Rather than emerging as scheduled into the world of ‘build back better’, 2021 has ushered in a twilight reality in which the coronavirus pandemic is never quite over, the economy far from recovered, the long awaited Green future proved completely unaffordable, and political unrest is a growing concern. It’s a hostile environment for an administration seeking reelection. One interesting question to consider is how Joe Biden will deal with this adverse turn of events.
For one he will need to reshuffle a coalition disappointed with his failures. “Nearly 10 months into his presidency, some of Biden’s most loyal contributors and top fundraisers are feeling neglected, if not outright cast aside, according to more than 30 interviews with Democratic donors, fundraisers and the operatives who work with them. With the loss of the Virginia governorship this week making plain the darkening political climate for Democrats, the White House has accumulated precious little goodwill among some of the party’s most important financiers.”
Some progressives feel Joe has turned tail and run on his promise to launch a New Deal sequel in the face of political storm clouds, exhibit A being the pared-down infrastructure bill. “The bill originally pitched as a monster $6 trillion banquet of public investment now looks set to come in at less than a third of that number. Amid what is obviously a climbdown from the more far-reaching agenda the White House pitched earlier this earlier.”
The climate changers are similarly disillusioned. Climate activist Greta Thunberg declared the COP26 climate summit a failure. “The COP has turned into a PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action.”
The fact is that Biden never really stood a chance of fulfilling the unrealistic expectations of his 2020 backers. Although while campaigning he would tell backers “from Manhattan high-rises to Silicon Valley mansions” that it was not just the money and he promised to “never, ever let you down,” in point of fact it was always just the money and he would sooner or later let them down.
The problem for the Big Guy is where to find a new set of friends who will help him survive the economic and geopolitical challenges that will hit full force in 2022. One option is to go right. “Democratic political strategist James Carville tore into ‘stupid wokeness’ as the root of Terry McAuliffe’s defeat in the Virginia governor’s race as well as Democratic defeats across the board – and pleaded with party members to avert a backlash.” But it is doubtful whether he will find any welcome in that direction.
The alternative is for him to return, like a geriatric prodigal penitent, to the “Manhattan high-rises to Silicon Valley mansions” whose progressive occupants he so recently disappointed, promising an even more radical agenda. Yet why should they believe him a second time when he failed to deliver on the first? How can he sell them the Brooklyn bridge again? The answer, according to the Guardian, is to resurrect the threat of Donald Trump.
Joe Biden’s best hope of retaining power is Trump, the ogre under the bed … Since the end of August, Biden has been buffeted by one bad news story after another. The image of ignominious US withdrawal from Afghanistan cast a pall over his presidency and punctured his aura of competence. As Covid vaccinations levelled off, cases again began to rise, forcing many Americans, who believed just a few months ago that the pandemic would be soon over, to go back to masking and social distancing. …
As much as Democrats may want to run on their legislative agenda, the specter of Trump could be their most effective strategy for maintaining power and is probably Biden’s best hope for re-election.
The bitter truth is that progressives did not so much vote for Joe Biden in 2020 as vote against the Trump boogieman. Barring salvation from an economic upturn, the only reliable way the Big Guy is going to keep his coalition together is by finding or contriving a threat that will unite his supporters behind him. In that image, enhanced by the media to frightful proportions, can hide all the administration’s faults with room to spare.
While Biden’s left wing supporters have reluctantly accepted that Joe will never be the second FDR, they may hold out hope that a slogan based on Roosevelt’s words can bind them all together for a few more years. Beyond inflation, energy poverty or China, “the Only Thing to Fear Is Mr. Fear Himself.”
Books: The Last Duel by Eric Jager. In 1386, a few days after Christmas, a massive crowd gathered at a Paris monastery to watch two men fight a duel to the death. A trial by combat to prove which man’s cause was right in God’s sight. The dramatic story of the knight, the squire, and the lady unfolds during the tumultuous fourteenth century. A time of war, plague, and anarchy, as well as of honor, chivalry, and courtly love. The notorious quarrel appears in many histories of France, but no writer has recounted it in full, until now.