Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Why is the Biden administration so radical?
It’s a question that came up at a recent conservative dinner party the way that it often does at conservative events. “Didn’t Biden run as a moderate,” people ask. “Why did he turn over the party to Bernie Sanders? And why is he doubling down even as his poll numbers are cratering?”
There are any number of answers. The Democrats have been radicalized as a political party. After eight years of Obama and two Hillary defeats, the party’s administration professionals are Obamaworld alumni. And much of the party’s funding comes from a handful of zip codes, especially in New York City and San Francisco, whose politics are radically leftward of America.
The popular explanation is that Biden’s out to lunch and Obama’s people are running him. There’s some partial truth to that, but it’s missing a big demographic truth that also helps us understand the epidemic of wokeness, the rise of critical race theory, and Black Lives Matter.
Why did so many major corporations embrace BLM and go woke? The same reason Biden did.
The Democrats like to talk about Two Americas, that of the rich and the poor, the black and the white, men and women, but there are really two Democrat parties. The split personality of the party used to be the rural and urban bases, but the rural base is vanishing or being ignored.
The 2020 Democrat presidential primaries provided a clear snapshot of its split personality. Beyond the shtick, there were two types of breakout candidates, those who targeted white lefty college graduates (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) and those who went after black voters (Joe Biden). Candidates who tried to do both (Kamala Harris, Cory Booker) flamed out early.
(Why was it so hard to do both? Because despite the BLM rallies and Robin DiAngelo books the two groups don’t like each other. It’s why so much of wokeness is not really targeted at conservatives, but is aimed at convincing white lefties to submit to a minority establishment. And the minority establishment works for those donors and organizations that pay its bills.)
Candidates who tried targeting another minority group (Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro) got more traction, but failed to make their mark, so did the attempts to chase Hillary New Age voters (Marianne Williamson, Tom Steyer), Midwesterners (Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan), not to mention Bloomberg’s billionaire parachute snap. Identity and class mattered more than anything else.
By rights, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren should have won primaries whose base tilted sharply leftward. And had white Democrats been the only ones voting, they would have. But black voters dragged Biden through the primaries with bloc voting. Especially in the South. While white college graduate lefties split their votes, black voters maximized their power.
Biden’s roll began by winning 61% of black voters in South Carolina, 72% in Alabama, 60% in Texas, 63% in Virginia. The reward for these wins was claimed by Congressional Black Caucus members, especially Rep. Jim Clyburn, and the old black Democrat establishment which pushed back against the Obama era and the new radicals to reclaim its traditional power.
Afterward the two halves of the party had to make their peace. The CBC took one half of Biden’s presidency and the Sandernistas took the other half. It’s why even beyond the Obama roots, the Biden administration is filled up with appointees handpicked by the CBC and by white radicals. With that kind of split, the only thing the Biden administration could be was radical.
But the party split has huge implications beyond the White House. The new corporate wokeness, like so much else, is the product of this same alliance between the two halves, wealthy white lefties and black activists. Black Lives Matter is another shotgun marriage of black nationalists and leftist foundations to seize political and cultural power through guilt and terror.
The cultural hegemony that gave us critical race theory in schools, corporations telling employees they’re racist, and the military brass embracing identity politics are all adaptations to the final form of the Democrats as an alliance between identity politics and the upscale Left.
The Biden administration is radical for the same reason that AT&T, Kellogg’s, and the Navy have been radicalized. Politics is about power and this is the power sharing arrangement of the elites.
But white lefties also don’t like Biden. They wanted Bernie or Elizabeth Warren. And their level of support for Biden remains weak. In a recent Marist poll conducted for PBS and NPR, only 28% of white college graduates who are or lean Democrat wanted another term of Biden. 45% thought another candidate would have a better shot. The only group where there was at least an even split over having Biden run again was non-whites. Black support for Biden has dropped significantly across the board, but it’s still well above the numbers among white voters.
The Biden administration’s political radicalism is a matter of political survival. As a weak candidate who barely survived the primaries and whom his own party would like to see step down even in his first year in office, he and his people can’t even afford to think about the general election, only their prospects for making it to and surviving the next primaries.
It’s an extraordinary situation that is virtually unprecedented in modern American history.
Biden has to frantically appease the Scylla and Charybdis of his party’s demographics, the old black leadership and the new white radicals, by promising them everything that they want. That leaves no room for the moderates, for rural voters, or for much of the country. And so the moderates decided to hold the Biden agenda hostage in order to force a compromise.
Why are Manchin and Sinema so confrontational? Because the administration shut them out.
This was a foreseen catastrophe that the Biden administration didn’t care about because it couldn’t afford to compromise and alienate its two core blocs until its hand was forced.
The same is true for virtually every administration policy and a future general election.
When people wonder why Biden is doing such a bad job of appealing to the country as a whole and why he isn’t hitting the reset button even as his poll numbers go red, it’s because he can’t afford to think about the country beyond the rote spin and talking points dispensed to the media.
Whatever else Biden is a prisoner of, he’s very much a prisoner of his party’s demographics.
Plan A was for the Biden administration to serve the policy demands of white lefty college grads and black activists while letting the media spin the outcome to the rest of the country. Even after that strategy fell apart with the humiliation in Afghanistan, and inflation, supply chain chaos, store shortages, and more economic turmoil at home, he can’t pull away from the blocs.
Biden isn’t worried about what the country thinks of him. He’s only worried about what the party thinks. And within the party, he’s only worried about what the two blocs think of him.
The 2020 primaries showed that having a concentrated bloc of voters in a fragmented party riven by identity politics and lacking any real convictions was the only way to win. Everything Biden has done, from picking Kamala to turning over his administration to Clyburn, Sanders, and Warren, is about protecting his pathway to a second term at any cost.
And really, isn’t that exactly what you would expect from a mediocre party hack who survived half a century in politics despite compulsive stupidity and creepiness because he knew how to play the game that really mattered? Whatever his mental state may be, he still knows the game.
Biden is a puppet. That’s the only thing an unpopular politician who is disliked even within his own party and whose reelection appears implausible could ever be. No matter how much power he officially wields, it’s all rented power, mortgaged to his backers who really call the shots.
The price of finally getting his dream job was eight years of humiliation under Obama followed by signing up to be the useful idiot for the coalition of lefty megadonors and CBC members who actually run the party and the presidency. Following their orders over whatever fossilized political instincts he still possesses has made Biden wildly unpopular with everyone.
Including the white lefties and black voters he was trying to appease.
Biden isn’t just a puppet: he’s an expendable puppet. Unlike Clinton or Obama, he was never billed as the new JFK. His identity isn’t tied to any larger worldview or ideology. And his fall wouldn’t mean the end of Camelot. No Democrat has been this expendable since Jimmy Carter.
Biden’s backers only need him long enough to ram through their various power and money grabs before he becomes completely unelectable either because of the polls or due to his mental condition. And that is ultimately why the Biden administration is so unambiguously radical. Normal administrations try to hold something back, but Biden is a fire-and-forget missile that is expected to burn out after hitting the target.
The radicalism of his administration is a kamikaze run by a hack too greedy for power to know that he’s really a suicide bomber and his backers are really his trainers and handlers.
Biden thinks he has a future. He’s too greedy or too far gone to realize that there’s no future.
The same is true of the various corporations and organizations going woke and being stripped for their institutional power, before going broke and otherwise being consumed in catastrophes.
In Year Zero when there is no past and everything old must be destroyed, Biden is no exception.