At Least He’s Not, You Know

I’ve heard it so many times. “At least he’s not Trump.” It’s true that President Biden has better manners and more experience. But his presidency so far has relied on the kind of governance and economic assumptions that are the source of many of our worst problems. In nine months, Biden has made inexplicable foreign policy blunders, watered down or abandoned his commitments to social justice and the planet, and retained many of Trump’s worst policies. For example….

World Peace — Biden defended his botched withdrawl from Afghanistan by saying he wants to end  “forever wars.” However, he is not on a path to end wars of any kind. Biden’s budget proposal for 2022 would actually increase US military spending of more than $700 billion dollars. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/ndaa-defense-spending/ He has increased the US military presence in Syria and Iraq, and is presiding over the continued militarization of the world. Contrary to his policy of “relentless diplomacy,” Biden is moving ahead with Trump’s agreement to sell $23 billion of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which will be used to kill insurgents and civilians in Yemen. https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-administration-signs-its-first-military-deal-with-saudi-arabia/ He is sellling $750 million worth of arms to Taiwan, which will increase tensions with China. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/04/politics/biden-administration-taiwan-arms-sales/index.html Like Trump, Biden has defended Israel’s systematic murder and oppression of innocent Palestinians. He is making war more politically viable by sending drones instead of humans to kill people in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Like Trump, Biden imposed harsh sanctions on Cuba for its offense of suffering during an economic collapse — caused in part by the US blockade. These are not the policies of someone who wants to end wars. 

Social Justice — Biden claims the US is not racist. The problem, he says, was Jim Crow and slavery, which imposed a “cost” that hasn’t been addressed. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackbrewster/2021/04/30/biden-says-he-doesnt-think-america-is-racist-but-slavery-jim-crow-had-a-cost/?sh=582d66dc5d1d. This is nonsense on so many levels. Jim Crow laws were enacted in the South — racism is a problem in all 50 states and toward people who weren’t targets of Jim Crow laws. Perhaps because Biden doesn’t understand racism in America and its effects on real people, he has failed to show any meaningful leadership in addressing police brutality, gun control, environmental justice, homelessness, poverty, or the unjust incarceration of black men. His infrastructure bill anticipates some support for low income communities, but most of it relies on the type of “trickle down” economics that has enriched the few at the expense of the many. For example, Biden wrongly assumes that subsidizing large corporations to invest in broadband infrastructure will somehow make internet service affordable and available to low income households. https://www.abc10.com/article/news/nation-world/broadband-service-plan-infrastructure-bill/507-84bb9e72-ccde-48bb-bee4-07c95bd868eb It wrongly assumes that funding care for the elderly will increase wages in jobs that are held mostly by women of color (maybe women of color would like the kind of support that would allow them to go to law school or own a small business?). If we’ve learned one thing in the last 40 years, it’s that giving money to large corporations mostly enriches large corporations.

Climate Crisis — Biden acknowledges that we have “ten years” to combat climate change, but his climate strategy is unlikely to make a dent in the coming ten years. Like Trump, Biden has been a reliable friend of the oil industry. Like Trump, he has deployed armed agents to threaten unarmed people protesting the construction of Line 3, an oil pipeline traversing Native American land in Minnesota.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/19/line-3-pipeline-ojibwe-tribal-lands  Like Trump, he supports the Willow Arctic Drilling Project and the Dakota Access Pipeline. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/joe-biden-infrastructure-bill-climate-change-joe-manchin-1208743/ After promising to overturn Trump policies granting new oil and gas drilling permits, the number of permits issued by the Biden Administration has increased in 2021. https://www.audubon.org/news/despite-pledge-ban-it-oil-and-gas-permitting-under-biden. He’s opposed a gasoline tax and an emissions tax to fund climate projects. Rather than supporting aggressive improvements to the nation’s terrible public transportation system, which could get people out of their cars (and could benefit low income communities and working class families), Biden proposes subsidies for electric cars, which will require additional construction of power plants (and would benefit the affluent and large corporations). Stopping climate change is going to require more than baby steps, tax credits, and the continued support of the oil and gas industry.

