The official launch of Trump’s campaign for re-election in 2020 invites us to ponder if the Democrats are, as in 2016, going to help him win.
“By seeking and blundering we learn,” the renowned German thinker Johann Wolfgang von Goethe asserts is the recipe for progress. It’s just a pity he isn’t around now to advise the Democratic Party on how to beat Trump, because in its case the blundering hasn’t stopped and the learning hasn’t begun.
This time round, not Hillary Clinton but Joe Biden is the DNC’s preferred choice. And just like Clinton before him, Biden is a product of a liberal establishment yet to wake up to the fact that the thin gruel of political centrism belongs in the trashcan of history along with its economic twin, neoliberalism.
Joe Biden, as Obama did and as Clinton tried, claims to be on the side of the common man. Example: “We’re going to build an economy that doesn’t just reward wealth; we’re going to build an economy that rewards work. We’re going to build an economy that works for everyone.”
This would be the same man who just this past week went straight from appearing at a Poor People’s Campaign forum in Washington to a Wall Street fundraising event in New York. In attendance was a clutch of billionaires whom Biden showered in praise. “You guys are great,” he told them, presumably while still wiping away the stench of the poor people he just got done promising bread and roses to back in Washington.
Biden’s refusal to confront the inextricable link between Wall Street billionaires and the plight of the poor in America, and his effort to conceal this crucial link with platitudinous guff of a type well known, is the acme of liberal ideology. It is precisely why Trump beat Clinton in 2016 and why he will beat Biden in 2020.
When you have 40 million people living in poverty in the richest country in the world, and a working class that has never had it so bad under the asphyxiating pressure of neoliberalism, America needs a president who will tax rather than court billionaires. And when you have a world struggling to breath under the weight of US hegemony and unipolarity, responsible for creating the most dangerous period since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, America and the world needs a president who will govern in the interests of peace and stability, not conflict and chaos.
Trump, who in his customary style refers to Biden as ‘Sleepy Joe’, will plough the same furrow of base and crude rhetoric during his 2020 campaign that he did in 2016. It is meat to his base, after all, predominantly made up of white working class men and women for whom Make America Great Again (MAGA) really means ‘make white people great again’.
That America is a nation and empire in decline is not in doubt. Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Chris Hedges eloquently explores and charts this decline in his 2010 article ‘Do Not Pity the Democrats’.
“The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party…but from the institutions tasked with protecting democratic participation. Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the Tea Party movement, the “birthers,” the legions of conspiracy theorists, or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken, we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism.”
A grim depiction of the future in 2010, I’m sure you’ll agree, but one that in 2019 cannot be gainsaid.
The battle raging between America and corporate America is a battle for the future. But it’s a strange fight this fight, in that up to now only one side, corporate America, knows who the enemy is and what it’s fighting for. The other America, meanwhile, continues to exist in a fog of false consciousness, cultivated and sustained by a mainstream media that peddles happy talk instead of serious analysis.
The soldiers fighting for corporate America are, with rare exception, the Republicans and Democrats in Washington. And in a 2020 race involving Trump and Biden, each will go out of his way to claim fealty to the primary victims of corporate America – the American people – when the opposite is the case.
It was Charles De Gaulle who once said, “In order to be the master, the politician poses as the servant.” In the case of a US presidential election, his words should be amended to read: “In order serve corporate America, the politician poses as the servant of the people.”
Joe Biden cannot win against Trump simply because Trump, unlike him, is America with its mask of civility removed. And the liberation experienced by the removal of the mask is more attractive than the prospect of it having to put it back on again.
The choice the American people need in 2020 is not a window or an aisle seat on a flight to the same destination. What they need is a different flight to a whole new destination.