It uncovers much about the many issues affecting the US and indeed Donald Trump’s tenure when the bulk of the population are collectively comforted by the appointment of a centre-right corporatist as the President of the United States. It’s has been interesting to witness many desperate people relishing the idea of a return to normalcy, albeit a massively unequal and destructive one. The nation has spoken, therefore, we should notice a sharp return to business as usual, with all it’s dirty dealings, disdain for the poor and arrogance on the world stage soon back securely behind closed doors. No more inane Twitter ramblings of a cartoonish, narcissistic man-child in the guise of the POTUS. “Ahh great”, you may declare, but who has the US just voted for?
Is America about to embark on a period of transformative systematic change, improving the lives of the impoverished, defeating climate change, ushering in universal healthcare, reducing US led wars around the globe, all while beating COVID? Errr no, not really, not if Joe’s political track record is anything to go by. “Hey, but at least he won’t be a dick on Twitter like the orange psychopath”, you may utter. Sadly, if you are awaiting discernible change in the 21st century, you’ve definitely got the wrong guy. Biden signals a return to centre-right governance at a time when the US and the rest of the world need so much more.
Joe Biden is political lifer, having joined the senate in 1973 he has been a strong proponent of big business and corporate America his entire career. Biden has unwaveringly served Wall Street over his many decades, voting for much of the legislation which paved the way to the Great Recession of 2008. This includes; the 1994 Reagle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act and the 1999 Financial Services Modernisation Act, which led to the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. Interestingly one of Biden’s biggest donors MBNA lobbied extensively for the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act and Biden did not fail them. This important Act signed by FDR effectively kept commercial banks and investment banks separate. Thus, preventing them transferring federally guaranteed deposits to their investment banking operations, which dealt in high risk and speculative investments. The scrapping of this Act contributed to the banking industry’s creative gambling addiction, providing some of the groundwork for the 2008 financial disaster.
In 2005, Biden supported the Bankruptcy Act, which again championed corporate America over the people. It was legislation designed to make it notably more difficult for individuals and businesses to eliminate part or all of their debt and a chance to start again. This bill effectively eliminated the option of bankruptcy for many families as a way to wipe the slate clean(ish). This was heartily supported by the new POTUS and his MBNA backers, with only 3 other Democrat Party Senators voting in favour of this. Moreover, Joe Biden made it easier for students to acquire more student loans, while the previously mentioned legislation made it harder to declare bankruptcy. The combination of the two unsurprisingly led to a surge in student loans and defaults.
Of course, these are merely examples of Joe Biden’s commitment to Wall Street and his backers, alongside his support of NAFTA and TPP. Let’s be clear, Uncle Joe does not have your back as a citizen. In fact, over his 40 plus years he has repeatedly sought to reduce social security and government social services in an effort to decrease federal debt. This reaches as far back as the 1980’s by supporting Reagan’s Tax cuts, while proposing limiting social spending and Social Security to reduce deficits. More recently in 2007 during the 2008 presidential campaign, he stated that he considered cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age. All this, therefore, makes it laughable when people within the media describe Joe Biden as “left leaning”.
Has he changed over the years? Well, Biden’s recent presidential campaign has been heavily backed by lobbyists from the weapons industry, private healthcare and of course financial institutions. It would surely be naïve to suggest businesses wouldn’t want a return on their big investments. So OK, you may concede that he is obviously no lefty, but what about foreign policy? Is the US going take part in less systematic destruction of other sovereign nations either via covert or overt means? The short answer is, probably not.
Biden prides himself on his foreign policy acumen as the former chair of the United States Senate Committee for Foreign Relations, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to good decision making. Republican and Democrats have generally pursued a similar ideology with regards to foreign policy, which can be defined as the “liberal international order“. An ideology which encompasses a selection of economic and political views, plus a set of values that major ‘democratic’ countries believe benefit the world. This has never been an altruistic endeavour for the US, rather it provided a market in which to sell goods and allies to help stave off potential adversaries. Subsequently, this strategy maintained the US as the predominant power in the world.
No doubt, Biden and the US will continue with an interventionist foreign policy which has contributed to major destruction all over the world in order to maintain control. A strategy which has involved; US supported coups, economic sanctions, corporate espionage, war from the comfort of an office chair (via drones) or indeed a “boots on the ground” type of war. The problem being, despite Biden’s experience in this area, he often backs the wrong horse. Of course, Biden may choose different allies and opponents than his predecessor, such as becoming more confrontational with China and less punitive regarding Iran, but the general theme will undoubtedly remain the same.
OK, so he’s backed by big business, he supports corporations over people, he will continue with an interventionist foreign policy strategy, but what about domestic policy? Well, the President Elect has a seriously questionable political history such as; opposing school busing for desegregation in 1970, voting against gay marriage in the 1990’s and the infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which he drafted. Although some these issues go back decades, I think it’s fair to say his record doesn’t age well. Of course, we have to put this into some sort of historical context, but his views although mainstream ideas for the Democrats at the time were hardly progressive.
The good news is, Biden will likely reinsert the US into the Iran nuclear treaty and the Global Climate Agreement. Furthermore, there is more chance of a cohesive strategy towards subduing COVID, undoubtedly these would be a positive moves. We should also expect to witness a distinct lack of incoherent messages on Twitter by one of the world’s most powerful people, also a plus. But, what citizens are generally celebrating is a return to a pre Trump era, that under Obama continued to bomb 7 countries around the world. A rich country that still couldn’t muster the political will to create universal healthcare and a nation that possesses obscene income inequality. This is simply back to the future for America.
Now, for the growing amount of people out there who seem to struggle with grey areas, nuance, complex ideas and independent thought, this is for you. Just because I have criticised Biden, doesn’t mean I’m a Trump supporter. I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but in the age of the internet it would appear a large group of people fail to process political information adequately and would rather pick a side that encompasses a whole bolus of ideas, which is easy to digest and prevents one from having to think too much. So, to summarise for these people in particular; Uncle Joe is not very good, but the orange man is worse. Hope that helps.