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Open Letter: Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden

Supreme Court nominations of Clinton and Obama:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton)
Stephen Breyer (Clinton)
Sonia Sotomayor (Obama)
Elana Kagan (Obama)
Merrick Garland (Obama - not confirmed)

Supreme Court nominations of Bush and Trump:
John Roberts (Bush)
Harriet Myers (Bush - not confirmed)
John Roberts (Bush)
Neil Gorsuch (Trump)
Brett Kavanaugh (Trump)
Amy Coney Barrett (Trump - in process)

I think the point is already pretty obvious.

Your response is intelligent and considered and I wish I were as articulate as you.

Anita Hill saying she’ll vote for Biden has nothing to do with whether Biden is “clearly better” than Trump in terms of who he would nominate. Clinton nominated the least-bad of the judges (Ginsberg), but Ginsberg was at best a moderate. And Bill Clinton is not Joe Biden. Biden was just fine with Scalia and facilitated Thomas’ path to becoming a justice, and those are the two most right-wing judges that were on the court during Scalia’s tenure. More relevant to assessing what Biden would do is how HE voted on judicial picks when he was in Congress, not what Clinton or Obama did.

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As judiciary Chair, the best thing he did was stop Robert Bork from becoming a Supreme Court Justice and refusing to hold hearings on 30 of Bush Sr.'s nominees in 1992 right before the election. The worst thing he did was in shutting down Anita Hill (something for which you give her no agency in feeling that his effect on the judiciary would be far better than Trump’s). He voted against Roberts. He voted against Thomas. He voted against Alito. Only 78% of Bush Sr.s appointments to the federal bench were confirmed with Biden as head of the judiciary committee - the lowest percentage for any President.

But he was Vice President and because of his experience as Judiciary Committee chair, he was the point man in the Obama Administration on his Supreme Court nominations. He was heavily involved in picking the short list and was one of just a couple people involved in the extensive interviews of the short list and advising the President. I don’t find the argument that his role in the senate on confirmation is somehow more relevant than his role in nominating judges when he was actually in the executive branch.

There is just no evidence whatsoever that Biden would be worse than Trump on the appointment of judges to the Federal bench - indeed the evidence is super strong the other way.

Don’t support the guy because of his foreign policy hawkishness. Don’t support the guy because of his trade policies. But choosing the federal courts as a topic for an unfavorable comparison with Trump is just silly.

Hypothetically, If I voted for Biden, could I get all of your promises to help us get back our right to regulate? Please be specific as to how we could do that.

I would vote for that.

Virtually everything people here want us to do needs us to leave these trade deals first.
I suspect that many of the people on this site are previous administration civil servants who (and there is nothing wrong with this) want to get their old jobs back. Now nothing is wrong with that but I see them as willfully blind as to the inpacts of these things that those Administrations did, which are horrible in the case of FTAs, they have killed a lot of people, both here and elsewhere.

Because the status quo (under both Trump and Obama-Biden previousy) is locking in the status quo and that means a agreement that forces one way deregulation. In other words all the rollbacks are locked into place now and Biden wouldnt be able to reverse them, nobody will unless we get out of these deals which go back at least 27 years. Each one has a procedure which has to be followed to get out. Since obviously they wont just do it.

Actually, thinking about it, I really doubt if people who were okay with these deals would be able to be trusted to help get rid of them. To be honest.

Because they are a cult. Both candidates, as shown last night, are members of this cult. Neoliberalism.

The cult of the Invisible Hand.

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To change the DNC, we have to start from the ground up. The work may take decades, but neoliberals hiding in the Democratic Party can be replaced if we manage to channel our small donations to primarying candidates, local party hacks especially.

It doesnt look like Bernies people will lead this effort. We have to do it ourselves.

Millions of us donated to Bernie, not because of his web site design or even his ideas: we donated because he happened to speak to issues we care about. Many many others have equally laudable ideas, and are willing to primarycorporate Democrats. We can shift focus and send our donations their way. But, first, we need to hash out ideas, and communiocate internally. Idea. Can we use yours as a temporary meeting room? shenzhenpin@yahoo.com

