Apparently people pay hundreds of dollars a year to have airport-sized bottles of various products sent to them in what are known as "subscription boxes." The whole thing is obviously just a marketing scheme, a way for companies to profit from what we used to think of as free samples, but enthusiasts like to think that they are getting expertise in addition to plastic packaging waste. I suppose the boxes save you the trouble of having to decide what kind of lavender-scented self care oil or "craft" gin you want.

This, I gather, is more or less how President-elect Joe Biden is staffing his administration. A single D.C. consulting firm will probably supply his nominees for secretary of state, secretary of defense, and national security adviser. Thanks to loopholes that allow consultants to work as lobbyists in everything but name, there is simply no way of knowing what powerful interests, both domestic and otherwise, these people are beholden to. But we are going to have our first female director of national intelligence, and probably our first female defense secretary as well.

Forget rejoining the Paris climate agreement. We're getting a fluent French speaker whose band has songs on Spotify, a supporter of the Iraq war and architect of our disastrous intervention in Libya, and even John Kerry again. The rainbow coalition bombing the Middle East. The nation's leading anti-racists ensuring that fewer non-white people are born abroad as well as in the United States by giving federal money to foreign organizations that fund abortions. McKinsey and Facebook and Goldman Sachs in charge of economic policy again. The likely return of pseudo-academic diversity training to the federal workforce, a much-deserved stimulus to one of the only growing sectors of the economy. A return to the good old days when Iran got paid to build nukes instead of having to fund this vital project all on their own. I have not felt this woke since Captain Planet and the Planeteers put away their costumes.

Still, you have to wonder whether this was really the administration that progressives wanted. Unlike in 2016, when Jill Stein's share of the vote in many states was larger than Donald Trump's margin of victory, the Green Party was all but irrelevant this year. Over and over again, they explained that Trump, who will leave office having instigated no new foreign conflicts and all but totally withdrawn us from two old ones and deported vastly fewer people than his predecessor, was some kind of unique threat to world peace and security. Seeing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York explain to her online followers that Rahm Emmanuel is not a very nice guy, you have to wonder whether these people knew what they were signing up for.

A Biden White House was always going to look like this. There was never going to be a Secretary Elizabeth Warren at the Treasury or a Secretary Bernie Sanders at the Department of Labor. There was definitely not going to be Dennis Kucinich in charge of the newly established Department of Peace. The police aren't going anywhere and neither is our health-care system.

Are left-wing voters really so disappointed in their investment? Should they be? If you believe, as I do, that most of the talk from the left about workers and the environment is a lot of guff and that their only real priorities are abortion and making life better for the upwardly mobile white professionals who actually belong to groups like the Democratic Socialists of America, the answer is no.

But even observers less cynical about American progressivism than I am have to admit that Biden really is just looking after his own here. Ever since the primaries he has won consistently among voters who care about the national debt. He insisted over and over again during the debates that more than a hundred million Americans "love" their private health insurance, as if people everywhere had strong views about the virtues of the Gold Platinum Plus Advantage versus the Platinum Advantage Gold Plus. In a crucial sense, Biden was the more "conservative" of the two major candidates, and that is how he won: overcoming Trump's enormous advantage among the rural poor and his unprecedented gains with minority voters with the help of white men in the suburbs.

This is what democracy looks like.