The Liberal Headfake: So Joe Biden Never Said He Was Progressive, Huh?

The Democrats will perpetually pay vague homage to the idea of progressive policies during the election, and reject them point blank when in office. Maybe it’s the spirit of Christmas but I’m reminded of the story of a certain Charles Brown and a neighbor girl named Lucy. It’s time for the left to stop kicking the fucking football or we’ll end up where we always do, flat on our backs.

The Liberal Headfake will be a series of updates regarding the blatant historical revisionism that runs rampant in the Democratic party. This series will be devoted to quick updates as news unfolds. It will range in topics from the Democrats accepting a paltry 900 billion dollar which is half of the bill Pelosi previously described as “unacceptable”, to the endless hypocracy that is surely to come from the Biden (deep)State department, to today’s topic, the horseshit historical rewrite that neoliberal pundits everywhere and Biden himself never claimed to have progressive intention in the White House.

“I want to be the most progressive president since FDR.” Joe Biden thundered into the phone during a conversation with Senator Bernie Sanders back in March as he courted the endorsement of his former primary opponent. This obvious attempt to placate the left flank of the Democratic Party in the months leading up to the general election was met with an eye roll by most of the activist community, but undoubtedly contributed to the decisions of many who through gritted teeth cast their vote for a man who marginally shared their values in empty rhetoric. Joe Biden, the author of the 1994 crime bill, cheerleader of austerity cuts to entitlements and ardent supporter of the 2005 bankruptcy bill that financially kneecapped millions of Americans saddled with debt that they’ll never repay? Ha, give us a break. But never-the-less, the narrative continued. In no small part because it was frequently repeated by Bernie Sanders, who, bless his heart, may have believed it to be the case when he was campaigning tirelessly for the man. 

This often repeated point was constantly used as a means of dissuading leftists from withholding their vote so long as Joe Biden withheld his support for any of the issues they held dear.This talking point, proved remarkably salient after four years of Trump’s oafishness and the media megaphone sounding the alarm on his every move, was always just an empty platitude, a meaningless turn of phrase that was never rooted in any kind of reality. Despite the foolishness of it all, come Election Day, it was my view at the time that the powers that be in the Democratic Party had sufficiently won the battle and there was nothing to be gained by withholding the vote from Biden at that time, who I do believe to be a marginally better actor in the White House though that margin grows thinner with each cabinet appointment he announces. 

For this reason and others I maintain the opinion that there was not a single ethical option available to voters in the election booth on Tuesday, November 3rd. For voters on the left, their option consisted of voting for Joe Biden, a war criminal, and author of the 1994 crime bill that is largely responsible for perhaps America’s most wretched domestic crimes, the prison industrial complex, after which the supposed land of the free became the most incarcerated country in the history of the world. Or you could decide not to, and cross your fingers he still won, because as even the most ardent supporters of the Green Party would concede, there just wasn’t a path to victory, or even 5% for the Hawkins/Walker ticket, who only appeared on the ballot in 30 states. Regardless of who you pulled the lever for, it felt like eating a dick for one reason or another. 

The day after the election, however, the narrative shifted and history was rewritten.  o\Overnight he was no longer the Biden aiming to be “the most progressive president since FDR” he was again the Biden who promised Wall Street that “nothing would fundamentally change” and the establishment dutifully assumed the position that he never promised any of that other stuff anyway. In fact, they insisted, “Joe Biden won’t fulfill progressives’ wishlists, and that’s why he won” touted Vox co-founder, Matt Yglesias (who once himself even moonlit as a quasi-progressive wonk) mere months after himself writing that Biden was “running on arguably the most progressive policy platform of any Democratic nominee in history.” This kind of blatant revisionism is not only shameless and intellectually dishonest, but it’s also run of the mill. Yglesias isn’t alone in his obvious 180 pivot, this has been the move from all of the neoliberal news outlets, from print to cable news. Before every election the left is rhetorically placated and after are rejected and ridiculed. 

As many predicted, the Democratic machinery is rerunning all the old plays from 2008 and the left is falling for them. Running left and governing right, as is already evidenced by Biden’s change in discourse after the election and his cabinet selection. The Democrats will perpetually pay vague homage to the idea of progressive policies during the election, and reject them point-blank when in office. Maybe it’s the spirit of Christmas but I’m reminded of the story of a certain Charles Brown and a neighbor girl named Lucy. It’s time for the left to stop kicking the fucking football or we’ll end up where we always do, flat on our backs.

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