Joe Biden’s Super Tuesday comeback is something to be both relished and feared. It is an outrageous, grimly comical turn of events: a 77-year old man who refers to the Declaration of Independence as “the thing” and who seemed to be confused about his own last name is now a leading contender for the White House.
As funny as it may be on the surface, there is something dark and sad about Biden’s rise. The Democratic Party establishment knows Biden is unfit for office. They don’t care. With Biden, the political machinery that usually operates in hiding, in the shadows, has come out into the light, in aviator sunglasses and a sunny grin. The powers-that-be are declaring, openly, that their right to rule will not be reined in by anything, least of all the perception that they are incompetent and out of touch.
Thanks to decades of failed and corrupt leadership, many Americans are developing a creeping and cynical feeling that they don’t have a voice, that voting is like choosing from a carefully crafted menu of options with the same mediocre results. President Biden would prove them right. He would eliminate the mystique that once allowed them to believe our political system is one worth respecting and complete the decline into decadence that characterizes American managerial democracy, which is now at such a late stage of decay it no longer matters if a presidential nominee can tell his wife and sister apart.
Biden’s comeback proves that many things which people thought mattered in the great American clown show of presidential politics actually don’t.
The standards are through the floor: Biden has no policies, no core philosophy, and no special qualities to recommend him other than a perception of “electability” that is driven almost entirely by a sycophantic news media.
A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to remove Trump from office, not to elect Joe Biden. He would be the first president who upon election everyone, most of all his supporters, knows would not be calling the actual shots.
Sanders supporters have now learned a harsh lesson: power, not ideology, is what matters most. Indeed, Biden’s surge has less to do with his so-called “moderate” politics—nothing about the Democratic party is “moderate” anymore—than the fact that Biden can be more easily compromised and controlled than a True Believer like Bernie. That’s the view from the halls of power, at least. There has been a convergence between party elites and primary voters, who chose Biden for similarly un-ideological reasons: they care most about removing Trump from office, and they think Biden is the candidate best positioned to do that. Sanders supporters, reeling from the rebuke of black voters, have now fallen into a familiar revolutionary pattern: blaming an uninformed lumpenproletariat for choosing the “wrong” candidate.
The black and Boomer coalition that chose Biden is just not ideologically driven the way Sanders’ young, liberal supporters are. Notwithstanding the elitism of the Sanders camp, they have a point: not that Biden’s coalition made the “wrong” choice, but that democracy is vulnerable to corruption by powerful interests, in this case the interests almost universally backing Joe Biden.
There was obvious political coordination in Biden’s miraculous “comeback.” Mighty powers came into alignment. Having won the endorsements of former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Biden went into Super Tuesday with an uncrowded field and the sanction of the mainstream media and party elites. The confusion that had troubled primary voters magically dissipated overnight.
It’s not unreasonable to wonder if many, in some sense, were swindled: many of Biden’s voters were late deciders. They were certainly cheated of decent alternatives. Democrats have had four years to find their candidate. Getting rid of Trump is all they’ve been talking about. This is the best that they could do?
Biden also was the beneficiary of a dumbing down of standards and the gamification of presidential politics by the elites. The media, by turning presidential politics into a ridiculous game show, created an environment in which an obviously senile, 77-year-old man could thrive merely because of his association with a beloved figure. Since there are no longer any standards for the presidency, the favor of the media and a scintilla of competence, in this case Biden’s link with Barack Obama, can be game changers.
Super Tuesday itself was the culmination of a tawdry spectacle controlled closely by the corporate media and the DNC. It had only the trappings of democracy. There were “debates” with arbitrary qualifications that shut out some candidates for having the wrong politics, while accommodating other, more powerful players. While lacking in substance, there was plenty of melodrama and meaningless speculation about which candidate was “winning” a media-driven horse race.
The logical outcome of this dumbing down is the scenario now taking shape: Voters accepting propaganda about a candidate with obvious signs of dementia, his “competent” leadership, and other such establishmentarian clichés—it’s about results, not revolution! Another possibility is that primary voters, rather than being duped, are cynically accepting that the myth of technocratic competence is just that—a myth—that the president is only a figurehead for more powerful forces, and that there’s nothing, in short order, that anyone can do about it.
Would Biden “govern” any differently than Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar? Of course not. His presidency would complete decades of America’s transformation into an oligarchical, managerial state.
For sociopathic strivers like Buttigieg, it would be the career opportunity of a lifetime. To Biden’s handlers, America is like a giant tech corporation, and voters are the pliable consumers—impressionable morons who can be won over with cheap slogans. The neoliberal style pioneered by Obama—the president as America’s hip, Silicon Valley-approved CEO—would find a dark echo in the Biden of 2020. The goofy “Uncle Joe” of Obama’s presidency is gone.
And so the most degrading presidential primary in American history is winding down with an anti-climatic deus ex machina. The Democratic Party establishment powers-that-be are tying up this door stopper with a twist, and the revolution that just days ago had liberal news anchors panicking from the comfort of their sinecures has been called off for now.
It’s too bad. Watching the animal fear that Sanders had provoked from the elites, it was possible for conservatives, however briefly, to be excited that a socialist was succeeding. But all of that now feels premature. In just a few short days, what was shaping up to be a sad and pathetic end to Biden’s career turned into a richly ironic triumph. The joke’s on us.