The King is Dead, Long Live the King (also lets not forget the Queen). As Paul Street puts it, “It’s hard to get overly excited about Joe Biden on the Left.” as his ascendency to the Presidency of the highest power on the world stage, is premised on an “extremely low bar : he’s not a malignant fascist sociopath.” Street goes on to explain what he describes as Biden’s “corporate, imperial, white-supremacist, and patriarchal record.”
Biden’s second in command, Kamala Harris is, like me, Tamil. She is also African American. Indeed, she represents the present inclusive phase of the ever cycling identitarianism of American exceptionalism. However as Fawzia Afzal-Khan suggests, the identity politics of her election as the first female vice-president of the United States of America has, thus far, been only skin-deep. It is not, she insists, something we should “tout as a badge of honor or pride.” She furthers asserts that what we need instead, is an affiliative identity politics, rather than one that is merely skin-deep. While I sincerely wish America and Americans well in this dawning presidential cycle, I am not very optimistic.
Donald Trump must not be treated as the cause of the recent debacle of American democracy – its attempted usurpation by fascistic forces. He may have been the catalyst for this ugly scenario but it arose from conditions that are endemic and systemic. We have to remember and accept that 73 million Americans voted for him in the last election. As Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff explain, it is in fact the relentless bipartisan entrenchment of neo-liberal economics by both Republicans and Democrats that has brought this demon seed to fruit. Donald Trump has simply, “peel[ed] back the gilded veneer of democracy in America. His presidency has revealed what neoliberalism has wrought: a post-democratic U.S. ripe for fascism.”
The decimation of America’s public sector and its national industries in cynical programmes of privatization and globalization, as well as the hollowing out of American society by the depletion of support and services for its most vulnerable, have reduced American democracy to being a lifeless shadow of its imagined self. As Peter Fairman shows, while the Reagan administration pushed privatization forward as an overt political ideology, Clinton sold the privatization as a politically neutral management reform. Neoliberal devastation his has been a bipartisan adventure.
As Higdon and Huff go on to say, “Democracy ceases to exist unless the citizenry participates in and respects the process, put its faith in and defends public institutions, accepts verifiable electoral results, and attains the critical thinking and media literacy skills necessary to make well informed and sophisticated decisions.” While the United States of America is our case-in-point, I believe that these criteria are not met in numerous other failing democracies across the world.