The Amazingly Mandateless Presidency

Though it might be an unpopular opinion, Donald Trump entered the White House with a larger mandate to f*** stuff up than Joe Biden has to change society dramatically. Which is truly amazing when you consider Joe Biden won the popular vote by seven million votes and Trump had lost by 2.1 million. But, exclude NY State and California and Trump actually won the popular vote by a few thousand ballots.

Biden’s lack of a mandate doesn’t just show by the fact he actually split the number of states he and Trump won 25/25, but by the campaign’s dramatic lack of any serious policy discussions or plans. Instead, absent white papers, the Biden campaign literally spent 24 hours a day reminding Americans a vote for him was a return to normal.

Which, I suppose, is true. Biden’s selections to lead key departments and Cabinet Secretaries is unremarkable for the insiders selected. The list of Executive Orders he plans to sign on Day 1 is basically a return to the Obama years.

But, when it comes to any substantial policies which a) will benefit Americans lives and b) have a chance in hell of becoming law the lack of a mandate shows by the lack of policy substance. Consider the Biden administration’s open legislative priorities with a massive amnesty bill Joe Manchin is unlikely to get behind. Then, the $1.9 trillion Stimulus bill composed of additional $1,400 checks, billions for multiple priorities including opening schools, and a $15 minimum wage.

Remember, Democrats campaigned on and won the Senate in the GA run – offs on the premise $2,000 Stimulus checks were coming. If Joe Biden and his team actually had a plan to implement their priorities via legislation vs. Executive Order and believed in bipartisanship, they would have taken any of these issues on piecemeal. Instead, the mammoth bill seems designed to implement as many progressive fiscal priorities as possible. Notably, Biden is likely to push this through regular order, not reconciliation, likely because if he did it under reconciliation the minimum wage provision would be removed, upsetting progressives.

It is true Biden could blame the next piece of evidence on recalcitrant Senate Republicans. the lack of Cabinet nominees. But, Biden could have taken a more active role in the process and if his administration believed they had a mandate could have made it a much larger issue than they have. Instead, Biden will be the first President in modern history to start his Presidency without a single Cabinet nominee confirmed.

Worse for the 46th President, might be the lack of a Senate majority. Yes, yes, yes. I know. Democrats nominally control the Senate with Harris as a tie – breaking vote, but in reality, on committees and reporting nominations and bills to the floor, a power – sharing agreement has to occur in the Senate to share/split control of Committees. That has not occurred.

Further, if one were to look across the nation to the composition of state legislatures and partisan control of governorships, one would see a Democratic Party worse off than they were in 2018. This means while Biden is sure to find local Republicans eager for federal dollars, he will find they are not likely to pursue his most ambitious agenda items either through legislation or EO.

To be fair, Trump’s mandate was basically to come in and wreck everything. He did that and then some. Biden’s mandate is much less clear. Once the fawning media coverage of the 78 year old white guy and his first female VP “Circle/Square/Identity we want” ends, expect this dynamic to be so painfully obvious even the media cannot ignore it.


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