President Biden’s speech Wednesday evening had all the trappings of a last minute partisan effort that subsequently fell flat as it competed with a more interesting event, the third game of the World Series, and simultaneously heightened an already tense election process. The losers in this effort are not only Democrat candidates at the national and state level but also in local elections as well.
None of the President’s remarks represented reality, but instead his vision of reality designed to generate fear and possible visceral reaction from his party faithful to do just what he was accusing his opposition of doing.
With descriptions such as “voter intimidation” and “pernicious tendency to excuse political violence” Mr. Biden presented visions that are patently absent in the vast majority of voting districts nationwide, and most assuredly in North Carolina. If all that he described was occurring, there would have been numerous stories in the liberal metro press and broadcast stations. But there have been very few, and those that have been reported on have been quickly addressed by local law enforcement.
Using code words that clearly identified Republicans, he doubled down on rhetoric that served only to further divide the country by describing anyone who challenges government as an enemy of the state. He didn’t use the phrase “enemy of the state.” Instead, he identified anyone who seeks transparency in the election system as “threats to democracy,” which of course can quickly be converted into “an enemy of the state.”
The surprising result of his hurried, last minute appeal for votes was the negative reaction from the president’s own party and Democrat candidates at every level of government, who are trying desperately to grapple with the destructive impacts of Biden’s policies on the nation’s economy.
In his inaugural address on January 20, 2021, Mr. Biden expressed his concern for the needs of the nation when he said, “I understand that many Americans view the future with some fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs, about taking care of their families, about what comes next. I get it.”
Obviously he didn’t understand or maybe even remember those words as he spoke in an almost panicked voice that “Recent polls have shown an overwhelming majority of Americans believe our democracy is at risk, that our democracy is under threat. They too see that democracy is on the ballot this year, and they’re deeply concerned about it.”
Democracy is on the ballot? Not according to the average voter.
Pollsters nationwide, in surveys conducted over the past six months, have concluded that the top item for voters, without question, is the crumbling economy. Nationally recognized Morning Consult polling company reported that at the end of October a national survey showed that 77% of people polled identified the economy as the number one issue.
Crime issues came in second with a survey number of 61%, followed by gun policies and education at 53% and 52% respectively. Abortion just eked over the mid-point in the survey at 51% and immigration was only perceived as a top issue in the midterm campaigns at 50%.
No surveys taken so far by Morning Consult or other pollsters have shown concerns about the state of democracy as described by the president’s Wednesday night speech at Union Station in Washington, DC. The absence of this issue obviously didn’t influence Mr. Biden as he stressed the need for the country to “make the future of our democracy an important part of your decision to vote and how you vote,” in essence, vote Democrat regardless of the individual or the platform.
It is not only the national elections involving US Senate and House campaigns that suffered from the President’s ill-timed speech. So too, will local elections be influenced, which is unfair to the Democrat candidates and to the voters who now will be impacted by the President’s ill- conceived remarks as they approach the voting booth on Tuesday.
Because of the overwhelming influence of the national campaigns and personalities, local candidates registered in either of the two established parties, Republican or Democrat, suffer from guilt by association. Partisan politics have become so contentious that voters see the party almost exclusively and not the candidate.
Local candidates are, by the nature of the races, seeking to represent communities based on community issues. They have no influence or impact on the broader national issues and yet those issues become the descriptors for the local campaigns as well. The result is that the voters conflate, a process of confusing and combining totally disparate issues, national and local, that serves to eliminate the importance of the local issues and the local candidates.
The problem is so severe in Carteret County that local Democrats, many of whom do not approve of the current administration, have not mounted serious election campaigns. Simply by party affiliation their efforts to develop local campaigns and to engage in political debate about the important local issues are diminished significantly. That is unfortunate for the county. Voters need legitimate alternatives but they are not present in the upcoming local election as only one local race, for N.C. House District 13, is contested, with Democrat Katie Tomberlin running against Republican candidate Celeste Cairns.
President Biden’s partisan expression only deepened the divide between the parties and in the process dampened any real opportunities for members of his party to engage in issues that are meaningful. We need only look at the local races to see this fact.
As local voters go to the polls Tuesday one image is sure to stand out- President Biden insisting that democracy is on the ballot. No, democracy is not ON the ballot- it is the ballot and it will be exercised.