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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Winter in America...

 


From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims

And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains

Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds

Looking for the rain

Looking for the rain

Just like the cities staggered on the coastline

Living in a nation that just can't stand much more

Like the forest buried beneath the highway

Never had a chance to grow

Never had a chance to grow

And now it's winter

Winter in America

Yes and all of the healers have been killed

Or sent away, yeah

But the people know, the people know

It's winter

Winter in America

And ain't nobody fighting

'Cause nobody knows what to save


Gil Scott-Heron (1974) Winter in America


When Gil Scott-Heron wrote these words, the US seemed to be in swift decline. Watergate had cast a shadow over government legitimacy; the US had lost/was losing the imperialist war in Vietnam; economic inflation, unemployment, and stagnation were crushing US living standards. For many in the post-war generation, the early 1970s were a low point in the prestige and influence of the US. 


Scott-Heron was masterful at blending politics with his art, without compromising either. It enabled him to force issues like apartheid, drugs, police violence, racism, and poverty into the listeners’ consciousness, while still entertaining. Many of his songs became anthems for progressive movements.


For many of us, Winter in America affirmed the terminal decline of the US: "It’s Winter in America, and ain’t nobody fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save." Hope was frozen, promise was frozen, and ideas were frozen with the onset of a metaphorical winter: a political, environmental, racial, and foreign policy crisis. 


Scott-Heron’s lyrics touched all the ills of 1974, noting that “all the heroes have been killed or sent away.” The “Constitution was a noble piece of paper…” that “...died in vain.” And “Democracy is ragtime on the corner.” He warns of “last ditch racists” and laments the “peace sign that vanished in our dreams.”


But we were wrong if we thought that the US had hit rock bottom.


Nineteen seventy-four was only the beginning of the long, painful decline. Average hourly wages today are barely higher than in 1974. The minimum wage continues to shrink in constant dollars. The obscene growth of inequality in income and wealth seems unstoppable. 


Constant and persistent aggressions-- proxy wars, invasions, occupations, and remote, video game-like massacres-- have become almost routine to the point that they tragically muster little domestic resistance. 


Racism remains a scourge on the US, though more and more along a class dimension. African American workers have taken an even bigger hit than their white counterparts; the growing poverty that afflicts the population, afflicts the Black population even more; and, consequently, the neglect, contempt, and official violence that always accompany impoverishment batter African Americans severely.


The competition for jobs in the US has shaped both a narrow, xenophobic response and a wage race to the bottom. The decline of unions, the legacy of anti-Communist purges in the labor movement, has further sharpened the competition for low-wage jobs.


The raging religion of market-fundamentalism has privatized or debased public wealth, commodified social services, and devastated public education. 


Where we thought Nixon shamefully broke the public trust, corruption, political dirty tricks, and lying are political commonplaces in the twenty-first century. 


What was winter in America in 1974 is now a veritable ice age.


And what is most tragic about the continuous decline in the US empire in influence, domestic peace, and mass well-being is the hollowness and ineffectiveness of the available political options.


US politics has devolved since the purges of the left in the 1950s and the failed liberalism in its wake, becoming a paper tiger incapable of confronting the multi-faced crises spawned by capitalism.


Twenty years into the twenty-first century, political partisans, devoid of new ideas, can only reflect back on earlier times, searching for a lost “golden era.” Today’s politics is largely politics in the rear-view mirror-- a politics of nostalgia. 


For the petty-bourgeoisie and the want-to-be petty bourgeoisie-- engorging on the table scraps of the ultra-rich-- the Obama presidency brought life at its fullest and greatest. Hipsters call a sector of this strata the PMC (the professional managerial class). The Obama trickle-up rescue of the economy in the 2007-2009 crisis cemented their loyalty to globalism and elite rule. They are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Witness their Black Lives Matter signs in their nearly all-white, segregated neighborhoods. They are for symbols and gestures, but not at the cost of redistribution of their incomes or sacrifices in their lifestyles. For them, Trump is the scourge blocking the return to Obama-like civil management of national affairs. They are the dominant force in Democratic Party politics.


