Will the Biden administration commit to progressive changes?

Biden won off the back of progressives, but will he implement their proposals?

From the perspective of members of DiEM25’s South Holland local group, the moment Fox News declared Biden as President Elect of the United States, the machinery that drives global capitalism began launching lifeboats from the Trump ship. In the midst of political rugs being pulled from under his feet, President Trump tee’d off his 294th round of golf and posed for wedding photographs. Maskless, he gave a confident pose while his security detail nervously surveyed the astounded onlookers, with one, in excitement, declaring “I can’t breathe”. This surreal scene characterised the presidency of Donald Trump perfectly.

Meanwhile, the machinations of the Democratic and Republican establishments appeared to be competing for a winner-takes-all contest for the White House. The reality of this spectacle leads to a continuation of the status quo as its true destination. By bailing out banks, reducing taxes for the rich and privatising social services, democratic institutions legislate at warp speed. When tasked with undoing the evils of the past, these same institutions remain gridlocked. For example, attempts at designating lynching as a federal crime have failed since 1900, with the most recent attempt — in June 2020 — blocked due to worthless debate.

While the spectre of racism continues globally to haunt its victims, the phantoms of finance thrive in The Netherlands. The country currently attracts over 5 Trillion US$ in Foreign Direct Investment, of which US$ 3.3 Trillion is routed into shell companies with “no substance and no real links to the local economy”. The Kingdom provides such extensive tax-planning advantages for multinationals that even well-known Dutch corporations, such as Shell and Philips, pay no tax on profits in The Netherlands.

Proposition 22: workers taken for a ride in Silicon Valley.

Uber, with its international headquarters in Amsterdam, has been accused of placing employees under significant pressure to voluntarily resign to “circumvent Dutch labour laws on redundancies”. In another case, a group of Uber drivers filed a lawsuit in California, claiming the use of “coercive tactics” to force support for Proposition 22, while labour activists in that State — urging against this proposition — were targeted in what appears to be “coordinated social media campaigns”. Proposition 22 became the most expensive ballot initiative in California with supporters — including Uber, Lyft and DoorDash — spending nearly US$ 203 million. Opponents — mostly unions, non-governmental organisations and other grassroots movements — pooled around US$ 20 million to make their voices heard.

The affirmative vote on Proposition 22, in one fell swoop, created an alternative classification for “app based” workers, depriving them of recently won rights in the State of California. Neither was the US Post Office — already under tremendous financial pressure — spared during this campaign.

Supporters of the initiative classified themselves as a non-profit organisation that “pertain to social welfare organisations”. By doing so, the corporations saved US$ 1.5 million on postage. While the incoming Biden administration has vowed to reverse the misclassification of workers in the “gig economy”, the selection of his transition team for labour issues indicates, at best, a compromise with corporate America.

The Democratic establishment in the US, with a solid record of supporting corporations over progressives, finds itself at a moment of reckoning.

This makes us sceptical about whether the Biden administration will commit to the changes that progressive citizens and movements have demanded in the United States – including:

  • Expedited enactment of the Green New Deal;
  • Systemic reform in policing;
  • Social, racial and gender equality; and
  • End to global military interventions.

These calls continue to meet deaf ears across both aisles of Congress. While the impacts of climate change, social injustice and inequality continue unabated, the Green New Deal languishes under the weight of eleven committees in the U.S. Congress. In what Bernie Sanders called the first priority of these elections, the grassroots worked tirelessly to push Biden over the line and expect to be thanked “not with just applause, but with policy”.

The appointment decisions during the transition period will set the tone for the next administration and its appreciation of the grassroots movement. Judging by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ warnings to Biden, we may witness the re-emergence of the old-guard that will continue to place the interests of Wall Street ahead of Main Street.

Placing the interests of those concerned with profit over people and planet will lead to the collapse of human societies. The Netherlands – with 50% of the country at 1m or below sea-level – will not be immune to rising sea-levels brought on by climate change. Current worst case scenarios see the “need to lead 10 million people somewhere” in the not too distant future. A globally coordinated and locally implemented Green New Deal has the answers to reconstructing broken social and economic systems, charting a course for a decolonised future that is in harmony with our only home planet. Join our movement in realising this vision.

This article was authored by Amir Kiyaei who is a member of the Zuid Holland 1 DSC.

Photo Source: Butter my Parsnips on Flickr.

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