If God is a novelist, he has a disposition towards the trite, the obvious, and the too on-the-nose. Case in point: Andrew Cuomo. If one wanted to write a book whose theme was personal and political hypocrisy, you couldn’t do any better than to produce one in which liberals rally around one notoriously corrupt bully, in order to demonstrate their rejection of another. In the annals of liberal idiocy, the cult of Cuomo ranks right up there with running Hillary Clinton for President and Michelle Obama unironically describing real-life war criminal George W. Bush, as her “partner in crime.”
Some may object that we didn’t know about Cuomo’s lechery until Lindsay Boylan opened the floodgates by coming forward. But we knew enough to know that Cuomo was a lying degenerate from way back. If you ask a Democrat which state in America is the most corrupt, they’re likely to name a Republican stronghold like Florida, or Texas, but in reality, based on the number of its political leaders prosecuted and convicted, that honor goes to Cuomo’s very own Empire State. The Governor’s response to that was to shut down the Moreland commission, which had been charged with investigating corruption in the state and going to war with Attorney General Preet Bharara who demanded that its files be preserved as possible evidence. This all played out even as his top aide was sentenced to six years in prison for bribery.
And that’s just scratching the surface of what we already knew about Cuomo before the pandemic. Once it started there were a lot of voices speaking out against his newfound status as champion of the people and exemplar of good government. There were the front-line health care workers pointing out that New York had the worst outbreak on Earth, partly because Cuomo had been cutting the budget for public health and city hospitals for years. There was Assemblyman Ron Kim, begging anyone who would listen to look into the connection between Cuomo’s donations from the Greater New York Hospital Alliance (GNYHA) and the liability shield he created for nursing homes, thereby protecting them from lawsuits connected to Covid related illness and deaths in their facilities. Combined with Cuomo’s policy of forcing nursing homes to take Covid patients (a policy that might have led to the death of Kim’s own Uncle), it’s estimated at least 1,000 elderly New Yorkers died needlessly even as Democrats were loudly celebrating their “Cuomosexuality.” Knowing his braindead and singularly incurious fan base would never hold him accountable, Cuomo even cut the Medicaid budgetduring the pandemic.
And yet, right up until State Attorney General Letitia James dropped her report confirming the credibility of claims that 11 women had made against the Governor ranging from crude flirtation to sexual assault, only 21% of NY Democrats thought Cuomo should resign and 50% actually wanted him to run for a fourth term. Remember, these were the same people who couldn’t jack off at night without Tweeting a reference to Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy,” comment on Access Hollywood. But when it came to Cuomo? Fuck it. Franken. Have to stop eating our own, etc., etc.
So, listen, God, we have a few notes on the manuscript. We’ve put them all here in this podcast. Take it in, maybe do some edits, ‘cause this whole Cuomo thing? It’s just not credible that so many people would be so scorchingly hypocritical all at the same time without any of them noticing, much less that an entire political party could be made up of people like this. I dunno, maybe throw in a spaceship, some dinosaurs, that’s up to you, you’re the artist. Just, do better. I mean, just look at this montage of the media praising a man that every political insider on the planet knew was a goon and a bully. Who’s going to believe this is real?
We discuss Cuomo’s resignation and more on episode 117 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, Castbox,Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.
“You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy.”
Arthur Jensen, Network
For years, leftists have been digging through the internet archives to prove that when Democrats are in power, they never actually deliver on their promises to the voters, even when it’s fully within their power to do so. It’s been a tough case to make, especially to Blue Magaworld, for whom Barack Obama is something akin to a secular saint. Try to talk about how he abandoned the public option before negotiations on Obamacare even began, or about how he put pressure on Senators who refused to vote for the bill without it instead of on the ones who dug their heels in on having it included, and the most common response from Democrats will be, “But the Republicans!” Never mind the fact that Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote, which means the Democrats could have done anything in theory, right up to and including Universal Health Care. The idea that the party, or God forbid, Obama himself, might have anything to do with the band-aid-on-a-gunshot-wound nature of the policy is anathema to most Democrats. Any attempt to persuade them otherwise is quickly vaporized by their repeated exposure to brain-melting doses of Morning Joe.
But now we’re seeing it all play out in real time in ways that are difficult for even the most mimosa-addled brunch liberal to ignore. No one can now deny that when Democrats were given a once in a generation shot to raise the minimum wage, not even to the $24 it would be if it had risen with inflation and productivity growth over the past 50 years, but to just roughly 60% of that wage, they hid behind the Senate Parliamentarian, an excuse so laughable that they might have been better off just telling the truth: the donors don’t want you to have a living wage, so we ain’t doing it. The refreshing honesty may have scored them more points than the transparent bullshit they ultimately went with. And as if to drive the point home, when Bernie introduced a $15 per hour amendment to the latest Corona relief package, 8 Democrats voted against it, apparently without fear of consequence from the White House, or from the voters.
They know their suburban base could give a flying fuck about what the person who hands them their order at the drive-through earns, and if the White House really wanted it, they would have rained down hellfire on any Dem who threatened to hold up relief to stop it. So now we know there will be no living wage for American workers for at minimum a generation, at least not without a mass uprising, or general strike. And if the Democrats won’t provide that most basic of necessities, what hope is there for free college or universal health care? Zero, to none.
Enter, Gen Z. Even the most open-minded, and thoughtful person, is inevitably bound to understand the world through the lens of the past. This is intrinsic to how the brain works: we create conceptual frames as a shortcut to having to evaluate each new experience and piece of information on its own terms. That’s why you don’t have to figure out what money is when you’re in a foreign country, with a currency you’ve never seen before, but it’s also why we tend not to fully understand the world we live in as we get older. Our frameworks grow increasingly disconnected from the cumulative changes of our lifetimes, until eventually you’re a boomer watching Joe Biden, but seeing FDR. Or a millennial or Gen Xer, still believing in political solutions to our problems. As the non-fight over the minimum wage demonstrates, there are no political solutions under our current system. We’re simply the neighborhood people forced to pick between two rival gangs, both of which are going to extort us, and either one of which might destroy us if we defy them. No help is coming. We’re on our own.
The next generation, unburdened by the distorting lens of the past, have already figured this out. Far from being the left-wing, big-government, identitarians that we’ve been led to expect, Gen Z is shaping up to be a cohort of politically incorrect, bootstrap-pulling, libertarians. According to a recent study, 77% of those 14-21 report that they earn their own money working, and 21% had a savings account before they were 10. And while as the most diverse generation in history, they have liberal views on cultural diversity, with 78% describing themselves as liberal to moderate on social issues, they are also deeply skeptical of the woke project, with 79% calling “political correctness” a problem.
This jog towards the right is an inevitable consequence of having grown up in a world where banks and large corporations are able to get away with murder, literally in some cases, while our elected officials do little to nothing to improve the lives of average citizens. It’s also a natural response to the endless and seemingly unresolvable culture wars to conclude that the best way to address such irreconcilable differences would be to fall back on the libertarian solution of letting everyone go their own way. What else is a young person to make of how our society functions, other than: cover your ass and don’t expect any help from anybody, least of all the government.
The modern left, unlike our 60’s forbears, has been nursing a dream not of an impractical Marxist utopia, but simply of the U.S. joining the rest of the Western world in providing basic necessities like education and healthcare. We really haven’t contemplated the idea that the U.S. will continue to go its own hyper-capitalist way, cementing its status as the gun-toting, feudal, corporate-governed freakshow of the West. In the end, we’re still Americans, and as Americans we’re predisposed to believe that the good guys will come out on top in the final reel. But the kids ain’t buying it. Which means our related assumption that the cavalry is coming eventually in the form of generational change is probably misplaced.
The only thing that may shift the trajectory is the total and inevitable economic collapse that will result if Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) turns out to be a lot of horseshit. Our national debt is now greater than our annual GDP. MMT holds that a country with control of its own currency can’t go bankrupt, because it can issue more currency to pay its debts, along with new debt to cover the old debts. But MMT doesn’t consider a scenario in which no one wants to buy the newly issued debt, and it ignores the fact that every country that has ever tried to money-print its way out of debt, went into a death spiral of hyper-inflation. It’s hard to be a libertarian in a world where you need a wheelbarrow full of cash to go to the grocery store, so such a scenario could cause Gen Z to rethink the wisdom of bootstrap economics. But then again, they could see it as an opportunity to just go full Mad Max. I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t see the appeal of roaming the plains of an ungoverned America in search of opportunity and adventure. Maybe join up with a thief, a strongman, and Karen Allen, for some kind of black market smuggling gig, while occasionally rescuing enslaved Amazon workers from the mines.
