Joe Biden’s campaign had collapsed. He came in fourth place in Iowa’s caucus and fifth place in New Hampshire’s primary, but was always predicted to win in South Carolina because black voters will bloc-vote for him. The media class, which favored Mr. Biden from the beginning (cf. “FAIR: Comcast-Owned MSNBC in the Tank for Joe Biden’s Presidential Run” and “FAIR: Only One View at The View, Biden Not So Bad”) but had distanced itself from him because of his obvious un-electability, turned his entirely unremarkable primary victory in South Carolina into “Joe-mentum.” Reacting to the breathless coverage of Joe-mentum, every other Democrat remaining in the race except for Bernie Sanders withdrew and endorsed Mr. Biden. Barack Obama and a number of members of his administration apparently did not just endorse their former Vice President, but pressured other Democrats to withdraw and endorse him as well. Even Kamala Harris, who earlier in the primary had made Mr. Biden’s opposition to “busing” personal, endorsed him. Mr. Biden swept two rounds of primary elections since then, winning in states where he did not even campaign and where Mr. Sanders had won just a few years earlier. In a matter of days, the established elites of the Democratic Party set aside their personal differences and united around Mr. Biden, who is now the presumptive Democratic nominee.
There is just one problem, however: Joe Biden would be a steward of the consensus in Washington, D.C. – “invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world,” or “imperialism, immigration, insolvency” – with cornpone affectations disguising an ideology and identity of the “managerial elite.” He would, in other words, be the Dubya of the Democratic Party.
The Iraq War: “To say something different today is just a bald-faced lie"
Mr. Biden claims that he was tricked into the Iraq War by Pres. Bush and opposed the war as soon as the truth became clear. “I did make a bad judgment, trusting the president saying he was only doing this to get inspectors in and get the U.N. to agree to put inspectors in,” Mr. Biden falsely admitted in a Democratic debate on NBC. “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration.” Because he literally voted for the 2002 AUMF (unlike Bernie Sanders), Mr. Biden cannot pretend that he was against the war altogether, but he is saying everything he can to obfuscate his actual actions at the time. “President George W. Bush ‘got them in,’ and before we know it, we had a ‘shock and awe,’” Mr. Biden falsely admitted in an interview on NPR. “Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment.” Yet Mr. Biden is lying about why he voted for the Iraq War, lying about for how long he supported the Iraq War, and lying about what his eventual opposition to the war constituted. The fact is that whatever lies he tells, Mr. Biden was a staunch leader of pro-war Democratic Senators and a fierce critic of anti-war Democrats.
At a speech at The Brookings Institution in July, 2003 (well after the “shock and awe” bombing of Baghdad), Joe Biden avowed his support for Bush the Lesser’s invasion of Iraq and defended it from Democratic opponents, despite his differences with the neoconservatives:
Some of my own party have said that it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place and believe that it’s not worth the cost, whatever benefit may flow from our engagement in Iraq. But the cost of not acting against Saddam I think would have been much greater, and so is the cost, and so will be the cost of not finishing this job.
A few months later, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Joe Biden criticized how Pres. Bush’s neoconservatives had managed the war yet still defended it from Democratic opponents:
Most recently, in an interview with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, Joe Biden further entangled himself in his pathetic lies: “The reason I voted the way I did was to try to prevent a war from happening.” (Unbelievably, Mr. O’Donnell merely nodded along and did not push back on this preposterous contradiction – some “free press”!) According to Mr. Biden, he did not believe the neoconservative propaganda that the Hussein regime possessed WMDs and so voted to authorize military force against Iraq in order to force the UN inspectors back into the country so that they could disprove that propaganda. In fact, as early as 1998 Mr. Biden was pushing for war on Iraq because of suspected WMDs, which was a line that he continued to take up to and after his vote for the Iraq War in 2003.
On February 5th, 2003, after Colin Powell’s appearance before the UN Security Council – in which the Secretary State presented neoconservative propaganda as official intelligence – Joe Biden, in an address on C-SPAN, called on Bush the Lesser to make the case for a long, hard war and occupation in Iraq:
There are two issues. One, informing the American public, the Security Council, and the world, about the evidence – the evidence to allow us to make the conclusion – that Saddam Hussein remains a danger because he is not cooperating, he is still harboring, and he is still seeking the accumulation of weapons of mass-destruction. That case, I believe, has been made. I hope, now, that the American people will have this regurgitated in a number of venues and fora over the next weeks, that they will be as convinced as I am.
In his C-SPAN address, Joe Biden dismissed Pres. Bush’s neoconservative doctrine of “preemption” for muddling the message and insisted that it would not be “preemptive” to attack Iraq because Saddam Hussein was a “bad guy”:
This is not - is not - preemption. There’s nothing preemptive about it. If you turned on now and the television showed aircraft striking Baghdad, it would not be a preemptive attack. There is nothing preemptive about it. It’s an enforcement. One of the problems I have found is – I have spoken in the last week or so with world leaders, heads of state, foreign ministers, and their counterparts, and I had the opportunity to do that extensively for five days in Davos – one of the things that confuses and allows those who don’t want to step up to the ball and meet their obligation, is when some in the administration have said we have a new doctrine of “preemption.” It allows those who want to drag their feet in doing what they know must be done to say, “Whoa, we’re not going to be involved in preemption. That’s a new doctrine that changes the Treaty of Westphalia” – of I think 1648 or whatever the year was. We get into all of that. It obfuscates the central point. Is this a bad guy, who’s violated the terms of an agreement he made to do away with weapons with the capacity to do great harm to his people, the region, and – and, possibly – the United States of America? The answer is yes, this is a bad guy - this is a guy who’s violated the terms of a peace agreement, this is a guy who continues to do it, this guy has a record of demonstrating he will use those weapons, and there is an emerging pattern that convenience may throw him into the arms of who our most central and most serious enemy is now, non-state actor called Al Qaeda. So he must be dealt with. He must be dealt with.
On May 29, 2004, in a commencement speech for the University of Delaware, Joe Biden claimed that even though there was no evidence for what he had earlier claimed there was evidence for – the evidence which he used to justify the Iraq War – but still supported the war anyway:
Let me tell you what I see with Iraq. We had to go into Iraq, not because Saddam was part of Al Qaeda, there was no evidence of that, not because he possessed nuclear weapons or because he posed an imminent threat to the United States, there was no evidence of that. The legitimate reason for going into Iraq, was he violated every single commitment he made and warranted being taken down. And the international community and us had a right to respond.
(Imagine being such a conceited politician that you believe that college students want to hear you make excuses for your votes on their day of graduation.)
From his own words at the time, then, Joe Biden believed that the Hussein regime had violated the UN resolutions against WMDs and was harboring the perpetrators of 9/11, and that as a result of these threats, the U.S.A. would not only have to invade Iraq and destroy the Hussein regime, but also occupy the country indefinitely in order to reconstruct it.
