For those who have been disappointed in the comments and
behavior of some elected Democrats following the 2016
presidential election (for example, efforts to needlessly
promote state recounts, sabotage the electoral college vote,
and finally, thwart the congressional certification of the
election), there was the exemplary and dignified model of
outgoing Vice President Joe Biden presiding over a joint
session of Congress that made the presidential and vice
presidential election final and official.
Some Democratic U.S. house members tried to force
prolonged debate by contending that some electors were
ineligible, but Mr. Biden calmly ruled them out of order,
even though they were members of his own party. At the end
of the session, when more objections were made, the vice
president good naturedly and decisively said, “It’s over.”
There were the predictable radical protesters in the gallery
who tried to disrupt the proceedings with slogans and
yelling, but they were promptly ejected.
At one point, a U.S. house member pleaded for a single U.S.
senator to join with the house petitions, and to their credit,
not one Democratic senator came forward.
I think this session and Mr. Biden provided a turning point
in the post-election trauma of many liberals and Democrats
who have seemed in self-denial about the results, not only in
the presidential election, but in the congressional,
gubernatorial and state house races which turned out so
poorly for the nation’s oldest political party.
This does not mean, of course, that Democrats will now go
along with President Trump and his policies, nor that they
won’t criticize his action nor vote against him. They are,
after all, the opposition party now at every level, and in our
political system, they are expected to oppose or present
contrasting policy ideas.
At the same time, a new president deserves to name his own
cabinet and presidential staff with positive U.S. senate
confirmation (except in egregious cases). Early in his term,
he merits approval of his federal judgeship nominees (again,
excepting improper choices), and that includes any U.S.
supreme court nominees. As a president’s first or second
term nears its conclusion, both Democrats and Republicans
have established the precedent of often delaying some of these
confirmations until the election. It’s a political precedent, not
a constitutional one, but both parties seem to believe it is
proper. It is now a political reality.
There are going to be political battles ahead. Contrary to the
rubric that both parties are the same, the reality is that today
the Democrats and the Republicans hold very different views
on most public policy subjects. This is also true in each
party’s intraparty debate. Republicans have won the most
recent election, but now they must deliver successful
programs based on their ideas. If they do not, the voters will
put the Democrats back in charge.
Vice President Biden has charted a course for civility in the
current transition. His colleagues should take note of this,
and he should be remembered for his graceful final act in a
long and distinguished pubic career.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.