Political Infighting, Intrigue and Growing Support for a Real Third Party

CNN’s Jake Tapper wondered whether the country’s two major political parties are now eating their own, citing the flak President Joe Biden caught for refusing to offer $50,000 in student loan forgiveness, as well as former President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on a fellow Republican, Senator Mitch McConnell.

Hours later, MSNBC host Brian Williams asked the exact same question, also noting Trump’s recent taunts toward McConnell. Williams questioned whether a third party may finally become viable, given that Americans are supporting the idea in ever growing numbers.

(CN) — CNN host Jake Tapper began his broadcast Wednesday afternoon discussing the Biden administration’s timeline for returning schoolkids to in-person learning. Tapper believes President Biden and his team are being evasive and refusing to give a straight answer on whether teachers need to be vaccinated before returning to their classrooms.

MSNBC’s Brian Williams looked at the blizzard that’s disrupting an already disrupted life for millions of Americans in Texas and elsewhere. Nearly 5 million people have been without power in the Lone Star State for days, and Williams likened the situation to the 19th century.

Back to school

CNN anchor Abby Phillip told Tapper that the Biden administration is walking a fine line with teachers, which accounts for the president’s reluctance to answer questions about when they should return to their classrooms.

She explained that the teacher’s union is a powerful voting bloc for Democrats, and Biden doesn’t want to anger them by telling teachers to return to class before they’re ready. It will likely be months before enough vaccine is available to immunize every teacher in the country, and even then, many have refused to return before their students are vaccinated as well.

Meanwhile, many parents are already angry after being cooped up with their kids for a year. It’s a bit of a lose-lose situation, but evading direct questions is almost never the right path. Phillip questioned why the administration doesn’t offer a proverbial carrot to states to prioritize teachers in the vaccine queue if it claims teacher safety is important.

“What is really puzzling to me is why the Biden administration, which ran on a campaign promise of having the science go first and the science lead, can’t just simply state what the science says on the topic while also stating their preference for what they hope to happen,” wondered Phillip.

Blizzard

During his broadcast late Wednesday, Williams described the harsh conditions facing up to 5 million Americans who were just hit with a powerful blizzard — Americans in places that don’t normally get hit with blizzards.

People have been sleeping in running cars for three days, burning furniture to stay warm, watching their pipes burst. It’s an absolute mess. “It is straight up the 1800s tonight in parts of Texas,” said Williams.

Not one to shy away from perceived political points, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott blamed the widespread power outages on renewable energy, which was quickly contradicted by his own energy department.

“Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid. It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas, as well as other states, to make sure we’ll be able to heat our homes in the wintertime and cool our homes in the summertime,” claimed Abbott.

In fact, homes with solar panels and electric heaters are doing better than most. Texas’ power outage primarily stems from a failure to winterize all of its various energy sources — solar panels actually work better in cold weather and Scandinavian wind turbines keep turning year-round.

Houses divided

Tapper reported that during a town hall event Tuesday, an attendee asked Biden what he’ll do to make $50,000 in student debt relief happen. Biden matter-of-factly stated, “I will not make that happen.”

Biden has so far offered $10,000 in student debt relief, much to the disappointment of more progressive members of his party like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Both have already called him out on the issue.

Another option if taxpayers are going to foot the bill: mandate that public university tuition costs be tied to earning potential. There’s an argument to be made that it’s unsustainable to reward schools for letting 18-year-olds take out $50,000 or more in non-dischargeable debt for degrees in fields with few job prospects or relatively low wages. Or simply let students discharge that debt through bankruptcy after a number of years, which would incentivize schools to focus on outcomes.

On the other side of the aisle, Tapper questioned whether Senator Mitch McConnell regrets his vote against convicting former President Trump during the impeachment trial, given that Trump recently called him a “dour, sullen, & unsmiling political hack” for voicing even the mildest criticism about Trump’s role in instigating last month’s Capitol Hill riots.

“I think it just goes to show that if you are not 100% a fan of Trump, are not 100% doing what the president wants, he will come after you,” explained Mia Love, a former Republican congresswoman from Utah.

It turns out the guy claims he’s all about loyalty is anything but.

Third parties

Williams cited a recent Gallup poll in which 62% of Americans now say they support the creation of a viable third party, up 5% since September. America isn’t Twitter after all, and thankfully most people still appreciate nuance.

More and more, people are embracing the notion that they’ve been failed by a two-party system which has left the government in perpetual deadlock, and 50% of those polled say they themselves identify as independent. Despite popular opinion, however, several roadblocks exist — the biggest one being that the gatekeepers don’t want to forfeit their duopoly.

“We have a system of federalism where all 50 states set the rules, and those rules are set by the two major parties who don’t want new party competition. But we know voters continue to suggest that they have a more independent form of politics,” said David Jolly, chairman of the Serve America movement.

Jolly said most people want a government that can still solve hard problems. He notes of the 50% who self-identify as independent, some lean further left than the mainstream, some further right. But most just want to pick and choose the best policies from both parties and feel like neither one truly represents people like them.

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