Lessons from the Election and Demands for Joe Biden

We’re all happy that Donald Trump will be a one-term president. He is a divisive and impulsive figure who thoughtlessly threatens violence against foreign countries and citizens of the United States alike. He tore up international treaties and increased bombing and harmful economic sanctions. The risk of a second Trump term was simply too dangerous and the peace movement will be glad to have some breathing room. Unfortunately the result of this Election was not the repudiation of Donald Trump that we hoped for. Click here to read an in-depth election analysis by our Executive Director Cole Harrison. Despite expectations the Democratic party failed to secure the Senate (they may still achieve a 50-50 tie if they win both Georgia runoffs on Jan.5th) and actually lost seats in the House of Representatives. In the midst of a completely mismanaged global pandemic and an economic downturn, how could the results have been so close?
Two narratives are quickly developing to answer this question. One, expressed by conservative and moderate Biden supporters like former Governor of Ohio John Kasich and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, blames progressives like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and our own Ayanna Pressley for pushing the party too far to the left. Considering that Kasich failed to deliver Ohio while squad members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib helped increase Democratic turnout in Minnesota and Michigan (both Biden victories) does not support this view. The second narrative blames Biden’s performance on his lack of support for popular issues like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The evidence supports this view.  72% of voters in a Fox News exit poll supported a government-run health plan. Voters across the political spectrum think you should be able to see a doctor when you’re sick, no matter how much money is in your pocket. The state of Florida, won comfortably by Donald Trump, also voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a long time progressive goal. The same electorate that voted to re-elect President Trump voted in favor of a progressive priority. Over 61% of Floridians voted for it! Let the Biden administration and your members of Congress know!
Joe Biden made the centerpiece of his campaign a battle for the “soul of the nation,” making the election about character instead of running on the issues. The results showed that this was a flawed approach. Supporters of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal were nearly all returned to office, even in competitive districts. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party will continue to resist broadly popular initiatives to cater to their donors, representatives of the big banks, health insurance industry, drug companies, and arms manufacturers. If the Biden administration fails to solve the crises we face, the American people they could well turn to another right wing populist—perhaps one even more dangerous than Trump.
  • Support Peace in a Time of War
  • Medicare for All in a Global Pandemic
  • The Green New Deal in a Climate Crisis
  • Criminal Justice Reform in an age of Mass Incarceration
  • Shift Military Spending to Domestic Needs
We should celebrate the coming end of the Trump presidency, but we must have no illusions. We all know that Joe Biden has not been a friend to the peace movement over the course of his long career. Nevertheless he has promised to return to the Iran nuclear deal, stop the war in Yemen, restore arms control treaties like New START, Intermediate Nuclear Forces, and Open Skies, and return to the Paris Climate Agreement. We must hold him to these promises and push him further. During the campaign, Biden attacked Trump from the right on China, Venezuela, and North Korea. These positions are unacceptable and dangerous. Being someone other than Donald Trump is simply not enough. The stakes are too high. The success or failure of the Biden administration will hinge on whether it supports the policies of the people, including peace. Do your part and let the politicians hear it. For their own good, they’d better listen!