2020, the most depressing presidential election ever

W.J. Astore

It doesn’t get much more depressing than Donald Trump versus Joe Biden. Con man versus corporate man. Neither candidate is a friend of workers, labor, the disadvantaged, the poor. Neither candidate has an ounce of progressivism in his body. At least for me, neither inspires confidence. One has to win, meaning that America’s decline will continue through 2024.

Perhaps I put too much stock in who is president. Yet for certain issues, surely it does matter. Joe Biden won’t seek to appease his evangelical base by trying to outlaw abortion. Joe Biden won’t try to eliminate Obamacare (and thereby cut health care coverage for millions during a pandemic) just out of spite. Joe Biden won’t deny the reality of climate change and thus will help, in a small way, to prepare for future global disruptions caused by the same. These and other reasons are enough for many people to vote for Joe.

But Joe is largely an empty vessel that’s waiting to be filled by all the usual suspects within the Washington Beltway. His domestic agenda will likely be defined by neoliberal economics and disastrous compromises with Republicans, e.g. cuts to social security, while his foreign policy will likely be the usual forever wars driven by neoconservative agendas disguised by appeals to American exceptionalism and national security. In short, much like Obama, but more conservative (if such a thing is possible).

Friends like to send me appeals to vote for Joe, because Trump is basically a blustering ignoramus who doesn’t care how much damage he does, as long as he remains in office (and thus can call himself a “winner” while enriching himself further). They argue that Joe will be open to progressive ideas after the election, or at the very least will respond to progressives when pressured.

It’s nice fairy tale, where somehow things end happily ever after, but it’s just that. A fairy tale.

As I wrote to one friend about voting for Joe:

It’s all so depressing. This is what the corporate-bought DNC is counting on. Vote for Joe — he’s not quite as bad as Trump. And you have no other choice.

And if Joe wins, forget about Progressive initiatives, as Joe pivots, i.e. caves, to the Republicans in the (false) name of bipartisanship and “reaching across the aisle.”

And, just after I sent that, I saw this image of Joe and Mike Pence at a 9/11 event:

Prepare for lots of bipartisanship under Joe. But it will serve the elites, not you.

As I said to my friend, Nothing wrong with voting for Joe — but this is what’s going to happen if he wins. We get a moderate Republican — bought and paid for — instead of a lazy egomaniac named Trump.

What a “choice”!

51 thoughts on “2020, the most depressing presidential election ever

  1. I’ve been watching US Politics from CanaDa since Eisenhower.
    The 2016 election was the 1st one where I saw the choice being offered the American Voter was between BAD or WORSE.

    Unfortunately, I see the same choice is being offered in 2020.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good analysis, Bill. Joe Biden is worse than an empty vessel, although he certainly has the shape and manner of one. What little he has done in his political career has most always been wrong, against good government, a glad-happy servant of monied interests.

    What you and everyone else is overlooking is a President Kamala Harris. Ms. Harris hasn’t gotten the attention she deserves, as she is really the likeliest future president. If there has been anything she’s done right in her political career I don’t know of it, but our lazy and incurious newsmedia hasn’t seen fit to do any good in-depth reportage on her and her career. Not that I’ve seen, at any rate–enlighten me if you know of any, please.

    From my own experience in dealing with them, I have nothing good to say about public sector attorneys in general, particularly ones like Ms. Harris. They all have a career lifetime of getting away with anything they want to towards anyone who isn’t an attorney, or who can’t afford one, and this makes them fundamentally contemptuous of citizens and the citizenry in general. Inevitable and unavoidable, that, I suppose. As wrong an attitude as there can be for anyone in public service. Someone really needs to track down the persons she put behind bars in California for marijuana cases–from the evidence it looks like she pumped up her statistics as a DA with them–and have them comment on what they think of a Harris presidency. Track down some of the folks she toked with at parties and ask them about how they feel about voting for someone for president that they toked with who also, probably even at the same time, was convicting others for marijuana charges. I rather doubt that there will be any good answers there from her (attorney most likely) friends at the parties, but all the rest of us ought to listen to what folks she sent downriver for the same thing she did have to say. I’d bet that some of them have some things to say that ought to be heard, and would make us think about things.