But I digress. The left is in what Allen Ginsberg called, “diamond hell.” Hard edges and unyielding realities on every side: in front of us, a government that can’t be reformed through democratic means, and behind us, a generation that’s given up on trying. To one side we have the option of rainbow fascism, and on the other, the more traditional variety. This is normally the place in the article where you’re supposed to offer some kind of call to action, or way out of the problems you’ve laid out, but honestly, I got nothing.
A modern country whose system of government is so broken that it can’t raise the minimum wage, even with the “left” party in charge of all the House, the Senate, and the presidency, is a country that has already effectively become a failed state. The only question now is; when does the curtain fall, and how do we respond when it does? Regular order democracy under these circumstances is the little button they put on New York City lampposts that are supposed to change the red light to green. They don’t actually do anything. They’re only there to make people feel like they have a say.
I’ve been holding my fire, ’cause fair is fair; we had to give Biden a little time to either break his previous mold or prove to be the war mongering corporate stooge he’s always been. The latter was always more likely but there was a slim chance that a man of his advanced years would want to be remembered for something besides mass incarceration and making it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. I know exactly two voters who thought Biden should be the president on his own merits, and not just relative to Trump, but I know a lot of people who got caught up in the “Dear Leader,” state TV style coverage of the inauguration. Those folks are mostly silent now as Biden demonstrates the kind of bait and switch “leadership” that’s made the Democratic brand so toxic since the Clinton era. Let’s take a look:
Silence on the Amazon Union Vote, Then a Half Endorsement
The self-described “union man” remained entirely silent as Amazon workers voted to unionize in Alabama, until under pressure from even friendlies in the press, he finally issued a lukewarm statement supporting the vote. Not the union necessarily, just the vote. This is inarguably an improvement over his old boss, who took $400 million from organized labor then screwed them over for 8 years like it was his job (which, along with a 22% spike in Obamacare premiums in several swing states right before the 2016 election, is a criminally under-examined element of Trump’s victory), but it seems like a union man might want to be a little less ambiguous about his support for the most important union drive since the 30’s. The fact that Jay Carney, Biden’s communications director in the Obama White House, is now doing the Lord’s work as Amazon’s chief PR flack, ain’t helping the optics among those who are paying attention. Like the workers taking the vote.
Hiding Behind the Senate Parliamentarian to Avoid Increasing the Minimum Wage.
This is a classic Democratic Party maneuver: pretending that you can’t do something that you actually can do because of procedural obstacles or Republican opposition. That’s how Barack got away with dropping the promised public option from Obamacare, after making a secret backroom deal with insurance and drug companies. In reality, Harris can overrule the Parliamentarian. So why doesn’t Biden have her do it? It goes back to the General Unifying Theory of the Democratic Party: the donors wouldn’t like it. Most of the time when Democrat politicians say one thing and do another, all you have to do is follow the money to figure out what they’re doing and why.
‘Cause why not? Especially on a Friday. Just a little TGIF love to all the defense contractors. And let’s face it, nothing says, “America’s Back Baby!” like bombing the fuck out of a Muslim country. And when you pluck a Defense Secretary right from the board of Raytheon, you’re kind of telling people straight out that we’re going to be finding lots and lots of pretexts over the next four years for making lots and lots of bombs. At least we’ve got a black man bombing brown people now, which is surely a great comfort to them.
Going Small on Student Debt
Biden claimed at a town hall that he can waive $10,000 in student debt, but not $50,000, once again using the procedure excuse. There’s actually no legal basis for that claim. He just doesn’t really want to waive student debt. Which should come as no surprise, given that Biden is as personally responsible for the system of student debt peonage we have today as any living politician.
Going Big on Neera Tanden
While soft-pedaling it on every key policy promise, he’s still pushing corrupt political hack and professional asshole, Neera Tanden, for a job which she is completely unqualified for, while hiding behind claims of racism and sexism as the nomination blows up in his face. Someone told me after the election that the “smart money” was on Biden appointing some progressives to his cabinet in a spirit of reconciliation. Given that Biden wouldn’t even hire them for his campaign, the real “smart money” knew he wouldn’t put any in his cabinet. Instead, they’ve tried to rebrand people like Tanden, who in the past has advocated for cutting social security and Medicare, and invading Libya for their oil, as progressive. Not like the Blue MAGA’s are going to argue.
Turning $2,000 Checks into $1,400 Checks
When you stand up in the middle of Georgia and loudly declare that if the voters elect Democrats to the Senate, they’ll be getting $2,000 checks “immediately,” most of them think that means they’ll be getting $2,000 checks immediately. Not $1400 checks eventually. If you don’t understand why that might piss people off, you’ve probably never really, really needed money right away, or been in a position where $600 was all that stood between you and homelessness. That being the case, your political opinions here are about as useful as fishing tackle in the Mojave. For the sake of not making more Republican voters, you might wanna sit this one out.
That’s an incomplete list of some of the lowlights of the new administration. I ain’t gonna go so far as to say that the new boss is the same as the immediately preceding boss, but the new old boss is definitely shaping up to be the same as all the Democratic bosses we’ve had from Clinton on down. Which is disappointing, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who looked into Biden’s record before they voted for him, a group that presumably excludes most of the people who did so in the primaries.
The difference for Biden from the most recent Democratic presidents is that he has assumed power in a much poorer, sicker, and more desperate America, with an organized left that’s paying attention. Sure, the suburban base would watch Biden take a shit on the desk in the Oval Office and call it ice cream, but the number of people who are that mindless has dwindled in direct proportion to the share of national wealth that ends up in the hands of the citizenry. That’s the thing about crooks: they never know when to leave well enough alone. They always have to push it, until they break it. America has been driven to a breaking point by its oligarchs and a corrupt political system whose primary purpose is to serve their interests, and Biden is the last person to summon the imagination or political will to either understand what America finally snapping is going to look like or do what would need to be done to prevent that from happening.
‘Sides that, unlike Slick Willy, and Barack, Biden is a congenital moron, with the speaking skills of an angry drunk two steps into the program. Imagine Uncle Joe trying to sell people on the idea that the meaning of “is” is up for debate, as Clinton did, or fake-drinking poisoned Flint water to convince people that its safe, as Obama did in a bit of black-on-black prop comedy violence. While the press has been applying the same kind of obscurantism that critics deploy to convince us that crappy modern art isn’t crappy to Biden’s God-awful speeches and town hall appearances, there’s only so much they can do to cover for a man so intrinsically dumb that he had to drop out of his first run for the Presidency after getting caught plagiarizing a speech, without even bothering to change its biographical details.
Given that he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer in his prime, putting a sundowning Biden in charge of a crumbling America was always bound to look something like this. Cabinet appointments that often feel like they were produced in a process that involved shaking up two paper bags, with one labelled, “Donors We Have To Fellate” and another labelled, “Members of an Identity Group,” then affixing the results to a corkboard; identity politics deflections from all questions about or criticisms of said appointments (the real purpose of the aforementioned corkboard selection process); bullshitting about what he can and can’t do without Bill and Barack’s ability to really convince anybody; picking the kinds of pointless fights that angry drunks pick, like the one currently unfolding over Tanden.
And we haven’t even crossed the 100 day mark yet, after which things always get a lot harder, even for a President who didn’t Forrest Gump his way into the job. We’re rushing quickly towards the day when the North Korea-style press coverage, can no longer credibly paper over Biden’s deep flaws and personal defects. Which is why reports of the demise of the Republican Party should be regarded as greatly premature.
We discuss these topics and more on episode 108 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:
“We like the stock.” – Jim Cramer, January 28, 2021
Except for a few rare moments of populist uprising big enough to force concessions from elites (the labor movements of the late 19th-early 20th century), the story we tell ourselves about our own history, is mostly the story of the upper classes. Thus, when we think of the 60’s, we think of hippies at Woodstock, even though there were never more than 500,000 hippies, and they were mostly drawn from middle to upper-middle class homes. The majority of young boomers at the time were too busy working, raising families, and fighting in Viet Nam, to be cheering on Hendrix at Woodstock.
Similarly, when we think of millennials and Gen Z, we think of fragile, wokester snowflakes, more concerned with pronouns and speech codes than systemic corruption in our political and financial system. But this only represents a small fraction of their generational cohort and it’s mostly the fraction that’s fortunate enough to have gotten through two decades of endless war, financial ruin, and now a once-in-a-century pandemic, without ever having to work at a Wendy’s.
