The Solution for Democracy is More Democrats

I have a bit on my special Tall Boy, where I compare Democrats to struggling single moms and Republicans to deadbeat fathers who have abandoned the family. With expectations lowered to the basement for Republicans, Democrats represent only 50% of the elected officials in Congress and 99% of the elected officials trying to accomplish something other than impeaching Joe Biden’s gardener and tax cuts for their donors.  The country could be a great, functioning and productive democracy if the modern GOP were never elected. Because all factions of the Democratic party at the federal level at least, believe in, and demonstrate, a desire to do SOMETHING to help people and the country. The GOP is a hypocritical party of obstruction. Nothing more.

Since the Obama Presidency I referred to the GOP as political suicide bombers because they offer no ideas, no values and certainly no legislation or solutions, but if they can drag Democrats down and render the public cynical and disillusioned then they score relative wins. As Mitch McConnell memorably said early in Obama’s tenure, he wanted to make Barack Obama a one term president. The sole motivation and consistent principle for the GOP the last 16 years has been “not Democrats.”  And now we live in an America where independents and democrats will scream “do everything!” at Democrats before they whisper “do anything” to Republicans.

Before I continue, I am not writing for the cynics. The people who have chosen the appearance of high-minded disillusionment as a front for bitterness in some cases and intellectual and moral laziness in others.  This is for the people who say they cannot vote for Joe Biden on principle.  I am sure some of the cynics believe they are part of the principled and I cannot waste time trying to distinguish them for them.  I am also not writing for Trump supporters, because to quote Maximus in Gladiator, “I think you’ve been afraid all your life.”  The entire MAGA movement is an overcompensation for inadequacies, insecurities and inabilities manifesting itself as cartoonish ideas of masculinity, absurd interpretations of Christianity and infatuation with malevolence.  So, as I address the invested, but disillusioned, I would like to borrow from my my friend Rod of The Black Guy Who Tips podcast, and ask the moderates, progressives and far lefties, what among these will be better with Donald Trump than Joe Biden in your opinion:

  • Climate Change
  • Gun control
  • Abortion access
  • democracy
  • voting rights and access
  • the economy
  • our next pandemic
  • Israel and Gaza

The first five are no-brainers, the sixth is also a no brainer if you examine the data and not just the vibes, the seventh is an even bigger no brainer, which leads us to the final issue and the one creating the most moral outrage among the Left: Israel and Gaza.

I do not pretend to be even knowledgeable enough to lecture on this topic, let alone to be some sort of expert, but as a human being I understand the fear, outrage and rage of Jews based on the increasing hate crimes committed against them and the brutality of October 7th. And on the other hand, the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives at the hands of a government spearheaded by a self-serving war monger in debt to far right militants (if not terrorists) to maintain his tenuous grip on power, with weapons made by the US, is its own moral outrage. I understand the rage and anguish, but also think Netanyahu has shown he is the worst person to honorably execute a defensible response to that rage and anguish.

Joe Biden is a long-time, genuine supporter of the state of Israel. And I think he believed in defending allies, supporting allies and keeping an ally close so that he might be able to affect and impact that ally’s prosecution of a war.  Was his strategy on Israel wrong? Perhaps. Was it naive? Certainly seems so. Was it done in good faith? I think so.  Can anyone think of an American president, Democrat or Republican, in the last 50 years who would have done something drastically “better” (in the progressive opinion) in stopping Israel? Jimmy Carter perhaps? Who put his whole presidency on the line to broker peace between Israel and Egypt, succeeded, and then was voted out anyway.

So the alternative to Biden, if you care about these progressive issues and especially about the treatment of people in Gaza is Donald Trump.  Donald Trump’s bold and progressive statement on Israel’s conduct was to suggest that Bibi Netanyahu needed better public relations.  Wow – I can already see the Nobel Peace Prize headed his way for that!

Flippancy aside, no matter how awful you think Joe Biden is, if your decision to note vote or vote for someone other than Joe Biden leads to a second Trump presidency, are the additional lives lost due to Trump not on your conscience?  Why do you get a pass at this late stage of American Democracy to place your principles over lives while Joe Biden is a monster?  I am not saying to shut up, or not protest or anything like that. In fact, the polling and the protesting does seem to have hardened Biden’s rhetoric and actions against Israel. But is the goal moral purity at the cost of a better option?  Is the goal no deaths (not possible) or fewer deaths?  is the goal a perfect world or a better world?  If you are truly disturbed and upset and outraged over Gaza then it will take courage to vote for Biden. I am not denying that.  But not voting for Biden, staying in your righteous panic room and avoiding confronting the consequences of your own abstention? That’s cowardly.

It has also come to my attention just how ignorant of civics and history so many people are. In the last century, all major eras of progressive power and action had one thing in common: LOTS OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS TO SUPPORT A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT.  FDR. LBJ. And to a lesser extent, BHO (Obama is not really known by his initials, but I wanted to keep the pattern going).

Roosevelt has a massive Democratic majority and he did massive things with it.  Were some people left behind due to racism? Absolutely.  But did he move the country in a positive direction? Yes.

LBJ had massive majorities and was probably the most consequential domestic president since FDR, or maybe even Lincoln.

