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US elections: Biden and Trump are two sides of the same murderous coin

'Genocide Joe' and 'Don the Con' are the morally depraved choices for a sham democracy run for billionaires that slaughters countless innocent people globally. I cannot vote for either
People watch a big screen displaying live US election results in Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House, Washington, DC, 3 November 2020 (Olivier Douliery/AFP)
People watch a big screen displaying live US election results in Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House, Washington, DC, 3 November 2020 (Olivier Douliery/AFP)

For as long as I remember, over the almost half a century I have lived in the US, but especially since the 1980s and the Ronald Reagan presidency, I have heard the expression “the lesser of two evils”.

This is meant to convey the sentiment that there is not much difference between the leading two candidates of a presidential election, so reasonable and decent Americans will vote for someone who is the lesser evil. 

Though the origin of the phrase might be traced back to classical antiquity and particularly Aristotle, it is since the Vietnam War in the 1960s that the phrase has become a common political position. 

Most recently, we had to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, and then between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in 2020. Again, in 2024, we will be facing the same choice.

In an opinion piece I wrote almost four years ago, long before Biden had wholeheartedly underwritten, financed, armed and diplomatically facilitated the Israeli genocide currently under way in Gaza, I explained why I would not vote for Biden.

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This stance was against the declared position of leading American public intellectuals and revolutionary thinkers such as Cornel West, Noam Chomsky and even Angela Davis, who all agreed that we should vote for Biden for fear of Trump - meaning the lesser of the two evils. I have long stopped falling for that trap.

No decent American, no decent human being, has a candidate in this US presidential election. This is a rigged system that only the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the gun lobby and the fossil fuel lobby, among other militant billionaires making a mockery of this so-called "democracy", know how to play.

To be sure, there are diehard Republicans and there are the so-called “Blue Dog Democrats” who will vote along party lines no matter who is the candidate. But to what end? What choice does any other decent human being who can vote in US elections have to make between Genocide Joe and Don the Con - as they are most commonly known in this country?

Two sides of the same coin

Consider Donald Trump, the Republican candidate. He is under investigation for having used state and federal institutions to hold onto power; is accused of using the government for his own personal and his family’s financial benefits, of cronyism and patronage.

He welcomed criminals and white supremacists into his White House, had deep corruption in his cabinet and showed systemic disregard for the rule of law - ultimately going so far as treason to try to sabotage the last presidential election in order to stay in power.

These are just a few examples of his political charlatanism. Trump holds xenophobic and Islamophobic views with unsurpassed loutishness in his relationship with women, Blacks, Latinos, Muslims and disabled people.

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How could any decent human being go near a booth to vote for him? And yet millions of Americans admire, cherish and even venerate him and compare him to Jesus Christ.

His rival, the current US president, has enabled the Israeli genocide against defenceless Palestinians. He has empowered, encouraged, aggressively militarised and diplomatically protected Israel against global condemnation, speaking of a whole different level of murderous US politics.

Before the current carnage, he enabled and empowered the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. So his empowering and arming Israel to do what it does to Palestinians is part of a larger warmongering around the globe with a particularly nasty racist trace.

To protect Israel's genocidal war on Palestinians, he bombed Yemen and Syria. He has chosen a foreign policy team heavily invested in the so-called “liberal interventionism” (namely imperialist militarism) of the Clinton-Obama administrations, with the additional potency of a great power rivalry against Russia and China.

When it comes to Israel and genocidal Zionism, Biden and Trump are two sides of the same murderous coin, a coin one might flip to decide which one of them is to be the next US president.

All implicated in that evil

In 2016, I wrote about the US election as an existential threat to the world. Today, as Americans get ready to vote or not to vote, Gaza has been laid to waste by US bombs, US fighter jets, US tanks, US bullets, US military intelligence and US diplomatic protection of genocidal Zionism. If Trump were to succeed Biden, it would be just more of the same.

There is no lesser evil - evil is evil - and American political culture is evil. These two ageing men are the top two icons of that palpable evil. The murdered men, women and children of Gaza in their tens of thousands, those lying buried under the ruins of their homes, are the evidence of both their evils.

There is no lesser evil - evil is evil - and American political culture is evil. These two ageing men are the top two icons of that palpable evil

There is nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, nowhere to call a safe haven from these monstrosities. In less than a month, Americans have to pay their taxes, of which billions will be spent building bombs to drop on Palestinians or other people like Palestinians. We are already all implicated in that evil.

A leading liberal columnist for the New York Times recently wrote: “But a second Trump term wouldn’t just be about the abuse of power, the erosion of checks and balances and the elevation of assorted hacks and apparatchiks into positions of real authority. It would also be about the concerted effort to make the federal government a vehicle for the upward distribution of wealth.”

Whichever of these two morally depraved men is elected president, he will do the same bombing of innocent people, starve the world as they starved Palestinians, look after their own diabolical interests and, once again, Americans will be pitted against each other thinking they are opting for the lesser evil. They are not.

Israel is not just a settler colony created by Europeans and Americans to protect their murderous domination of the globe. Israel is the very murderous logic of western barbarism that has sold itself as the epitome of civilisation.

When the president of this garrison state said he was saving “western civilisation”, he was stating the truth: his settler colony and the genocidal Zionism it represents are the very quintessence of “the western civilisation”.  Two mass murderers, Biden and Trump, are the highest achievement of the political culture they call “democracy”.

Incurable xenophobia

Liberal Americans today fear that Trump will dismantle American democracy. But what exactly has American democracy meant for the world?

Ask a Palestinian, an Afghan, an Iraqi, an Iranian who suffered the indignity of the 1953 coup. Ask an African or Latin American who has been at the mercy of incessant CIA coups. Ask what American democracy means to them.

Pro-Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 in Washington, DC (Samuel Corum/AFP)
Pro-Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 in Washington, DC (Samuel Corum/AFP)

Built on the genocide of Native Americans, sustained transatlantic slavery and incurable xenophobia, the US in its entire existence is one solidly and irredeemably racist enterprise, where a group of millionaires can make a mockery of that claim to democracy. 

What is Trump accused of on 6 January 2021? That his ruffian supporters attacked Capitol Hill and tried to prevent Genocide Joe's succession to Don the Con?

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Has Capitol Hill not been under attack by the endless march of one lobby or another - the gun lobby, the fossil fuel lobby, the Israel lobbies, ad nauseam?

Clean-shaven and clad in business suits, lobbyists walk into the halls of Congress and bribe the legislators to send more arms to Israel to slaughter more Palestinians, sell more arms to insane people to murder schoolchildren, or else disregard the environmental calamities we face and expand on the profits of the fossil fuel industry.

This is American democracy in a nutshell. 

We should all abandon any false hope in American democracy, and begin from the ruins of Gaza and the slaughtered corpses of Palestinians buried under those ruins and rebuild a new political imagination.

It is obscene to walk into any voting station and vote for anyone in this fundamentally flawed and irredeemable “American democracy”. We cannot salvage this diabolical political system. We must save our own souls.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he teaches Comparative Literature, World Cinema, and Postcolonial Theory. His latest books include The Future of Two Illusions: Islam after the West (2022); The Last Muslim Intellectual: The Life and Legacy of Jalal Al-e Ahmad (2021); Reversing the Colonial Gaze: Persian Travelers Abroad (2020), and The Emperor is Naked: On the Inevitable Demise of the Nation-State (2020). His books and essays have been translated into many languages.
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