The media never tells us what the two-thirdsrds of people under 30, without a 4-year college degree think, except to represent them as quasi-human, Trump-loving, 4-chan using, white supremacist, troglodytes. But a perusal of Wall Street Bets on Reddit, where the greatest frontal assault on Wall Street in its 232-year history was conceived and hatched by a bunch of broke kids, many of them with low wage fast food and retail service jobs, tells a very different story.
Funny, irreverent, self-effacing, generous, savvy, pissed-off, and decidedly un-PC, the Wall Street Bets community reads a lot like what you might have gotten if Abbie Hoffman had written the screenplay for Oceans 11. They’re pulling off the heist of the century and they know it. And the best part is the people they’re stealing from not only deserve it but have all directly or indirectly had a hand in creating the land of no opportunity that is the only America they’ve ever known. WSB is full of stories from young adults who experienced the 2008 financial crisis through the eyes of a child who helplessly watched their parents lose the house, or the family business go bust. And it’s also rife with stories of people donating a portion of their windfall to charity; children’s hospitals are a favorite recipient.
One lucky winner who swore he’d bring bags of peanuts with $100 bills taped to them and give them out to the workers at his local Game Stop if the stock price hit $60, did just that.
There’s a fierce determination not to be like the greedy hedge fund assholes they’re robbing that’s completely unexpected if you’ve only been exposed to media accounts of the sub-reddit, which predictably attempt to paint its users as unusually finance obsessed Nazis.
And then there are the kinds of pranks that a bunch of teenagers and twentysomethings flush with more money than they’ve ever seen in their lives and animated by a loathing for institutions would pull. After Robin Hood shut down trading on Game Stop, AMC, and a host of other WSB targeted stocks, one newly wealthy Game Stop investor hired a private plane to fly over Robin Hood’s San Francisco headquarters for an hour, trailing a banner emblazoned with the legend, “Suck My Nuts Robin Hood.”
Renting out billboards and filling them with taunting messages aimed at the hedge funds they’ve gone to war with, has also been a favorite use of Game Stop winnings.
In the face of overwhelming odds, and in many cases, deep personal hardship, the WSB community has used their ingenuity to find a way to strike back at the system that’s screwed them all their lives and make a lot of money doing it. With can-do spirit, cynical humor, and stick-to-itiveness (“diamond hands” is a favorite phrase, which means, a person who will never sell, even if the price dips wildly), they’ve taken on the whole financial establishment, and exposed its corruption in a way that no social movement of the past several decades has been able to achieve.
In other words, this army of retail investors, some of whom are buying just one or two shares of Game Stop, in order to support the cause, better exemplify the qualities of individual initiative and outside the box thinking that have always been at the heart of the American myth, than anyone or anything we’ve seen represented in our politics and media for a long, long time.
Turns out the American spirit isn’t dead, its just not on the TV. To find it, open yourself a reddit account and wander on over to Wall Street Bets. The self-described “smooth brained monkeys, autists, and pranksters” over there will probably bring a smile to your face, maybe for the first time in awhile. Unless you own a hedge fund, in which case, you should probably cover your short now; I haven’t personally examined them, but as far as I can tell from the price action, these folks have diamond hands.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as financial advice. The author holds positions in AMC and Sundial and plans on opening a position in Game Stop at market opening, simply because he likes the stock.
I know what you’re thinking: whaaaaaaaaaat!? But hear me out. The progressive case for voting Biden was best articulated by Noam Chomsky, and boiled down to this: as an activist, whether you like or don’t like a candidate or party doesn’t really enter into it. Your personal feelings must always be subordinated to your larger goals, and you should always vote based on which candidate is going to be the best vehicle for achieving your policy objectives. By that standard, I think there’s a good case to be made for progressives aligning themselves with the emerging economic populist wing of the GOP, and fighting its evangelical wing on cultural issues, rather than remaining within the Democratic Party and fighting its establishment on literally everything. Here’s why:
The Democratic Brand Is Toxic
Between its cultural signaling and its constant failure to delver for its constituents, the party has lost the good will of essentially everyone who doesn’t live on the coasts, and even on the coasts, is only really popular in urban areas. In my home state of New York, electoral maps show a bubble of New York City blue floating in an ocean of red, and the same goes for the entire Northeast, from Boston to Providence to Hartford. Slapping the D on your campaign materials isn’t an asset in most places, it’s a liability.
Republicans Win and It’s Only Going To Get Worse
Even in the face of a President who mostly seemed like he had just stepped out of a savage political farce about American politics that might have been written in the years before it actually happened, Joe Biden barely squeaked by. It took a once in a century pandemic and an unfathomably incompetent response from the administration to secure the Presidency for Democrats. But you can’t always count on an apocalypse. Even with an ongoing sci-fi dystopia scenario playing out in real time, and even with record turn-out, which is theoretically supposed to favor Democrats, the party managed to lose Governorships, state legislatures, house seats, and some very winnable Senate races. Because of those losses, next year’s post-census redistricting will be done primarily by Republicans. By the time they’ve gotten through gerrymandering the country, there are going to be about 6 Democrats left in the House. The next shot at Congress will come in 2032, after the next census. That sound like a star you want to hitch your wagon to? Is that a party that’s going to serve as the best vehicle for pushing your agenda?
The GOP Lets Its Voters Decide: A Tale of Two Insurgents
This is a subtle point, but a very important one, because it has an enormous impact on candidate selection and the degree to which GOP voters are able to influence the party’s legislative agenda. In 2016, both parties were rocked by the unexpected rise of unlikely outsider candidates running on an economic populist agenda that was completely at odds with the ideology of their leadership. In both cases, the media complexes that support those parties respectively tried to delegitimize the insurgents, and the parties ’ leading figures did everything they could to instruct their voters not to support them. But in only one case did the party work behind the scenes to rig the primary process against one candidate. And it wasn’t the GOP. We know from Wikileaks and Donna Brazile, that the DNC conspired with the Clinton campaign to sink Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. This was in spite of the fact that there was no reason to believe that he would lose in a general election, based on the polling. In fact, he generally outperformed Clinton in a theoretical match-up with Trump. The GOP, on the other hand, had every reason to believe that Trump would be defeated in a landslide, no matter who emerged the victor on the Democratic side. And yet, even in the face of not only a hostile takeover of their party, but in the face of an almost certain humiliating defeat, the GOP didn’t conspire against its own voters to secure a desired outcome. Which means that if you’re supporting a candidate in a GOP primary who has the most volunteers and grass roots donations in history, and that candidate goes on to win the first 3 primary states, chances are they’re going to be the nominee. On the other hand, as we saw again in 2020 with the Obama-orchestrated Monday night massacre, the Democratic Party will stop at nothing to prevent anyone who threatens to derail the revolving door gravy train from gaining any real power within their party.
Our Working Class Base Is In the GOP
It’s hard to run on economic populism inside a party dominated by upscale suburban liberals. Sure, they’ll vaguely nod their heads and agree in the abstract on principles like M4A, and labor rights, but it isn’t something they really give two shits about. And let’s face it: the idea of working-class solidarity scares them. Just like in some way the continued paranoia about Russia is based in ancient fears of the Mongol hordes swooping in from the steppe, the petit-bourgeois contempt for economic populism is based in their ancient class fear of being dragged from their homes by the impoverished masses and sent off to a political re-education camp. That’s a big part of why they’ve embraced the new religion of “critical race theory.” People who are busy hating each other because of their skin color, can’t unite. It also helps to deflect from their class privilege when they spend all their political energy superficially denouncing their own race privilege. Now, you might be saying that even if the working class is in the GOP, those voters represent a subset of the working class that’s hostile to social welfare programs. But if you’ve ever watched Bernie Sanders’ Fox News town hall, in which the audience applauds repeatedly for his entire agenda even with the hosts attempting to re-direct them back to the “socialist” boogeyman, you know that’s bs. It wouldn’t take much to win these people over. In fact, Trump already proved that by running to Clinton’s left on health care, trade, and war. He didn’t mean any of it, but that doesn’t really matter in terms of evaluating the potency of an economic populist message among rank-and-file Republicans. Now imagine what someone who walked the walk instead of just talking the talk could do.
