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Why Not Biden? A Response to Chris Cutrone and the Platypus Affiliated Society

Elias Friedman

Platypus Review 128 | July 2020

“Poll: Many Americans Still Unsure Whom to Vote Against”

The Onion, June 2, 2004[1]

FOUR MONTHS AGO, THE PLATYPUS AFFILIATED SOCIETY PUBLISHED “Why Not Trump Again,”[2] following their tradition of contrarian Marxism. Previously, Chris Cutrone has poked fun at the liberal and leftist tendency to prognosticate the end of the world. He correctly notes that if Trump wins, climate change will not immediately end all life on Earth. He follows this up with the perennial question of what circumstances can we build socialism in. Would a Trump reelection be good or bad for building socialism?

In February, when “Why Not Trump Again” was published, circumstances looked a lot different from how they do as I write this piece in May. In February, the Democratic primary was still an open question and many still had hopes for Bernie Sanders’ victory. Perhaps more importantly, COVID-19 was not a pressing issue to most Americans. Now, Biden is the presumptive nominee as all other candidates have dropped out, and lockdowns are only just now being lifted in a few states, and there’s hardly room for anything else in the headlines.

These two events happening at the same time makes our current situation all the more difficult to analyze. The socialist and pseudo-socialist left is filled with vitriol against Biden personally, and the Democratic Party as a whole. Some liberals scramble to insist that everyone must vote blue, as millions of lives depend on it (the exact tendency that Cutrone aptly critiqued), but many others are not very worried. They see that the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis has led to a significant drop in Trump’s approval ratings, especially in the crucial 65+ demographic, also known as “voters.” The New York Times reported that Republicans in the Senate appear to have some fear of at least the possibility of a massive Democratic blowout in November, and are trying to push through as many lifetime appointments as possible while they can.3

So, given the increasing likelihood of a Biden victory, we must ask as Chris Cutrone did of Trump, why not Biden? The popular position is that Biden cannot be allowed to win because he is an obscene predator (as if that would be new for a president), because he is mentally unfit (again, nothing new), or because he closes the door to left opposition. I omit from this list the criticism that he will do no good, because who can reasonably expect better from Trump? So, about that “opposition.” Who is better for the Left, Trump or Biden?

The opposition or resistance to Trump that exists has taken predominantly liberal forms. Mainstream, moderate liberals are having the time of their lives role playing as principled antifascists while ensuring that wealth continues to flow to the hyper-rich. The aid packages designed by Democrats in the House are hardly of a different character than those designed by Republicans in the Senate when it comes to bailing out shareholders of large corporations. If they criticize Trump publicly, they are absolved of voting for his initiatives, of allowing his appointments to go through, of providing immense sums of money for his administration to dole out as they see fit with no oversight. With Trump leading the government, the Democrats are able to redirect criticism quite handily.

What about Biden? His campaign has done their best at keeping him out of the spotlight, and it’s been working so far. Many people seem to want a faceless Obama-affiliated Democrat. Ultimately though, Joe Biden has a face, and not a pleasant one. Even many older liberal voters were skeptical of him for much of the primary cycle. He’s best known for his ludicrous public statements, some of which appear to be lapses in brain functioning, while others are flat out lies or just absurd things he actually believes. His decades as a deficit hawk and tough-on-crime crusader seem out of place in the supposedly progressive Democratic Party of today. That is exactly why he may be much more helpful to the Left than Donald Trump.

Chris Cutrone is right to say that if the Democrats gain the presidency, they will not do much with it. There will be no Green New Deal, not even as we are faced with an almost certain economic depression. There will likely be more bailouts for the richest of the rich. But this also means that the Democrats will be less able to hide. Right now, they enjoy their life in Trump’s shadow. Democrats, and especially Biden, cannot hide in the White House. If Biden continues to bungle, continues to ignore the suffering of working class people, that may be a more productive environment to leverage the now much more capable institutions of the pseudo-socialist left and build power outside of the Democratic Party.

Some self-identified leftists or socialists say that if Biden wins, the message will be that so-called “moderate” candidates will be cemented as the only electable ones and the left wing will have no more say in the Democratic Party. But that is already the situation. The Democratic Party is staunchly capitalist and it does not seem likely to change any time soon. A Biden win is an opportunity to push tepidly leftist institutions like the Democratic Socialists of America away from the Democrats and to mobilize the majority of young (under 50) people who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary outside of the party.

The fear about a Biden presidency when contrasted with Trump is ironically very similar to the initial fear of Trump in 2016. A Biden presidency threatens the status quo for leftist “activists” acting under the umbrella of the Democratic Party, or at least with affiliation to it. Let us not fear a break from that.

So: Why not Biden? | P


[1]    “Poll: Many Americans Still Unsure Whom To Vote Against,” The Onion, June 2, 2004, available online at:: <https://politics.theonion.com/poll-many-americans-still-unsure-whom-to-vote-against-1819567393>

[2]    “Why not Trump Again?”, PR 123, February 2020, available online at:: <https://platypus1917.org/2020/02/01/why-not-trump-again/>

One comment

  • Posted 1 month ago

    I am slightly confused that this article links to “The Onion” website for one of its citations. The Onion is a satirical and spoof website which often posts items which are not what they seem. The linked item may not be a typical Onion item, but I would suggest that there are many better places to get same info without the same danger of being pranked (etc)

    by John Edge on August 14, 2020 9:23 am

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