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Dumping Trump will do little to cure our society, but it must be done. Voting for Biden will do little to cure our society, but it comes down to being our only sane choice, even if you disagree with each and every policy of his. Biden is not our hope for change, but Trump is our way to a fascistic catastrophe. As others have said,Trump is a symptom of our societal disease caused by an underlying cancer that has metastasized. We could jump to the diagnosis that the origin of the cancer is neoliberalism, but that would only be one of many underlying conditions or causes. Somehow we (the left) must take a step back from this election season, our current milieu, so we can fully assess the origins society’s ills in order to discover a path to a new society. I think I am asking us to build a cathedral where those who begin building an edifice for a just and equitable society will not see its end, a most difficult task. There are political, economic and cultural veins running through our society that must be stripped away, forever. On the surface we can see the racism, the authoritarianism, the religious fanaticism, the economic inequality, and misogyny as readily identifiable factors that must be eliminated. But what underlies all these defects, where is the cause(s) that must be rooted out. This is what I am wrestling with, trying to develop an analysis that reveals the cause. I do not have the answer, nor should there be a single person that defines the causes, this needs to be a consensus group effort. But even if I did have the answer, how can we imagine a clear way forward, a first step in constructing a viable future for all people. The dilemma I think we face is that we are asking those made powerless by our system to take power. Without seizing economic and political power how do you change a society, How can we leave in place the political and economic elite, the current rulers, and expect to be successful. Electing Biden will take us no closer to overcoming our dysfunctional society, not being a step forward to a just and equitable society that serves all the people. The society must be transformed so that no one like Trump could conceivably be elected to office. And society must be transformed so that we are never forced to vote for someone like Biden.


Aaron Amaral, Phil Gasper, Thomas Harrison, Scott McLemee, Lois Weiner, Emma Wilde Botta

We, members of the New Politics editorial board, wish to respond to the “Open Letter: Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden,” published in Common Dreams and signed by 55 progressives, including two other members of the board. Given the horrendous nature of Trump and his regime, we understand why the signers have taken this position. Nevertheless, we reject the letter’s call for leftists to vote for Biden as a lesser evil.

The signers include writers and activists whom we respect and admire; all the more unfortunate, therefore, that their letter parodies arguments about refusing to support a candidate who stands firmly in favor of the disastrous status quo that preceded Trump. Take this sentence: “But the message that not voting in swing states sends in 2020 is that we are okay with Trump for four more years as long as we don’t have to sully our hands by voting for Biden.” To portray those who insist on the political independence of the left as fastidious purists who only want to keep their hands clean misrepresents what we have said and believe: We are not “okay” with four more years of Trump, and we are not claiming that the letter’s signers are okay with Biden for four years. After all, the letter acknowledges that Biden, the lesser evil, is evil. Our differences are not about “purity” but how to most effectively combat Trump and the rightwing forces he represents.

First, it is important to note that Joe Biden is a “lesser evil” who has used his power to do great harm. For 40 years, Biden has been an enthusiastic proponent, and often a leading architect, of neoliberal foreign and domestic policies: assaults on public education, bank deregulation, militarized police forces, mass incarceration, gargantuan military budgets, savage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, full support to Saudi aggression against Yemen and Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. Biden is a member in good standing of what Naomi Klein calls the “Davos class.” His entire career in Congress was bankrolled by the credit card industry. And now, running for president, he famously promised his donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them if he is elected. This is a promise that Biden can most assuredly be counted on to fulfill if he can. The neoliberal status quo ante, to which Biden was and is committed, together with a left that remains submerged within the Democratic Party, and therefore unable to make a broad appeal to the vast majority in this country, created the conditions that spawned Trump.

To Biden’s conservative and destructive record, the letter merely comments: “Protestations that Biden is beholden to elites are true but beside the point.” On the contrary, they are very much to the point, because they have everything to do with successfully fighting Trumpism and the extreme right. We have come to this miserable state of affairs in large part because the left has failed to create an alternative to “lesser evils” who, along with the greater evils, have devastated lives and imperiled the planet.

Biden is indeed different from Trump in ways that are important to recognize. Unlike Trump, he does not openly espouse racism and xenophobia and acknowledges the reality of global warming. Yet he stands for a return to the Obama-era status quo, in which millions of migrants were deported, people of color were at the mercy of the police, the prisons were full to bursting, economic inequality grew to immense proportions, and the globe was hurtling toward climate catastrophe. Despite the mostly meaningless promises of the Democratic platform, designed to convince the left to support him at the polls, Biden has made it clear that he rejects such progressive goals as the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and defunding the police. He has not even pretended that he would heavily tax the rich, make massive reductions in military spending (he plans in fact to increase it), restore civil liberties, stop foreign military interventions, or identify legislation he will support to defend workers’ rights on the job, including unionization. Effective solutions to the climate crisis, which threatens life itself on the planet, require a major, sustained attack on the corporate “rights” and privileges which Biden has always fervently defended. Bernie Sanders’s claim that Biden would be the most progressive president in recent history is, at best, wishful thinking. Instead, a vote for Biden in any state is not just a vote to get rid of Trump, but also a vote for a corporate military agenda and a vote to do next to nothing about the climate crisis.

