Trigger warning: This is going to be a pitcher of ice water thrown in the face of anyone who is sitting down to brunch. Better cover your huevos. Lefties won’t like it either for the opposite reason. Oh well.
Last week, I voted for Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris to become the president and vice president of the United States of America.
This week, and presumably for the next four years, they are the enemy — not a bitter enemy, not one that needs to be vanquished per se, just part of a blue stone wall of establishment corporatist politics standing in the way of progress.
I hold these two truths together without contradiction or apology. The electoral college hasn’t even convened to speak for us yet, and Biden is already walking back components of the platform that he used to obtain a record number of votes, including mine. This is completely expected. I am neither disillusioned nor have I any regrets for my vote.
It’s not that the honeymoon with Biden-Harris is over; it never began. There are no plans to go anywhere with them. We were never married.
I voted for the lesser evil.
I know there are plenty of fellow Leftists and Progressives and Anarchists who vehemently disagree with this as a matter of opinion or strategy. I need look no further than my Twitter feed for an hourly reminder of why I’m dead wrong in their eyes. I don’t care.
I also notice that none of them managed to get a legitimate horse in the race, despite having four years since the previous duopolistic fiasco that made General Bonespurs our commander-in-chief.
When the greater evil wants to take you over the edge of a cliff, supporting the lesser one is a matter of survival.
But that’s the extent of my support for the Democratic Party in 2020, and it doesn’t extend into 2021 and beyond. We’re not putting out a fire in the kitchen anymore; we’re turning our attention to renovating the house.
Different game, different teams, different rules.
I’ve been saying the same damn thing since Trump became the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016 on nakedly autocratic ideals: The only thing worse than a corrupt two-party system is a corrupt one-party system. Regardless of the scourge of neoliberalism and its dubious and criminal internal Wars on Itself (under the banner of fighting terror, drugs, and any other number of monsters in its closet, all of which YOU have voted for, America), or of where you stand on the correlation versus causation question regarding the democratic peace theory, it is an observable fact that mature, liberal democracies do not go to war against each other, and the fact that we are one is the reason we get to have an open discussion about a nascent Progressive movement. Do you think the people who consider Biden a socialist and Democrats traitors who shouldn’t be allowed to vote (or worse) are ready to sit down and talk about a Green New Deal? You reckon a GOP state-run media will give any fucks about your “defund the police” proposals, never mind give you space to hold public demonstrations for them? What are the odds that those fully funded police will be turned against you instead?
Biden’s victory is a stopgap that will halt our fast decline into something worse, like catching hold of a tree or a ledge as you’re sliding down a mountain. The next task is to get on our feet and climb toward something better than we are now, something that more resembles a true social democracy. We have to understand that Biden and the DNC establishment will now be among the opposition for this task.
Some will argue that the neoliberal domestic policy and neoconservative foreign policy of the Democrat machine is actually a greater evil than Trumpism. Glenn Greenwald makes some salient points to that effect in this scathing indictment of the liberal establishment’s new love affair with the many graduates of the Karl Rove/Grover Norquist School of Subhuman Politics who helped oust Trump.
But I can’t follow his reasoning all the way to the Greater Evil conclusion due to one persistent point I will never concede: a machine doesn’t move by the erratic whims of one unstable person.
No, Trump is not Hitler — he’s not nearly as intelligent for one — but he is an awful lot like the Fuhrer’s predecessor, Kaiser Wilhelm II. That didn’t end well for Germany either.
We wouldn’t want to install an autocratic Leftist ruling against the will of the people. We need to do the hard work of convincing our fellow citizens to reorganize society from the bottom up, and build alternative infrastructure that reflects this change of will. Neither side of the corporatist/fascist coin is about to roll over and embrace that.
I’ll give credit where it’s due: Greenwald and our fellow Progressives have been excellent at making important points in reference to Biden — 1) our executive branch was already becoming an illiberal, authoritarian, autocratic disaster before Trump was elected and it needs to be reined back in for the country’s own health, and 2) revisionist history being fed to us about this is regressive and dangerous. Some bedfellows are just too strange even for politics. (Looking at you, David Frum. You can go away now.)
But this doesn’t address why putting Trump into the position shaped in this manner by the Bush and Obama administrations presented a unique danger that had to be stopped. That has much more to do with Trump’s extreme narcissistic personality disorder and delusional thinking than his continuation of the post-9/11 authoritarian turn. It has to do with his (attempted) gutting of most of the regulatory infrastructure that supports the ecology and general welfare of society and protects the most vulnerable. It has to do with his dogwhistle courting of the most vile elements of white grievance politics as his base. It has to do with his installing of loyalists at every possible position in the bureaucracy as well as the SCOTUS.
No amount of “Orange Man Bad” mockery from edgy progressives will erase the fact that the Cheeto was indeed a very bad and unique danger that had to be removed at the ballot box, and I do rest easier knowing he will be gone in January.
But we aren’t out of the woods yet by any stretch. The Democrats were the enemy of our enemy then, but they are not our friends now. Shit changes fast. Biden may restore “normalcy” and some amount of personal decorum to the office. I don’t think he is a horrible guy. But he was in the room while a lot of horrible stuff happened. Then he was on the right side of history for about 15 minutes. But he’s on the wrong side of the future.
We have about three years to start building a better one outside the duopoly. The work has to start now. Brunch is cancelled.