Juan Williams: Biden should go it alone

Seventeen months — that’s all the time that’s left.

That’s how long President Biden can hope to hold Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

{mosads}Now is the time to start thinking about the November 2022 midterm elections.

Now is the time for Biden to show proof that Democrats can make government work by breaking the Republican Senate’s paralyzing hold on the country’s future.

Biden’s agenda has zero chance if he is counting on Republicans to show any true commitment to bipartisanship.

“One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping [Biden’s] new administration,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last month.

Take McConnell at his word.

That’s why Biden cannot afford to waste another minute praying for the GOP’s better angels to fly in and McConnell to suddenly endorse a compromise on the infrastructure bill.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg picked today — June 7 — as the deadline for “clear direction” on any bipartisan deal on the infrastructure bill.

Biden must enforce this deadline, walk away from the sham negotiations on the size of the bill or the taxes to pay for it and use his current 50 Senate Democrats plus Vice President Harris to pass his plan.

He has public support, including the backing of many Republican voters.

A poll done last month by Data for Progress, a left-leaning firm, found that 57 percent of likely voters support passing Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan with only Democratic votes. The number was even higher — 65 percent — when the pollsters asked the same question about the American Jobs Plan, which was then estimated to cost $2.25 trillion.

Only Democrats voted for Biden’s COVID-19 relief package earlier this year. Polls show that action is still popular with the American people.

If members of Biden’s team truly believe there is any chance for the GOP to act with bipartisanship, they would do well to recall how Senate Republicans who ran for their lives on Jan. 6 still refused to create a commission to look into the violence at the Capitol.

“I am sorry that my Republican colleagues and friends let political fear prevent them from doing what they know in their hearts to be right,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who constantly seeks bipartisanship, said later. The “betrayal of the oath we each take is something [Senate Republicans] will have to live with,” he added.

If Biden wants more proof of craven, partisan Republican behavior, he might watch President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn calling for a Myanmar-style coup here in the United States.

“No reason, I mean, it should happen here,” Flynn said, agreeing with a member of the audience at the “For God & Country: Patriot Roundup,” a QAnon conspiracy-linked convention held in Dallas.

At the same event, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Allen West, accused Democrats in the Lone Star State of orchestrating a “political coup” by walking out of the Texas state House to thwart GOP legislation that was widely seen as an attempt to restrict voting.

West announced his resignation from the party post on Friday, amid speculation he will run for office.

These are not fringe actors in the Republican Party. They line up with the 61 percent of Republicans who say the 2020 election was “stolen” by Democrats and the 53 percent who say Trump is the “true president,” according to a mid-May Reuters-Ipsos poll.

This is the activist base of the party. Those people are driving Republicans in the House and Senate to turn their back on bipartisan cooperation with Biden. Certainly, Republicans are not going to support efforts to counter voter suppression.

To see the depth of this corruption, look at another poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core released in late May.

It found 23 percent of self-described Republicans agreeing that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

That distorted thinking fits with bizarre QAnon conspiracy theories. It can’t be dismissed as folly. It is driving Republicans in Congress to obstruct, disrupt and paralyze the legitimate function of the American government.

“The scope of what [Republicans in Congress] won’t do is breathtaking,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times last week. “No one should be fooled. At a time when America faces cascading crises, Republicans just say no. If we want even to begin to address the troubles we have, voters will have to say no to those who are standing in the way.”

{mossecondads}Standing in the way is the same toxic tactic the GOP used to thwart President Obama.

During the Obama years, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pushed the Democrat to water down his stimulus bill by saying she wanted a bipartisan bill. Obama made his bill smaller and less effective. Only three Republicans, including Collins, voted with Obama.

Now Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is playing the same game with Biden.

Capito says she wants a bipartisan bill. But how is that possible when McConnell has already pledged there will not be a single Republican vote for a Biden infrastructure bill?

Biden’s commitment to bipartisanship might have been admirable in a bygone era. But in a political world pummeled by right-wing conspiracy theories, it is naive. 

It’s time for the Democrats to take the gloves off and make the most of their limited time in power, with just 17 months until the midterm elections. 

No one will be upset at Biden for moving on from the Trump-QAnon cult formerly known as the Republican Party.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2022 midterm elections biden administration Bipartisanship Donald Trump Filibuster Joe Biden Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell obstructionism Pete Buttigieg Shelley Moore Capito Susan Collins

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