There are a few reasons to think that President Biden might lose his bid for re-election next year, even if Donald Trump is once more — for the third straight time — the Republican nominee.
There’s the Electoral College, which could still favor the Republican Party just enough to give Trump 270 electoral votes, even if he doesn’t win a popular majority. There’s Biden’s overall standing — around 43 percent of Americans approve of his job performance — which doesn’t compare favorably with past incumbents who did win re-election. There’s the economy, which may hit a downturn between now and next November. And even if it doesn’t, Biden will still have presided over the highest inflation rate since the 1980s. Last, there’s Biden himself. The oldest person ever elected president, next year he will be — at 81 — the oldest president to ever stand for re-election. Biden’s age is a real risk that could suddenly become a liability.
If Biden has potential weaknesses, however, it is also true that he doesn’t lack for real advantages. Along with low unemployment, there’s been meaningful economic growth, and he can point to significant legislative accomplishments. The Democratic Party is behind him; he has no serious rivals for the nomination.
But Biden’s biggest advantage has to do with the opposition — the Republican Party has gotten weird. It’s not just that Republican policies are well outside the mainstream, but that the party itself has tipped over into something very strange.
I had this thought while watching a clip of Ron DeSantis speak from a lectern to an audience we can’t see. In the video, which his press team highlighted on Twitter, DeSantis decries the “woke mind virus,” which he calls “a form of cultural Marxism that tries to divide us based on identity politics.”
Now, I can follow this as a professional internet user and political observer. I know that “woke mind virus” is a term of art for the (condescending and misguided) idea that progressive views on race and gender are an outside contagion threatening the minds of young people who might otherwise reject structural explanations of racial inequality and embrace a traditional vision of the gender binary. I know that “cultural Marxism” is a right-wing buzzword meant to sound scary and imposing.
To a normal person, on the other hand, this language is borderline unintelligible. It doesn’t tell you anything; it doesn’t obviously mean anything; and it’s quite likely to be far afield of your interests and concerns. [Continue reading…]