During the 2020 section campaign, before Obama intervened backstage to give Biden the nomination, when progressives were calling for Medicare-for-All, Biden had to come up with something to make it seem that he had some kind of relevance. So he grudgingly agreed to lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60. Better than a poke in the eye with a stick. But have you heard anything about it since? No, me neither. I spoke to about a dozen congressional Democrats today-- from across the political spectrum-- and almost all of them said basically the same thing:
they know nothing
they trust Biden
Biden will get to it after COVID
Biden will pass the public option too
One member told me that she hadn't heard anything about it since the election, "but most of the Administration briefings I’ve been a part of have been focused on COVID relief, national security, and climate change. COVID has been about healthcare, but not the broader conversation. Speaking personally, I think that will get strong buy-in from House Dems to lower to 60. A public Medicare-like option would be incredibly popular (even with the Manchins) as would lowering the Medicare age. And a Medicare-like public option could also help make the case for M4A. In terms of the eligibility, I imagine some in the Senate might push for it to be slightly higher (could see a counter at 63), and House push for it to be lower in response." Another member told me that he had "heard that it’s being considered in the second relief package." A third member said (exact words): "I don't really know the answer to that. I haven’t heard anything out of the White House on it, but I’m not on the relevant committees. And of course, the White House has been pretty focused on the Covid bill and their immigration proposal. Possible that they’re waiting for an HHS Secretary to be confirmed?" Yeah, possible.
The Democrats are so lucky their opponents are the Republicans. Imagine what would happen if there was a competent opposition! Just this morning, in fact, Jonathan Chait looked at How Trumpism Has Become A Cult Of Losing. After all who could resist that golden calf/Trump idol at CPAC today?
Normally, when a president leaves office-- especially after bring defeated after a single term-- they fade away gracefully for a few years. "The last two presidents to be defeated after a single term," wrote Chait, "George Bush and Jimmy Carter, immediately entered into political exile. Their fellow partisans wished to escape the stench of failure, and the only people who brought up their names at all were members of the opposing party. Their rehabilitation came only years later, after a long absence from the political scene allowed them to return in a nonpartisan context. Trump has refused to follow the script. He has moved into a role of opposition leader and president in exile, a sort of hybrid between a parliamentary system (where a defeated prime minister might often slide immediately into opposition leadership) and banana republic, where a deposed strongman flees the country with a Swiss bank account and a retinue of goons. The Republican response has ranged from resigned acceptance to active encouragement."
Trump’s appeal to his party was rooted in his reality-television-corroborated claim to be a lifelong winner. Come to Trump’s side, he promised incessantly, and you will win so much you’ll get tired of it. What value does he still have now? When previous defeated presidents were discarded, why cling to the one whose value proposition was based on never being a loser?
An important part of the answer is that, seen through Republican eyes, Trump didn’t lose at all. Recent polls have found anywhere from 68 to 83 percent of Republican voters believe the election was stolen.
Within the GOP, there are three basic versions of this belief. The most extreme (articulated by the likes of conservative-media funder and personality Mike Lindell) holds that an international cabal of living and dead progressives engineered a secret algorithm to rig vote-tabulating machines. The second, slightly less crazy version holds that Democratic officials in various big cities, where Black people always cheat at elections, manufactured vote totals in the middle of the night. And the third and least crazy story is that various states ignored the law, allowing mail voting in a way that permitted massive vote fraud to tip the result to Joe Biden.
...When you begin with the premise that Donald Trump rightly won the election, you naturally interpret the events that followed the election in a different light. Trump’s efforts to overturn the result, pressuring officials to produce new votes for him and whipping up a mob to storm the Capitol, are actually restrained.
The Republicans’ understanding of the January 6 insurrection follows from their delusional beliefs about the election itself. A USA Today poll found that 58 percent of Republicans believe the attack was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters,” more than double the number who describe it as “a rally of Trump supporters, some of whom attacked the Capitol.”
...[T]o their own minds, the Trump supporters have been doubly victimized. First the election was stolen from them. And then, after they showed remarkable restraint in the face of this crime, they are being pelted with demands to affirm the legitimacy of the stolen election... Support for Trump has ceased to be a strategy for acquiring power. It has become an act of rebellion. The powers that be wish to control your mind by making you believe Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election. In this context, denying the election outcome, and clinging to Trump, feels like an act of power.
Defeat, in the right context, can inspire minds just as well as victory. (Witness the cult of the “Lost Cause” that still exists in the white South.) Trump’s notion of “winning” used to mean supporting a candidate who would actually prevail and take office. Now it means refusing to concede he ever lost.