I know it sounds like a pizza ad, but it’s far less healthy: “Democrats Deliver!”
It’s apparently a website, the name of a tour of Democrats, something pasted on the front of blogs and the back of buses, and something said often by Democrats in Congress, Democrats in California, and Democrats bewildered by Republicans actually exercising power. But I bring it up because I’ve seen this peculiar graphic:
Apparently the graphic comes from this group, long funded by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other war profiteers, and also, at least until a recent fuss was made about it, by such brutal dictatorships and big weapons customers as the United Arab Emirates.
Being focused on matters of peace and war, and looking at this graphic, I was of course struck first by NATO expansion being listed as a good thing right there in the middle of the graphic and in the middle (let’s hope it’s not just the early years) of a war that’s devastating the world in many ways and risking a swift nuclear end to everything. And this is right next to ending “America’s longest war” also being listed as a good thing in this graphic. Of course, back when the United States didn’t usually call itself by the name of two continents, it fought longer wars, but those were merely against Native Americans and so don’t really count. To make ending a war and expanding NATO both pluses, one has to imagine NATO as antiwar and actively ignore decades of U.S. experts warning that NATO expansion would lead to war. But I’m not sure most sharers of the graphic carefully think it through. And I’m positive very few of them were clamoring for either NATO expansion or an ending of the war on Afghanistan, which has only been ended if blowing people up with robot airplanes and starving them with financial theft don’t count. The 2020 Democratic Party Platform did promise to end the war on Afghanistan, and in fact to “end the forever wars” — so that’s a rare promise partially kept. It also promised to “reinvigorate” NATO.
So, these are promises actually delivered, unlike the promises to end the war on Yemen, reduce military spending (dramatically increased instead), repeal decades-old AUMFs (still waiting), end drilling on federal lands (expanded instead), make college free for families paid less than $125,000 a year (ignored even though doable by either Congress or the President), stop separating immigrant families and instead compensate them (not done), create a $15 minimum wage (in the end deemed less important than the filibuster and good relations with right-wing Democrats), provide paid sick and family leave (nope), remove the cap on Social Security taxes (uh-uh), provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income for rental housing (haven’t seen it), make community college free for two years (where’s that?), provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds (that’d be really nice), a $2 trillion investment in clean energy (that’s massively larger than what they’ve done), provide every city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation (imagine!), create the infamous healthcare “public option” and lower the age for Medicare (instead they’re privatizing Medicare), create automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, early voting, universal vote-from-home and vote-by-mail options, and an election day holiday (I’d celebrate any credible attempt to do that), and on and on.
According to Biden’s campaign website, he was going to “Introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections. . . . Enact legislation to provide voluntary matching public funds for federal candidates receiving small dollar donations. . . . Restrict SuperPACs. . . . End dark money groups. . . . Ban corporate PAC contributions to candidates, and prohibit lobbyist contributions to those who they lobby.” They were going to get guns off the streets, protect union organizing, eliminate cash bail and mandatory minimums and the death penalty and the criminalization of marijuana, make DC a state, and tax oligarchs.
Remember all that? You’ll hear about it all again in two years. You’ll see virtually nothing done on it between now and then. The Filibuster-Sinema-Manchin excuse is now fortified with a Republican House excuse, leaving Democrats free to campaign fulltime on the theme of how they “deliver.”
Will they seriously claim with a straight face, as on this graphic, that billionaires and corporations pay their fair share? Will their supporters actually believe that and therefore not demand that it be made real? Or will they pretend to believe it because Democrats are better than Republicans, and simultaneously demand it? Or will they strategically hold off on demanding it in the two years just prior to an election, and in the one-year honeymoon period after the most important election defeat or victory in the history of the greatest country on Earth, but identify a month or two in which it’s acceptable to really make their demands known? If you were a billionaire, would that worry you? I mean, even if Biden doesn’t promise again that nothing will fundamentally change?
Compare the unfulfilled promises I’ve mentioned with the claims in the graphic. One of them is murdering a terrorism suspect rather than putting him on trial. Two of them are the tokenism of identity politics without substance. One of them is about a budget deficit, playing right into the hands of rightwingers who put nonsensical value on that in order to de-fund human and environmental needs, and the rest are super weak legislation made to look more numerous by describing the bill in one little blue box and naming it in another.
I’d prefer a pizza.