Dear Biden and the Dems: Please keep the main thing the main thing

Ken Wolf
Ken Wolf

Some of you may remember this quote from Stephen Covey, the Franklin Planner guru who was popular (along with his famous upbeat planning book) in the 1980s.

As I write this, President Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill remains afloat in the “slough of despond” that the U.S. Senate has become. It has been “the main thing” for the President for so long that a growing number of Democrats are becoming very nervous.

The months-long conflict between the two Joes (Manchin and Biden) has given the national media a field day, allowing them to seek readers by criticizing the Biden administration for inaction even more than they criticized the Trump administration for its actions.

Some of us watching from the sidelines — Democrats and even a few sensible and worried Republicans — are wondering if this bill, given the strife it has caused, should continue to be Biden’s “main thing.”

Last December, Stuart Stevens, a Republican who worked for candidates George W. Bush and Robert Dole before becoming a chief strategist for Mitt Romney in 2012, sent out an email seeking support for the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group formed in 2019.

In it, Stevens made the point that the Bush administration gained Congressional seats in the 2002 mid-term elections, a very rare thing, because, after 9-11, they “galvanized America around a shared belief in the threat” to the nation represented by the 9-11 attack.

Now, Stevens says, we have an even greater and clearer threat: “Democracy itself is on the ballot” in the upcoming mid-term elections. He then makes a very scary but intriguing prediction. Stevens says that if Republicans win a majority in the House of Representatives, not Kevin McCarthy [the current minority leader] but “someone like Jim Jordan will be Speaker of the House. ... And if you are following the news you know that [Marjorie Taylor] Greene and [Matt] Gaetz and Jordan run this party now. Not McCarthy.

“There’s a message for Democrats in all this. What would you lose if Republicans win?”

We are being told repeatedly that the Republicans will indeed win the mid-term elections.

To all those I know in both parties, and to those Independents, should any still exist, but especially to all Democrats: It is time to make the survival of democracy the main thing.

President Biden can’t say that the Republicans are threatening our democracy if he wishes to work with them, but that seems unlikely to happen anyway. Now might be the time to change the subject in a major way and focus on the Republican attempt to use their power in at least nineteen states to change laws to enable them to restrict votes and to “legally” throw out those cast in traditionally democratic precincts in 2022 and 2024.

It is time for Democrats to alert all Americans that power is the main thing motivating Republicans today. Mesmerized by Trump, they are willing to gain power, not by winning over voters with attractive policies, but through state laws which will enable them to dismiss election results that are not in their favor.

If they are successful, it will not matter whether we extend monthly tax credit cash to families, create family leave policies, or provide tuition-free community college.

If they are successful in regaining control of the House, there will be a quick end to any further investigation of the January 6 attack on the Capitol and no punishment of those who organized it.

If they are successful in ignoring legitimate votes in upcoming elections, we will no longer have majority rule in the United States, and if that happens, we will become a DINO – a Democracy In Name Only.

Where are the TV ads pointing this out? Where is the public outrage? Where is our Edward R. Morrow, who condemned Joe McCarthy on TV in the 1950s? Why aren’t political leaders taking this obvious threat seriously?

Do most Americans really see or care about what is happening? Can we rouse them to stop it?

Maybe, maybe not. But if we care about preserving our democratic republic, we should at least try. For once democracy is gone, it will not be easily restored.

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Commentary

Ken Wolf

Ken Wolf spent 40 years teaching European and World History, punctuated by several administrative chores, at Murray State University, retiring in 2008. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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