Border policies — Contrary to his campaign promises, Biden has adopted most of Trump’s cruel border policies, some in violation of international law protecting the rights of asylum seekers. Children are still in cages.https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/24/us-to-allow-migrants-from-mexico-as-critics-slam-kids-in-cages  Asylum seekers are still being pushed back into dangerous Mexican border towns. Biden is defending some of Trump’s worst policies in the courts. This week, the Biden administration deployed white men on horseback to herd Haitians like cattle back into Mexico. Government agencies don’t commit such atrocities in a vacuum or where the leader’s message is “We treat people with dignity.” And while the Biden Administration says it’s permitting displaced Afghans to come to the US (with few exceptions, it isn’t), it’s putting Haitians on airplanes only a few months after Biden himself referred to Haiti as a “dangerous” country. https://theintercept.com/2021/09/20/biden-haiti-deportations-texas-del-rio/

Public Health.  Although Biden has said his highest priority is to eliminate Covid, during his presidency the number of Covid deaths in the US has risen from 300 a day to 2,000 a day. Biden acknowledges ending the pandemic will require the nation to “go big” but  https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/  his “Path Out of the Pandemic” is mostly a list of ideas that haven’t been implemented or won’t end the pandemic. Among the highlights are (1) forgiving corporations for repayment of PPP loans; (2) making at-home tests more afforable, and (3) sending children back to school. Besides Covid, Biden has no plan to provide health care to 30 million uninsured Americans, or protect the millions more who, in spite of being “insured,” would face bankruptcy to pay for treatment of a serious medical condition. https://thegrio.com/2021/09/23/gofundme-medical-bills-health-care-system/  https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2021/jul/as-pandemic-eases-what-is-state-coverage-affordability-survey

To be fair, Biden’s done some good things, there’s a lot to unravel, and he’s been stifled by Congress. But does Biden even have a vision that would move us in the direction of a world we want our kids to inherit? 

Our president might be a nice man, but he doesn’t have the courage, the strength, or the intellect to be President of the United States at a time like this. While Biden is defending the fillibuster, Trump’s tariffs, and his son’s right to sell his artwork at inflated prices, the downward spiral continues.

18 comments

  1. I am glad I have such a smart friend who is well researched and so articulate. While I am one of those people who says, “At least he isn’t Trump,” I so appreciate the perspective you offer to understand more fully all the ramifications to the presidency and supposed commitments made.

  2. It is cranky, and I think too harsh, but I respect your point of view. “At least he’s not tRump” is something I have said a couple of times to Biden critics. Maybe I’ll stop that. He’s managed to steer a course that’s ticked off both the left and the right, not an easy feat. He doesn’t enjoy a working majority in Congress which severely limits what he can do and I think influences what he can say as he desperately seeks a majority in the mid-terms (bucking history) from our very much divided electorate. American society is very sick. Democracy is so messy. Is there any hope? Ugh!

    1. I seriously doubt that the Biden administration will be permitted to make a notably practical improvement in poor and low-income Americans’ quality of life, however much Biden may want or try to deliver such greatly needed assistance. I believe that the DNC refuses to allow a Bernie Sanders presidential candidacy, regardless of what Democratic Party members/voters want. For example, every county in West Virginia voted for Sanders in 2016, yet the Democratic National Committee declared them as wins for Clinton, the latter candidate’s neo-liberalism, unlike Sanders’ fiscal-progressiveness, already known for not rubbing against any big business grain.

      Fiscal conservative ideology/politics, big business interests and most of the corporate mainstream news-media resist sufficiently progressive ideas from actually being implemented. They seem to favor big money interests over people. I believe that Republicans are coercing the Democratic Party hierarchy into making their fiscal politics/policies more conservative.