The past few years have seen the biggest, most interracial mass protest movements in U.S. history. Most of the protest has been against conditions that Trump has exploited and exacerbated but were in place before his stunning ascension to power—systemic racism; militarized police departments; public services from medical care to education ravaged by privatization and cuts targeted at the most vulnerable in our society. In the face of this upheaval, leftists are both morally and strategically wrong to advocate voting for a candidate and party that have countenanced and deepened inequality and injustice.

There is no lack of outrage at the rank injustices of the system under which we live. What is in short supply is the vision and hope that something can be done about them. One of the biggest obstacles to radical change is the misplaced loyalty that millions feel for the Democratic Party, despite the lack of enthusiasm that most have for its current leader.

Some of the letter’s signers have opposed voting for Democrats as lesser evils in the past, and they will admit that lesser evil voting has brought us worse and worse evils. But they will insist that the extreme danger posed by Trump means that 2020 is exceptional. We ask what they think will change four years from now, or eight, or twelve, that would prevent them from making the same choice. Even without a raving sociopath like Trump, even with Biden in the White House, the threat from the far right will intensify. That threat can be met only by mobilizing a militant, democratic, independent left, both in the street and at the polls. This is a daunting task, but it is made much more difficult by again rallying the bulk of the existing left in support of the Democrats.

To bar the way to an authoritarian coup or a nascent fascist movement, we advocate direct action, confrontation and civil disobedience on a massive scale, and the formation of an independent political party of the left. “Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden,” says the letter, in effect calling on the left to “stand back and stand by” during the election, and then re-emerge to continue the fight. But this fight will continue to be undermined by the stubborn, irrational belief that the Democrats are the only possible alternative to the right, a belief reinforced by supporting Biden in this election.

The society that spawned Trump and his followers is a society of monstrous class, racial, and gender inequality, a shredded welfare state, rampant brutality by police forces now known to be infiltrated by organized white supremacists, and the glorification of military violence. Its bombs and missiles, armed forces, corporations, and financial institutions enable it to confront the world as a tyrannical overlord. The Democratic Party shares with the Republicans, if not equal responsibility, then a great deal of it for this abomination. Trump is certainly far worse than Biden, but Biden is no alternative.


Please. What a bunch of alarmist, evidence-free nonsense. The authors advocate voting for Biden even in overwhelmingly “red” or “blue” states, as if somehow Trump has some sort of magical powers to steal the election in states no Republican has come close to winning in decades, and as if voting for Trump in, say, Alabama has a nonzero chance of influencing who wins. They throw empty hyperbole at us that the difference between the evil represented by Trump as opposed to Biden is “off the charts.” Is Biden’s decades-long career as the architect of mass incarceration; supporter of wars, brutal sanctions, and coups against democratically elected governments; best friend the banks and credit card companies ever had; part of an administration that presided over skyrocketing gas and oil production while well aware that climate change threatened human civilization; and to boot a sexual predator somehow not off the charts evil?

The authors even engage in subtle voter-shaming, stating that “the message that not voting in swing states sends in 2020 is that we are okay with Trump for four more years as long as we don’t have to sully our hands by voting for Biden.” This is strikingly similar to the allegations that are hurled at many of us who support leftist third party candidates on a daily basis by neoliberal Biden supporters, who call us “purists” and “privileged” merely for insisting — like the 100 million-plus voters who refused to pull the lever for Clinton or Trump in 2016 (and overwhelmingly were not privileged)— that the Democrat earn our vote. Why is it “purist” to demand of candidates for federal office that they support universal health care and a real Green New Deal, demilitarize and defund the police and hold them accountable for their actions, stop persecuting, jailing, and torturing whistleblowers and journalists, stop the rigging of elections, stop fracking and drilling the hell out of the planet, stop engaging in perpetual war and the support of fascist-led coups against foreign governments, or not be credibly accused of heinous crimes such as sexual assault? The lack of perspective is stunning. The authors seem clueless about the fact that the ruling elite really doesn’t seem to care all that much whether Biden or Trump wins. I suppose it’s easy to overlook when Democratic politicians and allied corporate media are constantly proclaiming Trump to be the root of most of the country’s evil, but the reality is that the Democratic primary was heavily rigged against Bernie Sanders, the most popular politician in the country, and (albeit reluctantly when it became apparent that their efforts to promote other establishment candidates were a bust) in favor of Joe Biden, one of the weakest Democratic candidates in decades.