The pandemic is pulling everyone to the left.
Both major parties have been dope-slapped by reality, and there might just be a stress point in the human psyche at which anyone with half a brain becomes a liberal.
The virus reminds us why humans banded together in the first place. We formed societies to cooperate against threats. The greater the threat, the greater the need to cooperate. Rugged individualism isn’t much help in a pandemic, and it certainly can hurt, as we’ve seen too often lately.
And while the impulse to cooperate has long been labelled ‘socialism’ by people who understand neither socialism nor cooperation, even they are starting to get that pulling together is a matter of life and death.
Meanwhile, anyone calling for small government right now is either delusional, malevolent, or making a bad joke.
Because now is the time for government to go big or go home. And everybody knows it. We need big across the board. Big science. Big relief. Big stimulus. Big healthcare. Big infrastructure. Big environment. Yes, it will take big money. But deficits be damned. We’ll figure out how to pay for it later.
For progressive Democrats, this is a huge moment, especially if they can get these idiots off the stage while there’s still a country left to salvage.
For corrupt Republicans, it’s like swigging Lysol. The virus has caught them with their pants down, and all the ugly parts are hanging out. Their incompetence and callousness are on display as never before.
GOP senators in particular are on the hot seat. With the whole nation waiting for them to get off their butts and put a relief package together, they are not rising to the occasion. The last thing they ever wanted was to actually govern, which just gets in the way of tax cuts and deregulation. And even if they wanted to govern, they wouldn’t know how. The virus is forcing them to at least pretend, but they can’t even do that.
To Mitch McConnell, the CARES Act must have been worse than acid reflux. He surely gagged on its price tag, $2 trillion, the same amount he’d scammed for his oligarch donors back in 2018. You know it galled him to waste so much largesse on all those little people. The bill was so far to the left, he needed a shower just to wash off the socialism. Appalled but cornered, he signed off on it.
That was March. This is now.
Now, the virus is many times worse. Now, even diehard fiscal conservatives are pushing the government to cough up many times that $2 trillion. Yet now, with the whole country screaming in pain, Mitch can’t get his imbecile caucus to even agree there’s a problem, much less an approach to solving it.
And now, with the president throwing gasoline on every fire he can start, Mitch’s own job is in play. Certainly his majority is deeply threatened. And unlike Trump, he knows it. The ones who are up for re-election are panicking. They understand full well how Trump is dragging them down. Most of them are tip-toeing to the left, hoping Trump won’t notice.
Thom Tillis is so desperate to keep his seat, he’s writing a new healthcare plan as we speak — stealing whole passages, verbatim, from Obamacare — swearing up and down that the defense of pre-existing conditions has always been his life’s work.
Susan Collins is, of course, concerned. Her constituency is so pissed at her, and her polls so ominous, she’s out there pushing unemployment benefits like a born tax-and-spend liberal.
The ones who aren’t moving discernibly left — Lindsey Graham, Martha McSally, Joni Ernst — look shell-shocked. Graham apparently still thinks the biggest problem facing the nation is Hillary’s emails.
But even as Republicans get dragged kicking and screaming leftward, so do the Democrats. Clearly AOC and the so-called Squad were not an aberration. The primaries last week make clear that there is an appetite for progressive ideas, and it’s about time.
In the Bronx, Eliot Engel, a party stalwart, lost. He had a good run — he was my Congressman for years, and he served the country well, if predictably. I’m content to see him move along. He lost in the primary to Jamaal Bowman, who looks like the real deal. See, even I’m moving left.
In Missouri — in freaking Missouri —Black activist Cori Bush won her primary and will almost certainly go to Congress. And, amazingly, the entire electorate of that state forced its odious government to accept the Medicaid expansion.
Even Joe Biden, the moderate’s moderate, is sounding more like Bernie than Bernie.
There is definitely something in the air, besides the virus. And it’s definitely blowing right to left.