On May 5th President Joe Biden met with Chris Smalls, the president of the Amazon Labor Union, who has recently won a historic unionization vote against Amazon which has gone through extraordinary (and illegal) lengths to stop the union effort. Here is a little bit of background- Chris Smalls was fired from Amazon during the beginnings of the pandemic in 2020 for holding a protest demanding greater protections against the coronavirus. Amazon tracked the messages between employees prior to the protest even taking place and were discussing firing Chris Smalls, as well as whether it would be seen as retaliation. In a meeting with top executives and lawyers including Jeff Bezos, the Amazon leadership put forward plans for a smear campaign against Chris Smalls, who they said is “not smart or articulate”, and that they wished to make Chris Smalls the face of the Amazon Labor Union effort. This shows both great contempt (and in my opinion speaks of some blatant racism on the part of Amazon executives) as well as clear intentions of union-busting on the part of Amazon. The National Labor Relations Board has found Amazon to be illegally interfering in union votes. But, in spite of it all, Chris Smalls and the Amazon Labor Union won their vote against one of the most powerful companies in the world. Biden, who promised to be the most pro-union president in history, invited Chris Smalls along with other union leaders to show rhetorical support for the most significant union drive in recent history. Biden also promised while campaigning that his administration would not award contracts to companies who ran anti-union campaigns. But, even as Biden met with Chris Smalls, the President quietly awarded Amazon with a 10 billion dollar federal contract for the NSA. This betrayal of the working class could not be more infuriating, as there is no excuse for Biden to break his campaign promise here. This does not require congress, no convincing republicans or Joe Manchin to vote for anything, there is no supreme court to blame. This is a contract that the Biden Administration has complete control over as the executive branch. But, once again, our President refuses to fulfill their promises outside of hollow rhetoric and virtue signaling.
Politicians routinely fail to live up to campaign promises once they enter office in the United States. For decades our legislative branch has been unable to push through the most basic policies that the leading parties claim is at the top of their agenda. Policies like the federal minimum wage, health care, codifying Roe vs. Wade, raising taxes on the rich and corporations, or for conservatives’ policies like addressing immigration. Regardless of where we fall on these issues, nearly everyone will agree that our politicians have utterly failed to deliver on any promises to their constituents. What both parties have delivered, however, is their promises to the donor class.
Year after year, the same neoliberal policies are pushed through with broad bipartisan support, and throughout the administrations of both democrat and republican presidents. Clinton pushed through NAFTA which decimated American manufacturing jobs and signed the Welfare Reform Act that was pushed through congress by Republicans which ended policies from the New Deal, as well as launching the first Gulf War. Bush cut taxes for the rich, left seniors paying high prices on prescription drugs from Medicare part D, made it harder for middle- and low-income Americans to default on debts (mostly medical debts). In 2008, Wall Street crashed due to the banks creating a housing bubble by scamming working class Americans into buying homes they couldn’t afford so they could gamble with mortgage-backed securities. Bush responded to this crisis not by rescuing the Americans who were scammed, but by bailing out the banks who caused the crisis through TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program). Obama came into office with a majority of democrats in the house and senate but chose not to fulfill a long list of his campaign promises. He did not end the war in Afghanistan, codify Roe vs. Wade (when asked, he said this was not a priority of his while in office), pass universal health care, reform immigration, guarantee seven days of paid sick leave, cap carbon emissions, end the Bush tax cuts (he extended them), close Guantanamo bay, or end the revolving door of people going from lobbying to government jobs and vice versa. Instead, the Obama administration carried out Bush’s bailouts for the banks and failed to prosecute the corrupt executives who destroyed the economy in 2008. Obama gave big pharma a massive gift in the Affordable Care Act, which came straight out of a conservative think tank and was based off of Mitt Romney’s (a republican) state- health care system.
Despite this clear failure to deliver, Americans are told that the real issue is that they are not voting enough. Obama loved this line the most, telling the American people “You cannot complain if you didn’t vote.” Well, the American people did vote for the former president, overwhelmingly. They voted Obama in with a majority in both the house and senate, and yet the president did not deliver. When Americans see that their vote has no effect, and that the same corrupt, pro-corporate and pro-war policies and always favored time and time again, is it any wonder that faith in democracy is in stark decline?