GOP Voters Don’t Take Marching Orders
If they did, Jeb Bush would have been the 2016 nominee. They didn’t really give a fuck what Mitt Romney, or Rush Limbaugh, or anyone over at Fox had to say about it. They wanted Trump and they picked him, party establishment be damned. On the contrary, in 2020, Democratic voters rejected the candidate that polling showed they most trusted on every issue of importance to them, in favor of someone who started his campaign waxing rhapsodic over his past collaborations with avowed segregationists. And they did this, even as the country was exploding in the worst series of race riots since the 60’s. Why? Because their leaders and their media told them to. There was literally no other reason to support a man that got crushed in the first 3 states, and who polling showed they didn’t even particularly like. Even setting aside every other point in this article, this one is impossible to get around. You can never reform a party whose own voters are so spineless that all it takes is a thumbs down from Barrack Obama to persuade them to vote against the candidate they trust, in favor of one that they’ve been told can win. They were told that in 2016 too, mostly by the same people, but that doesn’t seem to have made an impression. Given the tightness of the margins, we can safely say that without corona, Biden would have been destroyed in 2020, and we had no idea how bad corona was going to be on Super Tuesday. With the GOP base, you have a chance to make your case, and if you make it successfully, you can actually win. With the Democrats, you’ll never win. Because even setting the leadership aside, their base is trash.
The story is much the same with Latinos, who it turns out not only aren’t all that into white liberals telling them what to call themselves under the assumption that their own language is inherently sexist (if you can find a better example of the “white savior” mentality in modern times, please let me know what it is), but tend to be to the right of white Democrats on immigration. It’s almost like people are multi-faceted and not simply defined by their race. Who knew? Definitely not the Democrats, apparently. If these trends continue (and there’s no reason to believe they won’t after listening to Biden’s recent Trumpesque exchange with black civil rights leaders), we’re looking at a looming GOP majority as far as the eye can see.
When the Democrats Are In Power, They Do As Much If Not More Damage To Their Base Than the GOP
Why is it that the party that supposedly cares the most about POC and the working class often does the most real structural, legislative damage to those communities while in office? Partly it’s because they believe those voters have nowhere else to go, and as a result those aren’t the voters they care about. The GOP, on the other hand, knows that because of their built-in advantage with whites, all they have to do is make a few percentage points gain with POC to beat the Democrats across the map. As a result, Democrats are the ones most likely to gut welfare and pass unpopular trade deals like NAFTA, while the GOP are more likely to do sentencing reform. It’s about politics, not ethics, but the end result is the same. Also, when the GOP wants to pass legislation that’s obviously hostile to workers and/or POC, the Dems will fight it for political reasons and the media will cover the subject more critically. Add to that the stigma the GOP carries as the party of white people, and it’s hard for them to pass overtly racist legislation without scrutiny. If you want to make it legal to put shock collars on workers, or carcinogens in black neighborhoods, you need to call it the Worker Safety and Water Enhancement Act, and get a Democratic President to slow jam it on Jimmy Fallon, a la Obama and the TPP. The white working class figured this out a long time ago, and that’s a big part of why they migrated to the GOP. With minority communities now following suit, who’s going to be left to vote for Democrats?
Freedom of Speech
As an artist and a politics blogger, this is a big one for me. We’ve seen the Democrats take on a lot of characteristics and opinions that have been historically associated with the right-wing over the last four years: Cold-war style Russophobia with all the attendant McCarthyite red-baiting of political opponents, even (perhaps especially) those on the left; unquestioning lionization of the intelligence services, accompanied by a blind acceptance of any and all claims they might make; a censorious holier-than-thou moral hysteria worthy of the Victorian era. It’s unsurprising then that people who have begun to think in a way that we usually associate with 1950’s wing-nuts, have come up with similar solutions to the perceived problem of Russian influence and moral turpitude among the citizenry: book banning, de-platforming, and blacklists. The bedrock American principal that tolerating speech isn’t the same thing as supporting it, has been abandoned by a modern left which seems to think that leaving it to tech oligarchs to decide which speech is and isn’t fit for mass consumption is a grand idea that will never come back to bite them in the ass. These are the same people who never anticipated that Democratic support for the Patriot Act would cause any particular problems, right up until the federal forces created under its provisions went all Pinochet on Portland’s protestors, throwing them into unmarked vans without charges or explanation. And even afterwards, they never made the connection: as usual, it was all about Trump.
This is not to say that Republicans are great defenders of freedom: the Patriot Act was essentially a wish list for the expansion of executive power that had been sitting at the bottom of a drawer in Dick Cheney’s house since the Nixon administration. And I have no doubt that if tech CEO’s were mostly Republicans, it would be the GOP arguing for tighter restrictions, and Dems arguing for an unrestricted internet. But as things stand, it isn’t the GOP putting pressure on publishers to withdraw books, demanding that scientific papers not be published until they’ve been examined for racial insensitivity by a committee, or cheering when Twitter and Facebook block a news story that subsequently turns out to have been true. The Democrats are the ones doing all of those things and that makes them the greatest threat to freedom of expression and open inquiry in the country at this particular moment in history. For that reason alone, whatever we might think of the GOP, we need to regard the Democratic Party as an existential threat to a progressive movement that does most of its organizing online.
This Wouldn’t Be the First Time That the Parties Switched Ideological Places
While GOP policies to fund railroad construction and industry had benefitted banks and businesses concentrated in the Northeast, they hadn’t provided similar support to the farmers who had settled in the West under the Homestead Act. With the admission of Western States to the union, this created a new voting block of impoverished rural voters with their own interest in big government/social justice programs. The Dems were the first to fully appeal to this block by nominating populist William Jennings Bryan, in 1896. For awhile the GOP competed with Dems for these voters, with Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt backing anti-trust legislation. But in both rural and urban areas, the working class and working poor continued to drift towards the Democratic Party, and as a result, its policies increasingly favored that group. By 1936 the GOP gave up on winning them over, by opposing FDR and the New Deal. So, we got where we are now because the parties switched their governing philosophies in response to a shift in their respective bases. With the working class now having fled back to the GOP, and upscale suburban whites having taken over the Democrats, the time is ripe for a switch back.
You might be asking now; are you really fucking serious about this? Honestly, I started this article with a tongue in my cheek, and by the time I finished it, I realized how cogent an argument you can make for the idea. At the very least I can say, I truly think your chances of reforming the GOP into a party that’s less culturally conservative than it is now, while being populist on economic issues, is better than your chances of turning the Democrats towards meaningful reform. I also believe that even if you managed it, it would be a Pyrrhic victory, because the Democratic brand is so toxic, and the structural disadvantages so severe, that you’d essentially be working very hard to reform a party that can’t win elections. So, what’s the point? I think a candidate like Paula Jean Swearengin, running on the same exact platform, would do a lot better running as a Republican in West Virginia. As a Democrat, she has no chance.
I mentioned in a previous article that I thought a candidate campaigning on an anti-woke, economic populist message in 2024, with Kamala Harris as the presumed opponent, would end up taking at least one third of former Sanders voters and win in a landslide. At that point what I’m suggesting here be done preemptively, will become a fait accompli. After 2024 the GOP may very well cement its hold on the working class, by continuing to make inroads with the non-white portions of it. It might be best to get ahead of that reality, if we want a seat at the table down the line. The only other viable option is to replace the Democrats with a major new party, as the Movement for A People’s Party is attempting to do, but is that more realistic than a hostile take-over the GOP? I don’t think so. If the people won’t come to you, you have to go to them. Our people aren’t in the Democratic Party any longer, and it’s only going to get worse.
For more on this topic, listen to episode 100 of the Due Dissidence podcast bu clicking the player below:
“All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”
-President Roslin, Battlestar Galactica
If there had been any doubt about the notion that the collapse of the American Empire was no longer ahead of us, but something that we’re now experiencing in real time, the first presidential debate of 2020 should have settled the question once and for all. If candidates for a nation’s highest office in some way reflect the zeitgeist of the society, then we are a nation torn between the dying echo of a weak, senile neoliberalism, and a uniquely American spin on fascism in the form of a blustering game show host. Whatever the outcome, no great nation that’s belched up these two men as the only choices in a country of 330 million people, can be said to be truly great, much less qualified to take a leadership role in the world.
All that’s left to fascinate now is the freak show. We continue to enjoy good ratings from a worldwide audience that is taking in our Series Finale with a mix of schadenfreude, sadness, and shocked disbelief. We’ve never had a fully televised imperial collapse before, and certainly never one with such bizarre aesthetics. America has always had a bone-deep weirdness at its core, but that quality has been cranked up considerably as the contradictions in our system finally come crashing down in one big, crazy, explosion of dystopian elements straight out of a Phillip K. Dick fever dream: Proud Boys, Robin DeAngelo, Joe Exotic, WAP, SJW’s, Jeffrey Epstein, Kanye, the Lincoln Project, and an old Jewish socialist screaming fire in the midst of the theater of it all, like a ghost from a time when the public good wasn’t entirely beside the point of our government. It somehow feels like a fitting send off for the nation that produced both jazz and Cheese Whiz. It’s like a dark jam session with all the major elements of the American id, grabbing an instrument and contributing a line.
