The Brooklyn College Vanguard

Op-ed: Keeping Our Heads Down

The news of Joe Biden’s victory in this year’s presidential contest was met with celebrations across the city and the nation. The celebrations seemed duly warranted when taking into account the last four years and a few long days of uncertainty while waiting for the outcome. These celebrations, particularly jubilant in New York, don’t require too much thought beyond one critical question: what are we celebrating?

   During a soccer game when one team is leading another by three goals to zero, if the team that is down manages to get one back, the players do not celebrate. The goalscorer grabs the ball from its place in the net and runs back to the halfway line in order to resume the play as quickly as possible. The crowd is right to celebrate, but they do so with a humility that understands that the game is far from won. Perhaps the losing team keeps scoring and the prospect of winning seems to be more likely, but not until the teams are on similar footing does the real celebration begin.

   If you were able to forgive me for the sports analogy, you might see what I am getting at. The progressive movement, which Joe Biden presumes leadership of, is far from being on equal footing with the conservative establishment. Over the course of Donald Trump’s term in office, he has to appoint three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, the mobilization of a conservative base almost entirely unseen before in American history, and an unmasking of Democrats’ inability to shore up a meaningful resistance that amounts to much more than ineffectual virtue signaling. 

   Remember in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequant protests how Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and co. donned Kente cloth and knelt in the capital building for nine minutes? Remember when they tried to impeach Trump, swiftly lost, and quickly returned to nothing more than a conspiracy theory involving the Russians? It is quite the spectacle surveying the sheer ineffectiveness of the democratic machine’s ability to take down the antagonistic powers that be, let alone even resist them. 

   This ineffectiveness can be largely chalked up to who Democrat’s are answering to. Big tech in Silicon Valley and folks in Wall St. make up an impressive block of funding for democratic candidates. Not to mention oil (“I will not ban fracking!”), private health insurance (“I beat Bernie Sanders”), and a host of other interests whose goals are ominously distant from those of regular Americans (“Nothing will fundamentally change.”) 

   Although it doesn’t look like we are celebrating the next progressive dynasty, perhaps we can at least celebrate the coronation of Ol’ Joe and Kamala Harris. The only problem with that is Joe Biden has a truly astounding record of being on the wrong side of segregation and criminal justice, to name just two issues he’s failed to deliver on. Giving the eulogy at Strom Thurmond’s funeral, Biden called the segregationist a “brave man” and one who he became “good friends” with. Apart from his suspect relationships with segregationists, let us not forget Kamala Harris’ own railing against him in regard to his stance on bussing. During the debate, Harris addressed Joe’s record on bussing by telling all that she was one of the little girls that was bussed to an integrated school in California. I’m sure glad they were able to put that difference aside. 

   There isn’t a single doubt about Harris having all the necessary credentials as far bringing more representation of women of color to the forefront of our national discourse. Her points for representation are unfortunately stacked up, however, against her record as a prosecutor. On the debate stage, Tulsi Gabbard clearly articulated why we should all be deeply concerned about Harris’ record of locking away people for non-violent marijuana offenses, holding prisoners for longer than their sentences in order to use them for labor, and fighting to maintain our nation’s pride and joy: the Cash Bail system. 

   The President-Elect and our next Vice President are not the shining nobility of the progressive tradition. They are symptoms of a political system that rewards politicians for representing the interests of corporations rather than those of their constituents. I am all for the idea of pushing Biden left, but this man has been in politics since 1973, has shown very little progress and no remorse for his past positions. 

   Trump being out of office will definitely allow for a safer climate for undocumented immigrants and members of the LGBTQ+ community. But Trump makes a good point when he asks “who built the cages?” Just because a politician isn’t outwardly decaying from the effects of sheer loathing for regular people, doesn’t mean that they are our champions. Getting comfortable with Obama’s legacy being handed over to Hillary is exactly what gave us Trump. It’s okay to dislike these people and I don’t see a ton of value in celebrating them. Instead of celebrating I think we should put our heads down and keep fighting.