THE DAWN OF AN OLD ERA
Will Biden get a Honeymoon?
So…today begins a new era in American politics. Ding, dong, the Hitler is dead! And now, hope can live again!
And if this all sounds kinda familiar, that’s only because it is! It was much the same twelve years ago, and it’ll be the same the next time a Republican president is succeeded by a Democrat. If your narrative ain’t broke, after all, why fix it?
The fascists are once again banished, and Hope and Change are back!
Or so we’re told.
As we’ve noted many times before in these pages, however, neither the hope nor the change is likely to stick around for long. Joe Biden isn’t going to have quite the honeymoon this time around, now that he’s dropped the word “Vice” from his title.
There are several reasons this will be the case, we think, but likely the most important of these is the imminent collapse of his party.
What’s that, you say? You thought the GOP was the party that is collapsing? Well…it is. That much is painfully obvious. But the GOP isn’t collapsing because it’s uniquely terrible. It’s collapsing because the world has changed and the coalitions that formed the party’s base for the last 75 years or so are no longer necessarily compatible. AND THE SAME THING IS HAPPENING AND WILL CONTINUE TO HAPPEN TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. The internal contradictions of party coalition members are just too powerful and too irreconcilable for either one to survive in its current form. It is distinctly possible – even probable – that Donald Trump’s post-election meltdown will delay the collapse of the Democratic Party, as conservative Democrats and independents gag and then hesitate at the lack of alternatives. But the dissolution of the party as it currently exists is nevertheless inevitable – as inevitable and likely as inevitably ugly as the GOP’s current breakdown.
For evidence of what we mean and how the end will, eventually, come, one need look no further than the man who is being inaugurated today as the 46th President of the United States. Joe Biden is the last of his kind, a man who belongs to both sides of his party and yet, belongs to neither.
Purely by coincidence, two stories about the start of the Biden administration showed up back-to-back in our Twitter feed yesterday. And while they appeared in sequence by happenstance, together they painted a pretty clear picture of the challenges facing the new president and his party.
The first story was reported by countless media outlets, but we saw it first in The Hill, which put it this way:
All four top-ranking members of congressional leadership have accepted President-elect Joe Biden’s invitation to attend a church service with him Wednesday morning ahead of his inauguration, according to multiple reports.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will join Biden for mass at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Biden is the second Catholic elected president, after President John F. Kennedy….
The bipartisan leaders’ attendance also comes as Biden has repeatedly signaled his commitment to national unity ahead of the inauguration.
McCarthy was one of more than 100 House Republicans who objected to Biden’s Electoral College victory following a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Joe Biden is going to church – and he’s taking the opposition with him. Because church matters. Because faith matters. Because God matters. By going to church this morning with Cocaine Mitch McConnell, Biden is acknowledging all of this and is seeking to share the message with the entire country.
This is all very much in line with the image Biden wishes to convey and with the tone he hopes to set for his presidency. In the weeks since the election, we have seen more than a handful of stories about how Biden represents the rebirth of Democratic religiosity and the rebirth of Democratic outreach to and success among religious voters. Not since Jimmy Carter has a Democrat so naturally and instinctively appealed to those who are actively and devoutly religious.
Not to repeat ourselves, but at least that’s what we’re told.
Of course, the second story in our feed, this one from NBC News, unintentionally highlights the flaws in Biden’s plan and in all that we’re being told about it:
President-elect Joe Biden is poised to roll back several of the Trump administration's most restrictive sexual and reproductive health policies, including limits on abortion.
Reproductive rights advocates expect Biden to quickly overturn Trump-era rules, like banning federal funds for foreign and national health organizations that promote and provide abortion and giving employers more freedom to deny free contraceptive coverage for their workers.
"We have a ton of work to do to undo the harm over the last four years, but knowing we have champions there who understand what needs to happen in the first 100 days is tremendously exciting," said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood….
Biden is a devout Roman Catholic, and his position on abortion has evolved throughout his career. Most recently, in 2019, he dropped his long-standing support of the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old policy restricting federal funding for abortions, after having faced mounting criticism. He has also vowed to codify Roe v. Wade and to fight state-level policies limiting access to abortion.
Here are some of the ways Biden has indicated he will restore and improve access to reproductive care:
The Mexico City Policy….
The Title X program….
The contraceptive coverage mandate….
The Hyde Amendment….
Ah, yes. Joe Biden is such a devout Catholic that he is going to do everything in his power to thumb his nose at the Church’s beliefs about the sanctity of life – both at home and abroad – and he’s going to reinstate the federal government’s war on the Little Sisters of the Poor, who don’t believe that they should be compelled by force of law to pay to provide their fellow Little Sisters of the Poor with birth control pills.
You can practically cut the devotion and the unity with a knife, can’t you?
Don’t get us wrong. We think it’s great that Biden considers himself deeply and devoutly religious. We just think it’s important to understand that most people who are also deeply and devoutly religious worry that his devotion is conditional and, perhaps, politically convenient; while those who loath religion and the devout practice of it assume that his devotion is conditional and politically convenient. And it won’t be long before both sides are disappointed with him and are therefore angry at him and at the coalition members on the other side of the “God divide.”
We’ll be honest: over the course of the presidential campaign, we tried very hard to like Joe Biden. But we couldn’t. We’re old enough to remember who he was and what he did before he became “kind ol’ Grampa Joe.”
Likewise, we’re trying very hard to be optimistic about his presidency. But we just can’t. The Obama Administration 2.0 will, we suspect, remind us all very quickly why the previous version produced Donald Trump in the first place.