Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has made an observation about the dual threats to American political stability, warning that “authoritarianism attacks democracy from the outside, while neoliberalism erodes it from the inside.”
In a recent speech, Williamson emphasized the need for Americans to recognize the insidious nature of both these threats and address them head-on if they want to preserve their democracy.
She argued that authoritarianism represents a clear and present danger to democracy, but neoliberalism poses a more subtle threat that has been undermining America’s political stability for decades.
President Joe Biden has been accused by some critics of embracing neoliberalism, a political ideology that is often associated with the policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and which has been a dominant force in global economic policy for the past four decades.
Williamson believes that since 1981, the United States has witnessed a slow erosion of freedom and a gradual advancement of corruption. This is because neoliberalism, which is characterized by deregulation, privatization, and the dismantling of public services, has been embraced by both major political parties.
The result, Williamson says, is a political system that is increasingly dominated by corporate interests and the wealthy elite, rather than the needs and aspirations of ordinary Americans. This has led to a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration among voters, who feel that their voices are being ignored and their interests neglected.
Critics of Biden’s economic policies argue that his administration has continued many of the same neoliberal policies that have been in place for decades, such as prioritizing corporate interests over those of working people, pushing for free trade agreements, and supporting deregulation.
They point to his appointments of individuals with ties to Wall Street and large corporations to key positions in his administration as evidence of this.
In addition, many progressives have criticized Biden for not going far enough to counteract Republican policies that fall under the category of Reaganomics.
For example, while he has proposed spending on infrastructure, healthcare, and education, many on the left have called for much greater investments to accomplish transformative policies, such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Biden said point-blank that he does not support the Green New Deal — a progressive plan which not only aims to aggressively tackle climate change but also encompasses many other issues like social justice, jobs, housing and health care.
Biden also said he would veto Medicare for All if such a bill ever made it through Congress.
Williamson’s warning comes at a time when the United States is facing significant challenges on multiple fronts. In addition to the threat of authoritarianism, the country is grappling with a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a deeply divided political landscape.
As the presidential campaign heats up, Williamson’s words serve as a reminder that the issues facing the country go beyond partisan politics. She calls for a new kind of politics that is focused on the common good and the long-term interests of the American people.
A consummate politician, Biden embraced a plan that halved his $2 trillion proposal, which was already more narrow and less aggressive than the far-reaching Green New Deal.
In his mind, his inadequate infrastructure legislation and half-baked pork-barrel spending law was a big success, threading the needle by striking a deal with Republicans plus conservative corporate Democrats like West Virginia’s US Senator Joe Manchin and trying to win the confidence of climate crusaders, who see their issue as a matter of life and death.
Biden cannot understand the calculus that failing to extinguish the world on fire means he did not get the job done because he is exacerbating the problem of global warming. His toothless firearms compromise law will not reduce gun violence, which is now America’s number one killer of children.
Williamson’s message appears to resonate with voters who see her observation that neoliberalism is eroding American democracy from within an important one.
As the country heads into an uncertain future, it is vital that Americans remain vigilant and work to strengthen their democracy, lest it fall victim to the dual threats of authoritarianism and neoliberalism.
Biden has defended his economic policies, arguing that they are necessary to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and promote American competitiveness in the global marketplace but those neoliberal approaches show that his political priority has been appealing to moderates and Republicans instead of solving urgent problems.
Had he understood the need to prevent global devastation, address income inequality and provide fairness, support and hope to working families, he would have emphasized.
While there is no doubt that President Biden’s economic policies are more progressive than those of his predecessor, they do not go far enough in challenging the fundamental assumptions of neoliberalism.
As the Biden administration continues to implement economic policies that are consistent with the discredited supply-side theories in which Reaganomics are rooted, the President will continue to be challenged by progressive Democrats and he will continue to be accused of embracing the neoliberal status quo.
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