American sports arenas are rarely the scenes of political actions. That changed a few years ago when some players in the American National Football League (NFL) started kneeling during the national anthem. The kneeling was supposed to be a recognition of the suffering of black Americans during slavery and the civil-rights struggle.
Then came the demands that the national anthem not be played. It was supposedly a tribute to ‘white supremacy’ and a manifestation of ‘racism.’ Together with the kneeling, this outraged so many ticket buyers and TV viewers that the entire sports business was thrown into financial panic. Owners and coaches of teams in the NFL and other leagues of other sports had to tell their players that it was coming down to a choice between them kneeling and them getting a paycheck.
Just as the virtue signaling subsided and sports events were returning to normal after the 2020 pandemic, a new phenomenon emerged: spectators at sports events started chanting “F*** Joe Biden!” with clear reference to the president who took office in January 2021. It is said to have started at college football events and then spread to NFL, baseball games, hockey games, and beyond.
Suddenly, expressions of political preferences at sports events were no longer monopolized by virtue-signaling, millionaire players, or their even wealthier bosses. Regular Americans who went to sports games decided to turn the tables on them. The “FJB” chant was perhaps not the most eloquent form they could have chosen, but it became the insult of choice after things took a humorous turn last fall at a car-racing competition in Talladega, Alabama. As a reporter started talking to the driver, Brandon Brown, people in the bleachers began their FJB chant. The reporter—incorrectly—tells the driver that the audience is chanting “Let’s Go Brandon!”
Within hours, her inadvertent re-interpretation of FJB started echoing throughout sports arenas around America. Cars were adorned with “Let’s Go Brandon” bumper stickers, as were t-shirts, hoodies, even yard signs. Humorous comments about President Biden often referred to him as “Brandon.”
In my 20 years here in America, I have never seen a president mocked by regular Americans in this way. Presidents are often disliked but never ridiculed at the level directed at President Biden. George Bush, hated as he was by the Left, nevertheless earned a certain respect for leading the country through the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the aftermath. Barack Obama, who was as disdained among the Right as Bush was by the Left, was acknowledged by his opponents as being a gifted orator. Donald Trump earned respect, even among his critics, for scaling back America’s foreign military engagements, and for having invigorated the economy in ways that no other president had done in half a century.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, seems to have lost even his most loyal supporters. It is almost impossible to find anyone outside the regime-loyal media who will say anything positive about him. Even fervent pro-Democrat social-media warriors have lost the energy to try to defend this president.
I understand them: nobody can keep track of his speech gaffes anymore. More and more people seem to feel sorry for a president that clearly has serious cognitive issues. On the cusp of the 2022 midterms that mark the halfway point between the last presidential election and the next, Joe Biden looks like the senile old grandfather to whom kids and grandkids pay only passing interest, while quietly asking when he will move on to greener pastures.
In Biden’s case, of course, those pastures are his retirement home after the 2024 election. There is no chance that he will run for a second term. It will be a miracle if he even makes it through the next two years without resigning due to health issues.
But health problems are not his biggest problem. Of far bigger consequence is his stunning ability to drive voters away from the Democrat party. What looked like a solid, perhaps even unstoppable Democrat momentum two years ago when they won the presidency, held onto their majority in the House of Representatives, and tied with the Republicans in the Senate, has turned into an imploding balloon.
Biden has become such a problem for the Democrats that some candidates for Congress have quietly asked him not to come and stump for them in their local races. His appearances would lose more voters than they would gain. This is ironic since most of the reasons why voters have turned their backs on Biden are not even his fault. He did not create high inflation—that was the work of Democrats and Republicans in Congress under President Trump.
Biden did not start the wave of sexual propaganda to children in America’s schools. That was the work of LGBT activists and left-wing school-board radicals.
Biden, of course, has endorsed all the policies that increasingly drive Americans away from his party. But he has not been a leader in them.
In fact, it is difficult to find any policy issue in which Biden has been a leader. He might have been the one who ordered the unmitigated disaster of a withdrawal from Afghanistan, simply because it was so disorganized, so incompetent, and so costly, both in equipment and in lives. But beyond that calamitous episode in his administration’s foreign and security policies, Biden has been on the sidelines of practically every policy issue of any consequence.
The lack of leadership in the White House is painfully visible in many areas. The administration often seems as disorganized as a herd of cats. On the one hand, radical environmentalists keep pushing for a ‘green transition’ in energy policy, the most tangible effect of which has been to curtail the opening of new domestic oil production. On the other hand, the president has been humiliatingly snubbed when begging for foreign oil producers to sell more oil to America.
