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Trouble In America

If there is one thing the world has learnt during the latest American election jamboree it’s that the US is far from the world’s greatest democracy.

But regardless of whether the White House is red or blue, what is certain is that America will continue attempts to spread her version of democracy around the world…

Journalist and Radio Host, Doug Henwood, and CODEPINK National Co-Director, Ariel Gold, met up with Renegade Inc. host, Ross Ashcroft, to discuss.


Neoliberalism: the core problem

It is perhaps tempting to cast Donald Trump as the villain for all the ills that have befallen American society. The reality, though, is far more nuanced than this simplistic media caricature would imply. America’s current problems almost certainly stem from the disastrous neoliberal-driven era of the Reagan administration, even though it could be reasonably argued that Trump exacerbated them.

Although on the surface the political ideologies of Trump and Biden might appear to be vastly different, in reality both Democrats and Republican’s are committed to a neoliberal orthodoxy. Biden, for instance, maintains a very close relationship with the creditor class and is both Wall Street and tax cut friendly.

Doug Henwood asserts that Biden’s ageing generation of Democratic party politician’s are the physical embodiment of the ossification of the entire American neoliberal political structure. Old school relics like 80 year old Nancy Pelosi, senate-blocking, Mitch McConnell and 77 year old Biden himself, are indicative of this rotten underlying structure.

“The whole system is utterly bankrupt. We can’t really get rid of the Senate, which is an undemocratic excrescence. We can’t really get rid of the Electoral College, which is also an undemocratic excrescence. So here we are with this crazy system that likes to think of itself as a model to the world. It seems to be a model of not how to do things”, says Henwood.

All the cronyism that was coming to fruition under Trump, and seems set to emerge as a foul tasting fruit under Biden, is overseen by a creaky electoral system underpinned by a constitution that’s a relic of an 18th century property owning class.

War hawk normalcy

But it is the area of foreign policy that is arguably the most worrying potential development of a future Biden administration. Unlike Trump, Biden is likely to adopt a conventional foreign policy marked by a return to national security establishment normalcy and the sabre rattling for wars.

“He’ll do whatever the foreign policy establishment wants”, claims Henwood.

As a huge advocate of the invasion of Iraq, Biden looks set to engage in the kind of hawkish interventionist policies that have typically come to dominate Democratic discourse. The idea of Biden attempting to reassert America’s deteriorating global power base by lashing out and provoking conflicts with its major technological rival, China, is a terrifying prospect for the world.

The potential return to hawkish foreign policy normalcy under a new Democratic administration is also a concern expressed by Ariel Gold. The CODEPINK National Co-Director, more broadly, is wary of Biden’s ‘return to normal’ rhetoric:

“What Biden promised the American people during his campaign is a return to normal. But normal is the problems that we know all too well of neoliberalism. Normal is a bloated Pentagon budget. Normal are endless wars. Normal is corporate control of so much of the American politics. Normal is a massive infusion of money in politics. So normal is not something to look forward to”, says Gold.

The CODEPINK National Co-Director is, however, encouraged by the potential for political pushback in Congress from progressives under Biden on issues such as Palestinian rights, the Iran nuclear deal and the war in Yemen – all possibilities that were lacking under Trump.

Public awareness

Another positive aspect likely to emerge from the Biden presidency is the growing awareness among the public of the relationship between the reckless foreign policy of war and the political lobbying power of big business. The reason Trump was able to position himself as an anti-war candidate was because he understood the American public’s disdain for endless wars.

Gold is confident that early into his presidency, Biden will put his signature to bipartisan War Powers Resolution legislation that passed through both chambers stating that any US military involvement must be approved by Congress.

Nevertheless, in an election campaign where Biden ramped up anti-Russia and anti-China sentiment in an attempt to justify massive military budgets as part of Washington’s continued militaristic-imperialist putsch, would seem to suggest that under his presidency, it will be ‘business as usual’.

The world now looks at the stark divisions within US society and wonders how the country can reconcile it’s militaristic adventurism abroad with its rhetoric proclaiming democracy and freedom at home.

The CODEPINK National Co-Director proffers some possible solutions to the problems the nation faces:

“It’s about reaching out to change the hearts and minds of Americans. It’s about overcoming our racist settler colonial past and forging a new future built on diplomacy, on human needs and, on finally, giving up our militaristic intentions”, says Gold.

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