What They Deserve

Last Thursday, November 4, 2021, the paper of record headlined its issue by lamenting the “surprising” losses that the Dems suffered in the Tuesday elections.  Evidently, the blue party hadn’t expected to lose the governorship of Virginia, along with several significant down-ballot races.  Alarm bells are already ringing about next year’s midterms, they said.  My first thought was, “How could they possibly be surprised?”  Aside from the fact that Terry McAuliffe didn’t try very hard in Virginia, and failed to recognize a key issue or two, there’s the general impression of ineptness that the Dems have displayed in the last six months.  I wrote a comment on the NY Times article to that effect, to which one person responded, “So, frustrated people are going to vote for Republicans?  That doesn’t make sense.”  Yeah, except that’s exactly what happened in 2016. The only reason it didn’t repeat in 2020 was that the frustration level didn’t overcome the disgust for TFG and the fear of a second term for him. 

This topic has been discussed in myriad forums lately (see historian/blogger William Astore’s critique here, and online host Jimmy Doré’s engaging rant here, and Marc Ash’s scathing commentary here), but I have my own take and unique followers.

So-called “moderate” Dems allot considerable space to defending Joe Biden on the grounds that he wasn’t elected to bring about large-scale change; rather, the object in putting him in office was merely to unseat TFG.  Theoretically, anyone would be better than the Orange Buffoon.  There’s no arguing that, to some extent, that contention is true.  While Bush II effectively wreaked more havoc abroad and did, of course, start two illegal wars, justify torture and extraordinary rendition, and blunder cluelessly through eight years in the Oval Office, TFG might be said to be even more of a loose cannon, potentially doing even more damage in a nothing-to-lose second term.  In that sense, yes, Biden is better than an indescribably bad alternative. 

But the fact is that Biden didn’t publicly run on a platform of merely being not Orange.  He touted a $15-per-hour minimum wage, a public healthcare option, and heavy-duty climate change remedies, as just a few examples.  He did quietly assure his corporate donors that, “nothing would fundamentally change,” for Wall Street during his administration, and so far, that’s the only promise he’s kept.  Otherwise, he’s batting zero.  He’s content with sitting behind the Resolute desk, letting Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and a cadre of other corporate Dems take the heat for stalling and stonewalling all the aid to average citizens and the measures to slow and mitigate climate change that he promised.  Every MSM news outlet has trumpeted Manchin’s millions in dividends from the coal industry, along with Sinema’s record donations from Big Pharma, and they’ve been willing scapegoats for the sake of their bank accounts.  Meanwhile, Uncle Joe has hovered around the edges, making conciliatory noises.  This, when he could have channeled LBJ, sat the recalcitrant representatives and senators in a room, and played hardball.  His political career spans six decades; he knows where all the bodies are buried, and his position gives him the power of making good on threats.  Instead, he’s kept mostly silent, making the donors happy.  The picture presented to the public is that of two senators and a handful of representatives, letting greed dictate their support, or lack thereof.  It’s all Kabuki:  the hand-wringing, head shaking, and sniping are a façade for appeasing the corporate owners.  Add in the continual outcry from the “moderates” that the Progressives are ruining everything with their “radical, socialist” demands, and the recipe for inaction is complete.  The Progressives, in turn, have inexplicably caved, after all their declarations that they’d never give up the fight. 

We’ve all seen the train wreck of a scenario play out in the news.  First, the basic infrastructure plan, or formulation (BIF) would be passed, meager as it is, with its juicy privatization provisions.  It was crafted in a spirit of Senate bipartisanship, only possible because there were obvious perks for big business.  And so it was.  The Progressives in the House, however, balked, eventually demanding a tandem vote on this bill and the social safety net legislation, Build Back Better (BBB).  Speaker Pelosi was pressured into promising such a dual vote.  During the last several months, Senators Manchin and Sinema have taken potshots at various provisions in the bill, flatly refusing to go along with them, and, in Manchin’s case, proposing cuts and alterations to essentially cripple the legislation.  Senator Sinema has remained mum, preferring to jet to Europe rather than face constituents who’ve tried to confront her.  Still, the word has been that both BIF and BBB would be passed together, once a consensus was hammered out.  Such was the plan even as late as Friday morning, November 5th.  Later that day, though, the vote on BIF was rushed through, and it passed, with the caveat that the heretofore obstructionists would in turn vote for BBB, once a few more little facts are gathered. 

