The Dangerous, Degenerate Dems: Pied Piper 2022 and Other Forms of Complicity

Never underestimate the cynical, fascism-complicit depravity of the dismal, disingenuous and dollar-drenched Dems – the Weimar Democratic Party of “inauthentic opposition” and passive resistance.

It’s bad enough that Democrats function as the Republi-fascists’ enabling partner in numerous ways (see this, this, this, and this): demobilizing the majority working-class non-Republican electorate though cringing subordination to corporate, financial, and military-industrial authority; legitimizing right-wing agendas and narratives by embracing them; relentlessly seeking bipartisan cooperation with a militantly partisan neofascist party (the post-republic/-bourgeois-democracy Republicans); refusing to attack archaic minority rule institutions and practices that inflate the Republifascists’ power (including the Electoral College, the preposterously malapportioned, unrepresentative, and powerful nature of the U.S. Senate, the Senate filibuster, the absurd nine-member Supreme Court, judicial review, and states’ rights); failing to forthrightly and properly punish the putschist Trump for trying to install himself as a dictator; refusing to properly name the “late fascist” menace for what it is; keeping people off the streets by channeling everything into the killing confines of the nation’s right-tilted electoral politics; playing the bourgeois identitarian card with an irrational “wokeness” that is just the other “left” side of the Republi-fascists’ revanchist, anti-science, identitarian, and truth-canceling coin (see this essay’s postscript for further reflections on the objectively reactionary woke syndrome).

Playing With Fascist Fire

But it’s even worse than all that. The Democrats are now so revoltingly complicit with the Amerikaner Party of Trump, DeSantis, and Taylor-Greene as to be directly supporting the most lethal far-right Republican candidates in this year’s primary elections. In a repeat and expansion of the catastrophic Hillary Clinton campaign’s “Pied Piper” ploy of promoting the supposedly “more beatable” Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, the 2022 Dems are backing Trumpian election-deniers in the mid-term (intra-party) primaries. In Michigan, to take one example among many, the anti-Trump moderate Republican Peter Meijer lost his US House of Representatives primary to the ridiculous right-winger John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who claimed that Joe Biden’s 2020 victory was “mathematically impossible.” The House Democrats’ official campaign arm spent $425,000 to support Gibbs. It invested more money in one pro-Gibbs television ad than Gibbs raised for his campaign.

In January of 2021, after Meijer joined ten other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump for instigating the January 6th Capitol Riot, the Democrats had “praised him as the kind of principled conservative his party – and the nation – desperately needed.”

Now the Dems prefer Meijer’s “Stop the Steal” opponent, casting no small shade on their claim to be dedicated to “safeguarding democracy.” The theory is that the paranoid-style Big Lie Republicans will be easier to defeat than more sane and “moderate” Republicans in the mid-term general (inter-party) elections.

How credibly claim to take the “high ground” when stooping so low? And how claim to be a party of responsible leadership when playing so imprudently with fascist fire? Thanks to decades-high inflation, Biden’s horrible approval numbers (consistent with a recent survey showing that 64% of Democrats don’t want Biden to be their party’s presidential candidate in 2024!), the sky-high percentage of the population saying the country is “on the wrong track,” the right-leaning Minority Rule nature of the US political order, and the ingrained historical pattern of the party in White House power losing the mid-terms, the Republicans are poised to do very well in November regardless of how lethal their candidates are. The New York Times Editorial Board has issued a dire warning about the reckless gamble at the heart of this “Cynical Low for the Democratic Party”:

‘Anyone who proclaims concern about the future of democracy shouldn’t come within a whiff of these democracy-denying candidates, let alone help them win votes. But [North Carolina’s Democratic governor Roy] Cooper and …Democratic Party groups have been elevating Big Lie proponents over their moderate Republican opponents all year, making a mockery of the American political system. It is a terrible approach …What if these election deniers actually win? …If Democrats believe that democracy is in danger and they need Republican support to save it…then they have weakened their standing as defenders of democracy by aligning with those who would thwart it.’ (The Times editors would of course never acknowledge that the Dems are attached to specifically bourgeois democracy – the kind of “popular self-rule” that is contingent on government and citizens remaining subordinate to the underlying.

Wannabe Election Cancellers Nominated in Five Key Battleground States

The Republifascists have already succeeded in nominating Big Lie candidates likely to try to steal the 2024 presidential vote for Trump (or his fellow fascist Ron DeSantis or some other revanchist monster) for offices that oversee elections in five key battleground states that Trump lost in 2020:

+ Pennsylvania: the openly Christian fascist gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who as a state senator led the effort to overturn his state’s 2020 presidential election results. If he wins, Mr. Mastriano will appoint Pennsylvania’s top elections official.

