Monday, November 2, 2020

Behind the politics of lesser evilism: continuation

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Note: This is a continuation of the essay ‘Behind the politics of lesser evilism’.  That essay elicited a response from Walter Daum.  I am reprinting Daum’s comments here followed by my response to those comments.


Comment by Walter Daum

WD, October 31, 2020

Reply to Alex Steiner on Voting


In notifying me of his post “Behind the politics of lesser evilism,” Alex Steiner commented, “I think this is an important discussion that should be taking place within the revolutionary left as a whole. It goes beyond the positions taken by various people and groups.” I agree and would add that the debate should continue beyond the 2020 election, since it is as much methodological as practical.


To summarize my position, there are basically two questions at issue. 1) Is there a Marxist or socialist principle that rejects voting for bourgeois parties or candidates under all circumstances? 2) Since I think there is no such absolute principle, is it tactically correct to vote for Biden in this election in order to defeat Trump? I and my comrades in the LRP say yes; we recently issued a statement explaining our reasons at


On the first of these questions, Alex re-states the principle: “that it is not possible within the Marxist tradition to ever under any circumstances, support a vote for a bourgeois party.”  In the post that began this debate, Frank Brenner invoked ths Marxist tradition, and in my reply I claimed that there was no such principle; I challenged anyone who thinks there is “to find any statement by our Marxist teachers that it is unprincipled to vote for bourgeois candidates under any circumstance.”


As it happens, I and others in the LRP have made such a challenge in other venues during this election season, and we have received no response with actual evidence. We have, however, been told more than once that there is a Marxist principle that the working class should organize independently of all representatives of the ruling class for political action – and we agree. But that principle, regularly invoked by our Marxist teachers, did not prevent them from advocating tactical voting for specific bourgeois parties on specific occasions, namely when the working class had no viable candidate of its own and when the democratic rights that enable our class to organize and struggle were at stake.


Alex dismisses the challenge as “delv(ing) into ... hypotheticals,” but adds that “this is a general principle that is more relevant than ever in the period of the decline of capitalism on the world stage, not an abstract moral imperative.” This is explained by his claim that the occasions when Marx, Engels and Lenin called for voting for liberal bourgeois parties have no parallel today: “The corporate Democrats represented by Biden in no way constitute a wing of the liberal bourgeoisie opposed to authoritarianism.” Of course the Democrats are not congenitally opposed to authoritarianism; they, like the Republicans, support all kinds of authoritarian regimes around the world when doing so fits U.S. imperial interests; and they have often enough acted in authoritarian fashion at home. (That was also true of the liberal bourgeois parties who our predecessors had backed.)


But that is not the point. I and my comrades are calling for voting for Biden not because he is more liberal in general but because he is less dangerous than Trump on a specific matter, the Republicans’ drive to entrench their minority-party rule by destroying democratic rights – the right of Black people to vote and be counted, and the right of workers to organize trade unions and their struggles. This drive precedes Trump, and he is serving as its useful tool. Indeed, his campaign itself rests on denying voting rights, since he is constantly threatening not to accept the result if he loses the vote and to invoke the powers of his presidency and his Supreme Court appointees to overturn it. In this concrete situation the Democrats are opposed to Trump’s authoritarianism for their own reasons; they want to get elected. So this is just the sort of situation when there is no viable working-class candidate and when the rights that enable our class to organize and struggle are at stake.


Returning for a moment to Brenner’s original post, he says that  calling for a vote for Biden “would promote the dangerous illusion that the only credible resistance to Trump is from the Democratic Party.” That is a real concern, and more generally there is the danger that any kind of bloc with bourgeois forces helps strengthen illusions that they can be relied on to be on the side of the working class. That danger has to be weighed and countered, which means that socialists who electorally support Biden must forthrightly illuminate rather than obscure the true history and role of the Democratic Party.


It would certainly create illusions if all we said is that Trump is terrible and Biden is not so bad although not ideal. Many Biden supporters rely on such arguments. Revolutionary socialists, on the contrary, should make every effort to explain, even as we argue for voting for Democrats, that they are a party that promotes capitalism and imperialism, opposes working-class struggles and accommodates to racism (as various Democratic governors and mayors did in calling out their cops against the recent Black Lives Matter protests).