The finger-pointing has already begun, even as we deny what’s actually happening to us by calling our deepening balkanization as a people, social progress. Black vs. white, gay vs. straight, trans, vs. cis, progressive vs. liberal, conservative vs. everyone else, and on and on and on into an infinity of categories, and sub-categories, each more granular than the last. A country as lacking in a sense of irony as ours, simply isn’t equipped to contemplate the idea that an obsession with personal identity, necessarily comes at the expense of national unity and is itself a symptom of cultural decline that has arisen in the final days of all the empires that preceded us. Yes, all of this has happened before and, in all likelihood, all of this will happen again in another place and time to another people, although probably not with quite as much entertainment value as we’re bringing to the occasion. Give the devil his due, we know how to put on a show, and we’re pulling out all the stops for this final act of the Great American Implosion Vaudeville.
Like our immediate predecessor, Great Britain, will we seize the opportunity presented by our impending release from the burdens of empire to create a more egalitarian society with a more progressive tax system which funds public services like universal health care and higher education? Maybe. But it’s just as likely we’ll have a protracted low-grade civil war ending in the final triumph of a fascist “America First” regime. The right-wingers have the guns and the resolve. Snarky memes and Aaron Sorkin won’t be much of a match against an army of assault rifle toting fanatics.
If you’re looking to put together a bug-out bag full of antibiotics and cash in light of all this, consider growing your nest egg by investing in mail order bride start-ups; not for people who want to bring Ukranian women to America, but for American women trying to get into Canada. That, and picking through the detritus of empire for roadside diner artifacts, Elvis night-lights, and Disney memorabilia for sale on ebay to the rising Chinese middle-class are probably your best options now.
On the bright side, the six-volume set about these years that’s sure to be produced by a future Gibbon, is going to be a lot more interesting than the Roman version. And how many among all the long generations of humans who have lived and died on the planet have ever gotten a front-row seat to the precise moment when an empire crumbled? As historical experiences go, that’s among the rarest of delicacies. Its only ever happened on this scale twice before, and only once without a successor state to ensure a relatively smooth passing of the torch. Of course, that lack of a successor caused a millennium of poverty and ignorance we now refer to as “the dark ages,” but the planet could probably use the breather right about now.
Progressives are perhaps the only people in America who aren’t surprised by any of this, and for whom the debate didn’t play as a revelation. We’ve seen this coming for a long time. It’s the reason we’re progressives. We’ve been doing a very loud Casandra bit since 2016, trying to warn anyone who would listen that this was where we were headed. Having a vested interest in the status quo, not enough of the people with the power to change course listened.
In the aftermath, some of us will stick around to try to help pick up the pieces. Many of us will go into exile rather than wait around for the federal forces to start showing up on our streets. A few will try to keep their heads down and ride it out. If nothing else, when that future history is written, we’ll be among the only actors to come off relatively well. Not quite the win we were hoping for, but at least we’ll be able to look our grandkids in the eye over a long-expired can of peaches, and account for ourselves in these times without shame.
If you own a pussy hat, on the other hand, you might want to burn it now and delete all the photos. There’s just no way you’re going to be able to explain that in a world without bees.
For more on the debate and the collapse of the American Empire, listen to our latest podcast by clicking the player below:
If you live in New York City and you’ve watched a New York crime show in the last twenty years, it probably felt a lot like alternate history science fiction. What if you put Starsky and Hutch in a world with cell phones and the internet? Those realities never co-existed, but that doesn’t matter for the vast majority of viewers who not only don’t live in New York, but in most cases have never even been there. The city only functions as a symbolic stand-in for everything they find threatening and mysterious about urban life. You don’t need New York crime to make a New York crime show, anymore than you need real cowboys roaming around Wyoming to make a Western. Its become a beloved genre, completely independent of the actual place that is its theoretical setting.
In the same spirit, and perhaps because New York played such a central role in the storyline the last time we were facing down the prospect of total collapse as a nation, certain portions of the media have been playing up the idea that the 70’s have come back full-blown, with crime and chaos on every corner, as well-heeled Upper West Siders flee the marauding homeless hordes. But the truth is, its pretty damned quiet. A lot quieter than it is most everyplace else. You can’t just undo 30 years of gentrification in six months. The kinds of people who made the Bronx burn were locked up or driven out by skyrocketing rents decades ago. And we still have a police force that, if it were an army, would be the world’s 11th largest. No, New York isn’t descending into chaos. At least not yet. But everyplace else is. The result is a perverse inversion of 1977. The Bronx isn’t burning, but the nation is. Never has Spaulding Gray’s vision of us as “an island off the coast of America” seemed more apt. It’s like living in a city-state on the periphery of Rome circa 476 AD, and watching the collapse of the empire with morbid fascination while wondering what it’s all going to mean for our small, independent, trading hub.
The last time I drove cross-country, I stopped and took a picture of the world’s largest cross. It looms up out of the flat Texas plains and you can see it for miles and miles before you get to it. There were people there praying and kneeling, and, it being Texas, I couldn’t help but to imagine what might happen if Leatherface were to suddenly burst out of the weeds with his chainsaw. How would they process that? If I lived in Texas, I’d pay a lot of money to find out. In the event, I just took the picture, and when my fiancé at the time asked why, I told her, “So I can explain American politics to New Yorkers.”
We like to deny it, but the truth is, we’re not really Americans here. Most of us would feel more at home in any European capital than we would in any other part of our native land and all the worst suspicions that our countrymen have about us are mostly true. We’re happy to take their tourist dollars, but we’re even happier to see them check out of the Best Western and be on their way. For these past four years we’ve been mostly keeping quiet when they stroll through Times Square with the red hat on, but only because it is not in our nature to tip off the mark.
For a commercial people, the ultimate measure of intellectual superiority is the ability to take your money. Getting the MAGA’s to give us theirs has been some small comfort in these trying times and we haven’t survived this long by being choosy about who’s pockets we dip our hands into. Besides that, it’s hard to really hate what you can’t even begin to understand. These puffy, fanny-packed, credulous, Trump-loving specimens might as well be Amazonian tribesmen dropped in the middle of 8th Avenue on a sacred mission to find the nearest Cold Stone Creamery. I’ve spent enough time in their villages to have caught the drift of their thinking, but for most my fellow New Yorkers, they’re as incomprehensible as Quantum Mechanics. I try to explain it to them once in awhile, but then they just think I’m taking their side.
And so we watch in horrified fascination as the nation that we have only ever nominally been a part of, tears itself apart over questions of culture, race, and settled science. We watch people refusing to wear masks in a pandemic, not out of a perverse laziness, but as a matter of principle, and we just can’t figure it out. We see a man like Mitch McConnell who wants to give people less money in the middle of an economic catastrophe cruising to re-election, and we just don’t understand how you could assemble a majority of people in any state who would want to vote for that, undeniable shittiness of his opponent notwithstanding. There’s something very sackcloth and ashes about it. Or BDSM. Please sir, harder this time. We would happily secede if we could, but the centurions would be on us in a heartbeat if we tried it. The only question is how much we can decouple our fate from that of the “everyplace else,” places. Probably not much, which seems grossly unfair. But we aren’t the first to make a deal with the Devil, only to realize when the payment came due that he was hiding there in the details all along.
The irony of all this is that the shit isn’t going down around the figure of some homespun Deep South fascist, as ninety years of science fiction, going all the way back to It Can’t Happen Here, had always intimated it would. Its going down around the first native New Yorker to win the Presidency since Theodore Roosevelt. It’s as if Gozer had asked the nation to pick the form of its destruction and instead of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, it had inexplicably chosen a tabloid punchline from a part of the country that it had always despised. Who could have seen that coming? But then again, that may be why he slipped under the radar. Raving about Mexican rapists in a Southern drawl would have been a dead giveaway. Trump’s guy-from-a-bar-in-Queens thing is more associated with mob movies than visions of the apocalypse. And the idea of putting Tony Soprano in charge for awhile probably seemed like a hoot to a population that hasn’t been getting much entertainment value from their government over the past 30 years.
