Biden blew it up. Now the Democrats are in big trouble
Biden’s presidential pregnancy lasted for the entire nine-month and 16-day term. He gave birth to a lame duck.
In an election outside of the year, the Democrats took a huge blow, losing both the governor’s mansion in Virginia and possibly the Assembly. In New Jersey, Democrats have barely managed to win over the narrowest of majorities in the race for government. These two states had elected Joe Biden with double-digit margins over Donald Trump. In New York, a Democratic stronghold, Republicans also won.
So, in exactly one year, audiences in three strong Democratic states have turned against the party, and more specifically against Joe Biden.
Biden has to carry the can for this. His approval rating is 43%, Trump is the only recent president who has worse numbers than Biden.
More importantly, the disapproval rate stands at 53%. It appears to have helped Republicans bring voters back.
The tragedy for Democrats and Biden is that these two Republican resurrections are, in the short and long term, going to make their lives extremely difficult. For over nine months, they struggled to try to get some sort of trillion dollar socio-economic agenda through Congress. This is in part because of intransigence from the Republicans, who are at 50:50 in the Senate and have refused to cooperate with the multibillion-dollar Biden Build Back Better plan. But more importantly, Democrats were held to ransom by two of their own – Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona – who, worried about their more conservative voters, refused to back the overly liberal Big Biden Spend. .
Tuesday’s results are particularly important to Senator Manchin, whose state borders Virginia and will see the huge double-digit scale for Republicans as a major danger to his position in West Virginia. He once said, “It’s amazing … what happened in Virginia,” and questioned the Democratic strategy of trying to pass a social spending bill, claiming “you don’t cannot unite (a divided country) by simply doing it through a one-party system. ” And without his support, and that of Sinema, the social agenda supported by the left wing of the Democrats died.
So, after more than 9 months of endless bargaining, Biden, who has projected himself as a negotiator and conciliator, has no positive legislation to show. And on the Covid front, Republican governors have challenged his attempts to impose vaccination on the private sector or to impose “appropriate behavior for Covid”. More importantly, they’ve passed laws in over 19 states, making it harder for Americans to vote (read Democratic supporters, especially minorities). Many will use their majorities in the state assembly to redistribute seats in Congress (done after each census) in a way that secures Republican majorities. Called gerrymandering, it would take double-digit swings in a state like Texas, where there has been an influx of “Democratic voters,” for Republicans to lose seats.
The story of the US Congressional elections in the “off year” (which would be 2022, which does not have a presidential election) is that the party that owns the White House loses, sometimes substantially. Biden knows this all too well; Republicans, after taking the governorship of Virginia in 2009, swept Democrats out of the House of Representatives by winning 63 seats in 2010, a majority they only lost in 2018 (Trump’s non-year election ). For the next 6 years, the Obama presidency remained hostage to a Republican house and, in 2014, to a Republican Senate.
For Biden, the tea leaves are clear. Unless he finds a way to revive his presidency very soon, he will spend the next three years trying to rule by executive order, without any legislative backing. The problem he faces, unlike Trump, is that the conservative majority in the Supreme Court, which had been very kind to Trump’s decrees, looked less favorably on Biden; it stopped, for example, his reversal of Trump’s Mexican immigration order.
The specter of a Trump whose control over the Republican Party appears intact will also haunt Democrats. With the support of over 78% of registered Republicans, Trump is the frontrunner for 2024 if he wants to and is medically fit to run. Virginia’s lesson is clear: The anti-Trump campaign Democrats followed did not work, and educated white voters became Republicans again. While Republicans have played down Trump per se, they have given vent to his agenda of too much government, especially in school education, where the idea of teaching critical race theory that has been discussed Slavery and the evolution of America is high on the agenda of many Democrats. Given how close 2020 is and how far Republican states have gone to control early voting and reduce access to voting for monitors, states like Georgia are unlikely to become Democrats. And the very slim Democratic majorities in other rocking states in 2020, particularly Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin, might be ignoring a complete lack of policies on the part of Democrats.
Biden has arrested a second Trump term, but likely won’t be ready for another fight with him. Kamala Harris, the vice-president, doesn’t seem to have it either. The Democrats’ left wing was clouded by Tuesday’s results; people don’t want government interference, seems to be the message. In this somewhat grim scenario, Democrats need a quick fix, or they will end up being shut out of the American political system very soon.
(Ishwari Bajpai is Senior Advisor at NDTV.)
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