It is noteworthy that in the early voting period of recent days, millions of people have flocked to the polls, waiting patiently for hours to cast their votes, confounding the efforts in many states to make it as difficult as possible for people to vote, especially in minority communities. Surely the main reason for this amazing phenomenon is that people are so fed up with Trump that they are willing to take extraordinary steps to get rid of him. And, yes, many of them have illusions that Biden and the Democrats are dedicated not just to reversing Trump’s most sociopathic policies but also to carrying out the reforms that working-class people need.


How should we as revolutionary socialists counter such illusions? By telling people not to vote for Biden & Co. because of their rotten record and hostile class character? If we do that we will not get much of an audience. But if we say, yes, vote for Biden to oust Trump, we can then also help people understand that Biden too is an enemy of the working class and the oppressed, and that only mass action can wring vital reforms out of a Democratic Party government. We can also explain that the working class needs its own party, independent of the capitalist parties and dedicated to the overthrow of capitalist rule.


Alex claims that once you advocate for voting for a Democrat in this election you are on a slippery slope that means never building an independent socialist party. Even a tactical “lesser evil” vote, he says, leads to lesser evil-ism, the strategy of always voting for a lesser bourgeois evil:


“... once one acknowledges a different outcome between a Trump or a Biden Administration, that there are no grounds for opposing a vote for a ‘lesser evil’ candidate. But one cay say that in every single election since the American Republic was founded there is always the possibility of a different outcome. It has never been the case and never will be the case that the outcome of an election ‘makes no difference’.”


This assumes that rejecting the mythical “socialist principle” of never voting for a bourgeois party necessarily means always doing so. That is false both in history and in logic. Our Marxist predecessors who advocated choosing certain bourgeois parties when there was no alternative never stopped working for socialist working-class parties. Moreover, there is a lot of room between never and always, and that’s where this year’s election fits. According to polls, among the millions of early voters are many who chose not to vote in 2016. They are not lesser-evilists; they are coming out in droves because they see that in 2020, perhaps for the first time in their adult lives, the greater evil is a qualitative threat that he must be defeated.


Finally, I’ll note that Brenner and Steiner are both aware of the danger of Trumpism:


Brenner: If Trump wins, “Polarization will spike, Bill Barr will have a green light for ever more police state measures, the fascist gangs will feel emboldened. Voter suppression, scapegoating of immigrants, lethal police violence, dismantling of Obamacare and probably Medicare too, maybe a Covid death toll of a million.”


Steiner: “One can expect a very sharp turn to authoritarian forms of rule in a second Trump Administration ... Trump’s open encouragement of fascist plots to assassinate the governors of Michigan and Virginia and the state murder of an anti-fascist activist in Oregon indicate a qualitative transformation of class relations away from even the vestiges of bourgeois democracy.”


Those are strong and accurate forewarnings. The working class, the oppressed, and all those who defend democratic rights have to act. Mass mobilizations have to be prepared. A few trade union officials are even talking of a general strike if Trump tries to steal the election. Brenner agrees that “socialists would try to promote mass political resistance within the working class” – but he asks, “How would that goal be served by having called for a vote for Biden?” The answer is that no matter who wins, mass action by the working class and oppressed people will be necessary to defend their rights and promote their interests. And such action would take place under far more favorable conditions if Trump and the fascistic gangs he encourages were to suffer a massive rejection at the polls. Only voting for Biden, class enemy though he is, can accomplish that.


Why not do all we can to prevent Trump from wielding the authority that could be used to justify a coup? As Marx and Lenin pointed out, every few years the working class and the oppressed are asked to choose which leaders of the oppressing class will lead the repression against them. That is bourgeois democracy. When that choice is significant, when it indeed means “a qualitative transformation of class relations away from even the vestiges of bourgeois democracy,” why not take it? A Democratic Party government will be no loyal friend of the working class, but against it we will be in a better position to wage the class struggle, fight for democratic rights and organize for the socialist and revolutionary party our class needs.


Steiner responds to Walter Daum


Before addressing what Daum wrote I want to say a few things about what he did not write. Specifically there is no mention at all of something that was a key element of my critique, namely the philosophical examination of the type of cost-benefit arguments that are characteristic of the politics of lesser evilism. I placed that analysis at the core of my argument because I think it exposes the fundamental incoherence of lesser evil politics. To reiterate what I wrote, the problem with cost-benefit type analysis when applied to human affairs is that it reduces living human activity to a thing that can be weighed and measured. In the arena of economics such methodology has been championed by the school of “rational choice” theorists.  I have no doubt Daum, who has written extensively on economics from a Marxist perspective, would recognize the fallacies of rational choice theory. Why does he not recognize the fallacies of this exact same methodology when applied to the political arena?

