Thursday, August 20, 2020

What If Biden Governs Like... His 4 Decades-Long Record?


Biden really is the Lincoln Project candidate, the candidate of what Rahm Emanuel called, approvingly, "the Biden Republicans." Wall Street Journal reporters Ken Thomas and Eliza Collins were being kind when they predicted unity in the Democratic Party won't last. The only "unity" I can detect beyond party hacks is the unification across the party and beyond to rid the country of the toxic malignancy in the White House. "Joe Biden," they wrote, "has united disparate factions of the Democratic Party behind a message of defeating President Trump and rebuilding from the coronavirus pandemic. The detente might not last past the Nov. 3 election, no matter who wins."

Hitting the nail on the head, they continued, "Interviews with Democratic lawmakers and strategists show that the internal battle over what the party stands for wasn’t resolved by Mr. Biden’s primary win-- but merely postponed. If the former vice president succeeds in his bid for the White House, he will preside over the fight on how the party governs. If he loses, the party is likely to go through an extensive soul-searching process that will test the liberal-moderate divide... Biden won the nomination after resisting calls from more liberal candidates to create a Medicare-for-all health-care system, extend free public university tuition to everyone and overhaul the economy to eventually eliminate fossil fuels..." But Biden's status quo positions are all far from the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Even the elected party delegates overwhelmingly disagree with him on just about everything.

On Monday, Eugene Daniels and Holly Otterbein wrote in Politico that Biden "was just about the last Democrat that progressives wanted as the nominee. But now that he’s the one taking on President Donald Trump, they’re working harder to put him in office than they ever did for Hillary Clinton-- then planning to give him hell the minute he sets foot in the White House. In conversations with more than two dozen left-wing elected officials, labor leaders and strategists in the days before the Democratic National Convention, progressives described an attitude toward Biden that is strikingly different from their previous relationships with either Clinton or former President Barack Obama-- and which could have enormous consequences with regards to the shape and power of a Biden administration. The Democratic Party’s left flank is firmly united with moderate Democrats behind the goal of ousting Trump, with former Bernie Sanders aides and allies creating super PACs and promising to spend millions to elect Biden in a way they never did for Clinton. But progressives, who are emboldened after successfully ousting several entrenched Democrats in recent primaries, are also clear: Unlike with Obama, there will be no honeymoon for Biden. If they follow through, Biden's ability to cut deals with Republicans-- a central pledge of his campaign-- would be hemmed in from day one."

And isn't that the idea? Keeping Biden from realizing his second biggest dream-- the grand compromise of wrecking Social Security and Medicare. (No one knows what "we" get in the compromise.) "[E]ven before they’ve defeated Trump," Daniels and Otterbein continued, "progressives are warning Biden that he-- or his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)-- might be challenged in the 2024 primary if they’re not sufficiently progressive."

“Our movement is ascendant,” said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of the Sanders-founded group Our Revolution. “The risk that Biden or Harris faces is a challenge from the left in 2024 if they govern as Third Way-ers or do Clinton-esque triangulation.”

While progressive members of Congress are not yet willing to threaten their party’s 2024 ticket with an electoral challenge the way activists are, they are already alerting Biden that they will challenge him legislatively. Two of their top priorities are a massive green jobs plan and a health care proposal that makes Biden’s public option as robust as possible.

“We have to continue to push for our values, continue to push and advocate for people to join the administration [that] are progressive,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Sanders’ 2020 campaign co-chair, told Politico. “I'm confident that progressives will have a big, big role in a Biden administration.”

Mondaire Jones, the Sanders-endorsed Democrat who won the primary this year in New York’s 17th Congressional District and is expected to carry the general election, was more blunt: “In Congress, progressives must act as a voting bloc. We should be withholding our support for legislation that” they consider too watered down.

Even if Biden wins and Democrats take back the Senate, however, progressives will face serious hurdles: To pass major legislation, Biden will need the votes of conservative and moderate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. And while Biden may be eyeing an FDR-like presidency, he is also still a longtime deficit hawk who opposes left-wing priorities such as Medicare for All.

Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who just unseated Rep. Lacy Clay of Missouri in a Democratic primary, has talked about creating a Social Justice Caucus. With the so-called Squad poised to grow after the victory of Bush and Jamaal Bowman, who toppled longtime Rep. Eliot Engel in New York, some progressives are strategizing about forming a Freedom Caucus for the left. Many are frustrated with the Congressional Progressive Caucus for, in their view, not wielding enough power or taking bolder stands — and they think a smaller but more disciplined group could be more effective.

“If the Squad doubles in size this year, which seems very well like it could happen, that's a pretty remarkable transformation,” said Karthik Ganapathy, a Democratic strategist who worked on Sanders’ 2016 campaign. “And if we do that for another couple of cycles, suddenly the left has its own version of the Freedom Caucus. And on the right, that was enough to change how politics worked in Congress.”

Ganapathy pointed to the fight over the Keystone oil pipeline as a place where progressives spent a ton of resources with almost no payoff under Obama. The left has to find smarter ways to achieve its goals, he said.

“It's honestly less about being a thorn in their side and more just about being really strategic and tactical,” Ganapathy said. “I feel like a lot of what the progressive left did in the Obama years was sort of just waving our arms around, trying to get the Obama administration to pay attention to different things and to take progressive activists seriously.”

...[Moderate, non-progressive] Ritchie Torres, the New York City council member who is poised to be the first Afro-Latino openly gay member of Congress next year, said he’s wary of a potential hostile takeover of the Democratic Party by what he called “the new left.”
You know, white elites like AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Ro Khanna, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar... Believe me, there was a reason Blue America didn't endorse the "first Afro-Latino openly gay member of Congress" in the primary but chose a real progressive instead, one who Torres, a corporate-friendly centrist-- at least in the context New York politics-- beat.

They also noted that "Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive who recently launched the pro-single payer Center for Health and Democracy, is talking about possibly creating a PAC to help elect Medicare for All supporters. Former Sanders aides are discussing a super PAC to help progressive congressional candidates."

Goal ThermometerWelcome to the party-- Blue America has raised around $7 million from small dollar contributions to candidates backing Medicare-for All (click the thermometer on the right) and for progressive candidates running for the House, the Senate and for state legislatures... and even for small number of progressive incumbents who live up to their progressive pledges.

At Too Much Information, David Sirota wrote that he believes Trump must be defeated and that he's decided to vote for Biden. I respect his decision and the decision of any other progressive who decides to vote for the lesser evil, something I personally have no intention of ever doing. His post about not being excited about having to hold his nose at the ballot box is worth reading.
I’m told I should be bouncing up in the morning, uplifted by the Democratic convention and its promise of a new era soon-- 75 days. But at least for me, watching the cable TV snippets, the convention speeches and the celebratory Twitter dunks has left me with that feeling you get after eating junk food-- full, but not nourished, bloated, tired and vaguely nauseous.

I’ve worked on a lot of Democratic campaigns, wins and losses. I’m literally married to a Democratic elected official. Over 20 years, I’ve put in an almost embarrassing amount of time working to support the Democratic Party. So these feelings are somewhat new for me, and I don’t think I’m having them just because Democratic officials decided to turn this year’s convention into a promotional platform for Republican icons who attacked unions, laid off thousands of workers, promoted climate denial, endangered 9/11 survivors and lied us into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

I’m also not glum just because the Democrats’ presidential standard-bearer is often an uninspiring mishmash of incoherent here’s-the-deal colloquialisms that mean nothing.

I think the despair is deeper-- and has something to do with the now-yawning gap between social expectation and reality.

Right now, if you are following politics at all, you are asked to feel chipper and energized. We are expected-- no, required-- to conjure 2008-level enthusiasm during this even darker time than the financial crisis, all so that we can move into a new, glorious moment of Hope™.

Enthusiasm, though, comes from the assumption that the the process is authentic and that what we’re told by our leaders is real. But that feeling has waned, because there is no pretense. For all the high-minded rhetoric, everyone on all sides of this situation-- and I mean literally everyone-- knows that Democratic politics today is more about brand and pantomime than about power and legislative action. You may not say it out loud, you may not like thinking about it-- but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, because somewhere deep down in there, everyone senses the fraudulence at hand.

