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Note: Obviously I haven’t been blogging much in recent years. ┬áBut I wrote this on facebook and thought I would share it here too; perhaps I will start writing more if I can get a chance as the present political situation feels extremely dire.

Since 2016, I’ve often avoided commenting on the “Trump is just a symptom of neoliberalism” line and those types of narratives principally because I have found that they largely function as an excuse to do nothing to stand up to a President who is unambiguously making government more corrupt and further is greatly enhancing the risk there will never be any meaningful attempt to address climate change as well as increasing the risk of a disastrous war in the middle east involving Iran. (And I do suspect that some people who have pushed those narratives genuinely hate the political center more than they hate fascism, which is weird and disgusting.)

But that having been said, it is absolutely true that the corruption and cynicism that neoliberalism has injected into our political system and discourse is absolutely an essential ingredient in what makes “Trumpism” a recognizable political narrative. (Note I can’t say “an intelligible political narrative,” because, apart from its racist actions and appeals, Trumpism is largely unintelligible.) Trump provides the thinnest veneer of angry, anti-elite populism that racist whites need to feel that their resentments toward a pluralistic, multi-cultural society are legitimate.

But it is absolutely true to say that the corruption, nepotism and kleptocratic instincts of neoliberalism have done a great deal to render Trump’s phony populist rage seemingly intelligible to many who are searching for a culturally safe way to express their prejudices and desire to scapegoat immigrants for America’s problems. [And demonstrating that populist rage is indeed phony is easily achieved by noting Trump has never done anything to harm the corporate elites… even the ones who openly employ the undocumented workers (“illegal immigrants”) he so thoroughly despises… and his supporters have never criticized him over that.]

So now, while it has to be noted that the claim that Hunter Biden or, by extension, his father did something illegal in Ukraine is totally false, it is also true that the younger Biden is a participant in the typical, nausea-inducing, neo-liberal influence-peddling schemes that have come to typify modern politics, and it does reflect poorly on his father in that (relatively narrow) sense.

And while it has to be emphasized here that singling out Hunter Biden for criticism on this account would be completely absurd (particularly as Trump and his family themselves have a dizzying array of far more compromising relationships with foreign interests), the fact that it is absurd will not prevent it from happening and having real political impact. Just as Hillary Clinton’s perceived hypocrisy in remaining silent over sexual abuse allegations against her husband served to deflect from documentation of Trump’s extreme misogyny and his own abuse allegations, Hunter Biden’s eyeroll-worthy relationship with the Ukrainian oil company has the potential to muddy the waters and damage his father’s credibility in calling out Trump’s obvious corruption and inappropriate overtures to foreign leaders, and also risks serving as a deflection point regarding the (likely inevitable) impeachment of Trump.

And this is just one reason among many why, in my opinion, Biden would make a rather poor choice for the Democratic nominee for President.

Instead of nominating someone who is entangled in neo-liberal political webs, Democrats would do much better to nominate someone who can stand up forcefully and meaningfully against government corruption. In my opinion, Elizabeth Warren has spoken out most strongly on these issues and is probably the person best positioned to effect change here; although others in the Democratic field would potentially be competent on this point as well.

But the main point is that we absolutely have to deal not only with Donald Trump, but also with the underlying illness. Joe Biden is someone who will have difficulty convincingly doing this and nominating him could have potentially catastrophic implications.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Attend "Union For All" Summit In Los Angeles

Mario Tama/Getty Images


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