by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden is off to the most left-wing start of any Democratic president in recent memory.
The dulcet tones of Biden’s inaugural address already seem an artifact of a bygone era. Republicans will hammer him for the rest of his presidency for failing to deliver on his unifying message, but the fact is that Biden is governing as he promised — further to the left of his own record, further to the left of Barack Obama, and further to the left of any Democrat who made his career prior to the ascendency of the cultural left.
It’s not new for Democrat presidents to want to tax, spend, and regulate, even if Biden seeks to do more of all three than his immediate predecessors did. Biden layers on top of this a cultural agenda that represents a new dimension of radicalism that would be alien and baffling to past Democrats, who may have wanted to extend the New Deal but never sought to transcend the gender binary.
Biden has proved willing, too, to go it alone via rapid-fire, unilateral executive actions.
If Lyndon Johnson gave us the Great Society, he came to office seeking to fulfill the legacy of his martyred predecessor, which included passing a tax cut. Once elected in his own right in 1964, Johnson embarked on a spate of federal activism that no subsequent Democrat has matched, although Johnson largely enacted his priorities the old-fashioned way, by passing bills through Congress, and operated in a much more culturally conservative country and party.
Jimmy Carter, who ran as a Southern moderate and stumbled out of the gate, doesn’t really rate.
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both ambitious, but they also cared about the budget deficit and allowed it to restrain their agenda in a way that the Biden Democrats now totally reject.