Both candidates are jockeying for who can best gaslight the U.S. public into remaining loyal to one side of the two-party corporate duopoly or the other.
“Trump and the Democrats have tightened their grip over the political narrative in the United States.”
It’s that time again: election season. U.S. presidential election cycles often go something like this. Democrats suppress progressive politics while escalating their effort to keep labor unions, Black American voters, and corporate donors comfortable under the same political tent. Republicans make the job easier by pandering to the most rightwing and racist forces in the United States. A myriad of crises that emerged in the 2016 presidential race, from the suppression of Bernie Sanders to the proliferation of Russiagate, have only worsened in the course of four years to complicate the election picture. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are staring down a swelling crisis of legitimacy for the U.S. state. A race to the political bottom has ensued where both candidates are jockeying for who can best gaslight the U.S. public into remaining loyal to one side of the two-party corporate duopoly or the other.
Donald Trump’s political strategy has centered on cooking as much racist red meat for his loyal political base as possible. A major component of this strategy is to equate Joe Biden with the “radical left.” The “radical left” according to Trump and his supporters includes “The Squad,” Joe Biden, Antifa protestors, Black Lives Matter, and the entire Democratic Party. Placing Joe Biden in the “radical left” camp is a part and parcel of Trump’s “law and order” brand. For people genuinely committed to a radical and revolutionary change in the conditions of the oppressed, Trump’s characterization of Biden as the “radical left” is a dangerous form of ideological warfare that obfuscates the fact that Biden is an enemy of humanity.
“Placing Joe Biden in the ‘radical left’ camp is a part and parcel of Trump’s ‘law and order’ brand.”
No leftist should belong to a political party beholden to the capitalist class. The truth is that Joe Biden belongs to the Democratic Party—an institution beholden to the capitalist class since its inception. Since Trump was elected, the Democratic Party has only further solidified its status as water carrier for the one percent. Democratic Party officials entered an unholy alliance with the CIA and the intelligence apparatus in 2016 to blame Hillary Clinton’s loss on Russia. The corporate media spent countless billions worth of air time condemning Trump as an agent of Russia and painting him as the source of all problems ailing the United States. Trump derangement syndrome on the part of the Democratic Party-aligned corporate media, however, hasn’t hurt Trump at all. In fact, billions in free media coverage has allowed Trump to legitimize his other brand as an “outsider” despite his willingness to satisfy each and every desire of the bipartisan regime of war and austerity, including those of his so-called Democratic Party opposition.
As the election inches closer amid a global pandemic and a Great Depression, Trump derangement syndrome has only infected greater and greater numbers of the U.S. population. Bernie Sanders’ campaign infrastructure has gone all in for Joe Biden. Both he and many of those close to him have declared that the 2020 election must be the last time that workers and oppressed people must vote for the “lesser evil” candidate. Bernie Sanders himself has promised that he will mobilize his supporters to make Joe Biden the most “progressive” president in U.S. history since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In many ways, the willingness of Bernie Sanders and much of the left to concede to the narrative that Trump is the most dangerous president in “modern American history” has only strengthened Trump’s lie that Joe Biden and the Democrats are part of the “radical left.”
“Bernie Sanders’ campaign infrastructure has gone all in for Joe Biden.”
One only needs to examine recent developments to come to the conclusion that Joe Biden is no leftist. Neither a deadly pandemic nor an economic crisis larger in scale than the Great Depression could motivate Joe Biden to stand up for the downtrodden and oppressed. When Biden has managed public appearances, it has been to denounce Trump as insufficiently hawkish toward Venezuela or to question the diversity and authenticity of Black American voters. The uprising against police brutality had little positive effect on Biden. During the height of the rebellion, Biden rejected demands to defund the police and instead released a proposal to increase federal funding for local police departments by 300 million USD. To top off his assault on the Black Lives Matter movement, Biden anointed top-cop of the establishment, Kamala Harris, to the position of vice president.
