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“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Like an annoying rash that could become dangerous, the Wall Street and war wing of the Democratic Party is back for yet another reprise in its run in the 2020 presidential primary and election. Think these representatives of wealth and war and power went away with the mid-evening swing toward doom of the New York Times polls on election night 2016? Think again… Hillary Clinton has been supplanted by Joe Biden. Power and wealth will not give up because those forces have an almost psychopathic hold on a wing of the Democratic Party, like an out-of-control vehicle careening to certain doom down a mountainside.

In the 1970s, Biden was a fierce opponent of school busing toward the end of eliminating segregation in schools (”As Joe Biden Hints at presidential Run, Andrew Cockburn Looks at His ‘Disastrous Legislative Legacy,’” Democracy Now, March 13, 2019).

During the 1980s and 1990s, Biden became a law and order legislator, teaming up with none other than Strom Thurmond and Bill Clinton to put people away and fueling the epidemic of mass jailing. Readers know the result that those “crime” fighting sprees had on the black community.

Then, during the confirmation process of Clarence Thomas, Biden refused to call witnesses that would have supported Anita Hill’s testimony about Thomas.

Biden made it impossible for students to discharge student debt, a move that saddles students with a lifelong burden of indebtedness as the price of a college or technical education, especially if students have not struck it rich in a global economy.

Biden loves the banks and credit card companies, many that make their corporate homes in Biden’s tax-lenient state of Delaware. And in holding those accountable, who tanked the economy in 2007-2008, Biden let them off on a free ride while ordinary people suffered and the housing debacle exploded.

In an opinion piece masquerading as fact, the Guardian reports in “Joe Biden faces tough choices on fundraising for potential 2020 run,”(March 14, 2019), that “middle-class Joe” faces hurdles because of his ties to Wall Street in an increasingly progressive Democratic Party.

And here’s Joe Biden on the war for regime change in Iraq in “Biden’s votes, words on Iraq become hurdle in 2020,” (The Hill, February 8, 2019): “Biden backed the resolution giving former President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq, and he also praised the president in a Senate floor speech at the time for his handling of the case for war.” For decades, Democrats in Congress (and in the presidency) have almost universally supported war and the preparations for war. Whether this policy position changes with the Congressional Progressive Caucus remains to be seen, but the vast majority of Democrats have a really bad record on war. Besides the nationalistic chauvinism involved in war, there is the fealty to war industries among Democrats.

It remains to be seen if Democrats, and especially the Wall Street and war fans in the Democratic Party can muster anything like the pushback in Congress to Saudi Arabia’s immoral and illegal war in Yemen. The history of the two-party duopoly and their ties to the military-industrial-financial complex do not bode well. The Democrats’ record on war predates the attacks of September 2001.

With Biden’s record on war, integration, “crime,” a woman’s right to work unmolested, the Great Recession, and banks and credit card companies, readers might think Joe Biden is a throwback to the worst tendencies of neoliberal Democrats, and they’d be right on the money!

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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