The forthcoming destruction of thousands of small businesses will prove a hard lesson for many in the petty-bourgeoisie, sending them scurrying for solutions. Far too many will find succor in the bitter victimhood that has traditionally fed an ugly, twisted populism with roots going back as far as the Know Nothing Party of the nineteenth century.


A similar economic devastation drives many workers toward the bogus radicalism of right-wing populism, especially in the Midwestern states racked by capital’s abandonment of industry for investments in other sectors or other countries. Without a viable, substantial movement to direct their justified anger at capital, they find scapegoats elsewhere. 


Other sectors of the working class long for the celebrated era of “middle class” prosperity after the Second World War, what the French call “Les Trente Glorieuses.” This highly romanticized era saw wages and benefits marching in lockstep with strong productivity gains for US workers, allowing many working class families to buy homes and automobiles, to take vacations, and to envision college education and upward mobility for their children. Forgotten in this idyllic memory is the ugly oppression of Blacks and other minorities and women in this period. Forgotten is the suppression of the left, the vulgarity of culture, and the uniformity of thought. Forgotten is the bloody footprint of US foreign policy around the world.


The social contract of the postwar period came at an often-overlooked cost. Working class leaders agreed to purge left resistance to capitalism and uncritically support US imperialist foreign policy, becoming complicit in the crimes of global anti-Communism. When the moment proved opportune, the US ruling class betrayed its part of the bargain and slammed the door on working class gains.


Though memories of this lost era grow dimmer and dimmer, nostalgia for this interlude holds much of the trade union leadership wedded to the Democratic Party along with a core of organized labor’s increasingly skeptical members.


For most voters, constrained by the two-party system, a desire for an earlier, often fictionalized period inspires their politics. The Biden and Trump messaging underscores this insipid nostalgia: “Build Back Better” (Biden) and “Make America Great Again” (Trump). We can only build back or restore that which is lost. And people are confused over what and why they have lost.


This should be a moment for the left. 


But sadly, most of the left is adrift in a sea of old and failed ideas. Some imagine the noble selflessness of the local food or art coop as a cooperative model for competing with multinational corporations and bringing capitalism to its knees. Do we recall the other “anti-capitalist” fads foisted on us by academic leftists? ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans)? Micro-financing? 


All of these strategies share a profound pessimism that capital cannot be directly confronted and defeated. Instead, they propose to outfox capital by nipping away at its margins. Despite the fact that similar utopian measures have failed over centuries, influential leftists continually resurrect them.  


The notion that the perfection of capitalist-style democracy can effectively challenge the inequalities and injustices of capital pervades the US left. Since the suppression of the Communist left in the Cold War, the self-described “New Left” has invested heavily in “democratizing” the structures and institutions currently serving capitalism. Whether or not this project makes any sense, it certainly hasn’t succeeded, despite the fact that the New New Left has embraced it. Every ineffective response to the growing crises of capitalism seems to confirm that the socio-economic-political system accompanying capital is its handmaiden and is not and cannot serve as an effective tool against its inequities.


There was a reason that US capital suppressed and continues to suppress Communist and socialist-oriented workers’ movements. It is not nostalgia to recognize that the ideology and strategies devised by Marx, Engels, and Lenin have in the past rocked the very foundations of the capitalist system, sending capitalists and their lackeys into a frenzy of violent resistance. Surely there is a lesson in that fact.


The cold wave of uncertainty, fear, and despair that is now sweeping the US will not abate unless we fight for a new future. The tools are there.


Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com



Monday, October 5, 2020

And They Call this Democracy?

The idea of the US as a citadel of democracy is based on an enduring myth. The frequent references, even on the left, to “saving our democracy” or “protecting our democracy” from Trump, the Russians, the Chinese, Islam, or any other forces lurking in the cabinet of popular demonology, is sheer nonsense. There is little to save or protect, and the threat resides elsewhere.


