In the past week, two videos have appeared showing the presidential nominees of the two major political parties in action. Each is grimmer than the last. They are indescribable — they have to be viewed in full to be comprehended, preferably one after the other for full effect.
Here is the first, a video of President Donald Trump spectacularly failing to understand basic concepts which are critical for any leader steering a country through a major public health crisis to grasp:
.@jonathanvswan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”@realdonaldtrump: “You can’t do that.”
Swan: “Why can’t I do that?” pic.twitter.com/MStySfkV39
— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
And here is the second, a video of Joe Biden, our great hope to unseat the president, unconvincingly attempting to dispel the impression that he is experiencing cognitive decline:
WATCH: Biden pushes back on cognitive test question: ‘Why the hell would I take a test?'
“C’mon man. That’s like saying, ‘You — before you got on this program you took a test where you’re taking cocaine or not, what do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?’” https://t.co/zMBd4PkQg9 pic.twitter.com/Vcdsso4zxU
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) August 5, 2020
Out of nearly 350 million Americans, of whom about 150 million are eligible to be president, these are the two esteemed individuals our fine capitalist democracy has coughed up for us to choose from. A natural impulse is to lunge straight for lesser-evilism. But before deliberating over how to proceed, given our options, let’s pause for a moment to recognize the enormity of our misfortune.
If you’re really willing to peer into the void, you’ll watch these videos while bearing in mind that over 150,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19 and the death toll continues to top 1,000 a day, and one in five US workers are either relying on or trying to receive unemployment benefits that have just expired with no replacement (only proposed major cuts), while at the same time 5.4 million Americans who have just lost their jobs have also lost their employer-provided health insurance — in the middle of a pandemic.
To further impress upon yourself the gravity of the situation, consider that the choice between these two candidates comes amid not only the acute coronavirus crisis but also a more protracted crisis of economic inequality in which 87 million Americans are either medically uninsured or underinsured, nearly one-third of American households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and wages are so inadequate that the $600 a week unemployment benefit provided at the beginning of the pandemic actually caused the poverty rate to fall — all while the top one percent holds more wealth than the bottom 80 percent combined, and its net worth has nearly doubled since the end of the Great Recession while everyone else’s has flatlined.
We’re in deep trouble, and neither of these nominees is capable of getting us out of it.
First of all, it’s evident that neither of them can think straight. What’s worse, neither of them has ever demonstrated any commitment to intervene on behalf of the working-class majority — even as it is ruthlessly exploited and trampled underfoot by our economic elites — beyond the bare minimum required by the politics of the moment. Trump is himself a plutocrat who bought his way into prominence, and then brazened his way into the Oval Office in an act of sheer self-aggrandizement. But in our reverie of contempt for Trump, let’s not forget that corporations and the wealthy have always bankrolled Biden’s career and he’s continually let them dictate his agenda, helping fashion our nation’s political system into an item for sale to a high bidder like Trump.
Some of you are probably thinking: hush now, don’t criticize Biden within earshot of any swing voters, we desperately need him to win in November. But whatever the short-term dangers of being honest about Biden’s shortcomings, they are rivaled if not surpassed by the long-term perils of continuing to squelch all criticism of Democratic Party standard-bearers in name of political expediency.
Watch the videos again. There’s no question: we require and deserve a far better opposition to the Right than the one we’ve got.