(Trends Wide) — President Joe Biden must define politics this fall before he defines him, as he seeks to restore authority to an administration that often seemed overwhelmed by a relentless summer filled with challenges.
The weeks following Labor Day will reveal responses that will set the stage for next year’s Congressional elections. They will also help decide whether Biden has the potential for a historically significant presidency or is overwhelmed by the unconquered crises for which he was elected.
An avalanche of political challenges and battles is dominated by a pandemic that Biden hoped would now be history. But the crisis is beginning to seem endless and, as it hits national morale, it is undermining their political position. Meanwhile, the fallout from a chaotic exit from Afghanistan that encapsulated the ignominy of a US defeat is raising questions about Biden’s core promise of competence. The Democratic Party’s infighting between progressives and moderates is highlighting the big bet of the Biden presidency: that, at a time of national crisis, voters want a multi-million dollar assault on climate change and the restructuring of the social safety net.
The reverberations of the conservative Supreme Court decision not to block the effective eradication of women’s constitutional right to abortion in Texas, which promises multiple political consequences, still echo. The House Republican Party’s radical turn toward pro-Donald Trump authoritarianism also underscores the profound danger that American democracy still faces.
Biden’s critical months will unfold with his presidency put to the test like never before. His approval rating plummeted in a brutal August and he often seemed opinionated and impatient with criticism of his performance. But he has the tools of a political rebound at hand. He has been underrated for nearly his entire career, including during a 2020 Democratic nomination campaign that only his close family and most loyal associates believed he could win. While all presidents endure tough times, only the most successful emerge from political recessions.
Drama on Capitol Hill
History evaluates presidents based on the transformative bills they passed. Thus, Biden’s legacy is on the line as early as this week, as the battle resumes for a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $ 3.5 trillion supplemental spending plan that would transform the climate, the social care and health care policy. Success in both will allow Biden to claim one of the most important legacies of any Democratic president in half a century.
Each bill is central to their entire political belief system by prioritizing working and middle-class Americans. They are meant to show that government can still work for ordinary citizens and respond to the disdain for Washington’s democracy felt by many blue-collar Americans who were courted by Trump’s populist nationalism and his ability to corner the resentment of millions of Americans. against distant elites.
Biden is stoking his own populist sentiment as he asks the wealthiest to fund the bills with higher taxes.
“For those big corporations that don’t want things to change, my message is this: It’s time for working families, the people who built this country, got tax cuts,” Biden said Friday. “And those corporate interests that do everything they can to find allies in Congress to prevent that from happening, let me be, as the old phrase goes, perfectly clear: I’m going to take care of them.”
Biden’s ambitious social spending plan is the progressive price tag on the House demand to vote for the infrastructure bill to repair roads, bridges and railroads that would fulfill another Biden promise: to promote political unity in bitterly divided Washington. But West Virginia moderate Senator Joe Manchin, a critical 50-50 Senate Democratic vote, wants to curb the spending bill.
His position could unravel the entire choreography of Biden’s domestic agenda and highlights the razor’s edge between progressives and moderates in which his presidency finds itself. The confrontation also underscores the huge gamble Biden is making with the most ambitious social engineering in decades. If he fails to achieve fundamental reforms, he could demoralize Democratic voters and lower their turnout next year.
But last year voters did not give Democrats a clear mandate from Congress that would make this a risk-free effort, and Republicans relish the idea of a midterm election campaign directed against liberal waste. There are two possibilities: Democrats are very likely to lose the House and Senate next year if they don’t pass these bills. But if Republicans are right, they could also lose control of Congress because they passed them.
Defiant Biden on Afghanistan
Biden’s foreign policy, as well as his domestic plans, are aimed at attracting American workers. While critics of his mismanaged Afghanistan withdrawal highlighted the chaos, Biden repeatedly said he was right to end a costly foreign war. He appeared to be speaking to working voters whose children suffered most of the casualties in foreign wars caused by the attacks on September 11, the 20th anniversary of which the president will mark on Saturday.
However, the disorderly withdrawal highlighted some aspects of Biden’s character that had not been previously observed during his presidency. He often lacked openness and empathy for Afghans. And the deaths of 13 US service personnel and dozens of civilians in a suicide attack at the Kabul airport raised questions about the experience he describes in foreign policy.
Republicans vow not to let Biden turn around to pursue his national agenda, with around 100 Americans still waiting to be rescued in Afghanistan and with potentially tens of thousands of Afghans assisting US forces and officials for 20 years after the mass evacuation. from the United States.
“President Biden desperately wants to talk about anything but Afghanistan,” Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement. “But Americans who are hiding from the Taliban, ISIS and the Haqqani network don’t give a fuck about news cycles, long weekends and polls, they want to evacuate.”
The White House seems to be convinced that Americans are now ready to focus on their own problems. But if Biden’s fragile demeanor and prominent missteps in the Afghan chaos spill over into other political areas, there will be new questions about his performance.
Texas abortion law ignites a new battle
Another surprising political development at the end of a turbulent summer was contained in the fact that the conservative-majority Supreme Court failed to block a Texas state law prohibiting abortion after approximately six weeks. Not only does the law undermine the constitutional protection of abortion, it is also drafted in a way that makes it difficult to challenge in court.
The episode is likely to supercharge the enthusiasm of the Republican base, as it is the culmination of a decades-long attempt by conservatives to remake the federal judiciary. But it could also offer an opening to Democrats, as it can mobilize suburban and female voters, who have been crucial in recent elections, to its cause. Still, the power of conservative justices could also renew frustration among progressives over Biden’s refusal to endorse the abolition of Senate filibuster that prevents Supreme Court reform and voting rights.
Channeling liberal fury, Biden has promised a full government response to Texas’ staunch conservatism AND Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged Monday to use federal law to protect abortion clinics in Texas.
The scale of the Texas controversy is only fueling the feeling that the next few weeks are not only critical for Biden, but could define America’s character for years to come.
A discouraged national mood
The worst reality of the pandemic for Biden is that his options to suppress it have already been used. For months he begged vaccine skeptics, many of them Republicans, to save themselves. Now about 150,000 Americans are infected every day and 1,500 die, and the political pushback is hurting it. A challenging fall is coming as children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated, resume face-to-face classes. The sense of national exhaustion is palpable and could generate broader perceptions that the country is headed in the wrong direction – a feeling that is damaging to whoever is in charge.
The Biden White House has also not been blameless. The recent rejection by medical officials of a White House announcement that covid-19 booster vaccines would be ready by September 20 cast doubt on Biden’s promise to always put science before politics in question.
When he took office, after Trump’s disastrous handling of the virus, it was often said that Biden’s presidency would be judged based on whether it restored normalcy. That is still the case.
In an eye-opening aside last week, Biden mused, “Imagine if the other guy was here.” He was referring, of course, to Trump and the former president’s deceptive penchant for cheering on stock market records as proof of a fair economy.
His comment also reflected how in his first seven months in power, Biden’s presidency has often been seen as a contrast to Trump’s stormy tenure. But the time has come when he will be evaluated not for the misconduct of his predecessor, but for his own promises and decisions.