The First Fourteen Days

Against the Current No. 211, March/April 2021

Kim Moody

IN A DAZZLING display of top-down governance in the new administration’s effort to reverse the top-down governance of the previous administration, Joe Biden signed a record 45 executive orders in his first 14 days in office.

To be sure there were some good things among the 45: a halt to evictions, a pause on new oil and gas drilling licenses on public (though not private) lands, a stop on the Keystone pipeline, opening the door (just) to reversing Trump’s immigration policies, and a few more.

Many are meant to undo Trump’s more outrageous acts such a separating immigrant families. Most are steps toward changing policies that involve temporary measures, “guidelines,” pauses, and promises that are aimed at a return to the Obamaesque status quo ante — despite the very different contemporary context.

Biden’s cabinet and staff appointments of those who will “execute” these orders and any legislation that might get passed in the coming months can be summarized in three words:  Clinton, Obama, corporate. We might add long-time associates passing through the revolving doors of Congress, business, and bureaucracy. Truly an exercise in déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra allegedly put it.

Things are no better in Congress where those masters of moderation, the Representative from Silicon Valley, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senator from Wall Street, Chuck Schumer, rule the roost — again.

The impeachment of yesterday’s nightmare-in-chief and the stimulus de jour compose the totality of their visionary horizons. Despite their best efforts and continued visibility, Bernie, AOC and “The Squad” have been allocated to the periphery, perhaps to be brought back into service in 2022.

In comparison to the Trump years, this all might seem like a return to “normal.” In comparison to the scale of the pandemic, the climate crisis, the deepest slump in decades, massive joblessness, increasing overwork, the persistent racial segregation of our cities, the crisis of education, the continued decline of union membership, and the increasing astronomical economic and social inequality in general, it looks criminally inadequate.

But that is the essence of 21st century centrism in power. While I wouldn’t suggest storming the Capitol as the best way to get things done just now, it is time to organize, strike and go into the streets in unprecedented numbers.

March-April 2021, ATC 211

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