The Democratic Party is, generally speaking, a pretty pathetic outfit, but the ongoing farce over the expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions has been obscene even for them. Over the past few days, Americans have watched the most powerful people in the world engaged in a series of patently ridiculous attempts to pretend that the end of the moratorium is anyone’s fault but theirs. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and their allies are treating us like fools—and millions of people are now at risk of eviction because of their inaction.
The trouble began when, just days before the moratorium was set to expire, the White House issued a statement saying that a recent Supreme Court ruling had blocked the CDC’s ability to extend it. Instead, the White House said, it was up to Congress to solve the problem.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was handed down at the end of June, but it took the White House a full month to urge Congress to intervene at the last second—definitely the kind of thing you do for issues you give a shit about.
Congressional Democrats then got their own chance to fail, and they seized it with gusto.
As the Democratic leadership flailed around trying to muster up some votes, so-called “moderate” representatives signaled that they might just skip town rather than support a lifting of the moratorium. Democrats then asked for unanimous consent on an eviction bill—a transparent effort to avoid making anyone take an actual vote on the measure. Republicans objected, Democrats threw up their hands, and everyone went home for the holidays.
That’s all pretty galling, but what came after was worse: Nancy Pelosi and her deputies attempted to pretend like the big problem was the GOP, rather than the fact that their own supposedly progressive party couldn’t agree that it made sense to keep people from being kicked out of their homes during a pandemic:
Sorry, but that is just not going to fly. This isn’t the Senate. There’s no filibuster. Nancy Pelosi controls the levers of power in ways Chuck Schumer can only dream of. The only reason Republicans could “block” an eviction measure is that Democrats let them block it. The reason Democrats let that happen is that they didn’t have the votes. We are not idiots! We can see this happening. Do Democrats think we cannot read newspapers?
But Nancy Pelosi would rather cry foul over GOP treachery than admit the truth: that preventing millions of renters from being evicted is not a priority for her party.
It’s easy to figure out what’s going to happen next. An estimated six million renters are at risk of being evicted now that the moratorium has been lifted. There are less than a dozen state moratoriums in place across the country, and barely any of the money that was supposed to help people stay in their homes has been dispersed.
On Monday morning, Pelosi again pretended as though Democrats were interested in extending the eviction moratorium, despite all evidence to the contrary. She also passed the blame back to the White House:
To watch virtually the entire federal government do an elaborate version of the “we’re all trying to find the guy who did this” meme is infuriating but also instructive, because every part of this sorry story comes back to the same core problem: Democrats do not want to use all the means at their disposal to help people who need to be helped. The White House said that the Supreme Court tied its hands over extending the moratorium, but Democrats refuse to seriously consider expanding or reforming the court to ensure that it is not ruled by far-right corporate stooges. House Democrats said that Republicans stopped them from doing anything, but that is obviously not true. Observers noted that the bill would probably have been doomed in the Senate thanks to the filibuster, but that is only because Democrats do not have the wherewithal to get rid of the filibuster.
Democrats like to talk about themselves as robust champions of the state, but more often than not they wind up highlighting the hollow fantasies propping up the American government—such as the fantasy that the government represents the people. This is a cruel society, and that is in large part because the people we put in power feel relaxed enough about that cruelty to let it continue.