Nov 14 • 20M

Joe Biden: The Man Who Wasn't There

Good News and Bad News for the President

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Sasha Stone
The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
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“Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They're just braver 5 minutes longer.”
Ronald Reagan

The 2022 midterms have emerged as a Rorschach test—anger, disappointment, finger-pointing on the Right, and typical self-satisfied smugness on the Left. There are lessons to learn on both sides.

Lingering in the back of everyone’s mind is how a president with such low approval ratings, high inflation, discontent among the electorate, high crime, and failures across the board escaped a midterm wipeout.

The answer is easy. Biden wasn’t blamed because Biden wasn’t really there.

So far, the Democrats have managed to eke out slim victories in 2020 and 2022 with candidates who are so bland no one even knows who they are. They have been deliberately hidden from view. They weren’t chasing votes. They were dodging debates. They were appearing here and there on cable news, many of them attending to their social media presence. Just like Biden isn’t there. That somehow works out better for the Democrats, better for The Party.

If this is the way forward, there is no reason a barely-there Biden can’t run again and win.

The Democrats don’t really need a president, as it turns out. They can run things just fine with a guy who is barely there. They have become a hive mind, in total alignment with the media, social media, and a new class of corporate wealth that relies on the “woke” religion the Democrats are mandating to keep themselves in power.

John Fetterman is the perfect example of someone who had some individuality initially. A charismatic oddball from the Bernie Sanders faction of The Party who beat moderate Connor Lamb. He would have probably been a pain for The Party had he never had a stroke. But ironically, the stroke made him a perfect fit. They hid him like they hid Biden, to bank enough votes to pull in a win in Pennsylvania.

Does that mean he’ll do what they tell him to do like Biden does? Maybe. Maybe he’ll heal from his stroke and become their biggest problem. Nancy Pelosi said that she counted on Biden to give her whatever she wanted:

The few times Biden has seemed to have gone rogue, he’s bungled things so badly he nearly takes down the whole ship, like the exit from Afghanistan. But in general, Biden drifts around, is told what to say, garbles his words now and again, and functions as an over-indulgent grandpappy who lets the kids eat ice cream before dinner.

This election wasn’t about Biden, not on the Left. Women turned out, young and old, because abortion was on the table. The Democrats have aimed much of their policies at the Zoomers, like abortion, transgender rights, and climate change. But what drove them to their polling station on November 8th was to vote for candidates who would codify Roe.

The Wakeup Call

Hillary’s run for President in 2016 was meant to go uncontested. It was meant to be a showdown of one establishment against another, as Jeb Bush had raised an impressive $150 million haul.

The Republicans had tried to take down Barack Obama, a leader they believed to be an authoritarian socialist. But they failed because Obama had a unique hold on the Left of this country. He had emerged a god-like leader who influenced everything from Hollywood to activism. Obama and Hillary built a massive oligopoly with its roots deep into American culture, business, finance, and politics.

“You’re likable enough, Hillary,” Obama had once quipped when the two faced off. But the truth was, no; she wasn’t. She was never likable. It plagued her for much of her life, even as a child. The other kids would push her out of the friend group, and her mother would tell her to get back out there, Hillary. Make them like you.

Bill Clinton married her, prickly though she was. Those who knew her grew to love her wit and sarcasm. But she was never meant to be a candidate for president. Only charismatic people can win. That’s what we used to think back when candidates still mattered.

The Zoomers came of age only knowing one presidential candidate, and that was Obama. They thought he was the baseline, not the exception. They didn’t live through Dukakis or Mondale or John Kerry. They didn’t live through Al Gore’s stiff hips and awkward kiss. Their president was cool, a star.

When “The Tragedy” happened, the Zoomers were as freaked out as the poor Hillary Democrats. I know because I was one of them. I was so distraught after Trump’s win I spent a year on the couch drinking red wine. I wasn’t quite this, but I was almost this:

Right away, the blame game began. Who prevented Hillary from winning the long-coveted crown? Comey, Putin, “but her emails,” sexism, Twitter trolls? Bernie bros? Julian Assange? The New York Times?

When asked about it later, and in her book, Hillary would often say that so many people approached her and apologized, saying they would have voted for her if they had known the election was going to be close. That was it. The problem and the solution. The voters are there; the motivation isn’t.

But what if they took the motivation part out? What if it was as easy as ordering Micky D’s from Uber Eats? Show up at their door, get the ballot, and drop the ballot off. Pay people to do it. Problem solved.

In 2020, exploiting COVID and the ongoing existential crisis that was Trump, which included the uprisings in the Summer, they marshaled the efforts of hundreds of activist groups working for the Democrats. Their mission - to shapeshift the election apparatus to get the vote out to the key voting blocs in specific areas to win the election for Biden. Writes Mollie Hemmingway in Rigged:

“And the plan worked. Nearly half of voters voted by mail, and another quarter voted early. It was, [Molly] Ball wrote, “practically a revolution in how people vote.” The money for the effort was funneled by billionaires through dark money groups. One billionaire in particular took a prominent and public role in the effort. And it was his money that enabled these far-left groups to embed within the voting system itself. That billionaire was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.”

