August 17, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Inflation Reduction Act is what a democracy can achieve when fascists are prevented from stabbing it in the back

Thank Mitch McConnell for proof of concept.


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What would the American republic look like if, one day, the fascists just disappeared? What could we accomplish if the people most hostile to bargaining were not stabbing democracy in the back?

It would look like the Democratic Party. 

The Democrats, as I have said before, represent the full spectrum of legitimate partisan politics. Along with a handful of Republicans, no Democrat would dare cross the line dividing patriotism and mutiny. 

The party itself contains a complete set of respectable ideologies, from Alexandria Cortez on the left, Joe Manchin on the right to the president (and a plurality of Democrats) somewhere in the middle.

By investing billions in a white working class state, the Democrats hope improved conditions might realign party loyalties such that voters across Appalachia reconsider siding with southern politics.

As for accomplishments? Well, the Inflation Reduction Act. 

And we have Mitch McConnell to thank.

Appalachian pragmatism
The president signed the legislation into law Tuesday. It is, as I said last month, a big fucking Big Fucking Deal (BFD). According to the Post, it includes $260 billion in clean-energy tax credits; $80 billion in new rebates for electric vehicles, green energy at home and more; $1.5 billion for cutting methane emissions; $27 billion “green bank”; support for fossil fuel projects; the power to lower drug prices. 

It funds the IRS so it can go after very obscenely rich tax cheats. It establishes a revenue floor for Fortune 500 companies who get away with paying zero percent in income tax. It moreover imposes a 1 percent levy on every stock bought back to gin up share prices.

It’s not perfect, to be sure, but it’s still so good, according to the Editorial Board’s own Jason Sattler, “especially compared to the alternative we were seriously considering less than two months ago. Which was absolutely nothing. Failing to mark and briefly celebrate this monumental achievement … would be a moral failure.”

Overall, the Inflation Reduction Act does two big things bigly. One, it accelerates the country’s conversion from fossil-fuel energy to renewable energy. Researchers estimate that carbon emissions will drop by as much as 40 percent by the end of the current decade

That’s never happened before.

In the process, the legislation creates whole markets as well as the jobs (9 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office) and profit-seeking opportunities that go along with new markets. 

And it locates much of that activity in coal-loving West Virginia. 

By investing billions in a white working class state, the Democrats hope improved conditions might realign party loyalties such that voters across Appalachia reconsider siding with southern politics.  

West Virginia, of course, is Joe Manchin’s home state. Nothing was going to happen without his support. Evidently, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who does not get the credit he deserves, made the conservative Democrat an offer he couldn’t refuse. 

The House progressives, who’ve not been shy about expressing serial disappointments in Manchin, quickly turned the bill around, knowing that it was imperfect but also knowing that it would do a lot of good.

So not only are the Democrats representative of all Americans.

They are pragmatic. 

Like most Americans.

The moral of the story
We can thank the Republicans for making this experiment in democracy possible. Precisely, we can thank Mitch McConnell.

The Senate minority leader thought he had Schumer over a barrel. It turns out, however, that he just forgot that Manchin is a Democrat. 

With his conference united behind him, McConnell had threatened to tank legislation that would support the semiconductor industry if the Democrats pursued the president’s climate change agenda. 

After Manchin essentially vetoed that agenda, McConnell greenlit Republican support for the so-called Chips and Science Act. 

But hours later, the Post’s Greg Sargent said, Schumer “announced a revived deal to spend hundreds of billions on climate change and health-care subsidies. Now Sen. Ted Cruz seethes that McConnell failed to ‘follow through’ on his threat to kill the chips bill. Other GOP senators ripped McConnell for getting rolled and caught napping.”

The lesson, Greg concluded, is that “procedural hardball” works. 

True, but I think the larger moral of the story is that the Inflation Reduction Act is what can be accomplished in a free republic when the fascists are prevented from stabbing democracy in the back – from sabotaging good-faith efforts to solve the country’s problems.

“The real America”
I hope the moral of the story sticks. 

Mitch McConnell’s power is proportional to the conventional belief in bipartisanship as the proper means of effecting enduring change. His power is also proportional to the Democrats’ inability to solve problems – a direct consequence of Republican sabotage. 

The Inflation Reduction Act proves it doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes to budget-related bills, the GOP can pound sand.

It also proves that the Democrats represent, by themselves, the rich range of political ideas in circulation. As such, the Democrats, by themselves, represent “bipartisanship” in every way but in name. 

Republican fascists believe they are indispensable, because they believe only they represent “the real America,” which is to say, a social order created, preserved and advanced by white power. They believe the Democrats, and their yen for multiracial democracy, are a kind of diseased perversion worthy only of contempt, even death.

That’s the other thing the Inflation Reduction Act proves.

Democracy, especially a multiracial democracy, doesn’t need the fascists. It can survive without them. It can flourish! It can provide for the needs of every American, even the Republican fascists who would sell their mortal souls to stop democracy from flourishing.

The fascists can’t live with democracy. 

But they can’t live without it either.

All the more reason for the Democrats to go their own way.

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.


  1. Thornton Prayer on August 18, 2022 at 3:40 pm


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