Should Bernie Supporters Suck It Up and Back Biden?
I’m not from the US. But, as is the case with most of the rest of the world, whoever gets to lead the most powerful country on the planet has an impact on me.
Last time around, I was excited to discover the existence of Bernie Sanders. I know a little of McCarthyism, Reds Under the Bed, and thought that in the US ‘Socialism’ was a swearword punishable by indefinite incarceration. So to discover that not only are there American politicians willing to describe themselves as democratic socialists, but also the possibility of one running for president — it gave me hope.
I consider myself firmly in the anti-capitalist camp, but as mainstream politics across the globe are deeply entrenched in this destructive political system, I tend to support any party I consider to be vaguely left-wing. It’s a compromise. Democratic candidates like Barak Obama have never exactly been aiming to end capitalism, but if the only likely alternative in the short to medium term is someone like Mitt Romney or Trump, then I’ve always felt it necessary to suck it up. Obama wasn’t even left-wing, rather he was firmly in the neoliberal camp, so I can’t say I’d blame any ‘proper’ leftists for denying him their vote. But had I been American I’d have lent him mine, because the alternative seemed far worse.
But Bernie would have got me campaigning. He’s not without flaws, and can only really be considered as someone aiming to make capitalism fairer, so we’re not ideologically aligned. But he’s so far to the left of mainstream American politics, he’s actually on the left. The difference that could make, not just to the average American citizen but to global politics as a whole, is potentially huge.
I was disappointed but hardly surprised when he lost to Hilary — he was never the front runner. But despite resenting everything she stood for I would have held my nose and gave her my vote in the hope of defeating Trump. Yes, she was the establishment vote, but I thought of her as the lesser of two evils.
This time it’s different. Bernie was favourite for many, especially after Biden’s poor showing early on. But, in what has been described by some as an act of class war, the neoliberals rallied around Biden, with other like-minded candidates dropping out to endorse him, fighting the spectre of socialism at every turn.
I’m an optimist, but at this point even I have to concede that Biden is going to be the democratic nomination. Sanders and his efforts to shift America to the left have been defeated again. So why am I not simply advocating what I always would have done myself, telling people to get behind the Democrat to defeat Trump, Vote Blue No Matter Who?
It just doesn’t feel like one of those disappointments where you dust yourself off and get ready to fight again, harder and smarter.
It feels like the system is rigged. It feels like Biden is the best the Left are ever going to get within the current Democratic party, and if that truly is the case it isn’t something I could ever bring myself to fight for. The point is to fight for something better than neoliberal capitalism, not struggle to maintain a slightly less destructive version of it. With Bernie things would have been moving in the right direction. With Biden, it’s a half shuffle forward after Trump’s ten leaps back.
We can’t just alternate between various Republican Trumps and slightly less reckless neoliberals who don’t openly revel in the thought of drone bombing foreign civilians, instead expressing regret as they do it anyway. The world needs strong leadership on climate change. Americans need to understand healthcare as a human right, irrespective of wealth. Neoliberalism will provide none of this.
Honestly, I’d find it so hard to vote for Biden. But, hating Trump with every fibre of my being, I probably still would. But regardless of whether or not Biden wins the election, I’d devote my energies to developing a real alternative. And if it didn’t seem possible to transform the Democratic party into something truly progressive, I’d aim to help build a third, radical option that stood to finally turn the US into a force for good in this world.