What’s the Earliest a Progressive Democrat Can Be Elected President?

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Yves here. Note this post prospects for progressives assumes that the current two parties soldier on more or less as now. If Trump manages to in 2020, which at this juncture seems more remote than it did even a week ago, it would represent a major institutional Democratic party failure. But Team Dem could manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with a poke-a-stick-in-too-many-people’s eye VP pick.

It’s way over my pay grade to imagine what happens next, but you could see political tectonic plates move in a big way.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

Among the many thoughts these rebellious times inspire is this one: How will it ever end?

It could end in mass and chaotic violence, of course, with anti-copkiller protests hijacked by cop provocateurs and Proud Boy “bust ’em up” squads, followed by the inevitable law-and-order crackdown that shuts the whole thing off in a National Security State way — a crackdown that white and suburban liberals and conservatives alike will applaud till the sun sets in the west.

That’s certainly one of the choices.

It could end like the sixties and seventies Movement ended, with a Jimmy Carter in the White House (our proto-neoliberal), followed by the end of the Vietnam War, a temporary end to the war on pot, the so-called “greening of America,” and hippies going back to their day jobs with a sense of having won at least something for the effort.

But it won’t — that’s not one of the choices, simply because there’s no slack in the schedule for the Late Seventies and Reagan Eighties breather that sent people dancing to Disco and off to watch, in envy and hope, the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Not with what’s teed up for us today — relentless economic neoliberal-enforced misery; ongoing unrelieved anger and resentment; ginned-up battles between a “left” that pretends to stand up for workers, and doesn’t; a “right” that pretends to stand for individual freedom, and doesn’t; and the Big One, William Gibson’s “Jackpot,” the worldwide climate conflict that won’t end until we stop feeding money to our already-wealthy Carbon Barons — and even then, if we don’t start stopping soon, never.

It could also end with the election of a true progressive president, a real FDR, an unbought, skillful champion of the people who “welcomes the hatred” of the rich and destructive and means it. Not a pretender; the real thing.

When Is the Earliest the Nation Can Elect a Progressive Democratic President?

With the last thought in mind — it ends when we elect a progressive — let’s see what’s the earliest this could occur. (The following is borrowed and expanded from this insightful piece at Reddit’s “Way of the Bern.”)

Consider these scenarios:

• Trump wins in 2020. With no Democratic incumbent, a progressive can run and (if she’s not sabotaged) win in 2024.

• Biden wins in 2020 and he or his VP loses to a Republican in 2024. A progressive can run, and maybe win, in 2028.

• Biden wins in 2020 but isn’t on the ballot in 2024. His faux-progressive (neoliberal) VP wins in 2024 and but loses to a Republican in 2028. A progressive can run, and maybe win, in 2032.

• Biden wins in 2020 but isn’t on the ballot in 2024. His faux-progressive (neoliberal) VP wins in 2024 and 2028. Then his or her same-stripe VP runs and loses in 2032. A progressive could run in 2036.

• Biden wins in 2020 but isn’t on the ballot in 2024. His faux-progressive (neoliberal) VP wins in 2024 and 2028. Then her same-stripe VP wins in 2032 and 2036. If her VP doesn’t run, a progressive might run against a non-incumbent Democrat in 2040.


Biden picks a progressive VP in 2020, a real one, someone Sanders-like, who would run in 2024 if Biden doesn’t.

But would anyone with sense take a bet he’ll do that? Consider: Barack Obama put Biden where he is precisely to stop a Sanders-like candidate from winning. Why would Biden or the people behind him throw that gift away?

Biden’s same-stripe VP picks a progressive VP, a real one, someone Sanders-like, who might possibly be allowed to win in 2032.

That last is too far off to bet on, but I would take the bet that says neoliberals will make a hash of the climate emergency that’s sure to show up by then, making all bets on democratic governance basically moot.

We’re left with these conclusions. We can run a progressive against a non-incumbent Democrat:

• In 2024 if Biden loses to Trump.
• In 2028 if Biden wins and his VP loses in 2024.
• In 2032 if Biden wins, his VP wins next but picks a progressive VP or a VP who chooses not to run.
• In 2036 or later in all other cases.

Do you see where this is headed? 2036 is more than a decade away. Because no progressive will win — and likely not even run — against a Democratic incumbent, either the Democratic Party must self-reform, or a Republican must take the White House before a progressive Democrat can run.

In other words, unless the Democratic Party becomes suddenly anti-neoliberal, the answer to our initial question — What’s the earliest a progressive Democrat can be elected president? — is Never or Too Late.

Not sure I like the look of that.

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  1. Bugs Bunny

    I’ll put my tinfoil hat on and speculate that if Trump wins, he’ll find a way to keep winning well past 2024. The USSC will be completely stacked, gerrymandering will keep both houses Trumpist, and constitutional amendments could rescind the limited powers of the executive and allow him to virtually appoint his successor.

    1. km

      There is no way to gerrymander the Senate, since each state elects two senators.

      Keep in mind that Trump, even if he wins, is historically unpopular and will have little success in ramming through any constitutional amendments.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Thats pretty horrible (and one of the reasons I’ve always thought it was all or nothing for Sanders in 2020). Its also why I think it was a terrible mistake for him to have dropped out. Even if there was only a 5% circumstances of things working out electorally, that is more hope than there is at present.

    The only ‘hope’ I see is genuinely another FDR (or even Johnson) – an establishment insider, who sees the light in the circumstances. Say, Biden dropping out for *ahem* medical reasons, and being replaced with someone like Gore, an insider/establishment figure intelligent enough to see that sometimes radicalism is the most conservative thing to do, and with the stature/integrity to push things forward (Biden certainly lacks this). But thats a very long shot. Its not solely a feature of US politics that sometimes the most progressive policies have been enacted by reactionaries (e.g. Nixons environmental laws), but sometimes thats just how things work out.

    The sad reality is that a Biden win is possibly the worst possible result for the US (and the rest of the world) having any kind of future. My feeling is that if he can drag what remains of his sentience to November, his VP will be the Bush I to Reagan II. So that pick is absolutely vital. And unless I’m missing something, there is nobody with the stature or intelligence or integrity on anyones list that would give grounds for optimism.

    1. Big River Bandido

      There is no “good insider” here. There’s not even a *person* one might point to who could be a putatively progressive presidential candidate in 2024.

      Yves laid out the potential scenarios for a left takeover. The 2024 as earliest possible takeover was obvious to me earlier this year, which is why since Sanders dropped out I favor Trump’s re-election. Democrats are not to be trusted with power, especially if by winning they were to keep the left out.

      All this pretty well explains why I’ve joined the “burn it all down” crowd.

