I have to post quickly before events reactivate the despair and cynicism of the last two years. I felt a smile emerge when watching the swearing-in of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Imagine the pleasure of hearing about Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, establishing the Congress as a coequal branch of government, especially now when the House can be a positive force.
I was a sucker for the themes Pelosi raised: protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; recognizing the existential threat of climate change; pledging a legislative process that is transparent, unifying and bipartisan. “Transparency will be the order of the day,” she averred, and Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern’s chairmanship of the Rules Committee can make it happen. She spoke about lowering drug prices, protecting pre-existing conditions, making important infrastructure investments, and, in H.R. #1, restoring integrity to government.
Will these promises be fulfilled? I’ve been around for a long time, and I know the realities of the political process. We can’t forget the obduracy of the Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the likelihood of a Trump veto. They’re both still here, but the craven Paul Ryan is history. For two years, we’ve lived in a world in which those issues and values articulated by Speaker Pelosi were scarcely mentioned. And, if they were articulated, they came out of the mouths of people who couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth.
For however long it lasts, I will wrap myself in the ray of hope that things will be a little different between now and 2020. The Democrats need to deliver something or, if blunted by the continued toxicity of Donald Trump and complicity of Mitch McConnell, at least make clear what life would look like with a Democrat in the White House. Otherwise, they’ll likely face defeat in the Presidential election. The time is now, Ladies and Gentlemen. The rest of us need to stay engaged and demand accountability of those who claim to represent our values and goals.