Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ 2020 electoral victory is problematic. We on the far Left do not admit this as much as we assert it.

You can read a nuanced account of the 1994 Crime Bill here, you can also read the full transcript of the 1993 Biden/Hatch Crime Bill speech here, and you can read about some other horrible things that haunt Biden here.

And you can get an idea of why Harris-as-running-mate is also problematic here, and you can get an idea of why her being problematic is somewhat complicated here.

This is a long-story-saved-for-another-day kind of introduction, because we’re not really here to talk about Biden/Harris and all their baggage. There’s plenty of time to go into all that later. We’re here to talk about Trump.

We at Ask a Leftist also assert that Trump’s nationalism, and indeed his presidency, was merely a lifting of the veil on the US’s steady descent into fascism. This isn’t a recent development. From our colonial history, this state collective has been defined by imperialism and oppression. Always taking away rights, land, and humanity from those weaker than the State. Genocide is part of our history. Human rights abuses are standard domestic and foreign policy. Trump did not invent this. Nor did he invent the language of fascism. But he did use the language of fascism.

Trump supporters did regularly chant to lock up his political opponents, and while we Left-of-Center can be dismissed for not being able to take a joke, they did it with enough frequency that the joke stopped being funny and sounded more like Trump was assembling a Justice Department, and angry mobs, meant to serve his bloated ego. Oh, there was also the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot where Trump then doubled down on his attacks.

Trump did call the media the enemy of the people. Not his personal enemy, but the enemy of all Americans. Trump did not divest himself of his business interests and the American people paid Trump businesses large sums of money over the course of his scant 4 years in office. Trump did shirk his duties to play golf a whopping total of 285 days out of his term, costing US taxpayers a whole lot more than we’ve spent at Trump properties. Trump did as fascists do: stoke fears and grift his people.

Within the Left, there is cynicism - all our presidents have been secret fascists, tools of the ruling class. This is true. As CEO of this nation, Trump revealed that true fascism lies at the heart of capitalism. We knew it in our hearts, we have seen its shadows and its fingerprints, but now we have seen its true face, we have heard its true voice. Sorry, we have heard its true voice.

Scholarly discussions on Trump’s fascist tendencies hover along this border: Trump is the symptom, not the cause. This is indeed true. Trump’s ultra-nationalism, his rule by executive order, his disinformation and propaganda campaigns are all built into this nation’s functioning. Anyone holding the office of the president can exploit them, but we are told there is a gentleman’s agreement not to do so. Trump is no gentleman, so we can now see how grotesque this office is. It was out of sight before but now we are made to reckon with it. Scholarly discussions of an entrenched problem: this is how we’ve come to argue on the nature of fascism on American soil.

At Ask a Leftist, we maintain that this argument, while valid, has the unintended consequence of pardoning Trump as an opportunist and a buffoon too incompetent to maintain power and fully exploit the powers of his office. All of these things are true, but so is the rise of extremist groups and their inclusion into the national discourse. It is remarkable that hate symbols appear along Trump’s periphery: MAGA hats at Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. It is alarming that open followers of conspiracy theories have run for office and seen success, and that optics are merely disregarded and explained away. It is true, we are merely observing a truth that has previously been hiding in plain sight or just below the surface.

We can call Trump a patsy or useful idiot, but that seriously understates Trump’s role in the normalization of hate. While simplistic, we at Ask a Leftist use a standard metric for determining the danger of a political ideology: Who protects hate groups?

This is where scholarship collides with practical form. We agree: the US government is an intrinsic hate group: war-mongering, imperialist, brutalist, nationalist. One could argue that any American who proudly waves our flag is supporting one giant hate group. But we also maintain that centrists who can be swayed between voting Republican or Democrat simply don’t extract this conclusion. The visible rise of hate groups on the Right doesn’t require scholarship or complete rewiring of the American psyche. The rhetoric used by Trump: when the looting starts, the shooting starts, calling immigrants rapists, good bloodlines, is appalling to those who recognize it as the language of hate. Good people reject hate, but they can be blind to embedded hate: hence the cognitive dissonance in rejecting abject racism while asserting that “all lives matter,” or their willingness to dismiss the legitimacy of protests because of looting. It also speaks to a bleak truth, tens of millions of Americans recognized the hate dripping from Trump’s lips and were okay with it.

