Trump and Biden: Equally Awful

Trump, Biden in virtual tie in Texas in new poll -

Front and center in the raging debate among liberals and progressives over whether they should support Joe Biden or opt out of the two-party trap by voting third-party or not at all is the assumption that Biden would do less harm both to the world and to American leftism than Trump.

Even many hard-core Bernie-or-Busters accept the premise that Biden wouldn’t be as bad as Trump. They believe the additional damage that would result from a second Trump administration is an acceptable price for teaching the DNC a lesson and building a progressive movement.

But it’s not true that Biden wins the harm mitigation sweepstakes.

For every respect in which Biden would be better than Trump—or less awful—there is a compelling counterfactual that carries equal or greater weight.

If Trump wins, for example, we can count on his uniquely toxic combination of anti-science propaganda and organizational ineptitude to unnecessarily prolong and increase the body count of COVID-19. The WHO says that millions could die in the dreaded second wave; a disproportionately high number of those people could be Americans. Let’s guesstimate half a million dead here in the U.S.?

The net cost of Trump is equal to the total number of deaths here under his second term, minus the number that would occur under Biden. Since Biden can’t do anything about the pandemic until late January when he takes office and herd immunity appears to be closer than we previously believed, whether a ridiculously incompetent Trump or a refreshingly competent Biden is president after January probably doesn’t make a big difference. There’s a chance we have seen the worst of COVID-19. Still, it’s fair to say that thousands more Americans will succumb to the coronavirus under Trump and Biden.

On the other hand, Biden is likelier to start wars than Trump and Trump is likelier to end them. Biden voted to bomb Bosnia and invade Afghanistan. He was a big cheerleader and enabler for the Iraq war. Currently he’s threatening to start a hot war with Venezuela and new cold wars against China and Russia. He also promises to keep increasing the defense budget. Donald Trump was the first American president in decades to directly negotiate with the Taliban, with whom he signed a peace agreement to bring home all American troops from our longest war.

When we assess which candidate would do the most harm, even the breathtakingly disgusting body count from COVID-19 doesn’t come close to the over 1 million people who died in the Iraq war alone. Will Biden go to war against Iran? North Korea? Anything is possible. Biden’s record is clear; he is an extremely dangerous man. And even if you don’t care about all the brown people he would kill as president, remember 9/11. Our wars come to our shores sometimes.

Despite the usual election year hysteria, there is no daylight between Trump and Biden on most major issues. Neither old white man promises to restore the $600 a week supplemental unemployment insurance. Neither is in favor of the Green New Deal. Neither wants student loan forgiveness. Neither would sign Medicare For All. Both prioritize corporations over individual citizens. Neither would significantly liberalize immigration policy.

Even on the issue of the year, police violence, Trump and Biden are competing to see which one is more palatable to the Blue Lives Matter crowd. “You know me,” Biden assured the far right in a recent speech, referencing his authorship of the notorious mass incarceration crime bill and the USA-Patriot Act that destroyed fundamental privacy rights. “You know my heart, and you know my story, my family’s story. Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” When someone tells you they are an authoritarian, believe them.

The real difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has nothing to do with policy. No matter which evil man wins, we are in for a lousy four years.

This election comes down to personality. How do you like your monsters? Obnoxious and buffoonish? Or polite and affable? I prefer truth in advertising: Americans are up in arms about crappy American policies precisely because Donald Trump puts an appropriately nasty face on them.

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




  • alex_the_tired
    September 2, 2020 5:40 PM

    Ted, you’ve left out one crucial point.

    If, um, Biden wins, it will neuter the progressive movement. “We have a centrist who is busily shafting the middle class or what’s left of it. Don’t rock the boat. Things will get marginally better, for some, eventually.” It will be 12 more years of hardship for the middle class and the middle class will bend over and beg for it. And the planet will cross any chance of mitigating climate change. Biden won’t get anything done. Take that to the bank.

    If Trump wins? The democratic party will have to face reality. First, Trump whupped ’em in a fair fight (the Russian thing has been debunked, hasn’t it, Ted? I mean, they spent, how much, $200,000 to “rig” the election in which something like $200 million was spent, and the files were transferred via a thumb drive, which is just how foreign hackers would get the info, right? Yeah, Russians. Or Bigfoot.) Second, Hillary rigged the primary. Third, the dnc helped her do it. Fourth, and most unforgivable, they botched it. Fifth, Trump still won even after four years of his freak show. Why? Because Biden sucks, and he was the one the dems maneuvered into the game, again to screw Sanders.

    If Trump wins, everyone, possibly, will finally wake the hell up.

    • Oh, I didn’t really leave it out. I just ran out of space. As you know, I’ve talked about how the left gets brutally neutralized under a Democratic president.

      • alex_the_tired
        September 3, 2020 8:24 PM

        It is … truly … staggering to contemplate that one can run out of room criticizing, um, Biden online. In a forum of, literally, almost limitless space, when it comes to Biden, it’s like being bounded up in a nutshell.

        I still think that when it’s unpacked, Trump’s response to Covid was neither bad nor good: he actually had pretty much no wiggle room.

        Example 1: The medical supplies like nose swaps and face masks? Contracted as a just-in-time delivery service from (you guessed it) China’s factories. What’s that? It makes no sense to ship things from around the planet during an epidemic because supply lines might be broken? That’s what you or I would say, but not the multiple administrations that let this happen.

