JOE BIDEN AND ME

11 08 2019

in his own write….

I have a confession to make. While I’ve been a very faithful Green Party supporter for nearly twenty years, if by some fluke Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee, I would almost certainly vote for him, just in an effort to widen the scope of permissible political discourse in this country. But it looks like it’s not going to be Bernie, but Joe Biden. Sorry, Joe, the answer’s no.

“What? Not even to get Trump out of office? How could you?”

Why won’t I, under any circumstances, support Joe Biden as a Presidential candidate?  Because he has championed numerous laws and policies that have had a direct negative effect on me, my family, and my friends. Let me count the ways:

Biden supported the drug war and mandatory minimum sentencing that entrapped, imprisoned, and impoverished several of my best friends–not to mention my oldest son–for victimless crimes involving substances that are now recognized as harmless, valuable sources of healing, and are, in many cases, completely legal. And then there’s the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, also his baby. I’m grateful nobody in my family has gotten mixed up with cocaine, and I don’t know that I know anybody who was directly affected by this law, which amounted to legislated discrimination against lower-class African-Americans, but just because I don’t know any of Joe’s victims for this one doesn’t mean I’m giving him a pass on it.

Biden was one of the leaders of the drive to switch from grants to loans for students, admitting that he was doing this to enrich the banking industry, ensnaring a huge number of young people in this country (including another of my children and my son-in-law)) in debt peonage that hobbles every aspect of their lives, from their ability to buy homes and start families to their ability to embark on projects that are exciting and creative, but not necessarily remunerative, like working for social change. Joe Biden made sure that student debt, unlike any other debt, cannot be erased by bankruptcy. That, and the high level of debt a young person must take on to get a college degree, are what I mean by debt peonage.  Yeah, I think that the unspoken motive behind what Joe did was the establishment’s desire to choke off the counterculture. In fact, he even spoke it.  Here are Biden’s exact words:

“We’ve got to make education a profit center for the banks. Our purpose is not to educate the population, it’s to create a situation where in order to get a job, in order to get a union card, they have to go into a lifetime of debt to the banks that cannot be wiped out by bankruptcy.”

Biden has consistently supported America’s domineering foreign policies. One such that hits home for me is our country’s policy of supporting oligarchic, genocidal dictators in South  and Central America. In the early 80’s, I had the pleasure of getting to know a number of indigenous Guatemalans, who were working with friends of mine here in the states, learning a variety of simple skills to take home and improve life in the Guatemalan highlands. Most of them went back to Guatemala and quickly “disappeared”–murdered by the US/Biden-supported military, who considered any Guatemalan Indian with eyeglasses a “Communist,”  and a threat. While I have to admit that Biden actually did oppose arming the Contras, that seems to have been a rare exception to his general acquiescence to US imperialism and its consequent repression of native people. My friends’ blood is on your hands, Joe.

Similarly, he opposed the first Gulf War, but supported the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, which destroyed a relatively prosperous and stable country so the US could seize its oil assets. Being a member of the US government who supported that war is a war crime, and the criminal war spawned thousands of lesser war crimes. More innocent blood on Joe’s hands.

If that’s too high falutin’ for you, consider the cost and consequences of  Biden’s support for US aggression against not only Iraq but Libya and Syria. When Qaddafi was murdered in Libya, Biden boasted that it had  been “a job well done…In this case, America spent $2 billion total and didn’t lose a single life.”  Wrong, wrong, wrong. The financial cost to the US, not to mention North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, has  been almost incalculably high. It’s going to cost the US nearly six trillion dollars, and how can we calculate the cost of the destruction of stable, relatively comfortable societies in all those countries, the cost to Europe of adjusting to the huge influx of refugees sparked by our country’s Biden-supported aggressions, the cost of having European countries that were liberal democracies turn into intolerant right-wing police states in response to being overwhelmed with a refugee flow they had little or nothing to do with creating?

Thanks  to Joe’s failure to push for universal health care back in the Clinton years, I had an uninsured, $40,000 heart attack and stroke in 2008.  When the possibility of universal health care coverage came around again in the early Obama years, Joe Biden, “the Senator from the insurance industry,” was one of those who made sure that they would keep their healthy profits and that average Americans would continue to suffer. Thanks, Joe, for making sure we don’t have the basic access to health care that the citizens of every other wealthy, industrialized nation on earth enjoy. Corporate persons are so much more equal than us non-corporate persons, aren’t they?

