Friday, July 22, 2022

Democracy Harder


What makes me worry today is the alarming decline in the trust in democratic institutions - political parties, parliaments, political leaders. Less and less people are going to the polls in most advanced democracies.
--Ivan Krastev, political scientist
  Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna

President Biden's polls at all time low!

Biden's approval rating falls to a new low!

Biden's support among Senate Democrats reaches new low!

The Left's disappointment with Biden is a new low!

Low, lower, lowest. Things are looking pretty grim for Biden. 

Well, I mean, you can sort of see where they're coming from, can't you?

Biden hasn't done enough, has he? 

Biden hasn't done enough when it comes to fixing the Supreme Court.

Biden hasn't done enough about codifying abortion Rights.

Biden hasn't done enough about ensuring and extending LGBT Rights.

Biden hasn't done enough to end the war in Ukraine.

Biden hasn't done enough to address Climate Change.

Biden hasn't done enough to stop gun violence in America.

Biden hasn't done enough about healthcare and what ever happened to Medicare for All anyway?

Biden hasn't done enough to stop inflation.

Biden hasn't done enough to secure our borders or fix our immigration system.

Biden hasn't done enough to stop the spread of COVID and now there's the Monkey Pox.

Biden hasn't done enough to lower gas prices.

Biden hasn't done enough to promote sustainable energy.

Biden hasn't done enough to wipe out student loans.

Biden hasn't done enough, not nearly enough, to bring the former administration to justice.

Biden hasn't... well, no point in flogging a dead horse. I could go on, but you get the idea. 

And that's only a partial list of disappointment from the Left. You don't want me to start listing the Right's complaints, you really don't. 

Left, Right, one thing we can all agree on: Joe Biden just hasn't done enough, has he? So disappointing. I mean, Biden fist-bumped a Saudi Prince for God's sake!

It's okay, you can say it. 

We're all feeling it, aren't we? 

Joe Biden, what a goddamn disappointment...


Well, funny thing...

Joe Biden is doing precisely what we elected him to do. 

That's right. 

Joe Biden is doing exactly what he was elected to do. Yes, he is. 

Joe Biden is exactly the president we all asked for. Well, most of us anyway. 

Joe Biden is exactly the guy the Left wanted. 

And Joe Biden is exactly the guy most of the Right wanted, even if they won't say it.

Joe Biden is doing exactly what we elected him to do. 

Joe Biden isn't Donald Trump.

That's it, that's the whole thing, right there. 

That's what we elected Joe Biden to be. Not Donald Trump. 

Remember? Vote Blue, no matter who? 

Remember? I'd vote for a ham sandwich with rancid mayonnaise, so long as it's not Donald Trump. 

Remember? Anyone but Trump?

Remember? That's what we said. That's what I said. That's what you said. 

We elected Joe Biden to be not Trump. 

That was the whole thing. 

We didn't elect Joe Biden to remake America. We didn't elect Joe Biden to implement some radical progressive agenda of unicorns, rainbows, and socialism. We didn't elect Joe Biden to be some icon of liberalism. We didn't elect Joe Biden to give us universal healthcare like they have in civilized countries, or to take away all the assault rifles, or to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick. We didn't elect Joe Biden to bring about peace on earth and some miracle of universal brotherhood and understanding. 

No, Sir. 

Oh, certainly, we hoped he'd maybe do some simple things like address student debt, but that's not why we elected him. 

We elected Joe Biden to be not Donald Trump. 

That's it.

And in point of fact, Joe Biden is doing a bang up job of being not Trump. 

Now, Biden might not be the most eloquent speaker, but when he talks he makes sense, even if he stumbles over a word or two now and then. 

Biden might not be much at foreign policy, but he hasn't started any wars -- though he did finally end one after 20 years. Maybe he could have done it better, but then again maybe not, either way, the war is over for us. 

Biden hasn't screwed up any international agreements or threatened Mexico or started a trade war with China or even shoved some foreign leader out of the way so he could be on camera. 

Biden might not be all that current when it comes to science, but he hasn't suggested nuking any hurricanes either. Or nuking any countries for that matter. 

Biden might not be the world's biggest women's rights advocate, but he hasn't appointed any drunk rapists to the Supreme Court either. Or any religious nutters, for that matter. And I'll remind you that he pointedly went against his own religion in support of abortion -- something you'd never, ever, see the former guy do. 