The idea of invading, occupying, or undermining the governments of other countries to promote “our” democracy is, therefore, equally nonsense.


Certainly there are many ready to vigorously contest these claims. How can a country that has the longest unbroken history of regular elections not be democratic? What could be more democratic?


But consider the following nationally relevant policies that opinion polls consistently show represent the wishes of over 60%-- at least 6 out of ten-- of US citizens:

  • A public national health care program modelled after Medicare (single payer)

  • A $15/hour minimum wage

  • An answer to racism, especially police violence (police violence is a problem 89%/racism is a serious problem 72%)

  • Free college education

  • An answer to income inequality

  • Some measure of gun control 

  • Corporations and the rich should pay more in taxes

  • Not privatizing the Postal Service;  establishing postal banking

  • Stronger antitrust laws that could break up the largest companies

  • Support for labor unions and organizing

  • Environmental action

  • Covid safety over economic activity


Yet, they are all unrealized and out-of-reach.


Beyond these specific policy positions and public stances, opinion polls show a strong general preference for the public good over the interests of corporations and other private interests. In essence, the majority of US citizens are wedded to policies that coincide, whether consciously or not, with the policies associated most closely with the Scandinavian social democracies. 


This profile of majority “progressivism” is even more striking in light of the rare and thin support, the often hostile reaction to these ideas in the mainstream media. The major news and entertainment corporations paint and support a different, more conservative set of policies. Nonetheless, a robust progressive agenda remains popular.


At the same time, barely 1 in 5 US citizens express trust in government most or all of the time. Not surprisingly, in light of the apparent broad support for egalitarianism, the high point in trust over the last sixty years coincided with President Johnson’s Great Society reforms that purported to eliminate poverty and lessen the social and racial inequalities of US society. At that time, nearly 8 out of 10 US citizens said they “trust the government in Washington most or all of the time” (Pew Research Center).


These same polls show that most people want the US government to play an active role in ameliorating social problems and guaranteeing a better life, while, paradoxically, showing little confidence in their elected representatives.


Despite the fact that urgent, central policies advocated by a solid majority of the people are never realized or even seriously debated, despite the fact that the channels of information so vitally important for democratic decision-making are corrupted and in ill-repute, despite the fact that the institutions established to deliver democracy are mistrusted, our rulers and their trusted servants expect us to believe that the US is a thriving democracy.


At the same time, they throw up every roadblock to dampen voter participation and effectiveness: workweek elections, registration hurdles, qualification challenges, gerrymandering, etc.


 If democracy is a political system or political process that serves the will of the people, then the US system is demonstrably undemocratic. It may appear to be a shiny instrument, but it produces extremely poor results for the people.


Apart from the ineffectiveness of the electoral system, the US Constitution and its subsequent amendments are said to guarantee certain democratic rights. In effect since 1789, the original constitution established the rules of the political game in a way unprecedented by any other historical document to that time. It advanced popular democratic procedures unlike any enacted before it. The Bill of Rights, ratified two years later, strengthened US democracy even further (with the fatal caveat that millions of US citizens-- women, slaves, indigenous people were denied these rights). 


 As a result of a bloody civil war, a tenacious women’s movement, and a bitter, violent civil rights struggle, the original democratic achievements have been strengthened further. Yet the enemies of democracy-- the economic royalists, as FDR so aptly called them, and the bigots-- have unrelentingly chipped away at those rights, employing a larger and more damaging hammer until the present. Today, little is left to celebrate.


The rights to be free of religious tyranny and to speak freely without fear have been undermined by religious zealotry and police-state vigilance. The right to a free press has been trivialized by the corporate domination and monopolization of the media.


The right to privacy and discretion is erased by a totalizing security state that hears and reads every out-of-step opinion of its citizens. The technical means and resources of the US security agencies put every previous charge of “totalitarianism” to shame. 