    1. Unlike a few social/labor revolutions of the past, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that virtual corporate rule and the superfluously wealthy essentially have the police and military ready to foremost protect big power and money interests, even over the food and shelter needs of the protesting masses. I can imagine that there are/were lessons learned from them — a figurative How to Hinder Progressive Revolutions 101, perhaps — with the clarity of hindsight by big power and money interests. They, the police/military/big-money, can claim they must bust heads to maintain law and order as a priority; thus the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist.

      When it comes to capitalist society, I can see corporate CEOs figuratively or literally shrugging their shoulders and defensively saying that their job is to protect shareholders’ bottom-line interests. Meanwhile, the shareholder also shrugs their shoulders while defensively stating that they just collect the dividends and that the CEOs are the ones to make the moral and/or ethical decisions. Thus, it seems that little or nothing notably progressive gets done.

  3. “Biden claims the US is not racist. The problem, he says, was Jim Crow and slavery, which imposed a ‘cost’ that hasn’t been addressed.”
    _____

    Since bad news is what sells, what we typically get from the mainstream news-media are unending cases of interracial disharmony. Sadly, a large chunk of that news is merited.

    Although there’s research indicating that infants demonstrate a preference for caregivers of their own race, any future racial biases and bigotries generally are environmentally acquired. Adult racist sentiments are often cemented by a misguided yet strong sense of entitlement, perhaps also acquired from one’s environment. One means of proactively preventing this social/societal problem may be by allowing young children to become accustomed to other races in a harmoniously positive manner. The early years are typically the best time to instill and even solidify positive social-interaction life skills/traits, like interracial harmonization, into a very young brain. Human infancy is the prime (if not the only) time to instill and even solidify positive social-interaction characteristics into a very young mind.

    Irrational racist sentiment can be handed down generation to generation. If it’s deliberate, it’s something I strongly feel amounts to a form of child abuse: to rear one’s impressionably very young children in an environment of overt bigotry — especially against other races and/or sub-racial groups (i.e. ethnicities). Not only does it fail to prepare children for the practical reality of an increasingly racially/ethnically diverse and populous society and workplace, it also makes it so much less likely those children will be emotionally content or (preferably) harmonious with their multicultural/-racial surroundings.

    Children reared into their adolescence and, eventually, young adulthood this way can often be angry yet not fully realize at precisely what. Then they may feel left with little choice but to move to another part of the land, where their race or ethnicity predominates, preferably overwhelmingly so. If not for themselves, parents then should do their young children a big favor and NOT pass down onto their very impressionable offspring racially/ethnically bigoted feelings and perceptions, nor implicit stereotypes and ‘humor’, for that matter. Ironically, such rearing can make life much harder for one’s own children.

  4. Kim, I appreciate your views, admire your research and support your decision to air those views. I agree with much you have said and, at the same time, struggle to find some optimism in this “dark time,” some hope as we fall more and more into a morass of socio-political problems and dysfunction as a society, plus major environmental degradation and global climate-related calamities. I’m not sure there is any one person who could dig us out of this mess—and that’s definitely scary. The need to have more open public debate is what you seem to suggest by posting these thoughts and I couldn’t agree more with that.

    Sher

    1. Yes, I guess I am on the edge of alarmist but indeed I am alarmed. Something about this era feels different, like all of our mistakes are so emphatically interconnected and building momentum. We will just keep doing the best we can every day…..

  5. Great article Kim. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to provide such a clear summary. I no longer have patience with people who say ‘Well he’s better than what we had before’. He may look/sound better as you point out, but the truth is that we are in the sixth extinction and he is still permitting oil and gas pipe lines and drilling. So, just in terms of the environment, we over the cliff and in free fall. Biden is a politician and politicians are not going to save us. WE need to take action like stopping the nonsense of one person per car at rush hour. But I don’t think enough people are going to be angry enough to act in time. Since it ain’t over til it’s over, we need more articles like this one and no apologizes to people who are offended. Life on Earth is literally at stake. So as a master teacher once said, knock the sand from your shoes and talk to those who would listen. -Toni

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