Beware the Ides of March… of the Plague Year (Cycle II)

With all the good stuff happening, such as over 100 million vaccines (at least the first dose) administered to Americans (with one in eight American adults fully vaccinated), we take a moment to note that the COVID-45 plague has already resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 Americans as well as over 30 million Americans infected according to the Johns Hopkins Univ. World-o-meter. I should add that my fair city commemorated the first COVID-45 death a year ago yesterday. Meaning… we are in year 2… of the plague year.
The COVID-45 plague has also resulted in significant economic devastation, including some job loss or disruption for a large part of the American work force; a third of the work force has reported having their pay cut. And of course, tens of millions of Americans were at threat of eviction.
In the midst of this, on a straight party-line vote, Congress passed the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which provided $1,400 for eligible Americans (with less than $75,000 per adult in income for the relevant tax year) in direct payments, expanded unemployment of $300 per week, a child care benefit, funds to reopen schools and administer vaccines, to shore up elements of Obamacare, and to help people facing eviction and foreclosure, and otherwise to “stimulate the economy.” While Republicans may try to take credit for a popular law, not a single one voted for the bill.
But in any country where over 74 million people voted for Donald Trump (and every single Republican voted against a bill to ease Americans’ suffering), it can’t all be “good news.” And so, of course, the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi have lifted public mask-wearing requirements just as more virulent strains of COVID-45 are establishing themselves. And the virulent Republican governor of Florida is encouraging a national resurgence of a fourth wave of the virus through the expedient of “spring break.” And of course, it was learned that none other than The Donald and Melanoma Trump themselves were secretly provided with the COVID-45 vaccine in the White House, because of course, if the Trumps received it publicly, this might conceivably change the views of notional Republican supporters, whose reactionary ideology dictates that they refuse to wear masks and be unwilling to get vaccinated, and we wouldn’t want that, especially as so many still insist that Mr. Trump won the Presidential election despite, you know, the complete lack of evidence to that effect.
And so, what are we to make of all of this (besides dog people should only marry dog people and cat people should only marry cat people)? Well, it seems that whoever the President is, it’s always a good time to bomb the shit out of something in Syria. But even a good old ass-kicking of someone in the Middle East and a massive economic stimulus bill strangely geared to the masses of people might not be good enough to overcome literally over a hundred Republican state and local initiatives to turn back Democratic electoral advances by making voter harder, especially for dark-skinned people (i.e., likely Democratic voters).
Having blown the opportunity to do something about this during the Obama Administration, along with wasting precious political opportunity to pass something close to universal healthcare instead chosing to water it down for “bipartisan support” that never came, the present bare-majority Congress has, at least in the House of Representatives, passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (“HR-1”) on a party line vote. Because of the structural impediment to any action that the oligarchs don’t like called “the United States Senate,” more specifically a filibuster that requires 60 Senate votes to do anything except spend money, (things like the “stimulus bill”), and notwithstanding that a simple majority of senators could “blow up the filibuster,” the Democrats pretend that “meanie centrist” Senators Manchin (of WV) and Sinema (of AZ) insist on keeping the filibuster (although perhaps “reform is possible.”) Still, absent such reform, the filibuster is a nice excuse for a Democratic Establishment that installed Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee just to make damned sure that Medicare for all was off the table; it isn’t hard to imagine that such a Democratic Establishment would rather the Dems stay uncomfortable and not do such things as shore up the voting rights of people of color, or add D.C. and Puerto Rico as states, and lock in a mere majority-passage requirement, measures that might add the kind of progressive results to American politics that the Wall Streeters and Silicon Valley denizens who write fat checks to Democrats don’t want to see, now, or ever. And if that means a PR campaign to tell us “but Manchin and Sinema,” then so goes the story.
Indeed, even with democracy itself under threat from a party whose senators are terrified that telephonic evidence of their own treasonous activity is available to law enforcement, the Dem Establishment still seems… sclerotic.
Well, hope springs eternal. Mrs. TD and I will, hopefully, get our vaccines in the next few weeks, and at some point, the majority of adults will be vaccinated, and COVID-45 transmission rates will start falling for good. And maybe, with COVID on the wane and the economy on the mend, we can start dealing with the existential crises of climate change, nuclear proliferation, systemic racism, income/wealth inequalty and all that stuff.
Oh man, that was crazy talk! Besides the vaccine thing, we aren’t likely to do any of that– it threatens the powerful, whose privilege you can take from their cold dead hand! But then again, on the Ides of March… even the powerful have to watch it.