The Neoliberal Bumbler-in-Chief

Listening to Joe Biden on the campaign trail is about as painful as listening to Trump. The gaffes just keep on coming! Running for the senate or the presidency? Joe Biden can’t seem to get it right and often he doesn’t seem to be able to follow a thought to a logical end (“Say It Ain’t So, Joe, the Latest Neoliberal From the War and Wall Street Party,” CounterPunch, March 20, 2019).

That Biden breezed to a presidential primary victory in supposedly liberal Massachusetts leaves nothing but a sense of despair for anyone on the political left. If Philip Berrigan or Eugene Debs were alive, either leftist might say “I told you so.”

That Biden didn’t break a sweat and seemed to know that he wouldn’t win in liberal Massachusetts on Super Tuesday is one sign of just how fucked-up the political, economic, and social systems are. What was the combination of demographics that gave Biden a victory in much the same way as a runner on third base comes home and scores after the batter walks with the bases full?

So-called moderates flocked to Biden, as did those over 50 years old and older Black voters. Liberals, younger voters, young Black voters, and Latino voters supported Sanders. Political analysts can go on and on, ad nauseam, but the fact remains that a vibrant and well-organized campaign by Bernie Sanders on the ground in Massachusetts fell on its face, as did that of Elizabeth Warren. If a person buys into the argument that elections mean anything at all, and they do to some extent, then the fact that a left/progressive coalition couldn’t pull it off here speaks volumes. The people who went to the polls spoke, and they would rather have a neoliberal bumbler than someone who would champion, at the very least, liberal causes.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting in Massachusetts, Biden took 33 percent of the vote, compared to Sanders’ 26 percent and Warren’s 21 percent. Biden also took Maine, Minnesota, and Virginia with 34 percent, 39 percent, and 53 percent, respectively, along with states in the South (“Biden Comes Roaring Back, Narrowing Primary Focus, “ New York Times, March 4, 2020).

With the Democratic convention this coming summer pledged to only give primary candidates the delegates they won during the presidential primary season on the first ballot, the handwriting is on the wall in more places than ancient Egypt. The neoliberal Democrats will be triumphant and may or may not beat the far right in November.  A victory in November by a Democrat will ultimately create the conditions that dumped Trump on all of us who still think in terms of a livable present. a future, and a somewhat better world. Biden would continue the neoliberal contract with the fossil fuel industry, under-fund public schools while allowing charter schools to grow, continue the slow boil of endless wars and the national security state and, create anger among those not able to attend professional schools or provide for their families by cobbling three jobs together while often facing daunting health insurance costs. Issues of misogyny and the treatment of immigrants would continue to worsen. Income inequality would continue to grow.

The ingredients would all be there for the second coming of a Trump-like character. When that far-right false messiah comes out of either the Democratic or Republican parties, there’ll be no coming back from the precipice!

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