After a year and a half in power, the Biden Administration has predictably failed to live up to its promises.
By: Ana L. Noriega Olazábal, with contributions from Sophie S. Williams
Photo: Official White House Photo/Adam Schultz
On August 3rd, President Biden signed into effect a new executive order concerning abortion and reproductive rights across the country. The order, as per NCBNews, would direct "the Department of Health and Human Services to “consider” [emphasis added] allowing Medicaid funds to be used to assist people traveling between states to get abortions.” Additionally, it would “direct HHS to ensure that health care providers comply with federal anti-discrimination laws so women receive 'medically necessary care without delay.'”
Across American media generally, this was reported as a move that would defend reproductive care, “help women travel out of state to receive abortions, ensure health care providers comply with federal law so women aren't delayed in getting care and advance research and data collection,” as CNN put it.
It would be unnecessary to point out that “helping women travel out-of-state for abortions” and informally asking an agency to simply consider allowing Medicaid funding for out-of-state abortions are two very different things. Even if said funding is approved, Republican state legislatures would be one step ahead in preventing women — principally poor, colonized women — from accessing reproductive care. This is evidenced by the plethora of laws in the works that would punish anyone seeking an out-of-state abortion, as well as the many related prosecutions already in existence — such as those against women who've had miscarriages. It is unlikely that those willing to incarcerate women for a natural process entirely out of their control (around a quarter of pregnancies naturally result in miscarriages) would sit arms-crossed if faced with the provision of greater access to out-of-state abortions.
Once more, the Democrats have shown that, even at their best, they remain a controlled-opposition to the Republicans, and, more worryingly, to the nascent, burgeoning American fascist movement that is now quietly yet quickly growing across the nation. Even when holding the presidency and the majority in both legislative chambers, they remain willfully inactive in any capacity but words and symbols, sitting idly by while basic rights and liberties are dismantled.¹ Instead, even the best-intentioned “representatives” continue myopically sniffing for the next re-election opportunity. Rather than ascertain their worth to the people through positive action, they passively pose as stable, static counters to the anti-progressive actions of their opponents. High-ranking politicians in the Democratic Party are opportunists of the worst caliber, eager and willing to line their pockets with dark money from America's top oligarchs, all the while promising the masses the changes people demand, on which they never intend to deliver, no matter the level of public support.
Democrats are no better than Republicans — they merely have different public relations. They line their protection of the “liberal rules-based world order” with rhetoric of cultural reformism, rather than pseduopopulist fascism. They are less willing to make their views clear. They appeal to a different sensibility: the wealthy, college-educated complacent urban liberal — she who has a social conscience, but is not willing to give up her privileges while aware they are at others’ expense; she who posts a black square, yet flinches whenever near a racial minority.
Progressive democrats like Ocasio-Cortez or Sanders are no improvement. They, once more, merely appeal to a different demographic — the vanguard of consciousness among the California and New York liberal elite — all the while voting, for instance, to give monetary aid to fund foreign, imperialist wars, as most Americans increasingly struggle to afford gas and groceries. They appeal best to those who frequent 8-dollar ecological fair-trade coffee shops in Berkeley.
It is under this current administration that American workers, women, minorities, queer people, and others have seen basic, previously-garanteed rights vanish before their eyes. It is under this administration that a nationwide trans-moral panic has erupted, leading to hundreds of laws in state legislatures aimed at restricting, humiliating, and hurting trans people. It is under this administration that new imperialist wars continue to break out and loom in the horizon. It is under this administration that women are now dying, being forced to give birth, and unable to access basic medication. Do not be fooled by essential-oils salesmen. This administration — a blue, progressive, experienced, diverse, administration living in a moment of widespread social consciousness, and having every resource at their disposal — does not have anybody's best interests in mind, save for the American oligarchy, their yoke and master, for which they are nothing but a loyal lap-dog.
And what about the American masses? Those working dead-end jobs, those single mothers struggling to make ends meet, those drowning in debts and behind-payments? Those working while undocumented in inhumane conditions? The millions living with crumbling, underfunded schools, surrounded by violent crime, and uninhabitable, dangerous pollution? There is no one who speaks for them, no one who represents them, and no one who fights for them. At least, not on a large scale, save for local organizations, some unions, and many other disconnected small-scale entities. Meanwhile, the half of Americans that don’t vote at all are framed as ignorant and selfish for not buying into the scrimmage of red-versus-blue electoral politics. They are blamed for the losses of the masses, as if a larger proportion of people voting for the Democrats and Republicans would change the outcome or the content of the policies.
There are 168 million people across this nation, principally women and queer people,² who have lost the basic guarantee of an abortion — for most, it is now a complete impossibility. Yet these 168 million people are not helpless victims — they are a fountain of political power. There is power, all over the country — power that largely remains unorganized, atomized, and unarticulated.