      1. Altandmain

        The 2024 as earliest possible takeover was obvious to me earlier this year, which is why since Sanders dropped out I favor Trump’s re-election

        I guess the only real solution then may be for the left to vote for Trump and hold our collective noses.

        I’m saddened that it has come to this, but it may be the best of some awful options.

    2. jsn

      Josh Hawley is the closest thing to a progressive standing in either party right now with Sanders having stood down.

      I still think it was the Zapruder film…

    1. km

      Elections (like congressional votes) are good theater for putting on a semblance of democracy.

      That why North Korea and various banana republics go through the charade.

  3. Adam1

    FDR didn’t run as a progressive, at least not the kind of progressive his administration became. A lot happened between election day in November 1932 and his inauguration in March 1933. There was mounting fear of real uncontrollable violence in the streets when he took office that March and that opened the door for radical change. If there are parallels with the Great Depression here, then I’d hazard to guess it’s only about January 1930. We still have more misery ahead before there is enough fear in the elite to let go or enough anger for someone to rip it out of their hands.

    1. L

      But FDR did run on the new deal and programs of it. And he made the point he would fight for it.

      Biden has promised chump change by comparison and his response to the current violence is to “listen” but he has not put forward systemic change. Things could change, he could change, but the people around him sure haven’t and that is every indication of what he considers doable.

      1. Big River Bandido

        FDR did not run on the New Deal in 1932. In fact, he actually mouthed austerity politics in the campaign, while being deliberately vague on policy.

        Not for nothing did Herbert Hoover call FDR “a chameleon on plaid”.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And didn’t those austerity politics lead to a significant downturn in 1937?

          1. JBird4049

            That they did and FDR dumped them quickly because of it. The strength of FDR is rather like John Maynard Keynes who is supposed to have said something like “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?” about himself. Unlike much of our current “leadership.”

  4. jackiebass

    In my opinion the only way a progressive can be elected is if there is a complete purging of the present leadership in the DNC and progressives take over the DNC. The other possibility is if progressives leave the Democratic Party and form a new party. Because money controls our elections , I’m not optimistic either thing will happen. We are probably stuck with the evil party and the lesser of two evils party. Young voters and future voters are the key. They seem to like progressive ideas so unifying them may institute change in the future. By the future I mean in a decade or two.

    1. km

      Contemplate The Iron Law of Oligarchy and The Iron Law of Institutions.

      Team D would rather lose, would rather die out, than reform.

      1. Kouros

        Completely agree. More than prior to FDR, the US has morphed into a full oligarchy, for that matter a Demagogic Oligarchy based on Aristotelian definition. Also, as Mr. Aristotle argued, polities greater tendencies are to revert to oligarchies; nothing surprising there if one watches closely how chimpanzee groups function (they do have an alpha male, but he always has a small and close group of followers cum enforcers)…

        The problems we have, if one studies history, is that there is always a reliance on virtue, civic duty, etc. (Republic of the Virtuous, with the latest reconfiguration of the idea in the Islamic Republic of Iran) for people to do the right thing.

        But we always revert to what the primate knows best: one cannot beat that easily millions of years of evolution. Having such a system, the solution is to find a mechanism that disrupts this cycle between (nowadays) populist tyranny or absolutism and oligarchy (full blown or some populism) with its associated feathers (free and democratic elections as pageants for the masses).

        My intuition drives me to have another go at classic Athenian democracy (the bugbear of all oligarchical systems, vilified and circumvented by all revolutions, starting with the English Revolution that killed King Charles. Instate random selection of representatives (more of them, from which to random & merit select first and second level executives) and gut the power of entrenched interests that work through official political parties.

        I think it is high time we get out of this man made sand box that we have been penned in for 2 and half millennia for the benefit of the few. It would be nice if Yves would dedicate some of her energy and mind on understanding the system and trying to identify disruptive mechanisms. What I am proposing (there is a fringe group of people interested in this) is as old as sex, one of the greatest invention of life. The chromosomes’ dance and crisscrossing prior to the meiotic cellular division leading to the formation of sexual gametes is exactly that, a random reorganization of genetic material to insure a higher level of survivability in a dynamic environment. It not only manage to last for eons, but it flourished and blossomed and survived several ELEs that hit Earth in the past. If we managed to bring “genetic algorithms” in optimization problems, it is high time to bring them in how we organize and operationalize our polities.

      2. Kouros

        To add to what I said originally, it is revealing the fact that there is no Topic labeled “Democracy”, under which a post could be also classified (I don’t think is a Freudian slip, but rather the product of deep seated indoctrination, profoundly internalized: US Best – OK corruption, let’s address it: this is waaay to easy and superficial). Maybe Yves considered the Topic labelled “Politics” as relevant, but maybe that should be split into: Tyranny, Oligarchy, Democracy… for simplicity. Of course, there isn’t a pure form ever, because it doesn’t or is not allowed to last (internal/external conflicts), but this approach would be more instructive and ultimately would align with a lot of work Yves has put here.

    2. John k

      I see the pendulum as moving in the other direction. Ever increasing misery index is combining with a steady replacement of comfortably retired seniors replaced by less comfortable ones that are less happy with status quo.
      It’s a slow process, but four years will make a difference. Consider that Obama did not support same sex marriage until the average voter did… granted, his contributors didn’t care about the issue.
      And a bad recession might be on deck for the next couple of years, so misery might get out of hand… lots more guns out there now than in 1932. Even titans of industry might think we need a change.
      And if trump wins dnc will be weakened with low credibility… russiagate wont sell as well next time.
      But Ive long thought no opening in 2024 if Biden wins… this view anathema to spouse and friends.

  5. Dr. John Carpenter

    Great article and thank you for sharing it. This is a point I’ve been trying to make to people, but I’d yet to do the math. I think it’s still a hard sell, with all that’s going on, to convince anyone who doesn’t already know that a Biden win pushes any change back at least eight years.
    Of course, if a third party could get it together and beat the obstacles to get on the ballot and attract enough attention and…and…and…I can dream, can’t I?

    1. jackiebass

      I agree with you 100%. Biden will be a repeat of Obama. Throw the populous a bone while the connected got the meat. Hope and change sounds good. Unfortunately we got neither from Obama. I’m 78 and a life long registered democrat. I’m going to change my affiliation to independent. Clinton motivated me to evaluate what the democrat party really was. It isn’t what I think it should be.

  6. John

    This is all predicated on the House and Senate being controlled by blue or red neoliberal corporatists. If progressives stopped wringing their hands and like Chris Hedges actually stood up for their electorate than it wouldn’t matter what jackass was in the White House because with enough progressive votes a presidential veto could be overridden.

