Updated: Jan 17
"If you vote the way you've always voted, you get what you've always got and we'll end up where we've always been..."
-Gary Chambers, Jr.
David Duhalde is Vice-Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America Fund. Something he wrote gave me another perspective on the fury I felt about Biden deciding the $2,000 check promise really just meant $1,400. David wrote that "It is very unhealthy and counterproductive for the democratic (small-d) left and progressives to be viewing the $2000 aggregate checks as some betrayal and loss. As someone who comes out of the socialist movement, such framing is typical of some perennial loser factions in the Trotskyist movement. Every action by "leaders" (without nuance) is a betrayal of the working class. Such a worldview is self-satisfying, but is incredibly alienating. I understood the $2000 pitch to one amount. As Daniel Marans showed, the bill progressive Democrats (big-d) pushed shows it was to add $1400 to the original amount. I can, however, see why smart and reasonable people thought it was a $2000 additional check based on some campaign messaging. Regardless, jumping on a misunderstanding to make it look like we-- the left-- are losing is a self-own. (Such legislative misunderstandings were a trademark of #ForceTheVote nonsense earlier this month.) Through reasons both in and out of our control, the demand for $2,000 checks is looking likely. We should be happy that politics has changed a great deal since 2008 and the libreal-left is a stronger place to move this administration than we were a dozen years ago. Victories build momentum. Saying we're losing (when we aren't) before Biden even swears in will be a buzzkill."
Trump is leaving the white White House with the lowest first term approval rating (33%, although other polls place it at 29%) of any president in history. And apparently many people really are a lot more optimistic about Biden being sworn in than I am. I hope-- but have no hope other than for a few specific instances-- that they're right and I'm wrong. I found that gorgeous, inspirational video by the Resistance Revival Chorus up top on, of all places, neo-fascist propaganda site, Breitbart, criticizing Biden for inviting them to perform at his inaugural. Breitbartist David Ng-- could it be the same David Ng I beat in a UN-sponsored debate about the death penalty when I was 13???-- finds their beautiful music to be neither "healing" nor "unifying" because... well, he's pro-fascist and they, like most of America, are anti-fascist. There is no unity between normal people and fascists. In the UN debate Ng was against the death penalty and I was for it. I've always had a caveat about that though: our society and justice system is so riven with racism and classism that the death penalty can't possibly be used. I have always made one exception: fascists. Fascists must be exterminated-- always and unrelentingly.
Are you a fan of Masha Gessen? On Friday, she proposed that Trump's trial must tell the full story of the insurrection. What trial? Umm... unless Biden, McConnell and Pelosi derail it, there's gong to be a Senate trial just around the bend. In 2019 Gessen wrote that "it was impossible to observe the hearings without first choosing between two non-overlapping views of reality, two different stories. In one story, Trump had repeatedly abused power and was finally facing impeachment for a particularly egregious incident of abuse. In the other, Democrats had been trying to get Trump for years and had finally latched on to an inconsequential incident, staging a witch trial to get rid of the President. This week, the Republican Party is still closing ranks around the President, with a mere ten exceptions in the House. Wednesday’s impeachment hearing, like the first, was legible only through one of two frames: either Trump organized an attempted coup and was being impeached for it, or, as Representative Jim Jordan, of Ohio, claimed in his speech on the House floor, 'It’s always been about getting the President no matter what. It’s an obsession.' Although several Republican representatives acknowledged that the violence at the Capitol on January 6th was terrifying, condemnable, and un-American, some of them compared it to Black Lives Matter protests, or what they imagined the Black Lives Matter protests to be. 'Make no mistake, the left in America has incited far more political violence than the right,' Representative Matt Gaetz, of Florida, said. 'For months, our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses were shattered, and they said nothing.' By this logic, since no one was impeached for, say, the property damage sustained in Minneapolis last year during the protests of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, no one should be impeached for inciting chaos at the Capitol.
Biden released a statement several hours after the House voted on the motion to impeach. This timing seemed designed to signal that impeachment is not one of Biden’s top priorities. “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” the statement read. Over all, Biden has distanced himself from the proceedings, underscoring that he sees his job as getting his Cabinet seated, speeding up vaccine distribution, and passing his economic-relief package. On Thursday, barely more than twenty-four hours after the impeachment vote, Biden gave a speech in which he made no mention of it, or Trump, or January 6th.
...As long as the proceedings are narrowly focussed on Trump, the case for urgency will grow only harder to make. Instead, the goal of the Senate trial should be defined as finding and telling the truth about the insurrection. My colleague Jill Lepore has taken up the question of what we ought to call the events of January 6th. “Any formulation is a non-starter if it diminishes the culpability of people in positions of power who perpetrated the lie that the election was stolen,” she wrote. The task before the Senate, then, ought to be to produce the first draft of those history books.
...An attempt to tell the story of the insurrection-- and the story of the Trump Presidency, which made it possible-- would not be efficient. It would have to be sprawling, ambitious, grand. It would require the President-elect and senators to use their full political and intellectual muscle. This needs to be done not because it is necessary to punish and banish Trump, but because this country cannot rely only on snatches of stories that float haphazardly through non-overlapping realities. Biden certainly fears that insisting on a deep and broad Senate trial would further alienate Trump’s supporters. But if impeachment is allowed to fizzle, or even to proceed in the most efficient way possible, that will guarantee nearly half of Americans will watch the process without having to challenge the notion that the Democrats are simply out to get Trump. Can they be pulled in by a more detailed, more truthful, and undoubtedly more troubling story? We cannot know-- but without telling a story we cannot live.
Afternoon time out? How about a version of today's favorite song, but by Billy Bragg and Wilco? YouTube has restricted it, making it impossible to embed but click on the link and you can listen to it on their own site. And... here's AOC posing with the Resistance Revival Chorus. (And listen to this too.)