And just like that, the Progressive Caucus, which collectively had the votes to derail the infrastructure package, stepped up with their “ayes.”  The “moderate” Dems, some of them DINOs, like Manchin, Sinema, and a bevy of representatives, were always going to support BIF, but the Progressives were supposedly holding the line to give their constituents the badly needed financial support in the BBB bill, in the form of paid leave, expanded Medicare, child-care help, negotiated drug prices, and other benefits.  In the end, only six representatives — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush — had the courage of their convictions, and voted against BIF (I won’t speculate on the possibility that they could afford to vote “nay,” as the bill was going to pass, anyway).  All the other Progressives, and the rest of the Dems, fell in line behind the corporate-sponsored bill, leaving the fate of BBB up in the air. 

Will Build Back Better ever pass?  Will it ever even come up for a vote?  I wouldn’t put money on it.  If a bill by that name actually is enacted, it certainly won’t look anything like the $3.5tn version (itself cut from the original $6tn bill) that would actually help people and at least partially address climate change.  It won’t even look like the watered-down remnant that Manchin oversaw.  If anything, there will be a few small crumbs for the little guys, lots of giveaways to Big Oil and Wall Street, and not many good things accomplished, on balance. 

And the Democrats will be shocked! shocked! when they lose Congress next year.  They just won’t understand what happened.  But after a few weeks of finger pointing (it was all the fault of the socialist Progressives!), we’ll hear the promises that, if we just elect more Dems in 2024, why, THEN we’ll see some action!  THEN they’ll get things done!  THEN the 99% will see a $15 minimum wage, and Medicare for all, and student loan forgiveness, and paid leave, and a transition away from fossil fuels, and stricter emissions laws for utilities, and…

And sadly, TFG, or someone like him, will win at the polls, while the diehard Dems out in the hinterlands will – again – be disappointed.

18 thoughts on “What They Deserve

  1. Denise: it took me too long to realize the first and most important mission of Biden, Pelosi, Schumer and Crew is to neutralize and defeat Progressives. Sanders is the real enemy to them, not Trump.

    And before Sanders it was Dennis Kucinich.

    They’d rather lose to Trump in 2024 than win with a Progressive Democrat. And if they lose to Trump, they will once again vilify his voters as so many deplorables while fund-raising off of scared liberals.

    It’s a rigged game that will always screw over workers and anyone seeking real change — until we have a real third party or until the people just can’t take it anymore. Ot until the USA just collapses in a mess … perhaps the most likely scenario in the next twenty years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Progressives are the real enemy. Except when they collapse like a cheap cot, as we saw on Friday.

      What I just can’t fathom is, how could Bernie not be aware of all this? And if he is, how could he continue to operate as if reforming the Dems from within is possible? I think he’s a savvy realist, not a gullible idealist. To me, his actions just don’t compute. I’ll be interested to see his next move.

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      1. He is aware, but he wants to play the game, even though he almost always loses.

        What he doesn’t want is to be an outcast like Ralph Nader.

        So, if we’re looking for a “political revolution,” we need a new leader.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. do propine our beleaguered sanders some latitude; he is an old man w/ serious health issues. as w/ us antediluvian fossils, he fruitlessly and naively hopes the subsequent generations will come to the rescue like a flock of heraldic herons… but like us, they too will flop around, flapping their wings, until they collapse in enervated, silent etiolation, down into their ‘terra firma’ or watery graves.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Naively” is the issue here. Bernie has been around the block too many times to be naive. Thus far, he has come out swinging and fought the good fight, up to a point. Then he’s quiet, until he ends up supporting the status quo. He swore the Medicare provisions would NOT come out of the BBB bill, but almost all of them did. In the end, he always folds and says we all have to unite behind whatever the Dem line is. I’ve gotta wonder what he sees as his endgame.

