A key insight into understanding Joe Biden is that he is not a moderate; he’s a survivor.
It’s not so much that Biden adheres to a moderate point of view, rather he hews to the center of gravity in the Democratic Party. And now, with the center of gravity lurching hard-left, Biden has lurched with it.
It’s important to stop here to make a related point. I’m not talking numbers, but power. In fact, the majority of Democratic voters are moderate. But the hard-left minority dominates the donors, the consultants, the academics, the think tankers and the kids who work in Congressional offices and on campaigns. There’s a small gulf between what rank-and-file Democrats believe and what Democratic elites prioritize.
Biden, probably without thinking about it this way, has cast his lot with the elites, not the average Democrat. All of his mistakes have come when he has tried to cater to those elites. He spent too much on the American Rescue Plan because the hard-left for some reason decided that the price tag just had to be $1.9 trillion and not a penny less. That contributed (although I think the impact is overblown by conservatives) to our current inflation problem. He rushed to get out of Afghanistan because the hard-left demanded an end to “forever wars” — no matter what that meant for the plight of women there. The result was a chaotic and disastrous withdrawal and a predictable return to hard-line Taliban rule. He went way over the top on his rhetoric on voting rights, talking about “Jim Crow 2.0” when the actual laws he was attacking were, while certainly intended to dampen votes, nothing at all like Jim Crow. In his Build Back Better plan he tried to remake American society along the lines of the New Deal or the Great Society when he had paper thin legislative majorities and nothing like a mandate to do that.
And, in keeping with the way they have always been, the hard-left gives him no credit at all. When he went to Georgia to to make his Jim Crow comments, activists boycotted his appearance because, somehow, they thought he wasn’t doing enough. Now they whine that he wasn’t quick enough on the draw in issuing executive orders after Roe was reversed.
If there is any enduring truth about the hard-left it’s that they are never happy. Being disgruntled is in their DNA. When they get 100% of what they want, they ask why it wasn’t 110%. There is no satisfying these people. So, Biden should stop trying.
The best thing Biden can do right now is to get back in touch with his survival instincts. He’s swimming for his political life and all the hard-left will throw him is an anchor. So, the thing to do is to move to the center — the other center, the real numeric center, where most Democrats live. He needs to abandon the apparent center of his party, which is just a mirage made up of a relative handful of elites.
Biden should start by purging the hard-left from his administration. Fill those posts with centrists whose loyalty is to him and to his reelection, not some leftist cause. Then he should scale back, play small ball. To this point, it has felt like Biden has had agendas thrust upon him. It’s time for him to come up with a truly moderate, centrist, modest group of proposals that are really his and that have some chance of being enacted — or at least being popular.
Biden’s problems are really the problems of the current Democratic Party. That brand is down because when too many American think about Democrats they think about the party that is obsessed with their pronouns, that wants to give stuff away, that wants to make sure everybody is equal without taking into account how hard anybody works or how much anybody contributes, a party that looks down on anybody without a college degree.
Truth is, I don’t want any part of that Democratic Party either. I have no interest in being part of the party’s NPR wing. At the same time, I’m convinced that that sect can be thrown off and the party could prosper.
Look at it this way. Because the party is now the party of college-educated, affluent elites, it now out fundraises the Republicans by a bunch. And what has all that money bought us? A party with a president with historically low approval ratings, a slim Congressional majority that will most certainly disappear after November and control of 17 legislatures while the other guys control 30. And all of this while going up against the land of misfit toys and cranks that is the Republicans. Clearly, folks, this is not working.
So, let’s try something else. Let’s let the NPR wing howl into the night — they would anyway. Let’s embrace the moderate, incremental, traditional American values-based approach of the bulk of rank-and-file Democrats and, not incidentally, the bulk of the American people.
In the first half of his administration Biden tried to embrace the hard-left. It didn’t work. Okay, time to try something else.
Want to read more curiously conservative views from a liberal? Pick up a copy of Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority.
14 thoughts on “Understanding Biden”
Dave, your columns now keep getting better and better. Keep it up!
I tend to agree, Dave. But, then you face the real possibility of a Jill Stein-like candidacy. Look what that gave us.
This is a real risk, but the status quo is leading to certain disaster. The trouble may be that when we talk about “energizing the base” we always mean the hard-left. Is it possible to energize moderates, who will come out and vote when they might not otherwise, if they’re given someone to vote for?
I see no evidence that Biden can or is thinking for himself. Biden is the most puppet-like of recent presidents, maybe even more than W. Biden is controlled by elites that want to divide and control society – the World Economic Forum, the WHO, the Open Society organization are examples. Biden and the great majority of Democrats, including yourself Dave, are only to happy to fall into lockstep with marching orders that emit from these organizations. Lockdowns, social distancing, an oxymoron, and all but forced vaccinations are the best and most recent examples. The lack of, or even interest in, coming to terms with the great costs associated with these unprecedented actions adds the exclamation point.
The military-industrial complex appears to have him wrapped around their little finger.
Ditto Big Pharma, Big Tech/Surveillance, etc. Do you see any signs they’re going to relinquish control?