The formal judicial guarantees of the Bill of Rights are stripped of force by the commercialization and marketization of justice. The rich buy the best lawyers, while the rest of us secure representation commensurate with our wallets. Moreover, the laws are written, enforcement geared, and the punishments devised to crush the poor and shield the rich. With only 24% of those polled showing “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of confidence in the criminal justice system (Gallup), it hardly stands as a pillar of democracy.


In the midst of an election that vets its candidates through a costly primary process only available to the rich and famous, an election that ultimately rides on candidates collecting billions of dollars, an election that allows only two narrow paths (two parties) to snatching the golden ring, talk of democracy seems cynically misplaced.


It may well be true that what remains of “our” democracy may be at stake, but it bears reminding that what remains is far removed from what people deserve. The battle for democracy is really only in its infancy in the United States and it must be launched against a long tradition of anti-democracy waged against popular forces. 


The erosion of democracy emanates from the power of wealth. Democratic procedures have been hijacked by wealth. 


And the power of wealth emanates from inequality. 


Further, inequality emanates from an exploitative system. 


Therefore, democracy only grows where the exploitative system is corralled or eliminated. 


This simple, but logical truth escapes the many celebrants of our tissue of democracy, long on procedures, but short on results.


In the end, the will of the people is the ultimate measuring stick of democracy. The US falls far short.


Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com


Thursday, September 24, 2020

October Surprise: Market Apocalypse?


Volatility!


That’s the word that Wall Street uses when investors are getting nervous. And Wall Street and the financial pundits should and are getting nervous now.


The major US equity markets-- the Dow Jones, S&P, and NASDAQ-- have enjoyed a strong, and, to many, a paradoxical recovery since the pandemic shuttered much of the productive economy. While unemployment has soared and is only slowly reversing, while growth has collapsed, and while earnings are challenged, stock markets are marching forward, restoring nearly all of their previous losses by the end of August.


To many of us, it is not unusual to see stock performance far outpace the general economic welfare of the people. That is a commonplace of the capitalist economy.


Nor is it unusual for investors to expect that the stock market will outperform the economy in general. After all, that was the point of Piketty’s celebrated, thorough historical study of capital which showed that, all things being equal, the rate of return on investment will grow faster than the rate of economic growth. As a result, capitalism necessarily generates what we Marxists insist is exploitation.


But equity markets are not free floating, independent systems; they must intersect at some point or some time with the real economy. Stock performance must reflect the underlying ability of its associated corporation or enterprise to produce something of worth to the investor: profit. 


So if stock values in the five or six months of the 2020 pandemic seem dissociated from the economy, what is going on?


The Wall Street Journal offers a useful, if incomplete, explanation of the anomaly. How Stocks Defied The Pandemic (September 15, 2020) suggests five factors: 1. Stimulus from the Fed and Congress, 2. Expectations of a strong recovery, 3. The dominance of the tech giants, 4. The return of individual investors, and 5. Momentum trading.


Certainly the Federal Reserve and the two parties’ elected officials acted swiftly in the wake of the pandemic shut-down. Absorbing the lessons of the 2007-2009 crisis, they cranked out trillions of dollars’ worth of stimulus, they sanctioned easy loans, and they collapsed interest rates swiftly. 


But it is telling that equity markets appear to have been bolstered more significantly than other aspects of the economy, including those aspects protecting or promoting the fate of those most vulnerable to the catastrophe. In short, the investor class seemed to reap the greater benefit of their actions.


Though maybe unintended, the bailout encouraged hungry investors to devour stock market opportunities, with bond yields decimated and other interest-generating instruments foreclosed by the Federal Reserve’s actions. Capitalists must land their capital somewhere in order to preserve the accumulation process-- the system’s blood flow; the impact of institutional intervention by the Fed left them few promising alternatives outside of the equity markets. And that is where they put their money.


As for “expectations” of a quick recovery, any notion that such expectations could be built on anything more solid than hope and faith must be discarded. This singular event-- a crisis of public health, economics, politics, and racial conflict-- generated profound fear more than expectations.


