One day into Joe Biden’s presidency, Liza Featherstone published a piece in Jacobin entitled “If Joe Biden Moves Left, You Can Thank the Left.” The thrust of her argument was that the Left should take credit for any progressive actions Biden takes, pointing to years of Left organizing and activism against all odds that brought progressive economic policies into the mainstream, particularly since the 2016 Presidential primaries.
After Biden’s first 100 days, however, much of the online Left seems committed to doing just the opposite. As the Biden administration passed a $300 per month, per child UBI, and has recently proposed plans for funding guaranteed paid leave and universal pre-K, many on the Left seem determined to minimize the significance of these plans, going as far as to accuse progressive House members of “gaslighting” their supporters by acknowledging and applauding such progress.
On the one hand, this should come as little surprise. After all, a great many podcasters and YouTubers have built their brands around criticizing the Democratic Party from the Left. We’re among them. And there is undoubtedly a wealth of material for critics of Joe Biden to sink their teeth into. His failure to lead on the minimum wage, neglecting to explicitly and unequivocally endorse the Amazon workers’ union efforts in Bessemer, Alabama, deception surrounding the ongoing role that the U.S. will play in the Saudi war on Yemen, are three important and legitimate criticisms among a plethora of others.
But to deny the significance of programs like children’s UBI, paid leave, and universal pre-K, is to deny reality. Currently, the average American family spends 23% of its income on childcare, while family benefits account for an embarrassingly low 0.64% of GDP. UBI for parents combined with universal pre-K and paid leave will obviously have a tremendous positive impact on the ease of family rearing in a country that has fallen woefully behind the rest of the developed world in this respect.
By pretending otherwise, the Left not only appears bitter and delusional, but worse, they project their own powerlessness and irrelevance to the rest of the country. If Leftists disavow these programs and accuse those who tout them of being compromised “gaslighters,” “sellouts,” or “careerists,” we signal that we want nothing to do with the proposal and passage of the very policies we have been advocating for so long.
Is this really the road we want to go down? Do we want to cut off our noses to spite our faces, just because we don’t like the president or the party in power? Do we want to project our own irrelevance by denying our role in promoting these popular Left policies that are finally seeing their day in the sun?
A much better approach would be to tout these accomplishments as our own. The Hill recently published an article entitled “We must thank Sanders for Biden’s success.” That sounds a lot more like it. It’s not about giving Biden credit, it’s about giving ourselves credit for forcing these ideas into the mainstream.
We discuss this and more on episode 112 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:
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Photo: Gage Skidmore