Any honest person looking at the situation we find ourselves in will have to admit that in strict terms, a Biden/Harris presidency would be better in concrete ways than the Trump/Pence fascist shitshow we have now.
We aren’t centrists here, yeah?
This is usually where online conversation ends, because oh my God who’s terrible idea was it to have nuanced conversation on Twitter of all places? We’ve trapped ourselves into thinking of Trump is “bad” and Biden is “bad” but less so. And this to me is an incomplete analysis.
Trump and Biden are both reactionary. They’re not “bad” and “less bad” but two different ways of solving the same fundamental problem: that problem being the left. The Trump/Pence approach is to beat the left into submission using all manner of state repression, subversion of liberal so-called democracy and bigoted rhetoric to grind any real left-wing movement into submission. The Trump/Pence approach is to embrace fascism in a bear hug until those communists go back into hiding or are jailed or killed.
The Biden/Harris approach is to pacify the left. The agenda is to separate moderates from hardline communists, anarchists, and leftists (à la peaceful protesters v looters and rioters rhetoric). To please the moderates with feel-good stories about a #girlboss VP with pronouns in her bio, a president whose tweets won’t keep you up at night, and a few concessions here and there that make upper-crust white liberals feel good on the inside but offer nothing to, say, the 1 in 10 (and soon to be more) American households who are food insecure, the half a million (and soon to be millions more) Americans who are without shelter, the hundreds of thousands in jail because they cannot afford bond, the hundreds of thousands locked in ICE for-profit detention centers who are subject to routine physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, the people of the global south, who face extinction at the hands of US-backed military campaigns and whose democratically elected leaders find themselves replaced with fascist despots on a whim, and many more people the world over the United States crushes under the boot it hypocritically labels freedom.
What’s frustrating is that it feels like discourse is stuck in March 2020, right when Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. The material reality of the United States has changed since then, and it’s baffling that the arguments of some haven’t also changed to match.
Since March, we’ve seen that healthcare stocks jump on Biden’s victory and “prison stocks” (the most dystopian thing I’ve personally ever heard of but whatever) jump on his selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. We’ve seen both candidates call for the outright prosecution of “anarchists”, both candidates employ imperialist attitudes against China in the face of this pandemic. We’ve seen progressive mayors of big cities giving their police forces the license to beat, tear-gas, and arrest demonstrators, only for conservatives to demand even more extreme measures than that.
When Wall Street celebrates the Biden/Harris ticket, when more billionaires back Joe Biden than Donald Trump, this should not delude us into thinking the capitalist class is ready to make concessions. This tells us the capitalist class believes the Biden/Harris strategy of enforcing their hegemony is preferable to the Trump/Pence strategy at this current time. They’re not conceding, they’re shifting their footing in the sand to ready into an attacking stance.
And of course, as soon as this approach stops being useful, the capitalists will gladly switch back over to supporting open fascism.
The oft-quoted “consequentialist” argument typically runs something like “If Candidate A says kill 6,000 Yemeni babies, and Candidate B says kill 5,000, I vote B to kill 5,000 and fight like hell to save the rest”.
This argument is flawed because the analogy doesn’t track to the material reality that these past few months have shown us. The analogy that fits our current situation is more like:
Candidate A: “I’ll kill 6,000 Yemeni babies and shoot you if you disagree.”
Candidate B: “I’ll kill 6,000 Yemeni babies and shoot you if you disagree, but if you take this Pell Grant we can forget I said anything, okay?”
Does this mean that Trump and Biden really are the same and it doesn’t matter who “wins” the election in November?
Don’t be a fucking moron.
As I said there are concrete advantages to Biden/Harris ticket over the Trump/Pence ticket. What I am saying is not to delude yourself into thinking that the Democratic party as a whole can be “bullied” to the left.
People are mistaking the Democratic party’s strategy of pacification as an amicability to left-wing politics, and they figure this amicability can be exploited in favor of the left. This amicability does not exist. The Democratic party is as anti-leftist as the GOP. If you push them far enough, all that’s going to happen is they’ll employ the same tactics the GOP has with the same rhetoric to top it off.
Therefore, vote-shaming leftists who refuse to participate in such a destructive system is at best naïve, and at worse, actively reactionary. It’s also supremely pointless. It is participating in a fantasy where the Democratic party gives a shit about what communists have to say.
I don’t know if you noticed, but the left has been more active in the past few months than it has in YEARS. Cities like Portland have been in open rebellion against the state since May. And what has come of leftists making their voice heard to the DNC? Choosing a top prosecutor for the position of vice president and pledging to increase police funding. The Democratic party voted to continue incarcerating black and brown people for possessing marijuana after months of protests asking the exact opposite of that very thing, actually.
Oh but hey a football team changed its mascot so there’s that. Go team?
While the people are moving leftward, the Democratic party pivots right, inviting conservative, anti-choice, anti-union demagogues like John Kaisich to speak at their conventions while letting disgruntled neoliberal reactionary refugees from the GOP (The Lincoln Party and so-called Never Trumpers) have a larger and larger say in how the Democratic party operates.
If one does vote for Biden, it’s in a hope that some of the new administration’s policies, like an NLRB that is more favorable to union formation, can aid direct action and active resistance to the state. Voting for Joe Biden certainly does not make one a “better leftist” who “cares about winning” or other such nonsense.
In truth, voting or not voting for Biden won’t matter as much as the Internet will have you believe. Not only are the chances of a free and fair election next to none, the percentage communists make of the electorate is minuscule. The percentage of communists that follow you on Twitter is less so.
The left should be focused on radicalizing liberals through whatever outcome we get in November, which is something anyone can do regardless of if they vote. Biden already pays people minimum wage to promote his campaign. There’s no need to do that for him again for free on Twitter.
So please, the next time you see a leftist complaining about Biden or declaring they won’t vote for him. Maybe don’t snarkily reply “well you have no other option you have to pick one lol”. It doesn’t prove you’re a principled leftist. It only proves you do not understand the situation the left finds itself in currently.