The worst kept secret in Washington, DC is that Joe Biden is a one-term president — whether he knows it or not. This weekend, palace intrigue stories from Politico and CNN pitted Vice President Kamala Harris against Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The kids are fighting over Grandpa Joe’s inheritance before he’s even cold.
Biden doesn’t acknowledge this. He’s signaled multiple times that he intends to run for a second term in 2024. He has been trying to capture the White House for over thirty years. He’s not just going to give that up willingly as he managed to go from party punchline to party patriarch in the span of one election.
But to believe the choice is up to him is to believe that his staggering fall in poll numbers is imaginary. It’s to believe that Biden is not facing the largest electoral wipeout in Congress in decades, or that those behind his presidency are not going to pull him aside — particularly Jill Biden, who has been extremely protective of her husband. It’s to wave away his advanced age and possible cognitive decline. Joe Biden is a dead man walking, electorally speaking. Perhaps he always was.
Let’s consider the possibility that Joe Biden and the White House handlers behind him always knew he would be a one-term transitional president, whose sole purpose was to free the country from the scourge of Donald Trump. Having achieved that, Biden would then have a blank slate in terms of what his administration could achieve in the following four years. If Biden was to be a one-term lame duck on arrival, that would leave open the door for progressives to launch a transformational effort to remake the country into the leftist utopia they’ve been yearning for.
Usually a politician would shy away from policies likely to inflict pain on the country. But that all changes if he isn’t planning on standing for reelection. He could inflict real reform — and real harm, the kind of harm we are seeing right now with both an inflation crisis and oil prices spiking.
The infliction of this pain appears to be very intentional. When press secretary Jen Psaki returned to the podium last week, she acknowledged this. In response to a question about skyrocketing gas prices, she said: “Our view is that the rise in gas prices over the long term makes an even stronger case for doubling down our investment and focus on clean energy options.” Psaki said that as world leaders flooded Glasgow vowing to eliminate fossil fuels over the next nine to twelve years. That is not a coincidence.
If you want to force a population off of meat consumption because you think it’s harming the planet, you simply make things like meat too expensive. If you want to force people into electric vehicles because you believe they’re harming the planet, you let gas prices soar to astronomical levels, to the point where people don’t drive and opt for public transportation.
To the Democrats, this is the Biden sacrifice. He will be a one-term president, but in his one term, he’ll be able to transform the country in a way no politician who cared about his political future would ever dare to attempt. It’s a deal that a 79-year-old Joe Biden would take, if it meant the national press speaks his name in the same breath as FDR.
Joe Biden is not the future. He might not even be the present. That’s why his administration is governing like he has months to live, sweeping through a bucket list of progressive wishes. Doing so is already causing enormous harm, but in the end it will be worth it for the Democrats, and it will be worth it for Biden.