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The Elephants in the Room: How to Combat Republican Obstruction

This week on democracy-ish, we’re postponing our analysis of Barack Obama’s new book, “A Promised Land,” because Danielle didn’t do her homework. But she and Toure have plenty to discuss.


  • The runoff election in Georgia is weeks away and wresting the Senate away from Mitch McConnell’s clutches has never been so crucial.

  • What should Democratic power look like post-Trump? Can we ever compromise again, or should we take a page from the GOP and engage in political warfare?

  • The first COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out soon, and many Black people are skeptical. Why is that, but why should we take it anyway?


With just five weeks left until the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, all eyes are on Georgia, where two Senate races will be decided in a January 5 runoff. Control of the Senate, and the incoming administration’s ability to actually accomplish its agenda, hangs in the balance.


If Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win those seats, “every single Democratic senator will be super powerful,” says Toure. “Or we’ll have at least two more years of Mitch McConnell in charge, which means nothing happens. Because McConnell's modus operandi, since at least the beginning of the Obama era, is total obstruction.”


In fact, the self-described “Grim Reaper” is singlehandedly holding up a bipartisan $908 billion stimulus package over a provision that allows COVID survivors to sue their employers if they contract it on the job.


“Yet again, he's standing up for big business rather than trying to help people,” says Toure. “McConnell won’t allow anything that would make Biden's first 100 days seem successful, even if it means millions of Americans hurt and starving.”


Grim Reaper, indeed. We lost more lives last week than we did on 9/11 or at Pearl Harbor. When and how can we recover, if we can at all?


Episode Highlights –– Fight Rethuglicans

McConnell’s Imperial Senate

Danielle is “absolutely disgusted” with Republicans and tired of Mitch McConnell.


“I'm tired of the fact we don't fight him,” she adds. “Do we ever hear Democrats threaten to sue him for his obstruction and tearing down the Constitution?”


She’s weary of Dems who claim we have to take the high road.


“Fuck the high road,” Danielle says. “The reason McConnell continues to do what he’s been doing for 10 fucking years is because Democrats don't do dick. And they don't even have tough talk or messaging or conversation about how he's destroying the country.”


Toure doesn’t know how Dems could do procedurally. Our founding fathers designed the Senate as a more deliberative body, one in which even a single member can forestall a proposal they disagree with.


But he doesn’t think they could have ever imagined how our system has devolved to the point where its majority leader could hold the whole government hostage as a political gesture, “because campaigning never ends. He’d rather damage the country than allow Democrats to seem to put up any points on the board.”


After all, he’s the guy whose stated goal was to make Obama a one-term president and whose “proudest moment” of his decades-long career was blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

‘Getting to yes’: a hard no for the GOP

Danielle thinks the Obama administration should have tried to litigate the Garland issue, among other unethical and arguably unconstitutional moves by McConnell. Instead, it tried to keep working with a party that sees government as the problem.


Democrats believe that government can solve problems. And they want to use it to do so, “which involves compromise,” says Toure. “It involves getting to yes.”


It’s much easier to stop a bureaucratic system from working and blame the other side, he adds. And so we have a government that seems to be constantly at war with itself when it’s really just the GOP that’s throwing in a wrench into the wheels of democracy.


But Toure doesn’t want Democrats to use the same tactics as their rivals –– like shutting down the government rather than make any tradeoffs.


“Shutdowns are generally bad for the party that shuts it down,” he says.


“You can't govern from fear and what-ifs,” Danielle counters.


A view to a coup

Fear –– of political fallout, of tarnishing one’s legacy, of creating further divides –– was why Ford pardoned Nixon and why Obama didn’t pursue investigations of Bush, Cheney and the rest of the crew that embroiled us in the Iraq war. If they had, maybe we wouldn’t have elected someon