Progressives Decide: Dignity and Freedom, or Voting for Biden

Biden widens lead over Trump despite coronavirus halting campaign ...

            Bernie Sanders is out of the race and with him goes the last chance for progressivism to take over the Democratic Party for a generation.

            Now his supporters will decide what to do. Intransigent #BernieOrBusters will cast about for a third-party vote, write-in Bernie or sit out the election in November. Other left-leaning voters will hope against hope that Joe Biden will either pivot to the left himself or that Biden will appoint progressive-minded cabinet members, and maybe tap Elizabeth Warren as vice president, to run the country as he continues to fade into the dying of the light.

            There is absolutely no reason to think that Joe Biden would appoint a single progressive to his cabinet or pick one as his vice president. Theoretically, of course, anything is possible. Biden could take up hang-gliding! But Biden hasn’t made the slightest hint that he would pick a progressive for any important position.

            Biden has said that he would consider a Republican as his vice president. He has promised to choose a woman. He sends signals when he wants to. And none of those signals has ever been directed toward the left wing of the Democratic Party.

            After he consolidated his delegate lead on Super Tuesday, Biden received a lot of media coverage for “reaching out” to Sanders’ supporters. But his message was worthless pabulum: “Let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what is at stake. And I know what we have to do.”

What exactly does Biden “know” he has to “do”? Nothing that progressives want. Bernie Sanders voters care about issues: Medicare For All, student loan forgiveness, free college tuition. Three days after his “olive branch,” Biden said he would veto Medicare For All if it somehow crossed his desk as president.

            In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s some malarkey.

            Yet many liberal voters are praying that Biden will do something to make himself palatable enough to allow them to vote for him against Donald Trump this fall. Like the victim of an abusive alcoholic parent or spouse, they will wallow in magical thinking and project good intentions upon a candidate who has given them no reason to think he has changed. Maybe dad isn’t drunk tonight. Maybe Biden is secretly liberal.

Victims of abusive relationships “don’t stay for the pain,” psychologist Craig Malkin observed in 2013. “Their desperate, often palpable hope, if you sit in the room with them, is that the abuse will go away. And they tend to block out all evidence to the contrary.”

Given the history of the last four or five decades, it’s hard to describe the relationship between progressive voters and the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party as anything better than abusive. From Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, progressives have been expected to donate money and cast votes for candidates who repeatedly broke their promises to fight for the poor and working class and, as time passed, felt so confident that they could get away with acting like jerks that they didn’t even have to bother to promise anything at all beyond not being Republicans—even though often they voted along with the GOP and signed their ideas into law.

2016 marked the first time that progressives stood up for themselves and demanded a place at the table, in the form of Bernie Sanders. Like any typical abuser, the DNC got angry at their victims, blaming progressives when their decision to cheat Sanders out of the nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton caused a catastrophic defeat to Donald Trump. Now it has happened again.

Though pathetic, it is not surprising to see progressives playing the role of the naïve victim who prays for his abuser to come to his senses and make nice.

With Joe Biden, there’s even more reason than usual to believe that nothing good can come out of standing by him. The man he served as vice president, Barack Obama, elevated the use and abuse of Democratic progressives to a diabolical art. He ran on Hope and Change and ending the Iraq war, only to prolong Iraq and expand Afghanistan with the backing of a cabinet that didn’t include a single progressive, not even a token like Clinton Administration labor secretary Robert Reich. Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, was conceived of by the right-wing Heritage foundation.

If you’re figuring out whether to stay with the Democratic Party or quit them, there’s a simple way to decide: watch Biden. If he’s serious about picking a progressive as vice president or putting some of them into his cabinet, he will be willing to name names and do so soon. His silence on this topic—which is likely—probably means Vice President Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar and a bunch of Goldman Sachs wankers managing the economic crisis again.

Don’t be surprised if a lot of Democrats who have been let down by “their” party vote for it again this November. Abuse survivors “suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, one symptom of which is dissociation, which often creates such profound detachment from the reality of the abuse that sufferers scarcely remember being hurt at all,” Dr. Malkin wrote. “Dissociating victims can’t leave the abuse because they aren’t psychologically present enough to recall the pain of what happened.”

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography “Bernie.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)



  • I can’t see anyone voting for Biden except maybe his family. Trump is too big. Everyone will be voting for or against Trump.