This is a moment of apolitical crises-- that is, crises that aren’t just manufactured by and confined to the political soundstage, but instead life-and-death, out-here-in-the-real-world emergencies in the realms of money, biology and ecology. We’re facing an economic and environmental collapse in the midst of a lethal pandemic. And we’re going through this cataclysm with a legislative branch controlled by right-wing senators, a court system that rubber stamps corporate demands and an authoritarian president whose major crisis-management experience was firing people on The Apprentice.

And yet, in the middle of this five-alarm garbage fire, we’re asked to white-knuckle it and feign excitement for an opposition party machine run by insiders, lobbyists and careerists who keep letting us know that they think campaign promises are distinct from policy. In so many ways, they keep telling us over and again that the most we can hope for is, in the words of the nominee himself, that “nothing would fundamentally change.”

...[T]he constant, incessant demand to be happy about fraudulence-- the insistence that we put on a smile and insinuate that the New Deal is on the ballot-- is shamefully dishonest. It helps make the whole process into exactly what Ohio Sen. Nina Turner described: “It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit.”

This is demoralizing for obvious reasons, but to feel demoralized is to feel like you’re crazy and alone-- because it requires you to deviate from the norm of blissful and willful ignorance. It requires you to pay attention and reject a culture that tries to turn you into a goldfish, forgetting your entire world every 15 minutes.

To be demoralized at this political moment is to remember that for all the great progressive oratory during the convention, the Democratic presidential ticket is the guy who wrote the crime bill, spearheaded the bankruptcy bill and worked with Republicans to authorize the Iraq War-- and, oh yeah, a runningmate who blocked her law enforcement staff from prosecuting Steve Mnuchin.

To be demoralized is to feel momentarily uplifted by Michelle Obama’s inspiring convention speech deriding our “greed is good” culture from her Martha’s Vineyard castle-- and to then remember that the Obama administration knowingly fortified that culture when it protected the Wall Street firms that destroyed millions of lives during the financial crisis.

To be demoralized is to make the mistake I made during my family break-- to sit along the shore of Lake Michigan and for some reason reject a mindless beach novel and instead read Ron Suskind’s old book Confidence Men. That tome meticulous recounts Obama and Biden promising real health care reform during the 2008 campaign, and then steamrolling a public option-- and dishonestly pretending they never even pushed such a modest reform in the first place (they did). The book reads like a cautionary tale of what could come during the next Democratic presidency-- especially if you believe the signals already coming from Capitol Hill.

To be demoralized, in other words, is to remember-- and that’s not what Democrats do in America.

Minds are wiped and Iraq War architects become Resistance heroes and Democratic convention speakers. Memories are scrubbed and Wall Street thieves become Democratic economic gurus and treasury secretaries. Amnesia takes hold and the Democratic governor of Mount Covid becomes a pandemic mancrush. Democrats lose a presidential campaign to Donald Trump by defending the Washington establishment-- and now four years later they are running the same Washington valor campaign again, telling themselves they’re too legit to quit, baby.

Our society is not interested in recollection and learning from the past. We are immersed in short-attention-span media and propaganda that doesn’t want us to remember, and therefore goes out of its way to omit mention of historical context.

...That doesn’t mean I don’t know what to do when I get my ballot. I know I’ll have to deliver it to a drop box rather than by mail if I want to make sure it gets there on time. And I know to vote the Democratic ticket because I live in a swing state and I know that fascism’s bid for reelection must be defeated.

But I also know that the threat of fascism isn’t going away after November, so don’t ask me to be excited or feel happy. I’m not and I don’t-- and I suspect it’s the same for many people.

Maybe that doesn’t make us crazy. Maybe it makes us human.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself when I have trouble rising and shining the morning after Joe Biden’s convention speech.

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At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no "if". Biden is who he is. he won't change.
pelo$i is who $he is. $he won't change.
$cummer is who he is. he won't change.
ditto obamanation (who is their godfather), the Clintons, harris, hoyer, Clyburn, perez, bustos, DNC, DSCC, DCCC...

biden won't even be asked to govern differently.

when he puts goldman/chase/citigroup people in charge of the economy, will you finally understand? prolly not.

when he pollutes his cabinet with proto-Nazis and the most corrupt democraps... you know, like obamanation and Clinton did, will you finally understand? prolly not.

and that is why this is such a shithole.

when, not if, biden and the democraps, again and still, refuse to do anything they were elected to do... the slaughter in 2022 might make the slaughter in 2010 look like an orgy in comparison.

the only question you should be asking is: how much worse than trump will be the Nazi cabal empowered in 2022. and the Nazi president in 2024? tucker Carlson? Donnie fuckup?

