Why Biden Must Win: It is not about Democracy, its about Fascism

9 Oct

[Prefatory Note: Responses to an Iranian journalist, Javad Heiran-Nia Interview Questions on U.S. Elections (8 Oct 2020).]

Why Biden Must Win: It is not about Democracy, its about Fascism

  1. What is the most important issue affecting the upcoming US presidential election? (Economy; Foreign Policy; Domestic Policy; etc.)

For the voters in America the most important issues at this time are the (mis)management of the health crisis by Trump and the impact on the recovery of the U.S. economy. At this point there is a surge of criticism directed at the present U.S. leadership with respect to the Coronavirus pandemic: more infections and deaths per capita than almost any country in the world, intentional disregard of guidance by health specialists, dishonest and irresponsible reassurances, and economic relief favoring the rich and influential while understating the economic distress caused others by the loss of jobs, food insecurities, and threats of eviction. There is little interest, at least up to this point, in foreign policy with the single exception of international economic relations and geopolitical tensions with China. Both candidates for the presidency seem to adopt anti-Chinese positions, but Biden seems less militaristic and provocative than Trump. Biden refrains from blaming China for the virus, and seems somewhat less likely to embrace a strategy in East Asia that will lead to a second cold war.

For the peoples of the Middle East and elsewhere, the foreign policy implications of the elections assume greater importance. As with China, Trump seems more inclined than Biden to push the anti-Iran coalition of Israel, UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia toward the brink of war, with the hope that the persistence of ‘maximum pressure’ will cause destabilization in Iran, and if possible, regime change. Biden would not likely change very much in terms of alignment, but might be expected to be more cautious in endorsing aggressive policies, and might even restore the agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program negotiated toward the end of the Obama presidency. At the same time, Biden might be more inclined than Trump to push an anti-Russian approach that could take the form of regional and global confrontations, as well as arms races in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe.  

One cost of such foreign policy initiatives is to weaken the attention given to challenges  that can only be solved by multilateral cooperation at a time when it is most needed, especially in relation to climate change, the control of nuclear weaponry, migration flows, and health issues. As noted above, Biden is much more likely to renew American support for ‘liberal internationalism’ than Trump, and can almost certainly be expected to do so unless geopolitically distracted.

There are other hot spots around the world that are capable of generating dangerous foreign policy crises, especially in relation to Korea or India/Pakistan.

2. Which candidate has the best chance of winning? (Trump or Biden)

As of now, it appears that Biden will win the election rather decisively, but in 2016 there existed a comparable clear outlook close to vote, reinforced by public opinion polls. It created a strong impression that Hillary Clinton would win easily over Donald Trump, a view almost universally shared by the media, and reportedly even by the Trump campaign. The American political mood is unstable, and could be influenced by developments in the coming weeks as the date of the election approaches that are supportive of Trump’s campaign for reelection as, for example, violent riots in American cities, a further surge in the financial markets, a crisis in the Middle East or the Korean Peninsula. .

Additionally, there are a series of factors that sow doubt about present expectations of a Biden victory that go beyond which candidate will gain the most votess: first of all, Biden could win the popular vote by a wide margin, and yet lose the election because of the way in which the peculiar American institution of the Electoral College determines the outcome of presidential elections by counting the results on a federal state by state basis rather than nationally. This happened in 2016, Hillary Clinton winning by wide margins in New York and California, but losing close votes in such battleground states as Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan. According to the Electoral College a candidate receives the same number of electoral votes assigned to a state if he wins by one vote or 10 million votes. The value of the vote in states where one party dominates, an individual vote becomes of diluted value, whereas if both parties are more or less of similar popularity, the value of an individual vote is inflated. The question posed is whether the Electoral College vote will again override the popular vote as it did in 2106.

Secondly, it is well known that Republican control of governments in the 50 states making up the U.S. has resulted in a variety of voter suppression schemes that make it harder to vote, and particularly affects African Americans and the very poor, making voting more difficult i cities and the rural South. Trump has also attacked mail-in voting as subject to mass fraud although the evidence in no way supports the accusation. Less votes are seen as helping Trump. Republicans are better organized and more disciplined than Democrats, although the Democrats have devoted great energy this year to getting out the vote.

Thirdly, Trump has intimated that he can only lose the election if it is has been ‘rigged’ by the Democrats. The reality seems to justify a different complaint that targets the Republicans. Much of the rigging that occurred in 2016 was attributable to Russia, and definitely worked in Trump’s favor, being intended to do so. Back then such partisan interference seemed welcomed by the Republican campaign, and likely would be again.  There are concerns that similar interferences might occur again this time around as Russia continues to prefer Trump to Biden, although there seems to be a greater effort in 2020 to insulate the election process from outside interferences, especially in relation to social media.

It is important to grasp a basic ideological feature of recent American elections of the presidency. Ever since the unified response to fascism during World War II the political parties have accepted a ‘bipartisan consensus’ that almost completely excludes certain crucial policy commitments from political controversy. The most important of these is overinvestment in the military, the predatory features of global capitalism, and so-called ‘special relationships’ with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and European alliance partners. This consensus held up throughout the Cold War, was sustained during the banner years of neoliberal globalization in the decade of the 1990s, and reinvigorated after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon after George W. Bush launched the war on terror, and Barack Obama continued it. 