    • alex_the_tired
      April 9, 2020 12:30 AM

      I keep asking myself where all these black voters are coming from. “Joe Biden? You’re voting for Joe Biden?” Is there something in the water in South Carolina?

      • Water in South Carolina?

        Try, instead, Rep. James E. “Uncle Jimmy” Clyburn who in 2020 took the place of Uncle John Lewis (2016), BOTH as hench-assholes of the Clinton machine, to trash Sanders’s civil rights record that has more integrity in it’s figurative little finger than does the totality of WJ and HR Clinton’s combined.

        For a blood-boiling reminder:

  • alex_the_tired
    April 8, 2020 9:07 PM

    Frodo lives.

    One of the interpretations of this hippie slogan is from a point within the Tolkien series when the Fellowship fears it will fail. But they still have a small hope because Frodo is still at liberty — he’s still alive — and still might be able to manage the destruction of the One Ring.

    Sanders has not given up, he has suspended his campaign, but he has not quit. He is still gathering delegates. This is, indeed, a mighty thin reed upon which to rest, literally, all our hopes. I don’t want to be delusionally optimistic, but I also do not want to be cynically defeatist just yet. There’s at least four years, either under Biden’s replacement or Trump, to be cynical.

    Alaska votes on Friday. Wisconsin’s votes will be revealed (in theory) on Monday. Is it that much to ask for five more days to still have hope? The votes for both of those states will have been significantly affected by the pandemic. If Sanders is still in second place on those states’ tallies when the dust settles, okay, but I would like to continue to hold out hope, small though it may be, and just for five more days, that now that people are seeing the entire economy come apart in a heartbeat — 14 million unemployed in three weeks? And the shockwaves haven’t even hit yet — that they are admitting Sanders was right and voting accordingly?

    It’s a bitter, bitter thing to confront the realities here: Right now, we’re stuck between two interchangeable candidates: Biden and Trump share many of the same negatives. Sexual assault allegations, business scandals, questionable mental capacities, open hostility to those they disagree with, etc. The economy just stopped. We could be facing a recurring global pandemic just like the flu but more lethal. Oh, and the clock on climate change is entering the last few seconds.

    Just give me until Tuesday. Keep supporting Sanders and his policies.

    • Bernie said his delegates will still be active and influence the convention. I hope so. Talking to my local Bernie supporters they want as VP Rep. Barbara Lee, Sen Gillibrand, Rep Mazie Hirono, Rep Ayana Pressley, or Stacey Abrams.

    • Sorry, Alex – I appreciate your argument, but Mr Sanders campaign is finished. How do I know ? Simple – the New York Times, which has consistently opposed him and his ideas and done everything withing its power short of assassination to hinder him from becoming the US Democratic Party’s nominee in the upcoming US presidential election, has now allowed an opinion writer, Elizabeth Bruening, to publish an appreciative piece on Mr Sanders and his history. That, more than anything, tells us that he is out and no longer regarded as a clear and present danger to the ruling oligarchy….


      • I wasn’t able to get the embedded link above to work : here’s the URL :….


      • alex_the_tired
        April 10, 2020 6:02 AM

        I read the piece in question the other day.
        First, I do love your comments. There is a wonderful dry wit in many of them. “[T]he New York Times, which has consistently opposed him and his ideas and done everything withing its power short of assassination to hinder him” is, absolutely, a perfect description.
        Second, perhaps I’m Kubler-Rossing. I simply can’t … accept Joe Biden. He’s a nothing. A low-level functionary. He should be opening a new supermarket in St. Louis or keynoting a Kiwanis luncheon. But running the U.S.? This guy? He was holding, um, rallies in phone booths and they still had to ask people to bunch up. And then, all at once, boom, he’s winning by 30-point margins?
        He’s been accused of rape/sex assault by seven women. His son was involved in a piece of corruption so obvious that the son’s gone into hiding. He voted for the Iraq war. I guess the dems couldn’t get Dubya to run as prez so they went for the next-closest? (No. I take that back. Dubya, for all his many, many, many, many, many faults was never accused of rape. I’ll give that mental abomination that much.)
        Third, I’m done with the New York Times. If Maureen Dowd coulda climbed a bell tower, I bet they WOULD have assassinated Sanders.
        If Biden wins the nomination, it’s a relief in a way because Trump will only have four more years in office. It’s time enough to build a new movement. (I have some ideas on that movement.)

