Democrats Will Win Next Midterm Because of Biden — Here’s Why.

How Appearing Bipartisan Wins Quiet Policy Victories

Photo by Gage Skidmore

President Biden’s ability to deflect identity politics and to pass popular progressive policy under the broad message of unity and bipartisanship will ensure Democrats maintain control of Congress in 2022 and beyond.

In an age of partisan politics and fiery demagogues, media pundits have been quick to declare bipartisanship as “dead and buried.” Undoubtedly, voters seem divided — belief in the sanctity of elections is split upon party lines, and social media echo chambers plot direct insurrection on the Capital. With the overall despondence surrounding the country, forecasting doom and gloom is à la mode, and any remaining Republican voters seem at this point to be radicalized without recourse. Some Democrats argue, what use is Biden’s message of “unity” when half of the country appears to exist in a parallel universe of their own?

However, voters aren’t divided on policy; national polling shows 81 percent of voters, including 80 percent of Republicans, support $2,000 stimulus checks. Almost two-thirds of them support repeated checks. 68 percent of voters, including 59 percent of Republicans, support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The list goes on and on — caps on maximum drug prices, federal jobs guarantees, childcare subsidies, clean energy — these are popular among most of the electorate. All are on the Democratic Party platform.

So why haven’t Democrats swept every election? In 2016 and 2020, fear and identity politics overrode policy. You’ll notice the current Republican party has no actual policy platform, only a mixed bag of xenophobia, tribalism, religious extremism, and vile hatred of anyone politically left of Brian Kemp to drive voters to the ballot box. Obama’s ethnicity, Ms. Clinton’s gender — direct attacks on character hold greater strength than wrestling over NAFTA or interest rates. By adjusting voters’ attention, not to specific policies but an ideology based around fear and hatred of “others,” the Republican party has been able to hold on to a sizable amount of power even when any reasonable analysis dictates Trump’s policy goals utterly unfulfilled.

The issue with the Republican strategy is that identity politics utterly fails when applied to Joe Biden. The image of “Radical Socialist BLM Rioter Joe Biden” is impossible to conceive in one’s mind — even for radicalized Newsmax MAGA-hats. A Caucasian male septuagenarian who was a Senator before the first cell phone call was ever made, Biden fails to incite any emotional, vitriolic reaction from Republican target demographics. It was so difficult to attack Biden that right-wing pundits chose Kamala Harris, spewing forth racist attacks and misogynistic insults, claiming her political success was due to “sleeping to the top.” While vile, voters don’t care about the Vice President the way they do the POTUS, and the attacks didn’t seem to affect the polls.

Biden’s reputation for being a bipartisan negotiator allows him to pass progressive policy while making it appear centrist. Don’t let anyone fool you — Biden’s agenda is far more leftist than one may assume, including:

- “Quadruple federal spending on low-income housing assistance.

- Triple federal spending on low-income K-12 schools.

- Double Pell Grants and make community college free.

- $100 billion investment in an affordable housing trust fund.

- $10 billion special set-aside for transit projects in high-poverty areas.” — Vox

That’s the Biden Administration’s genius: if voters care more about identity politics than actual policy, push a progressive agenda but call it moderate and bipartisan. The “Affordable Care Act” is more popular than “Obamacare,” and individual sections pulled from it top both in polls — even when all three are different names for the same thing. By reducing the conflict and emotional reaction, it is easier for the policies to be seen for what they are; as discussed before, individual Democrat policies are broadly popular. Republican politicians who collaborate on these efforts, when labeled as “traitors” by their own party, can respond that their work is “bipartisan.”

While Trump may have loudly proclaimed he was going to “build a wall,” Biden in the first week has without much fanfare done the following:

  • Required mask-wearing on federal property.
  • Declared America would rejoin the World Health Organization.
  • Established a federal COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board.
  • Revised immigration enforcement policies.
  • Canceled the Keystone XL permit.
  • Paused federal student loan payments.
  • Reaffirmed DACA.
  • Increased SNAP by 15% and upped state emergency allotments.
  • Guaranteed unemployment insurance for workers who refuse work due to Covid-19.
  • Reversed the transgender military ban.
  • Canceled renewal of Department of Justice contracts with private prisons.
  • 25 other executive orders and executive actions so far.

President Biden will pass a progressive agenda in his term, but it won’t be as radical as some leftists want. Surprisingly, the fact that Democrats have the narrowest of margins in the Senate will help Biden here — he can argue to, say, Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez that a provision they are asking for is impossible to include because “Joe Manchin wouldn’t agree,” and that is enough to shoot it down. By being able to use this excuse only to pass policies that are broadly popular amongst the electorate, the Biden Administration should be able to maintain its popularity — wherein an alternate, “blue wave” timeline, they may have already taken actions which cause a conservative backlash like those in the 2010 and 2014 midterms.

If the party who controls the White House loses seats in the midterms as a result of voters choosing to “check” the power of the executive, then Biden can argue that with such a narrow majority in the Senate — and a supposedly centrist, bipartisan agenda — there is no reason to destroy the balance and unity his administration has built up. By only passing generally-approved policies, I don’t expect Democrats to face significant roadblocks in maintaining — or even growing — their Congressional seats in 2022. They are unlikely to face stiff competition; the Republican Party is falling apart at the seams with their leader's loss — spectacularly imploding in some states.

As long as the Biden Administration maintains their current strategy, it can pass progressive policy and take credit for the vaccine distribution and eventual economic recovery, resulting in high approval ratings and likely reelection in 2024.

President Biden can make Democrat victories appear as what they really are —triumph not just for one party but also for America.

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