In his opening remarks, Daum correctly says that


…”the debate should continue beyond the 2020 election, since it is as much methodological as practical.”


But Daum never gets beyond the “practical” to the methodological questions in his reply.

As to the “practical” considerations, Daum’s case against me appears to be based on a misreading of what I said. He presents a straw-man argument based on this misreading.

Daum says that I ,


“…re-state[s] the principle: ‘that it is not possible within the Marxist tradition to ever under any circumstances, support a vote for a bourgeois party.’ “


But that is not what I wrote. I did not “restate” any such “absolute” principle as Daum also writes. Rather I posed this as a question,


Does this mean that it is not possible within the Marxist tradition, to ever under any circumstances, support a vote for a bourgeois party?”


The reason I posed this as a question was precisely to highlight the difference between a mythological “absolute” principle allowing of no exceptions, something which has never existed except as a thought experiment, and a general principle that has guided Marxists for generations.   Daum and the LRP rely for much of their argument on conflating this idealized “absolute” principle with the very real practical principle that Marxists should not be calling for a vote for a bourgeois candidate.  I don’t think it is very difficult to demonstrate that Marxists have traditionally opposed voting for a bourgeois candidate,  certainly not in an advanced industrial country where the question of national independence is not relevant and where the right to vote for a socialist candidate still exists.  To cite just one example, take a look at Trotsky’s writings on Germany in the period leading up to the victory of fascism. Did Trotsky advise his followers to support the “lesser evil” bourgeois politician in the hope that this would buy time to defeat the Nazis? Not at all. Here is what he wrote:


“The social democracy supports Bruening, votes for him, assumes the responsibility for him before the masses – on the basis that the Bruening Government is the “lesser evil… But have the German Left Opposition and myself in particular demanded that the Communists vote for and support Bruening? We Marxists regard Bruening and Hitler, together with Braun, as component parts of one and the same system. The question, which one of them is the “lesser evil”, has no sense, for the system against which we are fighting needs all these elements.” [1]


And Trotsky’s was not alone within the Marxist tradition in opposing the politics of lesser evilism.  Daum relies on another straw-man argument in order to blur over this general (not ‘Absolute’) principle. He sees a huge difference between supporting a “lesser evil” and “lesser evilism”.  He writes,

“Alex claims that once you advocate for voting for a Democrat in this election you are on a slippery slope that means never building an independent socialist party. Even a tactical “lesser evil” vote, he says, leads to lesser evil-ism, the strategy of always voting for a lesser bourgeois evil”.

Of course I never equated the politics of “lesser evilism” with the requirement that one has to always vote for a lesser evil candidate.  But by “lesser evilism” I am referring to a method of approaching political questions that is fundamentally at odds with Marxism. It may or may not always lead one to supporting a bourgeois candidate in a specific election but what it does is replace a strategic orientation toward the independent political activity of the working class for their emancipation with the small change of opportunist tactical considerations characteristic of bourgeois politics.  It is precisely this methodological approach that Trotsky criticized in the support the Social Democrats in Germany gave to Chancellor Bruening.

Does the rejection of a vote for the “lesser evil” in the 2020 election mean that we are blind and contemptuous of those workers and youth who think that voting for Biden is the best way to defeat Trump? Not at all! Revolutionary socialists should be engaging in a dialogue with those workers and youth, especially those who were ardent Bernie Sanders supporters and now feel that they have been disenfranchised.  But what should we say to them? Shouldn’t we encourage in every possible way a break of the left-leaning forces that were active in the Sanders movement from the Democratic Party? How is that accomplished if we tell them, no matter how many caveats one adds, that they should vote for Biden?

