— It’s Tuesday, January 25, 2022. It’s the 35th day of winter – there are 55 days left until spring.
— Today is the 239th anniversary of the birth of William Colgate, an immigrant soap maker who founded the Colgate-Palmolive Co.
I mention this as a reminder to myself that I have a dentist appointment today.
— Hey, I’m into Wordle too, and I’m thrilled to see the tweets in which you show how you did. It gives me a chance to play a secondary game – guessing what you guessed before you got the word right. Try it sometime.
But there are two irksome things I need to raise.
One, do NOT – NOT – show me or anyone else the freakin’ word when you get it right. Don’t even hint at it. It shows that you don’t realize that the Wordle you’re playing today is the same Wordle I’m playing today – which means I can’t play because you’ve told me what the word is!
Two, if you show me that you guessed the word on the first try, I am not going to believe anything other than that you are being dishonest about experiencing the first irksome thing I raised.
— A recent presidential election winner said the following in his victory address to the nation:
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans … For those who have chosen not to support me in the past … I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
The sentiment might sound like George H.W. Bush or Joe Biden. But those very words – I cut out some parts that would give away his trademark horrific syntax – were spoken by Donald J. Trump in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016.
As we all remember, Trump’s victory was a narrow one. He won three states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – by small margins to end up with an Electoral College majority. He actually lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million.
Traditionally – and common sense dictates – that a narrow election winner looks for ways to grow his or her (assuming we one day get a “her”) support. And there were some naive people who thought Trump would do that.
That’s why the word “infrastructure” generates a chuckle. Trump was supposed to build support by improving this nation’s crumbling highways and shoring up our utility grids.
(Leaving room here for your laughter)
— The thing is that sometime in the recent past, Trump and the Republican Party abandoned the idea of consensus building.
The sentiment went from “we can work together and unify our great country” to “you’ll love us when we beat you.”
The Republicans and their base are not the least bit interested in an overall better America. They don’t celebrate our shared triumphs – they don’t even want shared triumphs.
They just want victories. They especially want victories on things you oppose because they want to show how they win better than we do.
Abortion is a great example.
An overwhelming majority don’t want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Only about 30% of the nation does. But that 30% has an outsize influence in government thanks to its support of the Republicans, who have promised to end abortion in this country.
Common sense says that the Republicans would find some sort of compromise on abortion. I’m not sure what that is, but there might be things that some of the other 70% would agree to that would build the anti-abortion choice base above 30%.
This is a zero-sum game to them. There is no other side but theirs. And their bet is that abortion isn’t enough of an issue to make a difference.
It’s not a bad bet. Men don’t have abortions. Older women don’t have abortions. When you attack a right that’s actively shared by a subset of the population – I know that if you’re a woman of childbearing age you correctly think more of yourself than that, but hear me out – the resistance from the rest of the people is going to be muted.
Last week in his first anniversary news conference, Biden thought he was scoring an important point when he said this:
“Think about this: What are Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they’re for.”
The president’s idea is that solving problems is the nation’s business and that his administration is doing just that.
— Here’s what’s wrong with that: Republicans are for something. They’re for not being for anything.
Once upon a time, solving problems was, in fact, the nation’s business. Democrats believed government was the best entity for doing that. Republicans believed private enterprise did that best. The idea was to find a middle ground.
If that was how our country stood right now, we’d have reason to be optimistic. We would all want a stronger, healthier, happier nation and the argument would be about how to get there.
But Republicans no longer care about that stuff. They don’t care how 332,453,728 Americans are progressing together.
They are about the individual. Collective action of any kind is tyranny. Republicans don’t see any need to solve problems because there’s no collective problem to solve – there’s just stuff going on that each of us has to handle in our own way.
That explains the COVID nonsense.
Making people wear masks in public and get vaccinated makes all the sense in the world. It’s how civilized nations such as South Korea and Japan have minimized the impact of the virus.
But it’s a community action – and that’s a non-starter with Republicans and the core that supports them.
Hell, Mitch McConnell has underlined his party’s Senate agenda – there is none. Axios reported last month that “… McConnell has told colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won’t release a legislative agenda before next year’s midterms, according to people who’ve attended private meetings with the minority leader.”
— Biden is like most other older Democrats – myself included, until now – who think that the best way to solve problems is to offer solutions and compromise to get a positive outcome.
Here’s the problem with this for Biden as his poll numbers slide to Trumpian levels: That won’t work.
There’s a core number of Republicans and their supporters – you can’t separate the party leaders from the lowlifes they’re pandering to – that will not support sunshine if the Biden administration has anything to do with it. It would be a government plot to shed light on their lives.
So when you try to compromise to meet some of these people part way, you only alienate the people in your party who expect you to fulfill the more ambitious parts of your agenda.
The way for Biden to boost his standing and give Democrats a fighting chance in the November midterms is to go long. Find a few initiatives that do well with the bulk of the people who voted for him in 2020 and run them as much as you can without needing Congressional approval.
Student debt cancellation is an example.
A poll taken by Morning Consult shows that 62% of Americans favor some form of student loan forgiveness. While only 19% favor forgiving all of the debt for all Americans, about 50% favor at least partial debt forgiveness for all Americans.
And, not surprisingly, those numbers are strongest among the people who owe the money – people who’ve graduated from college in the past 20 years and are saddled with these crazy debt loads.
It wouldn’t just be a gift to a younger generation. It would give them money to do other things – buy homes, start businesses, begin families. It would strengthen the loyalty of the next generation of leaders.
Just do it, Joe!
The Republicans abandoned the idea of consensus building. You can’t think that they have ideas about “reaching out to you for your guidance and your help,” as Trump said on Nov. 9, 2016, in solving America’s problems.
Because they don’t want to solve America’s problems. They’re the “Seinfeld” of American history – a real show about nothing.
They just want to beat you.