Low expectations in context
You may have caught Liza Featherstone's piece, "If Joe Biden Moves Left, You Can Thank The Left," in Jacobin dated three days ago.
The content of this piece is a lot better than the title, which screams "I am a nice liberal with a big ego." If you read through the article you can see that some of the advice is good! Here's the conclusion as an example:
To give up on pressuring this administration would be a mistake; we need to demand that Biden keep his promises, while also explaining why our world needs more than good liberalism. We also need to guard against the greatest danger of good liberalism: if history is any guide, a Biden foreign policy could be viciously anti-socialist and murderously interventionist.
Above all, we need to build socialist, left, and worker power from the ground up, focusing on local and state government and on our workplaces. That’s the only way we can ensure that future generations will be able to expect better than Joe Biden, liberal edition. We cannot allow this complicated and chaotic moment to go to waste.
See? Good content. Also we might consider applauding the Biden administration for having a pandemic policy that is better than the Trump pandemic policy, which more or less made Trump into the principal accomplice to very-large-scale negligent homicide. And maybe Biden will have a few policies which don't have "crime family" stamped all over them! Yay! (Democrats in Congress can shove it for being complicit in last year's garbage, for all I care.)
Meanwhile on Daily Kos they've applauded Joe Biden's good deeds by saying that "An unapologetic Biden is finally saying goodbye to the centrism that has hobbled Democrats for decades." Whaddaya think, gang? Are all of the neoliberal social climbers in Biden's cabinet moving left, too? After all those anti-Sanders Tweets of hers, is Neera Tanden finally going to make peace with Bernie Sanders? The same people who have been telling us for the past thirty years that a Virgin Birth of a New Major Party was impossible are now claiming some sort of spontaneous Virgin Birth of the Left evidenced by behaviors within the White House.
Let's take a look at what led us to such low expectations, then. The primary cause has got to be America's sacred "two-party system." Every time we sit there and invoke said system as a justification for voting for "lesser-evil" candidates, the Left gets weaker, and this has been going on for forty years, since the beginning of the neoliberal era. We are now at the point of applauding a very tiny and disorganized Left for Joe Biden's "victory" over Donald Trump, when in fact Donald Trump defeated himself and the Left was another bystander. The applause for Joe Biden's small-potatoes good deeds is part of this vast overestimate of the power of a Left which has a fraction of the power it had, I dunno, in the 1960s? The fact that we have to go back five decades to find anything should tell you something. ("Look! The Squad has six members now!")
We've also got to give a lot of credit to today's Republican Party. Who would think that a party promising the public nothing for its hard-earned tax dollars could be so wildly successful? The Republicans are indeed the vanguard of a system in which the majority of voters support one candidate or another merely because "he's not the other guy." To counter this horrifying trend, when Obama was President the Democrats gave, to the Republican Party, all branches of the Federal government, 12 governor's seats, and 900+ seats in state legislatures. When Trump was President the Republicans gave much of it back. And now you've got people predicting a Republican resurgence in 2022. Back and forth, back and forth.
I really don't understand the offhand dismissals of a Movement for a People's Party. The Jacobin people did it yesterday after doing an interview with Richard Wolff. When we put our situation in perspective we can ask the dismissers: "uh, what else have you got?"
Have any of you read Andreas Malm's new book? Book came out last September -- very current and topical. Malm claims, quite accurately when you look at the facts, that we are in a state of chronic emergency, very scary. He suggests a reversion to Leninist "war communism" regimes and politics. The fact that Malm is recommending a political course of action that has no supporters in this day and age should tell you something about how low our expectations are.
Trump's out, Biden's in. Be patient, my friends!