Had we but world enough and time
This coyness, Manchin, were no crime
With apologies to 17th century poet Andrew Marvell, who was writing to his imaginary “Coy Mistress” in one of the most famous poems in the English language, the vision of what Joe Manchin was doing to the Democrats’ agenda flooded my mind.
If only we had time to play his games in opposing $150 billion aimed at speeding the transition to clean energy by big utilities . . . If only we had a couple of years to argue the need for infrastructure developments … If only parents could wait another few years for helping early childhood education while millions stay home rather than risk their families . . . If only just the elderly could decide on additional protection before they die … If only minority rights were something we all believed in rather than relying on idiocies like the filibuster … If only we could wait two more years for America to come to its senses, as it probably will, and elect a few more Democrats in the House and the Senate in 2022 to make the votes of Manchin and Krysten Sinema not the powerful blockade they are now.
But in the meantime, climate change is destroying the Earth. Our infrastructure is fading fast. COVID has a frightening grip on our imaginations. The $3.5 trillion correction bill has not been sufficiently explained for those who worry about price tags (which they didn’t seem to worry about when Trump’s unpaid tax bill added $2 trillion to the national debt).
We Americans don’t seem to feel the urgency in our guts though the sky may well be falling faster than we like, and the Democrats are rightly fearful that if they don’t get something done, the Republicans will switch from attacking vaccines, voting rights and racist realities to scoff anew at how the Democrats are great at proposing stuff but lousy at passing stuff, and how the progressives and moderates are consumed with fighting each other though they actually agree on the goals.
The intelligent reality is not ours to rationalize with -- of simply waiting until 2022 when the Democrats’ general vision of what is good for the country will win. That may be just another 16 months to pass bills, but we are an impatient country and we can’t afford to wait for change.
Not as the vaccinations seem ready in the next year to pull the world toward normal, despite the fools who think wearing masks indoors to protect their communities is somehow an attack on personal freedom. Not as fire, rain and choking skies are running circles around us.
The Democrats do not seem to believe strongly enough in their own vision – they sure act as if their world may collapse in two years rather than grow stronger. But political realities do suggest this is not the time to wait even for what seems like obvious common sense to gain traction.
So Biden and most of the Congress want to do something now, and this is deeper than a game of chicken. As tempting as it must be for Biden to throw up his hands, back his full package and let Manchin and in some ways Sinema take the burden of obstructionists, daring them to oppose what every other Democrat is willing to compromise on, there is that political reality of needing to get something done.
Had we just world enough and time, Manchin, we could afford to play these games. You of all senators should realize that. The time is ripe to do something.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near