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It's Not Only the Economy, Stupid
It's also where Joe Biden has taken the country.
I’ve been thinking about that old James Carville line, about how in presidential campaigns, “It’s the economy stupid.” Carville didn’t stumble onto something new, something we didn’t already know. The economy is always a big issue in presidential campaigns. But Carville, who operates like a Washington insider but has cajun Louisiana in his DNA, delivered the line absent all the mumbo jumbo that usually comes out of the mouths of political people. That’s why it’s endured for some 30 years (and counting).
I’ve been thinking about that line because while campaigns are never about just one thing, this time around they’re about a whole bunch of things — things that Americans notice even if they’re not news junkies, the kind of things that could spell big trouble for Joe Biden or whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be.
They can’t help but notice the mess on our southern border where thousands of illegal immigrants enter the United States each day, tens of thousands each month, and millions each year. They know that it’s not only El Paso’s problem anymore. When immigrants from Central America, and points way beyond, started flooding into New York and other “sanctuary” cities a long way from the border, you knew Joe Biden was going to have a problem. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Biden gets only a 23 percent approval rating when it comes to his handling of illegal immigration.
And they notice crime. They notice stores that have shut down because looters walk in and walk out with whatever they want — and if on the outside chance they get arrested, wind up with a slap on the wrist and no jail time. And there’s an impression, I think, that too many on the left seem to believe that crime is at least as much society’s fault as the guy looting a Lululemon store.
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And there’s the whole gender thing, the left-wing obsession with pronouns. Most Americans — at least the ones who live between Manhattan and Malibu — know that, no matter what progressives say, one person isn’t a “they.” I suspect that “ordinary” Americans find this whole pronoun thing just plain stupid.
And even Democrats must be wondering what’s going on when they see a see a bigger, stronger transgender female swimmer — who was mediocre at best when he competed as a man — now winning all sorts of collegiate contests against women athletes who are smaller and not as strong — because they were born female.
Democrats may try to blame Republicans for just about everything most Americans don’t like, but voters aren’t buying it. Biden’s low overall approval ratings attest to that.
But Democratic strategists have come up with a way to change the subject, or at least they hope they have. They know that Americans, by and large, are moderate people and that extremism isn’t something that wins votes. So they’ve decided to paint Republicans as the party that harbors dangerous right-wing nuts.
President Biden recently went on the attack against what he calls, “extreme MAGA Republicans,” who he says, “just don’t threaten our personal and economic rights, they embrace political violence,” a reference to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
Fair enough. But which party do voters actually see as more extreme? A new Morning Consult poll found that by a nine point margin voters see the Democratic Party as more “ideologically extreme” than the GOP.
The problem Democrats are facing is that those “ordinary” Americans notice things that politicians wish they hadn’t noticed.
But Joe Biden’s party does have one very big issue going for them — and it’s Donald Trump himself, who (not unreasonably) Biden will say is a threat to democracy and unfit to be President of the United States. If enough independents believe that, despite everything else, Biden just may win reelection.
And there’s another issue that may work for Democrats. Republicans cheered when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. But now reality is setting in. As the campaign revs up, Democrats will try to convince voters that Republicans want to ban all abortions everywhere in the United States, an obvious fabrication. But in the world of politics fabrications are no big deal.
So just last month on Meet the Press, Donald Trump tried to take the abortion issue away from Joe Biden and his party. “I’m going to come together with all groups an we’re going to have something acceptable,” Trump said. “I would sit down with both sides and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years.” Good luck with that, Donald.
Voters haven’t forgotten Donald Trump’s four chaotic years in the White House, but there’s something else they haven’t forgotten: that it was Joe Biden who ran as a moderate in 2020 — and has moved the country left since then. With all his flaws, that’s not Donald Trump’s fault — even Democrats, and more importantly independents, must know that.
Americans aren’t happy at the moment. They think the country is heading in the wrong direction. That’s never good news for whoever’s in the White House — but in 2024 it may be very bad news for a president who is 80 years old and not getting any younger … or physically stronger … or mentally sharper.
This time around it’s about Joe Biden and where the country has gone since he became president, stupid.