by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As President-elect Joe Biden’s team has started taking shape, Republicans have shifted from casting his incoming administration as a collection of Bernie Sanders socialist castoffs to establishment corporate shills.
The prevalence of more centrist figures in the early stages of Biden’s team building rather than the most liberal elements of the Democratic Party strengthens the position of Republicans who would like to anchor their own party in the populism associated with President Trump, who still has yet to concede the presidential race and continues to contest the results in multiple states.
“My concerns, as I’ve said before, about what I’m seeing from Vice President Biden is [that] the people who he wants to be in his Cabinet are all a bunch of corporate liberals and warmongers,” Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, told reporters. “So I’d like to see him break the mold.”
Hawley has attempted to distinguish himself in his first Senate term as someone trying to formulate a coherent legislative agenda around Trump’s populist rhetoric that differs from the conventional Republican policies that have dominated since Ronald Reagan, which has earned him intraparty critics.
But this differs from the standard GOP criticism of Biden on the campaign trail. “If Biden wins in November and appoints Bernie Sanders as Secretary of State,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted in September, “we’ll see open hostility to our friend and ally Israel and an open embrace of tyrannical socialist dictators like Venezuela’s Maduro.”
One intraparty critic of Hawley suggested this is a departure from the Missouri lawmaker’s own warnings about a Biden administration, noting he told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that the former vice president was “in thrall” to the “Marxist Left.”