Can Biden Succeed Where Obama Failed?
The new president has a choice: make friends with congressional Republicans or actually make progress. He can't do both.
The Daily Poster is proud to publish its newest piece on the cover of Newsweek magazine. The report — which you can read here — looks at how the Obama administration should serve as a cautionary tale for both the incoming Biden administration and the progressive movement.
In the 10 months since we launched The Daily Poster, we have published plenty of accountability journalism about Biden. Ultimately, I decided to vote for him in the general election for reasons I articulated in this earlier article (which I believe has aged pretty well). But I have never been under any illusions about who he is. Indeed, between my time as an investigative journalist and working on the primary campaign against Biden, I have spent an inordinate amount of time reporting on and scrutinizing his problematic record, which this piece reviews.
I realize we now live in a with-us-or-against-us kind of world. If you say anything even mildly positive about Biden, you are accused of being an incorrigible sellout. If you never say anything mildly positive about Biden, you are accused of being a GOP collaborator.
I don’t think life is that simple and I don’t romanticize politics or get too emotionally attached to particular politicians (other than my spouse). Politics is an amoral arena. The only thing our work is focused on is results. You can hate or love particular politicians. You can think they deserved to win or lose. But here’s an inarguable truth: whether or not a new administration actually fixes things is the difference between life and death for millions of people. And that’s really all that matters.
I hope you’ll read the entire article.
Rock the boat,
Twelve years after Joe Biden was sworn in as the vice president of hope and change, hope is in short supply and the need for change is even more acute. Progressives have a rare opportunity to enact their agenda—but they will need to play the kind of hardball they have backed away from in the past, because Biden continues to send conflicting messages. For every promise of transformational change, he signals a desire to appease a Republican Party intent on destroying his presidency.
The stakes could hardly be higher: One out of every thousand Americans has died from a lethal pandemic, with no end yet in sight. The economy is officially still humming along, but millions face eviction, bankruptcy and hunger. Even U.S. democracy is under unprecedented siege by an insurrectionist movement encouraged by the outgoing president and his loyalists in Congress.
The path forward is difficult to envision amid the fog of culture war, political war and the threat of actual, real-life civil war. But it is clear that Biden is at a crossroad and still unsure which way to go. He can follow his boss, Barack Obama, who pursued bipartisanship, comity and compromise—accommodating corporate power. Or he can break toward the path of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did battle with oligarchy, stood down fascism and welcomed the hatred of the rich.
One thing he cannot do is try to go in both directions. The lesson of the Obama administration is that you can have appeasement or transformative progress, but you almost certainly cannot have both.