Republicans are trying to make the case that Pres. Joe Biden has some how become a socialist. Good luck with that.
Part of being moderate is to live in the real political world and Biden is nothing if not a realist. He is a moderate, but he is not an independent. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and he has a knack for finding the center of gravity in his own party. That center has moved left and so Biden has moved with it.
Still, Biden’s address to Congress and the nation last night was heavy on job, kids and families. He called his plans a “blue collar blue print.” He did not embrace paying off college debt or the Green New Deal and he went almost an hour into his speech before touching on a host of hot button social issues like guns, police reform and various identity politics proposals.
Plus, most of Biden’s initiatives to help families, build roads, expand broadband and the like are very popular, even beyond the Democratic base. He is not out in left field either in his party or with the public at large. Instead, he’s found the sweet spot that unites both.
There is also no doubt that Biden’s instincts remain bipartisan. He would negotiate with Republicans, but they have no genuine interest in doing so. Clearly, they want to just wait it out until the mid-terms when, if history is any indicator, they will gain back majorities in Congress.
Also, Republicans simply have no interest in actually governing. The party is just lost, raging into the night about “cancel culture”, which is a real problem, particularly for those in academia, but hardly a bread and butter issue for most Americans. In the final analysis, most of us care a lot more about our kids, our jobs and our roads than we do about six titles in the Dr. Seuss collection.
Matt Bennett, who cofounded Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, which embraces the moderate politics of Bill Clinton, said it best. “It’s fair to say that Obama followed the Clinton model, and Biden is not, in some fundamental ways, because the world has changed so profoundly,” said Bennett, “Joe Biden is dealing with a seditious, anti-democratic set of lunatics. You can’t deal with people who voted to overturn the election. You simply cannot, even if you’re a moderate.”
That’s right. If the Democrats have moved down the left wing, the Republicans have gone so far right as to be off the bird. They are no longer the party of small government and personal freedom; they are the party of unhinged conspiracy theories and armed sedition. God knows, as a moderate myself, I have my problems with the hard-left in the Democratic Party, but those disagreements are over policy and political strategy. The hard-right in the Republican Party is disconnected to reality and in denial about facts. And a lot of them carry guns. A mix of paranoia and arms is never a good thing.
Biden will get most of what he wants because he can pass his spending plans with a simple majority through reconciliation. Things that are pure policy won’t have the votes, with the possible exception of some police reform measures where Republican Sen. Tim Scott is working on legislation with Democrats.
But the line between budgets and policy is blurry at best. Biden’s plans will transform the nation. Even now, the stimulus plan, which already passed without a single Republican vote, will cut childhood poverty in half. You could stop there and have a pretty good day’s work.
And, who knows. These things are so popular that Biden may just defy the odds in the mid-terms and keep his party’s congressional majorities. That’s because he’s no socialist. He’s in tune with both his party and the country at large while the Republicans are off in some bizarre alternative universe.