by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[W]hen President Obama looked at the reeling economy that he inherited, he (thank goodness) thought twice. Big disruptive policies would have likely hurled us from recession into depression, and whether he intended to pursue them or not, he dropped his agenda when given the chance to enact it. The Obama administration enthusiastically embraced free trade, and even the Bush tax cuts were extended for a time. …
… This history raises two important thoughts as we debate American policy going forward. First of all, if there is a policy that we should now be following, one should ask why Democrats didn’t introduce it when they had the chance, possessing a supermajority in the Senate? The second thought is the answer to the question; big changes are constitutionally very difficult in our system because of the Senate and the filibuster. Even with a supermajority, a few moderates in the controlling party can stifle a vote.
Which brings us to the difficult challenge of handicapping the likely policy environment should Joe Biden win in November. Moderate supporters argue that the same retreat from radicalism that characterized the Obama administration would occur again, while convention speakers enthusiastically pointed to the recommendations of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force and promised to deliver. …
… A candidate running for office must balance appeal to moderate swing voters and the desire to maximize turnout of his base. The Unity Task Force has plenty of catnip for the Democratic base, but the aggressive language about the filibuster is a signal that Democrats are serious about enacting the agenda this time, come hell or high water.
If Joe Biden loses, historians might very well look back to the aggressive discussion about the “Jim Crow relic” filibuster as the moment when he lost the moderates he needs to win the election.