Ordinarily, Democrats and Republicans adopt a platform at their national conventions, setting forth the goals and priorities of their presidential nominee. This is one way for voters to compare the candidates and decide who to support. Last year, the Republicans didn’t really bother to produce a platform. They simply endorsed the platform from 2016:
RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda;
RESOVLVED, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention;
RESOLVED, That any motion to amend the 2016 Platform or to adopt a new platform, including any motion to suspend the procedures that will allow doing so, will be ruled out of order.
In other words, we are in favor of whatever the president wants to do, whatever that might turn out to be. Four years have passed, we’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic and we have nothing new to say about anything.
This week, a new Republican congressman from North Carolina sent an email to his colleagues. It said “I have built my staff around comms [“communications”] rather than legislation”. He now has a job in our national legislature, but he’s more dedicated to doing interviews and issuing statements than being a legislator. The editors of The Charlotte Observer aren’t enthusiastic about their state’s new representative:
We’re all for public officials being attentive to the “public” part of their title. It’s good for everyone when elected representatives explain what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. But on behalf of a whole lot of North Carolinians, we have a request regarding one of those officials:
Can someone please keep Madison Cawthorn away from the cameras? And the microphones? And really, most situations in which he publicly tries to turn words into meaningful thoughts?
This is the context when Republican politicians demand that President Biden address some of their priorities. The natural question is: What priorities?
Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post expands on the difference between the two parties:
The Biden administration has entered office with a whirlwind of activity. “Whole government” initiatives and executive orders on racial inequality and climate change are married with an ambitious covid-19 relief plan. There are briefings galore, with both experts and White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki, who on Wednesday gave us a peek into the sort of salesmanship the administration is employing to gain bipartisan support. The president, the vice president, the director of the National Economic Council, the domestic policy director, the chief of staff and the legislative affairs team are talking to individual lawmakers, the Problem Solvers Caucus, relevant committee members, mayors, governors and more to seek consensus on a covid-19 plan. There is no room for downtime, let alone complacency in this White House.
To many, it is stunning to see such energy, urgency and activity coming from the White House. Whereas Republicans are loath to even acknowledge crises for fear of indicting their own former president’s performance, Democrats have plans, executive orders and bills to address dozens of problems, not to mention a fleet of nominees waiting to get started.
And what are Republicans doing? Well, over in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took days to agree on an organizing resolution to get the new session underway. The vast majority of Senate Republicans said they do not want to have a trial to hold the instigator of a violent insurrection accountable. . . . They are stalling on the confirmation of a new homeland security secretary. They have no alternative relief package for covid-19. Most of their time seems to be absorbed whining about “censorship” or claiming Democrats are being “divisive.” They are offering no response to any of the multiple crises we face (e.g., climate change, the economy, health care, racial justice, domestic terrorism). Their “big idea” is to wait and see if the pandemic and economy get worse.
For years, the Republican Party has not been about policy or governance. It is certainly not about encouraging voting or expanding its party to reach new demographics. Instead, it has become a select club of malcontents. It has created a self-perpetuating grievance machine designed to further inflame their base.
Why do Republicans even want to hold power? Aside from appointing judges, the Senate has accomplished virtually nothing of significance since the 2017 tax cut. While running for reelection, the former president was continually stumped when asked what he would do in his second term.
The party’s antagonism toward the federal government has now morphed into hostility toward truth and governing at all. Its agenda is a list of buzzwords and lies to justify why it should do nothing (Climate hoax! Socialism!), culminating in the mother of all incendiary messages: the Big Lie that the election was stolen. The GOP seems to exist solely to promote resentment and to engage in performance art for intellectually dishonest and vapid right-wing media.
Maybe Republicans should give up running for office altogether because they have no interest in policy or governing. They can cut out the time-consuming task of showing up for their day jobs and devote all their time to what really drives them — raising money, stoking anger, tweeting and appearing on right-wing media. . . .