I hate electoral politics. Especially on the national level.
To think that engaging in politics once every four years will “liberate America” is blatantly false — the root causes of Donald Trump’s one-term presidency, notably the way in which white supremacy is ingrained in American institutions, did not dissipate come Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Yet, the rhetoric floated by everyone from liberal political pundits to some Gen Z Twitter users would make you think this is the case.
The reduction of politics to a vote in a mediocre two-party system shrouds the systemic problems perpetuated by both party machines vying for our support at the ballot box. Each time a new president takes office, they devote a significant amount of time claiming to clean up the mess of the former president, as Biden has understandably pledged to do. But wouldn’t it be nice if each election cycle wasn’t a broken record? Despite the fact that BIPOC and progressive organizers carried the lackluster Biden to victory, liberals continue to scoff at these organizers’ demands, such as police and prison abolition and sweeping climate action. This apathy is a heinous response when unlike most liberal policies, the demands I cite address the sources of deep-rooted problems festering in and fracturing America whether Republicans or Democrats have their hands on the wheel of power.
Don’t believe me? I glued myself to CNN for countless hours over the past several days so you didn’t have to, and was subjected to hours of the same spiel from pundits: relief that the next four years will harbor “normalcy” in politics; smugness over the confirmation that the Democrats were right to run a moderate, not progressive, candidate against Trump; and Democratic strategizing to shift further right in 2022 after a few moderates, not progressives, lost in House races.
It’s official: liberals, having filled their quota for politics and activism for the next four years, are returning to brunch. The promise to hold the Biden-Harris administration accountable for the candidates’ abhorrent past actions in strengthening mass incarceration and prosecuting has already been broken just days after their victory. Moderates and liberals have hardly, if at all, addressed anything that might put a pin in their rosy image of a future Biden presidency, which is especially nauseating in the midst of an incredibly strong Movement for Black Lives against police brutality. There is absolutely nothing wrong in celebrating Trump’s loss — I know I did — but a dangerous amount of people are far too excited for politics to be “over,” as if many of our problems don’t predate Trump’s presidency.
Liberal political pundits aren’t the only ones already at the brunch table. The same injustices that liberals claim to abhor were invited as well. After hour five of watching election results roll in the morning of Nov. 4, weary of seeing Republican votes accumulate from in-person voting, I made the mistake of logging onto Twitter.
Prior to Biden’s victory in Michigan, one Twitter user fixated on early results from the swing state, pointing out that Genesee County, which includes the city of Flint, was tilting Republican the night of Nov. 3. In response, this user tweeted, “i don’t want to hear y’all asking for clean water either,” garnering over 61,000 likes for her allusion to the ongoing tragedy of the Flint water crisis. The most ironic thing about it all? Genesee easily flipped blue as more votes were reported.
Unable to wrench my attention away from Twitter, I quickly found more nauseating tweets. Alluding to Donald Trump’s victories in Texas and Florida, one user won 16,000 likes for her meme including a photo of Squidward’s eyes closed and the caption, “Me when Florida and Texas ask for donations for Hurricane damage.” I could go on, but I’ll spare your sanity; the photo album in my camera roll titled “liberal bad takes” is bursting with Tweets in a similar vein.
These tweets are an interesting contrast from Joe Biden and Democrats’ promise to “restore decency to the White House.” I say interesting because I’m not the least bit surprised — liberals, especially white liberals, have always spewed racist, classist hate speech and lack of empathy toward those who would most benefit from the progressive policies they claim to support. No matter whether the citizens of Genesee County voted blue, red or somewhere in between, everyone deserves a right to clean and affordable water, as should be ensured by the government that represents them. After Biden accepted former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) endorsement — the criminal who watched his buddies in government poison the residents of Flint, a majority-BIPOC and lower-income city — I would understand not wanting to vote for either party within a corrupt system that devalues human life. Blaming BIPOC voters for Republican success paints such a fabricated picture: Black, Asian and Latino youth showed up for Trump a measly 10%, 14% and 24% of the time, in contrast to 45% of white youth, according to Tufts University. The second Twitter user might have forgotten that the same industries spewing the greenhouse gases setting our planet on fire are supportive of a Biden victory, as evidenced by Biden’s defense of fracking and the American Petroleum Institute’s statement of congratulations to Biden and Harris.
So do I think that a Biden-Harris administration makes it easier to push for progressive policies and ideas? It potentially could, if every single person who screamed “vote” and coalesced behind Biden and Harris radically shifted their energies toward providing resources to local grassroots organizations that are empowering people by undoing the damage Democratic and Republican governments have inflicted right now. Yet, as the neoliberal common sense currently stands, I don’t see this happening without a radical transformation of the American fabric, one where collectivism and interdependence over individualism, empathy over hatred and division, prevails.
I and other progressives will never stop believing that a better future is possible. This belief is why we will fight even harder under a Biden-Harris administration for environmental justice and sweeping climate action, an end to a white supremacist carceral state, equitable access to healthcare, education and housing and everything else within the progressive agenda through community action and organizing. I know there are many liberals who want us to compromise our values, especially because the 2022 midterm elections are already rapidly approaching, and any critiques of Democrats might jeopardize their chances. I hope the cruelties that have festered under Republican and Democratic administrations have convinced you that compromise is not a viable option. A new fight has just begun, and it sure as hell won’t happen at the brunch table.