Alarm mood among the US Democrats. The power threatens to slip through their fingers at the Midterms. Just now Joe Biden seems extremely weak. His party urgently needs a militant president.
It’s not like autumn is just about moving chairs in parliament. On the contrary. Polls predict that the US Democrats will lose the (scarce) power they have just won in the midterm elections in early November – possibly in both chambers. The creative leeway for Joe Biden would thus become extremely narrow. And that’s where the president is already struggling to steer the country’s fortunes in the interests of his party. To make matters worse, Biden predecessor Donald Trump is reportedly looking increasingly likely to run again in the 2024 presidential election. A success for the Republicans in the “Midterms” could be a spark. Most recently, it was said that he wanted to declare himself in the summer – i.e. before the elections.
Now of all times Joe Biden seems like the “Sleepy Joe” Trump always called him during the election campaign two years ago. With his current reserved demeanor in the face of domestic political problems and setbacks – from the overturning of the “Roe v. Wade” ruling on abortion rights by the Supreme Court to a series of gun attacks and high inflation with rising costs for gas and groceries – he frustrates “his “Democrats increasingly. Many from the ruling party are now quite loudly wanting a combative president. This could be linked to the wish that the then 81-year-old Biden should not run again in 2024. Possible alternatives are at least discussed.
Joe Biden: Juicy, powerless and largely powerless
What also depresses the mood in the Democratic camp: It’s not like Joe Biden is doing nothing. He enacted executive action and a bipartisan gun violence law, he released oil reserves to depress gasoline prices, and he pushed through reform of the Senate filibuster process in light of the historic repeal of Roe v. Wade that a minority can block a project of the majority by means of long speeches or the mere announcement of a long speech. But none of this will bring back abortion rights, lower gas prices, or end the shootings. It is said that all of this is far too little. Most importantly, it doesn’t have the desired effect. “It makes you angry,” the political portal “The Hill” quoted an unnamed party strategist as saying. “Our house is on fire and it seems like they’re not doing anything to put the fire out. They’re just looking at it like the rest of us.”
An impression that may be created in part by the fact that Biden is losing the leading figures in his public relations work. Just a few weeks after the departure of respected spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the president is now also losing his communications director in Kate Bedingfield. The 40-year-old will leave her post at the end of July to spend more time with her husband and children, the White House said. Bedingfield is leaving after more than three years in Biden’s service and, according to Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain, leaves a big gap. “Without Kate Bedingfield’s talent and persistence, Donald Trump might still be in the White House,” Klain said. “She has played a huge role in everything the President has accomplished.” It remains to be seen what “important role” it can play “from outside” in the future.
Democratic candidates make “Roe v. Wade” the campaign topic
Meanwhile, women are taking matters into their own hands on another issue: the right to an abortion. Democratic mid-term candidates reported to the US media how dissatisfied they were with the White House’s reaction to the end of “Roe v. Wade”. “What on earth is going on with them?” A party strategist was quoted as saying a few days after the Supreme Court’s decision. “It’s a big fire and they’re not treating it like one. I don’t know what it’s going to cost, but women have taken a big loss in the past week, but I don’t feel that sentiment in the White House.” There is a great danger of missing out on an important election campaign issue, perhaps one that is decisive for the Democrats.
The pollster Celinda Lake recently showed through research that Democrats, especially Democratic women, have a clear advantage over Republicans when it comes to abortion among voters. This emerges from a research paper from Lake Research Partners (LRP) on May 27th. “Voters really jumped at what the Democratic pro-choice women said,” says pollster Lake. In view of this, one question arises once again: Where is Vice President Kamala Harris? Especially on this topic.
“We always warned against such a situation”
She would have warned of such a situation a long time ago, emphasizes the controversial New York MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her Twitter channel. “We can’t just make promises, ask people to vote for us and then refuse to use our full force after they have done it,” she said.
Party strategist Joel Payne emphasizes that Joe Biden urgently needs to change course. “There’s an administrative part of the job and there’s a political part of the job, and I get the sense that this president is focusing more on the administrative role at a time when his team is demanding political clarity and leadership.” More needs to come from the White House now, Payne said. A well-functioning government must deliver both.
Understanding even from the Republican side
However, there can hardly be any talk of a well-functioning administration. At least not in the perception of Americans. A Gallup poll published last Tuesday showed that only 23 percent of US citizens still have confidence in the institution of the president – 15 points less than last year. And when asked by the private Monmouth University in New Jersey whether the country was developing in the right direction, 88 percent answered no. Only ten percent were of the opinion that it was developing well – a record minimum. Add to that Biden’s personal values. Only 39 percent of Americans are currently satisfied with it.
How serious the situation really is for Biden and the Democrats shows that an understanding voice is coming from the opposing camp. “I’m not sure there’s much he can do in terms of content,” The Hill quotes Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. The president is in a no-win situation, and the expectations placed on him were far too high. “They have a small majority in the House of Representatives and no real majority in the Senate [a stalemate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the determinant of office, ed.], so what did you expect there?” However, Heye points out a way out: “The base only wants someone who can fight. You don’t have to have a plan to (…) knock down the opponent, you just have to be seen as a fighter.”
But that is not the case with Joe Biden at the moment. For that to change, the President must quickly wake up from his lethargy. “We still have time to do better,” says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “But we have to be brave.”
Sources: The Hill, CBS News, Lake Research Partners, Gallup Polling Institute, Monmouth University, FiveThirtyEight, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Twitter account, AFP news agency.