No One is Coming to Save You: Why Gen Z is Giving Up on Democracy

by Russell Dobular

“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.

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Rainbow Bombs and Broken Promises: Things are Finally Getting Back to Normal

by Russell Dobular

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.  

Bombing Syria

‘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:

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Will Democratic Voters Make Harris Pay for Caving on the Minimum Wage? Don’t Count On It

by Keaton Weiss

When Barack Obama took the lead in the 2008 primaries, many of us who supported him at the time were surprised to learn of people called superdelegates: party big-whigs who got to cast their own heavily weighted votes in the Democratic primaries. At the beginning of that race, a great majority of them had pledged their support to Hillary Clinton, and it seemed possible that if they remained committed to her, she might prevail over Obama in the end, despite losing the pledged delegate count. Chris Rock famously joked that “nobody had ever heard of a superdelegate until it looked like a black man was about to win the nomination,” a humorous nod to the idea that whenever it seems something good might be on the horizon, some unexpected obstacle presents itself and threatens to thwart progress.

Fast forward to this week, when Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, ruled that Democrats could not make a $15 minimum wage part of the coronavirus relief package that they are attempting to pass through budget reconciliation. It’s difficult not to be reminded of Chris Rock’s joke, because just as many of us hadn’t heard of superdelegates until they became an issue in 2008, almost none of us had any idea what a “Senate parliamentarian” was, until this recent ruling of hers against the minimum wage provision. Once again, it seems that just as we’re about to achieve something meaningful, some annoying little thing materializes out of nowhere to stop us.

Of course, this “ruling” by the “parliamentarian” is no ruling at all, but rather, a recommendation. Kamala Harris, as Vice President, has the power to overrule her. Several progressive organizations like RootsAction, Our Revolution, and the Sunrise Movement, are urging her to do just that. However, word from the White House is that she isn’t going to:

Should she “weigh in” and overrule the parliamentarian, it would require a 60-vote majority to rebuke her. Since there’s no possibility of 10 Senate Democrats breaking ranks, this would mean the minimum wage increase would be included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. In this scenario, Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who both oppose a $15 minimum wage, would have to vote against the entire upcoming stimulus in order to vote against the minimum wage hike.

If the $15 minimum wage is not included in the relief package, it will likely fail as a standalone measure, since in that case, it wouldn’t be tied to any other important initiatives like a crucial relief package, meaning that Manchin and Sinema could cast a No vote without the added pressure of having to reject a stimulus package – one that includes direct cash payments – in the process.

This is why the aforementioned progressive groups, along with writers at outlets like Jacobin and Common Dreams, are demanding that Harris overrule the parliamentarian, who David Sirota rightly points out is effectively an advisor to the vice president in this case. Robert Reich put it especially pointedly:

Good question. Of course, in his mind, he knows the answer – after all, he was among the most prominent progressives who made the case for voting Biden to oust Trump in 2020.

Progressives like Reich, Sirota, the Sunrise Movement, RootsAction, and Our Revolution, have three things in common as it pertains to this issue:

First, they all supported the Democratic ticket in 2020.

Second, they all will support the Democratic ticket in 2024, no matter who’s on it.

Third, and most importantly, they all seem to be under the illusion that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can be goaded into doing the right thing, and be made to understand that they will suffer political consequences if they don’t.

Emma Vigeland, Sam Seder, and Alex Pareene predicted on The Majority Report last Friday that Kamala Harris will pay a political price if and when she seeks the Democratic nomination in 2024 should she not go all-in on the minimum wage. This is consistent with what many others in progressive media are insisting, which is that pressure can be exerted on Harris and that she will be held accountable if she fails to deliver.

As much as I would love to agree with them, the idea that Democratic voters will hold moderate Democrats responsible for their terrible decisions flies in the face of the recent history of Democratic politics. Progressives have been prosecuting the case against corporate Democrats’ abysmal records for the past six years, and yet the last two Democratic presidential nominees have been Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. To believe that rank and file Democratic voters will turn on Harris in the 2024 primaries over her failure to fight for a $15 minimum wage is to believe that Lucy will finally hold still when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football.

In addition to recent examples, there is a decades-long history in the Democratic Party of voters giving their leaders a pass for one betrayal after another. What reason do Joe and Kamala have to believe this time will be any different? The progressives who are currently “pressuring” and “pushing” them, have proven to be reliable Democratic voters come general election season, and the liberal base of the party can be counted on to either defend, excuse, or altogether ignore these policy-based critiques. On issue after issue of material consequence to ordinary Americans, from the Iraq War, to the Bankruptcy bill, to mass incarceration, to corporate trade deals, the Democratic base has demonstrated their willingness, if not eagerness, to forgive and forget every policy transgression committed by their beloved party leaders.

So if past is prologue – and there’s still no reason to believe it isn’t – then neither Biden nor Harris will pay any political price for abandoning the $15 minimum wage fight. Sure, the Democrats will lose the midterms, and Harris could lose the general election in 2024 due to low base turnout. But losing to Republicans is a risk the Democratic Party has always been willing to take if it means stopping leftward momentum within the party.

Claire McCaskill, moderate Democrat from Missouri, lost her Senate re-election race due to low black turnout in St. Louis, and had a job as an MSNBC contributor waiting for her, where it’s safe to assume she earns a higher salary than she did as a Senator. This is one of many examples to signify that in a corrupt system of revolving doors and neoliberal hegemony, loyalty to the system itself will always be rewarded, one way or another.

The system offers no incentives for politicians to commit procedural faux pas like “overruling the parliamentarian” in order to pass a living wage. What we must now realize is that Democratic primary voters are as much a part of this system as anyone else. Liberals have become such useful idiots that they may as well be co-conspirators. No matter what, they can be relied upon to flood the voting booths and pull the lever for whichever party favorite the media tells them deserves their support. They are the true gatekeepers of the status quo, the foot soldiers for the elites. They ensure that establishment politicians are protected from negative consequences that, in any healthy democracy, would result from reneging on core campaign promises and selling out core constituencies.

Will this time be any different? I’ll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I have a few predictions to make:

First, progressive champion Nina Turner will lose her primary to party loyalist Shontel Brown, who will go on to become the next Congresswoman from Ohio’s 11th District. Second, John Fetterman, the only statewide office holder in Pennsylvania to endorse Bernie Sanders in 2016, will lose his Senate primary to the Biden-backing Malcolm Kenyatta, who will then lose the general election to the eventual Republican nominee. Third, Kamala Harris will cruise to the Democratic nomination in 2024, and lose in November of that year to whoever the Republicans put forward.

I very much hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. I don’t say this to depress you, but rather to save you the time and effort you might be thinking of expending in the hopes that Democratic voters might finally be on the verge of waking up. Because they’re not.

The best we can do as progressives now would be to back as many efforts as we can whose successes don’t depend on convincing Democratic voters to vote the right way. The current union vote by Amazon workers in Alabama is one great example. Such a victory, if it’s replicated throughout the country, could politicize enough working class people that a viable threat to the Democratic establishment can be levied from the Left.

Unless and until that happens, we’re just pissing in the wind, because the bottom line is this: there’s no persuading the liberals of anything – they’re too stupid, selfish, and superficial to absorb any substantive arguments about why they ought to turn on the party bosses. They can be outnumbered, eventually, if we organize effectively. But progressives who still, after the past six years, invest in any project to convince the Democratic primary electorate, as it’s currently constituted, to hold Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accountable, are wasting their time.

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