Monday 2 November 2020

Vote Biden, Vote Democrat

Tradition is something this blog cherishes, and here's another. Your periodic reminder to the subset of readers who have a vote in the US presidential elections to cast their ballots for the Democrat. Writing on the eve of the election four years ago, in the event of Donald Trump winning a wise old sage suggested "every racist, every fascist will be emboldened to carry through their imagined grievances against hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people, women. The so-called liberal elite, variously identified with journalists, academics, and lawyers are also threatened. And because the US remains the world's preeminent superpower, it will boost the politics of reaction everywhere." A terrible told you so one should not draw the grimmest of satisfactions from.

In 2020, the stakes are even starker. A Trump win means more racism, more impunity for the police, a free hand for the world's worst polluters, the continued looting of US infrastructure, the suppression of minority communities and their purge from electoral rolls, more power to the fundamentalists and the bigots, and a shot in the arm for right wing projects everywhere just as the wheels are coming off populist parties and authoritarian governments. A win for Biden, on the other hand, is a stop gap. The defeat of the forces of blackest reaction in an election is a good in and of itself. It demonstrates to Americans as well as the rest of the world that their politics can be defeated, that history isn't going their way. It shows the mobilisation of our people can work.

There's little point sugarcoating Biden, nor is there any need to. Everyone on the left knows him, his politics, his record and, ultimately, his unsuitability. He is the establishment's continuity candidate, the one who'll Make America Normal Again and steer politics back to the predictable mainstream. By winning from the centre left (in American terms) versus the death drive of the necrotic right, he'll reassert the primacy of moderate politics and incentivise the GOP to block fringe candidates in the future and make the Republicans safe for decent sensiblism. The disparities in wealth and power aren't going to be addressed. The frackers will carry on fracking. Politics for the rich by the rich continues its unbroken stretch. And yet even so, the marginal improvements the Biden/Harris ticket offers is preferable to a land of permanently stagnating living standards, more people denied health care, and a social security system barely qualifying for the name.

And then there is the most important issue of all. Under Donald Trump the handling of the Coronavirus crisis is the United States' greatest peace time disaster since the Spanish flu a century ago. The worst infection rate and the worst death rate in the world with infections ramping up. This is America afterall, and everything has to be bigger. Even tonight, Trump is still tweeting his opposition to any effort aimed at controlling the virus. For hundreds of thousands of Americans, the difference between Trump and Biden is whether they'll live to see a vaccine or not, and millions more will carry on being exposed to the risk by an uncaring government. People who are disproportionately working class women of colour, the very backbone of our movement.

There is also a positive reason for supporting the Democrat ticket on this occasion. The Bernie Sanders insurgency, and the winning of several Congressional races by the left opens up American politics in ways completely unthinkable a decade ago. A Biden victory provides more permissive circumstances for this project to consolidate itself and advance. True, the Democrats are a ruling class party as much as the Republicans are, but the difference is their vote is progressively oriented and the peculiar structure of American parties offers opportunities for the left in ways not possible in our "proper" Labour Party. To suggest the misery of another Trump term would ultimately benefit socialist politics is either trolling, or the most mechanical accelerationism of the stupidist kind.

These then are the stakes. Four more years of Trump and all the death and mayhem that follows. Or four years of Biden and the possibility of something better. I don't have a vote, but if I did out would come the nose peg. Vote Biden, vote Democrat, and carry on organising.

Image Credit


Bruce said...

Was this also true when we voted for Clinton and he gutted welfare?

George Carty said...

One of the most ironic things is that Donald Trump – as a rabid xenophobe who yearned to "build the wall" and ban travel from countries branded as undesirable, and who wasn't beholden to the traditional political establishment – would on paper have been the ideal president for a crisis like Covid.

Germany is run by competent politicians who haven't corruptly outsourced core state functions to private contractors (as UK or US politicians did), and who built a halfway-decent test and trace system. The fact that even they have failed to control this virus and been forced back into lockdown shows that competent government was far less important than shutting down international travel early.

