Not being Trump is not enough

Once every four years, the two major capitalist parties in the United States get unlimited prime-time media, with much hoopla, to promote their candidates for U.S. president and vice president. The four-day Democratic National Convention that ended Aug. 20 offered far less than usual, which cannot just be blamed on COVID-19.

Other than officially nominating their candidates — Joe Biden for president and Kamala Harris for vice president — the DNC offered no substantial promises and proposed no significant programmatic changes. The overwhelming message was “Vote for Joe Biden because he is not Donald Trump.”

Even their primary slogan, “Build Back Better,” sounds eerily similar to Trump’s 2016 slogan “Make America Great Again.” With a lot of promises but few specifics, the platform totally ignores the crisis of a global capitalist system which was unraveling even before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Biden calls for more testing and mandatory mask wearing to address the COVID-19 crisis. But the prospect of “Medicare for All” was dropped from the DNC program. During the pandemic, more than 40 million people in the U.S. have lost their jobs and health insurance at the same time. Yet Biden failed to offer a plan to address the health care crisis. He has even said that as president he would veto a Medicare for All bill, should one reach his desk.  

Thousands of people die each year in the U.S. because they cannot afford health care. The disproportionate death toll in communities of color during the pandemic is a direct result. While polls show overwhelming voter support for Medicare for All, the DNC leaders appear to be more concerned about protecting the profits of Big Pharma and the health insurance companies.

The DNC platform supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour — by 2026. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would now be closer to $20 per hour.

One specific item on Biden’s website calls for another federal bailout of the auto industry. The Obama/Biden administration’s $80 billion bailout of that industry in 2009 resulted in massive layoffs and significant concessions from auto workers’ unions, including their right to strike. And the DNC leadership dropped a call to end fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks from the party’s program. 

Biden’s website makes no mention of his foreign policy views. The DNC’s international policy platform comes at the end of its 91-page document — perhaps because both capitalist parties differ little when it comes to defending U.S. imperialism’s global domination.

After Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, offered advice at the convention on how the DNC could engage Muslim voters, the Biden campaign publicly disavowed her. The DNC platform does not criticize Israel’s occupation of Palestine. It supports Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital.  

Following months of massive protests against police brutality in U.S. cities, large and small, supporting Black Lives Matter and calls for defunding the police can no longer be considered “far left.” Numerous state and local governments have cut police department funds; some are even looking to abolish them. But Biden does not support defunding the police — he calls for more money for police reforms already proven ineffective.

During an Aug. 23 interview with ABC’s David Muir, Biden even criticized Trump for suggesting “a bill to cut one-half billion dollars out of local police support.”  This should come as no surprise, considering that in 1994 then-Senator Joe Biden (in cooperation with the president of the National Association of Police Officers) drafted the controversial legislation for Clinton’s crime bill, seen by many as the trigger for mass incarceration.

Trump is horrible. But at this historic time, when workers and oppressed are challenging the economic chaos, systemic racism and police brutality that are the pillars of the capitalist system, not being Trump is simply not enough. Keep it in the streets! 

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