The Puppet Show

The problems in our country are much more prevalent than either political party can fix.

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photo by LaNola K. Stone

Joe Biden is not the liberal savior many make him out to be.

Christiaan Titus, Staff Writer

Imagine it’s 2016.

You are a young, left-leaning teenager who is still pretty far off from being able to vote. However, you still have taken the time to educate yourself and pay attention to the upcoming presidential election. Taking a look at the two candidates, you think that neither of them seem like a particularly exciting option. But you still believe that a typical neoliberal corporatist is marginally better than the absolute disaster that is Donald Trump. You decide to support her, along with many other Americans.

You hope that this will be the last time a decision will be made based on the lesser of two evils.

It’s now 2020.

Since the last election, your interest and understanding of politics have only grown, and you may even be old enough to vote now. You are excited about this wonderful opportunity. Although, upon further examination, it is not as empowering as you had once hoped. In fact, it’s clear to see that this election is striking similar to that of 2016, despite many sources billing it as “the most important election of our lifetime.”

In many ways, it is exactly the same. The American people are again forced to choose between the far-right authoritarian agenda that is Donald Trump and the Republican party and Joe Biden and the progressives that are, in reality, just a less blatantly elitist version of the Republicans. Both parties and candidates are united by the same goal—to serve the ultra-wealthy and their corporations, all while doing little to help the average American. 

In fact, “Democratic” nominee Joe Biden has made no secret of this himself, promising wealthy donors back in 2019 that “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.” This is the man that is supposed to help fix wealth inequality and reestablish the working class in America. To me, it seems that his only goal is to maintain the status quo and serve the corporate donors who would have helped him to get elected.

According to Forbes, 94 billionaires and their spouses had donated to Biden’s campaign as of March 2020, including rich CEOs such as Meg Whitman and Daniel Lubetzky. How can the people of this nation possibly trust that these donors will not influence Biden’s policies and how he leads the country? 

Many well-meaning progressives will point to Biden’s “unity task force” with former opponent Bernie Sanders as something to be optimistic about. However, Biden is clearly not too concerned with the idea of winning progressive voters, or at least, he has done nothing substantive to do so.

In an interview with a local news station in Wisconsin, he claimed that he “beat the socialist” in the Democratic primary and claimed “that’s how [he] got elected.” How can we expect him to work closely with self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, let alone to actually fight for things that this country desperately needs, such as Medicare for all and the abolishment of college debt?

Although Joe Biden’s poor attempts at winning the vote of the left are nothing less than insulting, Sanders is not without his fair share of the blame. He did absolutely nothing to pressure Biden to take a more progressive platform and basically supported him without actually being given anything, leaving one to ask what’s stopping Biden from simply ignoring these requests. Biden has absolutely no reason to listen to Sanders, as the current candidate feels entitled to the vote of the left-wing of the party. After all, what are we gonna do? Go vote for Trump? 

Both parties and candidates are united by the same goal—to serve the ultra-wealthy and their corporations, all while doing little to help the average American. ”

Despite all of the blatant disregard for young progressive voters displayed by Biden, his inadequacy goes far deeper than that. Back in March of this year, Biden said he would veto Medicare for all if he had the opportunity, explaining, “I want to know, how did they find $35 Trillion? What is that doing?” Clearly, his position on this pressing issue has not changed, as during the final 2020 presidential debate, he claimed to “support private healthcare” and that his plans to expand Obamacare would not lead to “socialized medicine.”

Maybe someone should remind him that the overwhelming majority of American voters do support “socialized medicine.” How can Biden ignore what most Americans are clearly crying out for?

Despite the seemingly high price tag, one must look at the urgent need for this plan, as well as what will be saved. It is now more apparent than ever that this country’s healthcare system is an absolute mess after up to 12 million Americans lost their employer-sponsored healthcare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if the cost of this plan is high at first, a peer-reviewed study by researchers at Yale found that a single-payer health care system would save the country around $450 billion annually.

His less-than-progressive values and ideas do not stop there. Another instance that many left-leaning voters took issue with was Biden’s vote for the Iraq War in 2002—a war that to date has taken the lives of over 65,000 Iraqi civilians.

An even more pressing issue today is the legalization of marijuana. While Biden claims on his website that he will “decriminalize” the use of it, he never goes as far as saying he will fully legalize it for regular use. This is very strange, given that, according to Pew Research Center, two-thirds of the population believe that cannabis should be fully legalized for recreational use. That number rises to an overwhelming 91% when one considers those who support it for medical use only.

This makes it hard for me, as both a leftist and a Black man, to enthusiastically support Biden, despite the absolute disaster he is up against. Biden claims to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but, in many ways, feels entitled to the Black vote. However, according to ACLU, Black people are four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession—a nonviolent crime—than white people. Despite using it at similar rates, it becomes clear that this is nothing more than lip service. The failure to legalize marijuana is clearly a problem for everyone, given the number of people who support its legalization. How can I actively support someone who disagrees strongly with the vast majority of Americans on such a key issue?

The fact is, Joe Biden and the Democratic party are not too much different from their Republican counterparts. American politics are nothing more than a facade and an illusion of choice. Both parties that we are forced to choose between ultimately stand for the same values and have the same goals. These goals, however, are not to serve the general American population, but the wealthy elite—those who monetize our suffering and exploit us to gain an extra bit of wealth. Meanwhile, 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

The optimism around Biden is a nice thought, but the reality must sink in—he will not change enough of the system to adequately address the problems that exist in this country.