It seems like the entire Western world (outside of the Antipodes, whose geographical isolation protected them until the Overton window shifted enough to make travel shutdowns and lockdowns an option) was screwed back in early February, when a huge Covid outbreak developed largely undetected in northern Italy, and then easily infected the rest of the continent across the EU's open borders.

Just one country (China) actually got Covid under control after it became widespread, and they way in which they did that: by incarcerating anyone with a positive test or with suspicious symptoms, plus all of their contacts, would be almost unthinkable for a democracy. It certainly wouldn't be possible in the US, where millions of armed-to-the-teeth paranoiacs would see their worst nightmares about "FEMA concentration camps" coming to life...

Braingrass said...

I tend to agree, though I always reminded by Deleuze's comment that a left wing government is a contradiction in terms, and all the left can do is to put pressure on governments. I don't think Biden is centre left by the way. He is centre right like New Labour and Starmer.

Boffy said...

Marxists never advise workers to vote for bourgeois parties simply on the basis that they are the lesser evil. But workers should support the democrats for a different reason, and entirely despite the nature of the Democrats as a party, and Biden Harris as candidates, as a bourgeois party.

US workers should vote Democrat, despite the bourgeois nature of the party and Biden and Harris, and should prepare to fight. As socialists, we need the Democrats in office, just as we need labour in office, precisely so that workers can see the bourgeois nature of these parties, and so eventually be broken away from them.

We make clear to workers that we ask them to put the bums in office for that purpose, and in doing so, we seek to build a movement inside those parties based on an alternative set of politics in opposition to their bourgeois nature. We seek to do so in order that workers do begin to recognise the bourgeois nature of those parties, and see the need to build a socialist alternative to them.

The Corbyn movement should have been the basis of doing that other than as I warned from the beginning, it instead became just another example of cultism. The movement around Sanders, and more particularly other son the left provide the basis of it in the US. The most important thing will not be whether Trump is defeated by the abysmal Biden and Harris, but he extent to which the election campaign has enabled socialists in the US to develop that rank and file movement of the working-class, which still unfortunately places its faith in the Democrats, just as unfortunately the majority of UK workers places its faith in Labour.

Elections are purely ephemeral events, it is the development of independent working-class conscious and self-organisation that is the lasting prize.

Blissex said...

«Was this also true when we voted for Clinton and he gutted welfare?»

If anything it is Trump that has done some minuscule roll-back of the class war against USA workers (by fighting against labour arbitrage though imports from China). As to "hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people, women", the Democrats and New Labour have just postured for them in the culture wars, while the vast majority of them who were struggling because of low wages and insecure jobs and high housing costs have remained so. The essence of the culture wars is that they cost nothing or very little to business and property rentiers as to higher labour costs or higher taxes. See the huge fight over marriage laws.

Our blogger is following the conventional wisdom of the whigs: that after 50 years of civil rights and 40 years of reaganism/thatcherism, the main priority for the majority of "hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people, women" should be expanding further their civil rights rather than improving their economic situation by fighting reaganism/thatcherism. Even if it is the latter that affects most of them, just as it affects most of the "bigoted hetero white male" workers.

But the fight against "bigoted hetero white male" workers will always be more important than that against reaganism/thatcherism for the whigs.

Clinesteron Beademungen said...

In my opinion there is a good case to be made for more Trump - not that it's going to happen now. But strife, division and internal warfare in the USA can only be bad for the continued functioning of the empire and good for the rest of the world (apart from the various Neo-liberal and tory cliques). The US is on the slide - increased de-dollarisation, economic eclipse by China, infrastructure breakdown, dust bowl type farming problems etc. Anything which contributes to distracting the US establishment from dealing with it's real problems and striking out at it's rivals and vassals in a fit of disaster-pique must be desirable.