Skip to main content

Is This a Primary or a Generational Murder/Suicide Plot?


I made a prediction last April regarding the then potential candidacy of Joe Biden that I should probably acknowledge was wrong, with an asterisk. In a short piece, "Schrödinger's Candidate", I predicted that Biden would decide against running because getting paid to make speeches as a potential candidate was more fun than losing in the primary. I said that Biden's polling numbers were not real and would sink once he started campaigning. This is where the asterisk comes in. I revisited the prediction in November to acknowledge that it was essentially wrong with a caveat, Biden had yet to truly begin campaigning.

He was the only candidate avoiding a live town hall with questions from the audience. As far as I know, this remains true. His campaign schedule seemed incredibly sparse, more in keeping with a book tour for a book of middling success than building political power. In many ways his campaign resembled Hillary Clinton and her avoidance of the press for a year. While her campaign strategy was meant to avoid talking about the FBI investigation, Biden's campaign seems focused on avoiding him talking at all.  I seldom make public predictions because I hate being wrong. You can probably guess that from the lengths to which I'm going to not be completely wrong here. I predicted, like his campaign, that the more people saw of Biden the clearer it would become that he would lose to Trump. I was wrong because I placed too much faith in my fellow voters. I also failed to understand how uniquely disliked Hillary Clinton was.

In the midst of me lazily writing this, in response to supposed campaign restrictions due to the Corvid-19 pandemic, the Biden campaign attempted a virtual town hall. It makes clear why he's avoided town halls altogether. I can't stop watching clips of it. If there's a word for knowing that something is real while still feeling it could be parody, that's the feeling it evoked. That, and a sense of doom.

Here he talks about his healthcare plan and the timeframe for implementation:


Here he answers a question about (?) the Endangered Species Act and his response to the climate crisis:




To make it clear that this isn't just a matter of selecting the worst moments to make Biden look bad I'd recommend anyone watch the entire town hall and select any section that feels presidential or not a complete disaster. I've been having trouble with the point of this writing. The virtual town hall offered a moment of clarity. It's not so much about me being wrong and why, but what it has taken to manufacture the current set of circumstances with Biden, in clear cognitive decline, as the frontrunner. It's clearly a disaster if beating Trump is the intent. In essence, I was wrong because I didn't anticipate how many voters felt like party leadership, that they would essentially rather lose to Trump again than have Bernie as the nominee. I didn't think it would be possible to elevate someone to the nomination again who had not already purchased the party. If, in the end, it fails, it will be because Corvid-19 makes people usually apathetic to the plight of the poor suddenly cognizant of what it means to live in a society.

It will mean that a sufficient number of people are waking to the fact that the democrats are plotting a generational murder-suicide and choosing to live.

*****

According to conventional wisdom among Democrats, poor whites voting for Republicans are voting against their interests, poor Blacks voting for Democrats are being strategic. The truth is simpler, with few exceptions voting for either party means the poor are voting against their material interests. Still, according to Black media writers like Michael Harriott and Jamelle Boule, it was racist to suggest that Black voters in South Carolina might be lacking important information in choosing to vote for a segregationist. There are articles and long threads about the strategic voting of Black people grown cynical because of the political choices of white people. They all make the point that voting for the man whose legislative achievements have had a disproportionately negative impact on Black people over the man trying to modernize Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign was thoughtful and deliberate.

For the sake of clarity I should say that those Black South Carolina voters were wrong. To say that the 50-75% of voters who decided for Biden on the basis of an endorsement from Representative James Clyburn were low information voters is accurate. Clearly, I'm a Bernie supporter, but that's not the only reason I'm saying this. Whether they voted for Biden because they wanted "a return to Obama" (whatever that means) or to defeat Trump, Biden is incapable of fulfilling those desires. They were not evaluating his capacity on the basis of information, but their faith in Rep. Clyburn. Regardless of Clyburn's history, it's clear that in stepping in to endorse a man with Biden's history he was acting as what Adolph Reed Jr would call a Race Ventriloquist. In his article, "Bookerism and the Black Elite", Reed defines a Race Ventriloquist as a "self-empowered advocate of strategic compromise seeking to sacrifice blacks' citizenship rights in the name of one definition or another of 'racial peace'", or, in this case avoiding racial animus.

The irony is that people like Boule and Harriott are quick to note that Democrats have consistently taken Black voters for granted once elected. I'd push back on the notion that it's condescending to suggest that those Black South Carolina voters were voting against their interests. What is actually condescending is to treat those voters less as constituents than tools serving the Biden campaign, his 'firewall'. It's unclear what exactly he was meant to be to them to justify their dedication in this scenario. It's not an insult to point out that he was using those voters while being dishonest about his past, it's factual. Despite the media's willingness to protect Biden from the consequences of his dishonesty and political advocacy, there's nothing that would stop Trump from challenging that history. A similar strategy was helpful for Hillary Clinton to get a strong majority of the Black vote in 2016 in the primary, before she was more fully vetted in the general and the Black vote dropped a historic 10%. Considering that Biden wrote much of the policy that Clinton was discredited for supporting, one could expect the Black vote to drop again for Biden.

I understand that people are offended by being called low information voters because they equate it with being unintelligent rather than uninformed. It's also inaccurate. We are inundated with information, much of it distraction. Perhaps a better adjective would be low quality information voter. It should not be controversial to suggest that the quality of information that the vast majority of us receive in the US is low. Our media, owned by a decreasing number of corporations, is entirely driven to produce immediate profit or protect long term profits in other ventures. Providing high quality information is counterproductive to those goals. 

