Episode for August 17, 2023

Episode 903: “The Media Still Doesn’t Get Biden Voters” with Professor Nicholas Grossman


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From Nick Grossman at The Bulwark 

“Bidenists think Trump getting indicted for conspiring to defraud the American people out of their choice for president—an unprecedented attempt to stay in the White House despite losing re-election—is about defending democracy and rule of law. That’s not just almost all Democrats, but also a majority of the countryConservatives and centrists warn that prosecuting Trump will further decrease his supporters’ trust in the legal system, but more Americans will lose confidence if it fails to hold Trump accountable.

Bidenists include civil servants you’ve never heard of, who don’t get any attention (or much pay), but keep all levels of government running. These civil servants actually meant their oath of office, rather than seeing it as words to disingenuously mouth to get power, and really are loyal to the Constitution over any party or politician.

Bidenists think all U.S. citizens are real Americans, no matter where they or their parents were born, nor whether they live in a city, suburb, or rural community.

Bidenists care about abortion rights. That’s another one that plenty of supposedly savvy observers got wrong. For example, Hanna Trudo, a senior political correspondent for the Hill, declared a few weeks before the 2022 midterm elections that Democrats campaigning on abortion is a “really risky proposition” especially “up against the economy,” because “the cost of gas is *extremely* important to nearly everyone” while abortion rights are “simply not.” The midterm results, referenda in Kansas and Ohio, and a great deal of polling data show that the issue is decisive for the majority of Americans who are appalled by forcing a 10-year-old rape victim to cross state lines for an abortion, filing criminal charges against a 19-year-old and her mother for a self-managed abortion with pills, and creating legal difficulties for treating ectopic pregnancies.

Bidenists are bothered by manipulations of our political process. They don’t like what they see as a stolen Supreme Court seat, as Senate Republicans made up a new rule to block an Obama nominee in 2016 and then reversed their own rule to confirm a Trump nominee in 2020. Or in the case of state governments, Bidenists don’t like when Republican state legislators gerrymander themselves into disproportionate power, as in Wisconsin. Obviously Democrats don’t like the policy results that have arisen from the rightward shift of the Supreme Court or the undemocratically skewed state governments, but more would accept the policies if it weren’t for the manipulations that made them possible.

Bidenists mostly don’t care about “wokeness.” I don’t mean that they use different terminology than critics for the same thing, I mean it’s way down their list of priorities, if it’s on there at all. Anti-wokeness is primarily an elite fixation or right-wing culture war bugaboo.

Bidenists don’t like banning books, distorting African-American history, trying to silence gay teachers, or retaliating against companies for criticizing politicians.

 

Bidenists want the United States to support Ukraine, and see Vladimir Putin’s Russia as an American adversary, not a model of white Christian masculinity or an ally against domestic enemies.

Bidenists don’t particularly care about Hunter Biden. He doesn’t work in government, and has no influence over policy. But they won’t defend his unethical or criminal actions, certainly not the way Republicans defend Trump’s corrupt children, because Bidenism isn’t a cult of personality, and Bidenists value rule of law.

Bidenists care a lot more about what leading politicians, media figures, and business leaders are doing than about nutpicked posters on social media, and think the claims that radical leftists dominate all institutions are insane.

Overall, Bidenists are pretty earnest. And if the Trumpist right, the far left, and the above-it-all center keep assuming everyone is as disillusioned as they are, they’ll keep getting it wrong.

Joe Biden was swept into the White House by a record number of votes from a wide variety of Americans, and he’s not a charismatic leader who commands crowd and camera, singlehandedly inspiring new voters as Barack Obama or Donald Trump did. If conservative elites don’t like it, maybe they should stop behaving in ways that make Bidenism inevitable.

Nicholas Grossman is a political science professor at the University of Illinois and senior editor of Arc Digital. He is is an international-relations professor at the University of Illinois and the author of Drones and Terrorism. 

Follow him on Twitter @ngrossman81.

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