Opinion: The surprising reason for Joe Biden’s low approval rating

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Editor’s note: David Masciotra is the author of “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters” and “Mellencamp: American Troubadour”. He has written for numerous publications on politics, music and literature, including Salon, No Depression, the Progressive, CounterPunch and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. See more opinion on CNN.



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One of the most obvious realities of American politics is that the Republican Party, whose members have spouted increasingly hateful rhetoric, is blocking President Joe Biden’s reform efforts to improve people’s lives. What is much less recognized is that a significant faction of the left is also undermining any hope for betterment in a country struggling with unprecedented attacks on democracy, an escalation in hate crimes and gun violence. , global warming and extreme income inequality.

Commentators offer different theories to explain Biden’s low approval ratings, but many miss the importance of partisan loyalty. Gallup polls show Biden’s support among Democrats has fallen from 95% at the start of his presidency to 85% at the start of 2022. Trump, on the other hand, had lost just 1% of Republicans over a similar period during of his presidency, dropping from 87% to 86% approval. What could likely account for Biden’s relatively worse losses among members of his own party is the insidious influence of what I call the “fan fiction left.”

Increasingly dominant on the internet – especially social media and the podcast sphere – left-wing fan fiction imagines an alternate universe where the Republican Party, with its Trump affiliation and authoritarian tendencies, is not the main problem of American politics. Instead, from this point of view, the only obstacle to the adoption of a just and beneficial public policy is the lack of will within the Democratic Party.

Much worse than teenagers writing an expansion for their favorite anime series or video game, left-wing fan fiction encourages its audience, which the writer or podcast says often rivals those of mainstream publications and programs, to act in accordance with his strange delusions. Hallucination is central to their magical world of pretend. Enter this world and you will learn the following:

  • Bernie Sanders would have won the 2016 and 2020 DNC primaries if not for the intraparty rigging. He would also easily have won both presidential elections. The fact that in both races he got millions fewer votes than his respective opponents is insignificant to the fan fiction left, which has cultivated its own big lie.
  • Even as powerful Republicans believe in the neo-Nazi “Great Replacement Theory,” voter suppression and racist gerrymandering are widespread, and many states are passing legislative assaults on women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, concerns over the racism, sexism and homophobia are just bourgeois identity politics.
  • Trump supporters, no matter how hateful, irrational and violent they become, are just misled members of the working class. Even though the evidence shows that his supporters aren’t poor, that Biden won more votes among Americans earning less than $50,000, and those earning less than $100,000 for that matter, and that the true motivations of the Trump cult are racism, nativism and Christian fundamentalism, leftist fan fiction would have its subscribers believe that most Trump supporters are modern incarnations of Tom Joad, the protagonist of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” With just a few speeches, Sanders would have converted them to democratic socialism. Similarly, Trump’s danger warnings are signs of “liberal hysteria.”
  • “Russiagate” was a “hoax”, just as Trump himself falsely claims. Investigations and even the leaking of Kremlin documents demonstrating exactly how Russian President Vladimir Putin influenced the 2016 election through a sophisticated disinformation campaign makes no sense.
  • The United States should not provide aid to the Ukrainian struggle for freedom and self-determination, and does so only to enrich the military-industrial complex. Support for Ukraine is unfair, as US and NATO aggression pushed Putin into invasion.
  • Republican extremism and obstructionism are irrelevant, as are the federal government’s structural and procedural laws. The only reason President Biden and the Democratic Congress have failed to pass major reforms, like the Green New Deal or the tuition-free community college, is because Democrats have sold out to corporate interests and refuse to make a real effort.

It’s likely that these ideas play a part in the divergence in party loyalty that lowers Biden’s approval rating to Trump levels, but more importantly, it illustrates the venomous effect the left is having on Democratic voters. potentials.

Considering that its fabulists so consistently and aggressively ridicule Democrats, they are operationally right-wing. The impact of leftist fan fiction, whatever the intent, is to dampen voter enthusiasm for the Democratic Party. As a result, it helps Republicans seize and retain power. Judging by popular social media accounts, millions of young progressives believe that, if he only wanted to, Biden could cast a spell and, by a wizard’s decree, turn the United States into Finland.

An iconic example emerged recently when several leading left-wing pundits said they were “done with the Democrats” in reaction to news that the Supreme Court was preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade.

It is inconsistent to blame the Democratic Party, given that it was Democratic governors like Jay Pritzker of Illinois, Gavin Newsom of California and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan who have sworn to protect women’s reproductive rights in their states, and that it is Republican governors like Brian Kemp in Georgia and Kevin Stitt in Oklahoma and Republican presidential Supreme Court appointments that are on the verge of eliminating women’s autonomy.

Observable reality has nothing to do with this faction of the left. The only thing that matters is that President Barack Obama and the Democrats did not codify Roe v. Wade as federal law when they controlled Congress from 2009 to 2011. But that argument ignores that Obama and Democratic lawmakers spent those two years pushing through a massive stimulus package. package amid financial collapse, then passing the most consequential expansion of the welfare state since the 1960s, the Affordable Care Act, which enabled more than 20 million Americans to receive health care health for the first time.

Obama also nominated Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, both of whom pledged to protect women’s right to choose. He also nominated Merrick Garland, now attorney general, to the Supreme Court and faced a dishonest blockade from GOP senators. Based on Garland’s opposition to an anti-abortion law in Texas, it’s likely he would have voted for Roe.

Last month, the US Senate attempted to codify Roe. All but one Democrat — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — voted in favour. All Republicans voted against.

Of course, the women’s rights crisis wouldn’t exist if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election and nominated three Supreme Court justices in place of Trump. But many prominent left-wing leaders cheerfully called on people not to vote for Clinton.

Leftist fan fiction is not without precedent. George Orwell, a socialist, came to believe that the left of his day had no real desire to hold power and that for them political thought was nothing more than “a masturbation fantasy in which the world of facts hardly matters”. Ernst Thälmann, leader of the German Communist Party from 1925 to 1933, believed that the center left presented a greater danger than Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Needless to say, this scan didn’t go so well.

Democrats certainly have flaws. They are rhetorically passive, disorganized, and seem to base their strategy on how not to lose rather than how to win, which usually guarantees failure. The party also deserves harsh criticism for taking a half-hearted approach to punishing Trump and his allies for insurrection. Despite significant weaknesses, they have the advantage of not being racist, sexist, homophobic or hostile to the foundations of democracy. Real-world residents should vote accordingly.

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