the Build Back Better act, explaining that economists have a consensus view that this bill will lower inflation and set the right direction for the American economy for the generation to come.
- Last but not least, we have to build up our majority in Congress so that every progressive initiative is not subject to the whims of a couple of Senators and a handful of Representatives. Next year’s midterms will feature key Senate races in NV, AZ, GA, NC, FL, OH, PA & WI and key Governor’s races in NV, AZ, GA, FL, OH, PA, WI, TX & MI. Governor’s races are particularly important because gerrymandering is ineffective there; if we communicate well, if we get out the vote, we have a good chance of victory.
All this requires so much enthusiasm, so much hard work, and so much optimism, that it seems like a tough haul, especially when we feel so drained by the dual forces of COVID and Republican intransigence. But we are in this together, and when we have a shared vision of a country that does not leave anyone behind in the search for the American dream, so much is possible.
So rest up, dear TSB family, meet up with loved ones, curl up with a good book, enjoy the holiday season with your nearest and dearest, and we will return in the New Year with a renewed energy to continue this work of protecting and preserving democracy, justice, and equity.
Till then, wishing you all a very Happy Holidays and an adventurous New Year!