How Biden Lost The Plot

How Biden Lost The Plot. By Andrew Sullivan. A view from the left.

The NYT just published the transcript of a fascinating focus group — with Americans who voted both for Obama and Trump at least once. And they’re not happy with Biden. They’re sick of Covid restrictions, frightened by inflation, and unsettled by rising crime and social disorder. …

The group takes a rather complacent view of January 6, 2021, and when asked about their concern for democracy, one respondent said: “You see how the Democrats in power, they seem to be wanting — changing the rules, you know. Voting rights, we can’t win free and fair elections, so let’s change some rules there.”

Of those who said they’d vote Republican in November, there were two reasons given: “I just want to send a message. I think the Democratic Party is nuts at the moment, and the only way I can send that message is with my vote,” and “Yeah, the progressives have taken over the Democratic Party.” …

Joe Biden can say a million times that he’s not Bernie Sanders. But when his priority has been to force through two massive bills full of utopian leftist dreams, and conspicuously failed to pass either, while also embracing every minor woke incursion in American life, he’s just a Bernie Sanders without the conviction or mandate. …

One explanation, perhaps, for Biden’s dense and hard-to-sell legislative juggernauts is that if he’d broken them up and prioritized any single policy, he’d have split his own party. Look what happened when infrastructure passed the Senate first: the left went nuts. In that sense Biden is not so much governing the country as trying to keep the Democrat coalition together, and in the end, achieving neither.

Another aspect of the problem is that so many Dem activists and groups have deeply imbibed the notion that America in 2022 is a “white supremacist” country, designed to suppress non-whites, and that we are now living in a system of de facto “legal fascism,” with a minority “white” party holding the country in its undemocratic grip, perhaps forever.

The Democrats and elite liberals really seem to believe that we are back in the 1960s or 1890s or even 1860s, that we live in a black-vs-white world of good vs evil, and that the choice today is literally, in Biden’s words, between backing Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis. This is as self-righteous as it is ludicrous. It’s MLK envy. It’s an attempt to recreate the moral clarity of the civil rights movement, in a country no one from 1964 would begin to recognize. …

Biden also seems incapable of grappling with the cultural leftism — from critical race theory to the replacement of biological sex with subjective gender — that is increasingly defining the Democrats as a party. He’s just absent, distant, irrelevant on these issues, even as they have shown to be deeply unpopular and deeply divisive. Has he said anything about education and the rights of parents, a burgeoning issue for many suburban voters? Not that I’ve noticed. Meanwhile his party becomes more and more associated with the teachers’ unions, whose refusal to teach children in person for two years is now legendary.

His capitulation to the cultural left — from federal funds for abortion to “equity” across the federal government — is puzzling. I can’t believe that Biden really thinks that deliberate discrimination in favor of some races but not others is an American value, but that is what he is doing everywhere he has authority. I doubt he believes that the United States remains in its essence a slavocracy, whose true origin was 1619 and not 1776, and that this should be taught as fact in high schools across the country. But he will not say a word against the poisonous canard that helped deliver Virginia to the GOP. I doubt he thinks there is no biological difference between men and women — but that’s what his policies on trans issues reflect. Has he ever used the term “Latinx” in private? Again I doubt it, but he mouths that linguistic absurdity in public speeches.

His silence on all these things offers a chance for a future pivot, of course, to remind us that he was once Barack Obama’s vice president, and not merely Ibram Kendi’s tool. But he’s as cowed by these fanatics as the rest of his party. And I doubt he hears a smidgen of criticism of wokeness from his advisers. I mean he appointed Susan Rice to impose it on the entire federal workforce. All he hears, I suspect, is that opponents of wokeness are just racist, transphobic bigots.

Maybe a huge Republican wave this November will force Biden to recalibrate, as happened with Bill Clinton. But Biden, one is increasingly reminded, is a party man, and his party has moved so far to the left in the past five years there is no way he can pull a Sister Souljah moment without splitting the Democrats in two.

Hard to see what they are going to do for the remaining three years of Biden’s regime. A coalition built on envy and hating white males can barely stop fighting with itself, let alone govern.