    1. jacckiebass

      This is a bottom up approach and will bear fruits. It works but usually takes time.Republicans used it before the last census. The got control of a majority of state governments. That allowed republicans to control redistricting. It was one of the factors in republicans getting control of the house during Obamas term. That in effect took a lot of the power away from Obama. Obama focused on his health care plan. That took away much needed efforts to restructure government agencies. I believe the dangerous part of the Trumps administration is their restructuring agencies to promote their agenda. Obama failed in this respect.

  7. divadab

    IMHO the only way for a progressive to insert herself into the Dem Presidential candidacy is to pull off a Trump. Bernie almost did it but sorry, he’s just too old, as my Mom says, he’s “yesterday’s man”. I watched several of his recent speeches and debates and he has a sort of hunted look – not relaxed and smiley as when he ran against Clinton, but a bit side-eyed and apprehensive looking. Too bad, because medicare for all needs to happen – that the richest, most powerful empire in the world cannot bring itself to extend universal healthcare to its citizens is an indictment of the filthy corrupt scum who occupy the imperial rungs of power. Consider that the Dems, supposedly the “left”, are institutionally opposed to medicare for all, to the extent of cheating to sabotage any candidate who dares propose it.

    Judith is a mite too cynical – the mechanisms of democracy still exist, tho attenuated. It took a depression to create the conditions for the new deal; from a practical perspective, I would rather continue the neo-liberal order than have to deal with a depression. But it is coming and the downstream effects will be chaotic. Four horsemen, etc.

    We shall see. When a corrupt government is held (rightly) in contempt by a majority, its lack of legitimacy makes it weak and apt to extreme measures.

    1. km

      Sanders showed in 2016 and 2020 that he was not mean enough. Both times, he rolled over rather than fight. Even if Sanders were to have gotten the nomination, and won, I suspect that he would have proven weak and ineffectual, surrounded by enemies.

      The career of Huey P. Long is most instructive. Say what you want about the man, his goals, and his (admittedly odious) methods, he overcame an entrenched opposition in a one-party state, an opposition not at all shy about using bribery, blackmail, and outright violence, when Jim Crow and the poll tax weren’t enough to do the trick.

  8. Lou Anton

    My money is still on Biden picking a tone-deaf, completely irrelevant-to-the-times VP. A woman, sure, probably. But certainly not someone from the real left that could energize the anger on the street right now into a movement. And he probably doesn’t even want that.

    What sort of pick could do it? I with Krystal Ball on this one: Nina Turner. I know I’m just cosplaying, but she’s the only person right now that Biden could pick that would move me out of “not voting” to “maybe voting.” (said as a lifetime voter).

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! since team dem is all about Messaging, a Nina VP pick would be awesome.
      I’m all for it.
      They’re more likely to pick you or I, sadly.

      Wife and I watched “Joker” last week…and in the almost breathless silence when it was over, I said, “But for Neitszche, that could have been me.”
      Harassed and harried, persecuted and picked on, I’ve been acutely aware of the Blindness of most people…in proportion with their level of comfort…for almost as long as I can remember.
      and as a corollary, I’ve been aware of the eventual consequences of that Blindness…eventually, the abused, the forgotten and the put-upon(the Truly Put Upon, not the faux kind) get their revenge. Mostly that revenge is in small, relatively unnoticed ways: the pilfered beer when working as a convenience store clerk…the shoplifted shoes by a walmart “associate”…things of that nature.
      But sometimes, the abuse is so grand…so all encompassing…that the victims lash out in spectacular fashion…Watts, Rodney King, the Thing on all our tv screens right now.
      But the Machine has become adept over the last 50 years…learning from each instance how to Spin, how to Obfuscate…just enough to encourage us’ns to turn on each other…and thus allow the Machine and it’s operators and clients to continue.
      But now there’s how many people out of work, with no healthcare, with no rent money, with no credit, and no way to discharge their unpayable debts, or even to put food on their families(!)…and it ain’t just “Those People” any more…it’s a great swath, a cross section of Americans, who are suffering so…and seeing no end to that suffering.
      instead, everyone sees the Rich running off with the pie….and absconding with the “Help” that was specifically marked for the people…and the Stock Market Soars!…so it’s alright, no?
      and now this…cops blatantly and shamelessly behaving like Nazis…on live television.
      a moron in the oval office yelling like a fanatic….declaring war on the People.
      Troops in the streets, and helicopter gunships flying low over folks who are left with few choices.
      “Who could have seen this coming?” asks the well dressed woman in the news studio….
      well…I did, for one….and I warned that lot, repeatedly, that this very thing was the likely consequence of their blind indifference to the suffering growing into every corner of society with every year.
      If the Demparty doesn’t come up with something as drastic as a Biden/Nina ticket….or, conversely, if the GOP doesn’t elevate a Hawley…and if both parties fail, as i expect them to, to fucking Do Something to alleviate that suffering, then we are no longer a nation, a republic or a democracy…we are, indeed, the Failed State I’ve long thought we were…
      I’ll be way out here, continuing my long term project of secular monasticism, while attempting to grow sense in my neighbors, and fellow-feeling and solidarity.
      Gardens are starting to produce…and I’ll give all the surplus away.
      Because what i see on the near horizon is Doom, and a dissolution of these united states into a collection of warring clans, with local warlords and ravenous, disembodied predators, roaming and reeving in the chaos.
      It did not have to be this way, but for greed and indifference.
      Behold the consequences of that greed and indifference.

      “And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”
      “…and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
      ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

      1. Watt4Bob

        “Who could have seen this coming?” asks the well dressed woman in the news studio….
        well…I did, for one….and I warned that lot, repeatedly, that this very thing was the likely consequence of their blind indifference to the suffering growing into every corner of society with every year

        What the top 10% don’t understand is the incredible difference in scale that exists between their self-satisfied comfort, and the miserable, hopelessness of the angry, starving masses.

        All those hungry people don’t know you, but that won’t stop them from looking for you,… and yours.

        1. Ian Ollmann

          Some of us understand it. At the same time, as a mere 1%-er it is beyond my capacity to do much about it. I still claim the standard deduction. Political donations are not tax deductible for me. There isn’t enough cash to buy elections. I did donate to overthrow McConnell. He is no patriot. Hard to imagine it will do any good though, KY being what it is.

          I thought about going to the protests, but glumly realized that if I drove myself down there the protesters would probably take one look at my car and trash it. Maybe one of those bail funds is the right way….

          The number of people who can really afford to be players in this arena is microscopic and they lead very different lives from you and me. Pocket senators is private jet / yacht+ territory.

          Anyway most people like me I know are with you, in spirit anyway. Doesn’t put food on the table, I know.

  9. Howard Beale IV

    What good is electing a progressive President if the House and Senate are still filled with the current crop of Democrats and Republicans?

