The ‘other war’ happening right under Joe Biden’s nose
Joe Biden wants us to believe that things aren’t as bad as we think they are, that we don’t appreciate all the good things that he has done for us. But as Maureen Dowd recently put it in her New York Times column, “Exhausted, confused, isolated and depressed Americans are not buying the Democratic line that things are better than they look.”
But it’s not only Republicans who aren’t buying the fairy tale about how wonderful we have it now that Biden is president. There’s a revolt going on inside the tent, among Democrats themselves. I mean, when you lose a committed lefty such as Bill Maher — who’s riled up over what he has called the “insane excesses of the left” — it’s time to wake up and take notice.
And plenty of Americans have taken notice. The party is losing adherents — and despite what the president’s handlers are telling him, hitting their message harder won’t solve the problem. The problem is the message itself.
Who exactly do Democrats still represent these days, besides people living in big cities and some suburbs, or hanging out in Ivy League faculty lounges? Blue-collar white voters abandoned the party a long time ago, thanks to Ronald Reagan. Now even some working-class Blacks and Latinos are cozying up to the GOP. Democrats certainly don’t represent a vast majority of the folks who live in “flyover country.” An Associated Press headline didn’t pull any punches: “‘The brand is so toxic’: Dems fear extinction in rural U.S.”
Biden, a pol all his adult life, surely knows that Americans have had enough of inflation, of COVID-19, of masks, of crime, of undocumented immigrants on our southern border, and of the woke, progressive educational establishment looking down their elite noses at parents who want a say in what their kids are being taught in school. But he also knows that voters aren’t going to blame his party’s favorite bogeyman for all of that. Pinning the tail on former President Trump has gotten old. They’re going to blame the guy currently sitting in the Oval Office. That’s how politics works.
Never underestimate the power of likability — or unlikability. And right now, many Democrats have very little of the former and a lot of the latter. It’s why the political apocalypse is heading their way, with an arrival date of Tuesday, Nov. 8.
People just don’t feel good about things in general. More than 60 percent of Americans think we’re on the wrong track — several polls have that number at over 70 percent. Democrats don’t need better marketing. They need better ideas and a leader who can articulate them without reading notes.
Americans are rightly concerned about the surge in crime in cities across America. And they notice when Biden talks about “gun violence,” as if guns have a mind of their own and decide to go out and commit crimes, but is less enthusiastic when it comes to talking about actual criminals.
He wasn’t always that way. This is from a New York Times story from 2019: “In 1993, he warned of ‘predators on our streets.’ And in a 1994 Senate floor speech, he likened himself to another Republican president: ‘Every time Richard Nixon, when he was running in 1972, would say, ‘Law and order,’ the Democratic match or response was, ‘Law and order with justice’ — whatever that meant. And I would say, ‘Lock the S.O.B.s up.’”
That was the old “law-and-order” Joe Biden. The new Biden has been taken captive by the progressive wing of his party — and progressives don’t like talking about crime, unless the alleged crime has Trump’s name attached to it.
The new Biden seems afraid to offend progressives who believe that criminals are the real victims — victims of poverty and racism and all sorts of inequities. So, he doesn’t take on his party’s progressive district attorneys who don’t especially like prosecuting what normal people consider serious crimes. At least one of them, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, faces a recall election this year, and George Gascón in Los Angeles may face a recall vote, too (after an earlier one failed to get enough signatures to meet the filing deadline). Take note, Mr. President: This is happening in overwhelmingly liberal, Democratic cities.
Nor does Biden take on the dangerous idea, concocted by left-wing Democrats, of no-cash-bail laws that allow even violent criminals to go back on the streets before the ink is dry on their arrest paperwork. Many of them immediately go back to what they know best: committing violent crimes.
People also notice that the president shows more concern for the sanctity of the Ukrainian border than he does for the sanctity of America’s southern border.
And they notice that he won’t take on his benefactors at the teachers’ unions, who had enough clout with the Democratic Party to shut down schools during the pandemic and still want kids to wear masks while they’re in the classroom.
Last November, a revolution came to life in Virginia, a rebellion by parents who wanted a say into what their kids were being taught in school, mainly about race. So, they dumped the former Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe — who actually said: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” — and elected a newcomer to politics, Republican Glenn Youngkin, who spoke up for parents’ rights.
Then the rebellion moved West, to San Francisco, a city so blue that you’d have a better chance of winning the lottery two weeks in a row than bumping into a registered Republican.
Fed up with a school board that put its woke ideology over the interests of the kids, voters overwhelmingly tossed out three progressive board members for obsessing over supposedly racist names such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on the city’s public schools. They spent months peddling their nonsense and all the while, during the pandemic, they kept the city’s public schools shut down. Parents had had enough.
And while the parental revolt may have begun in Virginia before moving on to San Francisco, odds are it won’t stop there. The idea of a parents’ rebellion moving from city to city must be frightening to Democrats; it should be.
So, here’s a bulletin for Joe Biden and his party: The more they allow themselves to be defined by their progressive wing, the more trouble the Democratic Party will be in with voters across America.
Biden has a choice: Go to war with his party’s progressives now or wait until Democrats get their heads handed to them in November. One way or another, the civil war is on. And disgruntled, old-school Democratic voters are on the front line. Biden may want to catch up with them. After all, he’s supposed to be their leader.
Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.