Obama had just a big enough majority to pass major health care legislation.  But as said above, Republicans like Mitch McConnell had studied their history and knew that if they didn’t put party above country, Obama might have been wildly successful like those other democrats so they obstructed, nurtured the racism animating lots of the tea party and birther movements and voila, Obama was rendered a respected, but less impactful two term president than he might have been.

Republicans have given us Nixon, Reagan, HW Bush (probably the best of all of them and the one with only one term) and W.  Corruption, Great Rhetoric while cultivating racism, Christian nationalism and inequality, imperfect statesmen and the man who brought us the Iraq War and the Great Recession.

But as time goes on, Americans follow a truly pathetic pattern that I believe smart phones and social media have only augmented by weakening out attention span and capacity for detail and long-term thinking.  With 20/20 hindsight Americans love to criticize the Clinton presidency, and I believe when it comes to economic deregulation, it is well-deserved.  But on things like welfare reform and the crime bill – these were complicated issues politically and, Clinton was elected with a minority of the vote and had to deal with the dawn of the conservative congress (and even the Gingrich congress was still willing to pass laws and come to the table, as opposed to the Kevin McCarthy/Mike Johnson congress, which is the worst in history). Clinton triangulated, compromised and did some great things (biggest job creation since FDR I believe) and some bad things. But he won, which Democrats had not done since 1976.  And winning, to accomplish some things can often require compromise in this system of government.

Now we get to President Biden, who has been the most impressive domestic president since LBJ, with a ZERO VOTE MAJORITY IN THE SENATE.  He passed a huge infrastructure bill, the biggest climate bill and has put more Black women on the federal bench than the previous 45 presidents combined.  He did this while wrangling Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin and depending on VP Harris’ tiebreaker vote a record number of times.  He has used executive power to protect people of color, LGTBQ folk and the environment. After being stifled by the Supreme Court, he has still forgiven billions of dollars in student loans. Black unemployment and the economy overall are at record lows and highs, respectively, and yet Donald Trump continues to brag about his inferior numbers because he knows perception is quite literally trumping reality.

The truth is progressives and moderates have taken Democrat-earned progress for granted and have not given the credit to Democrats for being the driving force AND defenders of that progress. Sometimes progress looks like passing the Voting Rights Act. But sometimes it looks like having an Attorney General who will not act to further erode voting rights acts by siding with states that are trying to do that.  Defense may not be as glorious and headline worthy, but as the saying goes in sports, it can win championships.

I think young progressives (and some older ones) today, like suburban women in 2016, have started to take for granted the rights they have as automatic and inviolable. If the country lived up to its theoretical creeds, they would be. But apathy, lack of empathy and ignorance of our system was no help to all those women who voted for Trump in 2016 because “he wouldn’t get rid of Roe… (whispering) and if he does I will still be safe in my town or state”).  Well after 50 years of assuming Roe was the law of the land and a Constitutional right, all of a sudden (only suddenly to the Left – the Right had a constant, unrelenting 5 decade movement) it was gone.  What makes you think that if abortion can fall, that same sex marriage cannot? On the Left we praise things like legalization of same sex marriage, but the defense of that right is a never-ending fight.  And for those rights and so many other things, a vote for Joe Biden says “at best President Biden will continue to aim for big improvements in American life like more jobs, a better environment, safeguarding the rights of women, people of color and LGTBQ people, IF WE GIVE HIM A CONGRESS. But at worst, he will defend what we have fought for so far and hold the line against more encroachments on those rights until we can get a Congress again.”

Vote for Democrats. Vote for Joe Biden.  These two things are essential. Together, a Democratic government can do great things and history shows, WILL DO GREAT THINGS.  Because if Trump and MAGA has shown us anything it is that everything is now on the line every time you vote locally, statewide or federally.  And you are either protecting liberal democracy and all that comes with it, or you are helping damage it. There is no third option. Because when people “didn’t like Hillary” they lost abortion rights.  What do you think you will lose if you help send Trump back to the White House? As the kids say, Fu*k around and find out.

  • julia

    Spot on!

  • Lisa

    Agree 100%! I think Obama would’ve done the same thing though. US needed to show force to keep Iran from joining Hamas in their shared goal of wiping Israel off the map. Notice it’s been 8 months of bombing that tiny densely populated bit of land and Bibi still hasn’t really gone into rafah (around the edges). Could’ve blown it and the population off the map in a week. Joe stopped him w/out enticing bad actors. 20k+ civilians killed, 10k+ Hamas in 8 months. Easy to commit a genocide in this situation but 2.3 million prior to 10/7 and 2.3 mil now. Needle didn’t move much. That’s Joe. Stopped Iran and ww3, stopped Bibi from committing an actual genocide (the left and this gen will learn what the word means if trump elected). Like Joe turning a widely predicted recession into best economy on the planet… he gets zero credit, as usual.

  • TM

    Great essay, you never disappoint!

    1. J-L Cauvin


  • Russ Chesley

    What an eloquent and perfectly constructed argument for voting a straight Democratic ticket in 2024 AND in 2026.

    1. J-L Cauvin

      Thanks for reading!

Comments are closed.