Long odds in Vegas

Biden’s decision to end a long war as well as his efforts to enact a progressive domestic agenda should earn him the vigorous support of all democratic minded people. The logic is simple: if the white nationalist authoritarian network, in the center of which is Trump and the Republican Party, take down Biden and his progressive agenda, it will sooner rather then later take down the coalition that elected him, beginning in the fall elections next year and then two years later in the presidential elections. Don’t think that if Biden and Pelosi sink, we can still rise.

Las Vegas will give you long odds on that bet. What probably will – and you will get much better odds in Vegas on this bet – is a long night of authoritarian, anti-democratic, racist rule.

Thirst for power

What keeps Republicans up at night and motivates them during the day isn’t the fate of Afghanistan or its people. What does is their thirst for power. Without it, they know, they can do little. With it they believe they can transform, the country and state into a white nationalist, authoritarian, anti-democratic, sectarian fortress – irredeemably hostile to any democratic and egalitarian voices and visions.

It’s no surprise then that they are all over Biden for his decision to withdraw US soldiers from Afghanistan and the execution of that decision, even though they said not a word when Trump negotiated the treaty that Biden is essentially carrying out and even though everyone knows (or should know) that there is no such thing as a seamless and smooth way to end a war in which you are the defeated party.

We shouldn’t let allow this Republican demagogy to go unanswered. By the same token, we should take issue as well with critics of Biden’s decision in the Democratic Party.

Biden’s Republican critics

Biden’s critics, especially Republicans, are exploiting yesterday’s tragedy in Kabul to ramp up criticism of his decision to pull the plug on an interminable and unwinnable war – a war that should have never been fought in the first place. But their purpose isn’t to express their moral indignation or register their opposition to the pullout. Truth is they have bigger fish to fry.

Itching to return to power in Washington, they have cynically jumped on this tragedy, like flies to shit, with the intention of impugning Biden’s character and competence, derailing the many positive features of his agenda, exacerbating fissures in the Democratic Party and the larger coalition that elected him, and, above all, regaining the upper hand in next’s year’s elections.

All of which, they believe, and they are probably right, would set the stage for them to recapture the White House in 2024. If that doesn’t scare and motivate you to defend Biden’s withdrawal decision, it should.

Less quarterbacking

What is needed after yesterday’s House vote in support of Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget is less quarterbacking of Biden and Pelosi and more coordinated mass actions in Washington and across the country. And the organizing center would logically be the diverse coalition that elected our new president. One advantage that FDR and LBJ had over Biden in those earlier periods of major reform was the scale and scope of mass struggle was on a higher level than it is today. Correcting that is a major challenge for the progressives and social activists in and outside the Democratic Party.

So far the actions supporting Biden’s domestic agenda haven’t reached the level nor achieved the degree of coordination and focus that one would hope. Hopefully this will change – and the sooner the better – as Congress debates and votes on bills this fall that, if enacted, would qualitatively shift the terrain on which tens of millions of people live, work, vote. and struggle.

Larger reset

The pullout of US troops from Afghanistan appears to be of a piece of a larger strategic reset – domestically and internationally – by the Biden administration. You may find some elements of this reset objectionable, but in many ways, it goes beyond and breaks with the governing assumptions and practices of a whole era of neoliberal governance by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. It doesn’t drive a lethal stake into the heart of neoliberalism and Reaganism, but there is little doubt that the enactment of many aspects of this reset would set the country on a different political and economic trajectory, and if sustained and deepened, could amount to the death knell of both and their main defender at this moment – the Republican Party. To say the obvious, this reset – or at least many elements of it – deserve the energetic and practical support of the broad and diverse coalition that elected Biden.

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