Still, if the worst thing that could be said is that a bunch of main-chancers are using the protests as a pretext for making new versions of tedious arguments about Donald Trump, we would be much better off than we actually are. The problem is not that the calls for revolution have become so mainstream that Pokémon is tweeting about #BlackLivesMatter. It’s that actual change is such a remote possibility that there is nothing to lose in instrumentalizing the cause.
If you don’t believe me that the events of the last two weeks are not going to culminate in the toppling of what even mainstream liberals are now referring to as the “regime” in this country, ask yourself for whom the vast majority of the protesters intend to vote in November. Joe Biden has already made it clear that he does not support defunding, much less abolishing, America’s police departments; he may or may not remember that he is the author of the infamous 1994 crime bill, someone who bragged about “60 new death penalties” (presumably he was referring to the number of crimes subject to capital punishment, not the varieties of execution) and “125,000 new state prison cells.” The former vice president opposes single-payer health care, withdrawal from Afghanistan, decriminalizing illegal border crossing, and the series of proposals his old chum Nancy Pelosi calls “the green dream or whatever.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have changed her mind about Biden, but he is never going to change his mind about the vast majority of the policies favored by the 30-year-old progressive New York congresswoman and her enthusiastic supporters.