Sunday, June 09, 2019

Beating Trump... Anyone But Biden


A USA Today OpEd Saturday morning gets to the heart of the Biden problem Democrats serious about denying Trump a second term are facing: within the Democratic Party, Biden is the candidate of the oligarchy. Status Quo Joe "is a consummate, long-time Washington insider, who has demonstrated in his long career that he often dances with the ones who brought him: wealthy donors and special interests." He's polling well because many Democrats "figure the centrist Biden is a better bet to attract independent voters than the more progressive Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. But have you actually listened closely to Biden lately? Not to be ageist, but the more charitable way to put it is that he isn’t currently at the top of his game. He can stumble and fumble for words and thoughts." This isn't a subject media is comfortable discussing. But it isn't really ageist, since it describes Biden and Trump, but not Bernie, all of whom are around the same age.
When you listen to Biden on the campaign trail, you see a candidate trafficking in platitudes galore, about defeating Trump and “mak(ing) America moral again."

...[R]ight there is the problem: Biden and many Democrats fundamentally misread what happened in 2016. To them, Trump is a temporary aberration, before the usual status-quo politics can be restored.

But Trump was more a symptom, rather than the cause of extreme political dysfunction. Electing Trump was a kind of primal scream by millions of voters fed up with a broken political system with out-of-touch Washington political elites of both parties.

And Trump will, of course, go away, but Trumpism will likely stay.

...[T]he quote of the 2020 race came recently from Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “What does it matter if we beat Donald Trump if we end up with someone who will perpetuate the very same crony capitalist policies, corporate policies and waging more of these costly wars?”

Candidates like Joe Biden come to mind.

The problem with Biden is that he looks good in soft focus but his candidacy reveals glaring deficiencies that, in these populist times, won’t survive hard scrutiny.

The focus goes beyond his support for the 1994 crime bill which helped lead to mass incarceration, and his, in hindsight, retrograde conduct during the Clarence Thomas hearings.

More harmful to his candidacy are his actions that’ve benefited his wealthy benefactors but stick it to the Average Joe and Jane: his support for global trade deals that have decimated the American manufacturing base, his support for financial deregulation, and his support for bankruptcy reform that prevents people from being able to discharge their consumer debt.

And it hasn’t escaped sharp-eyed observers that he started his current campaign by holding a fundraiser attended by corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors.

Not to mention Biden’s support for costly Middle Eastern military interventions that benefit our military industrial complex but have harmed Middle America’s sons and daughters.

The list goes on. Just consider the conflict-of-interest questions raised by his actions in Ukraine and China that involved his son, Hunter.

But hey, if you aren’t paying close attention, Biden is your guy. He is the perfect tool of the oligarchy-- affable and decent while sometimes effecting cut-throat policies detrimental to ordinary Americans.

Is Biden starting to catch up with the times and with the way the Democratic Party has moved since the 1970s and '80s (his time, the time his political ideas became set in concrete in his mind)? Not at all. Take that much ballyhooed Climate Plan someone wrote for him. It's another middle of the road approach that won't actually solve the most important problem we're facing as a society, a problem that will laugh in the face of any halfway measures. As Dayton Martindale explained for In These Times readers, "once you look beneath the puff, it becomes clear the plan is not grounded in robust proposals, and the substance is remarkably flimsy. His good ideas (like ending subsidies) are mostly shared by the rest of the Democratic field; he puts undue faith in new technologies, hoping they can save us without having to directly confront the fossil fuel industry; and the regulations he suggests are generally either mild or toothless-- likely not enough to achieve his stated goals, themselves insufficient to stem the crisis... Biden’s plan doesn’t actually endorse the Green New Deal. While praising its spirit, he sets a goal that is notably less ambitious: net-zero emissions by 2050, a goal shared by Beto O’Rourke. (The Green New Deal calls for a '10-year mobilization' to achieve zero-emissions electricity, and to get as close to zero in other sectors as 'technologically feasible.') He also steers clear of some of the Green New Deal’s more ambitious components, such as a jobs guarantee... As Inslee put it on Tuesday, 'My plan puts up stop signs, and I’m afraid that the vice president’s plan does not.'

"...In the end, Joe Biden’s plan takes a few good ideas from other campaigns but advances few new specifics, showing little interest in taking on the fossil fuel industry... In the two areas where he most distinguishes himself from other candidates-- his emphasis on technological research and international relations-- he shows himself to be living in a fantasy world, where future innovations allow us to avoid drastic action and the United States is some sort of global climate hero. As a statement from Food and Water Watch’s executive director put it, 'Joe Biden’s climate plan is a cobbled-together assortment of weak emissions targets and unproven technological schemes that fail to adequately address the depth and urgency of the climate crisis we face. This plan cannot be considered a serious proposal to tackle climate change.'"

Even without having to depend on a recession, Trump can be beaten, but, likely, not by someone incapable of taking on the oligarchs and plutocrats-- the way Bernie and Elizabeth Warren do and the way State Quo Joe doesn't and won't. In his NY Times column yesterday, Neil Irwin noted that Trump's trade agenda is a giant achilles heal, one waiting to be taken advantage of. But don't look at Biden as the man to be able or even willing to. Trump's love of tariffs leaves him open to attacks "from the right, as being anti-business, and from the left, as being bad for workers."

In battleground states mostly in the Rust Belt-- Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin-- 39 percent of registered voters said they thought Mr. Trump’s trade policies were good for the economy, versus 47 percent who thought they were bad, according to a May Quinnipiac poll.

