Donald Trump was defeated this past week; but whatever relief I felt toward this news was immediately undercut by the fact that Joe Biden will now be the president.
After an election cycle that felt like it’s lasted an eternity and an election night that lasted a week, keeping the country on a razor’s edge during every second of it, the race was finally called for Biden and most of the country let out a collective sigh of relief.
While I shared that relief and I am more than fine letting people enjoy the defeat of Trump as one bit of good news in a long and increasingly terrible year, what I don’t get, however, is why the hell anyone would be celebrating Biden becoming president.
A Biden presidency is a change of course for the country certainly, but while we’ve managed to steer the ship away from the rocks, we’re now headed directly into a storm.
People seem to be acting as though despite winning the presidential election, Democrats haven’t objectively failed at actually defeating the Republicans.
How was the election this close when Trump presided over a collapsing economy, streets flooded with mass civil unrest and a pandemic response that led to the death of a quarter of a million Americans?
Democrats lost seats in the house, failed to reclaim the Senate (Georgia’s upcoming run-off election withstanding) for the third cycle in a row, Mitch McConnell is still the Senate majority leader, the Supreme Court has a 6 – 3 conservative majority, the Republicans have packed the lower courts with conservative judges and Republicans are set to draw five times as many congressional districts as Democrats next year.
As if a gridlocked congress wasn’t bad enough, Biden has committed to filling his own administration with Republicans in the name of “bipartisanship” – progressives be damned – all the while his administration would be inheriting an economy still in crisis, millions of people still facing eviction and a country still being ravaged by a pandemic.
So, I must ask again, what exactly is there to celebrate?
The Democratic Party somehow failed to tie the Republicans, not just Trump but the Republican party itself, to the abject failures of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, the economy and civil unrest.
The supposed opposition party has failed to not just get another stimulus check out to millions of Americans who desperately need it, but also failed to attach blame for that to McConnell, the primary obstacle to the stimulus, while somehow allowing Justice Amy Coney Barrett to be approved.
Not 48 hours after the election did Democratic leaders and former officials like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel start punching left at the progressive wing of the party and warning members against going “too far left” or running on progressive policies.
It should be noted that during this past election, every single Democrat who supported Medicare for All won reelection while centrist members struggled across the board and are responsible f or much of the ground lost.
While Democratic leaders called for listening more to literal Republicans like former Gov. John Kasich, who failed to help Biden win Ohio, progressives like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were driving voter turnout for Biden and Democrats in their respective states.
Additionally, progressive policies like drug decriminalization/legalization and raising the minimum wage were extremely successful even in red states. Despite this, many of these states still went to Trump.
That goes to show that people want these progressive, material policies because they know what will help them. They just hate Democrats or don’t trust them to provide these policies and frankly, I can’t blame them.
They refuse to reflect on their failures. Even now I can hear people who told me to hold off on criticizing Biden till he wins, tell me to just wait till after inauguration. I expect them to push that back to the midterms and then after 2024. When will it ever be okay to ask more from Biden?
Frankly, I’m done. I am not playing this game in four years when I’m asked to suck it up and vote for Kamala Harris after she and Biden failed to materialize any positive policies, or else Republicans are going to run Donald Trump Jr. or the My Pillow guy in 2024.
At some point we must ask ourselves, “Why is it that Democrats can never properly wield power and pass these kinds of policies?” Whenever they have power, Republicans seem to stop every single thing they do.
Yet when they’re the opposition party, they fail to stop any of the Republicans’ major policy goals like the Trump tax cuts or Barrett’s appointment.
Are Democrats hopelessly incompetent or willfully complicit? In the end, it doesn’t matter which because the end result is the same.
There is nothing to celebrate with a Biden administration. I do not expect the architect of the 1994 crime bill who wants to increase police funding in the face of the largest protest movement in U.S. history against police to usher in any meaningful reform.
Nor do I expect the man who helped build the cages on the border to begin with, to actually stop putting people in those cages.
While a myriad of different executive orders that Biden could sign that would result in real, material gains — such as cancelling all student loan debt which I would hope he’d do – I unfortunately find it far more likely Biden’s first two years will be spent with a gridlocked Congress while his administration struggles with the ongoing pandemic and economic recession.
That means no progressive policies, just more austerity and slashing of social programs while Democrats throw their hands up claiming they can’t get anything done because the Republicans.
This is a bad omen for Democrats in the 2022 midterms. Unless the party starts to fundamentally reorient its priorities toward the working class again, they’re going to get slaughtered.
Moreover, we need to seriously understand exactly how we got here. Ineffective, centrist neoliberals give us increasingly worse and more extreme conservatives. Just as Obama gave us Trump. What do you think comes after Biden if Democrats inherit and oversee these ongoing crises and fail to provide any positive, material change for people?
Trump was not an aberration; he was a natural consequence of past presidents expanding the power of the state while allowing conditions for working people to continue to worsen.
This led to a backlash in the form of Trump, who in the end he was just a Republican who could read the room and exploited the fact that the president could violate all these norms and the opposition won’t do anything about it.
That isn’t to excuse or minimize the death and suffering Trump is responsible for. It’s to say if that incompetent clown could do everything he did in broad daylight, what do you think a more competent and savvier Republican could do behind the scenes? The groundwork is laid.
I would hope Democrats recognized this danger and treat it with the concern it deserves by addressing these underling problems and material needs. But unfortunately, as the president-elect told his rich donors, “Nothing will fundamentally change.”
I don’t say all this to be needlessly nihilistic and suggest there is no hope.
All I have is hope. I will never stop believing a better future is possible for us. But just because I have hope doesn’t mean I think we should be blind to reality.
Now is not the time for triumphalism and it damn sure isn’t the time for people to already be ready to check out of politics again and return to brunch as if all is right in the world.
Now is the time for sober reflection and acknowledgement of our current situation, so we can then figure out what exactly we’re going to do moving forward.
That begins with the understanding that neither the Democratic nor the Republican party care about you if you are a regular, working class person. In fact, they have nothing but contempt for us.
I know this because both parties are fully beholden to corporations and their donors –who more often than not are the same people for both parties.
I know this because the only time there’s consistent “bipartisanship” is when the military budget is increased, corporations ask for more subsidy handouts and a new country needs to be invaded by the United States.
I know this because the wealth of U.S. billionaires has somehow grown by $854 billion during this pandemic while the rest of us received exactly one stimulus check, equivalent to about $5 a day, and were expected to survive off that for the last seven months.
We must stop looking to these political parties as our saviors. No one is saving us but ourselves. We need to start organizing in our communities and at our workplaces to start building institutions of power outside the two-party system.
We need to start running more progressive challengers and unseating as many establishment Democrats as possible to fight Republicans on the electoral level and ensure establishment Democrats don’t sabotage progressive legislation.
We must force the Democratic Party to become the party of unions, more money in your paycheck and healthcare for everyone. That’s how it can start winning and wielding power.
If they don’t, then they need to be abandoned and rejected completely if and when an alternative party that embodies these policies is established.
That is what we need to do because, Biden and the Democrats sure as hell won’t do it on their own. A better future is possible if we make it happen.
The only way forward, is together. Solidarity forever.
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