Centrists Killed the Biden Presidency and Doomed the Democratic Party

by Keaton Weiss

Last week, the Senate’s 52-48 vote against filibuster reform drove yet another nail in the coffin that is the Biden presidency. After having failed to whip his own party’s votes to pass Build Back Better in the last months of 2021, Biden attempted a “pivot” to voting rights legislation in 2022.

It was obvious to most that the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, like BBB before it, would die at the hands of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have been immovable in their opposition to the most important components of Biden’s agenda. The two Senators are now pariahs within their own party, drawing the ire of even the most loyal Democratic voters, many of whom are already contributing to primary efforts against them.

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Of course, the irony here is that Joe Biden, Kyrsten Sinema, and Joe Manchin share the same centrist wing of the Democratic Party – you know, the one that’s always claiming they’re the “adults in the room” who can “work across the aisle” to “get things done.” The last two presidential primaries have been battles between Bernie Sanders advocating for meaningful reforms, and moderates like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton lecturing him and his supporters about how their ideas are unrealistic, and how centrists like them are best-positioned to actually achieve legislative goals, albeit less ambitious ones.

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This intra-party compromise proposed by the moderates wins out more than it loses. In both 2016 and 2020, Democratic voters were successfully duped into accepting this bogus bargain, nominating Clinton and Biden despite being far more aligned with Bernie on nearly every major policy issue.

If there’s one political development worth remembering in 2021, it’s that centrists, not progressives, drowned the Biden agenda in the bathtub and sabotaged his administration. Despite candidate Biden’s nostalgia for “getting things done” with segregationist colleagues in the 1970’s and his predictions of a Republican “epiphany” following his election that would usher in a return to bipartisanship, his first year in office was stymied by the same legislative stalemate that defined the Obama era.

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And once again, it should be noted for the history books that this impasse was arrived at not by radical socialist progressives or far-right Republicans, but by Biden’s fellow “moderate” Democrats, who every election cycle fraudulently claim they’re the ones who roll up their sleeves and make things happen while the ideologues on the extremes only scream and yell.

Will Democratic voters absorb any of this? Probably not. According to Morning Joe, Biden’s problem is that he’s “moved too far left and has not been able to bring those final two Senators home.” Rachel Maddow, in a particularly puzzling segment (below), defended Biden’s blaming his failures on Republican obstructionism while seeming to forget that the very rationale for his presidency was that he was uniquely qualified to overcome it.

If rank and file Democrats have proven one thing in recent years, it’s that they think how they’re told. Despite the truth being clear as day that moderates in their own party are responsible for tanking Biden’s agenda, their MSNBC thought leaders seem intent on blaming both progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans for the dysfunction in Washington. That their audience could be convinced of this even as they’re made to rail against Manchin and Sinema as “traitors” demonstrates a cognitive dissonance that only the most committed party loyalists are capable of.

It’s unlikely they’ll ever snap out of it, and it’s even less likely to matter whether or not they do. Come January 2023, Democrats will certainly be the minority party with virtually no power at the federal level. Between GOP dominance of state legislatures and the gerrymandering that will result from it, and the Democrats’ aforementioned failure to pass voting rights legislation, this dynamic isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

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And so while for progressives it’d be a nice consolation prize to hear our moderate counterparts admit that their approach has been a colossal failure resulting in both political gridlock and electoral annihilation, the real lesson coming out of this past year is that the Democratic Party is on its deathbed, and that centrism was the cancer that put it there.

If there is a way forward – and that’s one hell of a big if – it’s in the form of a new organization that rises from the ashes of the Democrats’ looming obliteration. There’s no course correction to be made within the party, especially not with a “progressive” wing too weak to keep its most basic promise of “holding the line” on the bipartisan infrastructure and BBB negotiations (ie, pledging not to pass the first without the second, and then doing just that).

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As far as the Democratic Party is concerned, the only thing left to do is write its obituary. The cause of death: a parasitic donor class attached itself to it and sucked the life out of it, rendering it incapable of performing even the most basic political functions when faced with life-or-death stakes. Or, as the Washington establishment would call it, “centrism.”

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149. The End of Roe v. Wade: a Debacle 50 Years in the Making Due Dissidence

Photo: Gage Skidmore CC 2.0

Imperial Decline Abroad and a Cold Civil War at Home: 2021 Year in Review

When President Biden first assumed the office, his support for universal pre-K, a children’s UBI, and paid family leave came as a pleasant surprise to many progressives who went into this administration with the lowest of expectations. Shortly after inauguration day, stimulus checks were being shipped out and vaccines were being administered by the millions. For a minute there, it seemed like perhaps good things were possible again.

