As the first calendar year of the Biden administration nears its end, Build Back Better (BBB) is still not law. Negotiations have fallen apart, there is no clear path to victory, and a certain West Virginia senator seems both too powerful and enigmatic as he and the entire Republican Party prevent the United States from realizing the substantial progress that BBB promises.
It is easy to despair and assume that BBB, and the entire Biden agenda, for that matter, is a lost cause. Frustration and disappointment are tiring, so the temptation to do less or even withdraw from activism altogether grows. However, this is not the time for defeatism or detachment from the critical work that lies ahead. Just ask our leaders.
In an interview Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan, “The stakes are so high. I refuse to get caught up in what might be personal politics… This is about let’s get the job done. Let’s get it done!” When pressed by Brennan about how to proceed considering Joe Manchin’s lack of support, Harris explained, “You don’t give up. That’s how we do it. We don’t give up. That’s how.”
On Tuesday, President Biden responded to reporters’ questions at the White House with a hopeful message. “Sen. Manchin and I are going to get something done,” Biden declared. “I want to get things done. I still think there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done,” he added.
Later in the day, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convened a private call with Democratic senators, in which he similarly insisted they are “not giving up.” In a letter, Schumer indicated that the Senate will keep working on BBB in January “until we get something done” and that no recent setback “will deter us from continuing to try to find a way forward.” Driving the point home, Schumer wrote, “We simply cannot give up. We must and we will keep fighting to deliver for working families.”
If Democratic leaders aren’t espousing doom and gloom, then who are we to do so? Albert Einstein, in his wisdom, once expressed to a friend his view that “politics is more difficult than physics.” Not only is politics so difficult, but we also live in extraordinarily trying and complicated times. It is time to keep the faith and embrace 2022 with renewed optimism and determination.