I hate that emotional connection plays such an outsize role in our politics, but I also can’t deny that it does. If Americans can’t cheer you, they’ll chide you.
Biden’s presidency is far from a failure, but it has been stymied on some big promises that Biden made during the campaign on issues like voting rights and police reform. Lately it feels like, on domestic policy, Biden has moved from the macro to the micro, taking steps that will indeed benefit many Americans, but are too narrowly focused to transform our society or fix the core problems that plague it — trying to recruit more American truckers, focusing on Black maternal health, announcing an emergency waiver to allow higher ethanol blend gasoline to be sold this summer.
All the while, two major perennial issues are resurgent: crime and the economy. The fear of crime and the pinch of inflation aren’t abstractions, or complicated foreign policy, or perks for special interests. They creep into every door and lurk under every kitchen table.
And on the other side, Republicans are playing heavily into culture war issues like challenging the teaching of Black history and the history of white supremacy in schools, as well as restricting discussions of L.G.B.T. issues and campaigning against trans women and girls competing in sports with other women and girls. And they are using parental rights as the Trojan horse to enact their agenda.
Democrats, for their part, have almost ceded the parental rights argument, instead of fighting back and framing these efforts as oppressive and backward. They do not recognize that oppression by conservatives in this country is like an amoeba: simple, primitive, pervasive and highly adaptable. It simply shifts its shape to fit the environment and argument.
Republicans are using white parental fear, particularly the fears of white moms, worried about harm coming to their children, to attract suburban white women and get them to the polls. The oppression is a bonus.
There was another worrisome sign in the Quinnipiac poll: Biden’s approval rating among people identified as Hispanics was even lower than it was among those identified as white. Pundits have been discussing Biden’s declining numbers among Hispanics for months. In October, FiveThirtyEight pointed out that “there has been a drop in support for Biden among all three racial and ethnic groups we measured, but the drop among Hispanics — from the high 60s to slightly below 50 percent — marks Biden’s most precipitous decline.”