Lede: The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that not even the most
"progressive" elected officials in the U.S. are willing to do what is necessary
to meet the needs of the people.
Members of Congress departed for a seven-week vacation at the same time that the
Center for Disease Control's (CDC) national eviction moratorium expired on July
31. The Squad, a subset of members of the House of Representatives who espouse
Bernie Sanders' policy agenda, gathered at the Capitol building to demand that
Congress come back to work and hold a vote to renew the moratorium. Cori Bush,
Jamal Bowman, and other Squad members slept on the Capitol steps overnight as
part of the ongoing protest. Critics on social media pointed out that the rally
was too little, too late while others remarked that the low attendance of the
rally, comprised mainly of political surrogates, rendered the action nothing
more than a photo opportunity for the Squad.
Founder of Black Agenda Report (BAR) Glen Ford died three days before the
protest. Ford strongly opposed the politics of diversity, which privilege
political representation over substantive policy demands and the popular power
required to achieve them. He closely monitored the Congressional Black Caucus
(CBC) to demonstrate that voting for elected officials who look and behave like
their constituents does not necessarily equate to representation. Ford led BAR's
effort to expose how the CBC, for example, voted in large majorities to
militarize U.S. police departments and enshrine their officers with protected
class status under federal hate-crime legislation.
The Squad rose to prominence following Barack Obama's two-term presidency. Obama
represented the pinnacle of diversity. Obama was famously touted as a victory in
the long, hard struggle of Black Americans for human rights, yet his
administration greatly expanded the theater of the U.S. war machine and enacted
a broad policy agenda friendly to the rich. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential
campaign emerged from the economic discontent once encapsulated by Occupy Wall
Street - a protest movement that Obama's DHS and FBI brutally repressed at the
tail end of his first term. In a pivot away from protest, an increasingly
left-leaning Democratic Party base placed their energy into electing
"progressive" members of Congress.
Talking the walk
The Squad combines the politics of diversity with a politics of
spectacle. Unlike Obama, who openly chastised Black Americans and separated
himself from the Left, the Squad professes to stand with working people and
"walk the walk." U.S. Representatives Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
(now better known as AOC) frequently identify themselves as organizers in a bid
to relate to their young, left-leaning supporters. This was evident in their
response to the expiration of the eviction moratorium, which has left more than
11 million Americans at risk of eviction. The Squad took to the streets as
organizers in the hours before the policy ended despite offering little more
than statements in the months leading up to July 31.
Even worse, the Squad has struggled just as much as the rest of the Democratic
Party to articulate just who is to blame for the negligence surrounding the
eviction moratorium. Members of the Squad have been hesitant to cast full blame
for the crisis onto House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or President Joe Biden. AOC told
journalist Chuck Modi that the Biden administration failed to respond to the
Supreme Court order in June indicating the need for congressional involvement
until just days before the moratorium expired.
"The House was caught off guard by the White House's statement, there was some
resistance in the House and members literally started getting on planes"
AOC on last month since court order to Biden to call on Congress. (Sat.)
-- ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 1, 2021
Cori Bush explained to journalist Max Blumenthal that she didn't know why Joe
Biden had not issued an executive order to renew the eviction moratorium and
said that the crisis "wasn't about" Nancy Pelosi. AOC's assertion that the Squad
doesn't subscribe to a theory of change that posits one must be nice to the
powerful to get what you want is seemingly at odds with their unwillingness to
directly challenge Democratic Party leadership in a moment of crisis.
I asked Rep. @CoriBush about Pelosi and Biden's role in letting the moratorium
reach its expiration pic.twitter.com/r8iveSWXcW
-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) August 1, 2021
In truth, the Squad has been more than amenable to the establishment wing of the
Democratic Party. Instead of participating in public protests over immigration
policy, as was the case during the Trump administration, the Squad has limited
itself to sharp statements now that Biden is deporting undocumented immigrants
at a rate far higher than the prior administration. Last year, AOC called Nancy
Pelosi the "Mama Bear" of the Democratic Party despite the fact that majorities
support a third-party alternative to the current electoral duopoly. And not one
member of the Squad was willing to force a vote for Medicare For All during a
deadly pandemic in exchange for their support of Nancy Pelosi's bid for speaker
of the House.
-- Cont'd at https://www.mintpressnews.com/on-eviction-moratorium-progressive-agenda-squad-talks-the-walk/278126/