Biden's Leftward Lurch Isn't Enough for Some Democrats

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Joe Biden’s biggest campaign promise was that he wasn’t Donald Trump. Instead, he was going to be a unifying force, a moderate candidate around whom both Democrats and Republicans could rally.

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Voters who weren’t of the far left but weren’t crazy about Trump saw Biden as a hedge against a radical candidate like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whose new tribal name is Craps on Pregnancy Centers. Biden promised a return to normalcy after the free-wheeling days of a president who loved to speak way out of turn, and he promised the trustworthy leadership that decades in Washington are supposed to suggest.

“Biden is bluntly distancing himself from the party’s left flank,” wrote Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post, describing the last month of Biden’s 2020 campaign. “He is making more explicit appeals to Republicans and speaking openly of reclaiming ‘White working-class Democrats’ who ‘thought we forgot them.’ He has built a loyal following among older Black voters, who tend to be more conservative than younger Black Americans. And he is waging an aggressive effort to appeal to White women, seniors and suburban voters, who supported Trump four years ago but have shifted away from him.”

Needless to say, that’s not what we’ve seen. Even though Democrats came out of the 2020 election with the White House, a small majority in the House, and the slimmest majority imaginable in the Senate, Biden and his party acted as if they had a mandate to go for sweeping changes that would lurch the country to the left. In other words, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats did what Democrats always do: they overplayed their hand.

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Biden has shown a remarkable ability to abandon the mantles of “unifier” and “moderate” and to govern as far to the left as possible. Running hard toward the green climate agenda, pushing astonishing spending packages, buying into radical policies on transgenderism, rebuking the Supreme Court for doing its job in overturning bad law, and advocating for the federal takeover of elections to entrench the party’s power are just a few of the examples of Biden-era leftism.

Yet it’s not enough in the eyes of many in his party.

“Biden has yielded to progressives but they have proved to be lousy teammates,” as Oliver Wiseman summarized it at Spectator World. “Meanwhile, moderates feel understandably alienated.”

The president’s detractors from his left complain that his tone isn’t firm enough or that he hasn’t demonstrated enough outrage, which is funny because so many of his statements sound like lectures aimed at those who don’t agree with him. His progressive critics say that he hasn’t talked enough about issues like abortion and gun control, and they may have a point because Biden often comes across as reactive rather than proactive.

Both the White House and the farthest-left voices in the Democrat party have seemed to forget that the Biden administration doesn’t have the sweeping majority that would justify a mandate for radical change to the nation’s policy.

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“Joe Biden should look in the mirror every day and see a president elected on the basis of the unpopularity of his predecessor at a time when the country was slammed by a once-in-100-years pandemic,” Rich Lowry noted in a Boston Globe column shortly into the Biden presidency. “Instead, by every account, he sees a transformative leader with a mandate to change America as rapidly and irreversibly as possible.”

Over the weekend, Dan Balz of the Washington Post made the understatement of the summer when he wrote, “Biden and his liberal critics may never be on the same page.” Lord knows he’s tried to placate his leftist base, but they’re not satisfied. That disunity within his own party may help push the wheels off the Biden machine, and hopefully, it’ll benefit Republicans — and Americans in general — this fall and in 2024.

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