The Ongoing Tragedy of Obstructive Politics | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Ongoing Tragedy of Obstructive Politics 

Taking a Gander: Sometimes you can't mince the words

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Only a year ago, Joseph R. Biden took the reins of government and made some admirable, hopeful commitments to the American People.

With the highly disturbing echoes of the Capitol insurrection reverberating across America, and the matter of one, persistent, colossal lie that just wouldn't go away, he seemed to understand his role as the leader who could help return both legitimacy and glory to our country.

Biden's inaugural speech said all the right things, but my take is that he had no idea what he was up against. With a naïve and idealistic confidence, he spoke the words, "My whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people and uniting our nation." Along with a narrow majority of Americans, I believed him, and I reveled in the prospect of ending the damage done by his predecessor.

It would have been a tall order for anyone unfamiliar with the ins-and-outs of the legislative and regulatory functions of D.C., but Joe Biden seemed more than qualified—after all, he is one of America's most senior statesmen.

After an unquestionable election win—and the dismal failure of the Trump coup—it certainly appeared that Biden's reputation for "reaching across the aisle" was an attainable goal, and there was nothing in his campaign promises that was inconsistent with a man dedicated to re-floating the boat. Republicans, long extorted by a madman, certainly should have been tired of Trump's endless affronts to our country and its traditions. America was ready for something better.

Biden's early promises were: 1) dealing with the COVID-19 crisis; 2) improving a virus-ravaged economy; 3) erasing the racial inequity that haunts our country; and 4) facing the realities of climate change. His vision for repairing national infrastructure, improving social safety nets, making higher education more accessible, and fixing the loopholes that are in direct conflict with the one-person-one-vote essential of our democracy were also very much on his mind.

But, the pipe dreams of a reasonable and progressive Republican Party, and the ideal of bipartisan cooperation, were more of a delusion than a hope. Biden faced the unfortunate situation of needing every one of his party's votes in Congress. Without unanimous Democrat support, it was clear that there would be no landslide legislative wins. Let's face it, after four years of internal sabotage, there was a tough task ahead.

Biden knew that he was assuming the role of helmsman for a mutinous crew. What he didn't understand was that the mutiny was far from over. While America's economy is booming, and its roads and bridges are going to be fixed, the damage of Republican obstructionism is even stronger than before. Sadly, even the supposedly-decent guys—like Utah's own Mitt Romney—are attacking the president's latest speech and blaming him for failing at bipartisan cooperation.

The gaslighting is predictable—it seems that we have an awful lot of pots calling the kettle black. First the GOP balks at everything the president tries to accomplish, then it points the finger at those who are really trying to bridge the gulf. While a few Republicans have successfully removed their heads from between their buttocks, cooperation seems to be an unattainable goal.

So it's no wonder that, a year after inauguration, Biden is becoming more strident in his castigation of obstructive legislators. His speech last week was widely criticized by many—even his closest allies chided that his choice of words may have been a bit extreme. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed the speech was "unpresidential," but the reality is that our president is at his wit's end, trying to deal with undaunted troops that still worship their defeated leader.

It's true that Biden has been a master of political niceties in the past, understanding that honey attracts more flies than a swatter, but it is altogether right that it was his time to pull out the stops and say it like it is. How can anyone fault him for that? Obstruction is ruining our country. The archaic and poorly conceived device of the filibuster may have once held a purpose; now it only works to deprive the majority of its will.

Somehow Americans have smugly believed that ours is a country so great it can't fail. The grade-school explanations of a country founded by God, certainly never suggested the less-than-lovely reality—that no nation is invulnerable. Those who are well-read on our world's history understand that even the greatest civilizations have failed, and ours is very much at risk.

Hey, you Republicans, it's time to jump ship from the man who came, oh, so close to bringing our country down, and it's time for real patriots to come out of hiding. (Yes, Mitt, that means you.) Instead of criticizing Biden's outrage over the actions of America's traitors, America's legislators need to acknowledge the threat and come together in shoring up the foundations of our democracy.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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More by Michael S. Robinson Sr.

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