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Biden Throws His Hat in the Ring

Biden Throws His Hat in the Ring

President Joe Biden recently announced his intention to run for a second term as President. His detractors mocked him for a message that was both alarmist and emotional, as well as for the fact that it had been pre-recorded and scripted, like most of the media appearances of the oldest American leader. However, the Biden Campaign cannot be underestimated. Despite its weaknesses, potential legal hurdles, and questionable performances, the Democratic Party will rally behind him as the only notable candidate capable of defeating Trump or a Trumpist successor like DeSantis.

Why Joe?

There has been much discussion about Joe Biden’s mental state, his disorientation, gaffes, and lack of energy. He is perhaps the most carefully “managed” President the United States has ever had, in stark contrast to Trump, who was considered unmanageable (though perhaps he should have been). For this reason, many commentators have advanced the theory of Kamala Harris as his successor (Biden has said he chose her thinking about who he would want as President automatically if he dies in the Oval Office), or the possibility of a new Democratic primary race for the 2024 elections. Even recent moves within the Democratic camp have foreshadowed debates about leadership – Nancy Pelosi’s (now retired) visit to Taiwan without White House approval, open speculations in the American press about Biden’s mental state, and how revelations about the business (and proclivities) of Hunter Biden reached the mainstream media.

However, Joe Biden has already won the informal internal race. He did not announce his candidacy because he woke up in the morning with the desire to do so, but because a series of internal negotiations and electoral analyses identified him as the Democrats’best chance for a new term. There is a discrepancy between what Americans vote for and what they get: they believe they are electing a President, but they are actually choosing the public face of a collective institution whose formation and policies are influenced by the party, its leaders, and interest groups.

For Democrats, who have had a generational project to increase federal government power at the expense of state governments, controlling the government is vital to their fundamental interests, vital enough for the antagonistic groups that make up the Democratic interests to temporarily set aside their differences. This explains the shock of Trump’s election in 2016 when the levers developed by Democrats to reshape American society in the desired direction fell into the hands of a “short-fingered barbarian” (as Spy Magazine called Trump). That Trump turned out to be a generic Republican outside of the specific lines of his campaign (migration, protectionism, law and order, American nationalism – all inefficiently implemented) and that his positions are actually the moderate positions of the Democrats from the 1990s did not matter in the context of the much larger stakes of American politics today.

In 2020, Joe Biden, Obama’s vice president, was in fourth place in the primary elections and seemed destined to fail. The problem was that those disparate interest groups of the Democrats could not unite behind any other candidate, be it Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, or others. So, despite the appearance of an internal democratic process to nominate a candidate, Joe Biden’s path was smoothed out by the abandonment of the main players and the quick mobilization of the entire financial and media apparatus of the Democrats and their adjacent groups behind him as the only common denominator of all of these groups, otherwise risking the safe delivery of the elections in the hands of Donald Trump. The group ritual of Biden’s rival candidates conceding to him and encouraging their supporters to see him as the sole savior against Trump’s supposed FascismTM sealed the internal agreement. Now we have witnessed a similar process, which has taken place entirely in the “smoke-filled back rooms” of the party.

Joe’s performance

Joe Biden has had the advantage of a friendly mainstream media, but beyond his excessive partisanship, which has increased American polarization, much of his presidency so far has shown remarkable continuity with the Trump era. This follows the successful disassociation of Trump from these policies – anti-China protectionism, American leadership in Europe in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aggressive and unilateral trade actions against European allies, covered by performative speeches on partnership and multilateralism for the press and the public, lethal aid to Ukraine, widespread use of vaccines developed through Operation Warp Speed initiated by the Trump Administration, and, last but not least, the withdrawal from Afghanistan. It is amazing, in fact, how little the Biden Administration has in common with the Obama Administration, beyond putative paternity.

The reason is that many of the issues addressed by Trump had long simmered below the elite discourse level in the United States, and his drastic actions allowed for a realignment that would not have been possible otherwise during that time. Protectionism and zero-sum thinking in economic areas associated with national security are already part of the national political DNA, and I do not see how the United States could change course, regardless of who comes to power. At the same time, Biden is weakened by attacks, some on details, and others out of partisan bad faith, by Republicans on policies they themselves supported during the Trump era. Also, for ideological reasons and due to internal Democratic divisions, Biden did not push for law and order, the restriction of illegal migration, or the easing of the intra-American culture war; he even exacerbated them at times, sometimes excessively, beyond simple political calculation, demonstrating the influence of radical elements of the Democratic Party on his Administration.

