Joe Biden Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, June 1, 2020. (Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters)
The duopoly trap for the 2024 election has been set, but Black voters can refuse to step into it.
President Joe Biden recently announced his reelection campaign with a video, rather than with the kind of public event that one would expect from an incumbent president. Of course if the incumbent is an 80-year old showing signs of cognitive decline, with an approval rating of only 39%, a stealth campaign announcement was in order.
Yet despite all these deficiencies, Biden could win again. He has already asked Democratic Party fundraisers to begin the process of raising $1 billion. If history is any guide, they will do just that. And in case anyone doubted, the Biden campaign held a two day fundraising strategy session for the deep pocketed, mega check bundling crowd who cast their votes before anyone else gets to have a say.
The ruling class, the 1%, the oligarchy, call them what you will, are making sure they get what they want, but what about everyone else? Specifically, what about Black people? Where do they stand politically, and what do they stand to gain from this election? Aside from stating the obvious, that they don’t want a republican president, no one is asking questions about what they want or need. For a long time Black politics has amounted to little more than wanting to keep republicans out of office and the end result has been catastrophic. In 2024 the people must finally free themselves from the duopoly trap and make demands.
A recent study showed that Black workers in New York City have the highest unemployment rate of any demographic group, with a dismal 12% unemployment rate. Other non-white workers have unemployment rates between 6.5% and 7.5%, while white New Yorkers have an unemployment rate of only 1%. These terrible statistics are surely indicative of the state of Black people all over the country. Yet there is no political outcry on their behalf in New York or anywhere else.
One would think that a presidential campaign would be the perfect opportunity to raise the issue of the state of Black America. Instead it is an opportunity for the Black misleadership class to do what they do best, namely, to act as the buffer between their people and their bosses in the ruling class, the ones who raise $1 billion to get the president of their choice. They aren’t raising money because they have nothing better to do with their time. They want their agenda acted upon, an agenda that is at odds with the needs of struggling Black people.
Biden's age, health, and failure to act on behalf of the people, would disqualify him if this country really was the democracy that it claims to be. But it isn't a democracy and that becomes very obvious every four years. Will 2024 be another year of quadrennial fakery in which lesser evilism and supposed harm reduction will be used to mobilize voters who don't want what they're voting for, or will there be a true political mobilization?
Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are vying for votes from progressives democrats, but history tells us that at the assigned moment, they will drop out and urge their supporters to back Joe Biden. After all that is what Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, and Bernie Sanders have done in the past. Black Agenda Report’s co-founder and comrade Bruce Dixon coined the phrase “sheepdog” to describe Bernie Sanders. Dixon correctly predicted that Sanders would fold his tent and urge his supporters to back Hillary Clinton in 2016. Sanders did the same in 2020 and stood down in favor of Joe Biden. Only the names have changed, the playbook remains the same.
While the scam and the sham continues, Black people have the greatest likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes. The group whose cohort is the most likely to be imprisoned, die at younger ages, survive on low wage work, or face discrimination of many kinds are not even being discussed as the president they gave 90% of their votes prepares to run again.
It is very obvious what is needed. There must be a mass movement which speaks to the needs of the 21st century. Without it Black political class figureheads like Congressman James Clyburn will be called kingmakers or some other meaningless drivel that is meant to fool us into thinking that he and his colleagues do anything to meet urgent needs.
The liberation movement which brought so many gains is now fetishized for cynical purposes. Every scoundrel in U.S. politics has marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, or shows up at Martin Luther King birthday events.
The duopoly trap gives white racists a safe haven and makes Black people afraid to do anything except vote for democrats they believe will win a general election. The strategy can fail as it did in 2016 when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, or it can “succeed” in 2020 when Jim Crow Joe wins the presidency but then gives Black people the back of his hand. The man who was marketed as “the most progressive president since FDR” is silent as emergency covid SNAP and Medicaid benefits expire. He famously took a knee in 2020 but as president allocated $30 billion for policing across the country.
Independent political formations with self-determination as an organizing principle are badly needed. The same people Biden depends on for campaign funds act against the interests of Black people. The check bundlers don’t want anything that Black people want to see realized, and therein lies the rub.
2020 should be the last year that Black people withstand the entreaties to prevent a Trump or DeSantis or fill-in-the-blank evil republican presidency without making demands of their own. Those strategies must begin now before Biden and other democrats treat Black voters as political dupes one more time.
Margaret Kimberley is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. You can support her work on Patreon and also find it on the Twitter and Telegram platforms. She can be reached via email at margaret.kimberley(at)blackagendareport.com.