Bernie Sanders challenged this consensus as it impacted upon policy discourse during his two campaigns to obtain the Democratic Party nomination, but his efforts were rejected by the party elite because he threatened the consensus, defied the ‘deep state,’ worried the Washington foreign policy establishment, and frightened the large private sector donors whose funding support depended on respecting the bipartisan consensus. In this sense, the Democrats successfully subordinated in their own party all radical elements that enjoyed movement support, especially among youth. The Republicans sidelined their moderate leadership, giving over control of the party to extremists that formed the base of Trump support. And so while the Democratic Party establishment neutralized the progressive Sanders’ challenge the Republican Party was radicalized from the right giving Trump control over all mechanism.

In part, it is this issue of party identity, and its relation to the governmental structures of power, that may be the most important effect of the November elections. If Biden wins, the bipartisan consensus is reaffirmed, while if Trump somehow prevails, the bipartisan will be further weakened, and even threatened by replacing the consensus with a right-wing policy agenda. If Biden loses, the consensus will be further discredited by its mistaken view that moving toward the political center is what wins election. What evidence exists by polls and other measurements of public opinion suggest that Sanders would have been a stronger candidate than Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020, but for reasons suggested above, adhering to the bipartisan consensus was more important or Democrats than winning elections. 

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14 Responses to “Why Biden Must Win: It is not about Democracy, its about Fascism”

  1. Sean Breathnach October 10, 2020 at 9:58 am #

    America’s record of intervention especially in the Middle East is dreadful to put it mildly. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, all in disarray, hundreds of thousands killed and many more wounded. To even think of regime change in Iran beggars belief. Let’s hope that reason prevails, but Trump will do anything to help him get elected. My own opinion is that both candidates for President are weak, but Biden is more likely to listen to reason than Trump is. Trump’s Disgraceful handling of the corona virus alone should be enough to rule him out.

    • Richard Falk October 11, 2020 at 12:25 am #

      Totally agree!! It is unrealistic to expect a decent foreign policy for the U.S.
      until the state bureaucracy, including intelligence activities, are demilitarized
      and the personnel held accountable.

  2. Kata Fisher October 12, 2020 at 12:42 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    To me it looks more and more that historical 3 fifths compromise is hunting current point in time here in US. In spite of that – American Republic is just fine.

    I swore by holy altar and all things on, and took a vow that I will never to be a part of sect, cult or civil religion. That would be to be equal to myself, to do hard work, and to practice self-blessings. That mean that as a legal resident on this territory (meaning not “illegal refugee”) I can work with my own hands and mind my own business. In addition to that, I can and do refuse to give. I refuse to precipitate in charity in spite of economical “health and wealth.” Pope Francis would put me in his purgatory because of this. I think, I also have heard of some kind of “health and wealth gospels” good deeds – but oh well… Especially during Covid upside downs (upps and Whoops) – who could ever believe in any gospel like that. What good could ever come out of a fellowship?

    I will tell them “jump” and they should say “how high?” And I would say, “Whom am I to decide?”

    I could not survive a day without self entertainment, and laugh.

    I hope everything goes well, as people and nations get some sunlight shine, recognize their spooky skeletons, and move on with their Leadership.

    Sometimes, discerning right from wrong / good and bad is like discerning fly s*** on a one single peppercorn.

    I am not sure how will go for US elections – but I think and sincerely hope that honorable Mike Pence will get his second Term.

    • Richard Falk October 12, 2020 at 1:30 am #

      I can’t share your view of Pence who has been subservient to Trump’s worst
      behavior, covering it up, and even applauding it, while many thousands die
      who could be living normal lives.

      • Kata Fisher October 14, 2020 at 12:01 am #

        Dear Professor Falk,

        All species are the incubators of the pathogens.

        It is Dr Fauci who knew how contagious the virus is he was dealing with. He himself said in one of his interviews that he knew the effectiveness of the mask – but did not make that public knowledge because he feared that people would hoard the medical supplies off.

        He could not tell how fast homemade masks would go on for nothing, at all. So, he really made health rights choice for the people that time.

        Also, infected should have not be sent to the nursing homes to be among most weakest in health. Grave mistakes were made.

        It is not Ms. Harris purpose to continue to bring up Mr. Bidens “Racial Jungle” comments. Likewise, it would not be in Mr. Pence purpose to do what he is not suppose to do.

        On bright side, there was no new war. The warfare added on and on can’t go on anymore and must be made to stop.

        Fascism is mainly in cult fellowships among those who baptize whole masses of the people in charisma of spirits of devils. They abuse the Apostolic Church Order, and do not baptize in Spirit of God. They are the ones who are responsible for murders. Nazi flag wavers have a like a mosquito effect in any society compared to that what is happening within the cults and them spiritually demonizing individuals and whole families. This is mainly Protestant evangelical Christians that do such things.

