25 February 2021

Batting zero

The Forever War rolls on...

This past election cycle, I made for myself a five-item ‘litmus test’ that I would cast my primary ballot on, as well as decide how to cast my general election ballot. My litmus items were: Medicare for All, $15 an hour, ending the forever war, relaxing visa restrictions on legal immigrants and meaningful criminal justice reform. (As I have said before: even though I am solidly pro-life in my political convictions, that issue has been relegated to a position of electoral irrelevance, largely by the fact that Republicans want to keep it as a culture-war ‘wedge’ and won’t do anything about the issue.)

Even this five-item litmus test was in fact a slightly watered-down and dumbed-down version of the seven-item litmus test that I made early in the primary season in response to the candidates’ answers to survey questions in the press. I pulled a 1944 Russell Kirk and voted for Gloria La Riva on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, because Biden’s record was against him on all five of the issues that I care about and decided to stake my vote on.

Recent events, and at least two events this past week in particular, have confirmed over and over again my choice to not support the Democratic Party with my vote. We’re back to Bourbon Democracy, in that the Democrats have both forgotten nothing about their failure in 2016, and learned nothing from it. Biden is clearly hankering after a thorough drubbing in the midterms next year, and a devastating loss in 2024 to a Republican candidate who will no doubt make Trump look like a tame kitten in comparison.

Let’s start with Medicare for All – a reform to our healthcare system which we desperately need, and some version of which all other industrialised countries and even conservative monarchies have… and which Biden said he would veto if it crossed his desk. Biden’s healthcare plan was literally written by the insurance companies. And not only does it fall short of Medicare for All, but it doesn’t even provide for a public option, which was the compromise position for the Democratic candidates back in 2008 when Obama was running for president! Joe Biden is facing down a massive crisis in the American healthcare system and doing nothing to fix it. He’s not even slapping a plaster on a massive hæmorrhage.

Now let’s go to the issue of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden has privately told governors he is not going to fight for it, despite this having been his one single campaign promise that I liked, and which could have swayed me to vote for him if I thought he was sincere about it. Clearly he wasn’t. His politics around wage increases are clearly a cynical ploy to attract working-class voters into his electoral base before abandoning them. Biden having won the election, he could very easily put pressure onto Democratic senators like Joe Manchin with vulnerable seats, and twist their arms to get them to support a $15 per hour mandate in the relief bill. But that promise was all hot air. He isn’t going to do it, for the same reasons that Obama didn’t push for a public option in the Affordable Care Act. His interests are with the donor class, and the donor class simply doesn’t want to pay their workers more.

Asking for meaningful criminal justice reform or meaningful policing reform from the key Democratic sponsor in the Senate of the infamous 1994 crime bill should probably have been seen as trying to squeeze blood from a stone. And the recent attempts by centrist Democrats to continue qualified immunity for police officers accused of wrongdoing, in the name of quixotically-elusive ‘bipartisanship’ and ‘political compromise’, along with Biden’s administrative attempt this past week to refund the brutal COPS initiative of the Clinton-era Department of Justice (which placed resource officers in public schools, for example), do not offer a great deal of hope that he’s likely to advance this cause either.

Visa reform? Rights for legal immigrants and asylum seekers? I had little enough hope for that on the campaign trail, when Biden decided to blow up at immigrant-rights advocate Carlos Rojas and told him to vote for Trump. This past week saw Biden open new detention facilities, and reopen an infamous Texas tent camp to continue processing deportations and family separations. Biden is not only straight-up continuing all of Trump’s most hideous abuses of legal asylum seekers, he actually appears to be expanding them.

And then there is the forever war, of which Biden has long been a supporter, and now appears to be continuing with all the incontinence and callous disregard for human life we ought to have expected from him from the start. Biden has just bombed Syria. Again. Just like Trump did and just like Obama did. The people of Syria and especially the long-suffering Orthodox Christians of that country have suffered more than their fair share and certainly more than they ever deserved at the hands of the American government and its hideous head-lopping takfiri-jihâdist proxies. Backed up by the war propaganda and manufactured consent from inane mouthpieces of the CIA like 60 Minutes, the Biden Administration seems as hellbent on continuing this revolting, heinous, profligate, destructive war on sæcular and Christian Arabs, Assyrians and Armenians in the Middle East. Biden also seems to be continuing in Trump’s determination to harass, beleaguer and starve the people of countries like Venezuela and Haiti. And still he continues to ramp up a strategically-insane new cold war with both China and Russia.

(It goes without saying that on life issues, Biden stands foursquare against his own church, and with the most radically-libertine elements within his own party that seek to trample down all legal humane considerations for unborn and even recently-born children. Again, though, this issue is so politically-polarised as a culture-war wedge that it is impossible to expect anything productive in policy to result from voting one way or another on it. Republicans continue to fund Planned Parenthood, for example.)

Biden is currently batting zero in terms of his actions in the fields of policy that I pinned my vote to this time around. That isn’t to say, by the way, that he isn’t undoing some of the damage to American infrastructure and the mechanisms of government that Trump did. But those gains are as ephemeral as the executive orders and signing statements that enacted them, and they can be blown away with the next shift of the electoral weathervane. But on the issues that can sway significant portions of the middle America that has remained so alienated in politics in the past two election cycles, Biden is either doing nothing or worse than nothing. I take no pleasure in saying this, since many of the options that are looming on the horizon when democratic legitimacy collapses in this country are far more horrifying than the banality of Biden’s evil, but these things needed to change long ago if we are to have any hope of recovery as a nation.


  1. There is a group on Facebook called "Progressive Orthodox Christianity", and there are occasional questions about "What is a Progressive Orthodox Christian?"

    I think your post gives the best answer to that, for Orthodox Christians in the USA, at least, and it can probably be applied, mutatis mutandis, to other places as well.

  2. The Trumpists will compromise their good ideas to achieve their bad ones, the Democrats will compromise anything as long as it pays, and the Lumpen-petty bourgeois alliance that is called the left attacks the working class as much as it supports it. Any practical advice on where to go from here?

  3. Dear Steve,

    Thank you! I appreciate the shout-out. I generally think that to call myself 'progressive' is to open myself up to possible historical misinterpretations, but given the current-day connotations of the term, 'Progressive Orthodox Christian' is probably as good a descriptor of where I belong as any.

    Dear D Lewis:

    I can agree with this assessment. Currently I am reading a book called Virtue Hoarders by Catherine Liu, which may shed some light on practical ways forward through this mess. It will almost certainly involve pushing back hard against the current crop of corporate-friendly Democrats and 'woke' donor-class apparatchiks, and it will almost certainly involve some degree of rapprochement between the left and middle American conservatism. I'm not sure how much or what each side is willing to compromise there, but that is one thing that needs to happen.