Abrams: Why do politicians need disasters to work together?

Dan Abrams Live

(NewsNation) — Hurricane Ian has devastated Florida’s southwest coast, with warnings of substantial loss of life and millions without power, but it’s also forced a partnership that it seems almost no other issue could: President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis are working together.

Now, let’s not pretend that this is going to somehow change their long-term relationship, because it won’t. But the interesting question is — how do what we call the “marginalized moderate majority” force foes like them to work together in other contexts?

Like parenting bickering children — and these two have definitely bickered — we want to reinforce positive behavior. DeSantis has been among the most vocal critics of the Biden administration, and Biden has also made it clear what he thinks of DeSantis.

But the ongoing disaster has both the federal and state governments rising to the challenge of this emergency. DeSantis on Wednesday requested that the storm be declared a major disaster, unleashing the maximum of federal funds to help bring aid to victims. Overnight, Biden approved it.

But why does it take a national disaster to get them both cooperating in a way that most of us would hope for? Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night tried to bait DeSantis into taking a shot at Biden, asking him, “given how politicized things are at the moment, are you confident you’re going to get the federal support Florida needs?”

That’s as easy a softball to hit out of the partisan park as any, but to DeSantis’ credit, he didn’t swing.

“So I actually spoke with the president and he said he wants to be helpful, so we did submit a request for reimbursement for the next 60 days at 100%. That’s significant support. It’s a significant storm,” DeSantis said.

Speaking to reporters, Biden talked about the very same conversation.

“I spoke with Governor DeSantis for some time. My team has been in constant contact with him from the very beginning. I’ve had made it clear to the governor and mayors, the federal government is ready to help in every way possible,” Biden said.

Thursday morning, Biden talked about working with DeSantis again even as he seemed a bit irritated about having to go there when a reporter asked the president how he would describe his relationship and conversation with DeSantis.

“It’s totally irrelevant, but I’ll answer it,” Biden replied. “He complimented me, he thanked me for the immediate response we had. He told me how much he appreciated it. He said he was extremely happy with what was going on. This is not about whether anything having to do with our disagreements politically. This is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses. That’s what this is about. I have talked to him four or five times already. And it’s not a matter of my disagreements with him on other items.”

The president clearly highlighted the disagreements, but all in all, good for them on getting it done together.

Is this sort of civility so hard to continue after the disaster? Well, of course it is, because the bases of both parties would be furious, even apoplectic, to see DeSantis lauding Biden or the president appreciating DeSantis except in the most dire of situations.

But why isn’t the immigration crisis, or gun violence, or drugs or crime more broadly, a truly dire situation as well in this country? Many of those issues lead to many more preventable deaths than a hurricane. Of course, we know the answer.

Preparing for and responding to a hurricane isn’t generally political and is mostly about amount of preparation and aid. It isn’t defined by the sort of thorny divisive issues that accompany many of the biggest national crises and debates.

But still, the coordination here shows that when they want to, they can get things done together, and we, the marginalized moderate majority, should encourage, even coerce, our leaders to do it more often.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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