The Left is not Joe Biden’s problem. Joe Biden is

The Left is not Joe Biden’s problem. Joe Biden is

Hamilton Nolan writes:

Imagining that you are capable of seeing twenty steps ahead on the chaotic chessboard of political life is almost always wrong. Selling out now in order to reap some supposed benefits that you believe you will accrue after a tortured chain of events often results in you selling out for nothing, when those events go in a different direction than you thought they would. This is the great flaw in the thinking of the “accelerationists,” who reckon that if we make things as bad as they can be as soon as possible, the result will be a grand turnaround, a cleansing revolution that makes it all worthwhile. Actually, it probably won’t. You will just have made things bad. Bummer.

Sure, it’s easy to make fun of the wild-eyed accelerationists. But I say all this as a prelude to talking about another group who can fall prey to the same problem: The realists. That is, the people who understand themselves to be realists, and who place great faith in their own analytical powers, and who make it their business to lecture their counterparts, the idealists, about all of the compromises that must be made in the name of incremental progress—compromises that will, they believe, pay off in the long run. They are those who tell the idealists, “I share your goals, but you must be realistic about how to get there.”

I thought about this as I read a piece that Brian Beutler wrote on Friday titled, “Biden’s Critics on the Left Should Rethink the Concept of ‘Leverage.’” (I am not here to attack Beutler, who is often very thoughtful, but rather to discuss this entire genre of argument.) The essay is an extended critique of the “lazy thinking” of progressive activists who threaten not to vote for Biden as some sort of leverage in the struggle against his horrific policy on Israel and Gaza. This is a bad idea because Trump is worse, he says. “[For] at least as long as the GOP is a fascist formation, we should rethink the concept,” he writes. “[The] idea that boycotting politics amounts to savvy bargaining is wrong.”

The first point I’d like to make about this is: Duh. Biden’s policies are better than Trump’s and if Biden loses and Trump wins politics would get worse. Do progressive activists, who are as a group deeply engaged in the issues, need thousands of words to understand this? To put a finer point on it: Who is this for? Setting aside the small number of accelerationists, who as I mentioned above are foolish, where exactly is this enormous group of left wing activists who are unable to understand that Trump is worse than Biden? For one thing, I am on the left and I know a lot of people on the left who go out in the streets and protest Israel, and in November, most of those people who are politically engaged will vote for Biden, because he is not as bad as Trump. Some portion of them will refuse to vote for Biden out of sheer disgust at the direct role he has played in the murder of thousands of civilians. In the context of 150 million voters across America, the number of those people is small. To the extent that there are places like Michigan where there are significant pockets of people who, you know, have had direct relatives blown up in Gaza and who therefore might not be able to bring themselves to pull the lever for the guy who sent the bombs, any electoral damage is 100% the fault of the Biden administration itself. Look in the mirror. [Continue reading…]

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