Over the next several weeks and months, we’re going to watch the economy collapse, contracting down to just what’s absolutely necessary, and we’re likely going to watch that crack under the strain. We’re going to live through the consequences of the neoliberal project, and it’s not going to come out well for neoliberalism. The establishment consensus ideology is about to be stress-tested, and it’s already failed, they just don’t understand that yet. The crisis proposals being put forward by the Democratic leadership in Congress are laughably inadequate, to the point the Trump administration and several Republican Senators are to the left of the Democratic leadership on issues like direct cash payments. Direct cash payments will be necessary – on a far larger scale than is presently contemplated by Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell or Trump – or there will be an uprising, probably riots. People aren’t going to quietly starve, they’re going to make noise about it.
Neoliberal policies like Obamacare, deregulation, the Wall Street bailout in 2008, lax labor regulations (like no mandatory paid sick leave), are exploding in their faces. Biden’s response has been exceptionally weak. He encouraged people to go vote against CDC advice, endangering the lives of voters. Watch for spikes in coronavirus cases in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona a week or ten days from now (if they’re testing enough by then to show the spike). We’re also going to be able to see the damage Republicans have done to their communities by ignoring the scientific warnings. There will be direct evidence of this in the data – virus hot spots around Trump-leanings communities.
Sanders is the only politician on any side of the aisle with a plan of sufficient scope and scale to address the immediate problem. Sanders is the only politician who has a vision of what comes next – how we prepare for the waves of subsequent outbreaks of COVID-19 that will occur, and for future pandemic emergencies that are coming. Epidemiologists have been warning for decades that we are seeing an increased rate of major outbreaks due in significant part to globalization giving novel viruses access to the human population, and global warming making the climate friendlier to viruses and other pathogens. Sanders’ plan will not only get us out of this crisis, it will also prepare us for the next crisis.
Over the next several weeks and months, we’re about to have a live test of leadership between Sanders and Biden. Sanders should put all his effort into disaster response, but he should not drop out of the race. It is rare that we get a real test of leadership on the way to an election. We should let this one play out and see where we stand on the other side of the infection spike we’re just starting to climb. When we come out of the spike, it will probably be the middle of May or June, possibly later. That’s an eternity in politics, twice as long under these conditions.
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We win this fight together, or not at all.