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      1. Understandable on a personal level, certainly.

        But he’s letting his supporters down.

        Read an interesting article last night, tying the abrupt passage of BIF directly to Terry McAuliffe’s loss in Virginia three days previously. The corporate Dems panicked, and thought they’d better rush to do SOMETHING to prove that they actually can get things done on some level. Makes sense, sadly.

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  4. Agree on all points, Bill. He’s nominally an Independent, but hews to the Dem party, so he can be part of a tribe.

    It could also be that Biden had “the talk” with Bernie that he DIDN’T have with Manchin and Sinema, and Bernie was shown the light about opposing the donors.

    Yes, supporting him becomes more disappointing every day. I no longer think he can be depended on to stand up to the corporate wing of the Democratic party.

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    1. Bernie should have run as third party in 2016 and 2020. That’s what a true independent looking for a revolution would have done. Each time he dropped out, after being cheated out of the nomination, to support the people who cheated him.

      But that’s the way the system works, and Bernie seems resigned to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sanders tried over many agonistic and frustrating years, but he was relentlessly diminished, worn down, and is now too fatigued-to-be-fagged launching a reiteration of his ideations. i can empathize w/ the old goat.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can empathize, as well, believe me. It’s just….he needs to be realistic with his supporters, and stop raising our hopes, then backing down and admonishing all of us to go with the corporate establishment. It’s one thing to concede defeat; It’s entirely different to be beaten, then try to persuade your followers to side with the opposition.

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      1. sanders is no tartuffe, nor is he Arrantly amoral like the tangerine turd… tho’, admittedly, he is Errant in the handling of his devotees, the motivations for which could source from: 1] deliquescence of the cortical tissue; 2] loss of energy from caducity; 3] a yearning for comity among fellow politicos and concinnity among the vulgate, rather than conflict among the fractured electorate and scathing vituperations by the press; 4] capricious fungibility; 5] capitulation due to defeasance and despair; 6] a reluctance to abandon his supporters and acolytes altogether so as not to disappoint them, commensurate w/ a resurgence of energy, which is ultimately followed by the restorative powers of plaudits from ‘his people’; 7] the perfunctory and humiliating realization that he is, like don quixote, ‘tipping at windmills’… sanders’ wife and children would know. they would be well-apprised of his setbacks and the fountainhead from which his roller-coaster dips and dives derive. in sanders’ elderly state, our dear fellow has transmogrified from a fighter blasting out of his redoubt, gun-triggers cocked, to an appeaser searching for peace and tranquilitude. to hell w/ dying on the battlefield!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I believe that any elected leader who would implement truly humanely great policies — genuinely anti-war, reducing military spending, anti-imperialism, universal single-payer healthcare, writing-off student deb, increasing the minimum wage, and reigning in Wall Street, etcetera — or at least seriously try, would likely be assassinated, sooner rather than later. …

    I seriously doubt that the Biden administration would be permitted to make a notably practical improvement in poor and low-income Americans’ quality of life, regardless of how much Biden may want, or not want, to deliver such greatly needed assistance. I believe that the DNC refuses to allow a Bernie Sanders presidential candidacy, regardless of what Democratic Party members/voters want.

    For example, every county in West Virginia voted for Sanders in 2016, yet the Democratic National Committee declared them as wins for Clinton, the latter candidate’s neo-liberalism, unlike Sanders’ fiscal-progressiveness, already known for not rubbing against any big business grain.

    Fiscal conservative ideology/politics, big business interests and most of the corporate mainstream news-media resist sufficiently progressive ideas from actually being implemented. They seem to favor big money interests over people. Republican representatives may also be manipulating the Democratic Party hierarchy into making the latter’s fiscal politics/policies more conservative.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Again, I agree totally. When Dennis Kucinich was running his Presidential campaigns way back when, I always feared for his life. When he was mayor of Cleveland, where I live, he routinely received death threats when he fought entrenched corruption. Word was that the mob put out a contract when he tried to clean up their waste haulers monopoly.

    Trying to do the right thing isn’t conducive to a long life.

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