Defeating Trump Is Not Enough
In recent discussions I have discovered that even though the Democratic Party presidential primaries are already fading into a distant and albeit disturbing memory, they are still resurrected to “explain” why we ended up with Joe Biden as the only effective alternative to another four years of Trump.
I don’t really give a damn for the manner in which the Democrats decided which corporate shill to nominate, but I do have to point out that they permitted the field of candidates to be flooded to the point of being ridiculous because they were searching for someone - anyone - who would seriously challenge Sanders. They allowed candidates who were polling at 2%, 1%, and even 0% to participate in televised debates. And when they were completely unsuccessful they dragged Joe Biden out of mothballs, dusted him off, and then made sure that every other challenger disappeared from the race virtually overnight. It was rigged from the word go, even more overtly than in 2016.
Before anyone righteously proclaims "BUT BUT . . . VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO" I’ll beat them to the punch and say that if you are in a battleground state, you may very well feel you have no choice but to vote for Biden in order to get Trump out. That makes sense to me. But the fact that this rotten system left us no alternative but to vote for a failed centrist politician shouldn’t be regarded as an occasion for anyone to celebrate.
In 2016, the billionaire class that owns this country was initially dismayed at Trump’s election - they regarded him (correctly) as a dangerous cannon. But they quickly learned to take full advantage of the opportunities he created for the disgustingly wealthy in this country to add to their wealth at the expense of working people. Make no mistake. That parasitic bloodsucking was aided and abetted by four years of Democratic Party leaders throwing their hands in the air every other day and proclaiming "Oh my goodness, whatever shall we do? Mr. Trump is banning Muslims/putting kids in cages/taking away health care from millions/letting tens of thousands of people die from the coronavirus/putting federal troops onto the streets of our cities! Oh woe is me!"
Truth is, they could have done SOMETHING. If they believed even a fraction of their own lamentations - and especially after the 2018 midterms - they could have 1) impeached Trump for his actual crimes, instead of relying on Russiagate; 2) made programmatic proposals to address the crises Trump created; 3) offered draft legislation that would respond to the issues instead of merely carping about jow awful Trump is; 4) called people — including the enormous network of organized labor, civil rights, community and faith organizations loyal to them — into the streets to protest; 5) as a last resort, called a general strike.
The Democratic Party didn’t do ANY of these things. Thank goodness that, when some of these issues arose, people of good will didn’t wait for them! The outpouring of free labor by progressive lawyers and legal workers who fought the Muslim travel ban, the mobilizations of disabled people who fought for their health insurance by occupying the halls of the Senate til police hauled them away, the immigrant advocates who demonstrated against the separation of families, the millions of Americans who voluntarily chose to do the right thing during the pandemic: these are all examples of what is possible and of how much more would have been possible if only the Democrats had acted like a political party in opposition. Instead, they spent four yeard impotently clutching their pearls and demanding to see the manager.
Why didn’t the Democrats do anything besides kvetch? Because they understood that if they actually led people into the streets, if they started putting skin in the game, pretty soon we would start expecting them to actually listen to us, respond to our demands, and work to meet our needs. They modeled passivity because more than anything they want us to be passive. More than anything, the Democratic Party wants us to continue to define "political action" as the act of filling in a circle with a pencil every couple of years.
Of course it’s true that in spite of the passivity of The Resistance, so-called, when people took matters into their own hands and began to press their demands, Democrat politicians didn’t hesitate to grab a flag, walk to the front of the parade, and announce they were in charge. Having done so, however, they promptly and immediately led us . . . exactly nowhere. Never has it been more true than in our time that the Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements.
During the RNC I watched as the Republican Party engaged in a gross and unprecedented violation of federal law as it conducted a partisan political convention on the White House grounds. Make no mistake, I don’t regard the White House as any more sacred than any other monument to American exceptionalism, but when the "opposition" party wants us to understand that we are on the brink of a descent into fascism, you’d think they’d be able to muster a little more of a response than pitiful moans of "It’s UNFAIR!"
The Democrats are right about that, though. The US really is teetering on the brink of a descent into authoritarianism, and Trump really has played a major role in pushing us to the edge. What they won’t say is that millions of Americans aren’t just near the ledge, they are over it and hanging on to it for dear life. And it’s not just because of Trump. It’s because of a system of predatory capitalism and structural white supremacy buttressed by a militaristic system of policing.
What the Democrats don’t care to admit is that the burning buildings in Kenosha and Portland and Chicago are signal flares sent up by a population in extreme distress. They are crying for relief and at the same time warning us. In time, every crime that has been perpetrated by the government on Black people, indigenous people, and people of color in this country has eventually been visited on white working people. Even if we were not moved by the plight of other human beings we might at least hear their warning and take action so that what happens in Kenosha isn’t repeated everywhere. But that’s a discussion that the Democrats don’t want to hear or even admit could happen because, again, it might result in Americans demanding that they actually do something.
So, yeah, long way around to my point: Bernie Sanders was unsuccessful in his bid for the Democratic nomination because he chose to throw in his lot with the same career criminals he sat beside in the Senate all these years. Go figure. And yeah, we now have Joe Biden as the only candidate who can possibly win sufficient electoral votes to keep Trump from another four years. Wherever it will make a difference, if voting for Biden will deny Trump a win, people should fill in those little circles with those pencils.
No one should be fooled for a moment, however, into thinking that electing Biden is going to solve any problem other than getting Trump out. If anything, a post-Trump America is going to be a very dangerous place. The careerists will queue up at the feeding troughs for their ration of graft. The tepid liberals will insist that we give Mr. Biden a very generous honeymoon before we dare to trouble him with petty issues like people dying from the coronavirus or from police violence. In any event, I’m sure he will be too busy giving marching orders for the new Cold War on China. “Normalcy” notwithstanding, if the social movements in the US aren’t ready by Inauguration Day to fight the New Boss, we’re going to find him same as the Old Boss.