The next two years will be difficult — and the road ahead will be long — as the U.S. Senate becomes crucially important in determining where that road leads.
The second half of January shows why. President Joe Biden’s first two weeks in office have been a litany of liberal and socialist prescriptions for imagined problems and partisan grievances. The disconnect between the newly elected administration and the electorate, and the reason why the Senate will matter, can be understood clearly through the president.
Biden, himself, has signed no fewer than 19 executive orders as of this writing, many of them rolling back former President Donald Trump’s own executive orders. Executive orders are tenuous at best, existing only at the whim of the executive.
The Senate, on behalf of both itself and the House, is long overdue in asserting its responsibilities when it comes to issues more properly handled by the legislature. Should the Keystone Pipeline have been the result of legislative action rather than executive order, the international fiasco currently unfolding would be unlikely.
That Canada might sue the United States over the revocation of the Keystone Pipeline is extraordinary. The Premier of Alberta has called the cancellation a “gut punch” for Alberta, and “an insult to Canada.” Two-thousand Canadians have already lost jobs as a result.
Meanwhile, governors from Texas to North Dakota are reminding the president about the millions of American jobs which depend on the oil and natural gas industry — and which the president, and the left, seek to end with moratoriums on drilling — in addition to the pipeline cancellation.
As if Americans wouldn’t already be hurt enough by the rupture in relations with Canada, or the gutting of oil and gas production, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has explained he is open to increasing taxes on gasoline, and implementing a new tax for each mile Americans drive.
Americans are lectured to that this is necessary to save the environment, and to boost renewable energy — this, despite the evidence yielded by the United Nation’s Emissions Gap Report 2020. The report reveals that, despite not being signatories and a participant to the Paris Climate Accord, and despite the boost in oil and gas production, the United States’ carbon emissions are in decline.
While the United States may emit more per capita, and while the United States may be the world’s biggest economy, the fact that its emissions are on a downward trajectory is proof that a nation can self-regulate through ideas, moral values, and the market. By contrast, countries like China, Russia, and India are increasing their emissions.
It makes no sense to surrender self-control to a transnational agreement when, as history and current events indicate, the United States is among the few to seek to honor them. Remember how President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which, like Paris, sought to reduce pollution — and then the United States exceeded the targets set by the Protocol, freely and independently of that international agreement. Other nations did not, and paid no real price.
The danger with the surrender of autonomy internationally is that other nations not only place requirements on the United States, but that restrictions, penalties, and fines for failing to meet those requirements can be applied, too. And even in agreements where such sanctions are not explicitly provided for, international relations can be used as a tool to punish those who do not meet expectations of others. In the past, European countries have been far more prone to condemning their friends, like the United States, than routine violators like Russia.
If the Biden administration is serious about American leadership, it should be vaunting and celebrating the progress America has voluntarily made on emissions and pollution — and not the political theatricality of leading by “rejoining” the Paris Climate Accord.
Senators should take up that mantle, but it is doubtful. Although the Senate is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, any tie will come down to Vice President Kamala Harris — and her votes are predetermined for the Democrats. The filibuster exists, for now, and should be used to protect the interests of Americans against the overreach of the Oval Office and the House.
After all, Americans are already expressing their disapproval. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 88% of Americans are dissatisfied with the current direction of the country. Senators need to understand this, and stand strong.
For those one encounters who may already be regretting their vote for Biden, do not mock, dismiss, or condescend to them. Reach out to them, and converse with them about the future and the importance of off-year and midterm elections. The liberal and socialist positions being taken and implemented hurt all of us.
It will take the votes of all of us, and not executive orders, to secure lasting protection of American interests.
Joe Vigliotti, a contributor to The Flip Side and a Taneytown city councilman, writes from Taneytown. His column appears every other Friday. Email him through his website at www.jvigliotti.com.