Finally Daum claims that I am presenting a “slippery slope” type argument and he goes on to deny the existence of a slippery slope.  You can call for a vote for Biden in the 2020 election he says, and it has no relation to anything else in your political trajectory and is of no significance for anything you may do in the future.  But I raised the question of how the about-face of Daum’s group, the LRP, on this question, is part of a wider phenomenon that has seen many long-time radicals who have previously resisted the siren song of support for the Democrats suddenly give way to a broad-based collapse of opposition to the American duopoly. I mentioned the sudden dissolution of the International Socialist Organization last year. One can add the pathetic turn of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party - who were well known for their fiery rhetoric about the need for a “communist revolution” - to support for Biden. Daum has nothing to say about these developments, apparently believing that the turn of the LRP has no relationship to them. I think the fact they are unaware of the broader social and class forces driving them is good evidence that Daum and the LRP are indeed embarked on a slippery slope.








[1] The Impending Danger of Fascism in Germany: A Letter to a German Communist Worker on the United Front Against Hitler



Some thoughts on the state of American ‘democracy’

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Swearing in of Justice Barrett. 

by Frank Brenner


The prime motivation of the ‘vote Biden’ radical leftists is to ‘save’ democracy, or at least its rudiments, from Trumpist authoritarianism, so I think it’s worth considering the state of American democracy, especially as the day I started writing this was also when Amy Coney Barrett was being elevated to the Supreme Court.




We now have a justice with a mindset more from the Middle Ages than the 21st century consolidating a right-wing super majority on SCOTUS. Abortion rights are going to be overturned or at the very least reduced to an empty shell, same for Obamacare, voting rights, separation of church and state, government action on climate change, the rights of unions, of gays and lesbians, to say nothing of backstopping a possible Trump coup to defy the election results. I think it’s safe to assume that this is the most reactionary Supreme Court since Chief Justice Roger Taney handed down the Dred Scott decision in 1857, although ‘most reactionary’ is a hard sell when it comes to an institution that gutted Reconstruction, gave us Plessy v. Ferguson and sanctioned the legal murder of Sacco and Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs, to say nothing of more recent outrages like Citizens United.


It’s not just Barrett though but the whole spectacle of her appointment that is notable. First there is the flagrant hypocrisy of the Republicans in ramming through this nomination 8 days before the election, after having refused to approve an Obama appointment to the court 8 months before the previous election. This is about as blatant a ‘fuck you’ to any semblance of democracy as is possible in mainstream politics. But that hypocrisy is only matched by the Democrats who pretend to be outraged, especially as such outrage has been very lucrative in raking in millions in campaign contributions. Yet they have managed to do absolutely zip to hold up the approval process in the Senate, even though, had they used procedural motions to slow it down by even a week, they could have potentially scuttled the nomination in the event of a Biden landslide. The only reasonable conclusion is that the corporate Democrats are not really that upset by Barrett’s appointment – and that’s because a ‘Dred Scott’ Supreme Court will be useful for them in stymieing the demands of their party’s progressive wing. Hey, they will say to the progressives, we want to do the right thing but our hands are tied.


Still I have to say that if there is any silver lining here, it is the delicious irony to be had from eventually watching the pious Barrett, who seems nothing so much as an emanation from The Handmaid’s Tale, joining Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, two men with a proclivity for hitting on defenseless women, in striking down Roe v. Wade. And of course, we shouldn’t forget that Barrett and Kavanaugh, judicial zealots for that foul abuse of language, the so-called ‘right to life’, owe their positions to a man widely accused of being a rapist.




American democracy is composed of two parties that are fundamentally opposed to democracy. The Republicans engage in voter suppression (through means legal and illegal) while the Democrats engage in voter shaming. If you dare to oppose the Democrats from the left, you are an outcast because you are ‘splitting’ the vote and thereby helping the reactionaries. The liberal media still can’t forgive Jill Stein for running against Hillary Clinton in 2016 or even for that matter Ralph Nader for running against Al Gore in 2000. And this year’s Green party candidate, Howie Hawkins, is facing a similar torrent of reproach and abuse, including from members of his own party and even his old high school teacher! Every election it’s the same story: a heavy-handed campaign of political guilt-tripping, a drumbeat amplified by mainstream media, overbearing pundits and academics and Hollywood celebrities (and now, sadly, a goodly number of radical leftists). You cannot stray a step beyond the Democratic Party fold, otherwise you are anathema and your voice has to be silenced.