Black Agenda Report has published several articles detailing Biden’s history of service to the one percent in all spheres of society. Biden enthusiastically voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2002 and played a key role in shaping the imperialist foreign policy of Barack Obama. As a Senator, Biden spent over a decade collaborating with segregationists to build a mass incarceration regime that has both terrorized millions of Black Americans and created comfortable careers for people like Kamala Harris. The 2020 Biden campaign is a top recipient of large donations from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. This just skims the surface of the myriad of ways that Biden has proven himself to be a corporate-friendly war hawk and not the “radical leftist” Trump makes him out to be.
Trump’s fallacy regarding Biden is purposeful of course and aids in the bipartisan suppression of actual left politics. As U.S. hegemony enters its most acute phase of crisis, Trump and the Democrats have tightened their grip over the political narrative in the United States. The Democratic Party establishment has rejected Bernie Sanders and his followers wholesale for the second time and have rendered politics as nothing more than an unhinged effort to unseat Donald Trump. Donald Trump has blamed China for the U.S.’ political ills and has turned the uprising against police brutality into a “law and order” campaign against the Democrats. Missing entirely from the debate between contending forces within the ruling class is a genuine challenge to endless war and austerity that addresses the intense levels of suffering felt by the masses of people worldwide.
“Biden rejected demands to defund the police.”
Black August is a period for investigation into what it will take to build a revolutionary movement, not a movement that capitulates to either side of the two-party duopoly. It is a time for leftists of all backgrounds to subordinate themselves to the principles and politics of the Black liberation movement. It is a time for the heroic struggles of political prisoners in the U.S. to be honored and placed at the forefront of the movement. Finally, it is a time to reject opportunism and political retreat. Trump and the Democrats’ non-stop gaslighting of the masses is a desperate attempt to exploit the chaos of U.S. imperial decline for their ideological and political benefit. And it’s working, at least for time being.
Many readers may be wondering why this moment of crisis is not producing a class struggle-based uprising in conjunction with the latest iteration of the movement for Black lives. Part of the answer is that accelerationism does not transform society. Organized political struggle has historically been the only thing that has ever moved the oppressed closer to power. The combined impact of mass unemployment, poverty, racist policing, and a deadly pandemic has certainly diminished popular trust in the U.S. political system. However, the sheer weight of anti-China racism and its roots in the white supremacist assault on Black Americans and indigenous peoples, not to mention the near complete eradication of organized labor and the public sector in the United States, has left workers and oppressed people with few avenues from which to materialize their frustration into concrete political activity.
“It is a time to reject opportunism and political retreat.”
Donald Trump and Joe Biden represent the latest overlords in chief battling to manage the dangerous political vacuum created by the U.S.’ failed state. This vacuum did not emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic or the latest Great Depression. The ideological rot of the United States is an ongoing historical process of imperialist decline and capitalist stagnation brought about by the inherent contradictions of the U.S. social order. U.S. decline has many components. Since the mid to late 1970s, austerity has pauperized workers, the domestic counter-insurgency war on Black America has expanded to target a broader segment of the population, and the U.S. has become desperately reliant on military hegemony to make up for the absence of a capitalist economy that can offer anything but crippling debt, poverty, and environmental destruction to the planet’s inhabitants.
Joe Biden’s political career was born from these conditions. Biden deserves to be firmly rejected as an enemy of humanity regardless of whatever “pressure” progressives and leftists hope to place on his campaign. What more must the Democratic Party do to prove that it is an organ of the state designed to enact the agenda of the ruling class at the expense of the exploited and oppressed? Over the past century, Democrats have implemented reforms only after the threat of working class and Black power—and only as a means of diffusing and ultimately hastening the movement’s eventual burial within its political graveyard. The era of dead-end Democratic Party politics must end. Trump will always succeed in gaslighting liberals to “settle for Biden,” but true revolutionaries understand that only organized political struggle independent of the will of the Democratic Party holds out any hope for humanity to transform society and overcome the monumental hurdles of the current period. And Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign will undoubtedly be one of the biggest hurdles of all in the months leading up to the November election.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News--From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He is the co-host with BAR Editor Margaret Kimberly of the Youtube show BAR Presents: The Left Lens and can be reached at [email protected] and Twitter @spiritofho.
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