    1. km

      Ian Welsh has written on this. Executive orders, for one thing. Regulations, for another. Prosecutions, for still another.

      1. Big River Bandido

        That’s awfully weak tea, and a prescription for political disaster when it comes time for re-election. Leftists need to show fast results to win re-election. Howard Beale IV is right. Reform will never go anywhere without the Congress. Congressional “Democrats” are the largest obstacle to reform.

    2. John k

      Start with vigorously prosecuting white collar crime, arrest the perps in their place of business with papers alerted. Bring home the troops, close most foreign bases, reinstate treaties, etc.
      Use the ensuing popularity and bully pulpit to push pols to support policies. Threaten to primary those that don’t.
      Sack those promoting confrontation in state and intelligence.
      Investigate police brutality.
      Investigate voter suppression.
      Instigate 50 state strategy.
      Use any excuse to let out of jail those with marijuana offenses, and make it official policy to stop prosecuting in states that legalized.
      A president has great power as fdr demonstrated… he had strong opposition from powerful industries and both parties. This explains why sanders had such strong opposition.

  10. Ataraxite

    This article is asking the wrong question. A progressive Democrat will be elected when there is enough support for them in the country to be elected (with enough of a margin to overcome media and DNC shenanigans).

    The question that should be asked is: How soon can we build a country that will elect a progressive person as President? You’ll note I dropped “Democrat” from the question, as it’s not at all certain to me that the Democrats will be the source of this progressive President.

    As wonderful as Bernie was, he only really attracted support of around half the Democratic primary electorate, and maybe from around 1/3 of the general voting public. And even if he had gotten elected President, he would have been hamstrung by the DNC-controlled Congress, the neoliberal media and the ever-present professional-managerial class. Putting all your hopes in one person to acheive massive institutional reform is tilting at windmills.

    So the thing to do is to start building that progressive country. Right now. It’s something that will have to be done person-by-person, then community-by-community. Put cooperation, empathy and kindness at the center of our politics, and convince others to do the same. And where this is successful locally, you’ll start to have a platform to take parts of the state – city council members, other elected offices, state legislature members. Keep going and House seats come into play(1). Keep going some more, and we might start seeing progressive governors and Senators. And at that point, not only does a progressive President become a possibility, but that progressive President will actually be able to do things because she’ll have all this existing machinery behind her.

    (And even if none if this is successful, you’ll still have a kinder and more compassionate country.)

    (1) But by all means, if chances to jump ahead come along, or you see a weakness in the existing power structures, then take them, like AOC did in NY-14.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to sound harsh, but you need to read Tom Ferguson. Who gets elected and what policies get implemented have very little to do with what average voters want. They are entirely about money, about various monied voting blocks (industries and rich to very rich individuals) and how their interests align.

      Progressive positions, like raising minimum wages, taxing the rich, getting out of foreign wars, strengthening social safety nets, have consistently polled as significant majority positions for decades (only declining to a clearly plurality with very biased poll wording and question ordering). The media consistently depicts popular views as to the right of where they really lie.

      As anyone who has followed this site knows, the media and the Democratic party did everything they could, with enough success to make a difference, to trash Sanders, minimize his successes, distort his positions, and falsely depict him as unable to beat Trump when he did better than Biden in virtually all 1:1 polls v. Trump. Even with his formidable small dollar operation, he could not begin to overcome the weight of the messaging against him. In fact, it is a testament to the degree of popular support for his views that he got as far as he did despite all the propaganda directed against him.

      1. Off The Street

        There are two calendared events today and tomorrow that should have material impacts on the current policy regime.
        This morning, Hillary Clinton is scheduled for hearing on her emails. That is via teleconference in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
        Tomorrow, Rod Rosenstein is scheduled for a hearing with a Senate Committee about FISA and other matters.
        Either or both of those could result in significant disclosures that shock the populace and shake further what remains of its faith in government. During such times, sunlight disinfectant can lead to change. I am cautiously optimistic for the health of our Republic.

      2. Ataraxite

        I wasn’t aware of Tom Ferguson, but a quick bit of googling was informative. [1]

        If his Investment Theory of Party Competition is true, then there’s no point in any progressive campaigning, as there’s no way that the lowly plebs can offer a compelling enough investment to pull interest of the political parties away from the capitalists and business elites – particularly in the contemporary United States where capital and the PMC are so unbelievably powerful.

        So the question is then: are there areas where progressive change can happen, and where the public “investors” can actually pool their “capital” enough to mount a “takeover” of a particular political space? I think there are, but those spaces are not the US Congress or the Presidency. But much like a business can grow, progressive people could, in theory, build on local successes to become a much more powerful “investor”.

        There are also spaces where the Investment Theory doesn’t hold – Ferguson himself shows how such a space was created by the fracture in the Republican Party in the 1920s/30s which allowed the New Deal to come into being. And those spaces obviously have existed in pretty much every developed country outside the US, where minimum wages, strong social safety nets, and progressive taxation exist, and in decent countries (unlike the bootlickers in Australia and the UK) even foreign wars are often avoided.

        [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investment_theory_of_party_competition is a quick summary for anyone interested.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        On a similar line, I’d recommend the various threads on the topic by TAA of Ask a Korean. He has some very interesting insights into the process whereby Koreans gradually shed their authoritarian leaders – first of all the dictator, and more recently the elected version. Its gotta be remembered of course that South Korean in 1987, having finally overthrown their dictator and won a democracy, promptly voted the authoritarian right straight back into power. This isn’t a uniquely Korean phenomenon, there are many examples (Ireland in the 1920’s for example, having won independence, elected overwhelmingly the most conservative element of the society into power).

        So revolution is not enough. And neither is voting for progressives. Real change takes time and involves both deep societal changes, and radical constitutional/legal change. These rarely synch up together.

      4. Ian Ollmann

        Yves, I wonder if you are asking the right question. In my book what we need most is a green President. Between green public works projects and defunding dirty energy, major conservative donors, I feel we may solve many problems for the poor. It won’t solve all of them, but it will do more to solve the existential crisis than traditional progressive causes.

  11. Unka Willbur

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou

    And that advice applies to today’s DNC: They are a right-wing party, they cannot be changed to a progressive one, within a timeline survivable by American citizens.

    So, given the structural, monetary and time constraints provided by climate change, the answer to the question posed in the title is “never.” I feel it’s not a stretch to say you’d have as easy a time electing a progressive Republican. Time is up. People either give both Oligarchical parties up as bad work, or accept they’re voting to keep getting more of what they’ve already gotten.

  12. JohnnyGL

    Biden still picks Amy Klobouchar.

    Because she talks in a way that sounds truthful to centrist hacks. She tells you straight out that you can’t have nice things because:

    “hOw R U gUnnA pAy 4 dAt?!?!?!”