+ Nevada: Jim Marchant, the new Republican nominee for secretary of state. Marchant claims he would have refused to certify the 2020 election and wants more “sheriffs at the polls” to stop mythical “voter fraud.”

+ Michigan’s Republifascist election-denier nominees include Tudor Dixon (who falsely contended that Trump won the state in 2020) for governor, Kristina Karamo (who “has called the 2020 election fixed and baselessly claimed that Dominion voting machine software flipped votes to Mr. Biden” for secretary of state), and Matthew DePerno (“a central player in 2020 election challenges”) for attorney general.

+ Arizona: Open fascist Oath Keeper Mark Finchem, a January 6th insurrectionist, for secretary of state, the top election official in the state; Trumpist Abraham Hamadeh, for attorney general; gubernatorial candidate Trumpian Kari Lake, who says she would have refused to certify Biden’s 10,000-vote victory in her state.

+ Wisconsin Republicans last Tuesday nominated for governor the Trump-backed construction magnates Tim Michels. During his primary campaign, Michaels “entertained the prospect of trying to overturn” Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election result “once he is in office.”

If any of these election-denying freaks wins statewide office, they could very well tip the 2024 election to Trump, DeSantis or whatever other hate mongering, paranoid-style late-fascist fiend the rightmost major party vomits up in two years.

But no worries. What could go wrong?

Pied Pipering Roe v. Wade

Surprised by the Dems’ heedless cynicism and bankruptcy? Why? This is the same debauched and decadent party that refused to mobilize masses to oppose the Christian fascist Supreme Court’s well-telegraphed assault on abortion rights out of the cynical calculation that the reversal of Roe v. Wade would work to Democrats’ electoral advantage next November. The Dems and their allied “choice” organizations surrendered in advance to the coming of “the post-Roe era” (Planned Parenthood’s language months before Roe was reversed) – to the re-imposition of the de facto female enslavement that is forced motherhood – out of the wager that abortion blowback would help the not-so leftmost of the nation’s two reigning capitalist-imperialist parties do better in the fall elections. Women are already facing terrible, life-threatening situations as the Dems’ look forward to harvesting votes and campaign contributions from the terrible Dobbs v. Jackson ruling.

The Kansas Vote Does Not Justify the Surrender of Woman and Girls

Now of course the Dems are trumpeting the recent abortion rights referendum victory in Kansas as proof that their abortion surrender strategy will work in the fall. It is no such thing. The Kansas vote to keep the right to an abortion in the Kansas state constitution was a policy referendum in which voters spoke on a single issue. They voted in accord with longstanding majority opinion in support of retaining women’s constitutional right to control their own reproductive lives.

Great, but guess what? The nation’s mid-term and quadrennial presidential year elections aren’t single issue policy referendums. They aren’t policy referendums at all. They are partisan candidate-centered contests in which issues that matter to the masses are hopelessly muddled and pushed to the margins by big money, major party and mass media manipulation. Abortion rights will be one of numerous issues jumbled together, distorted, degraded, and sidetracked by the diseased workings of a badly bastardized electoral system and governance order far to the right of public opinion. (If US elections, were primarily or predominantly about issues and policy platforms, the Green Party and/or some other left party would be the nation’s dominant and reigning party/ies.)

At the same time, the Dems have hardly distinguished themselves on this issue when abortion was constitutionally protected (January 22, 1973 -June 24, 2022). They blew numerous chances to codify abortion rights as federal law. They refused to mobilize masses to defend Roe for a year after the Christian Fascist Court agreed to hear the key Mississippi challenge to Roe – this with the clear intent of reversing the landmark ruling. Since Roe fell, the Dem president Biden has despicably failed to properly declare the attack on abortion as a national public health emergency (a status just granted to Monkey-Pox) or to properly provide legal abortion services on federal lands and military bases across the land. So the notion that Democratic officeholders and candidates are great champions of abortion rights worthy of pro-abortion votes in the mid-terms is dubious to say the least.

A “Climate Suicide Pact” that Marks “a Major Victory for the Left”

This is who the dismal, degenerate, demobilizing, depressing, and dollar-drenched Dems are. This is their conniving, collusive, and complicit essence. This is their neoliberal nothingness. Beyond reckless and cynical, the Democrats’ mid-term Pied Piper on Steroids strategy is a sign of abject plutocratic political and policy bankruptcy – the absence of a substantive democratic program for the people and the common good. The Democrats expose their neoliberal nothingness when their electoral strategy is trying to make sure that the other major party is as horrific as possible.

