America Is Better Off In 2024 Than In 2020, Here’s Why That’s Good For Joe Biden
Don't Worry, I Won't Spend The Whole Year Being Optimistic
I like to think of myself as a realistic optimist. That means that while I see the upside of things, I temper that notion with real world indicators that could thwart my hopes and dreams. Sometimes that notion has led others to call me a pessimist, because – in my view at least – I don’t get carried away with good feelings when things are going well.
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Right now, however, I tend to feel that the drumbeat in the media and politics in general is marching in lockstep with the notion that President Joe Biden is (politically speaking) a dead man walking. But whenever we have so many walking in identical footsteps it makes my Spidey sense go off. True, sometimes everyone is saying the same thing because the conclusion is obvious, but in my lifetime I’ve seen that sort of consensus form around ideas like Iraq having weapons of mass destruction or Barack Obama being foolhardy by announcing his presidential campaign just two years into his Senate career. And of course, the most recent and devastating version of this (which I was guilty of) the notion in 2020 that Donald Trump simply couldn’t win.
So what if the drumbeat is wrong? I think there is a very real possibility that a year from now we could be just a few weeks away from Biden being sworn in for his second term.
I’m not fooling myself here. The president’s approval numbers are in the crapper, and he faces multiple headwinds ahead of the election. There are concerns about his age and despite improvements in the economy and crime under his watch, the right and the mainstream media have done a masterful job of convincing many Americans that things are far worse than they are.
But still. I can also remember in the 2020 election cycle when Biden’s campaign seemed like an also-ran, when it seemed far more likely that someone else in the Democratic presidential field – Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris – would end up the nominee. But then Biden won the nomination and went on to solidly defeat Donald Trump by over 7 million votes and 74 votes in the electoral college. Biden accomplished this task as an outside challenger to an incumbent president. The last time an incumbent president lost before 2020 was in 1992 when George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton.
I think Biden has a decent shot at winning in large part because he is the incumbent president. Even though Trump lost, much of the reason came about because the man was too stupid and bigoted to embrace the power of incumbency. He could have easily relied on the legions of experts within the federal government for advice and counsel on key issues like COVID-19, trade, and international relations to at least give the appearance of executive-level competency, but his oversized ego wouldn’t allow it. Instead of telling the American public that he was implementing the path laid out by experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump harnessed the power of the American presidency to advocate for bleach injections during a global pandemic.
Joe Biden isn’t that level of dumb. The president has followed the more traditional American path of letting the system, for all of its faults, just work as normal. He doesn’t spend all day in front of television cameras feuding with the government agencies that he is ultimately in charge of. While it could be argued (and I have made this case) that Biden is too passive in this respect, it also has been a stark reminder to the public that we don’t have to have constant drama from the person with the nuclear launch codes. Nobody is worried that an errant midnight tweet from Joe Biden is going to lead to a crisis at the United Nations.
Similarly, Biden has an unexpectedly successful string of legislative accomplishments under his belt. While it seemed likely in early 2021 that he would get some sort of stimulus bill through a Democratic Congress, the later success of legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act, the infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act (a scaled down Build Back Better bill) appeared to be a pipe dream. But they got done and we are now seeing tangible real-world benefits of those pieces of legislation. The problem is that they’ve been demagogued by the right and ignored by the media, while Democrats have typically not championed their own achievements nearly enough. Still, they exist.
But probably the biggest reason I think Biden could win again is the depravity of the right. As is often the case when Republicans lose elections, they double down on the bigotry and incompetence that led to that defeat. The party’s frontrunner and likely presidential nominee, Trump, has simply never won a majority of votes in a presidential contest. He has twice lost the popular vote and became president through the same quirks of the electoral college that gave us the other disastrous president of this century, George W. Bush.
Trump is terrible at politics and continually backs political candidates and messages that are losers, over and over again. Under his stewardship of the party, Republicans lost the 2018 midterm, lost the 2020 election, and had what should have been a “red wave” in 2022 turn out in a red trickle that has already cost Kevin McCarthy his humiliating speakership.
Despite all of that political ineptitude, nobody within the Republican cult is willing to seriously challenge Trump. His opponents during the primary, from Ron DeSantis to Nikki Haley to Vivek Ramaswamy are all just a bunch of suck-ups, and even Chris Christie has a very public track record as Trump’s political cuckold. All useless.
Even a slowed down Joe Biden comes out looking pretty good when his direct contrast is Trump. Added to this is the very real notion that Trump has wholeheartedly embraced criminality and fascism as his guiding ideology, and while it is utterly disturbing that so many Americans are fine with it, it still isn’t a majority of the country as elections keep showing us.
But the biggest reason why a second Biden term is likely is simply abortion. Republicans spent decades orchestrating the creation of a dystopian nightmare where right-wing government officials assert the power to control the reproductive systems of women. After the conservative Supreme Court threw out decades of protection by invalidating Roe vs. Wade, the party got just what it wanted.
And Americans hate it. Restricting abortion rights is a political loser that there isn’t any wiggle room around. Abortion bans lose in blue states, swing states, and red states. Candidates who support abortion bans lose and candidates who back abortion rights win. Despite the valiant efforts of the mainstream media to declare abortion an issue that “narrowly divides” the country, it isn’t close.
Women have turned out in droves to push back on these restrictions, with millions of men in tow. It would be problematic for the right to begin with, but the party is likely going to be led into the 2024 election by the man who is most responsible for this abortion mess: Donald Trump.
Fifty percent of the Supreme Court justices who killed a woman’s right to an abortion in the United States of America were appointed by Donald J. Trump. That is a factor that shouldn’t be forgotten as the horserace drumbeat gets louder and louder as we head to election day in 2024.
President Biden might not have the perfect track record as a fighter for abortion rights, but he is the highest-ranking advocate for abortion rights in the country. When people pull the lever for Biden, it will be a direct rebuke of the biggest rights restriction we’ve seen in this nation for decades.
I’m not naïve. I don’t think the coming election will be easy or a slam dunk and we face the very terrifying prospect that Trump could win a second term and plunge America into depths of derangement and depravity that haven’t been experienced in over a hundred years. But I don’t think it’s all over by any stretch of the imagination. America hasn’t thrown up its hands in defeat just yet, and the country is better off now than it was four years ago.
That’s good news for Joe Biden.
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