With government spending completely out of control, the Keystone Pipeline shut down on Mr. Bidenâ€™s first day in office, gasoline prices going through the roof, states passing their own laws to try to control illegal immigration, crime exploding across the country, supply-chain disruptions, and Republicans on the warpath about deficit spending, the signs and portents are not, shall we say, auspicious for Mr. Biden.
COVID Stimulus-spending of several trillion dollars by the feds has kept a lot of people from returning to work because itâ€™s more profitable (and a lot less bother) to stay home and collect government checks. Businesses are complaining that they canâ€™t fill openings. Some of the federal spending has helped state and local governments pay their government workers â€“ including some teachers who like the â€œnew normalâ€ of drawing full pay without having to be at their schoolrooms.
Mr. Bidenâ€™s major achievements in his first year have been uncontrolled immigration and undoing our energy-independence to combat climate-change. He evidently believes the latter will be his lasting legacy, and he continues to preach its supposed advantages. Yet polls consistently show a majority of Americans opposed to it. Media-coverage has waned, but the voters are fully aware of how it has hit their wallets.
Millions of citizens are painfully aware that inflation is moving up to â€œgallopingâ€ speed â€“ including gasoline prices at the pump that have nearly doubled since Mr. Biden took office. Nearly two-thirds of voters are sullenly biding their time until they can boot out the Democratic â€œrascalsâ€ who have driven them and the country to the financial brink with uncontrolled spending of trillions of printed dollars.
The peripatetic (but frequently tongue-tied) Joe Biden has been touring the country â€“ here at an electric truck factory in Kansas City, there at a solar panel manufacturer in Fremont, California â€“ proclaiming the economic good news. His message: Donald Trump caused the whole mess; Republicans have no â€œideasâ€ on governance, except those that got us into the mess; but everything is now on the upswing.
Voters know the reality is otherwise. Most families have friends or relatives who have been out of work for weeks or months. Foreclosures are commonplace. And renewed mask-mandates, due to the Omicron virus, are bedeviling citizens who bought Basement Joeâ€™s promises to restore normal living. Happy days are definitely not here again, across most of the fruited plain. Voters are prepared to deliver a dash of cold water to Mr. Biden and his Congress on the â€œground truth,â€ out in â€œflyover country.â€
With things looking so bleak for Democrats, political conventional wisdom would advise the president and his party leaders to move toward the political center to pose as fiscally responsible â€œmoderatesâ€ who just want to put the countryâ€™s finances in order. At the very least, one would think Mr. Biden would try to bring down soaring prices at the gas pump by breaking the shackles he has placed on oil production.
But one would be wrong. Instead, Team Biden is doubling down on their crusade against climate-change by sending energy costs into the stratosphere so Americans will use less fossil fuels. So far there has been no move to reintroduce Barack Obamaâ€™s (failed) Cap and Trade bill, which would tax CO2 production via the selling of â€œcarbon allowances.â€ But itâ€™s still early days. Political scuttlebutt says Democrats might try to ram that ruinous bill through a lame-duck Congress, should they lose their majorities in November. But the merest hint of this happening should be enough to send hordes of normally indifferent voters to the polls to throw the Democrats out. Â Â
To counterbalance all this bad economic and climatological news, Mr. Bidenâ€™s Inner Circle hopes to energize his far-left base to vote in the same numbers as in 2020. A demagogic leader always needs a Great Satan as a foil for his rhetorical thrusts. Usually this is a foreign power or leader, but Mr. Bidenâ€™s Great Satan is the Republican Party. Repeatedly he has denounced his political opponents for:
- Supporting (the hated) Donald Trump;
- Failing to stop the COVID-pandemic;
- Causing hurricanes, snowstorms and tornadoes; and
- Wrecking the economy.
Although his own party has held both houses of Congress since the 2020 election, Joe says our problems have been caused by the evil Republicans. They must be defeated in the November elections so he can finish the great work of â€œunificationâ€ he has so nobly started. He has repeated this refrain so often that voters are starting to hum, â€œI think Iâ€™ve heard that song beforeâ€¦â€
Unfortunately for the Democrats (and Mr. Biden), the GOP = Great Satan strategy isnâ€™t working. This is because you usually canâ€™t win elections by running against something. History teaches that elections are won with a strong, positive message, like Hope and Change, even if it isnâ€™t very well defined. In fact, less defined is often better, as it allows voters to fill in the blanks to suit their own preferences.
This was Obamaâ€™s strategy in 2008, when millions of voters flocked to the polls in response to his stirring promise to â€œfundamentally change the United States of America.â€ No one quite knew then what that change would look like, but we now have a much better idea.