The noisy left are only their mouthpieces. The genuine left began to dissolve with the collapse of Communism in the 90s. Clinton Democrats co-opted any remaining opposition in the service of the aforementioned entities.
Maybe an oft-repeated joke? Republicans bend over backward for big business, Democrats bend over forwards. Until this shituation changes, the vast majority of people are in for a world of hurt.
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“Lockdowns, social distancing, an oxymoron, and all but forced vaccinations are the best and most recent examples. The lack of, or even interest in, coming to terms with the great costs associated with these unprecedented actions adds the exclamation point.”
The fact you again continue to bash and exaggerate these measures with vague references to the costs, or more importantly without acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of lives they saved in the face of an equally unprecedented virus further dilutes the validity of your attempted argument.
yeegads – that you are not aware of the costs of the actions that you wholeheartedly support is an example of what I’m talking about.
How many businesses closed? What cost to childhood education, social development, their psyches? How many mental health problems? How many bankruptcies? What about our civil liberties? This is only the beginning of what is necessary.
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Hello from the UK. I am sorry to say your faith in the various Covid 19 measures is misplaced. Covid 19 is the ‘flu, dressed up as a monster to scare people, re-branded if you will. This helps big pharma etc, control the populace and make more money.
Any fool should have seen this by now. I was slow, but worked it out by June 2020.
As regards vaccines they are at best pointless. I used to think vaccines in general did some good.
But then I thought about it and researched in detail in 2020.
Vaccines have always caused some harm across the decades. This is well documented.
Vaccines have always caused some deaths. This is well documented.
So when we are told vaccines, any vaccines, do some good is this so?
The truth is no, they never have, because poisoning the body produces anti-bodies but this is normal reaction of a healthy immune system. These anti-bodies disperse once the poisons are out.
Until the next time we put poisons into our bodies such as with vaccines.
The main issue nowadays is vitamin D deficiency due to indoor living and working away from the sun.
None of this is rocket science. And as regards cost, it has been a colossal waste of money except it has exposed how stupid some people really are.
And lockdowns did make people stop and think, ‘Hang on do we really need to rush around like headless chickens, there must be a better way’.
I approved this comment as I’m pretty liberal about that and it’s great to have a reader in the UK, but I have to say that I think the reader is absolutely wrong about the efficacy of vaccines. Yes, they come with rare side effects, but the upsides vastly outweigh them.
Thank you for approving my comment. However, what upsides? We were deluded over many years to think vaccines did anything. All vaccines are supposed to do is provide some protection, they are not a cure. In reality this is all smoke and mirrors, a delusion.
It is public health improvements over many years that reduced the diseases, not vaccines. If vaccines did anything at all, they caused outbreaks of disease. Put poisons into your body, and poisoned you will be. It is very simple.
Argue your case, I will put forward more reasons why vaccines are utterly pointless and always have been.
I am now 62 years old and have researched in depth and I know I am right. You only think you are right, where is your own research and analysis?
You don’t dispute the fact that they have caused harm; do you count death as a ‘side effect’??
A couple of questions for you Dave. When you say the vaccine are efficacious, for whom is that true?
Omicron is the current dominant variant. Are vaccines efficacious against it?
If you are under 10 and have natural immunity (>90% this is the case), do the benefits outweigh the risks?
This would be a good place to start to come to terms with vaccine efficacy. Very good data is available now to determine vaccine efficacy. Far better than we had at the beginning of the rollout.
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I suspect we agree more than we don’t on much of public policy, but I’d prefer to see it implemented by Ben Sasse or Mitch Daniels. One area where we might disagree is on the size and pervasiveness of government, and a moderate Republican is more likely to share that outlook. I definitely don’t share your admiration for President Biden, but that’s not an issue of policy but more of personality and morals. I don’t think he is a good person, and I think his family has traded on his influence for the sake of personal gain – including President Biden. I know that’s not limited to his family; the Clintons and Obamas certainly cashed in, as did the Bushes to some extent and probably the Trumps. But what I’ve read about how his brothers and sister have capitalized on his long tenure in public office, and of course the sad, sad case that is his son. Anyway, we can agree to disagree on that topic. I very much enjoy reading your essays, and again, agree more often than I don’t. Keep it up!
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Thanks, Earl. I do agree that the whole Hunter Biden thing is a bigger deal than most Democrats want to make it out to be. The Bidens may not have technically broken any laws, but let’s be honest. Hunter Biden would not have been paid $50k a month to sit on a Ukrainian gas company board if his father hadn’t been VP. He cashed in on his father’s position.
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Dave – another piece of the puzzle for you. Deborah Birx, on Fox News last week:
“I knew these vaccines were not going to protect against infection,” she told Fox. “And I think we overplayed the vaccines. And it made people then worry that it’s not going to protect against severe disease and hospitalization.”
She told ABC in late 2020 that “this is one of the most highly-effective vaccines we have in our infectious disease arsenal. And so that’s why I’m very enthusiastic about the vaccine”.
Lying to the American public appears to have no consequences.
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