The two presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders are an object lesson in how the Democrats suppress democracy. Twice he was denied the nomination, in 2016 by illegal DNC machinations and this year by a gang-up of so-called ‘centrist’ candidates lining up behind Biden. There has never been any question that his signature policies - Medicare for all, free college tuition, tax the billionaire class – are hugely popular. And yet both times Sanders has submitted to the fiat of the corporate Democrats and chosen not to run an independent campaign, giving as his reason (according to Chris Hedges) that he didn’t want to be a Ralph Nader. Sanders personally has a lot to answer for in this regard but this isn’t just a story of a politician’s shortcomings. It’s also a story of how the Democrats suppress democracy, how their ‘soft suppression’ can be just as effective, sometimes more so, than the gangsterism of the Republicans. If running a presidential campaign on issues that tens of millions of Americans support is beyond the pale of American democracy – where the political and media establishment will do everything possible to denigrate, marginalize and ultimately squash such a campaign – then what sort of democracy is that? It means that almost nothing is now left of Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, for the people” except the words themselves.


3. Whites No College: WNC. This is a relatively new sociological label imported from the polling industry and it now appears routinely in election coverage. What it means is blue collar white workers, but since mainstream American culture has always been phobic about any open acknowledgement of class, especially the working class, we now have this new rhetorical subterfuge – WNC. It’s also typical of that political culture to define everything in terms of race, and yet one never sees stats citing BNC or LNC (Blacks No College, Latinx No College). The presumption must be that the African-American and Latin communities are somehow homogeneous so that the NC suffix would have little bearing, but of course this is utter nonsense. What it does do is help normalize racial divisions in the working class by making them appear as a self-evident artifact of demography rather than a deliberately chosen political distinction. Or to put this another way, its political spin passed off as pseudo social science – and the upshot is to turn blue collar white workers into a political ‘other’, a bogeyman of everything backward or, as Hillary Clinton famously put it, “a basket of deplorables”.


Two factors are at work here. The Democratic Party has long since abandoned the base it had in the working class from the New Deal to the Great Society. Having bought into neo-liberalism through the Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations, it has become a party which caters primarily to the upper middle classes as well as some of the Big Money in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and on Wall Street. It is a party of the rich.  By contrast, the Republicans are a party of the super-rich, but one which has embraced right-wing populism to exploit the working-class base cut loose by the Democrats. This Republican coalition of cold hard cash and emotional frenzy over guns, racist dog-whistles, abortions and born-again religion can seem head-spinning but has precedents in American politics, notably Huey Long and George Wallace. But crucial to the Republicans being able to pivot in this way has been the decline of labor unions to the point of near total social irrelevance. So, the American two-party system is a choice between a party of the rich and a party of the super-rich. The party of the rich is heavily invested in identity politics (which I’m about to get to) while the party of the super-rich is heavily invested in right-wing populism. They operate as a division of labor for the purpose of disenfranchising the overwhelming majority of the people.


The second factor is the dominant role that identity politics has come to play among liberals and radicals, especially anyone connected to academia. From the point of view of identity politics, blue collar white workers are indeed a mass of “deplorables”, a cesspool of racism, sexism, homophobia etc. Hence the ‘whitelash’ explanation for why Trump won in 2016, though advocates for this theory downplay or deny outright the inconvenient truth that there were millions of so-called Obama-Trump voters in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – white workers whose supposed racism hadn’t prevented them from voting for Obama, not just once but twice. So far as identity politics is concerned, the only remedy for dealing with WNC is demography: the more they shrink as a percentage of the population, the less important they’ll become politically. In the meantime, everything possible should be done to contain them, like some rabid horde, by minimizing their political influence and keeping them as far removed as possible from civilized folks with college degrees and the deserving poor among minorities.


Identity politics is a disaster for the left, and for that reason also a disaster for American democracy. It not only accepts but positively embraces the splitting of the American working class along racial lines – and down that road lies a dark future of reaction. The only way to save political democracy is to expand it into social and economic democracy, but that will never happen without the working class, including blue collar white workers. So long as the left remains shackled to the Democratic party, it will never be able to win these workers away from right-wing populism, and so long as it remains under the sway of identity politics, it will never even want to try. And one sees that in the attitudes of many on the radical left for whom the very notion that one should try to appeal to the millions of workers in Trump’s base is unthinkable.




