On the eve of the midterm elections, in which voters will hand President Biden his report card, the White House has settled on a message: Shut up and take whatever we give you.
It’s perverse on a few levels.
First is the fascistic tone of the president telling his political opponents what sort of dissent they “get to” make against his policies. If Trump had spoken that way, the news media (including me) would call it un-American.
Second, the pandemic loans were not typical government aid. They were essentially restitution for the government shutting down the economy.
Third, when a political party uses its power to expand government aid to all corners of the population, into every industry, and for all sorts of reasons, this argument is particularly evil. Get everyone on the dole, and then you’ve bought everyone’s right to criticize any of your policies! This is literally an effort to force the population into servility.
While galling and stupid, this isn’t a new attack from the Biden White House. In the summer, Biden’s social media team spent the day attacking every critic of his illegal giveaway who had taken pandemic relief money.
It’s clear then, that Biden’s “you don’t get to…” tweet on Election Eve is part of a deliberate political strategy. That requires some of our attention.
What sort of politician or operative thinks that this is a good place to plant his party’s flag?
What does it convey? Disdain. Condescension. Intolerance of disagreement. And that’s what Biden showed in his infamous Red Light Speech that kicked off the fall election season. He considers his opponents illegitimate, dangerous, and worthy of scorn. (Biden claimed he was calling only some of his opponents evil, but that was transparently false, evidenced by his inclusion of all pro-lifers in the category of extremist/MAGA Republicans.)
Disdain has also been central to the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Charlie Crist.
Kathy Hochul in New York told her Republican opponent Lee Zeldin that he and those who agree with him should “just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK? Get out of town. Because you do not represent our values. You are not New Yorkers.” So calling people who take government aid “moochers” is a consistent theme from some corners of the Democratic Party.
Why would disdain, mockery, and intolerance be considered a good political message? Presumably it will have some benefit in motivating a progressive base that is only half-satisfied with Biden’s first two years. Perhaps it is simply venting from a frustrated party losing its grip on power.
After the election, some Democrats will likely explore the wisdom of this strategy. But for the next 24 hours, we get to see how well the Democrats can perform on the platform of disdain for their opponents.