The day after the anemic turnout at Donald Trump’s inauguration in early 2017, the Women’s March on Washington drew out what some researchers believe to be the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history. It marked staunch, widespread opposition to a single presidential term in which Republicans would lose control of both Congress and the White House while overseeing a record number of civilian deaths, nearly half of which could have been avoided.
On Tax Day in 2009, anti-Obama protesters staged some 750 tea parties across the country to oppose government spending and the $787 billion stimulus package—a preview of the Tea Party movement to come and Democrats’ eventual loss of both Congress and the White House over the course of President Obama’s two terms.
But nearly 100 days into Joe Biden’s presidency, conservatives are still struggling to rev up their well-oiled outrage machine over the Democrat currently in the Oval Office. As President Joe Biden pushed through a stimulus package that was more than twice the size of Obama’s plan, GOP lawmakers and conservative pundits wasted the bulk of their energy ranting about the great Seuss-silencing and Mr. Potato Head scandals of 2021.
Republicans latest effort to gin up some red meat anti-Biden fervor is by dubbing him the “Hamburgular”—a completely baseless conspiracy theory that part of Biden’s climate change agenda would include limiting Americans’ burger intake to one per month (an idea dreamed up by the British tabloid the Daily Mail). Oh, and if you heard Vice President Kamala Harris’ book is being given to unaccompanied migrant children, that’s also a 100% false story being peddled by Fox News and the New York Post.
If it all sounds a little desperate, it is. Republicans haven’t hit on anything about Biden yet that tickles the right-wing lizard brain the way Obama did, not to mention anything approaching Democratic repulsion of Trump. That’s not to say there’s nothing animating the right. In place of an organized anti-Biden movement, we are instead seeing the increasing radicalization of the GOP base along with a radical transformation within the party itself.
But insofar as conservatives mounting an opposition campaign that centers on Biden himself, they have failed almost entirely. This political whiff is particularly striking given how polarized the electorate is along with the boldness of the progressive agenda Biden is pushing forward. Especially where economic policy is concerned, Biden is in the process of trying to entirely reset the playing field with a more progressive tax policy than the nation has seen in a generation or more. He’s also planning to overhaul U.S. energy policy to reshape the economy and dramatically decrease the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not all Biden plans to do, but it’s a window into just how bold his agenda is.
But on the road to massive change, Biden and his team seem to have deliberately made his rather understated use of the bully pulpit into a feature, not a bug, of his presidency. That appears to have resulted in a feeling among many Americans that is perhaps best summed up by a respondent to a recent NBC News poll gauging Biden’s first 100 days in office.
“I don’t have to think about what Joe Biden is doing every day,” said a North Carolina man who voted for Biden. “The best thing about Joe Biden is I don’t have to think about Joe Biden.”
That sentiment is likely part of a mix of political factors that has yielded relatively strong mid-50 approval ratings for Biden as we approach the 100-day mark of his presidency, including very strong support for his pandemic policies and a new uptick in confidence about his handling of jobs and the economy.
All of this suggests that while Biden has already enacted bold progressive policies through his overwhelmingly popular pandemic relief plan, he’s poised to push through more historic change in the coming months and years. The next part of Biden’s economic overhaul, the American Jobs Plan, continues to garner strong support from the American public, and early indications are that his American Families Plan will as well.
New polling from Monmouth University released Monday showed the $2 trillion jobs plan registering 68% support while the nascent families plan notched 64% support.
Both of those plans are in the very early stages of congressional wrangling, but President Biden appears to have built more political capital to spend in his first 100 days in office—a good sign for his potential to push through more of his historic agenda. That will be critical to Biden’s bigger task of restoring faith in the federal government and American democracy, which is exactly what a radicalized Republican Party is seeking to destroy.