One of Joe’s greatest sins, as far as I can tell, has not directly affected anyone I know, except that it’s affected everyone: Biden gave short shrift to Anita Hill and moved to send ClarenceThomas’ nomination to the Senate for a vote. Although Biden voted against Thomas, his nomination to the Supreme Court passed, and thus Thomas was a crucial vote nine years later, when Bush v. Gore was decided by a single Supreme Court vote. The Thomas nomination took place in late 1991. The Democrats could have rejected Thomas’ nomination, McConnelled President Bush’s choice of a successor, and given Bill and Al a Supreme Court seat to fill when they won the 1992 election. But nooo……so hey, Ralph Nader’s not the one to blame for the Cheney-Bush victory. It’s ……Joe Biden.

I think you could do a kind of political “Where’s Waldo?” called “Where’s Joe Biden?” and find him somewhere in the history of nearly every poor policy decision and piece of bad legislation in the last forty years.

Besides setting up our health care system so that it cost me $40K in hospital bills, what has Joe Biden done for me? Well, he helped repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which led directly to the crash of 2008, which, along with the expense of that uninsured heart attack and stroke (I couldn’t aford private insurance), has certainly hobbled my retirement. I’m lucky—what Joe Biden did totally destroyed the finances of millions of foreclosed home owners and older people dependent on their stock market investments for retirement income. Then Biden became Obama’s Vice-Presidential running mate, and the two were swept into office on their promise of “Hope and Change.” When the common people who voted for them realized that they had been played, and the only folks Obama and Biden were going to bail out were their buddies the bankers, a whole lot of Obama voters turned around in 2016 and voted for Trump, or just stayed home. Do the Democrats really think voters have such short memories that they will have forgotten this? Apparently.

So, Joe Biden already bears a lot of responsibility for getting Trump elected, not to mention the Cheney-Bush Supreme Court coup. Do we really want to see if he can work that magic again? Can we afford to?

With Democrats like Joe Biden, who needs Republicans?

To sum up, he helped impoverish me, and millions more besides me. Biden’s policies have imprisoned, enslaved (well, debt-enslaved), and outright killed my family members and friends. What kind of whipped dog would I have to be to vote for him after all that?

And if I did vote for him, would I receive a complimentary “I LOVE BIG BROTHER” t-shirt?

It seems inevitable that Uncle Joe, or someone like him, a thoroughly corporate-friendly politician, will be the Democratic nominee. When it became clear that Bernie Sanders was dead serious about running again, and a whole lot of people were, and still are, dead serious about supporting him, the first thing the DNC did was send in the flying monkeys–a horde of small-potatoes candidates with no chance of actually winning the nomination, all sounding various themes from Bernie’s playbook, although never the theme of reining in corporate power that is his central message. Then the DNC sent in Uncle Joe, somebody corporate media could conduct rigged polls about, to show him as the leading candidate instead of Bernie, and somebody that all the “superdelegates” could coronate on the second ballot, in case the Sanders crew overcame all odds and keeps Biden from first-ballot nomination. The DNC may change their minds about Joe, who seems to have a hard time keeping his foot out of his mouth and his hands off the ladies, and nominate Kamala Harris instead. She’s like Hillary and Obama rolled into one, the DNC’s  ideal corporate candidate.

And that compromised, corporate candidate will go down to defeat, and the Democrats will blame us Greens, or the Russians, or Republican efforts to limit the franchise. They will never look at the reasons why, in the 2016 election, over 40% of potential voters stayed home, or why that number swelled to 50% in 2018. The Democrats will never want to admit that asking the corporatocracy to please give a few more crumbs to women and minorities and maybe clean up after itself a little better just doesn’t inspire anybody outside the Democrats’ true believer base of about 28% of American voters–yes, only 28% of potential voters consistently vote Democratic, a slightly smaller percentage consistently vote Republican, and 40-50% of the country stays home.

“So,” you say, “This 40-50% of the public that doesn’t vote–that’s enough to take over the country if they were motivated and mobilized–where’s the dang Green Party?”