This should be clear from the blatant attempt to run the Hillary Clinton playbook that made Trump the incumbent. That it feels like such a distant insignificant memory after dominating the political discourse for so long should be the final epitaph on Russiagate. It was always bullshit. It only existed to prevent any thoughtful autopsy of Clinton's failed candidacy and its zombie neoliberal ideology. It was the media and Democratic leadership promoting a red scare conspiracy to continue ignoring the deep level of obscured desperation surfaced during and since the 2016 primary and ignore the reasons Bernie was competitive. It was an attempt to retroactively place that misery at Trump's feet rather than acknowledge that it made him president.

My predictions on Biden's candidacy were wrong, despite the caveats. I'm fine with that. Did anyone predict that the media outlets and other candidates questioning Biden's mental acuity in July would line up behind him in a last chance attempt to stop Bernie in March? I'd suggest that the media and party were working against the current outcome, to a lesser degree, as well. The narrow bounds of the impeachment process were designed to implicate Biden, whether intentional or not. Despite what the media says now he's both a weak primary frontrunner and general candidate. His political history is so toxic that he can't defend it. He lied about every past position during the debate with Bernie with no comment from the moderators. Despite the CDC recommendations against gatherings of groups larger than 50, his campaign has recommended his supporters get out and vote in states bleeding poll workers and closing polling locations. 


This is Trump like leadership, just as self serving. The campaign is willing to risk the spread of the virus now rather than push for the vote to be delayed until June in Arizona, Florida and Illinois as it has been in Ohio. They need these votes to happen before all of Biden's many lies catch up to him, as they eventually will in the general, forget the potential impact on his base for the general.

Rather than make a prediction about Biden obviously losing to Trump, I should acknowledge the real possibility that Trump's bungling of the pandemic and crashing the economy may result in voters choosing to exchange one addled liar for another. It's a lose/lose scenario. Oh wait, I have a prediction for that:

 I find myself predicting our situation going in one of two directions. Either:
Direction 1. We nominate a candidate who recognizes the precarity of the system and the moment who is interested in challenging the reach of late stage capitalism by de-commodifying multiple areas of the economy as part of a global movement to stave off the effects of climate collapse who even in failing to meet that standard immediately is capable of offering the kind of motivation that continues to propel that vision.
OR
Direction 2. (a) We nominate someone who offers reforms of the current system who ensures four more years of Trump.
or
(b) We nominate someone who offers reforms of the current system who wins the presidency whose administration is followed by something worse than Trump in the way that Obama'a administration was followed by something worse than Bush.
The one thing I'd change is to point out that Trump is only aesthetically worse than Bush, he has no guiding ideology outside of himself. As the center-left continues to demonize economic populism and center cultural liberalism, it cedes huge populous ground to the right while representing a comfortable but shrinking population. Honestly, I'd be cool with being wrong about this prediction too. Sadly, I don't think I am. On the bright side, we won't have to wait much longer for complete climate collapse and the possible proliferation of diseases currently frozen in ice.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Intersectional Swiftboat Waltz

This past week the Working Families Parties endorsed Elizabeth Warren in the democratic primary. It's a somewhat obscure thing, in terms of national politics. WFP is a nominally left party started in New York state. In New York rather than run their own candidates they endorse Democrats. The choice of the centrist Warren over Sanders isn't without precedent. They endorsed Joe Crowley over Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Andrew Cuomo over Zephyr Teachout. The entire affair is only relevant for what it suggests that we can expect from the rest of the primary.

When the endorsement was announced, members asked leadership to release the breakdown of votes, as they did in 2015 when the party endorsed Sanders. Leadership refused, saying something about preserving the integrity of the vote. What was obvious, where the 56 person leadership/advisory board had a vote equal to that of the 10,000+ membership, is that the leaders had heavily favored Warren while the members went to Sanders. I…

If You Love Your People, Set It Free (or How an Identitarian Came To Prefer Universal Policy Over Identity Politics)

This post is late because I was in LA last week, where I made a point of walking as much as possible to enjoy my audiobook. Although I still have 20/20 vision I have been slow to accept that aging has made it more difficult to read, making it feel increasingly like a chore. In fully embracing this I've finally started looking for audiobooks I might find engaging enough to not be constantly distracted. For my trip I chose Mehrsa Baradaran's The Color of Money, which looks at the persistence of the racial wealth gap in the US.  It was incredibly striking and depressing listening to The Color of Money while accidentally walking through encampments of the unhoused, watching new encampments sprout up in the short time that I was there. This is who we've always been. If you have any doubt, the history recounted in The Color of Money makes it clear that capitalism has always been about extracting wealth from Black people and keeping poor people poor. On checking into Twitter I wa…

Is Cynicism More Disqualifying Than Ignorance?

I was somewhat reluctant at the time to ascribe any specific intent to Elizabeth Warren's DNA stunt, just focusing on what it said about her political instincts. In retrospect, because of subsequent choices, I see it as craven cynicism. I get that, "I have a plan for that!" is supposed to be her new brand, but obviously, a working plan isn't a central part of that. Her brand should actually be "Pandering Cynic". I now find myself wondering if even she thinks the policy she offers will do what she says it's intended to do. I've been saying in my head that I feel irrational anger towards her, but it's actually quite rational and specific.


My posting schedule has been off because I've been playing with the idea of submitting pieces for publication. I've been thinking a lot about how we talk about disparities and how the conversation is used as a cudgel against universal policy. The closest to a good faith version of this argument is usually…