The Incrementalist Death Cult Candidacy
Real accelerationist hours, who's up?
|Joseph Marhee||May 11, 2020|
Perhaps you saw this:
Whitmer is just the latest in a series of comments like this from Joe Biden’s surrogates— Elizabeth Warren and Stacey Abrams, notable among them- who are in consideration for his running mate. However, Whitmer’s struck me as somehow more constructed— she’s someone most people know next to nothing about outside of Michigan, and that’s calculated, and leaking her name last month as topping the shortlist is probably the only move Biden’s campaign has made that even approaches an 11th dimensional chess calculation, because there’s no disputing the kind of Democrat she’s been. She doesn’t carry Warren’s stigma of having walked back from progressive policy, or more notably, her takedown of Mike Bloomberg at the debates over his own sexual assault allegations, for example, before declaring Joe Biden innocent. Ultimately, I think her commitment to so authoritatively gaslighting the public on Joe Biden’s behalf, without ultimately leaning on her credibility the way the others have is why it was always going to be her; I may end up wrong about this, but I think this will be the character trait prevalent in Biden’s camp, just absolute, total contempt for a public that doubts the party establishment.
Before I return to Whitmer, I want to zoom out momentarily to talk about how this contempt has manifested over the last several cycles; by barring people from the stage (Mike Gravel, Lawrence Lessig, etc.) after qualifying via rule-changes, or changing ballot access rules, delegate rules, and now even straight-up cancelling primaries with nearly half of the delegates left uncounted, what this does is manufacture consensus around neoliberal policy, because they were never held to referendrum— Bernie Sanders absolutely would not have been nominated, as this process has demonstrated, even if they had been run fairly and he had won the most votes in a plurality in a large field, but his policies can and should be represented, and his campaign’s touchstone, Medicare for All, is very much on the table, which is why it’s important he continue accumulating delegates in order to have this heard at convention. If there are no delegates allocated, the party can continue to advance the narrative that the ACA (literal Republican legislation that Democrats in a supermajority were happy to call a win— for whom? the health insurers, this context isn’t historical, it’s present day) was perfect, and MFA is unpopular, both things that are demonstrably untrue, without ever actually holding them to a vote.
The democratic nature of this process has, openly, been hijacked by the party establishment which, yeah, sure, they’re allowed to do much of this under their own rules, and no number of rule changes to prevent this really bore out, but this does not excuse the anti-democratic nature of things like massive voting irregularities; poll workers in Illinois having no ballots, Chicago polling locations going unstaffed, 8+ hour wait times in Texas, closing of polling locations in Milwaukee, voter roll purges, caucus coin flips being repeated until there’s a desirable outcome, etc. This is what the party signed up, and cosigned. This is voter suppression any way you slice it.
One thing I think that bears repeating about Whitmer is that her presence on such a list tells the left that Biden not only has no intention of making concessions to nearly 30% of the party’s voters (60% of which, overall, support Medicare for All) on health care (or anything else), but that he plans to proceed, full-steam-ahead, with health policy notable for its creation of 10 million more uninsured Americans. That’s why I bring up the convention/delegate process; this is what’s at stake for the Democratic leadership.
I’ll preface this by saying that Whitmer has been vocal about challenging the Trump administration’s handling of this crisis, and while there’s some contention about her own response in Michigan, it’s clear that she takes public health seriously (at least more so than some neighboring states that have not issued stay-at-home orders, and compared to states like Texas and Florida, while falling far short of the response in places like Washington— Rural health is a key part of her platform, for example). However, her ties to health insurance conglomerates, and that she has called programs like single-payer “unrealistic”, I think her commitment to public health is a very valid area for concern, and the skepticism from the left is definitely warranted.
Frankly, for any Democratic politician to critique the Trump administration’s response and then not fully support expanding healthcare, to say nothing of the expansion of an existing program like Medicare, is insincere, at best, and dangerous at worst; in the case of Biden and Whitmer, they’ve profited immensely from the insurance industry (in political and financial capital), and is yet another point of parity with the right wing leadership from the centrist establishment of the Democratic Party, where the outcomes are likely to be as bad without an expansion in healthcare, to say nothing of their institutional revulsion towards any kind of universal program.
This also represents a massive concession to corporate backers of Democratic candidates— this could almost be viewed at an attempt to appease those donors, more than an effort to actually win an election, which could very likely be the case, given that they will likely lose the Senate in the process, which is the true tragedy of this cycle; it all collapses from there.
I think this makes her a stronger candidate, ironically, all things considered— for a party that considers charisma blackholes like Pete Buttigieg its “future”, bringing in more establishment minded governors to national office makes sense if the party is hellbent on the preservation of its ineffectual ideals rather than bet the farm on a candidate they can’t rely on as a “steady hand” to coalition with the right against its own voters. This is what makes the walking back of her unconvincing progressive cosplay so validating, but predictible, and frankly, a little disappointing when these comments come from Elizabeth Warren; we wanted to believe better things were possible, and in a world where incrementalism actually exists, perhaps that persona would’ve won over voters, but the reality is, as we’ve seen, when the party tells you to either fall in line and be an insider, or be knee-capped as an outsider, no matter how popular, it quickly becomes a race to the bottom.
The problem is, these surrogates seemingly envision themselves as jumping into the ocean of relevance for the party, only to realize the ocean doesn’t exist, it’s made-up; the party anoints its choices, whomever’s (or whatever’s ethos is best embodied in protecting the status quo) “turn” it is, and that gets telegraphed through the corporate media, through surrogacy, through political machinery to change things like poll location closures, registration requirements, delegate realignment, all things that distort popular result— this is neither new, nor shocking, but something to be aware of when you decide to consider a lesser-evil vote. What does that return look like? What happens when that return on lesser-evil voting is 0?
Our reality, right now, is that a capitalized health care system subsidizing candidacies, and these candidates being marketed as a rational solution (the “sane warmonger” take, but for letting poor people die because they can’t afford a doctor) to (louder, but materially not very different) appeals from authority to line up behind the avatars of the vested interests of the healthcare industry.
Ultimately, what this all sums out to is that in the Democrats’ refusal to acknowledge that things are irreparably different, behaving as if it is not is a signal to the public that short-term material defense of corporations like healthcare companies is the real bailing out that is happening here— Joe Biden doesn’t even have to win to do this, and the sick part is that he’s not even the one leading everyone off the cliff, it’s the party leaders, it’s the surrogates scared of being shunned (that Liz Warren “insider/outsider” report from last week comes to mind) and having their own candidacies knee-capped (as I mentioned), it’s the Pete Buttigieg class of liberal who deal in the anodyne rhetoric of the Reagan 80’s salivating over the opportunity to be Bill Clinton with an unlicensed death ray in Eastern Europe, but this time, there’s only one way to describe the loyalist position in this present year; it’s unhinged.
Recent things I’ve read, listened to, or watched that I am now recommending:
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