Who Needs Tiger King with a Fat Cat in the White House?
This week, democracy-ish is live on IG and in a mood. What else is new?
Bernie Sanders officially suspends his campaign … along with our dreams of universal healthcare, free college and Larry David on SNL every week.
Will Joe Biden take up progressive policies or pander to Trumpy Midwestern suburbanites?
The maxim “white people catch a cold, Black people get the flu” is taking on a disturbing new meaning as the coronavirus hits communities of color hardest.
Since we last left our intrepid hosts, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued its spread, Bernie bowed out of the Democratic primary race and Trump’s insane daily briefing is driving them to drink.
Plus, Touré and Danielle haven’t seen each other IRL in ages.
“I like yelling at you in person,” says Danielle.
“I know. It's more fun that way,” Touré replies.
But there’s no end to the quarantine in sight, so they’ll just have to yell at Donald Trump. Some things never change.
Episode Highlights –– Corona Is a Black Nightmare
Goodbye Bernie (and Medicare for all)
On Wednesday, Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race. Although it wasn’t a surprise, Touré is mourning what might have been.
“I feel like it's the death of a certain dream,” he says. “The dream of Medicare for all, free college, of an economic revolution that would make a difference for millions of working-class and poor people.”
The dream died not because we don’t need or want those things, but because Democratic voters are “understandably paralyzed by fear,” and crave safety, Touré says.
And while Joe Biden may not actually be the safest choice, his Obama-burnished record seems safer than Bernie’s promise of revolution.
But when Touré “got the taste of a true progressive –– somebody who was offering more than the traditional status quo … I was hoping this would be a moment when we could go for real change,” he says.
“But now I'm being told that I have to vote for Joe because Trump is horrible –– rather than, Joe has to win my vote. There's already an expectation that he's going to move to the center, if not the center-right, and I have to go along with it.”
Will Biden pivot to the center in Bernie’s absence?
Fans of democracy-ish know that Danielle isn’t exactly sad to see Bernie go. But she’s willing to give Uncle Joe the benefit of the doubt.
“I think Biden and his camp are actually well aware that he cannot go center-right. That’s definitely a fucking no-go. He'll probably go to the center, which is where he’s always been, but center-right? No.”
Touré isn’t so sure. He worries that Biden seems intent on winning back the same suburban rust belt voters who voted for Trump. If it works, “we [Democrats] owe them,” he says. “Then they are the center of the party. Giving them what they need, and holding on to them for the next election, becomes the center of the Democratic Party. It makes me very uncomfortable.”
Everything about our current situation is uncomfortable, says Danielle. But she’s hopeful that, over the coming months, we’ll see Biden step up to the plate.
“Biden is going to have to develop a spine,” she says. “Winning back Trump voters does not win us the election.”
That begs the question: What can win back the White House?
“Getting the 100 million people who did not vote in 2016.”
SCOTUS-approved voter suppression in America’s dairyland
Mobilizing the vast swaths of America who sat at home while Trump voters spoke for the rest of the country is a tall order. And this week, it got even more difficult when the Supreme Court ruled that Wisconsin could not extend the time it accepts absentee ballots –– even in the midst of a pandemic.
“They have given the Republicans a fucking open door policy to voter suppression across the board,” Danielle says.
The only thing that can beat back voter suppression is mass voter turnout, she adds.
“Focus on the Bernie bros who already say they ain't voting for Biden. Focus on people who stayed home because they weren't excited … We weren't in the middle of a global pandemic in 2016. It was all hyperbole, whether or not Trump would drive America off a cliff.”
Now, she argues, that cliff is already in the rearview mirror.
“His administration kicked 3.5 million people off healthcare in the midst of a pandemic. He fired the inspector general who was supposed to oversee a $2 trillion stimulus package, to make sure it didn't turn into a fucking slush fund.”
Mind the racial healthcare gap
Although we have yet to understand the true scope of COVID-19’s spread, one thing is clear: the virus is hitting Black and brown people more harshly than others.
“You see areas where we are 20 to 30 percent of the population, but we are 70 to 80 percent of the cases. We’re dying at rates two, three or four times higher than the white people around us,” says Touré. “Ultimately, it comes down to generations of systemic racism.”
The racial wealth and class divide is just the beginning, he notes.
“Doctors prescribe us tests less often and downgrade Black pain more. A lot of us don't have health insurance. Black life expectancy is at least 10 years less [on average] than it is for white people.”
Some say COVID-19 is a “great equalizer” because it can infect anyone regardless of race or age. But Danielle thinks that’s... bullshit.
“We never really talk about economic vulnerability and how it plays into all of this,” she says. “What happens when people are poor? They're more likely to have diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, asthma … and let's talk about food deserts … low-lying areas filled with pollution … being forced into densely populated housing complexes.”
The vulnerability of ‘essential’ workers
Meanwhile, the essential workers who are the backbone of our economy don’t have the luxury of staying home.
“Either stay home and risk starvation or go out in the street and risk infection,” Touré says. “What kind of a Sophie's Choice is that?”
Danielle points out that poverty is the very definition of vulnerability. It’s a painful reality laid bare when we see images of packed New York City subways, she says.
“Those are the janitors … the people who are cleaning up your hospitals, working in nursing homes –– and they're doing so without the protection that they actually need.”
It’s also worth noting, she adds, that it’s easier to find supplies like masks and food in Harlem and certain areas of Brooklyn.
“Why? Because these people do not have the ability to panic shop and drop $500 on canned goods. They don't have a pantry that they're filling up with a bunch of shit?”
But we don't often have conversations about poverty, Danielle says, “because in America, we still believe that if you are poor, it’s your fault.”
The virus has exposed the massive disconnect “between the haves and the have-nots, between Black folks and white folks, income classes, ethnicities,” she adds. “We want to treat people like everybody is the same, but we are not.”
Nasty pressers and daily stressors
Quarantine is taking an emotional toll on Touré.
“I am so drained by this whole thing … and I stopped smoking weed six months ago, so I don't have that to rely on to sort of numb out. But I've been drinking one to two bottles of wine a weekend just to unwind from the stress. I have watched nearly everything decent on Netflix … and the Trump daily insane press briefing is stressing me out,” he says.
“I thought it was your favorite show,” says Danielle.
“It is, but … the gaslighting, the lying — it is so difficult to watch,” Touré replies. “I just scream: no, that's not true. No, that's not true. Over and over. Watching the tiger fight with the media.”
Meanwhile, the press corps carries on, asking long, context-based questions. But Trump “just jumps in whenever he wants and starts fighting with people,” Touré adds.
“Where are you from? Your question was nasty. Your tone was mean … He's such an animal...it's gross and it's disgusting. And it's just such an incredible dereliction of what the presidency is supposed to be about and the sort of person that we need.”
White (House) crazy
Touré gave Danielle a homework assignment last week, and she didn’t do it.
“I don't give a good goddamn about the Tiger King, I'll just be honest with you,” she says.
“That's because you haven't watched it yet,” says Touré. “You're the last person in America … I watched it in about two days. You can't stop. And there's not a Black person anywhere in sight. It's just white craziness over and over. I love the show.”
“If I want to see white crazy over and over and over again, I'll just keep watching the fucking press briefing,” says Danielle. “I don't need to watch this. We have a Tiger King as fucking president. I'm good.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Touré as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle—together!