Republicans are in trouble, and they know it.
It’s not existential trouble or any kind they haven’t faced before. But just in case the cancel culture obsession didn’t totally give it away, the GOP has a Biden popularity problem. His recent approval ratings are mostly hovering in the high 50s, in no small part to the American Rescue Plan and vaccine rollout. There’s a good chance that any president in Biden’s position would have soaring popularity, but he specifically has given Republicans fits. They’re now admitting trouble in countering his popularity and agenda, as Indiana Senator Mike Braun told The Hill.
The problem is simple—Biden is too moderate for the GOP to call radical. Even as his administration pushes massive spending, Biden is about as far right as Democrats get. Everyone knows this regardless of whether they voted for him or not. Republicans have tried manufacturing crises at every opportunity and none of them have stuck. Haranguing Biden for not appearing in public or tweeting more often might work with the base, but it turns out most voters simply don’t care about that.
Voters don’t mind trillions of dollars in government spending, either—especially if it’ll be funded through a corporate tax hike. Biden’s infrastructure of bill would be easy fodder for Republicans in years past. They could go on for months about irresponsible spending and deficit setbacks, how the Biden administration doesn’t care about job creators. They’d hem and haw their way to easy midterm victories. Some of victories will undoubtedly come anyway, but the Republicans are discovering that people are wise to their nonsense arguments.
Regular people don’t give a rip how many trillions the country owes. They also don’t seem to care that Biden isn’t working across the aisle as promised. It’s almost as if folks realize Republicans oppose everything and are arguing for bipartisanship in bad faith. The deficit doesn’t matter right now. Neither does alleged government “expansion” during a crisis as massive as COVID-19. People need help, and as they see it, Biden is working to help them.
There is plenty to knock Biden on, of course. His foreign policy has been, at most, moderate. He and other Democrats have seemingly tabled pushing a public health insurance option, leaving that up to individual states. And last week the administration famously announced it would cap refugee admissions into the United States at the record low levels set by the Trump administration (only to later backtrack). But Republicans actually agree with all that. The things they want to see more of are the things that have been most unpopular among progressive Democrats and leftists. That’s just politics. Still when you’re desperately searching for a way to attack a popular politician, seeing his bad things as good is a little ironic.
This era of good Biden feelings surely won’t last forever. The president will eventually slip up and do something dumb or bad (or both). Maybe one of the GOP’s contrived crises will eventually stick. Until then, though, Republicans are left searching for counters and trying to figure out why things they oppose are so popular. Hopefully it’s a long search.