As of this writing, we’re 44 days out from the election, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away 48 hours ago. Just typing that sentence, makes me feel like I’m not composing an essay so much as I’m ripping off Vonnegut. All the absurdity of human nature and all the cruel ironies of fate that were the author’s favorite themes are on full display in the way we’re choosing to dispose of our empire. Not in a final, glorious stand against the barbarian hordes. Not in the self-sacrificing decision to fight against Nazi tyranny. No, we’re going down because half the nation believes that a failed casino magnate and former game show host is their only salvation, while the other half believes that he’s the second coming of Hitler. Neither side has much faith in democracy anymore, and when the citizens of a democracy no longer believe that democratic processes are an absolute good, regardless of outcomes, no peaceful transfer of power is possible. The results are going to be catastrophic.
New Yorkers, you can take some comfort in the fact that your bone-deep belief in your own superiority has been borne out in some way by the reality that one of the least of us was able to bring down the country in just under four years. Everyone else, well, take some comfort in the fact that your prejudices have been confirmed – all it took was one godless New Yorker in the White House to ruin the whole damned national endeavor. Whatever our differences, we will ultimately share the same fate, and perhaps in the end we both have it coming; us for producing him, and you for electing him.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em folks. In six some-odd weeks, this is all going to end the way it was always meant to; in a Vegas floor show-style spectacle, with a half-assed con man leading the way.
Title Photo: Noam Galai, Getty Images / All other photos by Russell Dobular
One of Mayor Pete’s first official acts was to fire Daryl Boykins, the first black police chief of South Bend, possibly at the urging of his donors. The explanation given was that Boykins had illegally recorded his own officers’ phone conversations. According to Boykins, their conversations included racial slurs directed at him, and also discussion of a conspiracy to get him fired that included deep-pocketed Buttigeig donors and the Mayor himself. So, essentially, Pete chose to punish the alleged victim, rather than the perpetrators. In response to demands that he release the tapes, Pete refused, claiming that releasing them would be illegal, given that they had since become evidence in an ongoing FBI investigation. That all seems pretty cancelicious, no? But wait, it gets better.
Partly because of this history, and partly because, let’s face it, Pete’s personality style makes mayonnaise look ethnic, he struggled during the primaries to get any (literally, any) black support. His solution? Fake it ‘till you make it. Bad enough was his tokenizing of the few black people he could find at his events, who he would often pressure into surrounding him on stage, whether or not they were actual supporters, or just Americans guilty of checking out a rally while black.
The coup de grace came when Pete sent out an e-mail to black politicians and community leaders, that gave them 24 hours to “opt-out” of endorsing his “Douglass Plan” for black America. Yes, you read that right. If you happened to ignore the email, or if you didn’t open it in time and thoroughly read its contents, you woke up the next day to the news that you had not only endorsed Pete Buttigieg’s plan (a plan that it appears was written exclusively by white people), but you found your name included on a list of 400 supposedly black South Carolinian supporters, that later investigations found was at least 42% white. Now, maybe I’ve misunderstood the premises of “anti-racism,” but its my understanding that white people speaking for POC, much less exploiting them in this way, is a big no-no. Seems like the kind of thing that should get you canceled, no? Especially when combined with Mayor Pete’s history in South Bend. And it didn’t end there.
Even after being called out by many black politicians, some of whom had publicly endorsed other candidates, Pete didn’t give up on this tactic of faking black support by claiming endorsements from virtually every POC he had ever shaken hands with. In South Carolina, the Buttigieg campaign claimed that black-owned businesses they had simply patronized, had “partnered” with the Buttigieg campaign. Once again, this led to denials from the blindsided African Americans in question.
Now, maybe this is just crazy talk, but it seems to me that if you’re going to cancel people for just saying fucked up shit, actually doing this much fucked up shit should have made Pete persona non grata in polite society a long time ago. But far from being canceled, he was a prominent speaker at the recent DNC convention, and it’s pretty much assumed that he’ll be getting a cabinet position in a theoretical Biden administration. And the craziest part? Most of his fan base consists of the same college educated white liberals who would be clogging up your feed for days with their peculiarly off-putting brand of high dudgeon if 1/10th of this fact set belonged to anyone without a big blue D next to their name.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this dirtbag’s long history of sexual assault going back decades. The facts are so well known and undeniable, that even the most head in the sand party-line Dems are aware of them. But there are two facts that they haven’t really reckoned with, one old, and one relatively new, because to acknowledge them would be to make allowing Bill to continue on in his uncanceled state an impossibility. And the forces of woke really just don’t want to deal with it.
Clinton has been credibly accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick, and that’s been out there since 1999. Has he been accused in a “would stand up in a court of law” kind of way? No. Sexual assault allegations rarely meet that standard, which is a big part of why, in frustration, many have chosen to litigate guilt via social media. By Twitter trial standards though, the evidence against Clinton more than clears the bar. So why was he speaking at the DNC, and why hasn’t the #MeToo movement harassed him out of the public sphere?
As if that wasn’t bad enough, we now have two separate witnesses, one of them an Epstein victim, placing the old pervert on Epstein’s “pedophile island,” a place he claims to have never been. He also lied about the number of trips he took on Epstein’s plane, owning up to only four trips, when flight logs show he did in fact take 26 flights on the so-called “Lolita Express.” Records also place Clinton on the plane at the same time as some of Epstein’s possibly underaged trafficking victims, identified only by their first names. And mere days before Clinton’s appearance at the DNC, photos leaked of him receiving a massage from one of Epstein’s victims. To be clear, thus far none of the women have claimed to have had sexual contact with Bill Clinton. But one thing no one has ever accused Slick Willy of is abject stupidity. Does anyone really believe that Clinton was spending this much time around Epstein without understanding what was going on? What if every time you went to your middle-aged male friend’s house, they were surrounded by a bevy of extremely young girls? What would you think was going on there? Karate lessons? So why was this man speaking at a political convention whose main message was that Donald Trump is morally unfit for office? Why is he still walking around unimpeded by the Twitteratti while other men (and some women), of far less consequence, are hiding under a blanket?
The shit that flies out of Joe Biden’s mouth every time he gets in front of a microphone would be career-ending for pretty much anyone who wasn’t an establishment Democrat in good standing. Here are just a few examples.
On working with segregationists:
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me ‘boy’; he always called me ‘son.’ Well, guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done.”
“Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point.”
On the intelligence of POC:
“Poor kids are just as smart as white kids.”
On black parenting:
“They want help, but they just don’t know what to do.”
On black politics:
“What you all know, but most people don’t know. Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”
On black identity:
“If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.”
We could go on and on, but you get the picture. Biden regularly says things that would send the world’s biggest movie stars straight to Kevin Spacey-land, if they offered similar observations. And yet, far from being canceled, he’s the nominee of the party most sympathetic to the idea of breaking out the digital stocks for anyone caught expressing these kinds of sentiments. Its almost like its just a weapon they use on their political enemies, and not something they actually care about at all. Weird, huh?
It would be bad enough if Joe Biden just kinda said stuff. In fact that’s pretty much the defense those who are self-aware enough to acknowledge the contradiction at the heart of his nomination offer, by dismissing all these statements as “gaffes.” But far from limiting his racism to his stated beliefs, Biden’s political history is a virtual laundry list of cancelable offenses.
As a Senator, Biden repeatedly collaborated with his beloved segregationist buddies to work on overtly racist legislation. Not only was Biden one of the leading voices speaking out against school busing, he worked with avowed segregationists Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond on numerous bills and amendments aimed at preventing it.
Throughout the 80’s he continued to collaborate with his favorite segregationist, Thurmond, who had run for President in 1948 on a white supremacist platform, on a series of draconian anti-crime measures. These bills created the groundwork for the carceral state we live in today, by introducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, and the now infamous sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine. The capstone of the Biden-Thurmond love affair was the 1994 crime bill, which Biden gleefully bragged, “would do everything but hang people for jaywalking.”
If making racist jokes about Asians is enough to get you canceled, what should we do with someone who destroyed the lives of millions of POC in order to score points with white voters, all while claiming the new sentencing guidelines in his bills were aimed at keeping people off the streets “who don’t meet the middle-class criteria of susceptibility to rehabilitation.” If there were a dog-whistling Olympics, Biden would surely have taken home the gold for that bit of racist pablum. Seems like if we’re going to apply the Biden standard for fitting the punishment to the crime (except where his son is concerned), Biden should be doing the Cersei Lannister naked walk of shame through the middle of DC right about now. And now you’re never getting that image out of your head. You’re welcome.
