I was fascinated to read in a social media post that Biden had shown no evidence of mental decline throughout his term in office. Had my eyes and ears deceived me? Was he not having more trouble than in the past following complex sentences and ideas to a comprehensible end? Had he not, during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, tried to encourage a recently deceased colleague to rise from the audience and be recognized? Was he not slower and less confident than even at the beginning of his term?
Had he not been falling down more than a person with full cognition and coordination would be expected to? A fake showed him bumping his way face-down the full length of the Air Force One debarkation stairway, leaping to his feet at the bottom none the worse for wear. The right wing has collected all his real stumbles and tumbles with Shapiro and Carlson voiceovers mocking him, whereas I’m sure Trump would’ve burst like the sewage-filled balloon that he is on contact with the ground, but are falls themselves something we should complacently accept? The public’s perception is important, as the public has been vouchsafed the key task of voting. If they worry, I worry about them worrying.
The last president who fell a lot, Gerald Ford, ended up pardoning Richard Nixon, an act of abject mendacity that has redounded to crisis proportions in the present day. I’m not saying there was a direct relation between Ford’s falling and his utter paucity of moral, ethical, and civic judgment, but even not having sustained a brain concussion, an elder person’s tendency to fall can both indicate and exacerbate cognitive debility.
Should one dare ask these questions, one is not only barraged with rationalizations, but accusations of agism and ablism on top of it all. So be prepared for that. I wasn’t. For some reason the lessons of 2016 and its aftermath had faded into the vanishing point of my rearview. I forgot how practiced doctrinaire Democrats are at denying reality. They’re almost a good at it as GOP supporters and fossil fuel cheerleaders.
I had forgotten how Hillary had infused them with self-delusion, leading by example: having sabotaged her own chance to win in three key swing states with her refusal to heed her campaign staff on the ground in those localities, she had limped off into the woods to contemplate her humiliation by a cheaply spray-tanned demagogue, and emerged blaming Bernie Sanders and his followers, failing the tough test of self-awareness. She tended to elide the internalized misogyny of white women, who voted for Trump in numbers far greater than reason would allow, unless one’s reason included the ability to think critically about oneself, and she had plenty of enablers among her Hill-pilled pundits.
Assuredly, both racism and misogyny contributed to Trump’s win, but those two diseases were always going to play a large role. It didn’t take a Ta-Hanesi Coates or a Rachel Maddow to figure that out. Only Hillary could have brought her supporters the introspective self-criticism they would listen to, and she demurred. She didn’t feel like it. She opted instead for explanations that cost her nothing but historical accuracy. Identity politics allowed her to strike her own deficits out of the historical record.
The spray-tanned stupor villain bets on the other side of the identity politics coin. Nationalist white, anti-left, respectably racist, and proudly deplorable are all identities, too. We now have the great luxury of naming them, more succinctly, MAGA. It’s possible, as the 2020 win of Joe Biden might indicate, to sway and peel off the less left-phobic members of that group, at least the ones in Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, to name some of the obvious so-called purple states.
Regarding that manifestation, expect to hear how great Biden is for the working class. Now, if I couldn’t admit that his regime is substantially more union-friendly than Trump’s, I’d be writing off the advantages to labor, not insignificant, of living under a far more union-friendly National Labor Relations Board. But be on your guard, for should you appear vulnerable enough to acknowledge that fact, you’ll also be flogged with pro-Biden propaganda that beatifies him with far more credit than is due.
To the majority of the labor-conscious public, Biden’s most memorable action in relation to unions was subverting the strike power of the railroad workers last December. He quite patronizingly “helped” them get the deal that was mostly the one management had favored and the unions had rejected. Then in May he took credit for getting them the sick days they’d been unable to bargain for, sick days the unions nevertheless had had to continually to beat the drum for in the interim thanks to Biden’s own interference in the first place. Further, not enough if any credit is given for helping win the sick days to the across-the-aisle effort of two Senators, one a Republican and the other an Independent who caucuses with the Dems, Mike Braun of Indiana and Hillary’s scapegoat, Bernie Sanders, respectively. But it’s natural for the Biden White House to spin it as a Biden victory, if only as bleach to remove the stain of forcing the railway unions to capitulate to management last December.
Also swept away like worthless crumbs off the bargaining table, amid all the Dems’ rhetoric of helping the workers, was a repeal of Trump’s actions, on behalf of the railroad owners, that allowed them to fire a full one quarter of their workforce in 2016. Such a repeal would have brought back regulations to make hours and workloads more humanly manageable – and by most understandings could have prevented the toxic freight disaster in East Palestine, Ohio.
But the Dems’ give-with-one-hand, take-with-the-other approach doesn’t negate the reality that Biden’s NLRB makes better soil for the seeds of a labor resurgence to germinate in than Trump and his overt fascists did, or would do again if we’re terribly unlucky. Biden’s mealy mouth is a far cry from the iron fist with which Reagan clobbered the air traffic controllers in a key moment in the right’s project of turning working class proto-MAGA sentiment against unions. Another Trumptatorship would only set the stage for labor to be bludgeoned backwards even further. So, when responding to blue-pilled Dems, if for some reason you want to remain on good terms, that’s one point on which you can justify, cautiously, with reservations, giving ground: Biden would be tangibly better for labor than Trump.
I admit that I plan on voting for Biden in order to prevent a return of Trump or anyone like him to office, because we may be seeing the beginnings of a labor movement rebirth and I believe Biden and the Dems will present weaker barriers to overcome. Yes, that’s voting for the lesser of two evils. Well, I prefer lesser evil to greater evil, go figure. I also think handing MAGAts any form of victory is to be avoided for myriad reasons. I don’t want them to feel bold. I don’t want them to feel good about themselves. It makes them think they can subvert elections with intimidation and violence.
I do worry about Biden running again, if only because the pubic seem worried about him running again and I fear a self-fulfilling prophecy situation. And anyone who isn’t worried about Biden being too old or possibly in mental decline is in the fog of the blue-pilled. Anyone not worried that the public worries he’s too old or possibly in mental decline is blue-pilled. Anyone who tells you that what you see is something other than what it looks like is relying on gaslighting the public rather than convincing them with actual evidence. They want us all to view Biden through their blue wave-shaped cataracts. And that worries me, too. For the next year, I want to feel every day, at least for a moment, like Trumpism has no chance. I’m just looking for that single-issue dopamine bump.
But if I were in the habit of giving advice to the DNC, I’d advise replacing Biden with a younger and less worrisome entity. Maybe someone comfortable being more vehemently pro-labor in deed and not just word. And were I to be advising the DNC, a habit I don’t have, I might also suggest, if I thought for a moment they might listen, that they consider replacing themselves.