And yes, I am aware that the barely Dem-majority Senate just narrowly passed a filibuster-free climate bill. Does it contradict my argument that the Democrats lack a positive program of the sort that could justly inspire masses to vote for them for any other reason beyond not being the horrific Republicans? Not really. Here are some interesting reflections on this legislation from a Jacobin writer who somehow manages to call it “a major victory for the Left”:

‘We…need to be honest about the IRA and what a modest, and in many ways deeply flawed, piece of legislation it is. It’s not just that it doesn’t seriously deal with transport, the single largest US source of emissions, or that it makes a variety of investments in dubious technological fixes. As environmental groups have variously said, it’s also a “climate suicide pact” and “a renewable energy revolution on top of a fossil fuel build-out.” They’re referring to the fact that the price of the bill — the price of getting Manchin and a host of other Democrats bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry on board — is a series of carbon bombs that will somehow have to be undone at a later date, the sooner the better. The bill revives the largest oil and gas lease sale in history that Biden had planned in the Gulf of Mexico before a judge blocked it on account of its climate impact and makes the expansion of solar and wind energy infrastructure on federal lands and waters contingent on also selling a total of hundreds of millions of acres of those same lands and waters for oil and gas leasing.’

‘Last, as part of Schumer and Manchin’s gentlemen’s agreement, the Democrats will soon slash permitting regulations, letting fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines and export facilities get built more quickly and easily, locking us into yet more carbon emissions. In other words, maybe the climate movement’s most high-profile campaign of the past decade has just been handed a decisive defeat inside of a piece of climate legislation, with the prospects for blocking new pipelines through legal means starkly weakened.’

‘…The more this bill gets talked up as a triumph on climate, the more the momentum for Biden and Congress to take necessary action recedes, as does the urgency of climate policy more generally. There’s a real concern that in playing up its modest achievements to a public that understandably isn’t as up to date on the nuts and bolts of this stuff — the bill doesn’t actually cut emissions by 40 percent as it’s been misleadingly sold as doing, for instance, because the current baseline scenario without the bill is already modeled to make two-thirds of those reductions — we’re lulling people into a false sense that the climate crisis is solved.’

‘We should be just as clear-eyed about the bill’s shortcomings on every other front, too. Arguably its most important nonclimate provision, Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices, only starts in 2026 and is limited to a mere ten drugs, climbing to twenty by 2029. Meanwhile, the irrelevant Senate parliamentarian struck out the bill’s limits on drug prices for private insurance, something Democrats could simply overrule, as has been done many times, but that they once more chose not to. Failing to do so created an opening for Republicans to strip a $35 insulin price cap for those on private insurance from the bill, meaning the nation’s diabetics who aren’t on Medicare or Medicaid will continue to fork over exorbitant amounts of money to keep themselves alive or not emphasis added).’

Still, the “socialist” journal named after bourgeois revolutionaries describes the bill as “a major victory for the [absurdly capitalized] Left” and then provides more than 516 pungent words on how it is no such thing. This takes incrementalism to a new level of crawling on one’s belly. Thinking two fundamentally opposed things at the same time is an excellent life skill in class societies, however, so perhaps the author should be applauded.

The international educator Christopher Cox feels no cognitively dissonant impulse to crawl. He writes me to say that Manchin-Schumer bill is “just another Corporate Dem suicide pact” that “will only serve to guarantee no meaningful [climate] action in the time-frame necessary.”

“There is No Lack of Evidence Against Trump”

And no, the recent FBI raid on Trump’s Mar a Lago compound does not prove that the Dems are shedding their Weimar skin. As Refuse Fascism notes, “There is no lack of evidence against Trump. The problem with Trump & Co. has never been finding the stuff. There is if anything a glut of evidence. That he still leads his movement despite all the evidence is part of why he is so effective and celebrated.”

The endless Trump trial tease is tiresome. The orange fascist reptile should have been locked up long ago. It’s at least two years since it launched a many-sided attempt to overthrow the United States’ surprisingly shaky electoral and rule of law (unmentionably bourgeois) “democracy” – an attack that would in January of 2021 include the conscious deployment of armed paramilitaries and presidentially approved threats to execute then Vice President Mike Pence. Well before the US House January 6th committee’s first hearing, it was abundantly clear that Trump had committed at least nine federal felonies in connection with his attempted theft/cancellation of the 2020 election: Willful destruction of government property (18 U.S.C. § 1361 and 18 U.S.C. § 2071); Conspiracy against rights (18 U.S.C. § 241); Depriving state residents of a fair and impartial election process (52 U.S.C. § 20511[2][B]); Conspiracy to defraud (18 U.S.C. § 371); Obstruction of an Official Proceeding (18 U.S.C. § 1512); Conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties (18 U.S.C. § 372); Seditious conspiracy (18 U.S.C.§ 2384); Coercion of political activity (18 U.S.C. § 610); Interference in Election by Employees of Federal or State Governments (18 U.S.C. § 595).