And lest we forget (which is exactly what we’re supposed to do), Tara Reade has made accusations of sexual assault against Biden that are at least as credible as a host of others that have ended the careers of many people not named Joe Biden. Reade’s accusations were accompanied by all the supporting evidence we look for in these cases: people she had told about the incident at the time, dismissal from her employment with the accused in the right time frame, and even a call-in from her mother to the Larry King show discussing her daughter’s problems with a “prominent Senator.” Whether you believe the accusations or not, one thing is beyond debate: by the standards that the #MeToo movement had previously established, Biden should have been forced into hiding. That’s exactly what would have happened if you attached the same set of facts to anyone who wasn’t an establishment Democrat in good standing.
To make the hypocrisy even more glaring, in order to defend Biden, the “nuts and sluts” defense that feminists have rightly been working to delegitimize for decades was turned against Reade full-force by the media, party leadership, and the rank and file brainwashed cult members that make up most of the party’s remaining base. That in the course of carving out a Joe Biden exception, they’ve set the #MeToo movement back 20 years by ensuring that those accused of assault in the future will now make full use of the Biden defense (“They said the same thing about Joe Biden. This woman is another Tara Reade.”), doesn’t seem to trouble them in the slightest. But then again, people who never saw a downside in holding extra-judicial social media trials that would be adjudicated by the kinds of isolated and emotionally damaged people who make up the greater part of regular Twitter users, clearly aren’t ones to think in terms of unintended consequences.
And just for bonus points, Biden has been lying about his civil rights activism for thirty years, right down to the present day. That kind of unfathomable insult to the legacy of those who really did put their lives on the line in the struggle for equality is about the most cancelable shit I’ve ever heard. Except for pretty much every other thing Biden has ever done in office.
Just to be clear, I’m not making an argument for cancellation. As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of the concept of turning decisions about who does and doesn’t get voted off the island over to the congregation of miserable freaks who do the most jumping up and down online. But if we’re going to be cancelling people anyway, shouldn’t we be starting with the folks who have the most power and influence, and saving Hollywood types and poor working stiffs for later? I mean, isn’t it kind of like guillotining the minor nobility and the peasants without ever getting around to the royals? Or gunning down the Kulaks, while leaving the Romanovs unmolested? Say what you will about the Ruskies, but when it came time to upend the social order, they didn’t fuck around. The People’s Army massacred the royal family right off the bat, and only got around to executing the merchant class later. And they didn’t even look at thought crimes among the serfs until everyone else was already safely dead or in the gulag. It’s like we’re doing this whole cultural revolution thing backwards.
So, listen up liberals, you’ve got a choice to make here. You can either keep going after the easy targets, or you can truly make an impact on society by taking down the big game. So far you haven’t really accomplished anything other than destroying stand-up comedy and arguably getting Donald Trump elected. That’s a start in a nihilistic Joker-esque embrace of chaos kind of a way, but if ya really wanna pull an NKVD kinda deal, you’re going to need to set your sights a little higher.
“Boris has just given me a summary of his views. He is a weather prophet. The weather will continue bad, he says. There will be more calamities, more death, more despair. Not the slightest indication of a change anywhere.”
This is surprising, because unlike their neoliberal nemeses, progressives have been relatively clear-eyed about how Trump won and why. It’s obvious to most of them that by running to Hillary’s left on war and economics, while running to her right on social issues, he hit the American sweet spot, no Russian trolls required. To assume that progressives are going to own the future then, is to assume that the GOP aren’t going to figure that out over the next few years, and that new politicians aren’t going to rise up on the right who copy the Trump model with the added benefit of not being Donald Trump. Because if a patently absurd figure like Trump could ride that message all the way to the White House, imagine what a competent politician could do with it. And now imagine what a politician who actually meant any of it could do. A candidate like that would not only win Republicans and Independents, they’d take a lot of conservative Democrats, and at least a third of the progressive movement along with them.
Don’t believe me? Think you’d never vote for the Republican? Okay, let’s run a thought experiment for the progressives – but to run it we’re going to have to be a little honest with ourselves. At the risk of triggering your PTSD, lets think back to 2016 for a minute. Remember all those times you tried to make a policy case against Hillary Clinton and you got called a sexist if you were a man, and someone with a bad case of “internalized misogyny” if you were a woman? Remember how frustrating and unfair that was? And remember how the media reinforced those narratives while sandbagging your candidate and his supporters at every opportunity? Now remember how even though you may not have liked or trusted Trump, you kind of secretly loved it when he went after the media, the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, and the whole MSNBC-liberal enterprise? And here’s where you’re going to have to be really honest, even if its not something you’ll ever own up to publicly – remember how all those images of crying Hillary supporters on election night made you feel all warm inside? You probably had those YouTube compilations playing on loop for a week after that election. I know I did. Now imagine after four more years of neoliberal bullshit, with a huge extra helping of “woke” thrown in, a GOP candidate is running on economic policies you agree with, while attacking everything cancel culture and slamming liberal elites at the same time. For the coup de grace, add into the mix that Harris is their opponent, and she’ll likely have gotten into that position by beating a progressive in yet another rigged primary. Now tell me you aren’t going to vote for the GOP candidate, or at very least, secretly cheer them on. See what I mean?
And you probably aren’t even so much socially conservative as you are repulsed by the self-righteous hypocrisy, and anti-free speech tendencies, of liberals. So how do you think conservative Democrats who really are freaked out by “autonomous zones” and talk of defunding the police are going to vote, given those choices? Especially after the crime rates explode in the cities that try it. Now, wait, I know what you’re thinking. How dare you suggest that we need a gestapo police force on the streets to prevent crime. But we kind of do. Because the system of capitalism creates the conditions of dehumanization and desperation that cause crime. If you don’t change those conditions, having less police is inevitably going to lead to an increase in crime rates. The real job of law enforcement in an oligarchy is to get those who have been most brutalized by the vicissitudes of capitalism off the streets, so that everyone else can sip their lattes without being brutalized in turn. It’s no accident that the prison population has exploded as the greater share of national wealth has been gradually funneled to the top 1%. The more unfair the system, the more forcefully you need to suppress the have-nots in order to protect the haves from their vengeance. But we aren’t likely to have that conversation in the event. We’re just going to do what we did the last time crime exploded in our cities under conditions of mass unemployment and poverty: turn to law and order types like the current Democratic nominee, to rescue us from the victims that our system has created. Out of sight, out of mind.
And in case you’re thinking that the African-American community will stand as a bulwark against any such repetition of history, I have two words for you: Joe Biden.
But look at Trump’s numbers! The American people have clearly rejected him. No, they really haven’t, at least not in any meaningful sense. Trump is a great performer. But like any actor, he’s only as good as the script you hand him. His campaign is so remarkably tone deaf this time around, only because he’s surrounded himself with traditional Republican operatives and consultants who don’t understand that painting Joe Biden as a closet socialist makes about as much sense as painting Barrack Obama as a radical did in 2012. It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now. There needs to be a kernel of truth in order for propaganda to be effective. There are an infinite number of devastating angles one could take on attacking Joe Biden, but calling a man who very obviously wouldn’t know Karl Marx from Groucho, a socialist, isn’t one of them. However, this doesn’t mean that Trumpism is politically impotent, or that its victory in 2016 was an aberration. It simply means that running Trump on traditional GOP talking points is like casting Meryl Streep in Plan 9 From Outer Space. There’s only so much he can do with the material. Without the evil genius of soon-to-be felon Steve Bannon to guide him, he seems to have no idea of what the basis of his own appeal was, or how to recapture it. But smarter people on the right have surely been watching, taking notes, and plotting their own stab at the Bannon/Trump formula. And those wanna-be Trumps are likely going to find very fertile ground for their message in four years.
Assuming the Biden/Harris ticket prevails this November, by 2024, the memory of Donald Trump will have faded, while the experience of governance by virtue signaling and corrupt corporate toadying will be the current reality for most Americans. Educated suburban elites will be rejoicing, with Biden-Harris having successfully restored their leisurely, politics-free, pre-Trump brunch habits, while for the working class, and the habitually rational, the combination of pronoun policing from the highest office in the land and policy crumbs where a bread factory’s worth of loaves are needed, will have left the same bitter taste of bait-and- switch in the mouths of voters that has followed the election of Democrats for at least 30 years. Enter an economic populist who unabashedly attacks woke culture, without veering into the overt “Mexican rapists are coming for you and everyone you ever loved” racism of Trump, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Especially with an empty pantsuit like Harris as their opponent.
