Getting a grip on the 2020 general election

There isn’t a lot to say about the 2020 dumpster fire of a general election than you don’t already know: Republican incumbent Donald Trump is going up against Democratic challenger Joe Biden. I would say it’s the least sexy Presidential matchup in American history, but we can’t forget that Hillary Clinton ran atop the Democratic ticket in 2016.

So I’m not going to bore you with any nonsense about Trump being misunderstood and treated unfairly, and I’m not going to try to convince you that Biden is the cure this country has been waiting for. Both of those statements would be inaccurate at best, downright lies at worst, and I’m guessing if you’ve been following the shitshow of American politics for the last four years then your mind is already made up. At this point anyone who says they are an “undecided voter” is just looking for attention.

The truth is both of these candidates suck. You might argue that one is worse than the other — and that’s fine — but the reality is no matter who wins, the ultra-wealthy fat cats at the top are going to continuing raking in unconscionable profits while you, working- or middle-class American, will continue fighting with people like me over the scraps. As always, there has been a strong push from conservatives to call the Democratic candidate a socialist. However, if you need a little nugget to show you how stupid an idea that is, look no further than the fact that the day after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race, private health insurance stocks shot up by like 30%.

What does that mean? That means that Wall Street — essentially a proxy for the billionaire class, which owns more than half of the securities in the New York Stock Exchange (aka the stock market) — knows that whether Trump wins or whether Biden wins isn’t important. Because they know neither would fight them, neither will markedly affect their taxes, and neither will hurt the unfathomable amounts of money they make. Anybody but Bernie. That was all that ever mattered.

Just like every four years, politicians and media members keep telling me that this is the most important election of my lifetime. They told me that in 2016, they told me in 2012 and 2008, when Barack Obama won, and they probably said it in 2004 and 2000 and 1996 and 1992 as well. Those were the elections of my lifetime. While I can’t really speak on anything before 2008 — since I wasn’t old enough to vote — I feel confident in saying over the last 30 years none of these mutherfuckers have made a serious impact on my life. All I ever see is the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and more desperate.

So you might color me skeptical that anything is going to be different this time around. I know a lot of liberals take exception every time I tell them Trump isn’t the worst President of my all-time, but that has more to do with the idea that he has failed at virtually everything he has tried to get done. He wanted a new healthcare system? Didn’t get it done. He wanted to save American jobs from getting shipped overseas? He didn’t get that done, either. The only meaningful thing he accomplished was getting a massive tax break for the rich. But he isn’t unique in that way.

Donald Trump didn’t kill a million brown people from poor Middle Eastern countries like George W. Bush; he didn’t kill hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia like Richard Nixon; he didn’t crush organized labor and cut the corporate tax rate like Ronald Reagan; he just Tweeted and lied a lot. Should he lose to Joe Biden in a couple weeks, that will be his legacy. It’s not a good one, necessarily, but it certainly isn’t as bad as the other three Republicans I mentioned.

Betting Odds

As of right now, October 23rd, Joe Biden is a -180 favorite and Donald Trump is a +135 underdog according to Bovada. Mathematically speaking, that gives Biden roughly a 60% chance of winning, and Trump around 40%. If you remember back to election day 2016, Hillary Clinton was better than a 2-to-1 favorite, but even that was only about 66% compared to Trump’s 34%. It’s obviously far more likely that Trump repeats as President this time around, even if at the end of the day it’s more likely than not that Biden accomplishes what Hillary could not.

If I was a betting man — which I am, whenever possible — I would take Trump at +135 and not think twice about it. Not only does he have the advantage of being the incumbent (and incumbents almost always win), but it’s undeniable that he has the edge in voter enthusiasm. People who like Donald Trump love Donald Trump, and people who like Joe Biden are only voting for him because a crumpled up paper bag isn’t an option. Democrats would vote for literally anyone except for Trump. That is neither inspiring nor is it principled in any way. It’s a vote against someone more than a vote for someone.

As an Independent, this is what the Democratic Party has offered me for the entirety of my voting life: They have told me that I have to eat shit, that a better world is not possible, and that I have to vote for them because the other side is worse. Be that as it may, but isn’t the point of elections giving people reasons to vote for you? It’s a given that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are just a gaggle of corporate goons looking out for the best interests of the billionaire and ownership class. They don’t care about me, and I know they don’t care about me. For some reason, though, it hurts more when the Democrats tell me they are fighting for workers and working class interests, yet when they get elected all they do is take care of the same people the Republicans cater to.

I consider myself an old-school, FDR-style populist. I support policies that benefit the working class, the 99%, because I feel like if the floor gets raised on those making $30,000 or $40,000 a year, how can that hurt me? Thanks to Bernie Sanders there is currently a wave of popular policy proposals, ranging anywhere from Medicare For All to expanding Social Security benefits to making public college tuition-free to creating a jobs program to fight climate change to decriminalizing and fully legalizing marijuana and so on. If the Democratic Party supported even one of these policies I would be inclined to vote for them. Since they don’t endorse any of them, and as a matter of fact fight them even harder than Republicans in many ways, I don’t see much differentiation between the two parties.

For shits and giggles, the Democratic Party is favored to win both the House (-300) and Senate (-130) in 2020. -300 means you have to lay $300 to win $100, and -130 means you have to lay $130 to win $100; mathematically that means the Dems have a 75% chance of taking the House, and a shade better than a coin-flip to win the Senate. If the odds check out the way Vegas expects them to, Joe Biden will be President of the United States, and the Democrats will possess both the House and the Senate. They will have what Donald Trump had in his first two years as President — full control over the American Government.