      • alex_the_tired
        April 10, 2020 6:10 AM

        Here’s an idea for the site. In the back-end options, there’s a spot to select me as spam/moderate. Activate that. I’ll send a comment. Then go back in and de-activate me as spam/moderate. That may reset a value setting somewhere in the mechanisms.
        You know, like how they pump Joe Biden full of stimulants when they have to wheel him out for his John Gill performance.

      • I don’t really understand, Alex. Email me?

  • Given the history of the last four or five decades, it’s hard to describe the relationship between progressive voters and the corporate leader ship of the Democratic Party as anything better than abusive.

    Nailed it, Ted. «Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose», as your late mother, I suspect, might have said….


  • KentSmotherman
    April 9, 2020 7:58 AM

    In 2016 I wrote in Sanders. This go around, I have one reason and one reason only to vote for Biden – to watch the epic meltdown of Trump should Biden win. Trump never admits he is wrong, and takes no responsibility for anything wrong he does. If he loses, he simply is incapable of accepting it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the SCOTUS get involved because of the tantrum Trump will throw. Perhaps then the revolution we so desperately need can get a kick-start.

    • HenryWallacesForceGhost
      April 9, 2020 11:12 AM

      Oh, it most certainly would not be surprising to see the Supreme Court involved after November. The thing is, they’re going to back Trump if it comes to that. Even in its most liberal forms, it’s a conservative body. There’s also established precedent for the SC to hand the presidency to the GOP! While Trump most certainly would throw a tantrum if he lost the EC count, any action undertaken by SCOTUS is not something a progressive should welcome. I really don’t see any way around another four years of Trump at this point.

      • KentSmotherman
        April 9, 2020 12:04 PM

        Oh I completely agree – but we have to get the left even more pissed off in order to start the revolution. 🙂

  • HenryWallacesForceGhost
    April 9, 2020 11:18 AM

    Biden ’20: Just as much baggage as Clinton, half the competence. Can’t you just feel the tide of excitement building? I bet the turnout is going to be amazing (for Trump)!

  • The analogy to an abuse survivor is apt.
    the local NPR station’s call in show had EJ Dionne on talking about Bernie dropping out. I wrote this question to him:
    How do we address the Biden enthusiasm gap?
    It seems that the mainstream Democrats think as long as we get
    someone who was in the Obama administration voters will
    automatically long for those days. But Hillary had an enthusiasm gap
    as well so I am worried.

    Dionne replied that hatred of Trump makes voters enthusiastic and not to worry, essentially.
    I am still afraid. Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal” was prescient in 2016 and as a result he has been shunned by media and mainstream Dems. Matt Taibbi as well.

    • Matt Taibbi is shunned by the media OR
      Taibbi shunned Frank’s book?

      • shunned by media. sorry for the confusion. One chapter of Taibbi’s book features Frank and his last 2 books where Frank’s spot-on conclusions were too much for outlets like the NY Times to bear.

      • «One chapter of Taibbi’s book features Frank and his last 2 books where Frank’s spot-on conclusions were too much for outlets like the NY Times to bear.» Ah, but you see, No, that the New York Times only prints the news that’s fit to print…. 😉


    • To “No”

      Thanks for the clarification.
      I thought that was the case but I had to ask
      to make sure I hadn’t missed something.

  • An election organized by the Oligarchs, for the Oligarchs, and of the Oligarchs does not become democratic just because an Oligarchic Corporatocracy let the little people select a name of an Oligarch on a ballot, one who has spent billions of dollars to become a political celebrity, one who has become well-known for being well-known.

    Democracy means rule by the people.

    Ruling means writing laws that are enforceable with the force of law.

    Laws that are without provisions for enforcement are merely easily ignored suggestions.

    What laws have been written by the demos?

    Not by the Democrats. I mean by the demos, the people.

    “We the People” has never meant the demos.

    Anyone who believes this is delusional.

    The writers of the Constitution wrote in seclusion from the demos, whom they deeply distrusted.

    If you want to go anywhere, first, before making your travel plans, you have to have an idea of where your journey is starting from.

  • All Biden has is “at least he’s not Trump.”

    We saw how well that worked out last time.

  • LeftyMathProf
    May 1, 2020 9:02 PM

    I don’t know about “last chance for a generation.” I can easily imagine AOC winning in 2024, if elections are held then. They might not be, if the climate worsens fast enough or if other things go amiss.

Comments are closed.