Why Biden Was Always Doomed
The course of the Biden Administration has run dangerously close to the basic path I predicted it would a year ago —it’s been even worse in some ways.
If you want to understand Joe Biden, this quote from the Associated Press sums up the man quite well:
Joe Biden’s long arc in public life has always had one final ambition: to sit behind the Resolute Desk of the Oval Office.
A sentiment Biden expressed upon his inauguration further reveals what’s fundamentally wrong with him and everything he really stands for:
On the eve of his swearing-in, a tearful Biden said his “one regret” was that Beau wasn’t alive “because we should be introducing him as president.”
Let this sink in for a moment. In a country that only exists because the Founders carried off a successful rebellion against their hereditary overlord, the king of Britain, the kind of people who wind up rising to power explicitly do it to secure their family’s position.
Donald Trump is the same. His administration turned the White House into a playground for his family, with his son clearly angling for the Oval Office too, perhaps after his father is installed in 2024 by Republican state legislatures, as it the plan.
America is ruled by an elite, plain and simple. Powerful, wealthy, well-connected families who will stop at nothing to maintain their dominance over the rest of us.
Democracy versus Autocracy? Please, it’s the rich against the rest. Always has been, always will be, which is why accumulated hoards past a certain size must be found and liberated, Beowulf style if need be.
Biden, Trump — it doesn’t matter what their affiliation is, the things they pretend to believe to keep their supporters in line. The only fundamental difference between the two is that Biden wants to maintain the elitist system that keeps regular people from having any meaningful impact on the American government while Trump wants to colonize it.
Both are maintained in power by legions of fellow travelers who believe they and their own families will be enriched and empowered. The HBO Comedy Veep is a perfect distillation of how American politics truly works, how Americans — all of us, whatever our beliefs — are dominated by elites in the government, media, academia who look out for their interests alone.
America really is the Soviet Union all over again, with Biden playing the role of Gorbachev. That’s why America’s fate is not civil war or the total victory of either major party, but dissolution into component parts, probably groups of states.
There’s a damn good reason Biden’s previous attempts to run for President failed. He lacks vision, competence, or any respect for the average American’s plight, his folksy speeches all about pretending to give a damn about the common person.
Joe Biden has failed on every promise he made to the American people. He claimed he would unite Americans, beat back Covid, restore civility to politics, stop separating migrant children from their families and acting like refugees are illegal immigrants. But every decision he has made since January 2021 has been designed to advance the interests of the people he truly represents, the powers-that-be of the American establishment. They want eternal Cold War with China and Russia, not a fully democratically accountable nation.
Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election fair and square — barely. It was his victory in the Covid truncated Democratic Primaries that wasn’t legitimate in a truly democratic sense.
Basically, he was installed as the Democrats’ nominee after every other candidate not closely connected to the progressives quit to make sure Sanders couldn’t win. In much the same way Sanders was blocked from winning the nomination against Clinton in 2016, an event that did far more than any Russian meddling to enable Trump’s rise, Biden was selected by a group of rich, powerful donors whose sole ambition was removing Trump’s threat to their control of D.C.
Trump is an enemy of the Constitution, meeting every definition of Traitor the Founders would have considered just cause for imprisonment or worse.
But Biden is selling the Constitution out to this thug. In ways, he’s worse than Trump because his presence in the White House has demobilized most activists. Exhausted by being run in circles by the Trump-enabling media for years, they accepted the deadly bargain of Biden realizing his desperate, vain ambition and accepted his pretensions of being the next FDR.
What this country needed in 2020 was a truly stabilizing presence — a leader capable of helping Americans look past the mostly sham fights of today to where the country has to be if it wants to survive. When Kamala Harris was convinced to leave the primaries before a single caucus or primary vote had been cast, I had the same deep gut feeling of despair that struck when it was clear 2016 was actually going to be a Trump-Clinton battle.
Some developments fix the future, if you understand how the American system functions. American insiders dominate politics and fight to spin facts in the media to accomplish what military types call battlefield shaping, which basically means they fight to influence how the rest of us think about the system.
They go on TV year after year to spout the same pseudo-scientific nonsense dressed up as facts. They serve the same function as sportscasters who fight before a game over which team is going to win.
Even when they are wrong time and time again — Dick Morris and James Carville play this role for the Democrats, Karl Rove and Tucker Carlson the Republicans — they are never held accountable. Next election cycle they’re back on TV saying the same stuff they were the last time.
Most of the media obsession with Trump during his administration was a waste of time. He plays a simple game over and over again — attack a system most Americans agree is broken, giving them an enemy to hate and blame. Because Trump is consistent in his rhetoric, crazy as it sounds to anyone with a decent education, he comes off as paradoxically more reliable than most politicians who speak the same stilted alienating language.
But as broken as Trump and Trumpism are, they fill a void. They offer an explanation for why the country is a mess and a simple prescription for fixing everything, which just so happens to be whatever people who donate to him want it to be. This is why even when he speaks in favor of vaccines he’s ignored, though he doesn’t lose popularity — he’s a symbol now. A cult icon. The new Reagan to a lot of people in desperate need of hope.
After the Capitol Attack, America’s dominant elites have been fighting to pretend America isn’t the next Soviet Union. Getting kicked out of Afghanistan, failing to contain a catastrophic disaster, economic instability, and rising regional support for breaking up the country — all very Soviet Union circa 1988.
Running up against the hard logic of declining trust in the federal government and the fact Trump’s support has never evaporated like so many pundits have promised since 2015, Biden needed to be transformational. But because he ran on being a moderate who would simply undo the worst of Trump’s evils, his hands were tied from day one.
Instead of accepting this, Biden in his vanity chose to try and secure his place in American history as FDR 2.0. He was no doubt egged on by his insider advisers — the fact his team is notoriously disciplined and loyal implies groupthink impacts their decision making.
In America, the type of person who winds up being an insider for a leading politician is generally drawn from the political elite. You don’t get a job as National Security Advisor or White House Chief of Staff without going to the right schools — more or less, ones where rich people flock like Harvard or Yale. Places where one makes the kinds of personal connections that allows them to run for high office in the first place.
America is a casino country where money makes things work. If you have it, you can pay thousands of dollars for a plate at a donor meal and the potential to rub shoulders with power players. If you have money, you can pay for the Twitter or Facebook exposure needed to convince millions of people you deserve their attention.
Inequality feeds inequality over time absent a corrective mechanism. American government is a driver of inequality because of how much economic and social power accrues to a few individuals who reduce the dynamism inherent in a nation of millions to their dynastic power squabbles.
And the simple proof of this elite domination is the fact that the single best predictor of whether you will have success in a given profession is whether you had a parent who did it too. Americans by and large hold it taboo to talk in public about the caste system it has evolved — itself another sign of elite power, as they hate it when regular people start mapping out the true nature of their power.
The first step to managing a system is mapping it out, gaining an understanding of its inner workings. Once you know how something works, it usually becomes clear how you can break it.
If anyone in this world hopes to experience a better future, breaking the invisible chains placed upon us by people who would claim to be our betters is the essential first step. Leadership is about coordination, not authority. It’s a functional role that must never be allowed to permanently bind to any particular family.
That path always leads to one end: division and permanent separation.
The other major reason Biden was always doomed is that his mentality is absolutely mismatched with the demands of this dangerous moment in American history.
America as a complex system is in collapse. It is fated to fragment on some level and, possibly, to come back together in a new configuration.
In the long run, this is necessary and normal for a system. Systems are defined by the relationships between parts, whose interactions create the emergent behavior we experience as reality.
Nations seem to rise and fall because as people we tend to think of the past as a story. History is called that for a reason — it’s a story, a narrative that assembles facts into what seems to our minds to be a coherent order. There are characters, beginnings, turnings, endings.
But this is a human framing of events. We seek meaning in facts because that’s how our brains operate, it’s how we go about our lives from moment to moment — participating in a kind of narrative. Our identities, even if they are always evolving, feel fixed to us in any given instant.
In reality there’s just people and the stuff they do, their mutual interactions colliding sometimes catastrophically to produce major trajectory changes in the life of the system. New ideas are adopted by people with an interest in advancing them, their success making those ideas seem obvious to future generations.
Complex systems have the interesting property that they follow a four-phase cycle of adaptive evolution where the conditions actors that make up these systems experience drive their behaviors in certain directions. When resources are tight, people fall back on close bonds of trust as an instinctive strategy to survive. This process can self-accelerate in a positive feedback loop, atomizing former communities into kin-groups, even individual households.
Eventually the environment shifts or the actors die off, leading to an inflow of resources that allows for expansion and growth once more. People take risks, which pay off, leading them to take more, this strategy working as long as conditions remain conducive, as when rain and sunlight increase through the spring.