To make matters worse, the Democrat leadership in Congress is also disorganized. One reason could be that they are trying to beat the old Soviet communists in the Guinness Book of Geriatric Records. Another reason is the party in-fighting between two brands of spendaholics: those who want trillions of dollars more for the ‘green transition,’ and those who want to keep writing blank checks for the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, regular Americans have been coping with the highest inflation in 40 years and budget-busting increases in interest rates on mortgages and credit cards. The only thing the Democrats mustered to do on that front was to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which, given its name, was one of the greatest acts of unintended sarcasm to come out of Congress in a long time.
The act increases federal spending on health care, including prescription drugs for retirees; it raises taxes on corporations and supposedly fights ‘climate change.’ Not a single provision of the act does anything to reduce inflation in the American economy.
Many Americans have picked up on the lack of leadership. According to almost every poll, voters have soured on Democrats over the past two years to the point where some forecasts give Republicans as many as seven seats in the Senate. Although that number is optimistic, it looks like they will win both chambers in Congress.
The Republicans are also likely to make gains in gubernatorial races and in state legislatures, maybe even in New York, a Democrat stronghold. Governors are powerful people, and state legislatures can take very independent routes on many key issues. There are major differences among the states in almost every conceivable policy area: taxes, criminal justice, education, social values like abortion, and so on. All in all, this could make it almost impossible for Joe Biden to make progress on almost any domestic policy issue.
This election could turn “Brandon” into a lame-duck president, only halfway into his term.
Conservatives should not get their hopes up just because Republicans make significant gains in the election. The Republican leadership in Congress, which is about as old and lethargic as its Democrat equivalent, is not too keen on rocking the boat on big issues. Many of them, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are simply not very conservative. Others tend to listen to their donors before they make policy decisions. If the donors don’t want radical changes, the senators and congressmen also don’t want radical changes.
It looks like many candidates with an America First agenda—the term often used for the policies that President Trump championed—will do well. This includes both in Congress and in state races. There are members of Congress, in both chambers, who want to make real, conservative reforms. They have to strike a delicate balance between those ambitions and their fundraising obligations: all members of Congress, regardless of party, are assigned annual fundraising goals by their respective leadership. If they don’t meet it, they get punished with less attention to their legislative initiatives, with assignments to less important committees, and so on.
In short, American politics is a hodge-podge of power-hungry cynics, ideological purists, lobbyists, special-interest groups, loyal patriots, corrupt sell-outs, and just about every other imaginable political character. Getting things done in such a melting pot takes a very special talent.
Then there is the money. All in all, everyone involved spends an estimated $16.7 billion on the election, in the form of campaign staff, donations, TV, and other media commercials, and whatever else that gets them elected—or keeps their influence over those who do get elected.
The money, of course, comes down on the side of inertia. Those who write the big checks want some return on their investments. They want legislation passed, and other legislation stopped. Ideologues are paupers compared to businesses and billionaires, and businesses and billionaires prefer the status quo they profit from. Naturally, they will try to stop any changes that might create a new status quo that someone else would profit from.
Things can change, of course. Politicians who prefer the status quo can change their minds and become leaders for change if enough of their voters demand as much. A new crop of congressmen with stronger ideological convictions than their predecessors—such as those endorsed by Trump in this election—can push for legislative initiatives that otherwise would have been ignored.
My point is that voters who were motivated by “Let’s Go Brandon” at the ballot box should not get their hopes up too much. Two years is an eternity in politics, but it is a very short time in the hallways of political power.
The greatest difference that this midterm can make will be in restraining the most radical policy ideas from the Biden administration. If the Democrats, including those in the White House, do not want their party to be humiliated in another election, they better dial back their radical agenda, sit still in the boat, and wait for 2024.
Democrats are good at this. That is how they managed to get Obama re-elected in 2012. That, and the fact that his opponent, Senator Mitt Romney, decided to go jet-skiing with his wife just as media was portraying him as just another wealthy, out-of-touch white guy.
It is unlikely that the Democrats will have a strong, credible candidate for president in two years, especially one who can stand a chance against former president Donald Trump or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. At the same time, it is also unlikely that they will sit idly by and let the Republicans solidify whatever victory they will score in this election.
Speaking of which: come January 2023, we will start seeing presidential candidates testing the waters with the electorate.
Here in America, politics never sleeps.