The WSJ correctly located the outsized influence of Tech stocks-- principally, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), and Facebook-- in the stock boom. Without the investment flowing into tech stocks, mainly the big five, there would be no notable market rally. Apple, alone, has gained 57% in 2020 and now has a valuation greater than the FTSE 100, an index of the top companies on the London Stock Exchange. At the same time, the frenzy for tech stocks frightens pundits and advisors. Apart from Amazon, tech stocks play in a virtual universe that challenges real-world valuation. Moreover, they have been notoriously volatile. And the gains have been concentrated in the Big Five, with other companies far less successful. 


Past stock market collapses have been preceded by a dramatic increase in individual investors bent on taking advantage of an overheated market. The return of the “rubes” has always been a signature benchmark of an impending decline. From the casual dabbler before the Great Depression to the day trader and dilettante of today, the engagement of “amateurs” is always a harbinger of market disaster. 


Some would be surprised to learn that in the modern era, individual investors-- day traders and the like-- only account for roughly one in ten trades. The rest are made up by institutional investors, funds, etc. But, in 2020, the number of trades by individual investors has doubled, accounting for about 20% of equity market action. 


With social media tipsters and discussion boards, the born-again investors have accounted for many stock valuations that puzzle and concern wiser investors. Tesla, for example, has gained 438% this year, establishing the maverick car company as the highest valued auto company in the world and the eighth largest corporation in the US by market value.


Fed by social media gossip, investors jacked up share prices of Eastman Kodak by as much as 614% before losing most of the gains! This kind of euphoria-driven investment has mature investors and advisors shaking in their boots.


Creating momentum through bets on overheated valuations only generates greater momentum. Easy money and the fear of missing a surge amplifies the momentum. Add the attraction of derivatives and the likelihood of a market bubble increases dramatically. 


Stock options-- the purchase of a contract to buy a stock at a price fixed before the actual purchase of the stock-- have exploded in 2020. They are attractive to investors who want to risk their capital on a bet of future gains and increase the potential return on the bet by spreading the capital over more, less costly options. Goldman Sachs reports that the volume of option trades exceeded the volume of stock trades for the first time this year. Three years ago, option-trading volume was only 40% of stock volume. In August, option trading topped 120% of stock trading. Small investors bought half of a trillion dollars’ worth of options in August alone, five times the amount bought in any previous month, as reported in the WSJ.


Much of this market craze is occurring against a backdrop of over three weeks of net decline in the US stock market indexes. Moreover, the employment recovery is stagnating, with new unemployment claims remaining at an historic high, and the pace of retail-spending growth slowing. Earnings-- the crucial factor in capitalist behavior-- is expected by some to fall by as much as 22% in the third quarter. 


Conditions are ripening for another market crisis not unlike that brought on by the 2000-2001 dot.com collapse. Billions, if not trillions, of nominal value stand to disappear.


Likely such an October Surprise would be fatal to Donald Trump’s reelection prospects, since most polls show that respondents see the economy is his greatest strength against Biden.


But whether Biden or Trump wins, the depth of the emerging crisis will make it almost impossible for either to rule effectively. Neither offers a way out. Only a profound, radical political realignment will blaze a path forward.


Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com



Monday, September 7, 2020

Treading in Deep Water

With less than two months remaining before the US elections, expectations are growing. Even the most indifferent citizen senses that the US (and much of the world) is faced with a host of seemingly intractable crises, unprecedented in scope. These crises-- epidemiological, social, political, and economic-- have intensified and brought greater divisions, heightened tensions among the people. Fear and confusion reign when people sense a loss of direction and an absence of clarity. Since little bold, far-sighted, and imaginative leadership is emerging prominently, people predictably put their fate in the hands of the two political parties that are vying for power in November.


There is little reason to believe that either party offers much beyond the feeble, inadequate answers that have already surfaced. Moreover, the mounting pressures of the two-party horse race have placed electoral victory ahead of any meaningful, deeper public discussion of the unfolding catastrophe. The two presidential campaigns spar while health, welfare, and economic prospects fall.


