It came in with a ROAR, and died with a whimper. The Biden-McCarthy brokered two year budget bill that extends the debt ceiling for the same length of time passed the US House an hour ago with more than 300 votes. The bill now goes on to the Senate, where there will almost certainly be two long days of yada, yada, yada before the Senate passes the bill and sends it to Biden for his signature.
There is a very simple reason why this is going down this way. And that’s because every single member of the House, Republican as well as Democrat, desperately needs this bill to pass, as does every single member of the US Senate. The dent is that some of the more extreme members on both sides can’t afford to admit that they need this bill, because it would dent their ideological dignity.
But there is something deeper in the results of this House vote tonight that you won’t read anywhere else but here. Because nobody else is thinking any further outside the box than to fixate on the box itself.
Ever since 2017, we have spent the last six years being literally bombarded with the specter of The death of democracy! Trump plowing through every guardrail, the Freedom Caucus hijacking the GOP, turning Kreepy Kevin McCarthy into a rump puppet Speaker to do their will. Well you know what?
F*ck. That. Sh*t. Democracy is doing just fine, thank you very much. And I can prove it. First, none of the Armageddon scenarios proposed by pundits and the media have come to pass. But there is an even better reason to be as positive as hell about the future of American democracy.
The squeaky gets all the oil. And if there’s anything that the national media loves, it’s squeaky wheels. And in American politics, that means two things, The Freedom Caucus, and the House Progressive Caucus. Because in every major kerfuffle over the last six years, it’s been the Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus Given their head, the Freedom Caucus would shut down the government, burn the global economy, and take us back to the dark ages. And if the Progressive Caucus had gotten their way, none of Biden’s signature legislation would have passed.
But in the end, Biden got his agenda passed, and we got the budget deal to raise the debt ceiling for one simp0le reason. Because in a democracy, the majority rules!
Because while both the Freedom caucus as well as the Progressive caucus love to bang their drums, and scream and yell, neither represent a majority of their parties! They depend on the squeaky wheel principle to generate as much attention as they can, and then use it to try to exert their will.
But it took two pragmatists like Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy to both realize that between them they had a moderate majority that together could turn the Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus into toothless tigers, and get a deal done. And so they both reached out to their moderate middles and crafted a bill that could pass. And it worked.
It worked for one reason. Because in American democracy the majority rules. And in the United States, the vast majority of voters, Democratic, Republican, and Independents are moderates. You can have gerrymandered districts on both sides that tend to send more extreme ideological warriors to congress. But as long as the majority of both chambers in both parties are moderates, then moderate leaders on both sides can still find the path to bipartisanship, then the two extreme wings are basically rendered toothless tigers.
Look, democracy is messy, the Founding Fathers designed it that way. After all, who designs a system where 535 egomaniacal morons scream and yell at each other in order to get anything done. But it’s worked for 242 years now, and as long as we don’t let the extreme wings take over, it will trundle along for at least another 242 years.