As Joe Biden explained on CNN the very day before the war began, “There’s a lot of us who voted for giving the President the authority to take down Saddam Hussein if he didn’t disarm, and there are those who believe, at the end of the day, even though it wasn’t handled all that well, we still have to take him down.” Mr. Biden is now twisting the fact that he was critical of how Pres. Bush “handled” the war to pretend that he was actually against the war itself, which he never was at any point in time. In fact, there is a whole documentary on this subject, “Worth the Price? Joe Biden and the Launch of the Iraq War.” Journalists must start confronting Mr. Biden’s lies by quoting his own words back to him.
Aaron Maté of the independent investigative-journalism website, The Grayzone, recently interviewed Maj. Scott Ritter, the Marine Corps intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector whom Joe Biden berated when he appeared before the Senate. “That’s what Biden needs to be honest about,” argues Maj. Ritter. “He never supported the weapons-inspection process, he always supported regime change, and to say something different today is just a bald-faced lie.” Indeed, in the course of questioning Maj. Ritter, Mr. Biden frankly stated what would be the position of Pres. Bush’s neoconservatives a few years later – that the Hussein regime had WMDs and that unilateral military intervention by the U.S.A. was the only option:
I think that you and I believe, and many of us believe here, as long as Saddam’s at the helm, there is no reasonable prospect that you or any other inspector is going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam’s program relative to weapons of mass-destruction. You and I both know, and all of us here really know, and it’s the thing we have to face, that the only way that we’re gonna get rid of Saddam Hussein is we’re gonna end up having to start it alone, and it’s gonna require guys like you in uniform to be back on foot in the desert taking this son of a, uh, taking Saddam down. You know it and I know it. I think we should not kid ourselves here. There’s stark, stark choices.
There were many politicians who initially fell for the neoconservative war propaganda and struggled to redeem themselves afterward, like Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), but Mr. Biden is too small of a man with too big of an ego to display such honor and humility. Worst of all, because he never learned any lesson from the Iraq War, he will likely make the same mistakes again! Indeed, as Reese Erlich (an award-winning foreign correspondent for CBS News and NPR) argues in “Biden vs. Bernie - A Foreign Policy Face-Off,” Mr. Biden is the most chicken-hawkish (I refuse to use the conventional political lingo for militaristic, “hawkish,” as birds of prey only kill to eat, not out of malice) candidate in the Democratic primary, and arguably even more chicken-hawkish than Donald Trump. In response to Pres. Trump’s idea of “America First” (however much his own ignorant instincts and his advisers’ evil agenda have bastardized that patriotic creed), Mr. Biden has promoted his idea of “American Leadership” (which means more of the same, cf. Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, etc.). Should the President put the interests of the American people first as he leads the nation or should he put them last as he leads the world?
Medea Benjamin (one of the founders of CODEPINK: Women for Peace) and Nicolas J.S. Davies (author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq) graded all of the Democrats on the issue of “war and peace.” Joe Biden got some of the lowest marks. According to Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Davies, “Like many other corporate Democrats, Biden champions a misleadingly benign view of the dangerous and destructive role the U.S. has played in the world over the past 20 years, under the Democratic administration in which he served as Vice-President as well as under Republican ones.”
There is a reason that Joe Biden is a serial liar when it comes to his decisive role in the Iraq War. It was a geopolitical catastrophe – the most catastrophic event in the Middle East since the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. It was an act of rank arrogance and raw aggression which plunged an entire region of the world into chaos and incited more terrorism. It was a demoralizing blow to the soldiers who were ordered to risk their lives for a lie, as well as the civilians who could not justify the sacrifice of their friends and family. It was a holocaust to the Iraqi people, leveling entire cities like Fallujah and wiping out the lives of at least 180,000 civilians. It was a wound which continues to fester, as a new generation of Iraqi insurgents rises against the apparently endless American occupation (now a base of operations for drone strikes and special operations throughout the wider region). It was not unforeseeable, either, despite what Mr. Biden pretends today: Many on the right (such as Pat Buchanan, Bob Novak, Ron Paul, and Justin Raimondo) and on the left (such as Noam Chomsky, Phil Donahue, Dennis Kucinich, and Gore Vidal) warned the Bidens of the day, yet they were not only ignored, but also – in the crudest nationalistic manner – vilified by the Bidens of the day as unpatriotic and even disloyal. Mr. Biden is one of the many American politicians who have gotten away with murder, so to speak – no, not of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial state, but of the Iraqi nation and the literal “cradle of civilization,” not to mention Christian communities dating back to the Apostles themselves. That is why he lies about it. It is bad enough that he will not tell the truth, of course, but it is even worse that the media class will not, either (cf. “FAIR: Turning Biden’s Support for the Iraq War into Foreign-Policy ‘Experience’”
Civil Rights: “The white liberal...is more deceitful than the conservative."
Mr. Biden often claims that he was involved in the Civil-Rights Revolution. Shaun King (a “Black Lives Matter” activist and supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign) has, in “2 Truths and 31 Lies,” comprehensively documented Mr. Biden’s history of lying about his involvement in the Civil-Rights Revolution, which began in the 1970s but nearly ended his in the 1988 presidential election, but which has reemerged in the ongoing election. “Current and former elected officials in Delaware told me that it is an open secret among them that Joe Biden is a serial pathological liar when it comes to his ‘work’ in the Civil Rights Movement,” explains Mr. King, “and that he has told such lies, for so long, so many times, that it is an unwritten rule in Delaware that one must hold their nose and go along with them or risk being ostracized in such a small, close-knit political community.” This is a particularly malignant instance of the Baby Boomers’ bad habit of taking credit for the legacy of their parents and grandparents: Mr. Biden is, as Mr. King puts it, “creating entire fictional story lines to impress white liberals & connect w/ black voters.” Yet Mr. Biden’s blatant lies have apparently worked with black voters, who comprise one of his staunchest Democratic blocs and carried him through the Southern primaries. The only explanations that I can come up with for this unearned black loyalty are too condescending and insulting for me to say aloud.
I will let Malcolm X do the talking:
In this deceitful American game of power politics, the Negroes (i.e., the race problem, the integration and civil-rights issues) are nothing but tools, used by one group of whites called Liberals against another group of whites called Conservatives, either to get into power or to remain in power. Among whites here in America, the political teams are no longer divided into Democrats and Republicans. The whites who are now struggling for control of the American political throne are divided into “liberal” and “conservative” camps. The white liberals from both parties cross party lines to work together toward the same goal, and white conservatives from both parties do likewise.
The only rational explanation for black support of Joe Biden is that they are betting that he is another Ralph Northam – a foolish Baby Boomer afflicted with “white guilt” who will do whatever they tell him to do in exchange for political survival and social approval. This is the vicious cycle of identity politics, in particular the bottomless pit that is black self-pity and white self-hatred.
The Generation Gap: “I have no empathy!"
