The Shrinking Presidency

Related to an earlier post, I have seen many articles over the past few months or so about how Biden’s presidency is failing, or how Biden’s approval ratings are falling, or how no one is listening to him–‘the shrinking presidency’.

As I observed earlier, Biden’s presidency is much more of the Western-European tradition than American, making Biden possibly the most ‘European’ president in recent U.S. history, or at least since Carter.

Biden seems culturally and temperamentally similar to that of the EU and its leaders, who are socially liberal but also prudent and ‘old fashioned.’ Biden eschews Clinton’s ‘cool’ individualism in favor of a sort of moralistic collectivism., which makes him somewhat Western European in this regard, who are also more collectivist than individualistic. This makes Biden possibly the most ‘European’ of any presidential candidate, and I see kindred spirits between Western European leaders and Biden, that we didn’t see with past US presidents.

Biden’s style of governing is much closer to that of Merkel, Cameron, or Macron, than reminiscent of Clinton, Kennedy, or Reagan. It’s anti-hype, anti-fun, anti-excitement, much more perfunctory, with a strong moralistic ‘sense of duty’ and stewardship (which is why Biden is so adamant about vaccinations even if it’s hurting his approval ratings) playing a focal role, not stylistics or culture warring. So this makes his presidency sorta an anomaly, and not all that exciting to behold: if he comes across as boring, that is the point. Politics is often likened to professional wrestling or theatre–a big spectacle–Biden’s bland and earnest style of leadership is a stark departure from that.

Second, in our era of billionaires, the private sector continues to eclipse the public sector in importance and media attention. Billionaire-led initiatives such as Space-X launches, Apple product unveilings, or Facebook’s rebranding to ‘Meta’ (the video of Zuckerberg’s announcement got vastly more views than any Biden speech), generate considerably more media and public attention than almost anything Biden does. It’s not like how it was in the ’90s, when Clinton had a much bigger relative presence on the ‘cultural stage’; now Biden has to share it with tech billionaires and e-celebs.

It used to be that people turned to religious leaders or political leaders for guidance, but they cannot compete with the always-on, dopamine-infused world of YouTube and Twitter. Third, governors such as Ron DeSantis are commanding more media attention and playing a bigger role in national politics, too.

A major problem also is that Biden embodies the status quo. This in and of itself is not necessarily a problem, but it is a problem when the public’s overall trust of its leadership is at rock-bottom levels, for both sides of the aisle. The fed insists that inflation is at only 5% and transitory, yet for food, healthcare, phone plans–services that people use regularly and are recurring–is probably a great understatement, especially after accounting for shrinkflation. Health officials keep demanding new booster mandates and restrictions every 6 months, seemingly in contradiction to the promised purported efficacy of vaccines. It’s at the point now where these people cannot be trusted anymore.

Even among ‘the left’, I would reckon that student loan forgiveness and ‘Medicare for all’ are more popular than vaccines and ‘masking up’, ‘diversity and inclusion’ initiatives, and trillion-dollar spending bills that produce no meaningful results, but only serve to line the pockets of big companies and bureaucrats. Student loan debt forgiveness would be a tangible, quantifiable result that would benefit a lot of people, but much of government spending is analogous to a vending machine in which $100 bills are inserted and then pennies are randomly spat out.

If Joe Rogan and Elon Musk, both of whom were early and vocal critics of the mainstream Covid narrative and later shown to be correct, are now considered more trustworthy as sources of information than even the President of the United States, ‘the experts’ have only themselves to blame. Outside of certain hard sciences, I generally have an aversion to all experts, whether it’s crypto currency or most of economics, as they are undeserving of that title, so it’s not like I am just picking on health experts or politicians.