And this is where Trump comes in. We have not, in my lifetime, had a president like Donald Trump, whose populist rhetoric echoes that of dictators past while at the same time signaling to hate groups that their platforms are valid. Weak rebukes of hate and fringe groups, and the immediate retraction of those rebukes, signal passive acceptance of extremist ideas. While likely strategic - a vote is a vote - hate groups have been emboldened and found a safe haven within the Republican establishment. More than this, they have voices and hold sway within the State with no consequence, no rejection from their party. Stephen Miller’s Breitbart emails, which SPLC does a great job parsing, championing white supremacist writings from American Renaissance should have been a hard line for all Americans. It deserved Miller’s expulsion and collective disgust from Republicans. We had none of that, and Miller’s guidance on immigration can only be viewed as an extension of his supremacist beliefs. Trump's brutalist policies were seen as sober and serious solutions to immigration, while in practice they were human rights abuses, plain and simple. Policies enacted by the Obama administration were worsened by Trump’s cabinet. We had the opportunity to reject brutality, but we chose to dig in our heels instead. And then, because this is America, we blamed it on the guy who built the cages.

Make no mistake, the detention and deportation policies of Obama were no better than the torture program of the Bush administration, which was no better than the mass incarceration program of the Clinton era (see: Biden is problematic), which was no better than the Gulf War, which was no better than trickle down policy, which was no better than segregation, race riots, Japanese internment, the Tulsa massacre, Jim Crow laws, slavery. We have been going down this road since the birth of this nation and before. It is a relic of British imperialism and subjugation. But we elected and engaged a man who believed we should be more cruel and more dismissive of human rights. We did not choose the lesser of two evils, we did not choose the more evil of two evils, we chose evil outright. One could argue that this is always the case, but in Trump something is different.

Trump said the quiet part loud and built a platform on it. Supporters excuse it because no public figure could possibly mean what we think he means. We must not be understanding what he’s really saying. He must not be a great public speaker. His messaging must be off because he’s not a politician and he speaks like the average American. For four years, we were told in real time that Trump wasn’t saying what he was saying. Take it from a southern white guy who dresses like a conservative and is privy to the things white conservative men say comfortably around other white conservative men: Trump says what we think he says, and he means what we think he means. If you want to make the case that Trump himself doesn’t think that way or doesn’t espouse those same values, I will entertain it. For those who hear him speak falsely of his claim to innocence, his statements resonate and their beliefs have the authority of the president behind them. That is a dark path.

Whether exaggerated or understated, we saw Trump not as a policy maker or champion of the working class but as a grifter who exploited our national coziness with racism and provided cover for right-wing extremists. Again, our simplistic litmus test: who protects hate groups and who stands against them? It doesn’t go away with a new administration, the quiet part is merely said quiet again.

Realistically, this is far more complex than distilling the Right to little more than a vessel of hate. In the wake of the 2020 election we have witnessed what many predicted: that political moderates would essentially abandon their allegiance to grassroots movements bringing attention, reckoning, and solutions to America’s embedded racism. We have seen an immediate about-face from centrist Democrats in blaming progressives for their anemic performance in the House and Senate elections. We have seen, predictably, the insouciance of the moderate to serious policy. We herald the rebuke of a moral deficit and the return to net-zero, no better than we were four years ago. We have been steered back onto a downhill path after having momentarily found ourselves in a ditch.

Did we solve fascism, racism, brutalism, and Trumpism by electing Biden?

No. A Biden/Harris administration is, again, problematic.

Did we vote in record numbers not so much for Biden as against Trump?

Yes.

We know, every election the Democrats say this is the most important election of our lifetimes. We know. And we usually roll our eyes and vote 3rd party because voting. For those who don't see the 2020 election as consequential, we may never convince you. But we can at least agree on one thing:

Biden doesn’t solve anything. It’s time for Democrats to step up to the plate.