Democrats are livid — why isn’t Biden?
Mr. President, I know you are well aware that you were not many Democrats’ first choice for president in the 2020 election. If we’re being honest, most Democrats weren’t even keen on voting for you. But the idea of Donald Trump getting four more years in the White House was too much to bear.
You’ve certainly had legislative and policy successes, but you’ve been unable to adequately message your wins in a way that connects with voters. Your biggest strength — being a Washington insider — has become your biggest weakness, causing your poll numbers to plummet so low that Trump might beat you and become the next president if the election were held today.
This isn’t going to be pleasant to hear, and it certainly won’t make you feel warm and bubbly, but at this point in your presidency, most Democrats are praying for another option.
Black people may have voted for you in South Carolina at levels so high that it all but guaranteed you the nomination, but failing to pass the Voting Rights Bill, combined with an understandable fear that you may not be up for the challenge, has caused your numbers among African Americans to plummet.
People hear a lot of nice words, and genuinely think that you’re a good man, but they don’t feel like you’re really fighting for them. It’s almost as if you’re that guy yelling across the room at a party knowing that your friends will immediately hold you back if things get dicey.
You have the biggest bully pulpit in the universe. Let America know what the country will look like if Republicans come back to power. Aggressively call out Republicans who embrace white nationalism and believe that America was at its best when equality was just an empty phrase in our nation’s founding document.
You haven’t passed a marijuana reform bill, protected our voting rights, or shown any leadership when it comes to protecting women’s right to have an abortion, and yet you go out of your way to praise the very individuals who would rather hurt their constituents than support your agenda. I was once a “kumbaya” Democrat, and then Republicans elected Trump. They attempted a coup, overturned Roe, and openly bragged about turning our democracy into something unrecognizable. They aren’t your friends.
It’s time for you to get angry. At this point, what do you have to lose? We are way past the days of Tip O’Neill sharing a drink with Ronald Reagan. We’re never going back to a gentler form of politics; the genie’s out of the bottle.
Voters are angry. Their lives don’t feel substantially better in spite of Trump being out of office. You can’t break the fever Trump has over Republicans. You can’t convince future lobbyists like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to choose what’s right over what will fill their political coffers. And while Manchin and Sinema may have ultimately been the ticking time bomb that blew up your agenda, you didn’t exactly put any fear in them.
Don’t take my word for it: Krystal Ball, host of the show “Breaking Points,” expressed her dissatisfaction with your administration, telling me that “a majority of Democrats want someone else to be the nominee. With that kind of opening and the complete collapse of his agenda, a challenge is almost guaranteed.”
When I asked about your chances in the midterms, Van Latham, author and host of the podcast “Red Pill,” echoed a commonly expressed sentiment: “It almost seems as if Democrats are just determined to lose young people and suburban people. … They are still playing politics as if it’s 1995 or 1985 or even 1975. They don’t really understand that society is changing in their favor. The use of marijuana is a non-controversial topic — it’s a layup. The problem is, I firmly believe that Democrats care more about the people who they think that they’re going to scare — suburban white people — than the people they could potentially help.”
As Florida agriculture secretary and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried told me, “Leaning into policies like marijuana legalization or student loan forgiveness [has] the ability to change the narrative around Biden and his inability to connect with young voters. For a candidate who ran on bipartisanship, this is a no-brainer.”
You need to hit the road and barnstorm the country like your political legacy and the future of our democracy depend on it. You can’t continue to sit back and have no response to critical race theory attacks. You can’t be afraid to be bold. Speak from your heart, not briefing books. You need to show voters that you don’t just feel their anger, you share it.
Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke’s (D) confrontation with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over gun safety in the wake of another mass murder, and Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrows’ (D) response to disgusting accusations of pedophilia, both provide clear blueprints for punching back against Republicans.
It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to fight back. Leadership means running towards the fight, not away from it.
In the summer of 2020, millions of Americans took to the streets and showed their anger and frustration at the status quo. Those Americans didn’t cease to exist after Election Day, they weren’t the victims of a snap from Thanos or placed in witness protection. They feel ignored. Their frustration and anger aren’t reflected by their president. It’s time to change.
If you don’t want to end up as a one-term president, you need to go big. You’re currently losing to Donald Trump in head-to-head polling. Yes, you’re losing to a twice-impeached former president who attempted to illegally overturn the election and fundamentally alter our way of life.
You were elected to lead this country and restore a sense of dignity. You swore that you could work with Republicans to get major legislation passed. But at every turn, Republicans have made it clear that they serve a twice-impeached former president, not the people who elected them. You cannot reason with people devoid of reason. The days of winning over large swaths of Republicans are too far gone. They’ve changed, and you must change too. The time for drawn-out negotiations is over.
Republicans aren’t focused on simplifying taxes to help small business owners. They aren’t focused on making sure prescription drugs are cheaper to purchase, or little kids won’t suffer the types of wounds that should be found in only war zones. They are focused on destroying your presidency, just like Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) swore he’d do to your former running mate, Barack Obama.
You are in a unique position. You are playing with house money. Your path to the presidency was nothing short of epic. You weren’t supposed to be here. With all due respect, act like it. There is an active effort to fundamentally change our country in a way that has not been seen since the early days of Jim Crow. We are backsliding as a country, and the only appropriate response is indignation and outrage.
Get angry, Mr. President — we are.
Michael Starr Hopkins is a founding partner at Northern Starr Strategies.