In this case, “saving” the election was Newspeak for “rigging” the election.

2022 felt strange, just like 2020. There was something inorganic about it. Our elections usually depend on candidates who make their case and build momentum that eventually builds a movement and makes change. It is usually something you can feel, and polls can measure.

The polls mostly missed this time because they measured what was happening in the days leading up to the election, not the month before when the Democrats were banking early votes. So many votes for Fetterman were in long before he debated. He didn’t even have to debate. Like Katie Hobbs, he could have dodged it and probably have come out better for it. They’ve become experts at being not there. And it serves The Party well.

The Democrats already dominate what can be seen as a one-party state. They have control of most corporations, media, culture, universities, science labs, and public schools — although the Republicans are starting to overtake school boards — and if they can also control elections, that leaves little hope for the resistance.

The establishment Republicans think they just have to get Trump out of the way, and they can once again dominate America like they used to. I’m not sure anymore. How can they take on The Machine? Trump might have an enormous ego, and he might be his own worst enemy, and he might disrupt the stability of the country and the GOP, but there is one thing he is uniquely suited to do: fight back.

Ron DeSantis can also fight back and has a record of good governance. Best of all, he can serve two terms. DeSantis won’t be an easy road either because of his bold stance on social issues. But he isn’t as big of a star as Trump is. And that means he isn’t as big of a target. At least not yet. Ideally, they find some kind of alliance, and we’ll have a real chance to confront the empire. Put it this way, Liz Cheney isn’t going to cut it.

Say what you will about Blake Masters, Kari Lake, Joe Kent, but they are on the ground, talking to voters, and doing it without the support of major corporate lobbies, unlike the Democrats. They are vibrant, exciting, and inspiring to the MAGA crowd. They drove turnout probably better than any of the establishment candidates would have.

I know we’re living through a time when candidates no longer matter, but it is so much better when they do. We all feel like we’re a part of something that brings us together.

Republicans have flipped Florida and Ohio red. Such close elections in Arizona and Nevada paint an encouraging picture for the presidential election in 2024. A quick look at 270towin shows how much easier their path is now that they’ve got Florida, and that’s because of Ron DeSantis. Ohio, it must be said, is because of Trump.

Either way, they just have to win either Arizona or Nevada:

Should the Republicans take the House, they can start cracking open the thick barrier keeping the American people from the truth about what becomes of this country at the hands of the Left. They’ve lost their minds and lost their way. But without an honest media, who will tell this story?

The Democrats have become like the Nixon administration in 1972 by now. They were so desperate for power that once they got it, they haven’t wanted to let go. They are willing to use major institutions like the IRS and the Justice Department to investigate and persecute their political enemies.

All of that must be brought to light so the American people can see just how bad it’s gotten. The only people who can do that are Republicans.

I never thought it would come to this. I believed in the Democrats. I believed in journalism. But power is seductive. It’s like any other addiction, you either have to let it go, or it will destroy you.

There is no destroying the Woketopia. It will have to collapse on its own time (and it will). The Republicans must find what they stand for, what they represent, what they’re selling, and what their branding will be going forward. How can they connect with younger voters? What kind of future can they offer them?

Reagan was the right man for the right time in 1980 because he was plugged into mythical America like no one on the Left was at the time. My side hated Reagan. We thought he was a dumb actor who had no business in DC, much like Trump. But looking back on Ronald Reagan, it’s easy to see why he was such a bold and influential leader.

When I searched youtube for “Reagan” and “abortion,” look at what popped up at the top of the feed:

I may not have been a Reagan fan, but compared to the insanity of Youtube telling people who use the site what they should think about abortion makes Reagan seem like the far less dangerous of the two.

Anything can be reduced to its scientific definition. Love can be described as mammals bonded to one another for survival and reproduction. Kissing can be defined as a way for human mammals to scan the pheromones of a potential mate. But those definitions don’t describe what love is, or what kissing is.

And so it goes with abortion. As a smart political strategist once said, “if you don’t like what people are saying, change the conversation.”

Anyone who has ever been pregnant, or if they were lucky enough to have a baby, knows that there is nothing more monumental in a person’s life. Insisting it isn’t, or forcing people to disconnect from their biology and their humanity, might raise a generation of sociopaths.

Their intentions are good, but their mandated messaging leaves much to be desired. That means there is room for someone to bridge the gap and reach for some sort of compromise.

As long as abortion is on the ballot, however, in a country that is mostly pro-choice, the Republicans would be well-advised to figure it out sooner rather than later, so that they can get back to the job of rescuing the country from the grips of madness.

The path forward for the Republicans, MAGA or otherwise, is not to try to destroy the Left or gain acceptance into their elite “inner Party.” Rather, it’s to build outside of it, a new America that other people want to be a part of. This new America will need culture because we all do. Books, movies, gaming, music, comedy, art. Abandoning half the country has left so much of American culture stale and dogmatic.

Our Fourth Turning means we have to think about what’s ending and what’s only just beginning.