Sunday 31 January 2021

The very divisive president: Joe Biden has unleashed a wave of wokery in his first ten days that will enrage millions - as his supporters in Silicon Valley shut down dissent, writes David Cameron's former policy adviser STEVE HILTON

 Those lights that are just shooting out from the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool – it’s like almost extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America. It was a moment where the new President came to town and sort of convened the country in this moment of remembrance, outstretching his arms.’

Believe it or not, those were the actual words of CNN’s political director, David Chalian, ‘reporting’ on Joe Biden’s appearance at a light show on Washington DC’s National Mall on the eve of his inauguration. 

British Conservatives have long railed against ‘BBC bias’ and the ‘Left-wing media’, but honestly…

The non-stop, undiluted, self-abasing fawning over Biden and his new administration on display over the past week or so from America’s smug, self-righteous, sanctimonious press corps makes North Korea’s mad ‘Dear Leader’ broadcasts sound like Radio Four’s Today programme. So what, you might say?

Biden¿s team said they inherited a complete disaster and would have to build a vaccine distribution system from scratch

Biden’s team said they inherited a complete disaster and would have to build a vaccine distribution system from scratch

Who cares if the media is a little over the top? The journalists and broadcasters were traumatised by Trump, so it’s no wonder they’re lapping up the relative peace and quiet of the incoming administration.

There is certainly some truth to that. But healthy democracy needs a sceptical, probing media to hold the powerful to account, and right now the American media is about as sceptical as a four-year-old sitting on Santa’s lap and as probing as a feather duster.

Take the most immediate crisis facing America, just as in the UK: the vaccine rollout. The media have breathlessly regurgitated Biden’s claims and commitments without actually checking the facts.

Biden’s team said they inherited a complete disaster and would have to build a vaccine distribution system from scratch. But if it was such a disaster, how come the vaccines are available at all?

It was Trump’s Operation Warp Speed that got them produced in record time. Before Biden was inaugurated, more than 16 million Americans had received their first shot – the highest in the world and the second highest per head of any major country, only slightly behind Britain.

Those lights that are just shooting out from the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool ¿ it¿s like almost extensions of Joe Biden¿s arms embracing America

Those lights that are just shooting out from the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool – it’s like almost extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America

We all know politicians use spin for political advantage but Biden promised to be straight with people about the virus. So it was cruelly deceptive for him to grandly promise 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days when, in fact, that would mean slowing down the pace set by Trump. America was heading for more than a million vaccinations a day the week before Biden was sworn in as President.

JUST last week, Biden announced the purchase of an extra 200 million vaccinations. But those were already on the way as part of the contracts negotiated by Trump.

Similarly, the new administration let it be known that the President was planning to invoke a wartime measure – the Defense Production Act – to force companies to increase vaccine supply.

But again, Trump had already done that and industry sources told the New York Times that there was no scope to go any further.

There is a clear pattern that’s already emerging: a massive gulf between President Biden’s words and his actions.

Before the election, he pledged he would work within the constraints of America’s constitutional ‘checks and balances’, respecting the fact that Congress, not the President, is supposed to make laws.

In October, he told ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos that ‘I have this strange notion we are a democracy… there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We need consensus’.

Whatever happened to that? In his first two days in office, Biden issued 17 executive orders, compared to Trump’s one and Obama’s two in the same timeframe.

Biden’s tally is now higher than any President in history at this point in their tenure. Moreover, his orders represent dramatic moves to the Left in major and controversial policy areas such as immigration, the environment and crime.

The whole point of America’s checks and balances is to prevent the government from getting too big, too powerful and too centralised. Yet Biden and his Democrat allies in Congress are acting as if they’ve won a landslide majority in a parliamentary system where they have unchecked power.

That’s not only a hypocritical reversal of a central campaign pledge – to restore the ‘democratic norms’ that they endlessly accused Trump of undermining. It risks further inflaming tensions in a nation that is already dangerously divided. For the truth is that Biden did not win a landslide majority – not even close. Trump actually got more votes than any President running for re-election in American history.