Over time a new system configuration emerges, becoming more stable with time as different groups work out profitable niches. The shift from Internet 1.0 to 2.0 is a perfect example of this playing out — the dotcom crash of 2001 led to everyday names like Google and Amazon to emerge out of a slew of competitors all probing the possibilities of what technology was making possible.
The boom and bust cycle of economics, changes in the composition and policy focus of political parties, and generational attitude shifts can all be powerfully expressed as complex systems filled with agents who adapt their behavior according to a set of fairly simple rules. People maintain social bonds so long as they have the energy to, and this is impacted by their economic opportunities. Groups gain power and jockey for the ability to modify rules themselves.
When the system collapses, it does so because of an external shock striking, internal contradictions caused by power struggles between groups, or in the worst of times, both at once. The depth of the collapse depends mostly on how long different groups fight to maintain the system’s function as it stands from their frame of reference within it.
Inability to realize their competition is destroying the very resources they both ultimately rely on, factions accelerate the collapse — mostly inadvertently or accidentally. But at the same time they fight to maintain their position and privileges, which usually leads to their finding a vulnerable out group to exploit.
Minimizing the damage done by this perverse rigidity trap depends on recognizing what is happening as soon as possible and seeking alternatives. Separation is a better option than grinding conflict so long as it leaves each fragment with a clear majority capable of taking concrete actions.
But what usually happens in a collapse is the opposite — battle lines are drawn, those who refuse to accept the propaganda of their side are scorned as traitors to the cause. Take a look around the American media today, and you’ll find no shortage of pundits doing exactly this — most of the right does it reflexively, but Democratic-leaning outlets like Salon, Slate, The New Republic, and MSNBC do their share of demonizing too, demanding everyone choose their side.
Biden has jumped onto the bandwagon. History will record his speech on the anniversary of the Capitol Attack as an epic mistake that summed up exactly why he’s so bad at his job and suffering in the polls.
He and his administration daily make the classic mistake of thinking you can reverse the process of collapse, restoring its proper function. Casting all Republicans as a coherent anti-democratic force and shaming those who don’t vote for Democrats is nothing more than a vain King Lear style attempt to shout down the thunder.
But the harder they try, the more people who have already been standing on the sidelines of American politics will recoil from participation. Divide and conquer is the appropriate strategy for the collapse phase, splitting off the most rotten parts of the self-destructive system to prevent them from contaminating the tissues that can still be revived.
Biden and his team can’t get this done. They can’t imagine a political universe that doesn’t look like the one he’s operated in for four decades. Having achieved his dream, Biden’s ego won’t let him take the steps necessary to avert the coming American tragedy.
Had he any honor, any sense of destiny, Biden would resign before the Midterms and let Harris serve out the rest of his term. He should publicly admit that age and the demands of the Presidency don’t mix and that it is time for him to be the bridge to the future he promised.
This is the only thing he can do to shake up the system and avert Trump taking credit for the Republicans winning the House in 2022. If he is still in office in January of 2023, Trump will declare his candidacy and the Big Lie will never die.
Biden’s instinct will be to stay where he is to safeguard the 2024 election, but in doing so he will be exposed to the false charge that he’s rigging it. The primaries will be held with Harris effectively serving as his anointed successor, which ties her to him — something the Republicans will desperately want.
If elevated to the Presidency in 2022, she’ll experience a brief window of good will in the press and possibly among the few remaining anti-Trump Republicans in Congress that might allow some basic voting reforms before it’s too late. Republicans would have a much harder time impeaching someone with no real authority or power in the Administration.
Harris then gets a chance to prove she’s got the mettle to be President. A two year audition with America that will end in either a successful primary challenge or the unity of the party behind a person whose simple existence in Washington D.C. is an affront to Trump and Trumpism.
Wave that red flag at them, and they’ll charge — reminding everyone, every day how racist and sexist they are. Media pundits making the allegations are much, much less powerful.
The Democrats have a simple choice. They can associate themselves with the future, or the past. If they choose the latter, Trump wins. Biden will forever be a creature that reminds people of the past, so he’s gotta go.
Ain’t hard math at all. Question is: does Joe Biden have the guts to prove that my evaluation of his motivations for being in politics wrong? That he isn’t just like Trump, another self-absorbed white guy obsessed with a legacy that won’t matter if America does?
We will see. I doubt it very much. Ego is a powerful drug.