It is true that McConnell signaled Wednesday that he would push for a long-needed a coronavirus relief package soon. But he helped write the GOP’s successful anti-Obama script: Stymie even moderate Democratic legislation to make the new president appear hapless; blame the president for problems that stemmed from Republicans’ watch; deny Democrats routine courtesies that Republican presidents always get, such as confirming judges or raising the debt limit without demanding massive concessions; and exploit burdensome voting regulations and partisan redistricting to maximize the influence of the minority of the country they represent.
There will be an added Trump-era tinge to the opposition, too. Expect more unhinged Ukraine “investigations” from the likes of Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has already proven himself ready to abuse subpoena power to dignify fake scandals. Axios reports that McConnell contemplates curbing Biden’s ability to staff the government, even though the Senate typically defers to presidents’ picks. The implacability of the opposition will depend on the handful of halfway reasonable people left in the Senate GOP caucus, such as Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah).
Biden will face almost as many difficulties from a restive left. This year’s election results are yet more evidence that the Democrats require a broad coalition that includes urban progressives, minorities, moderate suburbanites and just enough of everyone else to diminish GOP margins in rural America. If Democrats had not allowed themselves to be so easily defined by the loudest voices on the party’s left wing, they would have fared better, particularly in down-ballot races.