Who is AOC kidding with populism-manipulating platform game? Biden will never become progressive
Major party and candidate policy platforms are now notoriously irrelevant to the actual making of policy in the United States. They do have key uses for Democratic Party politicos, however.
By seeming to commit corporate-neoliberal Democrats like the Clintons, Barack Obama and Joe Biden to policies and values such Democrats have no intention of honoring, the Democrats’ progressive – and egalitarian-sounding, outwardly pro-worker platforms help Wall Street candidates and officials embody what Christopher Hitchens once called “the essence of American politics: the manipulation of populism by elitism.”
The party platforms and promises also provide cover for the nation’s repeatedly defeated progressive Democrats. Leftish-branded Democrats cite them as proof they’ve won something for the nation’s silent progressive majority even though they’ve just endorsed another Democratic officeholder or challenger who stands to the right of Richard Nixon – politicians like the right-wing Democrat and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.Also on rt.com No Surprise: Obama endorses fellow corporate Democrat Joe Biden
Four years ago, Bernie Sanders campaigned for the dismal, demobilizing, and dollar-drenched Wall Street and Silicon Valley Democrat Hillary Clinton under the cover of his claim to have won “the most progressive Democratic Party platform in history” at the Democratic National Convention. Never mind that the platform was an at-best symbolic gain and at worst an exercise in “sheep-dogging” manipulation, or that the deeply conservative imperialist Mrs. Clinton went on to say less about policy (of any kind) than any presidential candidate in recent memory.
This, sadly, is the same game being played right now on and by the young progressive-Democratic phenom Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). AOC, we are told by the centrist online political magazine Politico, is advancing the progressive platform “wish list” in “talks with Biden’s people” about her possible formal endorsement of “No Malarkey” Joe. In return for her backing, the story goes, AOC wants Biden to “shift leftward on four key policy issues [federal treatment of Puerto Rico, immigration, health insurance, and climate change] in a bid to earn the trust of his party’s progressive wing.”
Who is AOC trying to kid? Platforms are, to repeat, notoriously irrelevant and manipulative. At the same time, AOC has already stated that she will unequivocally support Biden in his campaign against the right-wing Trump. AOC has already endorsed Biden for all intents and purposes.
So why the platform drama? It is theater meant to provide cover for the standard quadrennial progressive fold-in to line up with the “Lesser Evil” corporate Democratic candidate, who is not uncommonly a great gift to the nation’s rightmost party, the Republicans (examples include Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton).
Biden is an especially poor “opposition” candidate – a greater gift than usual to the GOP. He’s suffering an obvious mental decline and has a long record of corruption and of standing well to the corporate and imperial right of the US populace. Even before his cognitive capabilities collapsed, Biden was never an impressive presidential contender. His transparent weakness and conservatism help make it especially important for AOC to claim to have undertaken hard bargaining in the progressive-populism-manipulating platform game. She’s trying to keep up her “fighting progressive” front even as she sadly counsels her supporters to cower under the leaky umbrella of “Sleepy” Joe “Corn Pop” Biden.
Progressives who want real democratic social, political, and environmental change in the US would do well to look and organize beneath and beyond the quadrennial big money-major party-corporate media candidate-centered electoral extravaganzas that are sold to the American people as the only politics that counts. It is questionable whether the hapless global corporatist Biden could defeat a tomato plant, much less the Trump machine, next fall. At the same time, it is not at all clear that Trump will honor an election that does not go his way – or even that the 2020 elections will be held if the Covid-19 crisis is still in play next summer and fall.
Even if Biden manages to win and ascend to the White House, nothing remotely progressive will be won from his presidency without massive grassroots and popular pressure in the streets. As the great radical American historian Howard Zinn wrote in April of 2008, as much of the nation’s progressive populace became enchanted with the future imperialist Wall Street President Barack Obama:
The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties. We should not expect that a victory at the ballot box in November will even begin to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism….we need to free ourselves from the election madness engulfing the entire society, including the left. Yes, two minutes [in a voting booth, but…] before that, and after that, we should be taking direct action against the obstacles to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It's not just about who’s sitting in the White House. It’s also and more importantly about who’s sitting in the streets, the shop-floors, the offices, and the public assemblies.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.