By Marc Ash
[Editor’s note: Talk about an “enthusiasm gap”? Here’s a leading proponent of the Democratic Party, who cannot decide what he thinks about Joe Biden at this late date. I think they don’t have a prayer.]
hould Joe Biden become the eventual Democratic Party presidential nominee, and it seems highly likely that he will, I fully intend to vote for him. Under no circumstances would I consider voting for Donald Trump. I should take a moment to say that the moral and constitutional urgency to remove Trump from the Oval Office is extreme. Which means that sitting the election out is out of the question.
That having been said, I am struggling with the notion of formally endorsing Joe Biden. The draconian steps to which the Democratic Party and their major media benefactors went to defeat the Sanders campaign raise deep fundamental, political, social, and constitutional concerns. The destruction of the Sanders campaign was not just undemocratic, it was anti-democratic. Is that worse than Trump’s naked assault on democracy?
I believe the Democratic form of anti-democracy, while less apparent at first glance than Trump and his Republican enablers’ full-frontal style, is actually more likely to succeed and do more damage in the long run. The Democratic approach is more cleverly packaged and marketed and therefore will generate less resistance.
#AssassinationAttempt (15 June 2020) with Mike Bara in Seattle while Dean Ryan relocates from LA. Mike breaks an attempt to assassinate the President at the State of the Union. Pelosi was to poison him with her handshake and Pence was waiting in the wings. https://t.co/SBnWnAcmE4
— James H. Fetzer (@JimFetzer) June 16, 2020
It is significant that despite all this, Bernie Sanders has rather wholeheartedly endorsed Joe Biden. He is even signaling optimism that Biden may be open to progressive initiatives. The question that does not address is if the party went to those lengths to defeat the most popular democratic candidate, what will they do with power if they get it?
It isn’t even about Bernie Sanders, who I deeply respect and admire. It is about the progress we progressives have dedicated our lives to achieving. Progressive politics is not a cult of personality, it’s a cult of policy. Progressives actually do pay attention to what elected officials do in office and have a clear agenda for what needs to be done. We want leaders who will fight, really fight for social and economic justice, equality, the environment, voting rights, and a foreign policy that does not depend on military might.
For the record, the real source of tension between the Democratic Party and progressives is not electability. Electability is a colossal red herring the Democrats drag out every election cycle to convince voters that they can’t have the policies they want. The real source of tension is reform. A central focus of Progressive politics is getting the money out of the political process. That’s where the rift between the Democrats and progressives occurs. That’s why Bernie Sanders had to be taken down.
Joe Biden, Eyes Wide Open
Since Joe Biden rode a wave of African American voter support to the nomination let’s start there. There is an awakening across the nation to the issue of police violence against black people. Long overdue in the eyes of the black community and social justice advocates. Be aware that throughout his career, Joe Biden has been staunchly pro-law-and-order and pro-cop. If the past is prologue, President Biden will say all the right things, but make sure America’s finest will have everything they need and more to maintain law and order. He will not be a champion for meaningful police reform.
#KillingAmerica (16 June 2020) with Mike Bara in Seattle while Dean Ryan relocates from LA. Democrats and Globalists are resorting mass murder on the Summer Solstice (21 June) across major cities in the US and the world, which they will blame on Trump. https://t.co/aEp03PGaT4
— James H. Fetzer (@JimFetzer) June 17, 2020
On foreign policy, you can expect Biden to move swiftly to repair the very significant damage Trump has done to US relationships with its traditional post-WWII allies. On the other hand, you can also expect a return to good old American interventionism in the affairs of other nations, with all the geopolitical complications and harm that has historically entailed. US global influence is big business, and Joe Biden will be there for them.
On labor, Joe Biden is a prototypical old guard, corporate-friendly Democrat. That camp of Democrats has held power and influence during the longest decline in the fortunes of the American worker since the Great Depression. Yes, you can draw a straight line between the old guard corporate friendly policies and the decline of the American worker.
On the environment: Biden’s apparent deep concern for the state of the environment seems sincere at this stage. That can perhaps be taken at face value. Compared with Trump’s chainsaw assault on environmental policy, Biden is likely to be far better. But there is a caveat – if Biden really tries to implement environmental policies that have a meaningful impact, he’ll quickly find himself answering to the corporations the Democrats serve, and that might not go so well.
The Vice-Presidential Pick
This is where we find out who Joe Biden intends to be as President. It will be the first material, official action he takes in the presidential process with the potential for consequences.
The VP candidates garnering the most attention right now are, in alphabetical order, Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
With Minnesota at the epicenter of a massive international uproar over police violence and racial equality, Amy Klobuchar would seem to be an unlikely pick. Wrong place, wrong time. (Update: This is now moot. Klobuchar has withdrawn her name from consideration.)
#DesperateDemocrats (17 June 2020) with Mike Bara in Seattle while Dean Ryan relocates from LA. Trump has offered proposals for registries of bad cops and other measures, which Democrats attacked without seeing. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) really wants to dump MPD. https://t.co/7qnY56DVYM
— James H. Fetzer (@JimFetzer) June 18, 2020
Stacey Abrams proved to be a passionate and inspirational advocate for voting rights during her gubernatorial bid in Georgia. But her only adversary was a right-wing Republican who was clearly trying to suppress Democratic, specifically African American, voter turnout. What will Stacey Abrams do when she is confronted with a Democratic Party hierarchy that tells her to go slow because her passion for the voting rights issue might politically damage Democratic candidates in swing states. Smart money says she’ll be a team player and go slow.
Kamala Harris proved to have more than enough backbone and savvy during Senate hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, and later during Attorney General William Barr’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to make a very capable vice president. She too, however, should be regarded as a reliable Democratic Party team player.
It bears noting that before becoming the junior senator from California, Harris was the state’s attorney general. Her no-nonsense, razor-sharp questioning style was a clear demonstration of her law enforcement toolset. Kamala Harris can do the job of VP, but her role as VP might be more passive and less influential than she is accustomed to. Should she be appointed United States Attorney General and confirmed by the Senate, she would have vastly greater power, something she has the experience to wield with effectiveness.
That leaves Elizabeth Warren. Warren is the pick of progressives. If Sanders is right and Joe Biden truly seeks a partnership with the party’s overwhelmingly progressive base, nominating Warren would give him instant credibility and go a long way toward defusing tensions over the perception that Biden was picked by the party and its broadcast allies, not the voters.
Again, take note: Warren is likely to think and act far more independently than the other leading VP candidates. She has a strong anti-corruption streak and the credentials to prove it. That could disqualify her.
I want to see who Biden nominates for VP. Then I will decide if I’ll vote for him out of fear of Trump or endorse a ticket I have a reasonable degree of confidence in.
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.