Jacobin - December 20, 2021
Democrats are going beyond refusing to give Americans an affirmative reason to vote for them: in sabotaging their own purported agenda around Biden’s Build Back Better bill, they seem to be trying to lose to the authoritarians in the GOP they claim to oppose.
Cognitive dissonance is one of the defining traits of American politics, but with this weekend’s blow against the Build Back Better bill, we’ve now reached an inflection point: Americans are being simultaneously asked to believe that Democrats are mounting a valiant last-ditch defense of democracy against insurrectionists and election deniers, and yet we’re also watching Democrats proudly surrender the midterm elections to those same fascists, knowingly creating Weimar-esque conditions for an authoritarian takeover. Taken together, this is far more than hypocrisy: in JFK lingo, this is an admission that the ruling party wants the bear-any-burden brand of democracy defenders, but without the pay-any-price actions that might assure the survival and success of liberty. In the last week, the contradictions have been too blatant to miss, even if corporate news outlets continue doing their best to ignore, omit, downplay, and distract from them. On the one hand, we see congressional Democrats casting themselves as the heroes of a West Wing episode, rightly screaming about all the web of connections between the January 6 rioters, right-wing news outlets, and top Donald Trump administration officials, who appear to have been entertaining plans for an actual coup. On the other hand, we see Democrats fully leaning into a likely 2022 disaster. They are going far beyond merely refusing to give Americans an affirmative reason to vote for them; in sabotaging their own purported agenda, they seem to be deliberately trying to lose to the very fascists they claim to oppose, going out of their way to insult and harm as many voters as possible before their likely collapse.
A Barrage Of Betrayals, Capitulations, and Insults
This weekend’s big news is the likely death of the Build Back Better bill, which includes most of the party’s climate, health care, housing, and other social spending promises. But this plot twist is only the latest chapter in a larger story. Consider what’s happened in the lead up:
- Upon assuming office, one of President Joe Biden’s first moves was to tell governors that his $15 minimum wage campaign promise was effectively a lie — and congressional Democrats then insulted everyone’s intelligence by blaming their own fireable parliamentary adviser, an appointed bureaucrat with no real power, for the betrayal.
- While flirting with cuts to housing programs, Democrats have mismanaged meager rental assistance programs and allowed the eviction moratorium to end — a one-two punch that is now creating a mass eviction process reminiscent of the meltdown that caused Democrats’ 2010 electoral massacre.
- Democrats spent months touting their plan for permanent tax breaks for wealthy mansion owners in affluent blue state locales, while limiting a proposed child tax credit extension to just one year, even as survey data suggest the tax credit is one of the only things that has made some Trump voters like Democrats a bit more.
- Just forty-eight hours after new polling data showed swing state voters are most concerned about rampant political corruption, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat from California) made national headlines brushing off the idea of anti-corruption legislation to stop her and other lawmakers from personally enriching themselves off inside information they receive as government officials. She rejected the concept even after a new report showed lawmakers and their staffers flagrantly violating existing ethics rules governing stock trades.
- Amid the Omicron surge, the Democratic White House scoffed at the idea of providing free COVID tests, has refused to use its executive authority to share vaccine recipes, and has completely discarded its promised public health insurance option, instead offering its insurance donors more subsidies in exchange for inadequate insurance that bankrupts people.
- Biden is now heading into the election year openly reneging on his student debt relief promise as he hemorrhages support from young people. Instead, he is pledging to restart loan repayment, even as new research shows that this debt is contributing to the housing crisis. Meanwhile, the eviction machine is firing on all cylinders.
All of this culminated in the modern expression of austerity, corruption, ineptitude, and let-them-eat-cakeism that coincided with the rise of fascism in Europe less than a century ago: In this iteration, a Maserati-driving coal magnate from one of the country’s poorest states stepped off his luxury yacht and told the country that he’s rescinding his promised support for any relief, just after he proudly backed a giant defense spending authorization bill, and after he previously demanded a giant bailout for his Wall Street donors. The declaration by the Wolf of West Virginia was a huge win for corporate lobbyists, Manchin’s billionaire donors, and his family’s fossil fuel business. ...
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