Today the verdict on Obamaâ€™s two terms runs from indifferent to antagonistic. Liberals who hoped for radical change were (more or less) OK with Mr. Obamaâ€™s program, but independents who chose The One because he looked sharp in a $2,000 Armani suit were definitely underwhelmed. Their attitude was perfectly summarized by a 2014 caller to a DC radio program who said: â€œSure, I voted for the guy. He looked and sounded great. But I never expected him to screw up this badlyâ€¦â€
Today, many independents and soccer-moms â€“ who thought Basement Joe would restore â€œcivilityâ€ to our political discourse and bring the country together â€“ are saying much the same thing. Will they storm the polls to vote for Democratic representatives and senators, just to keep the Biden-train on the tracks? Very doubtful. Some polls even indicate ennui among liberals and media-people (but I repeat myself). They evidently expected miracles from a superannuated guy who has trouble remembering where he is and what heâ€™s supposed to be saying. Recent polls show his approval-rating at 33%, and still falling.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is resuming rallies across the country and conservatives are mobilizing for a great cleansing of the Augean Stables in November. In the 2021 elections, Republicans engineered surprise-upsets in Virginia and New Jersey. Dems tried mightily to brand GOP candidates as ignorant racists, xenophobes, and homophobes, but the doo-doo wouldnâ€™t stick. Voters knew that those upset parents showing up at school-board meetings to oppose Critical Race Theory werenâ€™t really members of the Klan.
Adding fuel to the fire, a great scandal has now arisen over disclosures that the much-hyped COVID-19 death-count was grossly overstated by hospitals which counted deaths of persons who were merely infected with COVID as caused by COVID, even if the true cause was a serious co-morbidity. Some estimates of such miscounting range as high as 75%. Attempts to sweep the affair under the rug have failed, further enraging both conservatives and independents, nationwide.
With all this doo-doo hitting the political fan, what will the Democratic strategy be for the 2022 and 2024 elections? What card can they pull out of their political sleeve? Some analysts say there is none. They believe Democrats have already given up on November. They know a political tsunami is coming, so they will try to salvage what they can and otherwise hunker down to ride out the storm.
But does this really make sense? Why would a party that worked so hard to gain control of Congress and the White House just roll over and die? I donâ€™t believe itâ€™s in them to do that. Then what can they do to salvage the elections?
To answer this, itâ€™s important to understand the kinds of events that can galvanize the country and pull people of all political persuasions together to support the leaders already in power. History shows that the most reliable tool for accomplishing this is a war â€“ particularly a sudden, deliberate attack like Pearl Harbor, or the 9-11 attacks in 2001.
Absent such a dramatic event, a great looming crisis, like World War I in 1916, can mobilize people behind their political leaders â€“ either with a promise to keep us out of the war or with a desire not to change horses in mid-stream. Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 for having kept us out of the disastrous European war. A month after his second inauguration, we were in it anyway.
In 1940, FDR dramatically declared how much he hated war, but it didnâ€™t take a political genius to see that the storm was heading our way. Although the country was mired in 17% and 18% unemployment through the 1930s, and the GOP had made dramatic political gains in the 1938 elections, voters were disinclined to switch to a new president. FDR was elected to a historic third term in 1940. Four years later, in the thick of our involvement in World War II, voters gave FDR â€“ clearly a dead-man-walking â€“ a fourth term. Republicans didnâ€™t mount a serious campaign against him. Within a month he was dead.
Even President Lyndon Johnson â€“ obviously cruising to an easy victory over Barry Goldwater in â€˜64 â€“ thought he needed to play the War Card for â€œinsurance.â€ Just days before the 1964 election, the controversial Bay of Tonkin incident provoked a strong response from LBJ. This enhanced his commander-in-chief bona fides just in time for voters to view him with new respect. Whether this really made a difference in the election isnâ€™t clear. Probably not, but the point is that LBJ and his advisors thought the War Card was important enough to play it. (Historians are still debating whether the North Vietnamese â€œattackâ€ on one of our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin actually happened.)
Can any variant of the War Card be played in the months preceding this yearâ€™s elections? Although recent threatening moves by the Russians and Chinese look like they could lead to war, color me doubtful. It would have to be something very dramatic in order to be effective, so itâ€™s unlikely that Mr. Biden would risk war this year, just to salvage Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House.
The 2024 election, however, will be a different matter. Mr. Bidenâ€™s job will be on the line., so there will be no limits on what the Biden Gang will do to ensure his re-election. As we used to say in my old neighborhood, theyâ€™ll throw in the kitchen sink to make sure he gets that second term. With apologies for the change in metaphor â€“ the card at the bottom of the deck, waiting to be dealt by a desperate President Biden, could be the War Card.
On the other hand, maybe this wonâ€™t happen at all. Maybe Mr. Biden will have turned the country around, put people back to work, and demonstrated that his battle to conquer climate-change is really succeeding. Perhaps paeans of praise will loft him to a new term without resorting to war or other extreme measures.
But donâ€™t count on it. These guys play dirty. I doubt if anything is beyond them.