Well, we’re doing our best, but we have to work with a system that was designed to exclude us.

There’s the hurdle of ballot access. Conducting elections is a partisan endeavor in this country, but the Democrats and Republicans have co-operated to make it difficult for other parties to get on the ballot.

Once a party is on the ballot, the stakes for being taken seriously by the media are high. If you haven’t raised the kind of money that, Bernie Sanders aside, you can only access through corporate sponsorship, you don’t rate recognition. As just one example, it costs $12,000 for a candidate to put a short statement about hir platform on the mailer the state of California sends to all voters. Is that a clear sign that we’re governed by an oligarchy, or what?

The absence of ranked-choice voting creates “the spoiler effect,” in which voters have to worry that, if they vote for a radical Green instead of a corporate Democrat, they will end up with a corporate Republican winning the election. I often say that there’s no real difference between Democrats and Republicans, but OK, yeah, there are some. While Democrats are corporate whores, Republicans are corporate pimps. Enough of that metaphor for now.

Next hurdle beyond the lack of ranked-choice voting is the lack of proportional representation, a common political arrangement in which a political party that gets a certain percentage of the overall vote, even if it doesn’t succeed in electing any candidates to geographically-based districts, is allotted parliamentary representatives in proportion to the percentage of the national vote it receives–say, one representative for every 3% of the vote. That allows the party to participate in national decision-making, show the public “its stuff,” and grow. if people like what they see. It also allows the party’s representatives to “learn the ropes” of functioning in the government, priming them for the possibility of future success.

While the American political process is not as restrictive as the Soviet Union’s was, it comes close. There, you could only vote for one communist party. Here, you have your choice of two capitalist parties. In neither country do, or in the case of the late USSR, did, you get to choose another operating system. In Russia, it was not really communism as described by Karl Marx so much as it was state capitalism, in which the state held power over the workers. In America, it’s not the nation of freeholders envisioned by Jefferson, but monopolistic corporate capitalism.

The Russian system had many strengths–free housing, free medical care and education, the guarantee of a paying job–but failed to inspire its people to continue supporting it, failed to make radical systemic change possible, and then simply failed, catastrophically. The American system offers none of the benefits of the Soviet system, but simply relies on the relentless message that There Is No Alternative, and our electoral system reinforces that. In spite of the fact that it is haemorrhaging popular support, it continues to make systemic change impossible. We, like the Soviet Union, are heading for a collapse. Unlike The Soviet Union, this country is awash in arms, ammunition, and frustrated people, and our collapse is likely to be far more of a bloodbath than Russia’s, in which most of the casualties came from people simply drinking themselves to death. Moreover, The USSR collapsed at a time when the climate and the world economy were far more stable, and when few were giving a thought to the possibility of imminent resource depletion. Collapsing in the near future, we in the US will be dealing with all of those. If I were a younger person, I’d see it as a spectacular challenge. As an older one, I’m glad I’m likely to be out of here before things get really wild.

So, in the teeth of this oncoming hurricane, we brave, foolish few in the Green Party will be nominating a symbolic Presidential candidate, struggling to remain on, or get on, the ballot in 50 states, struggling to find credible candidates for national, state, and local office, a struggle made more difficult by two things: the likely short-term futility of the effort involved in being a candidate, and the fact that the most obvious qualification for higher office is having been a successful holder of lower office. While we Greens have won quite a few “lower-offices”–city and county positions–not every minor league player wants to undertake the expensive struggle it takes to make it into the big leagues, so a lot of our “minor league” Greens find some more immediately effective–and remunerative–way to work on social change than running for office.

Even if, by some incredible fluke or voter uprising, our Presidential candidate and a suite of Green Senators and Representatives took office, the national security state apparatus would work against us from the getgo, just as they worked to neutralize the much lesser threat they saw in Mr. Trump’s proposals to normalize relations with Russia. Normalizing relations with Russia is just the beginning of our list.

Like Lot in Sodom, we would like to save the city. But can we find enough honest people in time to stop “the fire this time”? Perhaps. We’re in an extraordinarily complex system. We never know how our efforts will dovetail with others’, nor can we know the results of our efforts beforehand. All we can say for sure is, if we don’t keep trying, we will certainly not succeed.


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