    Take your public option that’s going to be made available to you with all these caveats:
    1) You don’t have an employer plan offered
    2) You made less than 75K last year
    3) the public option won’t be allowed, by law, to charge a lower premium or have lower deductibles than the worst plan available on the ACA exchanges.
    4) Public Option plan will be administered by Optum.

    The plan above will end up covering a couple hundred thousand people and we’ll be told it’s awesome and revolutionary and Biden delivered. Now, shut up and vote Klobouchar so she doesn’t lose in a landslide against Josh Hawley in 2024 who runs on a $1trn program to ‘Re-industrialize America’ and wins like Reagan in 1984.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’m with you. I’ve thought it was going to be Klob for a minute now and I don’t think her connection to George Floyd’s murder by cop is a disqualifier for Biden. Between the Breakfast Club interview last week and his comments on retraining cops to shoot people’s legs yesterday, I think it’s safe to say Klob and Biden are on the same page and optics aren’t a concern of Joe’s, if he even is aware of them.

      1. lordkoos

        I think the Biden and the Democrats are just coasting along, feeling that they don’t need to do anything but let Trump implode, and then they can win. I’m not so sanguine… I think we’re screwed either way.

  13. Tom Stone

    The system is Fubar and it’s time to get local.
    We already have de facto secession, it will be de jure within a decade.

  14. The Rev Kev

    I do believe that both parties will self-destruct and take a large part of America with them before they let an FDR or a progressive anywhere near the Presidency. Reflect that it took at least forty years before the reforms of FDR could start to be reversed so they will never allow such an event to ever happen again – ever. So put me down for a progressive democrat getting in the next time it is February 31st.

  15. John

    The Romans kept the trappings of the Republic right to the very end. Many probably thought it still existed even when the consuls were regularly drawn from the military. We will have the three branches to the end, long after the military or security factions have taken power. The actual power will probably reside under some benign title like national security advisor. The civilian leadership just don’t understand the bread part of bread and circuses very well at this point. The military does. The US military is the most socialist faction of US society at this point. It understands logistics and planning. It will probably be best suited to deal with the escalating chaos of pandemics, economic collapse and climate change. Too bad, Ben Franklin, we kinda held onto it for a couple hundred years.

    1. Kouros

      Very realistic scenario indeed, based on proven history. The Oligarchic Roman Republic moved slightly towards Tyranny, while respecting the gains of the Oligarchy. The Roman Civil Wars were fractious wars between different oligarchic factions. The one that lost (after a lot of bleeding and asset forfeitures going back and forth) was the one that would not understand that Rome was also an empire and that it couldn’t be properly governed with the rest of the empire treated (first outside Rome, then outside Italy) as an occupied territory to be fleeced to death (Julius Caesar was likely given the death blow by Brutus because Brutus, as the biggest banker of the empire, hated the interest capped at 10% that Julius Caesar wanted to impose on all these money lenders that were fleecing the territories; never mind the distribution of land to army veterans, which went against the entrenched interests of land grabbing oligarchy)… It is always good to start with the basics: follow the money and “Cui bono”? . And who vilified Caesar as a tyrant? The oligarchy and entrenched interests… While the masses instantly “Sanctified” Julius… And as such, Rome turned to have a greater mix of Tyranny /Oligarchy than Tyranny/Democracy which the Oligarchs were never going to abide by. Why? Hoi polloi, having true political power, could always vote or provide support for a redistribution of assets, private or public…

      Maybe Americans should prey for a Military dictatorship that is providing some trickle down “socialism” to the rest of American citizens…

  16. Noone from Nowheresville

    1. What exactly does “progressive” mean these days when it comes to actual policies and understanding of say the role of finance and something like supply chains? e.g., beyond pie in the sky universal rights / privileges, what are “we, the people” asking for? And how long will it take to implement? Are FDR and his policies our model or should we be looking elsewhere? etc.

    2. If what we actually want is a “progressive” president then why do we assume it comes from the Democrats? (yep, I’m with the conclusion of the piece)

    The Roosevelt family were Republicans before the FDR branch of the family was recruited by the Democrats. So this insistence on assuming that “our savior” comes from the Democrats is well… ill-advised.

    Gets us into that lesser of two evils way of thinking which never touches the powers that be or the policies they desire. If we look out over the political landscape, which current politicians come closest to implementing the policies we’re after? If none exist, then where do we plan to start laying multiple foundations to enable the possibility that someone will eventually breakthrough and give the movement real legs? Or how do we plan to make TPTB respond to the real needs “in the now?”

    3. The typical framing of the issue keeps us right where we are: TINA or there is no alternative. Unless or until we can move outside the the lines of the box defined as acceptable, change against TPTB policies won’t be possible. We’ll need something this divided society with very real differing views of what’s happening (actual v. “reported/packaged”) v. their own understanding of the whys / hows we got there, to be able to join together against very overwhelming odds.

    All we have to do is read the comments on NC to know how difficult that will be and NC is a very engaged and overall open to new / well-reasoned opposing / etc. viewpoints /ideas community compared to most. Combine that with regime change tactics the TPTB have developed in other countries which elect politicians for the “people’s policies” then tell me what type of movement and politicians we would need to enact actually challenge the status quo. How much seeding of institutions and systemic systems would need to be done to make real change that sticks for more than a year or two?

    Yes, it is possible. But simply electing a “progressive” president doesn’t do the trick.

    1. flora

      Interesting bit of history with a point to make.

      The new US People’s Party was getting very strong electorally in the late 1800’s. They won all the Kansas branches of gov – house, senate, gov – in the 1890s.

      In 1892, the People’s Party won several states in the pres election.

      When T. Roosevelt (R) became President in 1901 he set about breaking up the monopolies that were crushing small business, and made other progressive reforms. (I wonder if the People’s Party successes put the wind at his back for taking on major financial reforms in the country.)

      In 1912, the Progressive Party won several states.

      When W. Wilson (D) won the Presidency in 1912, he also passed progressive financial legislation: the New Freedom agenda, an estate tax, and other progressive financial reforms.

      The success of the People’s/Progressive Party pushed both the D and R parties to pass progressive legislation just to keep the 3rd party out of office between 1890 and 1930, imo.

