Biden’s aura of mastery
All Biden had to do was not be Trump. He did worse than trying to be Trump. Compared to Biden, Trump looks good.
The Democratic Party is now viewed less favorably by Americans than Donald Trump, according to an NBC poll released this week. A year ago, New York Times writer Thomas Edsall made a statement that would age better than a spilled bottle of fine Chateau Margaux: he wrote that President Biden “has struggled to maintain an aura of mastery.”
Edsall joined Ezra Klein, who a month before that wailed that Biden’s agenda is “in peril.”
But here’s the truly frightening thought for frustrated Democrats: This might be the high-water mark of power they’ll have for the next decade.
Klein was talking about political analyst David Shor, who advocated “popularism” to right the listing blue ship of Democrat policy. In its simplest terms, it means doing things people like. Upon reading this, the Democratic Party apparatchiks spit their Boba Tea: “doing things the filthy hoi polloi wants? How positively bourgeois! Next they’ll recommend we eat individually wrapped cheese on Wonder Bread.”
Duly warned, the Biden administration doubled down for half a year, blaming the voters. And Trump. And Putin. And “ultra MAGA.” Meanwhile, the things the voters like—full shelves, cheap gas, reasonable food prices, baby formula—have been ignored to the point where soon Louis XVI might poll better than Biden. You could say that there’s a very positive correlation between high inflation, shortages of wanted goods, and stock market losses, to low approval ratings for the president who chose to blame those problems on the people from whom he would gain approval.
It’s not a hard problem for white, very liberal, college educated Democrats to solve. But they are blind to it. Osita Nwanevu wrote in The New Republic:
…the popularists argue that whatever we think about them and their politics, it is simply true that the Democratic Party needs to spend less time satisfying the whims of college-educated progressives and more time accommodating the voters who actually matter, given the structure of our federal system—the moderates and conservatives the party’s lost to the right. “If you look inside the Democratic Party, there are three times more moderate or conservative nonwhite people than very liberal white people, but very liberal white people are infinitely more represented,” Shor told Klein in his interview. “That’s morally bad, but it also means eventually they’ll leave.”
The Democrats are pretending they run a big tent, but in reality, it’s a very small tent, with a huge standing-room-only muddy field around it. The voters who cling to the party stand in the mud, hoping for a glimpse inside the warm, well-stocked “tent” fit for glamping where the NIMBY-rich pale skinned sip Piper-Heidsieck Rare Brut Millesime. If the muddy peasants (“shoes off, please”) ever realize they could simply walk away from the tent, it would take the partygoers inside about a decade to realize they’re gone.
Believing they still have an Obama-era mandate, the core of the Democratic policymakers party on, because they have a 13 seat majority in the House of Representatives, and a zero-seat majority-in-name-only in the Senate. Both are on shaky ground given the hard poll numbers. Democrats have never gained back the state houses and legislatures lost during the heady Obama years. After 2022, Republicans are set to control everything but the kitchen sink in the White House.
Democrats don’t control the highest-rated news network. They don’t have any talk radio worth listening to (even NPR is like listening to instrumental yacht rock). But they do have Twitter (for now). They have the unions, and loads of class action law firms. They have the entertainment industry and the educational institutions.
From their lofty perches, the core of the Democratic Party issues edicts, because to them, the popularist approach is what’s popular to them. Therefore, we must immediately pivot to electric vehicles, because we make too much carbon. Never mind that the average cost of an EV is over $50,000. Never mind that if you order one, it can take seven months to deliver. Never mind that the infrastructure to support the kind of electric grid to fuel all those EVs will produce billions of tons of greenhouse gases. Never mind that China and India won’t do a whole lot to stop their own prodigious contributions to global warming.
Never mind. Shut up and take your medicine, serf.
The key to Democratic ultra-liberal-centered popularism is that you, serf, must suffer for the good of mankind, while they continue to party from their rich tent so they can decide how much more suffering you need.
And to keep the masses occupied, the media issues Orwellian puzzles like “pregnant man” emojis, penalties for mispronouning non-binary genderfluid demiboys, and denouncements for decades-old statements that at the time were considered fact.
Here’s a little secret about the effete social programmers running amuck in progressive circles. Most are filthy little bullies. They don’t want anyone to succeed, unless that person was vetted and approved by their social improvement committee (which itself changes the rules constantly). They are worse than the most committed Ayn Rand acolyte when it comes to who will be invited to their own Galt's Gulch. Except they replace competence and self-reliance with ecclesiastical confession of their ever-evolving progressive dogma.
The history of progressivism is replete with bullies. Like the sculptor about to carve an elephant from a block of granite, those who want to engineer utopia have to start by removing everything that isn’t utopia. Most of the time, that means the popular stuff goes first.
Eventually, the people who are being engineered out of existence catch on, and begin to push back with their own version of social power. Hence, Obama yielded Trump. But Trump’s bullies were far less refined than the Democrats. While the fruits of the social pushback, in legal and political fronts, have been quite astoundingly good for conservatives, the price is also quite astoundingly high.
Peggy Noonan wrote about Ronald Reagan portrayed in Edmund Morris’s “Dutch”: it “made me think of what was said of FDR: He is like the Staten Island ferry, big, unstoppable and bringing all the garbage along in its wake.” Trump very much fits this description, only he not only hauls existing garbage; he also manufactures a particularly noxious kind of his own. And instead of leaving the garbage to float along the river, Trump carefully collects it, sorts it, and curates the foulest pieces. Sauron would approve of Trump’s orcs.
It’s the stench of this garbage that drove away voters in 2020. Yet a miracle (or some other term to describe it) has occurred. Some in politics have become so inured to the smell that they don’t realize they’re treading in putrid fields every day. Others have learned to love it like a Labrador rolling in a two-week old possum carcass. The ones who love to roll in the filth are Trump’s bullies. They revel in personal attacks, threats of violence, actual violence, and causing their enemies (real and imagined) to cower in fear.
The only difference between them and the Democrats is that progressive Democrats think violence is scientifically necessary for the “pruning” of society and ridding it of undesirable elements. (Eugenics is out of fashion, but nostalgically whispered in their dreams.) Trump’s trash enjoys violence for its own sake. Both, for their own reasons, sport some tumescence at the prospect of getting some filthy bully action.
At this point, the pendulum is about to continue swinging—hard—over from the left, after a brief 2020 swing to dump Trump. Biden, with his thumbless gorilla grip on unpopular, painful, voter repellant policies, has ruined any chance of Democrats using anti-Trump to win political influence. “Ultra MAGA” now beats Biden, and Biden himself laid out the choice for voters. Biden’s term so far has been one giant facepalm.
Democrats cling to the hope of using abortion as a lever to activate moderates. But I think abortion probably polls better than Biden. Plus, the moderates can at least make rational sense out of most Republican pro-life legislation, despite the extremist propaganda coming from the left. The left’s unlimited abortion manifesto is inexplicable, cruel, and dogmatic. It doesn’t move undecideds.
When Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (who never agree) agree that Biden is toxic; when the billionaires agree with the working folks who have mortgages and 401k’s; the Democrats have no redoubt left to defend. So they’ll rely on their filthy little bullies to punch up. And that will incite the filthy bullies on the right to get their guns. And away we go into violent failure to communicate.
All Biden had to do was not be Trump. He did worse than trying to be Trump. Compared to Biden, Trump looks good. In the annals of “worst president” stories, how much worse can it be?