The identity politics left fucking it up for the economic populist left is an old story, going back at least to the 60’s. It was the central disagreement that led a certain portion of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) to splinter off into the Weather Underground and start bombing post offices. They were the identitarians of their time, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s had the displeasure of running into their humorless, holier-than-thou ideological descendants. As long as the left was associated most strongly with economic populism, they had an edge on the GOP. Once it became associated with obnoxious suburban white kids preaching at the working class, the Reagan era was all but assured. They fucked it up for us then, and they’re very likely to fuck it up for us now, once again handing our future to the American right with their politics by pussy hat.
Add to all this the fact that, embarrassing assurances of our old mentor aside, if Joe Biden wins, we won’t be entering a new era of populist FDR Keynesianism. We’ll be replaying the Carter years. Just like Carter, Biden will be inheriting a devastated economy, with high unemployment and exploding crime rates. As with Carter, those conditions will not have been of Biden’s making, but very much like Carter, he’ll be too weak a President to find a way out. In Carter’s case, his own idealism stood in the way of doing the kind of politicking that, as distasteful as it might be, is necessary to get anything done in Washington. In Biden’s case, his lack of idealism will lead him to cut deals that are going to infuriate his base (well, maybe not his base, but the more progressive base of the Democratic Party), while continuing in the neoliberal vein of championing identitarian causes, in the absence of meaningful economic policies.
By the time 2024 rolls around, the door will be wide open to any right-wing populist with the stones to seize the main chance.
Post RNC Convention Update: Here’s the reality; Biden has historically low enthusiasm, and all indications are that his turn-out from young, Latino and African-American voters is going to be weak. Without a plague, the Dem ticket would have no chance of winning under those circumstances. To compensate, Dems have thrown all their eggs into the converting suburban Republicans basket. Just like Hillary did. The thing is, those people are Republicans for a reason. They may not be racist AF, but they’re at least racist af. I promise you, parading out John Kasich and company didn’t make up for the overall virtue-signaling tone of the DNC convention with that audience. They hate that shit. That’s a big part of why they’re Republicans. Not like this was the party of Eisenhower before Trump, or even the party of Nixon. These are people who stayed Republican after the Bush years. Their support for a Democratic ticket is dicey at best. For those voters, the RNC convention’s celebration of free markets, small government, and law and order, played out against a backdrop of rising crime and riots, resonates. The polling in swing states was already tightening to the margin of error before the convention. Don’t be surprised if Trump starts to pull ahead in some of them this week. In other words, reports of Trump’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
In spite of what you might have heard, Democrats aren’t stupid. Nor are they spineless, cowardly, incapable of messaging, or any of the other things offered as explanations for their decades-long failure to win most elections in most places, or to secure meaningful policy reforms for their voters. In the now famous words of Marco Rubio, spoken during his campaign-ending broken robot moment on the 2016 debate stage, “Lets dispel with this fiction that Barrack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
Yes, he does. And so does the rest of the Democratic Party. If you understand the Democrats as a party whose first priority is to win elections and then serve their voters once in office, then you have to look for far-fetched explanations for their actions, which often appear to be completely at odds with those objectives. What party eager to win over the middle of the country would repeatedly vote to make a wealthy San Francisco doyenne like Nancy Pelosi their Speaker? She’s a walking advertisement for the image of Democrats as a party of out of touch elites, more concerned with arcane speech codes than labor laws. But if you understand the Democrats as a party primarily concerned with raking in big bucks from wealthy donors, while drawing enough superficial distinctions with their opponents to maintain their identity as a separate party, then everything they do is pretty frikkin’ brilliant. Like forcing Joe Biden on their voters.
Let’s be absolutely clear: Bernie Sanders would undoubtedly have been the party’s nominee this year without the interference of its leadership. A lot of ink has been spilled about the failings of Bernie 2020, and some of those points are valid, but let’s not forget that Sanders won the first three states in the primary calendar, all while facing unprecedented hostility from the corporate media and party elites, so clearly he did a lot of things right. No other candidate has ever won the first two states without going on to secure the nomination, much less all three.
But no other candidate so universally feared and loathed by the money people and the consultant class has ever gotten so close to the big prize. Close enough that they were willing to drop all pretense of neutrality and fairness to ensure on the eve of Super Tuesday that instead of facing a fractured field of milquetoast moderates, Sanders would be going mano a mano with only Joe Biden, a man who voters had completely rejected in humiliating fashion right up until South Carolina. Remember, this was before we understood exactly how bad the coronavirus was going to be, or how badly Trump and the GOP would botch their response. No modern Democrat has ever won without high youth voter turnout, and there’s no way they didn’t understand that crushing the candidate of young voters was going to suppress their vote. Nor has any modern Democrat ever won without a high share of the Latino vote, and yet they chose to publicly and openly conspire against the candidate who was the clear choice of Latino voters.
All this in order to run a notoriously thin-skinned politician in the obvious throes of cognitive decline against the world’s most infamous bully. Without coronavirus, Biden was a sure loser and there’s no way the party’s decision makers and strategists didn’t understand that. No, they aren’t that stupid. If you consider that the battle they’re fighting is only secondarily against the GOP, and primarily against the left wing of their own party, what they did was actually very smart.
These folks can read a poll as well as anyone, and they understand that in the normal course of things their days are numbered. For years, Democrats have talked up their coalition of the ascendant; the new, young, diverse, and thoroughly blue no matter who electorate that was going to someday hand them majorities as far as the eye could see. But now that it’s on the verge of arriving, it doesn’t look quite like what they were expecting. Turns out that rising electorate wants policies that will actually allow them to rise in more than a symbolic sense and isn’t quite as satisfied by platitudes and kente cloth as the old white liberal coalition was. They want universal health care, they want higher wages, they want student loan forgiveness, they want free college; in other words, they want the people they vote for to do something for them beyond diversifying their office staff. The problem for Democrats is that all the things they want them to do are a direct threat to the grift they’ve been running since the day Bill Clinton formally announced the death of the party’s animating FDR spirit by proudly informing the public that “the days of big government are over.” The Reaganite small government ethos that’s ruled both parties ever since, simply cannot be reconciled with the demands of voters whose first priority is economic justice. So what do you do when your base sees through the hollowness of your politics and demands that you do better? Find a different base. And that’s where Joe Biden comes in.
The Biden campaign is a Trojan horse in the truest sense: it’s an empty vessel through which the Dems are attempting to substitute a portion of the GOP’s base for a portion of their own. The Democrats gearing their message towards white, professional class suburban voters is nothing new. They’ve been doing it for at least 30 years, first winning over the socially liberal/economically conservative “Rockefeller Republicans” in order to make up for their losses with union voters in the wake of NAFTA. Now they’re attempting with this election to win over the even more conservative “moderate Republicans” of this generation by running the kind of candidate who would promise in the midst of a pandemic and an ongoing populist uprising to veto Medicare for All, and not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400K a year. They’re not worried about handing over control of the party to Republicans in the process, because a Democratic Party dominated by moderate Republicans doesn’t look very different from what we have now – there’s hardly a shade of difference between your average liberal and your average “Never Trumper” ideologically.
The rising left, however, is an existential threat to the party’s modern make-up, ideology, and standard operating procedures. If they lose to Trump while trying to make the shift, something that was almost guaranteed at the time they decided to force Biden down the country’s collective throat, that’s really not a problem. Trump is great for fundraising and his sheer awfulness takes the onus off the Dems to be much better. Just being a little better than Trump is all they really need to be for as long as he’s in office. Seen from that perspective, Biden is a win-win. They either crush the left by assembling a new, even more conservative coalition, or they once again scapegoat the left for their losses and spend another four years pretending the country didn’t go to shit until 1/20/17. So if you’re a deeply corrupt member of the fake-left half of the country’s ruling elite, where’s the downside? It’s nothing but upside for everyone except the voters.
There’s only one flaw in this plan. It doesn’t take into account the dangers of breaking the social contract so severely that the population becomes ungovernable. Only a fool would believe that we can continue on our current course of spiraling wealth inequality combined with a collapsing quality of life, now severely exacerbated by a global pandemic, without a reckoning. Unfortunately, in keeping with their French, Chinese and Russian predecessors, our leaders are those fools. History shows us that those most in danger of getting on the wrong end of a People’s Tribunal, are always the last to see it coming. With Trump we get there a little faster, with Biden a little slower (maybe), but the American economic and political system as currently constituted is clearly unsustainable.
Vote your conscience in November in light of these realities (personally, I’m writing in Dave Chapelle), but know that the real battle is going to start the day after the voting ends.