A Socialist Case for Biden: What Jacobin and the New York Times Both Don’t Get

The 2018 Election

The idea that Bernie would’ve won in 2016 and would win in 2020 takes a hard hit when we look at 2018. The leftist idea that the Democrats lost in 2016 because they picked a so-called establishment figure over the progressive led many to predict 2018 would be a wipeout because most of the candidates were not Sanders-aligned candidates.

The Corbyn Disaster

What made me take another look at a lot of this was Corbyn’s absolute wipeout in the last election. Before that loss — in which he lost seats Labour had held for decades (and the same kind of rustbelt seats Sanders can supposedly win) — his example was one Sanders supporters pointed to to draw inspiration from and to suggest what Sanders could do here. Now that he’s lost, it’s suddenly “irrelevant.”

The Danger of Populism

Why did Corbyn lose? The true believers still say that he didn’t really — it was a “conspiracy” by the media and powerful, dark, sinister forces, so we — thank goodness — don’t have to rethink anything. Leaving aside the Corbyn-Sanders claim that their approach — and only their approach — can win, I want to focus on the tendency to attribute loss to the “establishment,” the “media” or — well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

  • The report “Institutionally Antisemitic: Contemporary Left Antisemitism and the Crisis in the British Labour Party.”
  • The podcast ”Corbynism: The Post-Mortem.

The Danger of No-Win Politics and the Myth of Biden Being a Centrist

In 1964, Bayard Rustin wrote an article called “From Protest to Politics” in which he argued that part of the civil rights movement had adopted what he labelled a “no-win” policy that designated liberals as their “main enemy” rather than extremist Republicans who would roll back civil rights and other gains. He noted this was partly rooted in substituting militancy — “a matter of posture and volume” — for strategy.

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