The unveiling of the Build Back Better plan over the summer expanded upon those aforementioned goals, introducing tuition-free community college and expansion of Medicare among other progressive proposals.

But as the year wore on, this Democratic “vision” hit a wall in the Senate, where villains-du-jour Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema refused to get on board. As negotiations continued, BBB became less transformational, and less worthwhile. By the end of the year, its passage, even as a fraction of its initial self, seems unlikely.

As this would-be “human infrastructure” bill deteriorated, the United States’ embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan signaled the collapse of our global imperial project.

In his recent article, writer and author Anis Shivani likens our surrender in Afghanistan to Britain’s humiliating attempt to regain control over the Suez canal in 1956, which signaled their imperial decline.

Shivani goes on to describe the disappointment that was 2021 in terms of our impotent pandemic response, the implosion of Build Back Better, and the neutering of progressive demands like “Defund the Police” by the political and media establishments. As these failings pile up, America descends into a cultural civil war of sorts between what Shivani describes as “Woke America” vs. “Primitive America.” He writes:

“An uncanny impression of stasis, with no resolution in sight, defines this era, as was true of the 1850s in America. In both instances, an economic system that had lost legitimacy was the culprit, and there was no political solution to the crisis.”

Because our political system is broken beyond repair and Washington has become too dysfunctional to solve any of the country’s problems, neither “Woke America” nor “Primitive America” feels much incentive to try and reconcile their differences.

Instead, what passes for political discourse is really nothing more than two sides of a cultural war expressing their emotional distaste for each other as conditions worsen at domestically and our relevance dwindles overseas.

Of course, this winding down of empire shouldn’t necessarily be viewed in a negative light. In fact, Shivani argues that the barbarism of global empire and the cruelty of our neoliberal model here at home are inextricably linked, and that a humane domestic agenda cannot be realized under such conditions.

Just as Britain implemented their universal healthcare system in the waning years of their empire, perhaps a similar hope could exist here once the onus of maintaining global military dominance and overseeing a worldwide surveillance state is lifted.

Anis joined us on episode 130 of our podcast to discuss these points in further detail. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player. (interview begins at 2:43)

If you enjoyed this content, please consider helping us create more of it by becoming a member at Patreon or Substack. We also accept secure donations via PayPal. Thank you for supporting independent media.

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149. The End of Roe v. Wade: a Debacle 50 Years in the Making Due Dissidence

Photo: Public Domain

Democrats Shelve Build Back Better, Effectively Forfeiting Biden’s Presidency

It’s been a week that could arguably described as the effective end of the Biden presidency. Over a span of just 72 hours, the administration announced that the student loan payment freeze would expire at the end of January, that they would defer to Congress to deliver the $10,000 in student debt forgiveness they promised on the campaign trail, and that they’re shelving Build Back Better until 2022.

Permitting student loans to continue as one of covid’s most virulent variants descends upon us in the dead of winter is bad enough. Punting to a dysfunctional Congress on debt forgiveness is tantamount to abandoning it altogether. Delaying further negotiation on Biden’s would-be signature legislative accomplishment is itself an admission of defeat.

But the bad news didn’t stop there. The cherry on top came courtesy of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who defiantly asserted her and her colleagues’ rights to buy and sell stock, citing our “free market economy” as justification.

This avalanche of self-inflicted wounds coming at a time when Democrats’ midterm prospects are already historically dark and the economy is looking increasingly precarious as inflation soars and coronavirus surges. That a party with control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, elected precisely to provide relief and guidance through the pandemic, would portray this level of indifference about delivering on their most basic of promises, begs the question of whether or not at this point, they even want to remain in power.

After all, it’s been a common refrain on the Left these past five years that the Democratic establishment would rather lose to Republicans than win with progressive candidates. The events of this week are simply a manifestation of this very priority set.

Extending the loan payment freeze and forgiving student debt would certainly be a boon to their electoral prospects in November of next year, as would coming out against the idea that one can appropriately be a public servant and a private investor at the same time.

Of course, the party isn’t willing to do any of these things, because, as we’ve been saying for years now, they would rather lose to Republicans than upset their apple cart in this way. And so instead of seeing Democrats try and right the ship, we’re seeing more a resignation to the fate they’ll soon be the minority party again, which to them is just the price of doing business.

We discuss the implosion of Build Back Better, Pelosi’s defense of stock trading by herself and her peers, and more, on episode 129 of our podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

If you enjoyed this content, please consider helping us create more of it by becoming a member at Patreon or Substack. We also accept secure donations via PayPal. Thank you for supporting independent media.

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Listen to our latest podcast below and subscribe to our podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastboxSoundcloudor any podcast player you use.

149. The End of Roe v. Wade: a Debacle 50 Years in the Making Due Dissidence

Photo: Public Domain