Tucker or Biden is Not a Real Choice

What’s wrong with this front page?

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On Monday, May 2nd, the front page of the New York Times included two pictures side by side above the fold. Tucker Carlson was shown under the headline “American Nationalist,” and Nancy Pelosi appeared under the headline “Pelosi visits Kyiv, echoing US vow of wide victory.” And it makes you wonder whether you know what nationalist is. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has declared that ruling out future NATO membership for the Ukraine is a “non-starter,” while Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin has declared “we want to see Russia weakened.” To show that they are not just talking, the US has been arming the Ukraine. All of this is making it impossible for Ukraine to agree to neutrality while the choices it forces upon Russia are total defeat or total war. If Tucker Carlson is an American Nationalist, what is Nancy Pelosi?

The dichotomy that the New York Times presents between the Biden administration and Tucker Carlson is a false one. Tucker Carlson offers racism and guns as the solution to hopelessness. The Biden administration claims to offer a New Deal, but its appetite for American dominance around the world makes its promise impossible to deliver. The Biden administration vilifies Putin while Tucker Carlson preaches isolation; but this is not a real dichotomy either, because a brutal war is not a game that human beings can follow simply as spectators.

What we desperately need is a different choice. The war in Ukraine makes clear that that our program must be anti-nationalist while the pandemic has made it clear that workers are essential, and therefore are essential to our program. But such a program is not one that any government that is in power anywhere in the world now will adopt. It must come from labor organizations, and we must put our shoulders to the wheel to make it happen.

Moshe Adler teaches economics at the Harry Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College. He is the author of Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal (The New Press, 2010),  which is available in paperback and as an e-book and in Chinese (2013) and Korean (2015) editions. Visit the Economics for the Rest of Us channel.