The Big Lie

The greatest gift is the ability to forget—to forget the bad things and focus on the good.

—Joe Biden

Joe Biden claims that Joe Manchin lied to him about his intentions on the Build Back Better plan. That may be true but it’s also true that Biden lied to himself and to the American people. Pundits may have taken Joe Biden for a sucker for attempting to negotiate with the Taliban. Biden’s attempt to negotiate with Joe Manchin looks even more doltish.

Biden has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer and now he finds a knife in his back. However, the idea that any of this is surprising is just plain wrong and it’s so obvious to everyone on the outside. Biden acting betrayed by Manchin gives a message that Biden is naive and completely unable to read the room. That is true. But it also demonstrates just how weak Biden is. He has no intention of being a President and he likely never wanted to be one in the first place.

That doesn’t mean Biden didn’t lie to the American people by promising Build Back Better. He can run all he wants but the fact is he’s the President and this failure falls squarely on his shoulders. However, I would push back on two assumptions I see going around. The first assumption is that Biden is toast politically. If you’re foolish enough to put hope in Joe Biden then you aren’t paying attention. The American people know as much. The second question I have is if Biden really wanted to get any of this done in the first place.

The assumption is that Biden failed with all of this. Not necessarily. He bought time, which is really our best hope for any American politician who still buys into this grotesque stage of capitalism. He deflected blame no matter the results. He was ready to blame the progressive caucus before they caved. Now he can blame Manchin but he won’t call him corrupt and we all know why. Biden’s third success is that he really is a conservative and we knew this no matter how many people tried to tell us he was a centrist. Punishing the poor is the agenda for Joe Biden. That’s been his career and he loves it.

Joe Biden’s failure to achieve legislation that originated at Bernie Sanders is most definitely a success for Biden, and only a failure for anyone interested in helping the American working class.

Does Joe Biden really want to lose in 2024? On a subconscious level, it seems like he wants to. However, his conscious mind probably wants to win. This makes his incompetence stunning but we may have to factor in that success in American politics now not only relies on outright corruption but also blatant incompetence. I don’t know why this has to be the case honestly. However, it seems irrefutable that just about every successful American is quite dull in the head. We should stop thinking of this as a political disadvantage.

A career manager like Biden’s greatest danger may have been that they are not incompetent enough and therefore could be linked to the deep state. However, Biden has been impressive in disproving this theory by being blindsided at every turn. That doesn’t take away from a real problem Biden may have when it comes to his failed legislation. Some on the political left may have expected something from Joe. But most Americans are past that and see a rigged system that has no bounds to its venality.

This is not entirely true either and never will be. Politicians will always have to answer to the people, to some varying degree. There is always a chance to do “better” than today. The question is how much better and for how long. The idea that Joe Biden would be the “end of austerity” was a lie and it was a lie everyone knew at the time.

The combination of three factors contributed to a dreadful hopemongering by pundits. The first was how bad Donald Trump was. Surely, people hoped, there would be some sort of correction. A “return to normal” as Biden put it wasn’t seen as a return to catastrophe, as it should have been seen, but rather as a real shift away from Trump.

The second factor was the pandemic which people saw as an opening for the government to start spending money on the poor. This turned out to be the opposite as governments took advantage of the crisis to deepen inequality and make the lives of the working class more precarious and dangerous. The first two assumptions go to show us that we should never root for something worse, such as Trump or a pandemic, in the hopes that it will make things better. What it often does is simply make things unimaginably more frightening.

The third assumption is related if a slightly different character. The assumption was that the Democratic Party had some sort of transformation recently. This was due to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the two outsiders. In response to Trump, Democrats had to make a response. While some read them as pushing back on Trump’s social issues with a new wave of Wokeness the reality was the Democrats did the opposite and started to court all Republicans short of those who wanted a violent insurrection. All other forms of democracy, whether they be economic or political, were seen as not worthwhile.

The other assumption about the Democrats was that the Sanders side of the Party was finally being heard. This one has more legs, thankfully. But still, it hasn’t amounted to much. People may be upset with the progressive Democrats and we should certainly applaud AOC, Omar, Talib, Presley, Bowman, and Bush for not folding on the infrastructure bill vote. On the other hand, how much power does the progressive caucus really have without a mobilization on the ground and in elections? The answer is not enough. So we could spend our days wondering about the characters of each one of these politicians but we’d be better off to get more of them, and more of us, rather than less.