        Two things that they lack is that they can not be in Peace with everyone, and they can not love their neighbor.
        Instead they are that Church-Cult that is in Satan. That is the wicked Wulf.

        They seal people in seals of Satan with their Satan’s confirmation. When Church finds them out, they get given over to the curse of the destruction. They get worse then Capital Punishment upon himself, and all Grace – absolutely all Grace is taken away from them. They will be stripped off like that accursed fig tree.

        And no, they are not Church of Satan. We all know that these fine people like to do that because they are clear of their fellowship choice, and that is ok.

  3. peon October 13, 2020 at 1:54 pm #

    I don’t get the title of this piece given the content. To me, you are making the case that democracy is in peril and fascism is the de facto political wave. I maintain that right-wing populism (Trump) defeated the establishment, while the Democratic Party defeated their left-wing populist insurgency (Sanders) twice. Underhandedly at that (this is not mentioned in your article, which does mention the misleading and manufactured Russiagate theory – but that’s a different story). The bipartisanship that Biden would restore (although it seems largely there in reality when it comes to foreign policy, the military, gas exploration, wealth inequality) is far from democracy.

    • Kata Fisher October 15, 2020 at 8:35 pm #

      Dear Professor Falk,

      Can I put one elephant in the room?

      https://www.livescience.com/elephant-mass-deaths-botswana.html

      • Richard Falk October 16, 2020 at 2:45 am #

        I would welcome many elephants into the room! There treatment is one more
        indictment of the human condition.

      • Kata Fisher October 17, 2020 at 1:05 am #

        This is the problem to the humanity. This is the problem of the humanity. Where is humanity is such things?

        This is also abuse of the human rights, and also abuse of human health rights.

        You would know for sure if I would be wrong.

  4. Yanique Joseph October 14, 2020 at 6:58 am #

    I will vote for Biden this November and have encouraged other Haitians in the U.S. to do so. My hope is that under his presidency, a vibrant peace and anti-nuclear movement offering a Global Green New Deal as an alternative, will be born. Climate change cannot wait for the next administration as decisive action must be taken within the next ten years to avert certain irreversible catastrophes which will doom the species.

    Averting a new cold war against China needs to be on the top of the agenda as Chinese and Asian investment is needed to help the Global South make a timely transition to renewable energy. Affirming the authority of global institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank is needed to insure a just transition and gender justice – both of these institutions have financed sustainable development, education and economic alternatives for women for the last 30 years. Winning major changes in U.S. foreign policy may take all of the four years of a Biden administration, valuable time for launching robust technology transfer initiatives that Global South countries cannot afford to lose.

    Using U.S. universities as spaces where diasporas from various Global South countries can seek out expertise, solidarity and mobilize financing for a just transition in their countries of origin is a promising strategy. My hope is that the U.S. left which has managed to gain some influence in the Democratic Party and gotten it to adopt Green New Deal policies, will overcome its historical fragmentation and learn to develop stronger relationships with immigrant communities.

    We are fairly confident that U.S. philanthropy will help finance these initiatives and that U.S. universities which are witnessing the loss of their intellectual authority to anti-science and rightwing cultish forces at a time when it’s mostly needed, will work for a global green New Deal also as a path to avert a global depression. We are confident that a critical mass within U.S. universities will work for cooperation with China and other countries on technological innovation and global governance to address climate change.

    Yanique Joseph, Director, Haitian Renaissance Institute, New Haven

    • Richard Falk October 14, 2020 at 8:19 am #

      Yanique: I am so impressed by the intensity and cogency of your
      green vision maintained through thick and thin over the decades.
      My warmest greetings of solidarity, Richard

  5. Beau Oolayforos October 18, 2020 at 3:07 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    I’ve been hearing some good news lately. One report called the Syrian integration into Germany “an unqualified success”. I like to think that this means that all or most of the refugees trekking out of Syria a few years ago are now earning euros. My next-door neighbor, who has taught in various places worldwide, says that Germany, at that time, was in need of workers, so it was win-win, with Frau Merkel deserving much credit.

    Although we are discouraged from ethnic stereotyping, my neighbor goes on to say that his experience with Syrians is that they are practical, pragmatic, and will adapt to given situations. A perfect fit, and hopefully a template for the future, as we move away from the fascist, scorched-earth cruelty which has been the curse of these past 4 years. Can the German experience be replicated? Improved upon? Internationally? It most certainly can, if only our august ministers can summon up a bit of creativity, compassion….

    • Richard Falk October 18, 2020 at 10:32 pm #

      I hope that this positive assessment is both accurate and replicable in other situations
      of essentially forced migration. One question is whether the Syrian influx related in any
      significant way with the continuing rise of the Neo-Nazi rightest extremism in Germany. Any
      further thoughts welcome.

      • Beau Oolayforos October 19, 2020 at 2:21 pm #

        What I wonder most about are your thoughts on Nagorno-Karabakh. I read that the Russian arms industry is supplying both sides – a terrible, seemingly intractable conflict, raging close to where I gather you currently reside. I certainly wish you safety and good health.

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