As I was writing this post, I came across a column by Robert Reich in The Guardian titled “Trump assaulted American democracy – here’s how Democrats can save it”. Reich is a prominent liberal public intellectual and was Secretary of Labor in the first Clinton administration. He is very much in the mould of figures like Maynard Keynes – liberals who want to save capitalism from itself. (In fact, one of his books is called Saving Capitalism.) This column is in a similar vein, though its focus is on politics rather than economics. As someone with a long career as a public official in several US administrations, Reich’s approach is very practical: he lays out a series of steps that Biden and the Democrats should take (assuming of course that they win and are allowed to take office) to reverse the damage Trump has done. Reich adds that this “may be the last chance – both for the Democrats and, more importantly, for American democracy.” It’s an ominous warning from someone who isn’t usually given to hyperbole.


Here are the 3 steps Reich is proposing:


1. Increase the size of the Supreme Court to reduce the conservative super-majority to a minority.


2. Abolish the Senate filibuster so that a simple majority is enough to pass legislation, not the 60 votes presently needed. (Reich is assuming that the Democrats will have a majority in the Senate after the election.)


3. Rebalance the Senate so that small rural states like Wyoming don’t have outsized power compared to populous states like California. To effect this change, Reich proposes to create new states: Washington DC, which has long wanted statehood, and California, which has grown so large that Reich says it should be split into two states, North and South California.


The first thing that strikes me about this is the imbalance between the gravity of the problem and the trifling nature of the proposed solutions. Reich is tinkering with minor adjustments even as he recognizes that the fate of American democracy is at stake. And even for a liberal this is timid stuff: one glaring omission is any mention of the electoral college, an arcane leftover from the pre-Civil War era that was put in the Constitution at the behest of slaveholders and has been responsible for two of the last five elections where the ‘winning’ candidate actually lost the popular vote. Indeed, it’s electoral college calculations that determine the insanely lop-sided nature of presidential campaigns, where the focus is entirely on a half-dozen battleground states, and where the rest of the country is all but completely ignored by the candidates. Reich would probably say that his third proposal addresses this but there’s a much simpler solution: eliminate the electoral college. If this seems impractical to a good pragmatist like Reich, his own proposal is actually much more far-fetched. There is no way three quarters of the states, to say nothing of two-thirds of Congress, are going to approve splitting up California, let alone granting DC statehood. And even if this miracle were to transpire, it would only be a start: you’d have to turn NYC into a state, maybe Chicago, Miami, Houston, LA etc. etc.


As for the first proposal, Biden has already stated that he doesn’t want to stack the Court. This is after all a man who pledged that if he comes to power nothing fundamental will change. Visions of Biden as FDR redux are wishful thinking on steroids. He’s announced that he’ll set up a commission to study SCOTUS proposals, which is standard procedure for an old political hack to make difficult problems go away. As for the Senate filibuster, even if this happens, it will do nothing to change the reality that Democratic senators are as beholden to their donor class as Republican senators are to theirs.


Reich is no fool. He understands perfectly well that what is really undermining American democracy is social inequality. But he can’t see beyond the limits of ‘saving capitalism’. Back in the Thirties someone like Reich would have been part of the ‘brain trust’ FDR assembled to make the New Deal happen, but after four decades of supporting and/or accommodating themselves to neo-liberalism, there is little boldness left among liberal intellectuals for that kind of ground-breaking overhaul. Reich wants to patch up constitutional arrangements that are centuries old and decrepit, so decrepit in some cases (the Second Amendment for example) that they have morphed into monstrosities that promote and legitimize untold carnage. In the 19th century it took a revolutionary civil war to save democracy from the constitution. Patchwork solutions aren’t going to be any more successful in the 21st century.


Reich’s quandary is the quandary of anyone who believes in incremental change. You invariably end up with wholesale wishful thinking (what I would call a bad kind of utopianism) which amounts (whether one admits it or not) to hoping for the ruling elites to ‘come to their senses’, the sort of thinking that goes, ‘if only Jeff Bezos would settle for having $100 billion instead of $200 billion.’ But that’s not how the system works and elites never give up their power and privilege willingly. I think the ‘vote Biden’ radicals are engaging in a similar kind of wishful thinking. Though they may still adhere to the rhetoric of revolutionary politics, their succumbing to ‘lesser evil’ blackmail attests to a lingering hope for incremental change probably along with a deep despair about the possibilities for revolution.