Speaking of the Baby Boomers, Joe Biden is the personification of the most narcissistic (and, as one author recently put it, “sociopathic”) aspects of that generation. On that critical issue of student debt, Mr. Biden (a former senator from Delaware, which is the second-smallest state and is the home to over 50% of publicly traded corporations and even more of Fortune 500) authored legislation deregulating the financial industry so that students could take out loans as well as to reform bankruptcy laws so that students could never discharge those loans. “Joe Biden’s Role in Creating the Student Debt Crisis Stretches Back to the 1970s,” Aida Chavez reports for The Intercept. As part of his career of deregulating the banking sector, Mr. Biden also voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act from the New Deal, which was one of the main causes of the last financial crisis. When the markets crashed in 2007 and 2008, Mr. Biden voted to bail out the banks which had speculated – or “gambled” – and lost. What did so-called “Middle Class” Joe do to help keep the middle class in their homes after the housing bubble burst? Nothing. Because of the severe recession which resulted from that financial crisis, Millennials are now the first generation in modern economic history worse off than their parents, the Baby-Boomers.
The Wall Street Journal is hardly a Millennial-oriented company like Vice or Vox, but “Playing Catch-Up in the Game of Life” reports that Millennials are “in worse financial shape than every preceding living generation and may never recover”:
American Millennials are approaching middle age in worse financial shape than every living generation ahead of them, lagging behind Baby Boomers and Generation X despite a decade of economic growth and falling unemployment.
“The younger generation tells me how tough things are, give me a break,” complains the quintessential Boomer Joe Biden. “No, no, no...I have no empathy!” Is that your campaign slogan, Mr. Biden?
Joe Biden, as a neo-liberal Democrat, has supported “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA and the TPP, as well as permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China and admitting China to the World Trade Organization. “Biden’s NAFTA vote is a liability in the Rust Belt,” Joshua Green reports for Bloomberg. “His record on trade could make him a target for both the Left and the Right.” Although “growing the economies” of all the trading partners (at least in terms of GDP), these free-trade agreements also “de-industrialized” the American economy, in the process killing middle-class/small-town America as the jobs upon which that culture and society were built were outsourced across the border or overseas. GDP may have grown, but as Mr. Biden once noted in a speech plagiarized from Robert F. Kennedy, “The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play.” Mr. Biden argues that his free-trade deals have created more jobs than they have destroyed – this is a standard free-market talking point – but even if that were true, that job growth is not necessarily replacing that job loss: People who lose their jobs in a Rust-Belt factory town are not always willing or able to relocate their lives to a Sun-Belt suburb. Furthermore, while jobs are shipped abroad, many of the newly created jobs here at home are filled not by the people who lost their jobs, but by immigrants who are willing to move wherever there is work and are willing to work for less, too. In sum, the result of free trade has been the outflow of capital from the higher-wage American economy to the lower-wage Chinese and Mexican economies, as well as the inflow of labor from the lower-wage Chinese and Mexican economies to the higher-wage American economy. As a policy of dispossession, it could not be more complete. (Decadent “conservatives” like Kevin D. Williamson of National Review, who jeer that people whom fail to compete in this globalized economy “deserve to die,” are missing the point and undermining the very communities, institutions, and traditions they pretend to want to conserve.) Mr. Biden likes to tell a story about how China’s leader, Xi Jinping, asked him to define America in one word and he answered “possibilities.” Instead of platitudes about “possibilities,” Mr. Biden should consider policies to help the people whom he purports to represent.
The Border Crisis: “The crisis is directly tied to U.S. foreign policy"
Immigration is driven by “pull” and “push” factors: That is, positive factors in one country (say, the U.S.A.) “pulling” people there and negative factors in one country (say, Mexico) “pushing” people out of there. Joe Biden, in cooperation with the Clinton Administration when he was a Senator and in the Obama Administration when he was Vice President, has been “pushing” people out of Central America through “shock therapy” policies that slashed public services, ravaged the environment, and militarized police forces. On the independent investigative-journalism website The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal, in “How Joe Biden’s Privatization Plans Helped Doom Latin America and Fuel the Migration Crisis,” reports that despite Mr. Biden’s claim that his plans relieved “push factors” in countries like Colombia and Honduras, they actually worsened those factors. “All the U.S. media was talking about the crisis on the border without speaking about the fact that the crisis is directly tied to U.S. foreign policy,” Anya Parampil from The Grayzone explained on FOX News, “specifically U.S. regime-change policy, which has resulted of the doubling of poverty in Honduras.” It is a shame, too, because the policy of a developed country investing in undeveloped neighboring countries in order to prevent mass-migration from those countries – as Mr. Biden once put it, “You do the following things to make your country better so people don’t leave, and we will help you do that” – has the potential to be mutually beneficial, but that is not what actually happened. What Mr. Biden is claiming credit for was a classic case of what Naomi Klein termed “disaster capitalism.”
UkraineGate: “I have never spoken to my son about his various business dealings"
While the Bidens are not nearly as notorious grifters as, say, the Clintons, even some of the most corrupt politicians in Washington, D.C., can get away with saying that. The most notable example of the family’s corruption comes from Ukraine, where Joe Biden was put in charge of “anti-corruption.” After the Obama Administration interfered in Ukraine’s democracy and made his Vice President a Roman-style proconsul over Ukraine, his son, Hunter Biden (a cocaine-snorting, crack-smoking, alcohol-swilling degenerate who married/divorced his dead brother’s wife, and fathered a child with a stripper) was named to the board of Ukraine’s largest natural-gas company for a six-figure salary. Hunter has also held sinecures at a credit-card conglomerate that was his father’s top donor, a lobbying firm co-founded by his father’s top fundraiser, a hedge fund co-founded with his uncle, and Amtrak (which his father publicly championed – and funded to the tune of billions). “It was February when Yanukovych was overthrown, and just a few months later, Joe Biden’s son and a close friend of John Kerry’s stepson, they both join the board of this Ukrainian gas company,” Joe Lauria (editor of Consortium News and former Wall Street Journal reporter) explains in an interview with The National Interest. “So just after an American-backed coup, you have Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and this John Kerry family friend [then the Secretary of State] joining the board of probably the largest private gas producer in Ukraine.” Max Blumenthal goes into deeper detail on this scandal at The Grayzone, exposing how Burisma (the Ukrainian gas company which put Mr. Biden’s son on its board) is funding The Atlantic Council (“NATO’s semi-official think tank in Washington, D.C.”), which is an advocate of military confrontation of Russia in Ukraine and a supporter of Mr. Biden (who is also an advocate of such a policy). Obviously, this arrangement meets the textbook definition of a “conflict of interest,” which was why other officials in the Obama Administration questioned Mr. Biden about it, but were rebuffed. An honest man would have recused himself from his role in Ukraine just to avoid any appearance of corruption, but not Mr. Biden. Even when this scandal came to light in the course of the impeachment of Donald Trump, did Mr. Biden admit that his son received this lucrative sinecure for access to the Obama Administration and apologize for this abuse of power? No, he lamely denied that he was even aware that his son was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company (even though he, Hunter, and a Ukrainian gas executive played golf together) and then lamely insisted that his son must have gotten the job on the merits (despite neither speaking Ukrainian nor having any experience in the energy industry). “Even Hunter Biden admits his work in Ukraine was a mistake,” Robert Mackey reports for The Intercept. “Why can’t his father say that?” Mr. Biden is insulting the intelligence of the people – or perhaps exposing his own unintelligence – by saying things that everyone knows are not true.
“Stop Calling Them ‘Gaffes’"
oe Biden has always been infamous for “gaffes,” but as independent journalist Michael Tracey argues in “Joe Biden isn’t ‘Gaffe-Prone,’ He’s Losing His Mind,” this is a term only ever used by pundits to explain away the offensive statements of politicians as something embarrassing yet also somehow endearing. And truth be told, it is only ever used to refer to the repeated blunders and errors of Mr. Biden. How many times is the media class going to help Mr. Biden get away with his “gaffes”?
Take, for instance, this article in The Washington Post on a story which Joe Biden has been telling about himself for years. “Almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect,” according to the Post. “In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.” If this came from any other politician, it would be a called what it is – a lie told by a chickenhawk trying to trade on the troops for political gain – but because it comes from Mr. Biden, it is just another “gaffe.”
The traditional definition of a “gaffe,” at least in a political context, comes from the journalist Michael Kinsley. “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth,” quipped Mr. Kinsey, “some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” Joe Biden’s “gaffes” do not come anywhere close to meeting that definition, however. A gaffe is not saying something that is not true; that is the opposite of a gaffe. As Michael Tracey says, it’s time to “stop calling them ‘gaffes.’”
When it comes to Joe Biden, his supposed “gaffe-proneness” has effectively obscured his history of “lie-proneness,” which is extraordinary even for a politician. Yet Joe Biden’s stammering, stuttering word salads are starting to sound more like dementia than the usual “gaffes.” Joe Biden has always been inarticulate when he was not plagiarizing the material of other politicians like Hubert Humphrey, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy (see Shaun King’s tweet thread on his history of plagiarism), but contrasting videos of him from just four years ago with videos of him today reveals a severe loss of verbal intelligence even for someone already as dim as him. Mr. Biden is no longer the pseudo-avuncular figure from his cameo on the NBC sitcom “Parks and Rec” (which also yukked it up with the egotistical, fanatical, and hateful John McCain).
At a campaign rally in Texas, Joe Biden tried and failed a hackneyed recitation of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” he began, before forgetting the words. “All men and women are created by...you know, you know...the thing.” Obviously, on the most superficial level, this is yet another example of Mr. Biden’s increasingly evident mental incapacity, but on a more “meta” level, it is evidence of the increasingly evident political incapacity of the so-called “American idea.” Over 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln, in his campaign to appropriate “the Fathers” as anti-slavery Republicans and defeat Stephen Douglas’ Northern Democrats, took the line “all men are created equal” from the Declaration of Independence out of context and twisted it to mean something which none of those fathers then intended or could have ever imagined. Lincoln ultimately succeeded in turning Thomas Jefferson’s manifesto against British tyranny into a mystical “Proposition,” but even as those Yankee revolutionaries who first sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” a-mouldered in the grave, their souls have marched on through Lincoln’s Proposition. According to the great “Agrarian Aquinas” M.E. Bradford, Lincoln’s Proposition “set us forever to ‘trampling out the grapes of wrath.’” Mr. Biden himself announced his presidential campaign by invoking Lincoln’s Proposition and a number of other American clichés and slogans, like “America is an idea.” Lincoln’s Proposition has been cited so many times in so many ways – as a mandate for everything, from counter-culturalism and multi-culturalism at home to colonialism and imperialism abroad – that it now means anything, and thus, in effect, means nothing. Mr. Biden’s garbled attempt to quote the words “all men are created equal” is a fitting symbol of how Democrats and Republicans like him have garbled the meaning of “all men are created equal.”
If Joe Biden’s slurred speech, incoherent tangents, and lack of self-awareness was not troubling enough, the way that he lashes out at Democratic voters is even more shocking evidence of his dementia. “You’re a damn liar!” Mr. Biden told an Iowan farmer when asked about his son’s business in Ukraine. “Look, fat...here’s the deal,” mumbled Mr. Biden, challenging the farmer to a push-up contest and IQ test for good measure. When a South-Carolinian immigrant asked about the record number of deportations by the Obama Administration, Mr. Biden answered “go vote for Trump.” When Iowan state representative Ed Fallon asked about Mr. Biden’s energy policy, he poked him in the chest, got in his face, and said, “You oughta go vote for someone else!” Mr. Fallon told Mr. Biden that he was voting for Tom Steyer in the primary but would still vote for him in the general “if you treat me right,” to which Mr. Biden replied, “Well, I’m not.” When a CBS reporter asked Mr. Biden about Bernie Sanders’ criticism of his record on federal entitlements (cf. “FAIR: 23 Headlines Obscure Biden’s Lies About Cutting Social Security” and “FAIR: As Biden Invokes Dead Family Members Against Medicare For All, Media Play Along”), he turned around, waved his hands in the reporter’s face, and yelled, “Why why why why why why why?” When a Georgian student asked about Biden’s poor performance in the caucus, he called her a “lying dog-faced pony soldier.” When a Californian veteran of the Iraq War told Mr. Biden that “we actually fought in your damn wars” and “my friends are dead because of your policies,” Mr. Biden snapped, “So is my son!” (his son, Beau, died from cancer in 2015, not from his less than a year of service as an Army attorney). “I’m not going after your son,” replied the veteran, to which Mr. Biden snarled, “You better not.” When a Detroit union worker asked Mr. Biden about his attacks on the Second Amendment, he blurted out, “You’re full of s**t,” called him a “horse’s ass,” and threatened to “slap your face.” The union worker tried to remind Mr. Biden that “you’re working for me,” but Mr. Biden retorted, “I’m not working for you.” This is not even getting into Mr. Biden’s strange penchant for smelling and touching women and children (cf. “FAIR: Ignoring Lessons of #MeToo, Media Scrutinize Biden’s Accusers”).
It may be unseemly to call attention to a near-octogenarian’s mental decline, but it is even more unseemly for an aging man with an ailing brain to run for office in the first place. Is the American political class so decrepit that we are not even to be spared a semi-senile commander-in-chief?
Joe Biden may struggle to make sense and speak in complete sentences, as was widely acknowledged earlier in the primary, but since he has become the presumptive Democratic nominee, any discussion of his mental stamina has now been branded a “coordinated” campaign of “disinformation” involving Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (which will, before the end, somehow implicate Vladimir Putin, too, cf. “FAIR: For NYT, Inconvenient Facts Equal ‘Russian-Style Disinformation’”). As Glenn Greenwald reports for The Intercept, “Democrats and Their Media Allies Impugned Biden’s Cognitive Fitness, Now They Claim Outrage.”
The Enemy of My Enemy is (not always) My Friend
Branko Marcetic authored a six-part article series on Joe Biden for the socialist website Jacobin and a forthcoming book against Joe Biden, Yesterday’s Man (which given the non-stop pace of the news is already “yesterday’s book”).
I disagree with the arguments in half of Mr. Marcetic’s articles, of course. For one, Mr. Marcetic damns Joe Biden for opposing busing, as if that was an extreme neo-segregationist position at the time. Yet as The Washington Post reported when Kamala Harris attacked Mr. Biden over busing, his position was fairly mainstream: Most Americans, while for racial desegregation, were against busing their children to outside school districts in order to achieve racial integration (and this included blacks as well as whites).
For another, Mr. Marcetic damns Joe Biden for opposing “partial-birth abortions” (technically known as “dilation and extraction”), which he consistently voted to ban. When dismembering a fetus risks damaging a woman’s cervix, a partial-birth abortion can be performed instead: The fetus, usually in the second trimester, is extracted feet first until only the head is inside, at which point scissors are used to puncture the head and crush the skull. (Don’t believe me: Believe the NPR story to which Mr. Marcetic links from which my description is copied.) Mr. Marcetic argues that Mr. Biden’s votes, along with other votes restricting federal funding of abortion, violated “a woman’s right to choose.” I retort that framing the abortion in terms of “choice” has always been facile at best and deceptive at worst, and that no woman has the right to “choose” to do whatever she wants to a fetus in utero. Sorry, but a baby is not your body.
Last, but not least, Mr. Marcetic damns Joe Biden for opposing illegal immigration and voting for some (but not all) law-enforcement measures. At the same time, however, Mr. Biden has consistently favored legal immigration and voted to expand its numbers, regardless of public opinion or its costs to the host country. In other words, even the most minimalist definition of a state – that is, defining where its borders are and who its citizens are – is too far to “the right” for Mr. Marcetic.
“The Anti-Busing Democrat,” “The Unreliable Pro-Choice Advocate,” and “The Anti-Immigrant Enabler” represent the pitfalls of “The Great Awokening.” Does Mr. Marcetic believe that a modern socialist movement can be built around busing, partial-birth abortions, and open borders? Joe Biden’s fairly moderate positions on these controversial issues have been attempts to prevent culturally/socially conservative Democrats who feel alienated from an increasingly counter-cultural/anti-social party from becoming Republicans, as many did in the Nixon, Reagan, and Trump elections. Of course, Mr. Biden is not to be commended as a populist hero, because as the other half of Mr. Marcetic’s articles demonstrates – “The Hawk,” “The Neoliberal,” and “The Mass-Incarceration Zealot” – he has also taken positions on war/peace, welfare/trade, and crime/surveillance which have been just as alienating to many of those same people.
Schmaltzy Rhetoric & Status Quo Politics
All of the above is about what Joe Biden has done as a U.S. Senator and Vice President, but what is he proposing to do now as U.S. President?
Joe Biden’s announcement of his campaign was a scripted and prerecorded video with black-and-white footage of immigrants waving at the Statue of Liberty, Marines hoisting the flag at Iwo Jima, protestors marching, and Martin Luther King speaking:
The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America, is at stake...America is an idea, an idea stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the most desperate people on earth. It guarantees that everyone is treated with dignity and gives hate no safe harbor. It instills in every person in this country the belief that no matter where you start in life, there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you work at it. That’s what we believe, and above all else, that’s what at stake in this election...We have to remember who we are. This is America!
This is nothing more than Yankee self-centeredness and self-righteousness, which is as old as the first Puritans in New England proclaiming their colony to be “a city upon a hill.” Americans have no idea about – much less interest in – what the rest of the world really thinks of them. In a global survey by Gallup from 2013 (when the Obama Administration was “liberating” Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen and more), the U.S.A. was voted the single greatest threat to world peace. In 2017, these results were repeated in another global survey by Pew Research. Regardless, Democrats and Republicans like Joe Biden will continue to bloviate about how “exceptional” and “indispensable” they – er, the U.S.A. – is in the world.
Joe Biden also announced his campaign by “waving the bloody shirt” over the white-nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia:
Charlottesville, Virginia, is home to the author of one of the great documents in human history. We know it by heart: “We hold these truths to be self-evident...All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” We’ve heard it so often that it’s almost a cliché, but it’s who we are. We don’t always live up to these ideals – Jefferson himself didn’t – but we have never before walked away from them.
This is nothing more than hysteria. For one, the white nationalists who rioted in Charlottesville represented no one (especially not those truly “very fine people” defending Confederate monuments from destruction) and their attempted rally actually rallied public opinion against them. An event which was supposed to “unite” the alt-right ended up further dividing it and driving it further underground. For another, Donald Trump did not call the Klansmen and neo-Nazis at Charlottesville “very fine people,” as anyone with a half a clue could probably reckon. He condemned the white nationalists who were there in clear language, but noted that not everyone who was there to protest the destruction of the monuments to Confederate heroes was necessarily a white nationalist – a quote which hacks in the media class promulgated out of context. Last, but not least, if the alt-right self-destructed as a result of Charlottesville and the President’s “very fine people” quote was a base lie, then there is no “battle for the soul of this nation.” If there is such a battle, then it is between the goblins, orcs, and trolls who want to destroy the works of art and historical symbols of this nation, and the “very fine people” who have resisted.
Joe Biden’s campaign announcement is equal parts kvelling and schvitzing. In a recent article for Foreign Affairs, “Why America Must Lead Again,” he makes some actual promises amid the usual platitudes. Much of this material is covered in an interview which he did with the Council of Foreign Affairs (which publishes Foreign Affairs) at the end of the Obama Administration, “The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy.”
Joe Biden has nothing critical to say about a foreign policy in the Middle East which has destabilized the entire region for generations, only that Donald Trump has not been a moralistic enough leader of the American empire. Mr. Biden promises to end “the forever war” in Afghanistan, just like Pres. Trump promised when he was campaigning, but unlike then-candidate Trump, Mr. Biden insists on continuing to occupy Iraq and Syria against the will of both countries, in order to have a base of operations for carrying out the sort of drone strikes and special operations which the Obama Administration pioneered. Mr. Biden does promise to end the U.S.A.’s sponsorship of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, an atrocity which was initiated by the Obama Administration and intensified by the Trump Administration. Hopefully Mr. Biden is more honorable than Pres. Trump, who was critical of Saudi Arabia for funding terror-insurrectionism (and Hillary Clinton’s foundation) when he was campaigning, but who has been abjectly defensive of Saudi Arabia’s barbarity since becoming President. (Pres. Trump’s daughter and son in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, who are enormously influential over him, are infatuated with the House of Saud.) Other than promising “to sustain our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” Mr. Biden makes no mention of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which the Trump Administration has (through his Kushner in-laws and their family-friend Netanyahus) drastically aggravated. He does not say whether he would, for instance, reverse the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or the defunding of the UN’s humanitarian program for Palestinian refugees. Just like he did with Pres. Bush on Iraq, Mr. Biden criticizes Pres. Trump’s management of the conflict with Iran but never questions whether there should even be a conflict with Iran. (It is just what you would expect from a politician who never learned any lessons from the Iraq War.) Mr. Biden promises to return to the denuclearization deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama Administration and broken by Pres. Trump, but at the same time he promises to exploit the opportunity to demand further concessions from Iran and to continue undermining Iran’s national security, just as the Obama Administration did by intervening in the Syrian civil war and trying to overthrow the Syrian government. Mr. Biden is so committed to American imperialism in the Middle East that he cannot even muster up a categorical condemnation of Pres. Trump’s unprecedented assassination of Gen. Qassim Soleimani – a military leader from a country with which we are not war and who was on a major diplomatic mission between Tehran and Riyadh. Mr. Biden is not concerned with reforming U.S. foreign policy, but merely putting the U.S.A. – and himself – “back at the head of the table.”
Joe Biden has nothing critical to say about the post-”Cold War” policy toward Russia which has squandered a historic opportunity for global peace, only that Donald Trump has not been a moralistic enough leader of the “American-run protection racket” that is NATO. For Mr. Biden, NATO is not just a mutual-defensive alliance from the Cold War which since the dissolution of the USSR has had to invent new enemies in order to justify its existence (with the help of think tanks, like Mr. Biden’s friends at The Atlantic Council, funded by Mr. Biden’s friends at Lockheed Martin and Raytheon), but is “an alliance of values” and thus “sacred.” (Mr. Biden is using the same sort of mystical rhetoric about NATO that Abraham Lincoln used about the Union, but what “mystic chords of memory” do Americans share with Turkey?) Mr. Biden promises to keep escalating “The New Cold War,” just like the Obama Administration did by intervening in a Ukrainian revolution in order to overthrow a Russian-aligned government and install a Western-aligned one. Mr. Biden promises to “impose real costs on Russia” for its “aggression” (i.e. intervening in wars on its border) and to “stand with Russian civil society” (i.e. interfering in its elections). Mr. Biden cites the Obama Administration’s “Nuclear Security Summit” as an example of the sort of diplomacy that he would conduct as President, but on the question of nuclear security, he makes no promise to return to the INF treaty which the Trump Administration killed or the New START treaty which the Trump Administration is going to let die. However undiplomatic it was to destroy those arms-control treaties essential to ending the Cold War, Mr. Biden probably sees it as an unwitting windfall for the U.S.A. in the New Cold War. Mr. Biden’s idea for a summit, however, is not one which would be about nuclear disarmament or diplomatic engagement with Russia, but a self-righteous “Summit for Democracy” to signify the New Cold War. Despite the fact that the Trump Administration is on the opposite side of Russia in virtually every world conflict (such as attempting to overthrow Russia-aligned governments in Syria and Venezuela) and has taken actions against Russia which the Obama Administration deemed to be too aggressive (such as sending Ukraine anti-tank missiles and sniper rifles to use against Russia), Mr. Biden still accuses the President of kowtowing to Vladimir Putin. Indeed, in the New Cold War, suggesting that you would like “to get along with Russia,” as Pres. Trump did when he was campaigning – the germ of the RussiaGate conspiracy theory which dominated the news for over three years – is nothing short of treasonous.
As much as Joe Biden is offended by what the white-nationalist rioters in Charlottesville said about race, he is just as offended by what Vladimir Putin said about Western liberalism in an interview with The Financial Times:
Putin wants to tell himself, and anyone else he can dupe into believing him, that the liberal idea is “obsolete.” But he does so because he is afraid of its power. No army on earth can match the way the electric idea of liberty passes freely from person to person, jumps borders, transcends languages and cultures, and supercharges communities of ordinary citizens into activists and organizers and change agents.
This is, in insufferable Yankee form, chauvinism cloaked in idealistic-sounding language, with some Russophobia for good measure. It never occurs to bigoted, ignorant, prejudiced Yankees like Joe Biden that other peoples in the world might have other ideas different from what they believe is right. “Liberalism” (not American center-leftism, but the modern combination of a capitalist economy, a democratic government, and a pluralist/secularist culture) which emerged as an idea in the 18th-century West and became a reality in the 19th-century West, is, according to Yankee chauvinists like Mr. Biden, objectively superior to the less egalitarian and less individualist traditions of uncivilized and uncultured peoples like the Chinese and the Russians (or even Europeans for that matter). Yankee chauvinists like Mr. Biden have no respect for the heritages of nations and states thousands of years older than theirs, such as China and Russia, only a desire to degrade them in the name of “democracy.” Yankee chauvinists are not just ignorant of foreign political and spiritual philosophies which have nothing to do with “liberalism,” but are ignorant of their own pre-”liberal” heritage as well: Classic Western political and spiritual philosophers (Plato and Aristotle, Saint Augustine and Saint Aquinas, and John Adams and James Madison) condemned “democracy” as one of the worst forms of government, as just one example. There are modern Western intellectuals on the Left and the Right alike who are critical of the contradictions and decadence of “liberalism,” but to Mr. Biden (for whom reconsidering anything that he learned in Social Studies must be how the Communists brainwash you) these are all just “dupes.”
Joe Biden has nothing critical to say about a trade policy that has hollowed out the economy of his country, only that Donald Trump has not been a moralistic enough champion of world-flattening globalization. Instead of fighting a “trade war” with China in order to force that country to trade freely and fairly – not to practice its policies of dumping/flooding, discriminatory non-tariff barriers, industrial subsidies, forced technology transfers, and currency manipulation – Mr. Biden promises that he would “invest” in “education” and “infrastructure” instead, which is just treating the symptoms of the disease that is economic dependence on China. Mr. Biden’s promise to support a “clean-energy economy” with “net-zero emissions,” as the Obama Administration did (along those lines, he also promises to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords), is not necessarily a bad idea, but such an economic transition must be supported by a protective trade policy. Mr. Biden promises to pressure China on issues such as reducing its emissions but at the same time promises not to use the one policy that has effectively pressured China – namely, trade policy. The Trump Administration – as personally loathsome as The Donald may be – has fought hard to force China to end its abusive trade practices and has won back some of the economic ground that Mr. Biden and others lazily ceded to China. That is the “trade war” which Mr. Biden promises to surrender. The Trump Administration also successfully renegotiated NAFTA on fairer terms to the U.S.A. and is trying to renegotiate outdated and asymmetric trade deals with the European Union (deals originally intended to rebuild their economies after World War II). Although he does not say it outright, when Mr. Biden talks about trade agreements as a way “to build a united front of U.S. allies and partners to confront China’s abusive behaviors and human rights violations,” what he is talking about is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Obama Administration negotiated with other Pacific-Rim countries to reduce their economic dependence on China. Though the TPP was repudiated by the Trump Administration – and not supported by any other presidential candidate from 2016 – Mr. Biden would almost certainly rejoin it. To Mr. Biden, who condemns “protectionism” as an expression of “America First” nationalism, the imperial policy of economically isolating China takes precedence to protecting the American economy.
Mr. Biden has nothing critical to say about an immigration policy that has made a mockery of the laws of his country – not to mention fostered a humanitarian crisis on its border – only that Donald Trump has not been as moralistic as “The Mother of Exiles” commands. As with trade, the Trump Administration – as personally loathsome as The Donald may be – has made progress on the persistent crisis of illegal immigration, mainly by realizing that enforcing the law is a much more effective deterrent than “building a wall.” Mr. Biden promises to end the Trump Administration’s policy of “tearing apart families” – the media class’ hysteric distortion of the routine administrative procedure of holding adults and minors separately and temporarily while they are processed through the legal system, if for no other reason than to protect minors from the notorious sexual abuse that occurs at the border. (Perhaps as a sign of moderation, Mr. Biden did not recite the familiar litany of “children in cages” and “concentration camps,” which is what the media class calls chain-link fences.) The only alternative to family separation, which Mr. Biden does not admit but cannot avoid, would be to return to the Obama Administration’s policy of “catch and release,” or catching illegal immigrants at the border then releasing them into the interior of the country where they can live for years until their trial (assuming they even show up on their day in court). Mr. Biden calls family separation “senseless,” but does “catch and release” make any more sense? Mr. Biden promises that he would also end the Trump Administration’s “Migrant Protection Protocols” (i.e. asylees who illegally enter the U.S.A. from Mexico are required to “remain in Mexico” while their cases are pending), “Third-Country-Transit Bar,” (i.e. asylees who pass through other countries without applying for asylum in them first are ineligible for asylum in the U.S.A.), and “Asylum Cooperative Agreements” (i.e. asylees who pass through other countries before illegally entering the U.S.A. are returned to one of those “safe third countries” while their cases are pending), three previously unenforced laws which helped to end the disastrous “border crisis” of 2018 and 2019. Mr. Biden argues that these “detrimental” policies violate the “dignity” of immigrants and deny them their “right” to claim asylum, but the truth is that these policies were only a detriment to immigrants’ undignified abuse of the right of asylum. Mr. Biden promises to end the Trump Administration’s policy of “targeting” illegal immigrants (vibrant “communities” such as drug-dealing gangs and dog-fighting rings) and the businesses which exploit illegal immigrants as quasi-slave labor. In other words, Mr. Biden promises to return to the Obama Administration’s policy of not enforcing the law on the border or in the interior. While Mr. Biden promises to put an end to “the travel ban” (a thoroughly lawful executive power which the Trump Administration has, shamefully, abused to insult and injure people from other countries like Iran), he should not reject a “travel ban” altogether, a power which even the Obama Administration used in the appropriate circumstances. Another promise of Mr. Biden’s is to multiply refugees by nearly 700%, a quota he will have no trouble filling so long as he continues to destabilize the Middle East as the Obama Administration did. Mr. Biden’s immigration system would exemplify what the great Sam Francis termed “anarcho-tyranny,” or when the government refuses to carry out its legitimate powers (i.e. to protect the innocent and punish the wicked) and instead makes up illegitimate powers (i.e. to protect the wicked and punish the innocent).
From his Foreign Affairs article, Joe Biden defines himself as a conventional establishmentarian and institutionalist who “has learned nothing and forgotten nothing,” so to speak. For Mr. Biden, “restoring the soul of this nation” – his moralistic campaign slogan – apparently means just going back a few years to what he is now calling “the Obama-Biden Administration,” that is a restoration of the status quo ante Donaldus Trumpus. It is as if all of the Americans who rejected that status quo by voting for a right-wing populist like Donald Trump and a left-wing populist like Bernie Sanders do not even matter to Mr. Biden.
How the Scarecrow with No Brain Beat the Lion with No Hear
Enough about Joe Biden, who is the doddering figurehead of a shambling order. What Bernie Sanders represents – or, perhaps, represented – is much more interesting. There are a number of reasons that Mr. Sanders, after giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money in 2016 and galvanizing the “progressive” movement of a generation, failed so miserably in 2020. Two of the most obvious are that Ms. Clinton was a far more repellent opponent than Mr. Biden and that the Democratic race in 2020 was far more crowded than in 2016, but in the end, Mr. Sanders has nobody to blame for his failure but himself.
First is that Bernie Sanders himself is an incompetent leader who missed key opportunities and undermined his own progress. In 2016, after journalists were caught colluding with Democratic officials on Hillary Clinton’s behalf in the primary election, Sen. Sanders did not cry out that he had been cheated or call out RussiaGate as a distraction from that terrible scandal, but groveled to the Democratic nominee and embraced RussiaGate. So far, in 2020 Sen. Sanders has bent the knee again and again. Criticizing someone for their low character or poor record is not “getting personal” or “going negative,” but Sen. Sanders has steadily refused to criticize his biggest opponents – notably Joe Biden – and instead lamely echoed Democratic talking points about unity against Donald Trump. Sen. Sanders is under the impression that he can win by making the same speech that he has been making for years without talking about any of the other candidates, but politics is as much about personality as policy. Indeed, when one of his campaign surrogates made headlines with an op-ed in The Guardian, “‘Middle Class’ Joe Biden Has A Corruption Problem – It Makes Him A Weak Candidate,” Sen. Sanders denied that Mr. Biden was corrupt (without disputing any of the facts in the article) and disavowed his own supporter! When another one of his campaign surrogates made headlines with an op-ed in a South Carolina newspaper, “While Bernie Sanders Has Always Stood Up For African-Americans, Joe Biden Has Repeatedly Let Us Down,” Sen. Sanders backed off that accusation in a debate. When accusations of “Russian interference” in his favor were reported in the news, Sen. Sanders did not reject RussiaGate as a discredited conspiracy theory and condemn such anti-democratic tactics, but rather accepted the overstated reports at face value and made a show of threatening Vladimir Putin on TV, thus propping up the paranoia and xenophobia used to criminalize left- and right-wing criticism of American empire. Speaking of critics of American empire, Tulsi Gabbard is an American-Samoan woman who represents Hawaii in the Congress and is a major in the National Guard which she has served since 2003 (including two tours of duty in Iraq). In 2016 Rep. Gabbard resigned as Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to nominate Mr. Sanders for President and has defended him throughout his presidential campaign, including the latest McCarthyite attack. Since Rep. Gabbard announced her own presidential candidacy – hers was the only voice for peace in the Democratic primary – she has been collectively denounced in terms even more bilious and venomous than those used against Sen. Sanders. While Sen. Sanders has often hastened to assure Democratic voters that “I respect Joe Biden” and “Joe Biden is a friend of mine,” he has hardly raised his voice in Rep. Gabbard’s defense. As Tucker Carlson put it on his FOX News show, “Bernie Sanders may be the lamest revolutionary ever.”
Second is that Bernie Sanders is vain. Instead of identifying as a “democratic socialist” and then debating about the meaning of that rather contrived term, Sen. Sanders should have just identified as what he actually is - a “social democrat.” Even the Scandinavian countries which Sen. Sanders cites as examples of “democratic socialism” have pointedly disavowed that label in favor of “social democracy,” that is a free-market economy which supports a welfare state. Sen. Sanders wanted to sound special, however, and so called himself something controversial that he ended up wasting his breath having to defend ad nauseam. At the same time, by identifying as a socialist, Sen. Sanders attracted “antifa” types to his campaign who, as the undercover journalists at Project Veritas revealed (cf. part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of their investigation) actually are totalitarians who believe in a planned economy, a one-party dictatorship, and state terror. Were wannabe Communists such as these punks the best “field organizers” for Iowa and South Carolina?
Third is that Bernie Sanders is unpatriotic. Instead of looking abroad for examples and inspiration – how many Americans are familiar with what life is like in Denmark or Norway? – Sen. Sanders should have rooted his vision in American heritage, laying claim to the legacy of progressive leaders already admired by Americans such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. There is nothing in Sen. Sanders’ policies inconsistent with the Progressive Era and the New Deal, and in fact, Sen. Sanders could have made a persuasive case that he was trying to finish what they had started but what the Cold War had interrupted. One of the reasons which Sen. Sanders might have avoided drawing such historical connections is because of the “political incorrectness” of those original progressives (Teddy Roosevelt was a “colonialist,” Wilson was a “segregationist,” and FDR was an “anti-Semite”) but more on that later.
Fourth is that Bernie Sanders was – and is – a “fellow traveler” of Communism. In the 1980s, Sen. Sanders visited Third-World Communist states in Latin America, such as Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua, and compared them favorably to the U.S.A. When journalists and other candidates pressed him on his past comments, Sen. Sanders doubled down, praising Cuba’s “literacy program” for instance. (The Nazis had an excellent engineering program, too, but no one is so obtuse as to insist on giving Adolf Hitler his due credit for the Autobahn!) Has Sen. Sanders ever even spoken to a Cuban-American immigrant? If a trip to Florida was too much, then in Sen. Sanders own state lived the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - an exile from the Soviet Union, a Nobel-winning author, and the most famous anti-Communist figure in the world.
Fifth and finally is that Bernie Sanders embraced identity politics and political correctness. For example, at one point Sen. Sanders understood basic economics: Mass-immigration drives up the labor supply and thus drives down wages, especially for the working class, which was why in an interview with Ezra Klein of Vox he shocked liberals by dismissing “open borders” as “a Koch-Bros. proposal.” Indeed, as early as 1974, when Mr. Sanders was running to be Vermont governor in the Labor Union Party, he opposed orchards bringing in Jamaican guest-workers to pick apples instead of locals. “With the Vermont unemployment rate one of the highest in the nation,” protested Mr. Sanders, “I could never support importing foreign workers when our own people are out of work.” Nowadays, however, Sen. Sanders mouths all of the same clichés and slogans of that “Koch-Bros. proposal.” Today, Sen. Sanders himself would condemn the expression “our own people” as “nativist,” “xenophobic,” and even “white supremacist.” For campaign surrogates, Sen. Sanders turned to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (so woke that she is against growing cauliflower in “communities of color” because it is a “colonial” vegetable), Ilhan Omar (so woke that she voted “present” on the historic resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide because that resolution did not also recognize every other unrecognized genocide ever), and Rashida Tlaib (so woke that she called the Detroit Police Department’s facial-recognition technology “bulls**t” because it is racist and told the black Detroit Police Chief that only black people should work in the facial-recognition lab). Other campaign surrogates include the radical black activist Jesse Jackson and the radical black intellectual Cornel West, as well as outspoken Hollywood actresses like Susan Sarandon and Cynthia Nixon. Are these hyper-polarizing figures the best choice to reach out to older voters afraid that a Pres. Sanders would be too far to the left? Sen. Sanders traded populism for “intersectionality,” or numbers for diversity.
Neither the grouchy leftist Bernie Sanders nor the sleepy centrist Joe Biden are worthy of a vote.
Is Donald Trump worthy of a vote? That is another question for another time which will come soon enough, though suffice it say that on the vital issues on which Pres. Trump campaigned, he has been quite good on trade (the Wuhan coronavirus underscores the danger of economic dependence on China), fairly decent on immigration (the Wuhan coronavirus also underscores the danger of open borders), but utterly horrendous on foreign policy (he has not stopped bombing Iraq and blockading Iran even as they both struggle with massive Wuhan-coronavirus outbreaks). Yet the Wuhan-coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.A. has exposed many of Pres. Trump’s worst qualities – his arrogance, belligerence, and incompetence.
In the coming presidential election, the media class is going to play defense for Joe Biden as strongly as it plays offense against Donald Trump. It is important to know the truth about Mr. Biden, then, and be able to translate his pretentious platitudes and self-righteous references into real policies. There are legitimate reasons to not vote for Pres. Trump, of course. I have many Democratic and even Republican friends who find “The Donald” so repulsive – chauvinistic, demagogic, kleptocratic, misogynistic, xenophobic, etc. – that they are already determined to vote for whomever runs against him. I am not sure that I shall dishonor myself once again by voting for someone as fat-headed and foul-mouthed as Pres. Trump if he continues to be disloyal to his “America First” voters whenever Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson makes a donation. Yet the only power that we, the people, have over politicians is our vote. Once we give away our vote, politicians lose all interest in and respect for us, and move on to the more lucrative business of servicing the financial and ideological interests of their donors. (Many mothers have had a similar talk with their daughters when they start dating.) Voting for a narcissistic Boomer, a corporate cronyist, military interventionist, and serial liar just because he is more “civil” than his opponent and speaks in all of the bipartisan clichés, is, in effect, a vote for all of the above, as much as it is against Pres. Trump.
It has often been observed that populism rises when elites fail. Populism is not perfect, of course (as the above discussions of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders make painfully clear), but whatever its faults, what populism is reacting against is far worse than populism itself. Populism is a modern expression of the “Country-Court” conflict – that is, “the country,” or local and regional communities, resisting the tyranny of “the court,” or the central state – which is a key to Anglo-American politics. “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to Abigail Adams. “It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.” In a letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote that rebellion “prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.” Jefferson was talking to Adams and Madison about outright rebellion, of course – the Shays Rebellion of 1787, which was neither the first nor the last domestic rebellion – but the same could be said of populism, which is a sort of “civil” rebellion. Indeed, to paraphrase Jefferson, rebellion – or populism – is “as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical” and “a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.” A victory for Joe Biden (who has an altogether sentimentalized memory of his 40 years in Washington, D.C.) would be a victory for failed elites whose response to populist discontent has not been to reflect on themselves, but rather to refuse any reform and repress the people. As Jefferson wrote to Madison, “Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.” That is what a Biden presidency would be – a consolidation of the institutional powers and individual personalities which caused the problem in the first place.
James Rutledge Roesch lives in Florida. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, as well as the author of From Founding Fathers to Fire-Eaters: The Constitutional Doctrine of States' Rights in the Old South.