What Can Chuck Schumer Learn From McConnell?
Ossoff and Warnock are set to join the Senate the week of Biden’s inauguration, leaving Democrats without excuses.
With Joe Biden set to be inaugurated January 20th, and new Georgia Senators Ossoff and Warnock set to be sworn in the same week, for the first time since before the 2010 midterm election, the Democratic party will control the House, the Senate, and hold the office of the Presidency. At a moment when the nation is experiencing the greatest public health and economic crisis in modern history, Democrats have been entrusted by the voters to help get the nation through this, and recover. That said, after years of pointing at the Republican party and labeling them active barriers to progress, it will be interesting to see how the Democratic party handles their newfound power when there is no more Mitch McConnell to hide behind.
Frankly, I think that senate Democrats in particular enjoy being in the minority. After all, with increasing pressure to enact more bold policies such as Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, and tuition free public college — policies that lawmakers like Chuck Schumer, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar, and Diane Feinstein don’t want to see implemented — it’s been incredibly convenient for the party that supposedly represents the left to point to their opposition and identify Republicans as the reason people won’t be able to have the change that they want.
Now though, what will be the excuse?
While Mitch McConnell certainly still has a powerful hand in the Senate, it will be Chuck Schumer now in the position of Majority leader. While Schumer certainly could have learned some lessons from McConnell if he really wanted to, and carefully studied the way McConnell was able to wield power within the party so effectively, block or push through virtually anything he wanted, and did everything he possibly could to deliver for the Republican donor class, my guess is Chuck Schumer will not be nearly so effective and nor does he wish to be. While McConnell was focused on power and using any tool he had at his disposal to push through his agenda, I can already interest Schumer as more interested in “bipartisanship” with Republicans regardless of the expense to the voters.
It was hard not to watch Senate Republican optics and not fall under the impression that not a single move was made without the say-so of Mitch McConnell. As reprehensible as he is, and as detrimental as his leadership has been, there’s no denying that McConnell is probably one of the most effective politicians in Washington. Whether it be the positions in the courts or tax cuts for the rich, McConnell got everything done that’s been expected from him. If moderate Republicans were able to vote against a bill, it was only after McConnell knew it was going to pass anyway, and he has wielded an incredibly effective messaging war.
Even with Donald Trump in the White House, McConnell with the money behind him has been more than willing to use his power within the GOP. But how is Chuck Schumer going to handle the likes of blue dog Democrats like Joe Manchin, who took it upon himself to essentially take McConnell’s place before Democrats even won the Senate, promising to be an active barrier to any progressive legislation the nation wanted to see? Will it be Schumer whipping the party up to push through bills, or will he be stepping aside to allow Manchin to flex his muscle as essentially the real Senate Majority leader, and revealing the true colors of the Democratic party once again?