You Know What Sure Is Bipartisan? COVID Relief!
We are told we are a divided nation, and in most respects that is true. It's not just that we disagree on things, it is that the chasm between our views is vast and un-bridgeable, largely because many of the things Republicans believe are either extremely cruel or just things they made up during a pipe dream.
But there are a few things here and there on which we do largely agree. There is barely anyone left in this country who thinks marijuana should be illegal in all circumstances. The majority of Americans also support gun control, Medicare for All (even 1/4 of Republicans support it!), giving undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children a path to citizenship, providing a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants who work here (81 percent on that one, by the way), increasing SNAP benefits, overturning Citizens United with a constitutional amendment, that the government should do more about climate change, student loan forgiveness, widespread police reform — including body cameras, banning the use of chokeholds and allowing citizens to sue the police for misconduct — using federal funds to expand pre-K education, tuition-free public colleges, and yes, a majority of Americans still believe that abortion should be legal.
Also, according to a recent poll from CBS News, 83 percent of us support COVID relief.
This includes 70 percent of Republicans. Sixty-two percent of them also support sending out $1400 checks. Because the truth is, though they might profess otherwise, Americans actually do largely support things that would make their lives less miserable. In fact, not only do Republicans support Joe Biden's COVID relief bill as-is, a quarter of them actually (like me!) think it is too small.
Unfortunately, a large majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate disagree.
It's understandable that, to many of those holding office, it does not seem like this is actually all that popular. Who we hang around with influences our perception of the world and what we think other people are into. Thus the shock last week when many people found out that Gen Z-ers had decided that the laugh-cry emoji was uncool. If you are a politician, it is highly unlikely that you are hanging around anyone who actually needs this relief on a day-to-day basis. Particularly if you are a Republican politician.
Even if you are Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema or any other "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" Democrat, it is entirely likely that you think it is incredibly unpopular, that people are lying about supporting it, and that if you support it, you will be booted right out of office in the next election. It probably seems as unpopular to you as "The Big Bang Theory" seemed to me. We all have our blind spots.
It is also understandable that many of these politicians fear that by supporting this, they would lose the support of their big money donors and then be rendered unable to keep their seats in the next election. However! They will also lose their seats if they do things that voters don't like — including making it more difficult for them to pay their damn rent.
So-called bipartisanship has long been the job of Democrats, it's been their job to capitulate, their job to find "common ground," and you know, it's never actually worked out all that well. Given that Americans are, indeed, unified behind wanting COVID relief, it is now the job of Republicans to do a little capitulation. Right now, office-holding Republicans are deeply out of touch with what the American public wants. They are out of touch with what their own voters want. It needs to be made clear to them that if they don't support these things, they will pay for them down the road.
Or do they hate unity?
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse