Brilliantina and Progresso: The Roadblock in 2020

A sun-drenched day finds two lone figures strolling along a deserted beach, 10 feet apart and wearing masks, Brilliantina and her friend, Progresso.

Progresso: Have you voted yet, Brilliantina?

Brilliantina: No, I have not yet decided what to do. It needs a bit more thought.

Progresso: I was slow to decide at first, Brilliantina, but I decided on Biden — reluctantly since I disagree with most all of his positions.

Brilliantina:  That is strange logic, Progresso.

Progresso:  Well, I know that, and I don’t feel entirely comfortable with it.  But you know the argument – nothing is more important than ejecting Trump. The clincher for me came from another friend of mine, a leading leftie, who is “disappointed” in Biden but will nevertheless vote for him. In response to my qualms, he told me that voting for Biden was the “consensus” on the Left.  And therefore I should vote Biden

Brilliantina: ‘Consensus”?  But you pride yourself on thinking things through, Progresso. You very often praise an approach based on reason. Following “consensus,” despite your own convictions, seems like running with the herd or striving to be popular. Not at all like you, my friend.

Progresso:  I am not entirely happy about it.

Brilliantina:  Well I guess “consensus” sums up the last ditch argument for voting for Biden: Everyone in your circle is doing it. But you are not satisfied with that, as I expected, my friend.  So, let’s talk it through and maybe that will help us both decide.  What are the most important issues for you, Progresso?

Progresso: In foreign policy a peaceful approach in general but especially with respect to the major powers of China and Russia where conflict could evolve into war, even nuclear war. Kissinger warns that a conflict with China could lay waste the entire world even worse than WWI did to Europe. In 2016 Trump talked peace but his words turn out to be empty promises.

Brilliantina:  True enough. But Biden has been incredibly hostile to Russia, has he not, to the point of being the point man for the US/NED orchestrated regime change op in Ukraine. And on China he was on board with the 2011 “Pivot” to Asia which included transferring an astonishing 60% of the US Navy’s fleet to China’s vicinity, not to mention the economic assault called TPP designed to isolate China economically from the burgeoning East Asian economies. Worse than a trade war, I would say.

Progresso:  I concede that Biden is far from my cup of tea on foreign policy.

Brilliantina:  What about domestic policy?

Progresso: The big thing for me is Medicare For All. That is a program that is within reach now since the US public favors it and the need for it was made clear by the pandemic. It would be a major factor to remedy inequality not only in and of itself but also as a model for other programs. But very sadly, Biden like Obama has closed the door on that – emphatically.  He said he would never sign such a bill were it to come across his desk. And the chances for that desk crossing are those of the proverbial snowball in hell sans leadership from the Pres.

Brilliantina: So Biden stands firmly against both those dreams of yours, as does Trump.  Why then would you possibly vote for him?  In fact, on foreign affairs Biden might be considered worse than Trump since he is committed to lining up the “allies,” really vassal states, and getting them to gang up on China.  But China now has an economy 130% that of the US by the PPP-GDP measure used by the IMF, World Bank and even gracing the pages of the CIA World Factbook.  Many of the vassal states are tired of being kicked around and see an alternative and safe haven in China.  They are not eager to be cannon fodder for the ambitions of the US.

Trump wants to go it alone – with the same objective of bringing down China which is often euphemistically described as “containment” or crusading for democracy.

Progresso: You make sense, but what about reforming the Democratic Party?

Brilliantina:  My dear Progresso, you put an enormous amount of time and energy into the Bernie campaign only to see the Democratic Establishment destroy it and Bernie capitulate.  He did not consult with you about that capitulation, I will wager.  And this is the second time it happened, a repeat of 2016.  Fool you once, dear Progresso, et cetera.

Progresso: So what is to be done, Tina?

Brilliantina: Let me suggest a new way to look at the Democratic Party and Joe Biden.  I suggest that it is profoundly counterproductive for someone with your views to vote for Biden.

Progresso:  Counterproductive, Tina?

Brilliantina: Yes.  Consider what will happen after the election if Biden wins.  You will be working again for a peaceful world and Biden will be peddling the opposite, no matter how he tries to gussy it up.  But as happened after the Obama election, your fellow progressives will be crying “Give him a chance” or “You are endangering the Democratic majority” or “You are jeopardizing the majority in House and Senate” or “You are opening the door to a Republican comeback.”  Remember that Obama won on a vague promise of peace, and the antiwar movement largely fell silent while he continued Bush’s wars, ‘surged” in those wars when he could and gave us five new ones!

Progresso: I understand your point, Tina. It was a sad betrayal.

Brilliantina: And let me ask you, does your experience with the Bernie campaign lead you to think the Democratic Party can be reformed?

Progresso: Unfortunately, no. In fact, it is pretty clear that the Democratic Party Elite, who are firmly in control and cannot be dislodged, are a barrier to all that I have hoped for.  They are like a giant bolder sitting in the road.

Brilliantina:  A roadblock — good way to put it, Progresso. If that is the case, Progresso, is not job one the removal of the roadblock so you can move forward? It seems that the demise of the Democratic Party would clear the way.

Progresso:I guess the best way to accomplish that would be to vote for Trump, hand the Democrats a resounding defeat and proceed with the roadblock cleared.

Brilliantina:I admit that your logic is sound in this case, Progresso, unexpectedly so.  But it overlooks the morality.  Given the Republican Establishment’s thirst for war and disdain for decent universal health care, it seems hardly moral to back the Republicans either.  So morality would seem to override that conclusion.

Progresso: But what is to be done?  I lean to staying away from the polling place and the mailbox altogether.  But I am not sure yet.

Brilliantina: That certainly is a logical option.

Progresso: But what will you do?

Brilliantina:  For me, Progesso, the overriding concern is peace in the world.  If we have a nuclear war, then all else means nothing.

Progresso: So what will you do?

Brilliantina:I have yet to decide.  But I am quite lucky given my main concern.  There are two Parties that are noninterventionist, the Libertarians and the Greens.  The Libertarians are the third largest Party and the Greens the fourth largest.  In 2016, the year of great discontent after 15 years of the Bush/Obama wars,  the Libertarians won 4.5 million votes and the Greens 1.5 million votes.  I am a bit confused, because the Libertarians are the largest and have the most appeal to the American voter, but the Greens have taken the most explicit stance against Launch on Warning although not as strong as is required.

Progresso: You know in the past I was warned that a vote for the Greens would damage the Democrats.  But from our discussion of the Roadblock, I see that is exactly the points.  I wonder why they do not embrace that?  Not only is it a great selling point but it adds a bit of the feistiness that they need so badly.

Brilliantina:  Well, it has been an illuminating discussion, Progresso.  Let us leave matters there and resume our discussion at another time.

Progresso: Take care, Tina.

John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..