Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Theory of Change #034: Heather Digby Parton on Joe Biden's first year as president

Theory of Change #034: Heather Digby Parton on Joe Biden's first year as president

This is a free preview of a paid episode. To hear more, visit theoryofchange.flux.community

It’s a bit hard to believe that one year ago, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. A lot has happened during that timespan but a lot has also not happened.

As of this week, Biden and the Democratic majority in the Senate have confirmed 41 federal judges, the most ever for a president’s first year in office.

He also led a successful effort to make vaccines against Covid-19 freely available everywhere in America through the American Rescue Plan Act which also ramped up funding for manufacturing and deployment of scientific testing for the SARS2 coronavirus. No Republican in Congress voted for the law in either chamber of Congress when it passed in March of 2021.

Biden and Democrats also passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which included $550 billion in new federal spending for improvements in roads, bridges, electric vehicle charging, and broadband internet. The law was originally supposed to be passed in tandem with another bill, the Build Back Better Act, which has not passed. Both bills have been under constant opposition by congressional Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who figured out decades ago that a do-nothing Congress actually helps the GOP.

The Republican opposition has been greatly helped by the persistence of the Senate’s filibuster rule which, as currently interpreted, makes almost all legislation face a 60-vote hurdle. Most state legislatures in America don’t have filibusters and most national Democratic Senators say they want to end the outdated rule, but two of them, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have publicly committed to helping Republicans stymie President Biden, and also to opposing his more progressive proposals.

Did it have to be this way, however? What could Biden have done differently? Or is that the wrong question to ask?

Joining me to talk about this today is Heather Digby Parton, she’s a columnist for Salon.com and also one of the original bloggers on the internet. She’s been operating her site, Digby’s Hullabaloo, for 19 years now.


The full transcript, audio, and video of this episode are available to subscribers. Please join today to get full access with Patreon or Substack.

The deep conversations we bring you about politics, religion, technology, and media take great time and care to produce. Your subscriptions make Theory of Change possible and we’re very grateful for your help.

If you would like to support the show but don’t want to subscribe, you can also send one-time donations via PayPal.

If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on Apple Podcasts. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests.


Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield about larger trends and intersections of politics, religion, media, and technology. It's part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

Theory of Change on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

Matthew Sheffield on Mastodon: https://mastodon.social/@mattsheffield

Matthew Sheffield on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? Join Matthew Sheffield and his guests as they explore larger trends and intersections in politics, religion, technology, and media.