The United States is suffering from a leadership vacuum. The president is an openly fascist autocrat willing to gas and shoot peaceful protestors for exceedingly dumb photo ops. The Republican Party enabling him is mostly silent, aside from dog-whipped platitudes. And the police are brutalizing peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders from coast to coast.
So what exactly are Democrats doing? It’s difficult to say.
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president and purported answer to Trump’s open slide into fascism, is urging calm and togetherness—when he isn’t putting his foot in his mouth. He said that instead of aiming for “the heart,” police could be trained to shoot people “in the leg” when being charged with a knife.
Biden today on police training: "Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there's an unarmed person comin' at 'em with a knife or something to shoot 'em in the leg instead of the heart is a very different thing." pic.twitter.com/2xgqvlQtJ2
— The Recount (@therecount) June 1, 2020
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi spent Tuesday morning signing a bill condemning human rights violations—in China. That’s important, sure, but what of the human rights violations and war crimes now happening daily on American soil against American citizens? In response to Trump’s bible photo op, Pelosi took the opportunity to show him up by … picking up her own bible and reading a passage from it.
Pelosi asked about Trump’s Bible photo op last night. She goes and grabs her own bible and is now reading from it. pic.twitter.com/F64v4JFBH6
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) June 2, 2020
Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democratic Party leaders have either been silent or drowned out by the environment around them. Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii announced he’d introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to “discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments.” But almost none have called for real systemic or policy reform.
Even former President Barack Obama offered up a Medium post about the importance of organizing and voting. And while his words were mostly agreeable, he appears more and more like someone in denial that he was president for almost a decade. With each shareable social media post Obama seems to be removing all agency from his actions as president and how they might have helped lead to this moment.
It’s fair to question a party whose politicians have “failed to rein in their police departments or improve their abysmal job performance” despite consistently promising to do so for years. The Democratic Party benefits from the same corrupt racist infrastructure that raises up police as bastions of law enforcement. Words and promises about listening to protestors and feeling their pain are meaningless without real reform to back them up. And performative bible readings trying to own the president mean even less when he’s already openly embraced fascist tactics on live television.
America is facing one of its darkest hours. Municipal police departments are violently striking against racial equality protests and the federal government is slipping into fascism before our very eyes. There’s plenty Democrats could do to quell Trump’s seeming government takeover. But at a time when a strong opposition party is need to calm fears, confront racism, and battle against authoritarianism, Democrats are proving feckless once again.