So the Democratic Party does appear to be in internal conflict, with most of the Party becoming Republicans and only a small handful who are left of center. The Republicans may be in even more crisis. They have no one to vote for them. With Democrats becoming Republicans this leaves only radical extremists for the Republicans. This is a large chunk of the country as all the radical energy in America is on the right. However, it’s not very much of the country, maybe 20%.

So the Republicans rig elections through gerrymandering and voter suppression with Trump providing the playbook for the future. The only way to mobilize voters is through violent and combative rhetoric that unleashes terrorism on the rest of the country. None of the Republicans in power are opposed to this but it’s a base that can only get crazier, not all that bigger. Anyone who wants a civilization in the future can’t support the Republican’s climate or economic policies so they’ve naturally become basically the Party of vigilantes.

The Democrats potentially have a lot more voters but in the short term new gerrymandering laws will negate this. The long-term trend for the Democrats may be better because of limits on how much farther these measures can go. The question of campaign financing must be brought up too. Both parties seem set on raising a lot more money from corporate donors. This is its own arms race that may favor Republicans simply because the value of voting and organizing itself goes down in the face of huge money.

The population continues to lean more and more left-wing and this will likely continue with urbanization being a big factor for this. However, this doesn’t necessarily help either party as neither are interested in these votes.

So we remain in a sort of deadlock with the legitimacy of both parties being in crisis. The Republicans basically have to rely on nut jobs and illegal procedures. However, the Democrats must rely on a combination of Republican ideology and fear-mongering of the poor. These things tend to go together well but when packaged within the Democratic Party it’s a message that strikes us as off. This is because Democrats claim to be helping the poor when they are busy scaring them. At the same time, they have their eyes on the rich and old-school Republicans, so they contradict themselves often.

This relates to Joe Biden’s potential political problems because while I am convinced he wanted to fail, he had to lie in order to do it. While we know he can give us nothing, we are tired of lying. We are tired of people saying they want to help when we know they don’t. This leads to people not engaging. I see Biden’s lying, and willingness to lie, as a greater danger to him politically than his failure to end austerity, which was expected, and Biden’s own desired outcome.

Everywhere we turn we see lying and we’re tired of it. Everywhere someone is selling something. Many times it’s even us doing the selling to put food on the table. Capitalism runs on so many lies that many are willing to believe it’s all “a big lie” and that there is a coherent truth behind the contradictions of various actors.

Such is the coherence of a divine order that goes back a long time in the human mind. If only we were so lucky. There is no one pulling the strings and there is no one to save us. We have to do it ourselves. We can and should compel political institutions to help us with this.

Biden thought he was clever to avoid his own agenda rather than be open and tell us we get nothing and tell us no one is here to help us. This is the disadvantage he has against Donald Trump who has fulfilled his campaign promise of white supremacy, patriarchy and chaos at large. The extent to which Trump was a populist clearly is negligible at best. His real promises have been fulfilled.

Biden’s real promise wasn’t the end of austerity, and he may not be held accountable for it. However, his promise of being a competent truth-teller, someone different in character than his predecessor, has fallen flat. This demoralizes the country further and causes people to become apolitical. Biden will pay not because he is not a left-winger but because there really is no center wing at this stage in the class war. Biden will be seen as a liar but he is only a pawn in a much bigger lie. The big lie is that capitalism can be managed when the truth is that it must be overcome.

Biden’s only promise was to not be Trump. Now he’s been caught with his pants down. What could be more Trumpian than that?

The crisis for Joe Biden is that there is no political center that can moderate the decline. Capitalists are so big they manage themselves. Centrists are simply corrupt. Right-wingers are corrupt. The left is the alternative and a suicidal one for any politician.

Admitting how bad things are is a good start and it was a mistake to pat Donald Trump on the back for exposing the system. This gave him too much credit. Not only did Trump make the system more functional, in the way it functions for the rich, but he also failed to radicalize people to socialism. Joe Biden’s epic fail in theory could radicalize people to socialism but it seems that he causes people to be apolitical.

If the Trump years made Americans paranoid and neurotic, like Trump, then the Biden years have made Americans like Biden, impotent and disinterested. Are we really giving up? It’s time to close on ironic inspiration from Joe Biden: “Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.” Well, at least part of that isn’t a lie. Happy Holidays.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at