Biden and his fans are cosplaying as antifascist again

A seated Joe Biden gives a speech
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US President Joe Biden gave a major speech in Philadelphia last night. His mission: to speak to the soul of the nation. In his address, he blasted Trump supporters as un-American, attacked Capitol insurrectionists and lauded his own record on topics like extremism and gun control. He described Trump backers as “semi” fascist, which saw some aligned with the ex-president demand an apology.

Biden’s supporters were clearly exhilarated, tweeting their admiration for the president. Some hailed his example:

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Others rather strangely compared him to arch-Conservative Winston Churchill:

One commenter said that the speech drew a line between democracy and fascism:


But American politics have never been so clear cut. The framing of Biden as an antifascist, or even a man of the left, is both highly partisan and factually wrong. And pointing this out is by no stretch of the imagination Trump apologia.

Trump is a vile figure, a buffoon who rode to power on, among other things, a wave of hate. No argument there. But reality defies simple interpretations of his replacement.

Biden may be more palatable to an audience of wealthy white liberals than Trump, but he too is a product of the hyper-capitalist, imperialist American body politic. That is to say the politics of a white settler state steeped in, and built on, class and racial violence. And this is reflected in Biden’s policies.

Biden the imperialist

Biden’s foreign policy has continued in a similar vein to his predecessors. His administration has poured billions of dollars in arms into the Ukraine conflict. Despite assurances, he has overseen a continuation of the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.  He inherited the Afghan war and oversaw the disastrous retreat from the country in 2022, for which he has been fiercely criticised.

His approach to China also reflects a continuation of US foreign policy. Some foreign policy experts have warned that Biden’s approach will echo the War on Terror with Sinophobia sitting alongside the demonisation of Muslims which became standard in post 9/11 discourse.

Support for Israel remains an unquestionable. In July 2022, Biden restated his commitment to the country and announced himself a Zionist:

The connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep, and generation after generation that connection grows. We invest in each other. We dream together.

Biden the cop

Despite saying he was supportive of Black America, Biden ultimately rejected one of the movement’s key demands: defunding the police. In 2021, Biden pushed for more police numbers. He even suggested billions in emergency funding meant for the pandemic response be used to employ more officers.

In his comments on the topic, he folded cops in with vastly different kinds of public sector and community workers:

It means more police officers, more nurses, more counsellors, more social workers or community violence interrupters to help resolve issues before they escalate into crimes

He also said:

This is not a time to turn our backs on law enforcement or our communities.

On migration – another flashpoint topic under Trump – one US factchecking service claimed in January 2022 that apprehensions at the Mexican border went up 317% under Biden’s first month in office compared to the same period for Trump. The Biden government has also detained ten of thousands of asylum seekers, according to an April 2022 report in The Intercept.  

Biden the capitalist

Since coming to power Biden has made some lukewarm criticism of Wall Street. In June 2022, he told an audience of trade unionists that he would not alter any of his economic reforms and vowed to pursue billionaires and firms over taxes:

Our work isn’t done. America still has a choice to make – a choice between a government by the few for the few or a government for all of us, democracy for all of us, an economy where all of us have a fair shot and a chance to earn our place in the economy.

Yet the fact remains Biden, like any US leader, is a Wall Street president to the hilt. He enjoyed $74mn in support from Wall Street leaders during his election run. More, it is estimated, than Trump himself.

His rhetoric over cancelling student loans, which haunt so many educated Americans, have turned out to be hot air. Some of those affected said the amounts being considered in debt forgiveness would barely register:

It cost me $400,000 of debt for the chance to complete my degree. And the interest keeps accruing. $10,000 is a patronisingly small amount for the staggering cost of education in this country.

Same but different

Objectively speaking Biden is preferable to Trump clearly. But that’s doesn’t mean he is good. Not when the bar is so terrifyingly low, as the UK experience will also attest.

Biden sounds better than Trump, true again. And he may not be riding a wave of out-and-out fascism. But the liberal capacity for war, violent policing, and unfettered capitalism is hardly something to get excited about.

The truth is that for those being bombed, starved, incarcerated, or murdered by police, it makes very little difference whether it is a bumbling far-right populist pulling the proverbial trigger, or a slickly packaged but equally bumbling centrist.

The only people who get a kick out it are US Twitter liberals, who can pretend for a moment that politics is a sort of live action roleplaying game in which they, naturally, are the good guys.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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  • Show Comments
    1. absolutely correct! Cosplay is the correct word.
      Also note, how key founding funders of the “tea party” movement, from the middle of Obama’s 2nd term, when peak outrage at a minority potus of color was milked to the max, which was a direct precursor to Sarah Palin, who was a dry run for Trumpfuhrer, those funders have decided to “back out”:

      Did u know, the way the US political structure is set up, it ONLY takes ~$6mn per senator (per 4 year term) multiplied by the requisite 51 senator-majority to have a “LOCK” on the US senate, which in turn means your choice of president will never stand an “impeachment”, which means you have a say in all federal judge nominations, which means you oversee all ambassador appointments, you have a veto on the budget of a $23 trillion economy……all for a $306mn bribe! See the guardian articles for what Sheldon Adelson gave the GOP…..easily in the ~$300mn threshold range! Checks and balances they call it!

    2. Also, don’t forget, the DNC runs the ” primary ” election. by “runs” i mean there is ZERO external federal accountability for misrepresentation, way-laying of funds, improper vote procedure, back room dealing, all are allowed because the way the US is set up, that all falls under the purview OF THE PARTY, and is considered “protected freedom of speech”.

      However the primary election that selected (anointed, really) was not an “election”. Biden was running a strong 4th, when “THE PARTY HIGH COMMAND” (ever thought you’d hear that phrase in the US?) STOPPED the primary, and cut side deals with the leading contenders (I don’t know what remuneration Bernie Sanders got), and ANOINTED Biden the “nominee” of the DNC. You call that democracy? Why not let the primary run the course? We the sheeple are not allowed to know that.

    3. Didn’t the delightful KAM once describe Starmer supporters as fascist enablers?
      Eight years factory work/10 years working with young offenders in South Manchester. Presently working with the homeless in Bristol. I work for my pittance, you middle class prig.

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