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is this even a question? Biden has always been a corporate stooge working against the very people his party is busy claiming to now represent. The Party leadershit really DO think we are that stupid and will fall for that tired lie one more time. Just because Donald Trump.

"Biden's status quo positions are all far from the mainstream of the Democratic Party" and Biden "was just about the last Democrat that progressives wanted as the nominee" both ignore that what policies the people want to pursue and who was to be the champion of those causes was not something left for the people to decide. The Party again decided that we don't know what we want nor recognize who is to lead us and will decide for us. Then they will try to convince us that we made those decisions at this medicine show of a convention which will work against everything We the People need.

"Biden's ability to cut deals with Republicans-- a central pledge of his campaign-- would be hemmed in from day one." REALLY? Who in their rational mind believes this bilge? As long as the Party leadershit comprises corrupt corporatist lackeys, what corporate donors want corporate donors will get. Wrecking Social Security and Medicare will again be a "Democratic" Party objective, with the added bonus of helping the Republicans complete the destruction of USPS and turning over all such delivery to insane greedos like Bezos delivering the bribes they deeply desire.

So, "progressives warning Biden that he or Harris might be challenged in the 2024 primary" is an empty threat. The rapid destruction of Sanders' campaign is the proof that progressives don't worry the Party leadershit one whit. Not one tinker's dam. Progressives will be ignored, for as the middle class is reduced to penury, there won't be the kind of economic resources available as Sanders drew upon for his campaign. We'll all be too broke to attend to our own needs sufficiently, much less able to attempt to challenge corrupt corporatists ruining our nation for private profit.

“I'm confident that progressives will have a big, big role in a Biden administration” boasts Ro Khanna. I'm confident that such "progressives" will talk a lot, but in the end do as Pelo$i tells them. What passes for "Democrats" in the House will find eager Republican support to stop any threat to the Rule of Money.

“I feel like a lot of what the progressive left did in the Obama years was sort of just waving our arms around, trying to get the Obama administration to pay attention to different things and to take progressive activists seriously.” Just substitute Biden for Obama and the result will remain the same.

David Sirota thinks "the despair is deeper-- and has something to do with the now-yawning gap between social expectation and reality." He's got this correct as any sentient non-greenhouse product can deduce. Expectations are high, but the understanding of the nature of the opposition is woefully inadequate. Ask Custer about how well that worked out for him.

It will work the same way for progressives if they remain with the Democratic Party.

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the internal battle over what the party stands for wasn’t resolved by Mr. Biden’s primary win-- but merely postponed."

horse shit! it proved that the party can be even more corrupt, neoliberal and fascist than ever before and voters will still approve. All it took was Clyburn and obamanation to tell black voters in SC that Bernie was unelectable. Those millions of blacks then started the momentum that swept a lifelong racist into their nom.

there is no internal battle. the party stands for:
1) money
2) smothering progressives
3) figuring out how to make idiots still vote for them.

they are better now than ever before at all of those.

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's disconcerting about the convention strategy is that it really is just doubling down on the 2016 strategy. It might work this time, simply because Trump has failed to expand his base and now has a political record, but it shouldn't be close (it shouldn't have been in 2016 either). Sirota's piece is really on the mark. The case needs to be why it is necessary to support Biden, despite his awful record; not to white wash the record and try to convince people that Biden is actually good. I think part of the issue too, and one of the reasons that Trump is president, is that people know on some level that politicians lie all the time. The difference is that Trump at least understands how to entertain his audience while he lies to them. I think it would be better to tell the truth, but if you are going to lie to people and treat them like they are morons, at least do it with some humor.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Jack Hannold said...

Now that you’ve read David Sirota’s post from yesterday (courtesy of Howie), you have to read his second post of today, which arrived in my Inbox only a little over an hour ago:

“Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges”

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't hold your breath, Jack. They somehow have to splice whatever they link here to the sheepdog's duty to make idiots vote for democraps.

indicating that, as the higher forms already know, the democraps and biden are going to bend them over as soon as they take over, it might discourage even the lower potted flora from affirming, for the 12th consecutive 4-year cycle, the democrap party.


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