As of the time of writing, there is no large, serious, dedicated working class organization. As such, from a position of strategic retreat, it is important to be realistic yet stubbornly visionary at the same time. We are now seeing a wave of unionizations across the country's largest, most important corporations. Furthermore, feminist organizations like AF3IRM continue to mobilize communities of women and queer people across several states. These are great leaps in consciousness and power for the masses, and they deserve our enthusiastic, if critical,³ support — especially in the face of an increasingly reactionary political landscape.⁴ It is these efforts that we should integrate, with the aim to transform, grow, and give form to.
We must never forget that unionization, mobilization, and political education are not the final goals, and will not bring us gradually to the final goal, either. These efforts remain atomized. They are independent, operating without concrete direction, focused on their own short-term goals and survival in the face of powerful suppression, made even harder by their atomization. They should be a means to a greater end, not the end-in-themselves.
All this into consideration, the fact remains: integration into the real movement is the first step for those of us whose trembling hearts beat with fury at the sight of injustice. There is no "vanguard" at Dartmouth College, and even if there was, there are no masses for it to lead. We are standing in the middle of bourgeois territory—amidst the children of the old bourgeoisie who will become, and are already becoming, the new bourgeoisie. The real movement, which is built day-by-day by the masses, for the masses, will always be far away from the booming bells of Baker-Berry and paid dinners at Pine with finance recruiters. It is there that we should, with full disposition and tempered militancy, be.
August 9th, 2022.
A few days after Biden's executive order, the US Senate passed a wide-reaching climate bill, which was described by outlets such as The Guardian as "a major triumph for the president," if still "a far cry from his original… ambitions." Of the $740bn allocated by the bill, $375bn will go towards “addressing climate change” — a measure that, in our times, is desperately needed. Nevertheless, as it tends to happen with supposed-victories in the electoral circus, a closer look reveals what lies under the surface. The bill, even before its passage, was preemptively celebrated by the likes of Darren Woods, CEO of oil-megacorporation Exxon Mobil. As per the Bloomberg report, “The Manchin-Schumer climate and energy pact did include several things likely on Exxon’s wish list, such as locking in lease sales, and even pairing renewable rights to oil and gas lease sales." In other words, this “climate” bill is merely a slew of political victories for fossil fuel companies and other major polluting industries.
Just a day after publishing the first article cited above, The Guardian (which, as evidenced by their previous journalist effort, is by no means an anti-Biden, or even 'leftist' paper!) published a follow-up piece: “Landmark US climate bill will do more harm than good, groups say.”
In it, they cite extensively from the Climate Justice Alliance, a coalition which, with absolute lucidity, put it best in the words of Rafael Mojica, one of their affiliates: "[This bill] is riddled with concessions to the big carbon-based industries that at present prey on our communities at the expense of their health, both physically and economically. Billions of dollars would be given to invest in carbon capture and hydrogen production technologies, which are being passed off as solutions to our pollution problems, when it would only be encouraging to continue with the status quo of how we utilize hazardous sources of energy production." The coalition's assessment? This bill's massive investment in carbon-based industries, as well as the advantages conferred to it, will outweigh any possible “good” to come out of it.
The Guardian also exposes the bill's nefarious background, as it is "a watered-down version of Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better bill which was blocked by every single Republican and also conservative Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both received significant campaign support from fossil fuel industries." Finally, the article concludes with the words of Siqiniq Maupin, the executive director of Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic: “This new bill is genocide [emphasis added], there is no other way to put it. This is a life or death situation and the longer we act as though the world isn’t on fire around us, the worse our burns will be. Biden has the power to prevent this, to mitigate the damage.” I would add a few words to Mr. Maupin's clairvoyant, necessary intervention: Biden has the power, but not the will. He, and the rest of the Democratic Party, are committed to their rotundly lucrative essential-oil business.
1. Even if one is truly conscious and effective for change in American politics, they will never be permitted to succeed. If they become successful, they no longer can be truly conscious or effective. That, or they will merely be one independent, democratic "socialist", green, or even libertarian vote, among a sea of a unified national practice split into two main parties.
2. Abortion restrictions, along with restrictions on reproductive care more generally, are almost always done expressly for the purpose of advancing and maintaining sexist domination in all areas of life. Their target, point-blank, is women — and those who fascists, in their nebulous, absolutist bigotry see as women. That is all to say, misogyny, as the principal tool in service of male supremacy and female oppression, materially remains at the core of the anti-abortion movement — it is its motivation, its raison d'être.
3. Remember: by analyzing, we mean to analyze the contradictions in all things, that is, the unity (and struggle) of opposites.
4. The liberal notion of how history progresses is completely erroneous. There is no swinging pendulum of social change, nor is there linear progress; there is only action and reaction.