Biden might not be the staunchest ally LGBT people ever met and maybe he came late to the party, but he is an ally and you sure won't see him trying to keep LGBT people out of the military or dismissing their contributions to America or treating them as anything less than full equals. 

Biden might not be the most accessible President we've ever had, but he isn't calling The Press the enemy of the people and daily endangering the lives of reporters -- or openly mocking disabled ones for that matter. 

Biden might not have done everything he could to welcome immigrants to this country, but he's not trying to turn America into a prison surrounded by walls and barbed wire and armed goons. 

Biden might not be any Ronald Reagan when it comes to facing down the Russians (Reagan really wasn't any Ronald Reagan either, but never mind), but Biden for goddamn sure isn't writing love letters to foreign dictators either, or greasing up old Vladimir Putin for a hotel deal in Moscow. 

Biden might fall off his bike once in a while or trip going up the stairs to Air Force One, but he has yet to spend a quarter of his presidency on the golf course at our expense. 

Biden could certainly have handled the pandemic better, no argument from me, but he's also not out there every day promoting conspiracy theories and pseudo-science and deliberately getting people killed. And yes, Biden got COVID despite being vaccinated, but he admitted it up front and because he listened to the doctors he's got a mild case and he's still working without endangering others instead of having to be airlifted to Walter Reed and then going on a I Love Me tour of the crowd while still infectious. 

But, yeah, no doubt there is a hell of a lot of things Joe Biden could be doing better. 

But the one thing that Joe Biden is doing just fine at is being NOT Donald Trump. 

Biden is doing a fucking stellar job of being not Trump. 

And that's exactly what we elected him to do. 

What's that? 

What's that you're mumbling over there?

That's a hell of a weak sauce endorsement you say? 


No it's not. 

Not at all. 

See, I never expected Joe Biden to be any great president. 

I never expected, and I certainly never told you, dear reader, that Joe Biden would be anything other than not Trump. 

Because in 2020, that was good enough.  And it still is. 

If all we ever get out of Joe Biden's presidency is not Trump, I'm okay with that. 

Hell, I'm better than okay with it and you should be too. 

Because I don't honestly know how much more of Trump this country could have taken and survived.  You've seen the testimony. You've watched the January 6th Committee. You, Left, Right, whoever you are out there reading this, you know what happened. You know what Trump is, and what he and his fascist thugs were planning to do. You heard it in their own words. 

What happened on January 6th, 2021, was a pretty good indicator of what could have happened on a much larger scale if Trump had won. 

Because if Trump was president right now, those seditionists, those insurrections, those MAGA goons who stormed the Capitol, they'd be running the damn country right now. And they'd very likely be visiting violence on us, on you and me, right now, instead of looking at prison (no matter how lame most of their sentences are). Trump would be up there, right now, egging them on instead of screaming in impotent fury and throwing his lunch at the wall in Bedford. 

If Joe Biden wasn't president right now, no matter how disappointing you think he might be, things would be one hell of a lot worse. 

So, what am I saying? 

You should be happy with mediocrity? 

You should settle? 

You should be happy with not Trump and that's good enough? 


That's what I'm saying and, man, I just bet that pisses you off, doesn't it? 

It's okay. Be pissed. Stay pissed, we're going to need that energy. 

But, see, we could have had the president you wanted. 

We could have had the leader you wanted. The one who would have been an order of magnitude more than just not Trump. The one who had a plan. The one who would have been more than just a lukewarm ally. The one who would have ripped Vladimir Putin a new orifice and shoved a couple of American tanks up there. The one who didn't come around to your viewpoint at some late date but who'd been there all along, loudly, out front on every issue you hold dear, all of her life. 

You could have had that president. 

But America didn't want her either. 

And so, here we are and I am reminded of 2010 like it was yesterday. 

See, back then, we had the president you claimed you want. Young. Charismatic. Eloquent. Brilliant. Educated. Honest. Hard working. And he cared deeply about all the things you say you do. He'd fought for those things his whole life. It was personal to him. He wasn't born to it, he worked his way up to it every damn day of his life. 

And just like now, the Right hated his goddamn guts. Loathed him. Despised him. To the point of utter and absolute madness. 