Fate has given Biden two gifts. The first is the elimination of the coronavirus from the public consciousness, driven both by media collusion and widespread vaccination, as well as public fatigue with restrictions. After strongly advocating for restrictions in opposition and during the campaign, Joe Biden presided over declaring the pandemic over by political fiat and the reopening of the economy, except in those areas that chose to maintain them voluntarily (however, proof of vaccination is still required to enter the United States).

The second gift is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nothing unites Americans and their representatives behind the President (regardless of what they declare in the media) like a war, especially a war in which Americans do not have a massive official presence on the ground. Bipartisan support in Congress and in American society for supporting Ukraine, the return of the discourse of good and evil in foreign policy, all have been a lifeline for a President constantly under internal siege (as are most American Presidents in the post-Cold War period). The reconfirmation of American indispensability in European and global security has had a positive effect on the entire mainstream political spectrum from Biden’s perspective. The problem is that fractures are also appearing in this united front – the impact of global uncertainties on prices in America, inflation resulting from years (if not decades) of direct and indirect economic stimulus (peaking during the pandemic), American resentment towards resources delivered to Ukraine, especially macroeconomic support for Ukrainian public salaries and pensions, the resurgence of American anti-interventionism, including as a cover for the internal culture war, etc.

Also, President Biden presides not only over a decline in the American standard of living (temporarily reversed under Trump in the pre-pandemic period) but also over the decline of America in the world. The strategic direction inherited from Trump is not sufficient, especially in the strategic area of the semiconductor and electronics industry, and Biden’s own orientation given to those policies has not been effective. For example, the attempt to reshore production to the US has turned into friendshoring, meaning that few production capacities from China have returned to American soil; instead, they have been established in Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Mexico. The Chinese have not stood still, and strategic partnerships concluded with American allies such as Saudi Arabia, the marginalization of the United States in diplomatic processes in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia-Iran) or in Ukraine (China as a peace mediator), all contribute to the impression of decline. Perhaps the most disastrous move from the American perspective is the prospect of the accelerated de-dollarization of hydrocarbon trade, especially following the agreement between China and Saudi Arabia.

Without the petrodollar, Americans do not have the global demand for dollars that allows them to finance their government deficits at very low interest rates, and a fiscal contraction would be disastrous for America at this time, and also for its military footprint in the world. A visible peak of this trend was Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia to negotiate an increase in OPEC production to reduce energy prices. Not only was he rejected by the Saudi Crown Prince, but Saudi statements insulted him, linking this move not to Biden’s declared intention to stabilize the world, but to his need to reduce prices ahead of the 2022 midterm elections when he lost the House of Representatives and lost any real chance of advancing significant legislative initiatives until the 2024 elections.

Now, he will face Republicans pushing him to erode American strategic ambiguity on Taiwan and demanding an investigation into how the tens of billions in financial aid delivered to Ukraine were spent, in addition to his own improper contacts with foreign entities.


As the incumbent President in a country where exposure and recent favors mean everything, Joe Biden starts with the best chance in the upcoming electoral race. He has a well-oiled electoral and funding machine, especially if the Republicans will be divided by the primary elections and self-sabotage. The next two years will allow him to distribute from America’s declining coffers to buy the loyalty of key voter groups and Democratic interest groups. We have seen an example with the partial forgiveness of educational debts, and now there is talk in America of reparations for the descendants of American slaves. However, Joe Biden is faced with the erosion of Americans’purchasing power, the choice between high inflation and falling asset prices through reduced market liquidity (which would affect wealthy and influential groups), a catastrophic public order situation, and an interventionist posture in Ukraine whose broad support can reverse overnight.

Last but not least, his potential adversaries are advantaged by not having governed, at least in the period 2020-2024, a position from which they can criticize the Biden Administration’s election and actions with impunity. They can also hope that Biden will be plagued by unexpected scandals that could upset his calculations, such as an explosion of the situation with his son, Hunter Biden, or an influence-peddling scandal. Regardless of the outcome of an investigation and a trial, a simple accusation can politically checkmate him (as it happened to Trump) and alienate moderate voters sensitive to respectability. Americans even have a name for such an event – the “October surprise”.

(Translated from Romanian by Alexandrina Batrîncea.)Top of Form

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The Market For Ideas Association

The Romanian-American Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture (RAFPEC)

Amfiteatru Economic