Two Days In
We’re now 48 hours into the Biden Presidency, so obviously it’s time for a checkup on how things are going. Once again to assist me in the task, I am bringing out my Fictional Interlocutor. Say hello to the people, F.I.
Hello! Beautiful morning in America, is it not?
It is indeed sunny and the sky is full of picturesque fluffy white clouds at the moment.
And it’s all because Biden is president!
Well, to be strictly fair, he has no control over the weather.
Sorry. So, how do you feel about being two days into the Biden Presidency?
In an entirely unsurprising turn of events, I feel pretty darn good about it! I’ve spent the last two days basking in the fabulous competency of its governance — which is to say that whether one agrees with the Biden administration’s policy goals or not, the sheer non-chaotic way it is going about them at the moment is utterly delightful. And while in fact deep down I hold an abiding and ceaseless rage that the last four years have been so awful that mere competence feels like a gift, yea verily as if manna from friggin’ heaven, on the surface at least I’m pretty placidly pleased. Hey, you know what I did two days in a row?
I do not.
I watched a White House press conference! Just to see how boring they would be. And the answer is: Pretty damn boring! White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gets in there, is smiling and pleasant to the reporters, answers most questions directly, and the ones she wants to evade she does so pleasantly, not by suggesting the reporter who asked the question is a traitor to the nation and all that is holy. Did you know a White House Press Secretary could do that?
I had heard rumors, yes.
It’s wonderful! And boring! Wonderfully boring!
Well, you may think the Biden presidency is competent and boring, but it appears conservatives and/or Republicans are already upset with it.
Shocked! Shocked! I am! Give me an example, please.
To start off, all those executive orders Biden banged out. Seventeen the first day. Ten the second. More on the way.
Well, Trump did a lot of stupid shit, didn’t he, and he did a lot of it via executive order. Biden didn’t want to waste any time hosing out that nonsense. Most of the executive orders not relating to COVID are, as far as I can see, less about advancing a radical agenda than they were getting us back to where we were before an ignorant virulent bigot got into office. I can’t say I’m generally upset about it.
Well, not you. But conservatives and Republicans. They do seem especially upset about the executive order “On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.“
That’s because transphobia is the new hotness in conservative bigotry. They lost on race, they lost on sex, they lost on sexual orientation, and now they think that gender is the place where they’re finally going to win and in doing so, start shoving everyone else back into their respective closets, kitchens and colored facilities.
You’re not sympathetic, then.
No. Fuck ’em. Fuck transphobia, first of all. Fuck it for itself, because in itself it is wholly bad enough. Then also, fuck it for being the lever that these bigots are trying to use to roll back the rights of anyone who is not, in fact, a cishet white dude. Fuck all the performative handwringing about bathrooms and locker rooms and women’s sports and hormones and especially fuck all the concerns about “the children,” not in the least because, as the parent of a Gen Z person, I can tell you “the children” are generally embarrassed at the actions of their obviously transphobic elders. Good on ya, Gen Z!
Wow, I didn’t notice that soapbox you had there until you stood on it.
Well, I’m short.
Fair enough. So basically your position on executive orders is, cool, keep going?
To the extent they’re wiping out Trump’s executive order bullshit and/or managing the COVID response — which, by the way, we just discovered there was really no Trump Administration plan to manage a federal-level response to the COVID crisis, so that’s fun — I’m fine with them. Biden, to his credit, has noted that executive orders can do only so much, so there will have to be legislative action as well. So I don’t think he’s planning to rule by fiat. And he does have the (bare) majorities of both houses.
But what about the Senate and the filibuster?
I’m not a huge fan of the filibuster and given the fact that the current GOP is a billionaire-supported white supremacist organization with no motivating principles other than the aforementioned racist bullshit and the idea that “whatever the Democrats want, they shouldn’t get,” I wouldn’t cry any tears over it going away so that the Senate can get work done that Americans actually want.