The last time the Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency came in 2008-’10, in Barack Obama’s first two years as President. If you remember, that followed a particularly unpopular George W. Bush reign, which featured 9/11, a couple new wars, The Patriot Act, and more recently a financial crash that saw $20 trillion in household wealth from ordinary people get set on fire, never to be seen again.

At the time the thought was that Obama was going to do the right thing and prosecute the bankers who crashed the economy, give people healthcare, and bring on the “hope” and “change” that naïve 18 year-olds like me believed in when they voted for him. It was not only the practical thing to do, given the bleak outlook of the country, but it would have been good politics. Punishing the bankers and delivering on healthcare would have ensured the Democrats decades worth of good will, and certainly would have ensured them a landslide win in 2016.

I remember the night Obama was elected because I was in my dorm room at Virginia Tech and through the wee hours of the morning kids kept setting off the fire alarm. So all of us young bucks kept having to evacuate the building to congregate outside, in the cold, but none of it mattered because all of our lives were about to change for the better. In retrospect our excitement was pretty stupid, but we were young and none of us knew any better.

The more relevant issue is that between 2008 and 2010 — the last time Dems had full control — they failed to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. Barack Obama ran in 2008 as Franklyn Roosevelt 2.0, and governed like a moderate Republican. If you don’t believe me then don’t take my word for it, take his. He says it himself.

Barack Obama’s signature policy accomplishment — The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) — was (or is) a right-wing healthcare plan that keeps private insurance companies — those profiting off you getting sick, and denying you care when you really need them — in the picture. Obama was, to his bones, a Capitalist. And Obamacare is a Capitalist healthcare system, which is why it’s one of the worst in the world.

So liberals want me to be excited about Joe Biden. They want me to believe that this time around the Democrats, assuming full control of the government, are going to look out for the little guy and not do what Obama did, and what Bill Clinton did before him, and simply cater to big business. Liberals tell me all we have to do is get Biden in, then we can push him left. Then we can get all the things we want!

If you are willing to believe that, then you are willing to believe anything. You are willing to believe what people thought Donald Trump was going to do when they voted him in to be President in 2016. That he was going to improve the lives of workers. That he was going to stand up to the rich and powerful interests. Trump didn’t do any of the things he said he was going to do on the campaign trail. He just distracted you while life was happening.

Joe Biden is going to try to achieve the opposite. He doesn’t want to distract you. Instead he wants to make you forget what goes on behind closed doors. He wants you to ignore all the unnecessary wars and bombings in the Middle East. He wants you to forget about all the tax breaks given to the billionaires. He wants you to think that fracking is okay, that the minimum wage shouldn’t be raised, that Obamacare is just fine. He wants you to go back to bed.

Maybe that’s good enough for you. Republicans are going to call him a socialist no matter what he does. Liberals are going to be happy again, even though nothing about their lives is going to change. They’ll be working the same jobs. They’ll be making the same money. And they’ll keep pretending that the Democrats are actually going to charge Trump with any of the crimes they’ve purported him to commit over the last four years. That’s never going to happen, by the way.

Because even though Trump has committed crimes, and done the bidding of the billionaires for the last four years, the Dems are complicit, too. If you want to try Trump for his sins, then you are going to have to address the skeletons in your own closest. Democrats don’t want to do that, so they won’t. It’ll just be this never ending cycle of the side that’s not in power shitting on the side that is. So Biden will get elected, the Republicans will tell you he’s a socialist and hasn’t done anything to help your life, and then the Republicans will win again and the process will repeat itself from the other side.

Until a candidate comes along that improves the lives of regular people, we will be set in this gridlock. The Republican Party will continue moving to to the right, in favor of big business, and the Democratic Party will continue attempting to find the ever-elusive center. I don’t know if you know, but if one side keeps moving right, then the center will only move in that direction. You need an actual pull to the left to give yourself leverage against a party that only wants lower taxes, more of a military and police state, and less rights for average Americans.

I thought Bernie Sanders was going to be the great unifier of this country, and I was wrong about that. I’ve been wrong about a great many things over the last five years, and in my life in general. My gut tells me that Joe Biden is going to win, but to me that’s almost worst than Trump getting reelected. Because if Trump wins and there is a Democratic House or Senate (or both), he is going to be a lame-duck President for the next four years. If Biden wins, and fails to better the lives of average Americans, then the odds of a worse version of Trump coming along in 2024 will skyrocket.

I don’t mean worse in the sense that he’s going to Tweet a lot, or he’s going to lie a lot. I mean worse in that he will actually be able to bring both establishments together and pass the horrible legislation that billionaires have wanted ever since the days that FDR transformed America. Billionaires have spent the better part of the last 100 years trying to undo The New Deal policies that made the Democrats such a juggernaut for so long.

If Biden happens to win and fails, much like Obama failed, then this is the only conclusion I am willing to expect. I know most people just want a President that will make them forget about all the cruel realities the world delivers, but what good is that if the big picture problem only continues to get worse?

I will not be voting for Joe Biden, and I’ll also not be voting for Donald Trump. California is going blue, anyway, so who fucking cares who I vote for or what I have to say.

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