COVID-19 Reflections, Lockdown, Italy, Day 54

The problem for the United States is not just the haphazard idiocy of Trump authoritarianism and his spectacular puerile ignorance and overweening self-obsession. It is the squirrel grip of corporations and moguls from extremist corporations over government and both major Parties [this article from Business Insider has a picture of Joe Biden with two corporate donors that perfectly illustrates the problem]. These unelected and unrepresentative forces are are marked by obscene avarice, buy the loyalty of politicians , and sell out the welfare of the people, a primary democratic principle.

And the tragedy for American democracy – while it is under blatant attack from a narcissistic moron in the White House, and surrounded by an equally incompetent Cabinet and key advisers in insecure jobs depending on the temper tantrums of this most unfit of Presidents – is that the democratic Party is not up to reforming this toxic mess. That is, they pussyfoot around the sell-out of bipartisanship by the aggressive and bad faith obstruction of Republican Party leaders who have dedicated themselves to manipulating democratic process and subvert democratic principles.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the outspoken and very competent Democratic congresswoman, puts her finger on her Party’s problem in commenting on Biden’s Presidential candidacy:

“I think our institutions of democracy are absolutely under siege at every single level. And we are moving away from democracy in the United States, we’re moving towards authoritarianism. If the question is, can Biden win? I think Biden has the potential to win a general election. Whether he can offer deeper structural changes that get us to a healthier place, I don’t necessarily know if he’s going to move us forward. But I think people can see him as stopping the bleeding.”

The COVID-19 pandemic – aside from the obvious incompetence of the White House and the Administration, where experts are sidelined and whose advice is ignored by The Clot in the Oval Office – has revealed the failure of the United States’ ability to look after the welfare of its people.

For too long, the Federal Government has been controlled by the oily Mitch McConnell, that egregiously obstructive and undemocratic Don of the Republican Party, on behalf of the fossil-fuel cabal, the pharmaceutical empires, the Koch Brothers and other members of America’s obscenely wealthy plutocrats. He has the power to reign in the White House Clot but continues to manoeuvre the Senate into serving the moguls.

Unfortunately, the tortuous processes of American Party politics have left America the choice between an old duffer, trying his heart out with mild but good intentions and a puerile old conman who has no empathy, no notion of democratic values, is pig-ignorant even about the Constitution he swore to defend, and nought but narcissistic, venal, vengeful, bigoted, and authoritarian.

The pandemic and the disaster of the 2016 election have torn apart any mirage of a united country, where even the priorities and imperatives of a public health emergency are destroyed by the Republican malevolence that has obstructed American democracy for decades and led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

This is alarming for observers outside the United States for that destructive Republican Party ideology underpinning the undermining of democratic principles is pushing against what is left of the once Conservative Parties, which have been infiltrated by the acolytes of neoliberalism. It is that body of mythology about free trade, deregulation, “small government”, “trickle down economics” low commitment to and violation of civil liberties, violations of human rights, and serving the accumulation of national wealth in the hands of the 1%.

Bernie Sanders, another septuagenarian, has stirred up a movement for the restoration of democratic governance for the people and by them. Unfortunately, he called his platform “democratic socialism“, adding grist to the frothing and indignation of the crazies on the airwaves and on Fox”News”, the Republicans’ gratuitous propaganda unit.

Sanders’ idealism has not been lost with his failure to outvote Biden in the Democratic primaries. The torch is also carried by the new generation of true democrats. they are regarded as radicals by all and sundry. But like Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and her articulate colleagues are running on the principles that the Republicans and some elements in the Democratic Party sold out on long ago.

And that gives us democrats hope for the restitution of good governance driven by equity, government services, protection of the welfare of the people, and an economy for all rather than neoliberal Republicans’ mission, and their followers in the UK and Australia, to serve the moguls and the profiteers. That hope is enhanced by some of the mainstream media who, in service to democratic principles, have called Trump on his idiocy, his anti-democratic authoritarianism, his ignorance, his science denialism, his instability, and his malevolence.

But, the disintegration of good governance and, in particular, the failure of public health and presidential incompetence, after decades of Republican obstruction, and the chaos of Trump’s malfeasance, leaves the opportunity for rallying public discourse around the principles that honour human rights, social justice, civil liberties, an equitable economy for all, equality before the law, just working conditions and wages, and the revitalisation of democratic institutions and services, such as a universal public health system.

James McDonald
3 May 2020