        Example 2: Trump’s running a rip-roaring (on paper) economy. Unemployment at 3.5%. And here comes a virus and we have to shut the whole world down? I dare anyone to tell me that Bomb-All-The-Brown-People Hillary Clinton would have shut the whole show down on a dime. She’d have done the same thing Trump did. Delay. She’d have been more polished about telling us all to drop dead is all.

        Example 3. All the deaths? Has any news organization answered the question: Are the American death rates due to Covid higher because more Americans were sickly due to having no access to medical care due to our for-profit system? That is, Covid’s taking out all the low-hanging fruit that’s accumulating thanks to triangulation and Clintonian policies.

        Example 4. No one’s wearing a mask properly. I don’t just mean the people pulling it down to their chin all day. We use them too long, we contaminate them by shoving them onto potentially infected portions of our skin then replacing them over our mouths, etc. Even if Trump did the whole stop-drop-and-roll thing, we’d all be walking around infecting each other and ourselves.

        And did anyone else see that 1 million ballots went out late? No way this election’s not going to the Supremes. Too bad the dems never fixed all the vote rigging. Oh, right. The Republicans were meanies. Poor widdle dems. It’s not their fault they get nothing done.

    • To Alex:

      To your point that there are instances in which $200,000 means essentially nothing: The FEC (i.e. Federal Election Commission, which is probably underestimating – for many reasons) says
      during the 24 month 2015-2016 election cycle presidential candidates raised and spent $1.5 billion, political parties $1.6 billion and PACs $4 billion. Congressional candidates, perhaps lessrelevant, another $1.6 billion.

      I doubt the presidential figures include the purported $600 million equivalent that the main stream media fawned all over Trump, the Nazi they, NOW, love to hate.

  • Another “difference” (the only distinction being the level of hypocrisy) would be how each monstrosity of a candidate tries to quash BLM.

    First, of course, both His Hairness (aka “Trump”), hereafter “HH,” and ol’ Joe (neo Jim Crow) Biden, hereafter “nJC,” will rely on the nationwide, militarized, racist, murdering local police forces that have been, in significant part, created, enabled and exceptionalized by nJC, himself … over the course of his illustrious career as, incontrovertibly, a kinder, gentler Nazi.

    HH would assist police by continuing to cultivate, coddle and incite heavily-armed reich-wing militia members, who, it seems from Kenosha, can have conferred upon them by the local police the “qualified immunity” they currently exclusively possess, to murder without responsibility … which, incidentally, DEFINES “police state.”

    nJC, on the other hand, would deploy water cannons to obscure (NOT end) the aforementioned “police/militia partnership.”

    Both would blame all violence and death on BLM.

    Now that Labor Day is upon us, nJC is about to launch his “serious” campaign with his most expensive media buy, to date. In it he will insist the he, too, like HH, will restore “law and order” thereby putting HH in the campaign driver seat and sealing nJC’s defeat in November. Will the ad show him riding in a Kenosha PD armored vehicle sporting a shit eating grin? (News of this pending nJC blunder taken from the current Chris Floyd – Empire Burlesque post)

    With this pathetic ploy of “Sometimes I AM HH but sometimes I’m NOT HH,” the Dems need to rename themselves the “Political Fiascoes ‘r’ Us” party.

  • Sorry, I just can’t go along with the notion that they are equally bad. Even if as you seem to wish, that Trump wins, I don’t see the pissed off electorate turning socialist en masse. I’m afraid it would be easier for the electorate to go rightward.
    The electorate has to demand a change in our political system, overhaul of the 3 branches of government’s powers, a break up on the 2 party monopoly.
    I would rather have Trump lose so the Repub party can be thoroughly destroyed first. Dems also need to change as well, the elderly leadership will die or retire. I heard on Rise Up With Sonali that there was a 5 hour online convention of people who want to create a new progressive party.

  • I do agree that we are in for a lousy 4 years no matter who wins. This COVID recession is only beginning. If Biden uses the same playbook as 2008 recession it will not help much. Trump will continue to blame the Chinese, Mexicans,Antifa and BLM for everything.

  • Also, with Trump’s payroll tax holiday, he is preparing us for the destruction of Social Security, which will run out of funds in 2023. Sure, I was not counting on it to support me fully in old age, but this is one of the few New Deal programs where everyone has solidarity behind, unless we fall for the billionaires who want to take away any semblance of social solidarity.

    • To No:

      The billionaires not only “want to take away any semblance of social solidarity” but they have been working diligently and comprehensively on that project since FDR.

      You can be sure that if SocSec is “destroyed” it won’t be for LACK of money but precisely the opposite: it is another large amount of money that said billionaires want for themselves. I think the 2023 year of reckoning is a bit premature. The social security admin’s website says: ” … benefits are now expected to be payable in full on a timely basis until 2037.”
      Search “how long is social security solvent.”

      That being the case, social security is not the diseased program that it is so continuously described as (see “billionaires” above). Hardly, since tax receipts are about half the projected budget, essentially every other government agency is in the red well before the end of each quarter. In a sane system, social security would be the abslute paragon of a financially sound, wildly popular, beneficial program.

      Not only do the terminally avaricious want the social security trust fund but with the retired population thus robbed and impoverished, one has to admit that would give them an extremely effective unique tool to quicken the destruction of social solidarity. Back to top.

      • Yes, when Dubya wanted to “reform” Social Security so it would be turned into some sort of 401K managed by the billionaire brokerages, this was shot down, thanks to many Americans organizing against this scheme. Then the economy tanked, and thank Gawd this scheme was not allowed to go forward.

  • I think Matt Taibbi’s piece was pretty good. the question journalists must ask is not “What is Trump thinking?”, but “What is Trump selling?”