Monday, May 3, 2021

Reconsidering my Biden vote

 It’s no secret that I voted for Joe Biden last November. Actually, it was last October. I voted on the first day of Georgia’s early voting, which was several weeks prior to Election Day. At the time, I didn’t agree with much of what Biden stood for but saw him as a sane and competent alternative to Donald Trump. After 100 days of Biden’s liberalism and big government proposals, many people probably wonder whether I regret my vote.

The truth is that I don’t. Based on what I’ve seen from Biden so far, I would do it again. And if Donald Trump turns out to be the Republican Party’s 2024 nominee then I’ll probably vote for Biden a second time. (Note that I’m predicting that Biden will run again and not hand the reins to Kamala Harris as seems to be the conventional wisdom on the right.)

Although I’m not particularly thrilled with Biden’s policies, I never expected that I would be. In fact, Biden’s presidency so far looks a lot like I predicted that it would in an article for the First back in November. The COVID relief bill passed, Trump’s Executive Orders have largely been rescinded, and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are blocking the progressive agenda.

Sure, there’s a lot of talk about progressive proposals coming out of the Biden Administration, but if talk and action were always matched we would have a coast-to-coast wall and the pandemic would have been over by Easter 2020. Politicians can say pretty much anything, but what matters is what they are able to do. In Biden’s case, that isn’t going to be much.

And that’s a good thing. I don’t want progressives to have a blank check any more than I wanted Donald Trump to have a blank check. We work best as a country when we work together and each side tempers the extremes of the other.

I’m a conservative, but I realize that America needs liberals to counterbalance the right. The opposite is also true. We definitely need the right to rein in the progressive tendencies of the Democratic Party. In short, I was hoping for divided government from the 2020 election and that is largely what we got. Even though the Democrats have slim majorities in the House and Senate, the margins are so slim that they have to work with Republicans in order to get much of anything done.

That leads to two questions. First, does the current crop of Democrats realize that they can’t get things done without reaching across the aisle, or will they, like the Trump and Obama Administrations before them, look for ways to get around Congress rather than looking for compromise? Second, how will the Republicans respond to such overtures if the Democrats offer them?

I’m not in favor of much of what Joe Biden is trying to get through Congress, but my hope is that Republicans will do better at holding Biden accountable and limiting the growth of government and federal spending under the Biden Administration than they did under Donald Trump. When it came to President Trump, congressional Republicans would frown, fret, harrumph, and then fall in line no matter what excesses Trump was pushing through. They seem to be finding their spines when opposing Biden, however.

And I am also not particularly worried that Joe Biden will strangle the COVID recovery. In the first place, as I’ve already pointed out, Biden isn’t going to get much past Congress. In the second place, Reuters reported this morning that the US GDP grew at an annualized rate of 6.4 percent in the first quarter. What little that President Biden can push through Congress is not going to be nearly enough to strangle the phenomenal growth that we are going to see as we exit the pandemic.

Finally, if we’ve learned nothing from the past two decades, we should realize that the American economy is incredibly resistant. We’ve had some pretty bad hiccups in the form of the September 11 attacks, the 2008 banking crisis, the Obama regulatory regime, the Trump trade wars, and now the pandemic. In every instance, the recovery was swift, strong, and long-lasting.

It’s tough to keep our economy down and the best thing that the government can do is, as Ayn Rand liked to say, “Get out of the way!” It’s the job of Republicans, particularly those in the Senate, to keep the Biden Administration out of the way in ways that they refused to prevent Trump from slowing the manufacturing and farm sectors with his trade wars.

I wouldn’t consider myself a Biden fan, but he does have several things going for him in addition to the good economy. Joe Biden is a likable person where Donald Trump was not. Trump fans who don’t talk to people with different views will find this hard to believe, but it’s true. Biden projects empathy and competence in a way that Trump never did.

Plus, Biden doesn’t insert his foot into his mouth (or keyboard) and make voters cringe on an almost daily basis. Policy aside, and many voters like Biden’s policy a lot more than I do, the lack of national embarrassment is a major factor in Biden’s popularity.

And if you’re one of the people who still say that Biden is suffering from dementia or mental problems, that trope needs to be retired after this week. Regardless of whether you agree with what Biden says, he’s a decent speaker from a technical standpoint. Insisting that he’s soft in the head despite several strong national addresses just undermines the credibility of his critics.

But personality aside, Biden’s bad policy must balanced against Trump’s own bad policy. For me, Trump’s lawlessness and abuses of power disqualified him from consideration for a second term. And that was before his concerted campaign to undermine the Constitution by throwing out the results of the election that ultimately resulted in the January 6 coup attempt by his supporters. Right now, policy is trumped (pun intended) by keeping corruption at bay.

Since January 24, my pinned tweet has read, “However bad Joe Biden turns out to be, I don’t expect him to be provoke-an-insurrection-to-steal-the-election bad.” I stand by that. I didn’t like Trump before, but I didn’t consider myself a Never Trumper. After January 6, I do, and if Republicans want to push me to vote Democrat again then they should nominate Trump and his yes-men again in 2022 and 2024. Rather than voting for conservative policy, I expect to be voting against crazy for the near future.

My prediction is that Joe Biden will go into the 2024 election as a popular (above 50-percent approval) incumbent with a good economy. If Republicans want to have a chance at adding seats or winning back the White House, they need to come up with a positive and practical vision for America. Continuing down the dead-end road of dystopian Trumpism will only lead to more defeats.

From the Racket

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