During the brutal war on the Eastern Front from 1941-1945, both Germany and Russia reportedly used people as human mine detectors, forcing them into areas sown with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. If an individual was fortunate enough to find a lane through the lethal devices, soldiers followed. If he stepped on a device and it exploded, another poor wretch took his place. Most of these people were from penal battalions, and a high percentage were political prisoners. Some observers believe that the far-left progressive wing of the Democratic Party is using President Joe Biden as both a political prisoner and an expendable human mine detector to push through its radical agenda.
In a recent column, conservative pundit Marc Thiessen explains the left’s rationale. Much of the progressive agenda is built around entitlements. It is a fact that once an entitlement is enacted, it never goes away. In Thiessen’s view, after capturing the increasingly weak mind of Joe Biden, the progressives sent him on a suicide mission to enact their radical agenda. He believes that they understand that they will not get everything they are demanding, and will likely destroy Biden’s presidency in the process, but Joe is expendable. If they can get their foot in the door with some of their entitlements, Thiessen contends that the left believes that even a Republican win in 2024 will not be able to dislodge the “free stuff.” Thiessen points to the Republican failure to get rid of Obamacare under Trump as an example. So far, this approach appears to be successful. Some elements of Biden’s progressive-driven Build Back Better legislation will likely get enacted. The left will blame the president for not getting more while appalled moderates and swing voters push his approval ratings further underwater. In this scenario, the Biden presidency is acceptable collateral damage.
When I first read the Thiessen column, I was skeptical that nitwits such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were capable of the long-range thinking and cynicism involved in this kamikaze strategy. On further reflection, however, not all the extreme left are empty-headed Millennials. In his two presidential runs, Sen. Bernie Sanders realized that he was unelectable, but he hoped to push his party’s platform to the left, and he largely succeeded. It is unclear whether Biden willingly sold his moderate soul to get a leftist buy-in for his candidacy or whether he became a true fellow traveler on the road to democratic socialism. Either way, he is losing moderate Democrats and swing voters at an unprecedented rate. Perhaps in his prime, Biden would have realized that he did not need the radical left for either the nomination or the general election given Trump’s unpopularity; and none of the party’s left was going to vote for Donald Trump even if Biden had adopted a more centered approach. A Biden with all his faculties would have given a head nod to the left, as did Hillary Clinton in 2016, and pursued more moderate policies when in office. Now he is in a pickle; and once again, it is of his own making.
Let’s presume that the radical left of the Democratic Party really does have a long-term plan of getting what it can now and blowing off 2022 and 2024 in hopes that a future electorate will become tired of whatever the Republicans are selling in 2028. Then, a Democratic landslide would give them a president and Congress which together would usher in a true socialist agenda. There are a few assumptions in this scenario that, if they prove false, would throw a monkey wrench into the works. The first is that the firebrands on the left will be patient enough to carry out this Machiavellian strategy. The Millennials constitute an instant gratification generation. Patience is not one of their virtues. It is entirely possible that they will decide that Sanders and company are not ideologically pure enough and threaten to form a third party. That threat could drive the Democratic Party so far to the left that it becomes nationally crippled for a generation.
The second assumption is equally dangerous for the progressives. Democrats believe that they are the party of the youth. Millennials are certainly drifting left, but they are aging as well and there is a new generation behind them. Situationally aware Democrats should take note of the fact that many college-age students at sporting events are chanting; “Let’s go Brandon” or its less polite variant. I was surprised at a high school football game last month in upstate New York to hear the Brandon chant coming from the student section and watched with ill-concealed glee as members of the left-leaning local teachers’ union frantically ran through the bleachers trying to shush them. It is too early to say if we are seeing a reverse Baby Boom effect, but if I were a Democrat, I would be somewhat concerned.
Not all of Biden’s problems can be blamed on his leftward tilt. Many have been self-inflicted over the dismal nine months that he has been in office. Now, he is facing another problem of his own making; that being Vice President Kamala Harris, or as she is better known, Pepé Le Pew, after her recent Paris trip. Her ratings are even lower than the president’s. It will take many cans of tomato juice to get rid of the skunk stink of incompetence that surrounds her. The good news for Biden is that this has greatly lessened the chance of fellow Democrats invoking the 25th Amendment. Given the vice president’s ghastly performance to date, most Democrats would likely rather go with the “First Feeb” they know than an individual who has proven herself unqualified for the Oval Office.
At this point in time, the best thing that could happen to the Biden presidency would be an uptick in COVID-19 that would give his handlers an excuse to lock him back up in his basement, limiting him to press releases crafted by his staff, issuing carefully edited pre-recorded statements by himself, and keeping him as far away from the media as possible. After all, that approach was probably his career highlight. Frankly, his best strategy going forward is a bowl of warm soup and a nap.
Gary Anderson was a Special Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2003-5 and lectures on Alternative Analysis at the graduate level.