      Where does that push for progressive financial reform (aka, kicking out the neoliberal borg) come from today? Both parties have a lock on the states’ ballot access and destroy progressive challengers in their own parties.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the answer was contained in the top 3 twitter “trending hashtags” the week before the astroturf “Open Up!” “Protests” came on scene:
        Rent Strike, Debt Strike, General Strike.
        a critical mass of folks stop paying their debts, rents and bills…cash out the 401k’s(?— we’ve never had one of those, so this more of a general call for disengagement with the Finance Borg wherever possible…why do good people still do business with wachovia or BOA or whatever?)
        Withdraw Consent in whatever way you can, and stop feeding the Beast…endeavor to make it shameful to Feed the Beast or otherwise collaborate with it.(see: bald women post-liberation France).
        I admit to a general and pretty long term pessimism about our ability to get our s&it together, in the face of the great wurlitzer of division and confusion…but it’s worth a try…even at this late hour.

        what bubbles up watching a cop on horseback trampling a woman:

        “When one fled past, a maniac maid,
        And her name was Hope, she said:
        But she looked more like Despair,
        And she cried out in the air:

        `My father Time is weak and gray 90
        With waiting for a better day;
        See how idiot-like he stands,
        Fumbling with his palsied hands!
        `He has had child after child,
        And the dust of death is piled
        Over every one but me–
        Misery, oh, Misery!’

        Then she lay down in the street,
        Right before the horses’ feet,
        Expecting, with a patient eye, 100
        Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy.
        When between her and her foes
        A mist, a light, an image rose,
        Small at first, and weak, and frail
        Like the vapour of a vale:
        Till as clouds grow on the blast,
        Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
        And glare with lightnings as they fly,
        And speak in thunder to the sky,
        It grew — a Shape arrayed in mail 110
        Brighter than the viper’s scale,
        And upborne on wings whose grain
        Was as the light of sunny rain.
        On its helm, seen far away,
        A planet, like the Morning’s, lay;
        And those plumes its light rained through
        Like a shower of crimson dew.
        With step as soft as wind it passed
        O’er the heads of men — so fast
        That they knew the presence there, 120
        And looked, — but all was empty air.
        As flowers beneath May’s footstep waken,
        As stars from Night’s loose hair are shaken,
        As waves arise when loud winds call,
        Thoughts sprung where’er that step did fall.
        And the prostrate multitude
        Looked — and ankle-deep in blood,
        Hope, that maiden most serene,
        Was walking with a quiet mien:
        And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,
        Lay dead earth upon the earth;
        The Horse of Death tameless as wind
        Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
        To dust the murderers thronged behind.”

        —and the more familiar, perhaps, lines:

        “`Men of England, heirs of Glory,
        Heroes of unwritten story,
        Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
        Hopes of her, and one another; 150
        `Rise like Lions after slumber
        In unvanquishable number,
        Shake your chains to earth like dew
        Which in sleep had fallen on you —
        Ye are many — they are few.”


  17. Herb

    It’s better than even odds that Biden would not run for reelection in 2024. If he chooses Elizabeth Warren as his VP she then becomes president and we have a progressive president. If he chooses someone to the right as VP a progressive runs and beats that person in the 2024 Democratic primary and wins the election.

    The real question is why do we not have more of a progressive bench of candidates to run?

    1. Felix_47

      Campaign finance reform? To me that is the single most important issue. If someone can run without dependence on the health insurance industry, the defense industry, big law, and finance they can win on the issues. But not just campaign finance reform. It has to be illegal to inside trade or invest if you are representing the people. It has to be illegal to buy a Senator’s house for 300,000 over market like in the Biden case. It has to be illegal to give any speaking fee or any fee or reward to someone seeking office or in office or out of office. Then those in office would have to give something up for public service and when their term is up go back to their dental office or law office or operating room or assembly line or fast food counter. Since this is not going to happen we can conjure up the worst possible outcome for our nation. Counting on finding another Sanders who clearly was not doing this for the cash is a losing proposition. For the reasons in the piece above voting for Biden is simply not an option. And if Sanders was ten years younger and had the juice he could certainly win as a green and if not win dictate the terms of the final outcome and the winner would have to acquiesce or the other one would win. But every day Sanders loses more and more relevance. In a month or so he will be but a forgotten footnote in history.

      1. km

        That is the only way you will overcome the investment theory of party competition. You have to make it impossible or pointless to invest.

        Similarly, this is why antitrust law is so key to everything. Power attracts sociopaths like catnip attracts cats. Sociopaths are nothing if not tireless and ever-present, and they will eventually corrode every institution, every thing. (The case of the medieval Catholic Church is most instructive here, and that was an institution that claimed to be founded by Jesus Christ Himself!)

        Therefore, one must break up power centers, in order to limit the damage that sociopaths can cause.

    2. flora

      The real question is why do we not have more of a progressive bench of candidates to run?

      Because the national Dem estab works very hard to make sure progressive D challengers never get into the House or Senate, using all the usual tricks. See: Colorado, Montana, and Kansas for recent examples.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’ll be charitable and say it’s debatable if Warren is a progressive. Regardless, she’s irrelevant. She won’t be Biden’s VP. The donors have spoken. She’s not acceptable and that’s that.

      As to why they’re not a bench of candidates ready to run, that’s by design and working as intended.

    4. Big River Bandido

      If he chooses Elizabeth Warren as his VP she then becomes president and we have a progressive president.

      Elizabeth Warren is a business-friendly Republican and a “fauxgressive”.

    5. Massinissa

      Hahahaha Elizabeth Warren a progressive, good joke, good joke.

      Wake me back up when she flip flops back to supporting M4A, which she fecklessly abandoned before the first primary. If she can’t even do that she’s just a more intellectual Hillary Clinton.

  18. RHS

    I miss one scenario. What happens If Biden for health/age reasons doesn’t make it to November? New Democratic primaries or the last man standing, i.c. Bernie ?

      1. WhoaMolly

        > DNC’s pick. (Spoiler alert: it won’t be Bernie.)

        I’m still predicting
        – Biden drops out for health.
        – DNC picks Clinton
        – Clinton picks Kamala as VP

        (Takes off tinfoil hat and leaves for coffee.)

        1. Kilgore Trout

          Best possible ticket if Biden drops out: Gore/ Duckworth. He’s tanned, rested, and ready. And he already has the slogan/bumper sticker: “Re-elect Al Gore”.

  19. Bsoder

    Hmm., let’s go with the ‘future is here just not evenly distributed’. And what might that be? We are in a positive feedback loop at the moment, which if left unchecked leaves the entire world looking liking Germany in June 1945. It helps to think of money as energy, as well as energy looking like energy going into Project Civilization which is in a serious state of rapid entropy. Things are going to get much simpler out of necessity. Actually, we humans no longer have any control over it. So, a progressive leader? Most good leaders pickup up on what the people want and are willing to put up with and then get it done. If the people want this it will happen. There’s nothing written in stone that says the United States is going to say United in its current configuration, and plenty to indicate it won’t. So to be fair, which part or parts is going to have or evolve a progressive leader. New England -NY. Great Lakes. & Pacific Northwest. With parts of Canada intertwined. The state’s below the Mason & Dixon line, i.e., the Confederacy not so much. The Southwest – people aren’t even going to be able to live there. There are some key indicators as to the probability of all of this. But, not for today. Current, we are at 59% chance of failure by 2033, which means it all goes into play. As things become destabilizing I won’t rule out nuclear conflicts, which even if limited are toast for organized civilization. And, I do get paid to think about this stuff. Still I’m hopeful. Of Jared Diamond’s 12 criteria we have 2 we haven’t failed, so there’s that.

