WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 02: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the recent mass shootings from the White House on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. In a prime-time address Biden spoke on the need for Congress to pass gun control legislation following a wave of mass shootings including the killing of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and a racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, New York that left 10 dead. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
It’s been a long, hot summer for Democrats.
A new New York Times/Siena College poll points the way to the party’s current malaise: Nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters – 64 percent – say they want someone other than President Joe Biden to be the party’s nominee in two years’ time, and barely a third say they approve of his job performance right now.
Yet when they were asked whether they’d vote for Biden if forced to choose between him and the insurrectionist ex-president, 92 percent of Democrats said they’d stick with the Democratic incumbent. The poll also gave Biden a narrow, 44 percent to 41 percent edge over former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head rematch.
This divide should send shivers up the spine of party leaders and activists alike, who now seem poised to repeat the grievous miscalculation of 2016, when 12 percent of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters voted for Trump, effectively helping to deny Hillary Clinton the White House.
Except this time, any protest vote will have implications far beyond the intramural debates of which grassroots Democrats are so destructively enamored.
As both the Jan. 6 insurrection and last month’s catastrophic U.S. Supreme Court decisions made abundantly clear, nothing less than the future of the Republic is on the line.
A win by Republicans this fall will end any chance of codifying reproductive rights. A win in 2024, could well spell the end of American democracy.
Think that’s hyperbole? Then you weren’t listening to Tuesday’s session of the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, which laid out Trump’s deliberate effort to bring his goons to the Capitol.
Yes, things aren’t going well for Biden at the moment: Gas prices (which he doesn’t control) are still high; despite healthy job growth, inflation continues to rage; the pandemic is still with us, and there’s ongoing global instability.
Americans, frankly, are exhausted from the roller-coaster ride of the last three years. And Biden, who was elected, in large part, as an antidote to the chaos of the Trump era, has not been able to provide as much reassurance as the public would like.
That’s not to set aside Biden’s significant wins in the form of both the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law. Both were historic and transformative pieces of legislation — and Democrats have spent months traveling the country reminding voters of their respective benefits.
As the New York Times noted this week, and I repeat, Biden’s warning not to “compare him to the Almighty,” but “to the alternative,” should be operative here.
Whatever his failings, Biden is still far preferable to Trump or any of his would-be successors, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose actual malevolence outstrips Trump’s buffoonish fascism.
The poll lays bare the increasing generation gap between the Democratic establishment and younger activists who believe it’s time for older party leaders to step aside. Indeed, Biden would be 82 were he to run again in 2024.
There also are concerns that party leaders aren’t being aggressive enough in the face of the GOP’s pugilistic tactics.
Progressives have, for instance, justifiably complained that Biden did not move swiftly enough after the nation’s highest court toppled Roe v. Wade last month – a misstep which Biden since has attempted to correct.
Still, the latter is a concern that I share. Republicans, who do not hold majorities in either house of Congress, effectively act as if they do – and Democrats too willingly acquiesce.
It also doesn’t help that two Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, Sens. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, are de facto members of the GOP.
But the question again becomes one, fundamentally, of not only political survival, but of national survival. There is a deep and promising Democratic bench, but there is not a candidate who is immediately ready to step into Biden’s shoes.
And some prominent congressional progressives also appear to realize that, as well.
“I plan to support [Biden] because of the danger Donald Trump poses,” U.S. Rep. Rho Khanna, D-Calif., told CNN, according to the Washington Post. “I would certainly not do anything to weaken him, and I hope no one else will do anything to weaken him.”
Nor, does it seem, that neither California Gov. Gavin Newsom, nor Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, both of whom also have been mentioned as a possible candidates, harbor similar West Wing ambitions.
“We need to unify the Democratic Party, not destroy ourselves from within,” Newsom said, according to CNN. “We need to have our president’s back. But we also have to get back on the field. He needs troops. He has to govern. Our job is to organize, and it’s to have his back.”
As in 2016, Democrats are going to have to decide whether it’s more important to prove a point or to win. The difference this time is not merely academic – it’s existential.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bushel basket of legislation during the heat of budget season — and he vetoed some controversial proposals as well. Senior Reporter Peter Hall has your scorecard.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, signed an executive order on Tuesday ensuring that non-Pennsylvania residents may come to the commonwealth for an abortion and other reproductive health care services without fear of being arrested or detained at the request of another state. Marley Parish has the story.
State lawmakers and environmental advocates are celebrating the 2022-23 fiscal year budget Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last week, saying it makes “historic” investments in environmental clean-up and protection efforts across the commonwealth, Cassie Miller reports.
The recently approved state budget includes a long-sought reduction to Pennsylvania’s corporate net income tax, one of the highest in the nation, our summer intern, Jaxon White, reports.
Pennsylvania’s newly approved state budget raises funding for gun violence prevention initiatives, but Pennsylvania lawmakers have failed to act on any preventative legislation to address the growing gun violence crisis the past few months, Jaxon White also reports.
The Biden administration has reminded doctors and other health care providers that a federal law protects them if they provide abortion services to save a patient’s life or health in emergency situations — regardless of what state laws say, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt writes.
Along with the state budget’s passage on Friday came the signing of dozens of bills by Gov. Tom Wolf addressing subjects from energy and the environment to public safety and military affairs, our partners at City & State Pa report.
On our Commentary Page this morning: How far will Pa. Republicans go to limit constitutional rights? Patrick Beaty, of FairDistricts PA, tries to answer the question. And militant white identity politics are on full display in GOP political ads featuring guns, two communications scholars write.
The Inquirer explains why the Pennsylvania constitution is the next battleground over abortion rights. So, too, will be the fight over access to abortion medication, Stateline.org reports.
The White House’s response to the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling has been ‘breathtakingly awful,’ Rebecca Traister writes for The Cut.
Mayor Ed Gainey showed his solidarity with residents of the city’s South Side, who are contending with safety issues, the Post-Gazette reports.
A suburban Lancaster County school board has given final approval to a policy restricting transgender athletes, PennLive reports. LancasterOnline has more on the vote by the Hempfield Township school board.
The York Daily Record looks at the Pennsylvania names — including U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, who came up during Tuesday’s session of the Jan. 6 committee.
The new state budget includes a $140 million hike to the state’s property tax rent/rebate program, the Morning Call reports.
The new budget boosts basic education funding for Luzerne County’s public schools by 18.4 percent, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
Philadelphia’s animal shelters and rescue groups are in ‘crisis mode’ as the number of incoming animals outpaces adoptions, WHYY-FM reports.
Penn State’s new president is a key player in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the University of Louisville, WPSU-FM reports (via WITF-FM).
GoErie runs down what area residents will pay in school taxes in 2022-23.
The Department of State has filed suit against three counties for failing to properly certify the May primary results, PoliticsPA reports.
Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.
Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Washington D.C. this morning for the White House’s American Rescue Plan Workforce Summit.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Steve Crawford, president of Wojdak Government Relations, in Harrisburg, who celebrates another trip around the sun today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.
Here’s some new music from Paisley Underground legends, The Dream Syndicate. It’s ‘Damian.’
Wednesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
The surging Baltimore Orioles logged their ninth straight win on Tuesday, beating the Chicago Cubs 4-2 at Wrigley Field.
And now you’re up to date.
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