For his part, Trump trades on both the basest fears and hatreds and the frustrations of those largely taken for granted for years by the Democrats. He hopes to win the disgruntled economic “losers” from the devastating corporate deindustrialization that plagued and still plagues the Midwest. While racism and nativism are important factors in the voting of this constituency, inequality, neglect, and powerlessness play a decisive role. 


One example shows this well: Kenosha County, Wisconsin, focal point over the past weeks of outrage over a police lynching and vigilante murders and the former home to now-lost manufacturing jobs, supported the Democrats until 2016, giving large majorities to Obama/Biden in 2008 and 2012. But the county gave Trump a slight majority in 2016. 


The example of solidly Democratic constituencies supporting Obama in two elections, but turning in desperation to Trump in 2016, is repeated frequently in the Midwest, where a treasure trove of key electoral college votes lie. The convenient explanations offered by Democratic elites of viral racism and know-nothing ignorance is not sustainable. Better to look at desperate self-interest.


With his previous promises of reindustrialization and the restoration of industrial jobs unfulfilled, Trump is now resorting to race-baiting and crime-hysteria. Polls show that the media’s sensationalism over urban uprisings has given Trump a slight lead over Biden on how he would handle crime, an issue that he is pressing aggressively and recklessly.


Large sectors of the capitalist ruling class have made pragmatic peace with Trump, enjoying his tax regimen, a charging stock market, and the fruits of his nationalist extortion of global imperialist rivals. Unlike in 2016 when all but a few wealthy donors dared back Trump, his campaign coffers are filling more rapidly. In July, Trump raised $72 million to Biden’s $63.5 million, an obscene amount in both cases. By comparison, in July of 2016, Clinton outraised Trump by over 42%. (Early results for August show Biden-- Trump’s numbers are yet to be reported-- raising $364.5 million, a monthly election record. And people still believe our pay-to-play politics is a democracy.)


Trump’s team has substituted a screeching negative message warning of an assured disaster under Biden in place of the 2016 positive, but vacuous and unintentionally revealing “Make America Great Again.” In 2016, “...Again” said it all to those who gave it a thought: the empire was in decline, the US was losing its way, no longer the anointed City on the Hill. In that election, Trump was trading on mass dissatisfaction, the ridiculous notion that Trump would put the US back on the rails of destiny.


Today, facing a formerly unimaginable disaster, Trump’s message has turned negative: Biden will make everything far worse. 


This is where the evolution of US politics has taken us. 


And the Democrats are today counting on their own unspoken version of Trump’s simple message “Make America Great Again.” A vote for Biden will restore the era of the beloved Barack Obama, a time-- we are told-- of social justice and prosperity. The election results of 2016 and the Sanders phenomenon should have taught the Democratic Party elite that the Obama era was not perceived by everyone in just that way.


In any case, Obama-nostalgia cannot put that metaphorical toothpaste back into the tube, and that tube would be impotent in the face of the catastrophe ahead.


The Democrats are running on the idea that everyone sees that the Trump postures conjure the image of a home-grown Mussolini. That is, Biden is making the election a vote against Trump’s buffoonery and not an election for anything substantial. The Democrats have long cast away their last ideological pillar, the remnants of the Rooseveltian New Deal. In its stead, the party opportunistically cobbles together real, immediately felt grievances against coalition constituents with the promise of costless, painless remedies. The Democratic Party has become the party of shallow identity empathy.


Ideologically, the Democratic Party is so bankrupt that it featured Republican speakers at its recent convention. The party warmly welcomed former Ohio governor John Kasich, a Neanderthal who opposes virtually every traditional Democratic social, labor, and economic position: abortion rights, marijuana legalization, abolishing the death penalty, collective bargaining, public schools, etc


The late Senator John McCain’s wife was similarly feted. A former rodeo queen, Cindy McCain is purportedly the richest woman in Arizona. Apart from hating Trump, her most notable policy position was denouncing Bush for not sending more troops to Iraq.


