Biden and the Democrats a dead end for the US left

Joe Biden has declared he will run again for US President, launching his campaign in April. The 2024 election is looking increasingly like it will be a repeat of 2020, with establishment Democrat Joe Biden taking on far-right Republican Donald Trump.

Biden will be virtually uncontested in the Democratic primaries. Trump’s nearest Republican rival, right-wing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, trails him by over 30 points in polling averages.

The Biden camp is already preparing to go head to head with Trump. The video that launched Biden’s campaign opens with scenes of the storming of the Capitol by frenzied Trump supporters in January 2021. Biden presents himself as the only force capable of stopping Trump and the far right. In the voice-over that accompanies the video he says “Freedom. Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are.”

One crucial difference with the 2020 Presidential race is that Bernie Sanders will not be contesting the Democratic primaries.

In fact, Sanders was among the first to declare his support for Biden, and much of the Democratic Party’s left flank has followed suit. Democrat representative for Minnesota Ilhan Omar has also fallen behind the Biden campaign. She is a member of “the squad”, a progressive group of Democrats in the House of Representatives that includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Biden’s failure

Another Trump Presidency would give dangerous oxygen to the far right. But the reality is that disillusionment with the failures of the Democrats allowed the rise of Trump in the first place.

Biden has only continued the party’s support for the corporations and the rich. His administration has approved more oil and gas drilling on public lands than Trump did over the same period. And Biden has backed projects like the massive and decades long Willow oil-drilling project in Alaska.

Income inequality rose to record levels in Biden’s first year in office. Promises of trillions in infrastructure spending have come to very little. As one attendee at a Biden fundraising event in Washington put it, during his first term, “the fear of him moving left hasn’t happened”.

At the same time, Biden has doubled down on his commitment to imperialist war-mongering. Congress appropriated around $112 billion for Ukraine in 2022 alone, much of it for the military.

Against this backdrop Republicans have clawed back gains, winning a majority in the House of Representatives in 2022.

The Democrats held some ground in the mid-term elections by positioning themselves as opponents of the overturning of Roe vs Wade and defenders of abortion rights. But they have done little to defend access to abortion since.

Dead end

To break the infernal cycle that is feeding Trumpism there is a desperate need to build a left outside the Democratic Party.

The dynamic in the US is a dangerous one, especially with the prospect of a recession later in the year. The debt ceiling crisis is ongoing at the time of writing. Republicans are using their power in Congress to hold Biden to ransom, preventing the US paying its debts.

Attempts to make the Democratic Party more left-wing have proved a dismal failure. The hope inspired by left-wing Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come to naught.

Left-wing Democrats have not only fallen in behind the war mongering, establishment politician Joe Biden, but have been steadily pulled to the right since he began his Presidency.

The political degeneration of “the squad” is a case in point.

Their shift to the right has been appalling. Ocasio-Cortez voted to increase the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defence system in 2021. And all members of the squad except Rashida Tlaib voted with other Democrats to impose measures to prevent a rail workers’ strike in 2022.

Such betrayals have allowed Ocasio-Cortez to curry favour with the Democratic establishment. But being drawn into the dead end of careerism in the hope of influence within the party will only help the right to capitalise on the growing rage and bitterness in US society.

The bulk of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which rose to prominence during Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016, also remains committed to promoting progressive candidates inside the Democratic Party.

But in recent years the explosive Black Lives Matter movement, the resurgence of strikes and the women’s marches have all shown that a different kind of politics is necessary and possible.

It is in the streets and workplaces where the left can really fight and win, not within the Democrats. The Democratic Party has been called “the graveyard of movements” for a reason.

By Adam Adelpour


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