SAN FRANCISCO, USA, Jan. 9 (IPS) – As 2023 rolls on, Democrats in office are still evading the key fact that most of their party’s voters do not want President Biden to run for re-election. Among prominent Democratic politicians, deference is routine, while genuine enthusiasm is scarce.
Many of the notes are rote. Late last month, outgoing Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy came up with this gem: “I want him to do what he wants. If he does, I will support him.” Joe Biden continues to say he plans to be the Democratic nominee in 2024. Whether he will be is an open question – and progressives should strive to answer it with a resounding no.
The next presidential election will be extremely grim if, as an alternative to the neofascist Republican Party, the Democratic Party can only offer an incumbent that has so often served corporate power and consistently serves the military-industrial complex. The Biden administration has taken a number of important antitrust measures to limit rampant monopolization. But the overall reality continues to exacerbate huge economic inequalities that fuel the spinning mill of pseudo-populist GOP demagogues.
Meanwhile, President Biden rarely conveys a sense of urgency or ardent discontent with current social conditions. Instead, he routinely comes across as “status quo Joe.” For the future well-being of so many millions of people, and for the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party in 2024, representing the status quo invites successive disasters. A few months ago, Bernie Sanders summed it up this way:
“The main economic and political problems facing this country are the extraordinary levels of income and wealth inequality, the rapidly growing concentration of property, the long-term decline of the American middle class and the evolution of this country into an oligarchy.” Interviewed days ago, Sanders said, “It hurts me very, very much that we are seeing more and more working class people vote Republican. Politically, that is a disaster, and the Democrats need to recognize and address that serious problem.” But President Biden does not seem to recognize the serious problem and is not addressing it. Over the past two years, domestic policy options have been held back by Biden’s frequent and notable refusals to use the power of the presidency for progress. He did not issue many of the possible executive orders that could have moved the country forward despite the blockades in the Senate.
At the same time, advocacy for workers’ rights, voter rights, economic justice, climate action and much more has been muted or non-existent. Biden seems unable or unwilling to articulate a socially just approach to such issues. As for the continued upward spike in Pentagon generosity as human needs are met with short shrift, Biden lauded the record-breaking, over-inflated $858 billion military spending bill he signed in late December. While the corporate media’s reporters and pundits are much more likely to criticize his age than his policies, what makes Biden most problematic for so many voters is his antiquated political approach.
Running for a second term would inevitably cast Biden as a defender of current conditions — in an era where personifying current conditions is a heavy albatross weighing on electoral success. A Hart Research poll of registered voters in November found that only 21 percent said the country was “on the right track,” while 72 percent said it was “on the wrong track.”
As the ultimate symbol of the way things are, Biden is all set to become a vulnerable flag bearer in a country where nearly three-quarters of voters say they don’t like the country’s current path. But for now, no progressive Democrat in Congress is willing to get in big trouble with Biden’s White House by saying he shouldn’t run, let alone showing a willingness to challenge him in the early primary. 2024.
Meanwhile, one recent poll after another showed that nearly 60 percent of Democrats do not want Biden to run again. A New York Times poll last summer found that a whopping 94 percent of Democrats under the age of 30 would prefer another candidate. While mass media coverage has generally slanted favorably toward Biden, mass media coverage has occasionally delivered the kind of candor that Democratic officeholders have officially refused to provide. “Party relief at preserving the Senate and minimizing losses in the House during the midterm elections has gradually given way to collective anxiety about what it means if Biden is a candidate again,” NBC News reported days before Christmas. Conformist support from elected Democrats for a new Biden campaign reflects a lack of authentic representation on Capitol Hill. For example, there is a gulf between the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the constituency — the progressive grassroots — they claim to represent. In late November, CPC Chairman Pramila Jayapal highlighted the gap when she went out of her way to proclaim, “I think he should run for another term and finish this agenda that we have set.” Does such leadership represent progressives versus the establishment or vice versa?
Norman Solomon is the National Director of RootsAction.org and the Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of a dozen books, including War Made Easy. His next book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, will be published in Spring 2023 by The New Press.
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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service