You can imagine a trade pitch from the 2020 Democratic nominee that goes something like this: “I’ll work with allies to keep pressure on China over its unfair practices-- but not with open-ended tariffs on thousands of goods that are a tax on American consumers and invite retaliation against American farmers. I won’t use tariffs against countries that are our close partners. And I’ll use trade policy to try to boost well-being for American workers, rather than using it as a cudgel on unrelated issues.”

It could prove a potent way to knit together a Democratic coalition that depends on both traditional labor-left voters in the industrial Midwest and college-educated suburbanites who are more comfortable with globalization.

“I think Trump is hugely vulnerable on trade, but Democrats haven’t quite figured out how to attack that vulnerability yet,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Trump’s approach has made things worse for both key Democratic and Republican constituents.”

Rather than focusing on a few discrete areas where international competitors have treated American companies unfairly and applying temporary tariffs to try to exert pressure, the Trump administration has applied open-ended tariffs on imports of nearly 7,000 different items.

The administration has also placed tariffs on “intermediate goods,” so that efforts to create jobs in one sector can mean higher costs and fewer jobs in another. The taxes on many steel and aluminum imports, for example, may be creating some jobs in those sectors while increasing costs for automakers and other American companies that use the metals.

And trading partners have been savvy about using retaliatory tariffs to punish Mr. Trump’s base, most notably on American farm products.

Combine those factors, and the trade war so far has offered more pain than it has a clear pathway to better deals for American companies and workers. Especially with China, it has often seemed that rather than seeking to achieve attainable goals, the conflict is the whole point.

...Trump took advantage of that flexibility to persuade many Republicans to embrace a protectionist approach in 2016, and was able to appeal to a key segment of Democrats as well. The premium on retaining so-called Obama-Trump vote switchers in 2020 may help explain Mr. Trump’s recent moves-- he may view it as keeping a promise of being tough on trade.

The challenge for the Democratic nominee will be to offer a persuasive vision for a trade policy that makes both workers and businesses better off than they are under the status quo, to stand up for American interests while removing the erratic approach of the Trump administration.
Bernie was on CNN yesterday explaining that "it's not good enough just to attack Trump. You need to bring forth an agenda that increases voter turnout, that is a campaign of excitement and energy. Not the old status quo. You have to talk to working people, and to young people. You have to bring millions of new people into the political process, to demand finally that we have a government and a political process in this country that works for all of us and not just the 1%. If you are timid and middle of the road, I don't think you create that kind of excitement and energy to defeat Trump and given the fact that in my view Trump is the most dangerous president in the history of this country, it is imperative that we do that."

On Wednesday, he's going to be speaking at George Washington University to go over how "democratic socialism is the only way to defeat oligarchy and authoritarianism." His campaign announced that he plans to "make the case that a strong grassroots campaign based on these progressive values is the only way to confront oligarchy and authoritarianism and defeat Donald Trump."

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At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already know the Party is pushing Biden. We already know that the corporatist media is aiding that effort. We already know that Biden's horrible record is being buried.

How about we focus on what we can do to derail this train-wreck-in-the-making?

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An article filled with many nuggets, but doesn't bother with, IMO, the biggest biden problem -- he's a PROLIFIC gaffe machine. He loves to go off script and when he does, he steps in shit and puts his foot in his mouth (must love the taste). That's been his entire career and made obamanation keep him off the stage during their 2 campaigns. He can mug silently as good as anyone. But let him open his pie hole and he creates problems.
Not to mention the fact that he's a lifelong fascist, racist and misogynist, which WAS mentioned.

"But hey, if you aren’t paying close attention, Biden is your guy. He is the perfect tool of the oligarchy..."

Ayup, it's in the less than capable hands of lefty voters -- dumbest motherfuckers in the history of earth. Here is where biden is golden no matter what he's done and what he says. Voters seem totally immune to sentience where biden is concerned.

The DNC already has the biden nom in the bag. Remember those pre-bought superdelegates. All they have to do is get the convention to a second ballot without the obvious crudity of the '68 disaster... and the fix is in.

Then voters will, again, revolt against the oligarchy and RE-elect trump as the lesser evil. I cannot say they'd be all that wrong.

On the other facet of this thread, trump is, indeed, a symptom of a cluster fuck of a shithole swirling the bowl. I've been saying that about every winning prez since Reagan.
Trump should be vulnerable on trade, tariffs, criminality, corruption... and of course temperament/mental illness. Biden is not capable of attacking him on any of these... and he'll be occupied defending himself (incoherently) against trump's ad-hominem attacks and random insults. And biden is also very vulnerable on his half-century of fascism, cronyism, corruption, misogyny, racism, etc.

In the unlikely event of a biden victory over trump, he, too, will be a symptom. And he certainly won't undo any of the evils of everyone since 1980. He and his party's inevitable refusal to do anything at all with their victory will, once again, guarantee a Nazi victory in 2024. And that will almost certainly be the last election, charade or otherwise, that this shithole will ever bother conducting.

And voters will not notice as they warm both thumbs up their anuses... again and still.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger News Nag said...

Any Dem but Gabbard. Even Biden, despite his obvious impediment to the larger progress the rest of the Dem field conceivably could unleash. Tulsi's not even close to being progressive, so I don't know a good reason for any Tulsi love. Her populist credit is extremely wildly misplaced. Surprised by you.


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