Biden’s new normal | The American Conservative
In the past year there has been a lot of talk about the return to “normalcy”. In American politics, the word is most closely associated with Warren Harding’s tenure as president, which came after years of conflict and upheaval under Woodrow Wilson.
For Harding, normalcy meant a return to traditions of limited government and US sovereignty. It meant, as he put it, “Not revolution, but restoration; not movement but adjustment; no surgery but serenity; not the dramatic but the dispassionate; do not experiment, but balance; Not the immersion in the internationality, but the maintenance of the triumphant nationality. “
All of this contrasted with Woodrow Wilson, whose government was characterized primarily by multilateral overkill, prudish holiness, idealistic frustration, far-reaching expansion of federal power, appalling racism and, ultimately, popular rejection.
The normality of the Warren Harding era was due in part to the friendly, Central American demeanor of the Ohioan. The 29th President, embarrassing for intellectuals, was popular with the public. H. L. Mencken from the Baltimore Sun. Harding’s style of speaking is known to mock: “It reminds me of a series of wet sponges; it reminds me of ragged washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, college screams, dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It’s so bad that some kind of greatness sneaks into it. “
Joe Biden’s political agenda is dramatically different from Harding’s. Nevertheless, there are certain similarities in style and personality, and they help explain Biden’s surprising political success to date.
Our 46th President, like Harding, is admirably boring and not threatening. People have a hard time hating Joe Biden. In today’s US presidential policy, this is unusual. It’s a real strength.
In terms of the ongoing Cultural Revolution that is instigating the Democratic Party’s progressives, it could be said that Biden is 90 percent awake, not 100 percent. However, it is the missing 10 percent that makes the difference to the broader electorate.
The vast majority of Biden’s stated policies and public statements fully respect the progressive identity politics of our time. He knows, as he puts it, that America has a “white man problem”. He bows and flexes for political correctness whenever necessary.
At the same time, Biden has what must be a disturbing tendency for his handlers to graze, divert messages and commit “gaffes” that let the truth blurt out in uncomfortable moments. It can sound very 20th century, you know. Without a script, he often appears either scratchy or incoherent. He seems to give a winning grin and say, “I’m a 78-year-old white man from Scranton, Pennsylvania who looks like I’ve lost the remote. How far could I be?”
The answer, measured against his own domestic agenda, is: pretty far to the left.
In terms of economic policy, Biden has a legislative agenda that is nothing short of revolutionary. Three colossal expense bills totaling more than $ 6 trillion have already been submitted under the following misnomer: the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan. These bills pack every item on the left-liberal wish-list into a gigantic project to reorganize the US economy and its long-term relationship with the governing state. Where Congress majorities are missing, executive orders do the same. As if that weren’t enough to continue to inflate existing national debt, undermining long-term economic growth in the US, new environmental regulations and additional taxes will be amassed to complete the contract. In fact, Biden announces against Bill Clinton: “The era of great government is back.” The Bernie Sanders Democrats are excited, and they should be. The president is pursuing his domestic political agenda.
In foreign policy, Biden oversees the immersion of internationality. There are many worrying statements. In terms of personnel, it is the revenge of the Obamanauts at the top. Well-recognized liberal technocrats are back, as is the Beltway-approved regularity of procedures, combined with plenty of ethical scolding. At the same time, US defense spending will be flat-rate or even cut, regardless of a long list of global commitments. The gap between accredited liberal words and US action continues to grow. In this way, Biden is – inadvertently – encouraging the possibility of deterrent failure and conflict overseas.
The new internationalist tone is more polite than Donald Trump. That’s not hard. At the same time, Team Biden’s foreign policy tacitly retains more than a Trump-like priority. There is skepticism about new multilateral free trade agreements or military interventions overseas. express recognition that China is a frontline challenge; Determination to reconnect with middle and working class perspectives on international affairs; and a focus on building nations at home. In Biden’s case, however, building a national nation means a left-liberal transformation, and this also has foreign policy implications.
