Biden’s leadership is threatened by his loyalty to the hard left
As President Biden begins his post-100-days agenda, his biggest challenge is that despite good topline poll numbers, many of his major policies are substantially unpopular. Biden is shortening his honeymoon not because of personal unpopularity but due to an unusual fidelity to the most destructive and unsavory policies emanating from the base of his party, which is smitten with Americanized socialism.
Presidents know they need to stay near or above the 50 percent approval threshold to have a shot at reelection. Although the Gallup poll has been consistently inaccurate on presidential numbers in recent years, it has a long record of presidential approvals. Since 1980, only George W. Bush was reelected below 50 percent approval, but his final number before the election was 48 percent. No one below his number, including his father and President Trump, was sworn in for a second term.
Trump’s approvals were notoriously hard to poll, as many of his supporters refused to engage pollsters due to repercussions of being for “MAGA.” Both the approvals of Presidents Obama and Biden were often graded on the curve, due to the near-universal embrace by media, Hollywood and now, tragically, the woke capitalism of mostly white C-suites and CEOs.
Team Biden deserves tremendous credit: It captured the presidency without a vigorous candidate schedule. It took the turbulence and drama of the Trump administration out of White House press coverage. “Boring” is the new fad. Lids on press coverage have replaced leaks, and few have a clue who the White House communications director is. Team Biden has made the insult of “low energy” into a governing strategy.
However, Biden’s biggest hurdle is how he contains brewing unpopular controversies over which he’s demonstrated unsteady leadership.
Presidents Clinton and Obama implemented immigration policies that earned the enmity of progressive Hispanic groups for holding the line on illegal crossings and for vigorous deportations. Obama was famously dinged by La Raza as the “Deporter in Chief” while in his first term. It is not just that Joe Biden has reversed these policies but his stubborn intent on pursuing an open border while never visiting the communities being destroyed by those policies, and freezing out the media from fully covering the humanitarian crisis that presents major political risk for this administration. A recent Fox News poll has Biden’s immigration and border security approvals at about 35 percent. The border issue alone likely will flip enough House seats in 2022, as Democratic voters adversely affected by the unlawful immigration could ask themselves what they have to lose.
It took President Trump years to secure the southern border and, along the way, to convince a reluctant GOP leadership to embrace his wall. The process of ending the free-for-all at the border involved complicated court action, diplomacy, budget brinkmanship, sheer willpower and asbestos-coated skin to withstand unrelenting charges of racism.
An open border is popular with no one except far-left activists, a shamed and shameless Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, and Black Lives Matter, Inc. For all of those raising families, running small businesses, paying taxes or dodging crime, an open border is a nightmare from which those without wealth cannot flee.
Immigration chaos also contributes to increased racial animosity.
Racial tensions in Americans are in a very dangerous state. Not long ago, both parties believed that the preaching of Martin Luther King Jr. was the right tonic to bring greater racial harmony. He urged us to look beyond skin color and try to make unbiased decisions about the quality of one’s work and the decency of one’s heart. Dr. King was criticized by many, especially conservatives, for being a progressive. In the context of today’s violence and anti-Americanism, his message is needed more than ever, even as he seems to have been forgotten by the strident revolutionaries occupying urban streets and attacking churches or cops.
Placing full blame on Biden for our current predicament would be unfair. But he has lacked the ability to find a path toward appeasing those wanting revenge (and reparations) while doing little to guarantee full civil rights and economic opportunities in a growing economy.
Intolerance and religious freedom are under attack everywhere. No country sponsors more hate, intolerance and violence than the Iranian regime. Yet, sadly, whether dominated by a new leftist political coalition or true policy differences, the embrace of the intolerant regime in Iran has become a major feature of the Democratic Party. Although there are still prominent Democrats who want a hard line on Iran, they are now mostly ignored; Jewish voters continue to embrace the Democrats but a growing trend toward the GOP is clear, especially among the sectors of the American Jewish population that are more engaged in their faith and more connected to the state of Israel.
The push to remove sanctions on Iran, among the leading sponsors of global terrorism, will result in a more aggressive Iran. We have seen this vividly in recent weeks as Hamas, Iran’s proxy in Gaza, launched missiles into Israeli civilian centers, successfully testing America’s commitment to our most reliable ally in the region. With the Biden administration moving forward on removing sanctions on Iran, Israel is forced to keep her own counsel on her defense.
Toward the end of Trump’s administration, we began to see the fruit of his unconventional approach to bringing stability to the Middle East. The Abraham Accords saw four formerly hostile Arab states normalize with Israel, and many more were on their horizon. As a point of reference, in all of Israel’s 70-plus years of existence until that point, only two Arab countries had made peace formally with the Jewish state. Now, these historic achievements are being undermined by an administration hell bent on reverting to the old, stale, pre-Trump Middle East paradigm, thereby severely undermining Israeli security. By extension, this makes America much less safe.
Biden’s approvals are balanced out with high marks on handling of the economy and the coronavirus, which are closely linked and crucial to his presidency. Presidents know that Americans often vote their wallets; if they feel optimistic about the economy, they usually reward the sitting president.
Yet, Biden is our president because he promised to unify us and end the chaos and the animosity. His call for unity is a tall order but possible only if he begins to tell “the squad” and congressional socialists “no” with more frequency, especially on the border, on racial relations and on Iran.
It is not easy telling people inside your party they will not get their way, but honeymoons can turn into successful marriages only when sweet nothings are combined with honest feedback. President Clinton criticized the violence of rap music, signed the Defense of Marriage Act, and announced “the end of big government.” Obama won by rejecting the extremism of the pastor who married him, and he was careful and deliberate to not reflexively take progressive stances until later in his administration.
The most alarming poll for Team Biden involves his enduringly underwater VP, whom (per a new McLaughlin poll) 64 percent of Americans believe will be the sitting president come 2024. This has many prominent Democrats coming home early from the honeymoon and thinking about marriage counseling.
Matt Schlapp is the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).