So, Warnock is in and it looks extremely likely that Ossof will win. If that happens, Democrats will take control of the Senate. However, be warned: they will get far from everything they want, as the cornucopia will come with limitations and caveats. Democrats will not pass Medicare for All. They will not pack the courts. They will not even eliminate the filibuster, at least not yet. Still, there are major victories here.
What will Democrats win? First of all, appointments. With McConnell in charge, most of Biden’s executive appointments would be challenged and some would be refused—making a huge difference in who Biden might choose as the Attorney General. If Democrats control the Senate, then Biden will have pretty much no problem with all or almost all of his appointees. (AG Sally Yates?)
The big win, however, will be in judicial nominees; McConnell would have blocked every single one, but with Democrats in control, probably none will be blocked, save for anyone with a scandal erupting just as they’re nominated.
Committees will be the next big win: Democrats will have control of all the committees, including the power to investigate and issue subpoenas. In the post-Trump years, that will count for a lot. It will also stifle republicans convening massive investigations every time Biden blows his nose.
However, what will Democrats not get? Well, the filibuster is the main thing. Manchin (D-WV) and at least one or two other Democrats have voiced opposition to getting rid of it—which means that republicans can still filibuster nearly everything, and be greatly obstructionist.
This, however, may not be as great a disadvantage for Democrats as it may seem. First, on the bright side, a Democratic-controlled Senate would actually call all these bills up for votes, as opposed to McConnell’s habit of just killing them off as they arrive. No more “Legislative Graveyard,” no more “Grim Reaper.” This is a big deal because it means that individual republican senators will be the uncomfortable position of voting to kill specific legislation in the spotlight. They can be far more easily blamed for ending popular bills (like the $2000 stimulus). This means that there will be legislation that passes, at least more than otherwise, and all other votes will weigh heavily on incumbent republicans.
Why does that matter? Because of 2022. Far more red seats are up for grabs than blue seats, and Democrats could conceivably pick up 2, 3, or maybe even 4 seats. If they can take Stacey Abrams’ campaign to the 2022 races, maybe even more. This means that a lot of republicans will be a lot more cautious about how they vote over the next two years. Maybe McConnell will herd the GOP senators capably and allow the ones up for re-election in closer races to get “hall passes” and use the remainder to filibuster. But in any case, things will be a lot tougher for republicans now.
The next question is, will the filibuster eventually get nixed? Will Manchin change his mind? Will maybe enough republicans switch sides? It is hard to say.
But if the filibuster does get scrapped, then don’t expect a progressive wish list to suddenly get passed. Manchin is not the only blue-dog Democrat. Medicare for All will still be incredibly unlikely, though a public option could possibly pass muster. On the other hand, a new Voting Rights Act might just get through (McConnell will absolutely filibuster that to death).
One last thing: blame.
Right now, the GOP is kind of devolving into a circular firing squad, and after Georgia and Trump’s expected shitstorm tomorrow, followed by his inevitable departure from D.C., republicans will be pointing fingers all over within their own ranks.
Trump’s role in Georgia will be especially hot: with the margins being so close, it seems pretty undeniable that Trump’s attacks on Georgia republicans and his minions’ calls for republicans not to vote will have made enough of a difference that at least Ossof’s race will have been lost due to Trump. Probably Warnock’s, too.
Which, naturally, Trump will deny. He’ll undoubtedly blame it on Kemp, Raffensperger, and probably McConnell himself, as well as anyone who didn’t help him out. Remember, he campaigned for a GOP win in Georgia… but only just enough to say that he helped, and not nearly enough to take responsibility for a loss. He definitely gave far less than 100% in the race, and both he and his followers did more than enough damage to offset any help that Trump provided. One might even be forgiven if one thinks that Trump wanted Georgia to elect the Democrats. It would have the effect of diminishing Trump’s greatest rival for control of the GOP, Mitch McConnell. It would also mean that Trump could point to more Democratic victories in firing up his base for 2024.
The big question will be, will Trump blame republicans more than he’ll blame election fraud. He’s got motives to blame both. Right now, he’s pointing at election fraud in his Twitter feed, which feeds his own narrative about losing the presidency. After the Senate counts the votes for Biden, and Trump has nothing left to realistically fall back on, who he blames will be a strong signal as to Trump’s intent moving forward. If he blames McConnell and the GOP members who did not strongly support him, then we’ll know that he’s doing it to retain strong control over the GOP.
In the meantime… this would be a gigantic victory for Democrats, and a fantastic recovery for Biden as he steps into office.
Not to mention, we get to see all those old white racist, misogynistic senate republicans get hammered down as a black woman overrides their asses.