It has been a little over a month since Joe Biden took over as President of The United States; yet none of the major campaign “promises” from Biden have been realized yet. Despite Biden tweeting just 10 days before the inauguration that we need $2000 stimulus checks, despite encouraging Georgia voters that a Democratic win would allow “$2000 checks to go out the door immediately,” and despite running campaign ads explicitly saying “want a $2000 check? #votewarnock” we have seen no stimulus yet. Biden took office, Warnock and Ossoff won their respective elections, the Democrats have the Presidency, and the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, but again, no stimulus. The $2000 has become $1400 which then became means-tested (signalling that it most likely will drop even lower); but all this is presupposing that the COVID relief is coming at all. Sitting Senators will tweet about how millions of people need help, all while the Senate is on vacation–even if they weren’t on vacation we probably would not be seeing any relief. This is yet another example of symbolic action by liberal politicians.
Stimulus is not the only thing that the Biden administration has not been able to pass. Biden has said he will not raise the minimum wage, he will not cancel student debt loans, he will not restrict ICE’s power and will not stop deportations. However, Joe Biden racked up over 26,000 deportations in his first 30 days–despite promising zero–and sold $200 million worth of weapons to Egypt. Biden has appointed warmongers to his cabinet positions and has flexed “America is back” and “protecting democracy” imperialist rhetoric. This exemplifies the true essence of the Democratic party. The Democrats once again prove that they are nothing but right-wing capitalists and imperialists that uphold a system of exploitation of the working class, maintain the status quo for wealthy elites, and maintain global US hegemony as a world empire. The Democratic party boasts about how they represent working class families, and want to help people, but in the working class’s time of need, Democrats do nothing.
More than ever, America is in crisis. We are experiencing Gilded Age levels of inequality: Texas is in crisis, 500,000 Americans are dead from COVID, millions of people are struggling to make ends meet in the fallout of the COVID-19 economic crisis, and every day we slowly march more and more to climate catastrophe. Joe Biden and his Democratic colleagues have not, and have no plan to take any real meaningful action to try and solve any of these problems. Yet liberal pundits and politicians seem to have no problem with this because of the simple fact that Biden is not Trump. This is the essence of what I call liberal politics of nothing: as long as our guy is not the other guy, it does not matter that our guy does nothing. Biden is not doing anything meaningful while there is so much he can do through executive orders, or he can at least try to pass, but instead: nothing. Biden is praised for his return to normalcy, but that very same normalcy was not good enough for so many people. Normalcy is not good enough for the impoverished working class struggling to make ends meet, normalcy is not good enough for the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities that suffer discrimination and oppression. Articles talk about how good it is to have a dog back in the White House, or how Dr. Jill Biden wearing scrunchies make the people “feel seen,” even though, once again, these things help no one.
“[the] liberal politics of nothing: as long as our guy is not the other guy, it does not matter that our guy does nothing.”
As long as it is not Donald Trump, or whoever else the agreed-upon bad guy is, inaction is acceptable. Who cares that Biden is an incompetent fool? He is not Donald Trump. Who cares that Joe Biden has a history of racism, misogyny, and homophobia? He is not Donald Trump. Who cares that Joe Biden was an architect of the 1994 Crime Bill responsible for mass incarceration of people of color* and supported brutal imperialist wars like the war in Iraq? He is not Trump. Even war criminals that should be tried in the Hague like George W. Bush are rehabilitated by liberals in the name of not being Donald Trump. Perhaps in the dystopian future where Tom Cotton is putting leftists and minorities in concentration camps it seems reasonable that liberals will rehabilitate the image of Donald Trump as well.
The alienating nature of capitalism is undoubtedly responsible for the rise of fascism in the United States. After all, as German philosopher Max Horkheimer once said: “whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about fascism.” The Democrats are guilty of just that; they refuse to pass meaningful reform that actually helps the working class of America, and this can lead to right-wing radicalization. Democrats refuse to do anything about the structural problems of capitalism and sink into complacency and nothingness, leading to the surge in radical right-wing thought. The rise of fascism in the United States has been a product of Reagan and neoliberal capitalism, but was exacerbated by the financial crisis of 2008 (which Democrats failed address in any meaningful way). When people are impoverished, feel alienated by society, have a lack of resources and opportunities, are brainwashed by capitalist and imperialist propaganda through the US education system, they tend to turn towards right-wing extremism. When the neoliberals slashed any semblance of a social safety net for people to fall back on, and try to maximize profit by outsourcing manufacturing to impoverished nations for cheap labour and lax environmental policy, this creates the perfect conditions for the rise of right-wing radicalism. Combine these elements with constant racist rhetoric from the right–”It’s the Mexicans stealing your job! It’s the Chinese stealing your job! But never the capitalist who’s exploiting global inequality”–and you see the cause for the rise of fascism in the US.
But of course, the liberal politics of nothing does nothing to try and prevent the rise in fascism. The perfect example is the storming of the U.S Capitol building: for years people warned about the dangers of Trump and his extreme sycophants, yet liberals did nothing. In the wake of the attack, while mass media corporations and liberal pundits milk the event to spread propaganda about the wonders of US democracy, liberals do nothing to try and prevent the material conditions that led to this. After all, maybe Carl Schmitt was right about liberals being unable to do anything against the rise of authoritarianism and the dismantling of even pseudo-democracy. A return to normalcy is a return to the material conditions that lead to the rise of Donald Trump. The Democratic Party’s politics of nothing will only lead to a more competent and brutal far-right politician, whose consequences will be far more devastating.
*It is overwhelmingly ironic that Biden and Kamala were the nominees after a summer of seemingly revolutionary protest against police brutality and the history of systemic racism in the United States.
By Ajay Chakraborty, Contributor