    1. John Wright

      Equating money = energy is misleading as it suggests that simply increasing the amount of money will increase available energy.

      I prefer to look at money as a claim on future energy spend (something newly built using human and hydrocarbon/nuclear/hydro.. energy) or a claim on prior energy spent (such as an already fabricated product or existing asset).

      The USA political system has posited that an expanding economic pie, with much of that expansion occurring through burning more hydrocarbons, will make everyone better off, even if they have a small slice of the pie.

      But if climate change forces the energy driven economic pie to shrink, the political sphere may be in for some of the drastic changes as you suggest.

      Moving from a “more for everybody” economy to a “less for everybody” economy will upset the status quo.

  20. East Boston

    When will we have a progressive President? When AOC, or someone like her, runs as a third party candidate.

    Why would the Democratic Party nominate someone progressive. They take money from the same PACs that the Republican Party does. Only the order and amounts are slightly different.

    Clearly pressure is building for progressive policies. It’s just unlikely, in my opinion, to come from either established party, and that goes for all elected offices from President to local representatives.

  21. L

    I think the other data point we need to consider is when Congress would be in the hands of people who are amenable to passing progressive legislation. A president can accomplish a lot but a Senate Majority Leader or House Leader can shut things out unless an overwhelming majority of the members demand otherwise. And even still they can route things into neoliberalism.

  22. chuck roast

    It helps to quantify things with the water in the harbor approaching the top of the bulkheads.
    2024 Whosehe beats Whats-his-name. Harbor water level rises 2″.
    2028 You-know-um beats Whosehe. Harbor water level rises two more inches.
    2032 Whatcha-ma-callit beats You-know-um. Harbor water level rises a couple more inches plus.

    …and like that until…

    2100 Whosehe’s grandson beats You-know-um’s grandson in a Royal Rematch. Harbor water level rises rises 9.6′ above 2020 level.

    1. a different chris

      I think 6″ of sealevel and there won’t be a United States anymore.

      Like I said before, I see somebody like Gavin Newsome and used the think “yeah he wants to be POTUS someday” but now I think he would rather be CinC of a much better country. California can easily be a country of its own.

      Things never, ever change until they do, but the longer they don’t the more titanic the change is.

      1. a different chris

        note: “much better” is in a completely relative sense! – for all you people banging out multi-paragraph missives on what’s wrong with CA :D

  23. TroyIA

    There is a 0% chance a progressive will be elected president in the next 20 years. We just had a nomination for the Democratic presidential candidate and Bernie Sanders offered the black community a number of solutions to fight systemic racism and lift the fortunes of the working class. What was the black voters response in S. Carolina and around the country? No thanks we want status quo Joe.

    And after the past few days of looting and rioting the progressive movement has lost a generation of persuadable Democrat women. Here in Iowa we don’t even have a minority community large enough to oppress yet we still had protests and all of the stores had to be boarded up and bystanders and a cop were shot.

    Where I work a number of women missed work because they were up all night fearing for the safety of their family. I am gobsmacked by the number of women who have stated their family will now be buying a gun or they are a single mother who needs protection and she will be buying a gun.

    In a matter of days we went from 99% support of the protests to many future gun owners. These future gun owners will now lean right instead of left. Well done Antifa.

    1. Partyless Poster

      Just a reminder there is ZERO evidence that ANTIFA was behind all the violence.
      “Dont believe the hype”

      1. Lil’D

        It doesn’t matter much now whether Antifa was involved
        What matters is the propaganda about it.

  24. Infinite Onion

    Well, we don’t know about the Democrat party, they might well be pretty hopeless (or not worth the effort). But outside the Democrats our money is on 2024—full disclosure: we do have some insider info on that one.

    We could probably get a Senate or House seat (or a few) in some smaller states in 2022 but that won’t provide any real power so that is purely a question of whether or not you feel the need to have that platform or foothold.

    State and local governments are of course a different story, but national is where it matters since at best you can, as a state, create a public bank, but the real prize, the magic money machine, is controlled by the Feds.

    The highest hurdle is likely simply gaining ballot access, as many states have put onerous requirements on doing so. And this is really the only major money necessary. If you’ve got a message of actual equality and justice and prosperity you don’t need to spend a cent on advertising, you don’t need to pay consultants and focus groups, you don’t need polls to reassure your fragile ego or to properly tweak your propaganda. Like all those who preach the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven (or whatever term you prefer) the people will flock to your side because they can see the truth.

    When real leadership meets real mission, people fall over themselves to join. They want to belong. They believe. They will work for virtually nothing. They will beg to be part of something bigger than them. Most Americans have never experienced this. They cannot understand it at a gut level. It is alien to them. And no, ‘Feeling the Bern’ is not it; that’s the fast food equivalent at best.

    We love our people enough to attempt a revolution in the United States. Do you?

    November 2024.
    We are coming. Expect us.


  25. Senator Blutarsky

    If Biden has any chance to win, it’s 2020. But even this year, I wouldn’t bet on him.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but currently, he’s not speaking in front of a camera, his wife does it for him.
    And it’s most likely because of his mental state.
    But that will get him only so far.

    If he gets nominated as the dem candidate, he will have to get through the duel with Trump.
    While the latter is not a rethorical genius, I haven’t seen Biden manage to finish any longer sentence coherently, at least the most recent times I’ve seen him in an interview.
    And his condition will very likely have deteriorated in 2024 and I simply cannot imagine him running in 4 years again.

    And thinking about the current elections we should consider that the election is not so much about Biden as POTUS, but about who will be the VEEP that will take over, when Biden is no longer cabable to fullfill his duties. And the citizens of the US can’t chose who that person is.

    But again, I just can’t imagine Biden making it through the final debates.

    And for getting a progressive even as a candidate, I have no hope for that to happen.
    The DNC won’t stop at anything to prevent that.
    But a forecast is very difficult to make, especially in the current economic situation.
    If the cash grabbing of the oligarchy goes wrong and the economy breaks down, many thinks can happen.
    But also bad things…

    1. a different chris

      >Correct me if I’m wrong, but currently, he’s not speaking in front of a camera, his wife does it for him.

