Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Will Deeply Committed Progressives Vote For Status Quo Joe In November-- The Lesser Of Two Evils Play?


Bernie apparently got some policy concessions out of Biden-- enough for him to endorse him. Maybe there are more to come, but what Biden announced so far isn't enough for me to vote for him. (Note: I vote for candidates, not against someone who is worse. Over the decades, the Democrats have taken interpreted progressives willingness to vote for their putrid centrist candidates as an endorsement of putrid, centrist policies. If that's ok for you, go for it.) Anyway, I stuck up a quickie Twitter poll and a tiny majority of respondents said they had decided to vote for Biden, either on their own or because of Bernie. Almost as many people said they would not vote for him or had not yet decided.

On Tuesday, The Guardian published a column by Nathan Robinson asserting that Biden needs to win progressive voters over by doing a lot more and that "his 'concessions' so far have only demonstrated that he isn’t serious about listening to leftwing voters." Trump may lose-- how could he not?-- but there's no way Biden can win in anyway but by default. The enthusiasm gap for Biden is monstrous. At best, he's simply better than Trump, a lot better for some people, magically better for others. But he has nothing to offer anyone, except neoliberals eager to see the end of Social Security and Medicare and a balanced budget.

AOC is likely to endorse Biden as well but she said he has to be made to feel uncomfortable before there can be any real of party unity. Robinson wrote that "Many younger people share Ocasio-Cortez’s perspective; they are waiting to see what Biden can offer rather than reflexively supporting him because he is the Democrat" or even because Bernie endorsed him. "Why," asked Robinson, "is Biden struggling with young progressives?"

Well, one reason is that he has spent a lifetime opposing key progressive goals, and used to be proud of his reputation as one of the Senate’s “most conservative” Democrats. He was anti-abortion, pro-Iraq war and in the pocket of big banks. Even today, Biden says he has “no empathy” for young people who complain about indebtedness and precarity. He has told millennials who raise concerns about his environmental policies that they should “go vote for someone else.” Plenty have been willing to do just that. So while some commentators, such as Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, have suggested that activists and left media are responsible for Biden’s “unity problem,” the more blameworthy culprit is Biden himself.

In fact, it doesn’t seem as if Biden has much interest in solving his “unity problem.” In an ostensible effort to reach out to the left, Biden recently debuted new policies on healthcare and education. Did he adopt the policies recommended in the activists’ letter, namely Medicare for All and canceling all outstanding student debt? No, he did not. Instead, he merely proposed lowering the existing Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 and canceling tuition-related debt for students who attended public colleges who earn under a certain income.

The first of these policies almost seems like a deliberate insult. Biden’s response to those young people demanding a better health policy is to offer a policy that won’t help any of them for decades. And to understand just how pitifully stingy this “concession” is, remember that dozens of Democratic senators, including plenty of “moderates”, have already endorsed lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 55. You can find an op-ed in Forbes (not exactly the Democratic Socialists of America newsletter) suggesting 50 would be a better age. Bill Clinton proposed 55 in 1998, and Hillary Clinton advocated 55 in 2016. So Biden’s big concession to the left is actually more conservative than a centrist Democratic proposal! It’s not nothing, but it’s about as close to nothing as a policy can get without literally being nothing, and it shows that Biden isn’t serious about courting the left.

Remember, too, that we’re only talking about the platform. This is where negotiations start. By the time a proposal has gone through the political process, it inevitably gets watered down. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll get the Medicare age dropped from 65 to 63 by the year 2030 or something. And even that prospect assumes that Biden is serious about fighting for his platform. At election time, politicians have an unfortunate habit of promising voters whatever they think voters want to hear. Needless to say, they don’t always follow through, and you’re often better off looking at their record than their rhetoric. From Biden’s record, it’s more plausible that he’ll follow through on his reported plan to put Michael Bloomberg and JPMorgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, in his cabinet than that he’ll overhaul the healthcare system.

The student debt plan is a disappointment, too. Why only public colleges, when so much unsustainable debt comes from private universities? Why only tuition-related expenses? Why is it means-tested? If Biden wants to impress the left, he will need a big, sweeping plan, not a plan with dozens of qualifiers and caveats that recalls Kamala Harris’s infamous proposal to forgive debt only for “Pell grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities.

I actually really hope Biden embraces one of the big left policy proposals such as Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, because he can’t afford to write off progressive votes, and the stakes of this election are high. If Donald Trump is re-elected, it will be a disaster: he will be emboldened and more powerful, and will end his second term with almost complete control of the courts. Democracy as we know it may disappear altogether; U.S. militarism will escalate; carbon emissions will spiral out of control; and brutal new immigration policies will be introduced. Trump needs to lose, but Biden is already a weak candidate, and he will be even weaker if he can’t turn out the progressive base.

Many progressives are going to have a difficult time voting for Biden. He has shown contempt for them and betrayed many of the causes they care about. To make matters worse, Tara Reade’s credible sexual assault allegation against Biden will make it difficult for those who consider themselves allies of women and supporters of #MeToo to vote for him in good conscience. Biden has a long way to go to convince the left he’s worth supporting.

So far, though, it seems as if Biden is mostly concerned with reassuring rich Democratic donors and party bigwigs that he will keep his promise that “nothing would fundamentally change.” That could almost be Biden’s campaign slogan at this point. But it doesn’t seem like a winner. He will need to do better if he’s going to stand a chance of beating Trump.

