Joe Biden had a moment of truth when he promised the oligarchs that nothing would fundamentally change if he became president. He kept his promise, and so will all those who come after him unless there is fundamental systemic change in this country.
Imagine waking up in the morning as a child, running into the kitchen, grabbing your favorite bowl of cereal, and enjoying a few minutes of sugary bliss. If your favorite cereal was Froot Loops, you may have noticed the different colors of each of those delicious loops. Those various colors may have made you believe they were all different flavors, but they aren’t. As children, with our child-like minds and exuberance, many of us were fooled into believing we were eating lemon, lime, orange, cherry, etc. But now we know that was a mere illusion.
This illusion is comparable to the current state of politics in the United States. The capitalist white supremacist settler colonial state subjects the masses to indoctrination so strong it keeps their minds in a perpetual state of child-like understanding of the political forces in this country. This locks us into political stasis where the masses vote for the same candidates over and over again every 2-4 years, in slightly different colors.
We are presented with two standard options: red or blue. Sometimes we get a candidate that is a shade of maroon, or fire engine red. Maybe an indigo, or cobalt. Every once in a while, progressives or leftists who haven't left the Democratic Party get what they consider to be an anomaly, someone who challenges the party's political hegemony. The truth is that these people still act within their assigned boundaries. If they step out of line they get spanked and told to shape up.
The more troubling part is how they still believe that the Democrat blue and Republican red are functionally different. That they serve separate purposes. We hear the common refrain, "It's ridiculous to say they are exactly the same", and “We need to hold off the ‘fascists’ in the GOP.” But these arguments miss the real issue at hand.
All these politicians – the President and his administration, Congress, state governors, state legislators – are part of the capitalist class or have thrown their hats in the ring with them. They all work to serve the interests of the ruling elite. Even the more “progressive” among them merely want to occasionally toss the working class a bone as they leave us fighting over scraps.
They are committed to the maintenance of their positions within that class and protecting the class itself. The "differences” amount to mere political infighting. They are analogous to family arguments over the dinner table or the drunk uncle taking a swing at his brother. At the end of the day, if someone outside the family threatens them, they will stand together and close ranks. No one else can cross the family.
They ride together. They die together. Capitalists for life.
We’ve been sold sparkly lies and gobbledygook every presidential and congressional election, with buffoonery and chicanery in between. Their lack of substance goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to brand themselves as leaders who will turn this ship around, with the help of fancy (and expensive) public relations firms. This PR strategy is evidenced in the campaign slogans of the last three US presidents: Barack Obama (2008) – “Change We Can Believe In”/Yes We Can", Barack Obama (2012) – "Forward", Donald Trump (2016) – "Make America Great Again”, Joe Biden (2020) – "Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead".
Not one of these slogans expresses the realities during the terms of each president. Obama demolished Libya to install a puppet regime. He used drone strikes ten times more than George Bush Jr., killing U.S. citizens and children as collateral damage. Donald Trump led four years of outright bigotry and anti-immigration policy, went through two impeachments, and left with a grand finale of an insurrection.
Biden, our current disappointment of a President, managed to flop on everything he promised to do. Student debt relief? Flop. Build Back Better? Flop. Addressing climate change? Flop. Legalizing Abortion? Big Flop. Biden has spent $135 billion on Ukraine while people here starve. Now, he is coordinating the invasion of Haiti using Black and Brown nations and people as a cover. Are we building back better on the backs of our Haitian brothers and sisters? On the bodies of the Ukrainian working class being slaughtered in a proxy war generously funded by the US?
In the face of the Republican Party’s determination to plunge the country into the abyss, it is disingenuous to say the Democratic Party is an “opposition party”. They are doing everything but that. We have Jamaal Bowman clowning on TikTok, laughing at Trump, and pretending to support unions, but voting against a railroad worker’s strike. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing Instagram Lives pretending to be fun and down to earth as she helps recruit our children into the military.
A true opposition party would fight tooth and nail to counter anything that threatens the working class domestically and internationally. Instead, they hold hands as they skip happily toward nuclear war and climate catastrophe to protect their class interests.
These people take us for a joke. They sell us thinly veiled lies and poorly executed misdirections. They rely on the indoctrination by the media, the education system they defunded, and the perpetual crisis of being poor and overworked to keep us from fully seeing the game. They play in our faces and most of the working class is too tired, sick, hungry, poor, stressed, and/or undereducated to worry about fighting the duopoly.
They tell us to vote to protect our futures but persecute us for demanding the right to have a say in what that future looks like. They chastise 40 percent of the population for not standing in line for six hours in gerrymandered districts to vote on their work or school days. Every major election has been the “most important election of our lifetime”. If every election is the election that determines whether the nation will plummet to its doom, maybe (and stay with me here) they’re doing something wrong? They are fascists in progressive clothing pulling the same trick over and over.
If a fascist plays in your face, the only reasonable response is to punch them in theirs.
We have long reached a point where socialism, led by Black and other oppressed working-class people, is the only way. With the presidential election coming up next year, we need to make a clear statement – that we won’t stay on this hamster wheel. More than that, we have to step up our efforts to engage ourselves and others in on-the-ground organizing.
We can’t continue to pretend that the duopoly holds anything for us. We need to show people how these politicians, regardless of affiliation, got us messed up. We’re doing working-class people a disservice by continuing to funnel them into the Democratic Party because we are afraid to pull that trigger and use our energy and votes more wisely. We can’t support those who would do nothing more than offer “thoughts and prayers” after we perish in the next climate catastrophe, with the justification that “we just need to get this guy out of the way”. Donald Trump, or whatever other conservative boogeyman, isn’t the only one we need to get out of the way. We have to let go of the last vestiges of liberalism and hope that the Dems will offer us some protection or that they will stand in the way of our descent into a complete fascist police state. It’s not going to happen.
Just like Froot Loops, the differences y’all see only go so far. Red or blue, a capitalist is still a capitalist.
Imani Nile is a freelance communications professional with degrees in Sociology and Communications. She is also a proud member of the Black Alliance for Peace NYC/NJ.