President Joe Biden went to great lengths on the campaign trail to argue his first 100 days in office would “be far more than just signaling a shift in tone” from the Trump administration. He vowed to unify the country and be president of all Americans.
After the terrible events of Jan. 6, many voters, regardless of political affiliation, were willing to take the incoming president at his word. Yes, Biden’s coalition of Democrats and uber-progressives backed some pretty radical ideas – defund the police, open borders, Green New Deal, reparations.
But this was “Middle Class Joe,” and after a year of being stuck at home due to the pandemic, a return to normalcy sounded pretty good. Biden’s pledge to work in a bipartisan fashion with Congress was reassuring. In fact, his inauguration speech focused on creating “the most elusive of things in a democracy: unity.”
Now, more than halfway through the traditional honeymoon period for new presidents, there’s increasing disappointment in the substance and tone coming from the White House. Democrats focused on maintaining their slim hold on the Senate and House in the midterms next year should worry.
It turns out the olive branch Biden talked about extending to Republicans was really the club of executive power. From the moment he entered the Oval Office, Biden dropped the bipartisan unity shtick and seized the executive pen.
Biden’s decision to go it alone so early in his presidency will make it almost impossible to pass his ambitious agenda on immigration reform, climate change and health care, at least legislatively.
Biden signed more than 50 executive orders in his first 40 days – twice as many as the three preceding presidents. Many of those orders were about scoring points in the culture wars, including orders on transgender rights, open borders, and climate change, and not about restoring the economy, jobs or stopping the pandemic.
More than 20 of Biden’s executive actions reversed policies adopted by Trump, including canceling infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and restoring the birds nest of regulations that have made infrastructure development nearly impossible. The hashtag #BidenKilledMyJob has been trending on Twitter for weeks.
Biden defended his assault on Trump’s agenda by saying he was eliminating bad policy, but policy created by executive action dies by executive action.
Even the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is a partisan monstrosity that passed both chambers without a single Republican vote. Only 1% of the entire package goes toward vaccines, and only 5% is focused on pandemic-related public health issues. The rest is spending on bailouts for cities and states, and the environmental and social justice priorities of the progressive left wing.
It’s not clear whether Biden is unable or unwilling to rein in the progressive excesses of his coalition, but Republicans, and many centrist Democrats, feel they are being run over.
Absent the constant social media posts, Biden’s first two months in office have been as partisan and ideologically driven as the administration he replaced.
Biden ascended to the White House at the perfect time. Not one but two vaccines were being rolled out and the economy was tightly wound with pent-up demand, but he is wasting the opportunity to unite the country around a common desire for economic flourishing.
The current state of affairs is just fine with the progressives in the rickety Biden coalition, of course. They cheer his use of executive power and efforts to erase the past four years. But all the woke virtue signaling and disregard for the concerns of red state residents comes at a price.
Voters tired of Trump’s style, but many of the policies adopted under his watch remain popular. If Biden believes otherwise, he misreads the electorate.
Voters didn’t sign-on for the progressive policies of the 21st century left. If that’s what they wanted, they would have chosen Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Biden’s sharp-left turn is setting the stage for Trump or one of his acolytes to return to the White House in 2024.
Trump won the White House in 2016 because many voters felt they no longer had a voice in their own country. Biden promised to be their president, too. He may not now be calling them “deplorables,” but he isn’t listening to them either. So much for unity.
Dan K. Eberhart is CEO of Canary, an independent oilfield services company in the United States, and Executive Director of Eberhart Capital. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.