Journalists Must Remain Adversarial

08/11/2020

Wow. Biden managed to pull this off, pending very unlikely wild shifts in multiple recounts or some kind of unexpected coup. Joe Biden is now named as President-elect, and Donald Trump will go down in history as a one-term impeached President, one whose legacy will likely remain for decades given his staggeringly high vote count. However, while celebratory gestures for Trump’s defeat are understandable, it is a mistake to become complacent just because the Democrats, the “adults”, as some outlets and commentators have put it, are making a comeback.

In June of last year, I predicted that the DNC would shaft Bernie Sanders again in favour of Joe Biden. As I thought, the Democratic Party sceptics did not appreciate this, the general base touted him as a “return to normalcy”, and overall, the party did not really change its tune. They’re still heavily corporate, very quiet on foreign policy, lacklustre on healthcare and climate change, keeping the Black Lives Matter demands at arm’s length.

I also predicted Trump would win. So confident in my tragic assumption, I even reposted the piece a few days ago, before key States began swinging blue, because it really did not look like Biden could keep his lead at the time. As Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania started turning, that dismay became a slowly growing hope. Now the election has essentially been called, if awaiting final numbers, I can happily say my “doomer” approach to the election was wrong.

Just.

My “doomer” approach to the future of our species and politics is still very much alive and disheartening. Joe Biden has been elected, but over 70 million people voted for Trump. 70 million people either looked at Biden and said no, I’m voting the other guy, or (worse) looked at Trump and said they wanted four more years of his regime. Trump might be out of the White House come January, but he will absolutely remain a public figure, and almost half the population of the US – with the Republican Party showing its true death cult colours – will ensure his legacy lives on well beyond this election.

The Supreme Court is stacked 6-3 to the “conservative” (again, I say it often, these labels have no meaning) side. It looks like the Senate may not get flipped, so either the Republicans will repeat the latter half of Obama’s presidency by blocking everything the Democrats try to do or at least keep it at a stalemate. Conspiracy, whether it be the voter fraud accusations or insane QAnon beliefs, have become mainstream among much of the Republican base. COVID-19, economic devastation, international tensions, and climate concerns have all run rampant under Trump, so Biden will have to face these problems within a rather hostile environment.

And on the flip side to that – the US just elected Joe Biden.

Pretty fucking cringe, bro.

Ok, so maybe Biden is not the leader of a death cult, but he isn’t as cool as the “right-wing” media portrays him. He’s no “socialist revolutionary”, and as I mentioned above, the Democrats are a disappointing “opposition” at best. Now that the old and white corporate hack has won, it is time to turn our attention to shifting the fight towards him. They removed Trump, now it is time to remove the stain he’s left and the system that produced and enabled him. That will be a long and tiresome struggle, but one America and the world will have to endure for the sake of mere survival.

Part of this will be crashing down the media. While not always on the ball, still omitting or obscuring certain things, the media has done a fairly good job at calling out Donald Trump and his Administration’s lies, hypocrisies, and corruption. There was actually some decent investigative work done, and journalists were actually adversarial – again, imperfectly, but more so than usual. It has been irksome, then, to see so many people, including journalists, who are celebrating Biden’s victory by seemingly resorting to the old complacency.

We are constantly told that COVID-19 and Trump has heralded the “new normal”, alongside insistent cries for a “return to normalcy” under Biden. Problem is, we are stuck with this new normal, and even if we weren’t, the old normal was not exactly great to begin with – those relieved by a Biden win, saying we can relax, finally breathe, quite alarmingly suggesting we can “ignore” the daily deeds of the government now Biden is here, are foolish. They are people who were likely never affected by Trump’s America, by the system itself, but were simply repulsed by how bare Trump exposed it to be.

To me, that is scary. Joe Biden’s track record is not good, at all, with war criminal being no small part of that. The idea that we can take a seat and let things go back is absurd – America hasn’t fixed anything, they just stalled the process of making it exponentially worse. Journalists in particular need to retain their vigour and scrutiny in the wake of a Biden victory. All the talk of healing, of unity, of progress, won’t just happen overnight, and it won’t happen under a Biden presidency. People, now more than ever, need to be seriously informed about what is happening. People need to realise that Trump was not an anomaly, but a part of the machine that runs their country and, to a slowly dwindling extent, the global system too.

Journalists are supposed to shine a light on the excesses of power; as the billionaire-owned Washington Post so smugly tells us, “democracy dies in darkness”. If these mainstream outlets, from the New York Times and Washington Post, to the Guardian and Fairfax, etc. want to rebuild and maintain their credibility, they need to do more.

They need to keep up the adversarial attitude towards all leaders, not just the open despots.

Previous piece: Is Labor Socialist? I Wish

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