    Best– Dan

    ________________________________

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  3. And if Biden loses he will blame the Progressives, just like Hillary did. I can’t stomach voting for Biden. The lesser of two evils is still “evil”.

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  4. Thank you, Mr. Astore, for speaking my mind, albeit you do so much more kindly than I do, have done so, or will do so. The bar couldn’t be any lower for Joe in being “not Trump.” It’s not just depressing, it’s sickening and disgusting and a testament to the pathologically diseased status of the U. S. electoral system, if not the nation as a whole. Values and compassion ain’t US!

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  5. LBJ speaks from the grave! Well, that’s a first for this blog site!! But seriously, as a US Senator, Kamala Harris is no less qualified to step up to the highest office in the land than other US Senators who have traveled that route. (And unlike some recent POTUSes, I believe she will pay attention when briefed by her department heads.) And guess what? Most of these crooked politicians ARE lawyers, a very large percentage of Senate and House members, I’m sure. They learn how to “work the system” and line their pockets to extent they can get away with. This is nothing new!! Not legit basis for criticizing Ms. Harris, in my view….As for Mr. Biden, he has years of experience being “filled” by the influencers on behalf of Corporate America. So I don’t see how Mr. Astore can label him “an empty vessel”!! We’ve been kicking this can around now for months! We KNOW how much Biden leaves to be desired, but staring at the genuinely obscene alternative of four more years of Trump, I myself have moved–call it “de-evolved” if you must–from planning to vote for the Green candidate to voting for Biden, pinching my nostrils as I do so. (May be complicated by having to compress my fingers thru my face mask! Yes, I intend to vote in person, not by snail mail.) You want to get rid of this thoroughly rotten system? Are you ready to sign up for a VIOLENT revolution? Because that’s what it would take!

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  6. Choose which single priority is best served by one of the two faulty candidates? That’s one approach, I guess, guaranteed to fail no matter whom one selects. I have a difficult time deciding which is my top priority: climate change, ending the forever wars, or Supreme Court appointments. Neither candidate is positioned to do anything substantive on the first two, so I guess the third wins by default. However, I’m more inclined to vote 3rd party even though it’s a strategically losing proposition just to help establish an alternative to the hopelessly corrupt two-party duopoly.

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    1. It now takes a billion dollars and more of marketing muscle to win a presidential election. No alternative party can raise such funds any time soon, unless they get the backing of individual multi-billionaires. And then would we not suspect that the candidate will be devoted to promoting the specific business interests of said billionaires??

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      1. Yes. That’s really it, isn’t it. As soon as media gives the name of a candidate for anything (even dog catcher, maybe), the next item in line is how much money they can raise, not what they stand for or their “platform” (as worthless as those promises are). Money.

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      1. That, too, would normally be my assessment based on over a dozen years seeking a thorough understanding of the topic. However, I’m among those who have reached the darkest conclusion about our most likely (or inevitable) fate, namely, that we’re already in planetary hospice. So my priorities have shifted toward what to do with our remaining time rather than negotiating with the reaper.

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        1. Or as the rock band The Police (pretty good band, despite their dicey choice of name) put it decades ago: “When the world is running down/You make the best of what’s still around.” I have been concerned with the state of the planet’s environment for six decades now (yeah, I started young!) and, personally, I have NO DOUBT whatsoever that we crossed the Rubicon some time ago.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The leader of another famous band had this to say about environmental issues:

            “Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.”

            – Jerry Garcia

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          2. Yes, it IS pathetic that governments worldwide, in the grip of corporate interests, have utterly failed to act on a significant scale. On the other hand, if we the people DON’T act, there will be less than zero hope for future generations.

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          3. Agree completely. I’d tweak your response a bit, though, to say that, of the governments of all developed nations, the corporately-owned U.S. government has acted the least and offended the most. Especially under Dubya and the Orange Thing.

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          4. Indisputably so! Orange Thing continues to deny humans are behind the Climate Disaster because that’s what his base of base ignoramuses wants to hear! A closed loop of ignorance!! O, be proud, America! [gag!]

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          5. The other day, my husband reported that an acquaintance was relentlessly regaling him with praise for the Orange One’s genius. This guy is gullible and not a deep thinker, so not surprised.

            But I was shocked when a family friend expressed the same opinions. This second guy has always seemed to me to be extremely intelligent, savvy, and well informed. Apparently not, however.

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          6. Anyone who really listens to Trump realizes the man constantly contradicts himself and often has no clue about what he’s saying to begin with.

            So my guess is that “savvy” and “intelligent” guy hears what he wants to hear — and hears enough that he agrees with to profess support for Trump.

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          7. Anyone with a little common sense who’s not a member of GOP cannot but conclude, if they listen to Trump’s public statements, that the man is literally mentally deranged! His condition goes way beyond frequent self-contradiction, an ailment many a far-more-polished politician has displayed.

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          8. No intent to put your acquaintances in this category, but…I saw an interesting post on Facebook yesterday, to this effect: “Have you heard about the amazing new app that predicts which of your friends would have been good candidates to join Nazi Party in the 1930s? It’s called Facebook.” I got a kick out of that, then it sank in very quickly that the observation was pretty damned accurate.

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          9. Absolutely! I don’t pay much attention to FB; only got a page to begin with to highlight my business, and immediately realized it was worthless. But I digress. My real friends post incessant anti-Orange messages. Those who were posting GOP talking points no longer have access to my timeline. The “unfollowed” ones are the Nazo Party candidates you mention.

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          10. I’ve known for years how crazy CO weather is! No, never lived there, but I know it can snow two feet one day and be 80 degrees the next! Something to do with the Rockies, I dare surmise.

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      2. Yes, I’ve been saying for years that it doesn’t much matter if we retain a “democratic” system or are subjected to dictatorship if we lose the only planet we have to live on. And boy, are we headed rapidly in that direction! If the Climate-Change-Denier-in-Chief gets re-elected on the strength of precisely that stance of his, please, somebody drop some really big bombs on this country and put it out of its misery! Once the radioactivity levels drop back, the world at large will be grateful, I swear!!

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        1. I’m always surprised at how climate change and accompanying environmental issues are NOT at the top of anyone’s list except for the Greens. As Greta Thunberg so compellingly puts it, the building is indeed on fire.

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  7. Much depends on which party will have a majority in the House and Senate, particularly the Senate. There are many progressive initiatives among congressional Democrats, and a huge backlog of House bills just waiting to be freed from Senate suppression, Biden would approve most of them. The Senate, with a Democratic majority, would enable Biden to quickly restore competent leadership to the federal agencies corrupted by Trump. In general, the “empty vessel” would be filled by enablers. The governmental impetus would come from the people, as represented by congress, with oversight by the president. As it used to be.

    If a Mitch McConnell Republican retains control of the Senate, he’ll have to be impeached, which will not be quick or easy. Otherwise, continued legislative stagnation.

    If Trump should win the election, I’ll either be joining you in the streets with a pitchfork, or taking another look at that nice house in Newfoundland.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, control of the US Senate is a very crucial aspect of this election. One of the great flaws of the system in this country is lifetime appointments to SCOTUS. When a vacancy comes up, I would expect a Pres. Biden to nominate a very conservative judge, to try to appease GOP Senators, but one who still hints he/she supports Roe v. Wade. But if Trump gets a second term, any nominee will have to vow (in private of course) to vote to overturn Roe. With, let’s hope, only a little more than four months to go, Trump has not won The Big One for the “evangelical” crowd, getting a case before SCOTUS that would kill Roe. Even if a juicy case arrives early in autumn session of that court, it looks like Trump can’t trust Chief Justice Roberts to vote “the right way.” Which tickles my fancy greatly!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Lol Karl I’ll join you in Newfoundland my Wife has Relatives there, and they’re the best. “Goofy Newfies”- not! They have Viking blood! She just visited a couple years ago, and they greatly sympathize with our choice of Prez. If only the Weather were not July, August & Winter…:/ :o)

      Liked by 1 person

    3. There are all of 535 people in those two legislative bodies and one, just one, single, miserable, worthless cretin, worse than any fairy tale villain and more repulsive by far, gets to block anything he doesn’t want. And, of course, he was bought and sold many decades ago and is just a pampered and groomed agent for corporations, starting with his Shanghai father in law (the shipping magnate). So, the real question has to be, “Who is controlling us?” and is that out and out treason? 30-40 years of that at least.
      Hanging at dawn, or firing squad in the movies or maybe one of those “merry olde English” draw and quartering thingy “solutions” come to mind as a satisfying thought. Unfortunately it will never happen.

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      1. I’m afraid that the legal statutes defining treason would be ruled inapplicable for a clique of individuals who have “merely” put the interests of private corporations above (far, far above!) the welfare of the citizenry. This is Business As Usual, after all. Back when impeachment was the topic of the day, I argued that Trump should be impeached because his policies and actions re: environmental degradation harmed the citizenry as a whole. The Preamble to the Constitution declares that government’s role is to promote the general welfare. Perhaps the Preamble, like the Declaration of Independence, has no legal force?? Charles Dickens indicated in “A Tale of Two Cities” that as of around 1780, the punishment for treason in England was, indeed, to be drawn and quartered (with numerous other bodily indignities to be inflicted on the unfortunate convicted one), and that convictions for this alleged crime were rather easy to obtain! Personally, I still argue “Bring back the guillotine!”

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  8. The notion that Joe “will be open to progressive ideas” ranks right up there with “the adults in the room will keep Trump in check.” In other words, “wish in one hand and sh*t in the other and see which fills up first.” Where do these people come from?

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    1. The issue with The Donald is that he drove away what few adults tried to steer him toward a sane approach to governance. Just look at the newest kerfuffle, with a high-ranking official of HHS accusing scientists at CDC of “sedition”–SEDITION!!–working to make poor little Donny’s life miserable by contradicting his public statements. So tell us, Mr. President, who is the bigger Enemy of the People, the mainstream media or mainstream science??

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      1. I know. Let’s have the Democratic majority in the House get really serious and impeach President Trump for making a congratulatory phone call to a Ukrainian TV comedian who had just gotten elected president of the country whose previously elected (before the one appointed by us) government we had violently overthrown. Even better, let’s get that numb-nuts “prosecutor” — namely, Russophobe Adam Schiff — to use up all the oxygen in the Senate “trial” railing against Vladimir Putin for hours on end. Let’s do that. Show the world the awesome seriousness of the Corporate Oligarchy’s two right-wing political factions putting on a kayfabe “wrestling” match to show how much they really, really, really do disagree about all the stuff they manage to pass into law anyway (like tax cuts for the rich and making them “permanent”).

        As Sheldon Wolin explained the concept of “virtual citizenship”:

        “During the intervals between elections the political existence of the citizenry is relegated to a shadow citizenship of virtual participation. Instead of participating in power, the virtual citizen is invited to have ‘opinions’: measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them.” — Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2006)

        Or, in a different manner of speaking:

        The Circus that Wouldn’t Leave Town

        From time to time, the circus once arrived,
        Quadrennial in its appointed rounds.
        Yet somehow it has artfully contrived

        To never leave — bombarding us with sounds
        And sights so lurid and insistent that
        Whatever tripe The Candidate expounds

        Begins to clog the arteries with fat,
        Inducing aneurisms in the soul
        Through endless touting of a puerile spat.

        Consultants endlessly conduct a poll
        Which tells us what they wish for us to hear:
        That folks like us will play our scripted role.

        Commercial ads have made that crystal clear.
        If only fright were all we had to fear

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2012

        Getting harder and harder to give a shit about this latest — and most momentous since the invention of superlative adjectives — “choice.”

        The generals will stall and troops will stay.
        Bureaucracy will have its inert way.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. We now return you to the real world, viewers: I proposed that Trump be impeached for intentionally accelerating the destruction of the environment, a gross betrayal of the concept that “government is instituted to promote the general welfare” (a bit of a paraphrase of Preamble to the Constitution). But GOP control of the Senate made Trump un-impeachable, it mattered not the formal charges or evidence offered. So, what exactly are we gonna gain by bringing up again the weakness of the Dems’ handling of the affair?? Stuff and nonsense!!

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  9. From David Sirota:

    “One of the biggest threats to defeating Donald Trump in the upcoming election is a Democratic enthusiasm gap. It exists, in part, because Democratic voters spent the last 12 years voting for change, and now they are exhausted after they kept getting a status quo that gratuitously kicks the face of humanity. The enthusiasm gap also exists because Joe Biden has seemed more focused on trying to court Republicans in ways that can demotivate Democratic voters.”

    “Voters aren’t unreasonable “purists” because they are unhappy that Democrats don’t seem to be offering policies that will prevent communities from being incinerated in climate-intensified wildfires. They aren’t “holier than thou” by expressing dissatisfaction with a Democratic Party still propping up a for-profit health care system that threatens to quickly bankrupt people when they need medical care.

    At a moment of such pain and suffering, attempting to guilt, insult and bully voters into supporting the Democratic cause is moronic and ineffective — and worse, it is ignorant of millions of Americans’ lived reality over the last 12 years. The Democratic electorate has voted over and over and over again for change, and their party’s leaders have returned the favor with bank bailouts, record oil exports during a climate emergency, an abandonment of the labor movement, corporate-written trade policies that crush workers and health care reform that props up insurance profits.”

    https://sirota.substack.com/p/youre-not-being-loyal-by-staying

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    1. So the new game is this: Every time Trump commits a new atrocity, via words or deeds–which is basically daily–we should jack up our blood pressure and scream “Damn it, those DEMOCRATS are just awful, aren’t they?!” Enough already! Trump must go, and the only way to achieve this in the real world is to elect Joe Biden. In and of itself, this is a sad summary of our state of affairs in USA, but…have I mentioned it’s REALITY?

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        1. Ha! I like to say “It’s okay to dream, and if you’re gonna dream, dream big! But keep your feet MOSTLY on the ground!”

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      1. No. Trump can stay and shoot his mouth off all he wants if Pelosi stops giving him even more money for our fuck-up-and-move up military than even he asks for. Power of the Purse. That sort of thing. As the jaded bar girls on Tu Do Street in Saigon used to jeer at the broke and hard-up GIs: “No Money, No Honey!” Imagine a woman with real power who doesn’t understand purses.

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  10. Saw a post today that delineated the situation precisely: “If Biden was willing to push for universal healthcare, that alone would win him millions of votes; just that one thing. So why would he NOT take that position?” The commenter went on to answer his own question: because the Dems would rather lose the election than alienate corporate donors. Nope, it doesn’t get much more depressing than that.

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    1. Predictably, Biden’s running an ad that says he’s for universal health care (pause) coverage. Meaning you can purchase a health plan (assuming you have money) with the usual deductibles and co-pays and caps. Thanks Joe!

      Doesn’t everyone want the freedom of buying an inferior and costly plan from a bloodless corporation? I don’t want the government providing me and everyone else with universal health care. The horror!

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      1. You’re so right about that “inferior and costly plan.” After losing my job, all my husband and I could get was a plan through the healthcare marketplace (i.e., the ACA). It costs as much as the admittedly marginal plan I had at work, but is even more lame and has no vision or dental components. Gotta love such opportunities!

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        1. Has no one noticed the “slight” irony that one of Trump’s Big Lies in this year’s campaign is that BIDEN, not Trump, “wants to take away coverage [via ACA] for pre-existing conditions”?

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          1. Trump’s track record for veracity puts to shame any rug that has ever sat (?) upon a floor!! If he suddenly appears on every TV and radio station one of these days to announce that he has ordered Martial Law in force, THAT I will believe. Reportedly, some of his aides have been discussing this lately.

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