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At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I actually really hope Biden embraces one of the big left policy proposals such as Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, because he can’t afford to write off progressive votes, and the stakes of this election are high."

Yeah, and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Pigs will fly before Biden actually embraces either of those proposals AND REALLY MEANS IT.

A Biden presidency means more CitiGroup & Goldman Sachs fekkers running cabinet agencies.

For those who refuse to vote for Biden, a vote for a viable 3rd-party candidate would at least offer the potential advantage of making it easier for that party's nominee to get federal funding and ballot access in future elections.

At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barack Obama right after completing his endorsement video for Joe Biden

At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 9:47 PM:

There is no "viable 3rd-party," you fucking schmuck. I'm old enough to remember "by any means necessary," which neither you or Howie seem to get. The first and foremost short-term objective is to get rid of Trump, no matter what else comes with it. If that's not enough for some of you to vote "for," then fuck the lot of you. Why would anybody pay attention to you?

I'll gladly stipulate that every word you say about Biden is a fact. So fucking what? He isn't Trump, do you get it? Whether YOU vote for him or not is irrelevant, because YOU are irrelevant.

I have a friend who I have known almost all my life, and I am in my late seventies. His parents were both Communists in the 1940s and 1950s, and he has remained a hell of a lot more "left" than anybody who comments or writes here. His take on all this was: "I'd damn sure rather protest against President Biden than against President Trump."

And that's my take on it also. Do you fucking wankers imagine that the struggle ceases, just because a Democrat is President?

At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why," asked Robinson, "is Biden struggling with young progressives?"

Joe Biden tells millennials “Gimme a break, I have no empathy”

Yes, Joe. Boomers did change the world - for the WORSE.

Speaking As A Boomer Myself.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:53, the whole reason we have trump is because you guys haven't ever been able to see past this year.

The ONLY non-bigly-negative of a biden victory would be changing the name plate on the desk. The best case, that biden even campaigned on, is that nothing else would change. And, in fact, that means that many evils will get worse (wealth chasm, debt, wars, cuts to sustenance, aversion to rule of law...).

And THAT means, as it has for 40 years, that WORSE than the last worst guy becomes inevitable.

The reason biden won't even lie to progressives and the young and those most tenuously living in society is BECAUSE HE DOESN'T HAVE TO in order to win your vote. And when the party never has to earn your vote, they will NEVER earn your vote.

Anyone who believes that biden will honor even the minimal concessions he verbally seduced Bernie with (and maybe AOC) is exactly what I've always said you are... dumbest voters in the history of voters.

Get it? No? didn't expect you to.

At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Note: I vote for candidates, not against someone who is worse."

The only thing I'm waiting for, Howie, is when YOU will give biden your "hold your nose and vote.." endorsement.

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent and highly-relevant post by poster at 6:21 AM. I bow to how effectively you've made your point that the Dem sheeple (persuaded by the likes of DWT) will vote for the Dem pols no matter what the Dem pols do - hence, the Dem pols are never required to earn the votes.

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

We have NO CHOICE at this point: it is extremely unfortunate but we MUST vote for Biden to get rid of Trump. We MUST get rid of Trump! Remember, Trump has about nine more months left in office no matter what. He is going to further shred virtually EVERYTHING. He now claims he can disband Congress. I suspect he would be more than willing to send the military to the states to do his bidding. He will stop at nothing. Nothing or no one can stop him now. The Republicans have let loose a complete monster. Trump has usurped Congress's power and the Republicans let him - even welcomed it. Now he is stopping funding to the WHO - money approved by Congress - this is totally comparable to what he was impeached for. He claims he can do whatever he wants, and so he will. Who will stop him? Freaking nobody.

You idiots - if voting for Biden is all we got, then that's the reality and we must face reality. Yes, IT SUCKS BIG TIME. Not enough people listened to Noam Chomsky last time, so LISTEN UP. For all you folks who hated Hillary and refused to vote for her, which gave Trump the Presidency in those critical states due to our pathetic and undemocratic electoral system, SCREW YOU. DO NOT DO IT AGAIN.

This is a choice between idealism and reality - GO FOR REALITY!

At 7:44 AM, Blogger lawguy said...

You people with your "Trump Must Go" interest me in a clinical way. After 8 years of Obama we ended a cratered Democratic party, Republican control of nearly everything and Trump. After 4 or 8 years of a dumber, more conservative, less charismatic and more senile version of Obama what do you think we will end up with?

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, does the DNC pay you for this propaganda? Or, do you report for your duty to the DNC, pro bono?

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, 9:11. It's not the DNC. It's religious. It's fear of hell making someone accept the evil of clergy sodomizing kids. In this analogy, they feel an imaginary hell is worse. somehow.

Hone fails to understand that $hillbillary led to trump because the democraps are such a steaming load of shit that they gooned a democratic process so that it would NOMINATE $hillbillary instead of Bernie.

Hone only sees the now. Hone cannot be made to see cause and effect beyond that.

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

deeply committed progressives, by definition, cannot vote for a lifelong corrupt neoliberal fascist racist misogynist.

A vote for such a person or party indicates a lack of deep commitment to those principles... a dearth, really.


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