Build Back Better — In the Public Sector, Too

Building back better has to include government. In many ways, it might have to start there.

But, as New America’s Mark Schmitt correctly pointed out in the NYT yesterday, there’s a lot of building to do, and the opposition is likely to be fierce. Plus, he continues:

Mr. Biden and his team might also not realize how much has changed, and how many of the basic structures of daily governance have been broken. One value of democratic norms is that they create expectations that allow smooth transitions across administrations or within them. As those norms have been broken in the Trump years, so have those expectations.

People’s direct experience of government and the services and security it provides, or fails to provide, shapes our sense of ourselves as citizens in a democracy as much as, or more than, elections and legislation. Much will depend on the Biden administration’s preparation for what it finds when it finally takes the keys to the White House.

The Trump administration didn’t fill a lot of jobs (or filled them with incompetents, sycophants, or permanent temps) precisely because it wanted to change how government is experienced. So there’s an enormous amount of rebuilding to do, but it will be vulnerable both to Senate obstruction and public expectation.

That’s a very long lever in the hands of the dear leader of the (probable) Senate majority. With a country desperate to be well served by a new administration, it’s all too easy to prevent the appointment of competent people and then — shamelessly as always — blame the other side for incompetence.