Biden can still stop Trump, and Trumpism – if he can find a bold plan and moral vision | Robert Reich
The US president has been struggling and his divisive rival still has the Republican party in his grip. But there are reasons for hope
Will Joe Biden be re-elected in 2024? With his current approval rating in the cellar, most pundits assume he will be toast by the next presidential election. At 81, he would also be the oldest person ever elected president, slightly exceeding the typical American’s lifespan.
So, the conventional thinking goes, Biden will be demolished by Donald Trump (or a Trump surrogate such as the Texas senator Ted Cruz or the Florida governor Ron DeSantis), thereby subjecting the US and the world to an even crazier authoritarian than Trump 1.0.
But that’s way too simplistic. In reality, Biden’s current approval rating isn’t much different from Ronald Reagan’s about this point in his presidency when he was grappling with inflation and the inevitable buyer’s remorse that voters feel a year and a half into a presidency. Two and a half years later, Reagan had won 49 states in his re-election bid against Walter Mondale. (Reagan was then 73, just short of the typical American’s lifespan at the time.)
Trump’s popularity has plummeted since the 2020 election – a casualty not just of most Americans’ outrage at his big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him and his role in the January 6 insurrection, but also of the poor showing (and terrifying
characteristics) of many of his endorsees in recent Republican primaries. The televised hearings by Congress’s select committee investigating January 6 have also reduced Trump’s standing with most voters.
Meanwhile, Biden is scoring some legislative victories, including a major bill to subsidise semiconductor chip making in the US. And now, following a hard won Senate vote at the weekend, Biden has substantial bragging rights over a much larger bill to slow climate change, lower the cost of prescription drugs and make health insurance more affordable.
The president has also been getting kudos for the killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaida successor to Osama bin Laden, in a spectacularly discreet US drone strike that resulted in no other casualties.
Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley