Lackluster Biden makes huge, sinister news
Joe Biden’s throwing his hat in the presidential ring is probably the most significant news story of 2019. And not in a good way. What made it so significant – and what no writer I know of has yet dared to say – is that it proves the criminal contempt of Biden, the Democratic Party establishment, and their servile corporate media for addressing humanity’s climate emergency.
Clueless Joe’s own “middle ground” climate policy – what renowned climate activist Bill McKibben insightfully calls “code for pro natural gas” – is itself bad enough. In the face of a global climate emergency, which Climate-Destroyer-in-Chief Donald Trump has worked tirelessly to worsen, half-measures involving a long-term commitment to climate-menacing fracked natural gas are blindly irresponsible. (As McKibben insightfully notes, a rejection of fracked natural gas is the key litmus test to determine whether any Democrat presidential hopeful has a serious climate change policy.) That Biden and corporate liberal media can even portray such “do almost nothing” policies in the face of planetary crisis as “middle ground” is sleazy propaganda disguising their own dangerous extremism—an extremism progressives and climate activists must make 2020 voters keenly aware of.
But what makes Biden even more dangerous – what makes lackluster Joe, paradoxically, an existential threat to civilization – is precisely that establishment Democrats and their media lackeys are working feverishly to force the 2020 nomination of someone so lackluster. In other words, someone so incapable of inspiring interest or passion – except among hard-core corporate Democratic loyalists – that he’s extremely capable of losing to Donald Trump. Thereby prolonging the most dangerous administration – in anti-freedom and anti-democracy terms, not just climate ones – on record. Irresponsibly greasing the skids for a candidate so electorally vulnerable to climate terrorist Trump amounts to collusion in Trump’s climate terrorism. Deeply ironic, for a Democrat establishment that tragically wasted so much precious public time – time better devoted to soul-searching analysis of its 2016 loss to Trump, to say nothing of urgent issues) – on its witch hunt for evidence of Trump’s “collusion” with Russia.
Such a menace is Biden to serious, responsible climate policy – as best represented by a strong Green New Deal – that his selfish, reprehensible decision to run for president overcame all reservations I had about joining Bernie or Bust 2.0, the updated 2020 version of the 2016 Bernie or Bust movement I co-founded. While I eventually left the 2016 movement because Adolph Reed forcefully convinced me electing Trump was too great a risk, this time I won’t rescind my refusal to vote for Biden. Why? Because the Democrat establishment has rejected with contempt abundant chances to repent of its pro-corporate, anti-progressive, anti-climate sins, and nominating someone as dangerous to effective climate action as Biden shows a purely evil will to embrace and double down on those sins. As Bill McKibben brilliantly said, “We’ve run out of elections to waste,” and a presidential contest between such climate policy empty suits as Trump and Biden would be a suicidal waste of the timeliest election for climate policy ever.
I feel morally obligated to stave off establishment Democrats’ extortion in favor of a catastrophic, civilization-menacing “Empty Suit Election” by wholeheartedly embracing the electoral counter-extortion of Bernie or Bust 2.0. Unless we can preemptively destroy Biden’s nomination by massively pledging our refusal to vote for him in the 2020 general election, climate’s only remaining hope – with either Trump or Biden as president – is millions of us joining the Extinction Rebellion (XR) and shutting U.S. society down. Joe Biden fully deserves to be the face on XR’s recruiting poster, by far the most compelling reason to join that movement now.
We need to be ready if Bernie or Bust’s electoral counter-extortion fails. But readers first need to understand the reprehensible establishment Democrat extortion that compels such a radical, risky measure as electoral counter-extortion.
Anti-democracy brutality: Establishment Democrats’ electoral extortion
Before the Sunrise Movement and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with their brilliant, splendidly executed protest at Nancy Pelosi’s office, put the Green New Deal (GND) on the political map, I was desperately scrounging for a rallying banner to organize a progressive resistance movement to our political system – a movement “Orange Menace” Trump should have long ago provoked. Seizing on Ralph Nader’s theme of a “Rat’s Revolt,” I briefly explored the idea of building a movement to “rat out” Democrats’ electoral extortion. Because establishment Democrats used such extortion to shove Hillary Clinton – a corrupt, sanctimonious, hypocritical anti-populist elitist – down progressives’ unwilling throats in 2016, they’re forever complicit in fake-populist Trump is now being president.
As a mass movement rallying banner, the positive, visionary GND is vastly more promising than a narrow, negative attack on Democrats’ electoral extortion. Accordingly, I abandoned my “ratting-out” scheme to throw my energies behind the GND. But the Democrat electoral extortion I was hoping for a movement to “rat out” remains very real; in fact, it remains the foremost obstacle to all progressive agendas – above all, the ultra-progressive GND. Inevitably, this makes crushing the GND via electoral extortion a dire urgency for the corporate Dem establishment. And – now that anti-GND electoral extortion is incarnated in Joe Biden – it opens up a role (alongside Sunrise’s GND promotion) – for the anti-Biden counter-extortion of Bernie or Bust 2.0.
As a package of long-popular progressive policies logically gathered under the umbrella of effective climate action, the GND is an existential threat to everything corporate Democrats stand for. They know citizens scorned under current climate-destroying policies are never going to rally behind hugely costly climate-mitigation programs where their needs are, if anything, more severely neglected. The Yellow Vest movement in France illustrates the fierce popular blowback awaiting elite attempts to address the climate crisis while preserving savage, deeply entrenched economic inequalities. U.S. Republicans exploit average people’s terror of bearing the costs of climate emergency by simply assuming these savage inequalities will continue; of course, the plutocrat-first policies of both major parties make that unimaginative assumption all too plausible.
The GND slashes the Gordian knot of popular opposition to desperately urgent but extremely costly climate action by overthrowing current inequalities with ambitious populist programs – making effective climate action (which most voters actually want) a benefit rather than a bitter pill for average people. Its unbeatable combo of fairness and feasibility make it an existential threat to the moneyed elites controlling both major parties. Being badly outgunned on the fairness issue, Republican and Democrat establishments alike focus on attacking the GND’s feasibility. Being much less leftist – seeing runaway economic inequality as much less of a problem than Democrat voters – Republican voters are much readier to swallow elite pooh-poohing of GND feasibility without question.
Facing a much more restive voter base – voters demanding both greater economic equality and urgent climate action far more than Republicans – Democrats can’t repress GND populism merely by tired media propaganda pooh-poohing its feasibility. Especially not when the party has nationally known presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (though Sanders far more visibly) trumpeting the GND’s populist merits and doability.
The ultimate solution? Rig the nominating process for political DINOsaur Joe Biden, a brand-name reliable corporatist with political worldviews so outmoded the GND doesn’t even appear on his radar. Then, having brutally disenfranchised (by nominating Biden) all voters demanding the GND, extort their votes for a candidate they find repulsive and clueless by insisting that only by voting for Biden can they stave off the horror of another four years of Trump. Inciting the festering resentment of large sectors of their base (by disenfranchising their aspirations and then extorting their votes) did not help Democrats defeat Trump in 2016, and there’s little reason to think the same anti-democracy coup – made more insulting by repetition – will pay off in 2020.
For readers who’d like a more detailed view of how Democrats will exercise pro-Biden (and anti-Sanders) electoral extortion in the 2020 race, Paul Street’s recent CounterPunch column provides an almost exemplary ten-item list (though Street merely sums up these “ten related lines of attack” as “nasty stuff” and doesn’t brand the process electoral extortion). For purposes of illustrating Democrat extortion here, probably Street’s most significant “lines of attack” are his first and second ones: 1) the “absurdly large number” of Democratic candidates and 2) the resulting likelihood no candidate will win the nomination on first ballot, meaning superdelegates will enter the process on second ballot and decide the nominee. While Street rightly portrays this as an anti-Sanders measure (and therefore an anti-GND one), it will almost certainly result in Biden’s nomination, since Biden (who won’t even pay lip service to the GND) is the wet dream of party hacks whose chief heart attack risk is President Sanders enacting the GND.
While Joe Biden may have a spotty record on abortion, the one guaranteed abortion of a Biden presidency is the Green New Deal. Just as we wouldn’t expect too much parental love for a child unwilling, unready parents were forced to bring to term and raise, we should not expect movement pressure, however intense, to make Biden a fitting “parent” for the GND. If anything, we should be constantly wary of him approaching the GND’s infant crib with a smothering pillow.
And needless to say, the risk of the GND’s untimely “crib death” gets supersized should voter resentment at Biden’s undemocratic nomination put the GND’s fate in Trump’s hating hands.
As an ardent older supporter of the Sunrise Movement – what they call a “Young at Heart” supporter – I hope Sunrise will take to heart the extreme risk of electing a candidate opposed on principle to the GND and then expecting movement pressure to force that candidate to do the right thing. Even a loving “GND parent” like Bernie Sanders will likely face a Congress hostile or indifferent to his vulnerable child. Since a Biden candidacy (and resulting “Empty Suit Election”) guarantees a radically unfit parent for the GND, what needs aborting here is Biden’s candidacy – before anti-democratic “Democrat” superdelegates insanely bring it to term.
That’s where Bernie or Bust 2.0 comes in. And the Extinction Rebellion (XR) if we fail. But for now, XR should definitely consider putting climate enemy Joe Biden on its recruiting poster – side by side with DonaldTrump.
More on all this in my upcoming article, “The Troika of Climate Good: Sunrise, Bernie or Bust 2.0, and Extinction Rebellion,” where I’ll make the case for collaboration among these three crucial current movements.