The Biden White House is determined not to divert or derail national security challenges from a truly radical national agenda. In terms of foreign policy, the progressives will be content with human rights declarations, expensive new initiatives on climate change, and the withdrawal of all US troops from the Afghan conflict. The Iranian mullahs understand that America is desperately trying to restore the 2015 nuclear weapons deal. Joe Biden will not pamper dictators unless leftist truths dictate it. In this case, it’s perfectly fine. Climate bazaar John Kerry and his entourage roam the rules-based liberal world order and beyond to save the planet by getting the Chinese Communist Party to make another false promise regarding “green” priorities. This begs the troubling thought: if John Kerry is the answer to our problems, then what was the question?
In matters of culture and national identity, the Biden government is providing material aid and support for the great awakening of our time. Knowing that reshaping the country means controlling how elites think and speak with ordinary people, the progressives of the Ascendant Democratic Party insist on a new understanding of American history. According to progressives, the key to mastering this history lies in the U.S. legacies of white supremacy and structural racism. In addition, there has been very limited progress so far in overcoming these legacies. The answer, according to progressives, isn’t just about giving them the political point they prefer on a given day. it also lies in a willingness to revise the everyday use of the English language in accordance with its increasingly strange ideology.
Like every revolution, this one begins with a small core of true believers trying to impose it on the stubborn masses. The ideological conformity is then enforced against the intellectually weak through bullying and roof addiction of the left using the latest communication technology. Apparently some people find this intimidating. Seriously, it is imposed using the power, authority and purse of the executive branch of the federal government.
The Biden government’s recent guidelines from the Ministry of Education are a prime example of the new normal in cultural affairs. Following these priorities set a few weeks ago, federal grants are now tied to the use of the New York Times 1619 project as the basis for teaching American history and civics in local schools. Ibram Kendi’s book How to be an Anti-Racist is also listed in the division’s proposed priorities as an excellent source for incorporating anti-racist practices into local schooling. Other than Kendi and the 1619 project, no credible academic work is listed as a useful foundation in teaching American school history or civics to school children. There is also no primary source like the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.
In a sane political culture, such an absurd approach to raising our own children would be a complete non-starter. Any credible living US historian understands the wickedness and significance of American history of slavery, and (as you know, if your daughter or son is in public school) so much is already taught to children. It is absolutely ridiculous to claim that Kendi and the discredited project of 1619 are the best sources for teaching every child to better understand the entire history of our nation. You are the opposite. They are misleading, imprecise and really divisive. They are half-sacred texts of a stupid cultural Maoism that captured the country and its educational institutions in the past year. And now, thanks to the Biden administration, your tax dollars are being redirected to federal priorities which write that Project 1619 along with the work of Ibram Kendi are exemplary sources for teaching American history to your own children. Welcome to the revolution.
When Biden ran for president for the first time this time, he made young leftists flinch. After all, he’s old, manly, white and not obviously fanatical on ideological issues. But as it turns out, he’s exactly the one who needs progressives to push their agenda through at the top. The South Carolina grandmothers who voted for him in droves during Democratic Elementary School in February 2020 knew exactly what they were doing. Here, as with Harding, boring is good. To say that his domestic agenda is “centrist” or “moderate” would be absurd. But it is personally harmless for many voters who are otherwise skeptical of left-wing liberal truisms.
Joe Biden is the perfect front man for the most left-wing government in American history. It’s political chloroform, a calming sedative should the nation withstand extreme operations. His confused friendliness, his normality of personality, his obvious mediocrity all help to smooth out the rough edges of an obviously left-wing national agenda. And like Harding, Biden outlasts a long list of politicians who they think are smarter than him. After all that, savvy progressives are terribly happy with him now. And if they’re uncomfortable defending the latest radical policy proposal, they can always switch the subject to Donald Trump.
H. L. Mencken suggested that “Democracy is the theory that common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” Last November, voters chose Biden’s new normal. And, as has happened more than once in our lives, things will be good and difficult for the country after the election of a president who knew what he had to offer.
Colin Dueck is Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book is Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism (Oxford, 2019).