      Yes you are wrong. It wasn’t Jill who said “you ain’t black” for starters. Trump has every problem Biden has plus he’s horrifically out of shape. The election is not so much about the Democrats at all actually, it’s gonna be a referendum on the incumbent like it always is.

      >But a forecast is very difficult to make,

      “Forecasts are hard, especially about the future”. :D

      1. Senator Blutarsky

        Yes, you’re right, I forgot. But I bet that speech didn’t serve Biden well, did it?
        Either Biden is bullying someone (shorter sentence) or it’s hard to understand what his point is (longer sentence).

        I’m not for Trump, but there’s a reason why HC didn’t win in 2016.
        Biden is the male version of HC, arguably. AND he has as sexual misconduct charge
        coming to haunt him. AND he’s got those…’health issues’.
        And when has being out of shape ever kept anyone being elected to a position of political power?

        I hoped for Sanders going all the way, but he hit the self-destruct button when he said Biden could win. Now, he’s done and he crushed the progressive’s hopes for change.

        I doubt that there will be a progressive democrat up for election in any nearer future.
        If someone could explain to me how the power structure inside the democratic party can be changed to allow this to happen, maybe.
        And a candidate from a third party being elected as president…I don’t know what’s more optimistic.

        Theoretically, it can be 2024, since I think Biden will loose against Trump (option 1 from the article).
        But before any progressive can become president you’ll need a political figure to emerge that will lead the progressive movement. Who’s it gonna be?

  26. Pookah Harvey

    For the opportunity of an economic progressive presidency, or even control of any branch of govt, we need an alliance between the populist right and left. As Krystal and Saagar have pointed out, the left and right can agree on a progressive economic agenda. So how can such an alliance form?
    If Trump is re-elected the Bernie people will be confrontational to a Trump economic platform. Trump’s rhetoric is economic populism but his actions are straight neo-liberal. Unfortunately Trump people can’t see past the Trump propaganda. Watch Saagar complain about the Republican economic policies but never put the blame on Trump. Trump people will never join Bernie people on opposing Trump economic policy.

    If Biden is elected Bernie people will again be confrontational. Do you think Trump people would oppose Biden’s economic policies? Could this make an alliance possible?

    Would this be the opportunity to form a right-left alliance?

  27. philnc

    If 3rd left parties are so irrelevant, why do the Democrats work so hard to suppress them? Like the recent amendments pushed through by “hero” Gov Cuomo in “liberal” NY state?https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9301-new-york-smaller-minor-political-third-parties-new-ballot-thresholds . If just a tenth of those who campaigned for Bernie were to join an established third party with ballot lines now, and then carry on organizing with them on the issues post election, we might make some progress. Do that, and you can still decide to re-up with the Democrats in 2024 or 2036 if you can still stand it. It might also ensure there’d be a third party to vote for if that wished-for progressive takeover of the DNC fails again.

    1. Ranger Rick

      There’s no epithet worse than “splitter” in (small-d) democratic politics.

  28. Fastball

    Off topic somewhat, but the country is on fire right now. But with duopolist inaction, this is going to be nothing compared to what may happen by the time, say, August rolls around.

    By that time all the rent, unemployment, and other stop gap measures the duopolists passed while enriching their wealthy donors and themselves run out, there will be unemployment with no relief, and mass evictions of millions of people.

    I don’t imagine people will be thinking about the presidential race come November. I don’t know what people will be thinking, but none of it will be good. But that’s just me.

  29. Thomas Neuburger

    A technical correction:

    The paragraph that looks like this:

    • Biden wins in 2020 but isn’t on the ballot in 2024. His faux-progressive (neoliberal) VP wins in 2024 and 2028. Then his or her same-stripe VP wins in 2032 but loses in 2036. A progressive could run in 2036.

    should actually say this:

    • Biden wins in 2020 but isn’t on the ballot in 2024. His faux-progressive (neoliberal) VP wins in 2024 and 2028. Then his or her same-stripe VP runs and loses in 2032. A progressive could run in 2036.

    Got my math backwards as I was editing. Sorry.

    Thomas Neuburger

    1. flora

      “If only the Czar knew.”

      That phrase rings more tragic with every establishment failure to listen and hear all the voters and all the citizens.

  30. The Heretic

    My take on Bernie is that he has been an effective senator, but he lacks the necessary ruthlessness to take power. Given the difficulty of a enacting truly progressive values, he has been able to make decent change around the margin… which means he knows how to work with other sympathetic but hidden members among the Democrats AND republicans, but this also means he knows not to burn bridges or cause excessive embarrassment. In the supprising upsurge of Biden, he would have needed a huge controversy to divide and break off some of Biden supporters, nothing less the ‘airing out the dirty laundry’ of Biden and any of his big name supporters would do, along with many of the corporatist, identitarian, neoliberal wing of the Democrats. A good team player, would not do this.

    Clearly we need a new party, with a new Leader. Someone who will appeal to what remains of the minor upper middle class, working class and to the poor. (The 95%). But who could this be now? It needs to be someone who has some experience in the system … perhaps around 50 years old with at least 10 years in politics. And yes, someone who would be respected and feared among the old white guys who fundamentally still run the country.

    1. flora

      Clearly we need a new party, with a new Leader. Someone who will appeal to what remains of the minor upper middle class, working class and to the poor.

      I don’t disagree. I think whatever party this might be needs to start at the states’ level, not at the presidential level, to gain a real voter footing and force. Trying to start at the presidential top is vaporware, imo; too many preset obstacles for the pres level.

      Thomas Frank’s new book – ‘The People, No’ – will be out in mid-July.


  31. Chas

    After reading this whole wonderful thread I think the best thing I can do to help a progressive win soonest is to vote for Trump so a progressive candidate will have the best possible chance in 2024. Since I can’t bring myself to actually vote for Trump I’ll vote for the Green Party which supposedly is the same as a vote for Trump.

  32. dcblogger

    predictions are hard, especially about the future; but public opinion is shifting very fast. events can take on a life of their own. Reagan wound up signing the anti Apartheid South African sanctions bill. We can pressure Biden into signing Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. In any case, events are preempting everything else right now. We could have opportunities we could not dream of. On the other hand things could get much worse.

  33. Synoia

    I’m pessimistic. I expect there to be less that 500,000 humans alive after climate change is complete, all hunter gatherers.

    Humans will never have the easily exploited resources to climb back to a civilization at that point.

    I see this as a confirmation of our loneliness in the universe.

    Intelligent life as we practice it is an evolutionary dead end.

    1. JBird4049

      That’s dark. We’ve had civilizations come and go repeatedly in the roughly seven thousand years of history. Probably have had proto-civilizations thousands of years before that. Our current one developed using the resources readily available. A new would develop in a different way, but for the moment ours is a going concern. Let’s see what happens.

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