Joe Biden’s best hope of retaining power is Trump, the ogre under the bed | Michael Cohen

IThere is a truism in modern American politics that happiness is a fleeting thing. Almost a year to the day after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, his Democratic Party was dealt a severe blow on election day 2021.

In Virginia, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe lost to Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin as the Republicans won every nationwide race and took control of the state’s delegate house. In New Jersey, incumbent Governor Phil Murphy hardly stayed in a state that voted for Biden with 16 points. Meanwhile, the powerful Democratic President of the New Jersey Senate was defeated by a Republican truck driver who only spent several thousand dollars on his election campaign.

Does this mean Biden is out of prime and America is on its way to another Trump presidency? It’s too early to say, but things don’t look good for the Democrats despite the House passing the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill on Friday. While social media burned with red-hot views about why the Virginia and New Jersey partying was below par, the reality is more boring. For 40 years, the presidential party candidate has suffered a defeat in the Virginia gubernatorial elections. From that perspective, McAuliffe’s defeat in Virginia was the expected outcome.

Plus, the president’s approval ratings have an impact on party candidates, and Biden is deeply unpopular at the moment. His approval ratings at this point in his presidency are the lowest in modern polling history, apart from one previous president – Donald Trump. It’s not good company.

Bad news after bad news has haunted Biden since the end of August. The image of the shameful US withdrawal from Afghanistan has tarnished his presidency and riddled his aura of competence. When the Covid vaccinations wore off, cases picked up again, forcing many Americans who, just a few months ago, believed the pandemic would soon be over, to revert to masking and social distancing. In Washington, meanwhile, Democrats bickered over the scope of Biden’s “Better Decommission” agenda, and the president, running on his ability to get things done in Washington, looked like a helpless bystander.

In short, this White House hasn’t had a good story to tell in months, and in Virginia and New Jersey they paid the price for it. But if there’s a silver lining for the Democrats, it’s the mid-term elections in a year and it’s time to get the ship back in order.

With all the turmoil in Congress over the president’s massive, multi-billion dollar spending packages, a second major bill is likely to be passed alongside the infrastructure bill.

The second would allocate an estimated $ 1.75 trillion to much-needed social safety net programs, including universal grants for pre-kindergarten childcare, an expansion of Medicare benefits for the elderly, and Medicare coverage for the poorest citizens, and potentially billions for those first paid family and sick leave program in the country. Half a trillion dollars are also earmarked for the fight against climate change. The passage of both bills will not only excite democratic voters, but could also stimulate further economic growth.

While September was the worst month for Covid cases and deaths since vaccines became available, there was a sharp drop in new cases in October. More than 70% of eligible adults are now fully vaccinated, and vaccines were introduced last week for children ages five to eleven.

However, the combination of strong economic growth, a return to normalcy before the pandemic, and legislative success does not guarantee political success. In fact, the same traditional political forces that contributed to the Democrats’ underperformance on Tuesday will weigh on the party for next year.

Historically, the party in power is punished with one blow in the midterm elections and loses an average of 26 seats in the House of Representatives. With the Democrats holding a wafer-thin majority in the House of Representatives, it is hard to imagine that the party escaped this story. And as much as Biden’s legislative agenda may seem like a winner to the Democrats, voters don’t always reward the party in power for getting things done, especially when they don’t feel it. This can be confirmed by the 63 Democrats in the House of Representatives who lost their seats in 2010, months after Obamacare was passed.

The Democrats also face a greater number of structural problems: a constitutional system that favors small rural states (usually won by Republicans); a rival political party that restricts voting rights and aggressively manipulates Congress cards to maintain power; and an excited Republican electorate.

Perhaps what will worry the Democrats most about Tuesday’s elections is that their voters flocked, but they failed to overcome the huge Republican enthusiasm.

All of this could change in 2022, when Trump is likely to play a more prominent role and Democratic candidates can use him as a foil to attack Republicans. In fact, one of the likely reasons Youngkin got his way in Virginia is because he successfully distanced himself from Trump and made it difficult for McAuliffe to associate him with the ex-president. For Republican Congressional candidates, many of whom regularly brag about their support for Trump, that should be more difficult.

Trump is likely to remain the gift that keeps giving Democrats – the living, breathing bogeyman under the bed that keeps their voters up at night. As much as Democrats are on their legislative agenda, the Specter of Trump may be their most effective strategy for maintaining power and is probably Biden’s best hope for re-election. The structural obstacles to electoral success will remain, however, as the Senate Democrats, led by JJoe Manchin of West Virginia, appear unwilling to undertake far-reaching political reforms that would undo them. Furthermore, the Republicans’ blatant attack on democratic norms and voting rights is likely to continue. The short term path for the Democrats is rocky.

Still, as John Maynard Keynes famously quipped, we are all dead in the long run, and if Trump is the road to democratic success, so be it. Finally, there is another important truism in all politics – winning is better than losing.

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