Parties drop COVID aid ball, stumble in White House runs
First thing up, I admit I was wrong to give too much credit to Congress that it could overcome political pettiness and get the phase four COVID 19 economic stimulus package wrapped up this week. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R, UT), now retired after 42 years in the Senate, but regarded as one of the classiest, smartest lawmakers to grace that chamber, said from the floor in 2018, during a similar partisan spending battle: “This is the greatest country in the world, but we do have some really stupid people representing it from time to time…it’s true and it’s disappointing to me.”
It must be asked: Why would Congress, just 80 days or so out from a national election, prove so dramatically to the voters that the sitting cast of characters can’t/won’t govern in the best interest of the country and not their respective political party?
The negotiations continue, but it may be September before a deal is done. Party leaders and their campaign gurus on both sides likely believe the country is so obsessed with the Biden/Harris ticket and President Trump’s so-far scattershot reaction to it that no one is paying much attention to whether the rest of the country drives off an economic cliff.
These next 80 days or are shaping up to be borderline comical. First, presumptive Democrat nominee former Vice President Biden is telling governors to mandate mask wearing and the feeding frenzy over the selection Sen. Kamala Harris (D, CA) as his running mate has only just begun. More bricks will be thrown in Milwaukee next week when the “virtual” Democrat convention is held and the candidates and the party echo chamber holds forth.
Interestingly, all those reporters and pundits who dissected Harris’ campaign performance and record as a legislator when she shut down her unsuccessful presidential bid are now truly challenged given their earlier words and opinions will be tossed back at them by others of their profession, not to mention the Republican campaign machine.
The GOP already stepped in it by playing the unfounded “birther” card against Harris. However, the Democrats must be wary of branding any criticism of Biden/Harris policy and/or statements as either racist or sexist. Anti-Trump folks are equally goofy in positing on cable news shows that the president will remove Vice President Pence from the ticket days before the August 24-27 GOP convention in Jacksonville and replace him with a woman. Won’t happen.
What’s needed from both party tickets are the real specifics about how they plan to address the social and economic needs and wants of rural America, along with how they’ll support farming and ranching, particularly during a pandemic. So far, it’s been radio silence from both sides. Platitudes, campaign souvenirs, the party, red or blue, incumbency, gender and/or color of a candidate do not win votes in fly-over states if the folks who cast those ballots feel forgotten, minimized or ignored.
Both parties must avoid falling prey to the notion that a single bunch of states or a single voter demographic segment “elects” a presidential ticket. It won’t be the Coasts, the Rust Belt or the fly-over states; it won’t be just women – urban or suburban, white or of color – or black voters or Hispanic or Asian American voters or white men, young or old, who will elect the next president. It will be a majority of all those sectors, and all should be asking themselves which candidate speaks their language, thinks as they think and has their interests at heart.
Lastly, it’s hoped this election is a return to the excitement of voting “for” a candidate because that candidate is the best for the job and ultimately, the country.