Wednesday, November 4, 2020, less than 24 hours since the polls closed. Yeah, I thought Biden would win. I still do, but there is a chance that, for the third time in the last six presidential elections, the American electoral system will install the 2nd place candidate as the president.
Win or lose, I feel the pain and disappointment that millions of Americans feel and I share the fear that our democracy is slipping further away. This time there is no Ralph Nader to blame, no Jill Stein, no James Comey, but there is voter suppression and that vestige of oligarchy and slavery, the Electoral College, and there are the Democrats themselves.
I played the good soldier. I tempered my criticisms of the Democratic Party. I said very few negative things about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I ignored anyone who promoted a third-party candidate. But there are two things that have to be reckoned with.
Thing One (with apologies to Chris Hayes) is the very harsh reality that much of America is willing to support a dangerous, power-hungry narcissist who promotes lies and hatred. As Jamelle Bouie said in The NY Times: “What is terrible about Trump is also terrible about the United States. Everything we’ve seen in the last four years — the nativism, the racism, the corruption, the wanton exploitation of the weak and unconcealed contempt for the vulnerable — is as much a part of the American story as our highest ideals and aspirations.”
Thing Two is that Americans, whether they are familiar with the term or not, have rejected the Democratic Party’s decades of neoliberalism. But the Democrats push on using the same old formula. Biden and Harris were hollow establishment candidates running four years after voters soundly rejected the Democratic status quo. They ran a campaign that said little more than “Trump is bad,” let’s restore dignity and honor to the office of the presidency, and “wear a mask.” But that isn’t enough. As Jeffrey St. Clair said: “Biden kept saying this was a fight for the “soul of the nation”. What if it never had a soul and it was actually a fight for health care, jobs, and a livable climate?”
While I bit my tongue in the months leading up to November, I did share some of my misgivings with a few friends through zoom and via email, and occasionally in person, especially regarding thing two. Many more-influential people are saying similar things but they are largely shut out by the Party. If we want to stop plutocracy and fascism we’ve got to remember that it usually rises to fill a vacuum. Poor Democratic leadership is helping to create that vacuum. If you want to fight for the soul of the nation, you’ve got to fight to change the Democrats, because they are not leading, they are not educating, and they don’t have a good vision for the future.
Here’s what I said in early August:
… What I’m thinking is that Trump may win. And it would not simply be because millions of Americans are dupes and/or racists, but because the Democratic Party is failing. It has virtually abandoned progressives, young Americans, and working-class voters. And this abandonment is creating a very large opening for a dangerous power-hungry narcissist backed by wealthy reactionaries.
The Democrats are also risking losing Latino voters, many of whom were very pro-Sanders. Chuck Rocha, formerly a Sanders senior campaign advisor, pointed out that it would only take a swing of 6 to 8 percent of Latino voters to put Nevada, Florida, and Arizona in the win column for Trump. And just two of those states might be enough to put Trump over the top in the Electoral College vote count. He made a great case on The Rising that the Dems really botched the speakers list for their convention. The video clip is only about 7 minutes long, his strongest points are after the 5 minute mark. Watch it later, if you can.
I didn’t watch the DNC (I saw some clips afterwards) because I don’t think their words matter. The Democrats are having too much of a dialogue with the Republican Party and not the American working class. The speakers were mainly Defected Republican (John Kasich, Christine Todd Whitman, Michael Bloomberg, Cindy McCain, Colin Powell) and Legacy Democrats who represent the party’s establishment — the Obamas, Amy Klobuchar, Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Gretchen Whitmer, Jim Clyburn. BTW, Clyburn, who helped turn the primary tide for Biden and against Sanders, has received more money in the last decade from the pharmaceutical industry than anyone else in the House or Senate, according to Kaiser Health News and a Post and Courier analysis.
But here is the key point I want to make now: One of the things that Trump has going for him is that he is seen is being tough on China and he has harshly criticized trade agreements such as NAFTA, etc. He says he wants to bring back manufacturing jobs. Now, a lot of what he says is a lie and maybe more workers in the rust belt states realize this in 2020 compared to 2016 but… the Democrats have very little to offer these voters.
The Democrats have never addressed their cardinal sin of selling out the American working class via the various trade deals that they supported. NAFTA had a devastating effect on U.S. manufacturing when it went into effect in 1994 and Clinton’s 1999 Permanent Trade Agreement with China was a big lie that crushed many American manufacturing companies. He said that it would “open China’s markets to American-made goods … everything from corn to chemicals to computers.” But there was no way China’s consumers would boost demand for American-made products. Instead, American manufacturers couldn’t compete with cheap Chinese labor. Who gained? Well, among others Walmart — the greatest purveyor of low-wage jobs in the history of our country. Walmart was also the defendant in the largest class-action suite ever, for discrimination against women in hiring and promotion (and some related issues). Hillary Clinton sat on the board of directors of Walmart for six years. The Democrats have never made amends for these transgressions and the one Democratic candidate who denounced these trade agreements and had the greatest admiration and respect was Bernie Sanders. Sanders was largely vilified and undercut by the party hierarchy and by their pundits on CNN and MSNBC.
There’s probably nothing the Dems can do now to make up for their betrayal of workers, and all they are offering in 2020 is a lackluster candidate who told Wall St. that under a Biden Administration “nothing will fundamentally change” and who said that if Congress were to pass a Medicare for All bill and he was president, he would veto it.
Trump’s divisive rhetoric, his hate speech, his corruption, his naked pursuit of self-interest, his mishandling of the pandemic, etc., all these things should make him an easy take down. Think about all that is happening that is positive — daily demonstrations against police violence, unprecedented strikes and other displays of support for BLM by professional sports teams (and others, of course), majority support for Medicare for All, large support for climate action, and so on … but the Dems may not get the votes they need to oust the worst president ever.