Zombie and Gangster Face Off in Presidential Debate

Following the first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, one question is on the minds of millions of ordinary Americans and the US ruling class: “How the hell are these our only options?”

The agonizing 90 minute display saw a bewildered Biden mumble and stumble his way through incomprehensible half sentences, after which his wife had to lead him by the arm from the stage. Trump put in his usual performance of bragging, blustering, and lying at an average rate of once every three minutes (according to CNN).

The “debate’”(if one can call it that) has aptly set the tone for the remainder of this farcical election contest between two of the least popular presidents in US history. On the one hand, we have a senile genocide enabler; on the other, a megalomaniacal huckster. Heads, we lose. Tails … we lose.

It’s no accident that it has come to this. To paraphrase the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre, every system gets the leaders it deserves. Last night’s woeful spectacle perfectly sums up the senile decay of US capitalism.

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“Genocide Joe” has been trailing Trump in the polls all year. / Image: fair use

Democratic meltdown: “a Defcon 1 moment”

“Genocide Joe” has been trailing Trump in the polls all year. His standing among young and Muslim voters, in particular, has been damaged by his administration’s unwavering support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza. Yet Trump is hardly more popular, and the polls have narrowed in recent days, assisted by a slight and temporary stabilization in the economic situation.

On June 21, the Spectator wrote:

Bookmakers still have Trump as strong favorite to win again in November. But Trump is not pulling away towards victory. On the contrary, if Biden defies very low expectations and performs well in the first debate on Thursday next week, the Democratic media machine will start talking about Joe’s “hot streak,” “Trump’s slump,” or even “Biden’s comeback” (our emphasis).

Suffice it to say, the 81-year-old Biden tripped over the rock bottom bar of expectations. “Highlights” from his performance are going viral on social media, showing him trailing off into gibberish, rambling about how “we finally beat Medicare,” and mixing up points on deportation and abortion.

Trump hardly sparkled, saying little of substance as the two traded inane insults about their personal lives and golf handicaps, yet he came out on top simply for managing to string a coherent sentence together. A snap CNN poll of people who watched the debate found 67% felt Trump was the victor, with only 33% giving it to Biden. Furthermore, 59% said they had “no confidence” in Biden to lead the country compared to 44% who have no confidence in Trump.

Seemingly blissfully unaware of just how hard he bombed, Biden later said he thought he “did well.” This opinion was shared by precisely nobody, least of all his party. Far from trumpeting a comeback, the Democratic media machine is in a state of panic.

While some outlets are trying to sugarcoat the situation, calling for Biden to soldier on, others have openly declared that enough is enough. A series of columns for the Democratic-leaning New York Times today plead with the President to call it a day: “Biden is my friend, he must step down” (Thomas Friedman), “Biden cannot go on like this” (Frank Bruni), “President Biden, it’s time to drop out” (Nicholas Kristof).

Many other headlines to this effect can be found in the liberal press. Meanwhile, the party’s political establishment is in meltdown. David Plouffe, a Democratic strategist formerly with Barack Obama’s campaign, called the debate “kind of a Defcon 1 moment.”

The Hill cites one Biden ally saying, “I am watching us lose this election in slow motion.” An unnamed House Democrat from a swing state stated the opinion that, “Biden’s team needs to convince him to withdraw and have an open convention.” Echoing this, an anonymous “top Biden donor” was quoted by Reuters saying:

There is no way to spin this. His performance was disqualifying. There is going to be a call for a brokered convention. Whitmer, Pritzker, Newsom, Beshear. Those could all be the options. It’s inevitable.

This would be the only mechanism whereby the Democrats could select another candidate, which itself would be a huge gamble (not to mention an embarrassment) and would not guarantee any reversal in their fortunes.

We note the utter hypocrisy of these characters who, after spending the 2020 Democratic primaries and presidential election screeching that left-wing Americans must hold their noses and vote for the “lesser evil,” now say Biden is a liability who must be removed! Moreover, thanks to their efforts, the “greater evil” of Donald Trump now looks almost assured to return to the White House.

No alternatives

It seems incredible that these ladies and gentlemen are shocked at Biden’s performance. Given his dire form with scripted speeches, why would the Democratic establishment expect any other outcome? But they are faced with a not insignificant problem: they have no alternatives.

The DNC offers nothing but incompetents and nonentities, which is itself evidence of the crisis of the political regime. There are no good options. Even if there were, in all likelihood, it is too late for them to find a replacement, meaning the Democrats are stuck with a candidate who would be a better fit for a nursing home than the Oval Office.

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Trump is an uncontrollable maverick whose last presidency brought the US to the brink of a full-blown trade war with China. / Image: fair use

The serious representatives of the American ruling class will be tearing their hair out. Trump is an uncontrollable maverick whose last presidency brought the US to the brink of a full-blown trade war with China, which would send the fragile world economy into a tailspin.

They also have no idea what Trump’s “fire and fury” will mean for foreign policy at a time when the US is deep in the disastrous Ukraine War and being dragged towards further chaos in the Middle East.

They have thrown everything and the kitchen sink at Trump to prevent him from returning to power, including a criminal conviction, yet now he seems destined for another term.

Both deserve to lose!

The only clear takeaway for the majority of workers and youth who sat through this debate will be that neither of these individuals is fit to run a lemonade stand—let alone the world’s largest economy. The thought of either of them having their hands on the wheel of world politics and a finger on the nuclear button should fill all thinking humans with a sense of alarm—but above all, with urgency.

Ultimately, Biden and Trump are merely the distilled rottenness of US capitalism, which cannot guarantee a decent existence for the American people and is wreaking havoc on the lives of billions on the world stage. The system itself is unfit for purpose.

Even a sane and competent president could do nothing more than manage the crisis of US capitalism which demands further attacks on working Americans to protect the bosses’ profits. They would still be charged with defending the interests of US imperialism abroad, which means continuing support for murderous “allies” like Israeli President Netanyahu, as the latter threatens a new war in Lebanon.

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The decline of Rome did not fundamentally result from mismanagement by any one emperor. / Image: public domain

Recently, Marxist.com editor-in-chief Alan Woods drew a comparison between the current crisis of US imperialism and the fall of the Roman Empire, which saw a procession of mad, murderous, and moronic emperors reign over the chaos. The same thought seemingly occurred to Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, who took to X (formerly Twitter) today and posted:

Marcus Aurelius was a great emperor but he screwed up his succession by passing the baton to his feckless son Commodus … whose disastrous rule started Rome’s decline. It’s important to manage one’s ride into the sunset.

Marxists do not deny the role of individuals, and bad leadership can have a decisive effect on the course of history. However, the decline of Rome did not fundamentally result from mismanagement by any one emperor. Many factors were involved, all flowing from the fact that an empire and social system had reached its limits. The crisis facing American capitalism is chronic and systemic, and no individual or policy can change its fundamental trajectory.

If Biden is forced to shuffle aside, it will do nothing to avert the crisis of the US political regime, which is itself a symptom of the crisis of US capitalism. Far from riding into the sunset, this system will drag humanity into the abyss before peacefully conceding power.

To prevent this, we must build the Revolutionary Communists of America into a mighty force that can lead the working class and youth in ripping up capitalism at its roots—laying the basis for a sane society led by the majority, rather than wealthy lunatics.

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