He just kept on, fighting for those things we all claim matter to us. Nothing ever got him down. He'd play a game of ball at lunch, and then be right back at it. You'd never catch him throwing his lunch at the wall in childish rage. He was an adult, one we could be proud of. 

But two years into his presidency, well, you were disappointed. 

After two years, he hadn't done enough

And you were disappointed. 

Just like now. 

And so, you didn't show up. 

And you handed Congress over to the fucking Tea Party. That'll teach him. Burn it all down. 



I do. I kept the tweets, the emails, the DMs. I remember. 

And, boy, if you were disappointed before, oh man, once Obama was hamstrung by a blood-maddened  batshit insane Congress of kooks, nuts, and conspiracy theorists who fought him over everything no matter how trivial or benign and shouted lunacy at him during every State of the Union speech like the uncivil, uncouth raging louts they are, well, yeah, talk about real disappointment. 

But it was too damn late then, wasn't it? Yeah, you sure showed him, didn't you? 

Oh sure, once the burn-it-all-down crowd got a taste of what arson actually looked like, they were scared enough to get their asses to the polls in 2012 and make sure things didn't get any worse. But, by then we were fighting a delaying action without any chance at all for that real progress you say you really want. 

I mean, we had a chance to build a better future for America, but in 2010 we threw it all away. 

Because we were disappointed and mad because the guy we elected didn't get it all done in two years. 

And goddamn if we aren't right here again

On the cusp. 

Only worse. 

Now, for sure and for certain Joe Biden isn't any Barack Obama. 

Biden isn't even a Hillary Clinton. 

But he's the guy we elected to do one job -- and he's doing that about as well as anyone could at this point. 

Should we demand more than just not Trump? Should we still hope for that better future we once believed in? Of course. Absolutely. But you're not going to get it if you don't show up come this November. You can't even hope to hold the line, hope that things will at least not get worse even if they don't get better, if you don't show up. 

If you do to Joe Biden what you did to Barack Obama, we are all of us screwed. 

And yeah, I've heard it. I've heard the sneering contempt of the "LOL, just vote harder" crowd of Lefties. 

I've read their tweets and their blog posts and their articles in the Daily Beast and their emails to me and I hear their sneering contempt. They want change. Real change. And they want it now, they're tired of waiting. They want you out knocking on doors, pounding the pavement until your feet are bloody, shaking the trees, community activism, burn the motherfucker down if needs be!

And they're not wrong. 

They're not. 

But none of that matters if we don't all show up and vote harder. 

Activism without voting is the sum of fuck all. It's really just that simple. 

Well, unless you really do decide to burn it all down, but I've been in the middle of civil war and you can keep it. 

If we once again hand Congress over to the bitter wretched dregs of miserable conservative ideology, the MAGA goons, the sorry ragged descendants of the Tea Party, the credo of swaggering proudly ignorant louts, well, then you're going be in for some serious disappointment indeed. 

Folks, one thing you learn in the military, in war, in disaster: things can always get worse. 

Things can get a lot worse, very fast. 

No matter how bad things are, the situation can always -- always -- get worse. 

Unless you stop it. 

I don't know if Joe Biden will be the guy I vote for in 2024. I don't know if he should be. Eight years is a long damn time indeed to be satisfied with just not Trump. Not fascism. Not getting any better but at least not getting any worse.

Maybe someone better will come along in the next two years. 

Someone young and charismatic, smart and educated, eloquent, someone who cares deeply about all the things you and I do and who has the courage to turn this country around. 

I don't know. 

I honestly don't know. 

Maybe the best we can ever hope for in our lives now is just not Trump. Maybe, in our disappointment and apathy, that's what we've done to ourselves. Maybe that's all there's left for us and our slowly dying Republic.

I don't know. 

I sure hope not. I hope we can turn it all around. I hope we can leave the nation in better shape than we found it for my grandkids. 

But for now, this is where we are. 

This is what you voted for, own it. And 2024 is a long way away at the moment. 

What matters right now is this moment. 

This moment right here. This election. 

And if you want a better nation, if you want to even hope for a better nation, a better world, a better future for our kids, then you have to be better citizens NOW in this moment. 

Ignore the polls. 

Put your disappointment aside.

And show the hell up. 

I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.
-- Erma Bombeck