Of course, Biden won more. But in the key battleground states where the election was decided, his margin of victory was just over 40,000 votes – in a country of more than 330 million people. It’s no use Democrats pointing to the fact that Biden won millions more overall. That’s because the largest and most populous states such as California and New York are heavily Democratic, so many Republicans there don’t even bother to vote.

If the presidential election were truly based on popular opinion, Trump’s total would have been much higher: there are many more Republicans in California than there are Democrats in a state such as (solidly Republican) Wyoming.

Biden’s election campaign did not give him any kind of mandate for sweeping policy change. For most of last year, he was barely in public view. Before the pandemic restricted events, he could attend in person, his stumbling performances suggested rapidly advancing senility. Halting media appearances from the TV studio rigged up in the basement of his Delaware home were not reassuring.

To the extent that Biden had any kind of message, it was simply: ‘I’m not Trump and I’ll bring the country together again.’

Yet now that he’s in the White House, Biden seems to be doing the opposite. It’s true that his energy level seems consistent with the pre-election version – his aides wheel him out for a few minutes a day to sign executive orders for the cameras and mumble some remarks before he can put his foot in it.

But the substance is completely different from what was promised – not just in Biden’s election campaign but even in his inaugural address with its theme of national unity.

Instead of taking steps to unify the country, Biden pushed forward with hugely divisive wokery from the very first day, forcing schools to allow biological males to compete in girls’ sports, for example.

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Instead of trying to open up the economy as he promised, he wants to spend trillions of dollars on coronavirus bailouts that will incentivise the governors of states run by Democrats to keep businesses shut for longer, despite the evidence that lockdowns have no more impact on the spread of the virus than less drastic measures like masks and social distancing.

Instead of insisting that schools reopen immediately, based on the clear scientific reality – and experience in other countries – that it’s perfectly safe to do so, Biden prefers to coddle the teacher unions which are massive donors to Democrat campaigns and whose energies are focused not on reopening schools but renaming them to comport with the latest liberal zealotry. And perhaps, most dangerously of all, Biden is making no effort to reach out to the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump; to take seriously their concerns; to address the reasons they supported Trump in the first place.

In fact, he seems to be going out of his way to do the opposite: to rub their noses in the narrow defeat of their champion.

You see it in Biden’s policy choices – needlessly stopping the construction of Trump’s border wall, even though it’s something that he, along with all mainstream Democrats (including Hillary Clinton), supported until the moment Trump started talking about it.

And more provocatively still, announcing an immigration plan that would incentivise exactly the kind of uncontrolled, low-wage economic migration that for years lowered earnings and opportunity for many blue-collar workers.

But perhaps the place you see this vindictiveness most clearly is not in traditional policy but in the chilling clampdown on dissent that has been the most remarkable – and frightening – feature of the Biden administration’s first days in office.

The Left-supporting tech giants have effectively colluded to silence conservative voices – most notably Trump himself, of course.

They have even closed down businesses, such as the Parler micro-blogging site that once offered a refuge from Silicon Valley’s increasingly partisan censorship.

All this represents a truly menacing concentration of power.

Glenn Greenwald – formerly of The Guardian and renowned for his role in bringing the former CIA operative Edward Snowden’s revelations to the world – argues that all of the real centres of power in American life lie in the hands of people whose world view is fundamentally at odds with democracy.

These include the media, Silicon Valley, the cultural industry, corporate America, the permanent bureaucracy, the intelligence apparatus, the military-industrial complex and, of course, the federal government in Washington.

Before last November’s election, one of the arguments most often made against Joe Biden was that he would be too soft on China, that he would return to the establishment accommodation that Trump overturned.

Little did anyone imagine that within such a short space of time, millions of Americans who committed the ‘crime’ of voting the wrong way would start to fear that the real threat is not the Biden administration being too close to China but America itself edging worryingly close to China’s authoritarian society.

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