Things could get even crazier under Biden.
Can Biden deliver? On most fronts, probably not.
The Democratic Party is too beholden to its corporate donors to enact the FDR-style stimulus and social programs that are required to dig us out of an economic hole filled with tens of millions of newly unemployed workers and 1 out in 5 businesses that have gone broke. Biden comes out of the Clinton/Obama/Democratic Leadership Council austerity wing of his party. His instinct will be to spend as little as possible in order to try to balance the budget.
"When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare," says Ted Kaufman, who would run the transition office that would select Biden's top personnel. "When you see what Trump's done to the deficit ... forget about COVID-19, all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we're going to be limited." Kaufman, a former Delaware senator, promises that Biden won't significantly increase federal spending.
The streets are already seething. Austerity will bring things to a boil.
It's political suicide by fiscal means.
The Soviet Union didn't collapse under Josef Stalin. It couldn't have. He would have ruthlessly crushed any meaningful opposition. Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev presided over graduated liberalization, but it was under Mikhail Gorbachev, architect of perestroika, that the USSR went out of business. Gorbachev, arguably the best, brightest and most decent premier the Soviet system could allow to come to power and the best the Russian people could hope for, failed to deliver the improvements in living standards and personal freedoms people wanted and needed. It was precisely the fact that he was so excellent yet couldn't deliver that exposed the corruption and incompetence inherent to the system.
Neither Khrushchev nor Brezhnev nor Gorbachev were the problem. The system itself was. It had to go.
Similarly, the French Revolution couldn't have succeeded under Louis XIV; the Sun King was too brutal and autocratic. Louis XVI attempted numerous reforms to make life better for the French, including the free distribution of grain, slashing the royal budget and the abolition of torture and servitude. He granted equal rights to Jews and Protestants, tried to tax the nobility (they refused) and began a transition toward parliamentary monarchy as in Great Britain. But the reforms were insufficient; internal forces were intransigent; and resentments had built up for too long. The French were hungry and angry, so Louis XVI lost his head to the guillotine.
So it went in Russia. Although Czar Nicholas II was a bit of a clueless dolt, he recognized the crisis and desperately tried to save a collapsing system. He introduced civil liberties, worked to increase literacy, granted representation to local districts throughout the country and modernized the empire's infrastructure. Again, it wasn't enough. He destroyed the economy by squandering the treasury on wars of choice, refused to consider democratization and ultimately succumbed to the resistance of shortsighted Russian aristocrats. Lenin and the Bolsheviks had long argued that the Russian government was corrupt and unwilling to provide for the needs of the people. Only when Nicholas II's reforms proved to be too little, too late did they agree and rise up.
Like Gorbachev, Louis XVI and Nicholas II, a President Biden would disappoint at the worst possible time.
Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography "Bernie." You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns by sponsoring his work on Patreon. To find out more about Ted Rall and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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