So, like…when does Donald “Take Down the Metal Detectors Because the Guys with the AR-15s Don’t Want to Hurt Me” Trump get prosecuted? More than 800 individuals have been federally charged in connection with the Capitol Riot, just not its main instigator, who turned from a nonstop Energizer Bunny of election subversion into a mostly quiet television viewer for three-plus hours while his mob attacked “the citadel of American democracy” – the US Capitol – on January 6th 2021! As Congresspersons and his Vice President fled and hid for their lives, he poured more fuel on the “Hang Mike Pence” fire with a provocative Tweet, refused to order a timely deployment of the National Guard, and called Republican Senators to convince them not to certify Biden’s clear Electoral College victory. No more excuses. Lock the orange bastard up until it expires and dump its remains in a Queens landfill.

Some concluding words to Refuse Fascism:

“Fascism can & is happening here & it can’t simply be voted away. Relying on official channels, on voting alone, on the Democrats to remedy this instead of taking to the streets in a sustained way has led to inaction & conciliation w fascism. Trump and his GOP are planning Coup 2.0. If we allow that to go down, they will be all out for revenge and the stakes for humanity will be exponentially higher…Right now, the corrupt ex-president of S. Korea is serving a 20-year sentence. In 2016 and 2017, it took 20 successive Saturday night rallies bringing 16 million into the streets to get her impeached. She was arrested shortly after being driven out of office…The question remains, what will the decent people do? Will the future be fascist, or will we act?”

It’s never been about absence of evidence with Trump, who was quite properly identified by Adam Gopnik and a few others as a wannabe fascist strongman early in the 2016 campaign. It’s been about the absence of proper acknowledgement of the menace, the “it can’t happen here” denialism, ridiculous reliance on the dollar Dems, and the lack of popular mobilization sufficient to compel the correct assignment of malevolent and malignant monsters to the lifelong cages they deserve.

Postscript: Woke Idiocy and Cancel Culture in Action

+1. In Iowa City and in other locales right now, running dog woketarians are functioning as de facto allies of woman-hating Christian Republi-fascists by absurdly telling abortion rights rally participants that it is anti-transgender and exclusionary to use words and phrases like “women,” “woman,” “girl,” “motherhood,” “forced motherhood,” and “female enslavement.” Beneath seemingly egalitarian “repro” calls for “inclusive language” lay a dark and reactionary dictum: “don’t say woman/women/girl/female/gender/patriarchy.”

It’s insane. These commonly Dem-backing fake “radical” moral and ideological quadrupeds moronically insist on females – half of humanity and half the working class – being deleted from protests against a policy that is fundamentally about the patriarchal oppression of women and girls. They have even attacked protesters (this largely on pretend anti-racist grounds) for wearing (totally appropriate) Handmaid costumes and for including coat-hangers (symbols of deadly back-alley abortions) in protest imagery. One of Iowa City’s “repros” has gone up to protesting women and demanded that they take down signs with such language and imagery. That is open cancel culture directed against progressive forces.

The “woke idiocy” and cancel culture of these hyper-identitarian, zero-sum buffoons alienates and shuts down untold masses of potential anti-abortion allies, needlessly divides the anti-abortion movement, and ironically assists the fascist assault on transgender folk. It’s all about trying to find little niches of survival and individuality within the monstrous US social order and “all the horrors it imposes on masses of people” instead of transforming that order through collective and revolutionary politics. And it is counter-productive even on narrow identity grounds: by helping the right win on a key part of the Christian fascist agenda (abortion rights) and casting a dark shadow on transgender activism, it ironically empowers future Christian fascist assaults on gay, lesbian, transgender, and non-binary people.

These deranged wokesters are shitting on their own transgender rights cause by empowering the viciously anti-transgender and anti-gay right wing. The Christo-fascists are not thinking about transgender people, who account for a tiny percentage of abortions, when they go after abortion rights. They are targeting women and girls. They also of course target gay and transgender people in horrific ways. Instead of wakey-wokey Oppression Olympics (as in “pregnant transgender Black people are more oppressed than pregnant white women!”), what is required is social and political solidarity in common opposition to the fascist offensive and its Dem enablers.

Reflecting on a number of women activists who have been suckered into playing along with this madness, a Rise Up 4 Abortion Right activist writes me to say this: “I am sickened by an oppressed ‘group’ (half of humanity) actively writing itself out of reality – why? To help a group that deems itself more oppressed. Oppression Olympics meets Helper Syndrome. Barbara Ehrenreich said something like that on Twitter & got piled on by woke women, I mean non-binary folk.” Sickening indeed.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).