And of course Colin Powell, who also spoke, was one of Bush’s great prevaricators on weapons of mass destruction. Former NJ governor Christine Todd Whitman, former H-P CEO Meg Whitman, and former Congresswoman Susan Molinaro were other prominent Republicans featured. 


The welcome, active support of the self-styled Lincoln Project-- a gaggle of prominent Bushite Republicans-- captures the flavor of the Biden campaign.


In addition, a group of 300 ex-Bush officials have formed a PAC in support of Biden. And much of Bush’s foreign policy apparatus and Obama’s foreign policy interventionists are offering their support and “expertise” to continue the USA’s active, and often violent, meddling in the affairs of every other nation. As they are absorbed into any Biden administration, they promise an even more reactionary, more dangerous foreign policy than Trump’s sometimes-isolationism. 


By contrast, the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, the ascendant social democrats, were largely shunted by the party’s convention managers. After such a sharp, insulting rebuke to the party’s left, it is a wonder that they didn’t demonstrate their disapproval or disavowal of the virtual spectacle. Spineless or soaked in Trump-hatred?


With the race tightening, the Democratic operatives are pressuring Biden to begin the ritualistic Democratic Party retreat to the right (believed to bring the center voters into the tent) that cost former candidates like Dukakis and Mondale their late leads in the poll. Biden has qualified his support for the popular and persistent anti-racist actions and backed away from his pledge to ban fracking. Undoubtedly, he will move farther to the right as the election grows closer.


Since the post-Civil Rights movement loss of the South to the Republicans, the Democrats have relied more and more upon the white, suburban vote. This demographic swung sharply to Carter in 1976 out of disgust with Nixon’s dishonesty and vulgarity exposed by Watergate.


Since that time, the Democrats have courted this vote intensely, one explanation for the extreme timidity of their program. 


Once again in 2020, Party elites are renewing that courtship. Trump hopes to deny the Democrats that vote by brazen appeals to racial safety and fear of all things urban.


One healthy development appearing on the political scene was the recent People’s Convention for a new People’s Party, a fresh attempt to build a new party around dissatisfied progressives alienated from or disgusted by the Democrats. According to RT, the virtual convention drew over 400,000 virtual participants. One speaker, Chris Hedges, astutely summarized what a vote for Biden means:


[B]y voting for Biden you do vote for something.  You vote for the humiliation of courageous women such as Anita Hill who confronted their abusers. You vote for the architects of the endless wars in the Middle East. You vote for the apartheid state in Israel. You vote for wholesale surveillance of the public by government intelligence agencies and the abolition of due process and habeas corpus. You vote for austerity programs, including the destruction of welfare and cuts to Social Security. You vote for NAFTA, free trade deals, de-industrialization, a decline in wages, the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and the offshoring of jobs to underpaid workers who toil in sweatshops in Mexico, China or Vietnam. You vote for the assault on public education and the transfer of federal funds to for-profit and Christian charter schools. You vote for the doubling of our prison population, the tripling and quadrupling of sentences and huge expansion of crimes meriting the death penalty. You vote for militarized police who gun down poor people of color with impunity.  You vote against the Green New Deal and immigration reform. You vote for limiting a woman’s right to abortion and reproductive rights. You vote for a segregated public-school system in which the wealthy receive educational opportunities and the poor are denied a chance. You vote for punitive levels of student debt and the inability to free yourself of debt obligations through bankruptcy. You vote for deregulating the banking industry and the abolition of Glass-Steagall. You vote for the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical corporations and against universal health care. You vote for bloated defense budgets. You vote for the use of unlimited oligarchic and corporate money to buy our elections. You vote for a politician who during his time in the Senate abjectly served the interests of MBNA, the largest independent credit card company headquartered in Delaware, which also employed Biden’s son Hunter.


I can only answer with one good reason for voting for Biden: should he win, Democrats will not be able to continually blame all of our sorry politics and capitalism’s contradictions on Trump. And the experience of a Biden government might well hasten the defection from a moribund Democratic Party.


Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com