Democrats are failing to deliver, but you shouldn’t be surprised

No matter who is in office, the similarities between Republicans and Democrats remain true as politicians fail to enact impactful policies.

Mira Nalbandian

No matter who is in office, the similarities between Republicans and Democrats remain true as politicians fail to enact impactful policies.

Ten months into President Joe Biden’s term, America seems to be stuck in place. When Biden won the presidency last November, despite Donald Trump’s baseless claims otherwise, many liberals let out a sigh of relief, feeling they could finally get back to ‘normal,’ that America could be back on track. But for some reason, the United States seems to be at a standstill once again.

Naturally, as Democrats locked onto the White House, and Congress, many hoped that the U.S. could finally overcome the years of Trump and remove the nasty tarnish that has plagued the last four years. Yet, one year into a new administration, America seems to be stuck in the mud, plodding along at a snail’s pace, failing left and right to enact policies that could actually help the millions of Americans struggling under the strain of a faltering economy and a global pandemic.

But let’s be frank here, why should we be surprised? Empty promises and an ultimate commitment to the benefit of the elite classes, corporations and imperialism are nothing new, so it’s time to stop acting like it. This is what America has done for as long as we’ve been a nation.

Historically, we witnessed presidents with no loyalty to the working class promoting the needs of the wealthy over the needs of the working class. Take John Quincy Adams’ tariff to benefit wealthy American manufacturers in New England, which granted them a monopoly on their goods. Two hundred years later, it’s the same story: Trump slashed taxes for the wealthy and corporations, and it seems like Biden won’t be repealing that policy any time soon.

No matter the party, your politicians have one goal in mind: help the rich stay rich and let the rest fend for themselves. Otherwise, they risk losing votes and hefty donations. So, it’s time to stop putting your faith—which for many means a vote every four years—in the Democrats. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

This past year, and throughout his campaign, Biden made a lot of promises, and so far, he’s had a poor track record.

While he said he would create a pathway to citizenship for migrants, he deported Haitian immigrants, continuing Trump-era policies. When he said he would guarantee two years of free community college, Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema took it out of the Build Back Better Act. They also swiped eight weeks of paid leave, reducing the amount of time workers can take off for family or illness from 12 to four. His promise to create a police oversight commission, a mere bandage over a bone-deep wound, has yet to be seen. There is no evidence of a plan for his Affordable Care Act 2.0. While he rejoined the Paris Agreement (more bandages), the climate provisions in his Build Back Better Act still leave much to be desired, focusing largely on infrastructure to deal with the effects of climate change, rather than taking an aggressive stance on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. His achievements, and even his goals, are all shadows of what we actually need.

Many faithful Biden supporters will argue that a lack of action is due to Congress’ failures, not Biden’s. But who controls Congress? Yes, Republicans have been ruthless with the filibuster in the Senate, a process kept in place by Manchin and Sinema’s refusal to vote for its elimination. Let’s not forget that Democrats still have total control of Congress. So, I’ll ask the age-old question: why can’t they get anything done?

Within the U.S., we are overcome with accusations of division which blocks our ability to pass legislation and subsequent calls for unity. Do we realize just how similar we already are? American politics are already shifted staunchly to the right, and though politicians might try to tell you we need to overcome our vast political differences and work together, those differences really aren’t so vast.

The truth is, the Democratic and Republican platforms are more similar than we might realize, meaning that Democrats don’t have as much of a motivation as we believe they do to simply push through legislation without spending precious time trying to compromise on every minor detail. 

Democrat and Republican policies aren’t as different as we think. Policing is a prime example. (Mira Nalbandian)

Policing is the perfect example. Take Market Watch’s article outlining the key differences between Republican and Democrat opinions on the police. The article reviews chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and qualified immunity, describing the differences between policies. Yet, these are all minute facets of policing, ways to make the police ‘fairer’ or place greater checks of power on them. None of it actually examines policing as a system or any of the underlying issues that both Democrats and Republicans fail to address. 

Internationally, it’s the same old story: Biden continues Trump’s foreign policy, and the U.S. mission of imperialism carries on, regardless of partisan differences. America is still trying to shore up alliances in the Indo-Pacific, trying to directly counter China. And is Biden going to defund the over 750 foreign military bases the U.S. has planted across the globe? Doubtful.

Climate-wise, Biden was quick to criticize China, as most Americans are, as the largest contributor to the climate crisis, when in fact, the United States has historically done the most damage in the name of speedy development. And still, Democrats can’t get Biden’s promised climate legislation passed, even though it’s important to note this legislation is not as much as we’d need, and many forget that indigenous-led efforts are crucial to saving our planet. We have yet to see how Biden will continue his promises on that account.

We can’t place all of our exasperation on Biden, though. Presidents like Clinton and Obama both pushed for trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership which largely benefit corporations, the former of which resulted in 600,000 job losses in the United States. In fact, despite the several Democrat presidents since 1980, the bottom 60 percent of households saw their net worth fall by $10 trillion, while the richest 10 percent of Americans have increased their own by $30 trillion. So much for the champions of the middle class.

If our national vote could really have an impact on these policies, parties could affect broad-sweeping policies that are actually progressive. However, Biden’s actions, and the actions of several past and present Democratic federal officials, demonstrate that while insignificant policies vary by party, in the larger scheme of the U.S., the change we actually need, like abolishing the police or our extensive military involvement overseas, won’t be enacted by Democrats or Republicans.

It’s time for Americans to expand our definition of polarization, and look outside our narrow window of political views. Most importantly, we must realize that no matter who is in office, Democrat or Republican, the policies will rarely shift in meaningful ways.

The bottom line is, if you’re placing your faith in politicians, no matter the party, don’t expect major changes to happen, or for them to magically bring this country out of its disastrous state. In our system, politicians like Biden do not work to actually solve the issues plaguing our society, but instead make empty promises that rarely align with what America actually needs. If you want real change, you’re going to have to put in the work within your communities. Take actions like contributing to mutual aid efforts, talking to your friends and family about the issues, attending protests or events, joining community organizations and most importantly, never stop learning. The people must build up our own power instead of relying on the elite class to pretend to care about our interests. It’s a daunting task, but there are always resources you can find to serve the causes you care about, much better than a politician ever will.