But 75 million Americans voted for the Republicans! Who will speak for them?
Nnnnnnnnnngh this bullshit line. Okay, first: Closer to 74 million, and of course 81 million people voted for Biden in this election. Second: Let’s not pretend that when the GOP is in the majority that it ever gives a shit about what the millions and millions of Americans who voted for the Democrats thought about any fucking thing, or that it didn’t move with alacrity to trim back the filibuster whenever it wasn’t convenient to its own goals, so the special pleading here doesn’t move me. Third: 74 million Americans voted for Trump and also polling tells us there are clear majorities in the American population for things Biden wants to do, with respect to health care and climate and human rights and so on, which is to say the GOP is to the right of the people who vote for them (or at the very least, they people they represent), which makes sense, because, again, at the moment the GOP is a billionaire-funded white supremacist organization. Fourth: The filibuster is a guideline, not a rule, which is to say it’s not constitutionally mandated, it’s a thing the Senate decided to do for its own reasons, which, if you look into them, are mostly not good reasons.
Finally: A Republican president, aided by a substantial chunk of the GOP in the Senate and the House, just tried to overturn a legal election because they didn’t like the result, and a large portion of the party still can’t admit that Joe Biden won the election fair and square. You know what? 74 million voters deserve better than the current GOP for their representation.
So, yeah, really not feeling the “but 74 million voters” whine right now. The national GOP needs to spend time in the fuckin’ wilderness, as far as I’m concerned, and the removal of the filibuster would be the absolute bare minimum of the penalties they ought to accrue. Those “74 million voters” would probably be just fine with the majority of what Biden would do for them, if the filibuster were not an impediment.
That said, I don’t actually expect the Democrats to get rid of the filibuster entirely, because when have the Democrats ever done anything the GOP would happily do in an instant if their roles were reversed. So we’ll see what happens next, I suppose. And I guess there’s always budget reconciliation if it comes to that.
You don’t sound all that optimistic.
I mean, I’m not unoptimistic? Look, just the fact that our executive branch is no longer headed by, or majority staffed from the ranks of, incompetent racist grifter chucklefucks, is a huuuuuuuuge load off my mind. I’ve had two whole days of not worrying about what awful, undemocratic-and-likely-fascist thing the president and his pack of malignant fuck-knuckles are up to today, and it’s delightful. Now, for example, if Stephen Miller wants to separate babies from their parents, he’ll have to attempt to do it himself, and the mental image of the absolute asskicking that would ensue from that keeps me warm at night.
In a larger sense, look: it’s hard to create during chaos, and four years of constant chaos took its toll on me and my ability to just sit down and shut out the rest of the world. And I am, as I remind people frequently, a well-off cishet white dude; how anyone further down the privilege pyramid got anything done in the same span of time is beyond me. I did get work done, and other people did too, but it wasn’t as congenial a process, shall we say, as it could have been. Now I have a few years — hopefully! — of not just “no chaos” but of actual, boring, unremarkable governance. I’m looking forward to not feeling like I need to witness the world breaking on a daily basis. I’m excited about the work I can do in that state.
Again, I fucking hate that “boring governance” feels like a balm and a gift, instead of just the way things are. But it is what it is. What I hope from a Biden administration is that, regardless of people’s politics, everyone will look around at the not-chaos that his administration offers and goes “I want more of that.” Maybe not of Biden, if you’re not a Democrat, but his similarly not-dramatic counterpart on the other side of the aisle (hint: Not Cruz. Not Hawley. Both of those motherfuckers need to be drummed out of the Senate).
Speaking of work, are you going to get back to it now?
Yes! I mentioned earlier I needed to get to the inauguration and then a little bit past it to see how I felt about things. And like I said, I feel not bad at all. And, uhhhhhhh, I still have a book due, which is now late. So the plan is to, if not disappear, at least make myself more scarce until the book is done.
I’ll miss you.
Thanks. That means a lot, coming from a fictional interlocutor.