Op-Ed: Evaluating Joe Biden’s First Year as President

January 24, 2022

By Brooke Rollins

By Brooke Rollins in Newsweek

There was a moment at the first Trump-Biden debate, on September 29, 2020, in Cleveland, when the contours of the American future were laid bare. After a brief verbal wrangle over the socialist propensities of a future Biden administration, the Democratic challenger pushed back. "The party is me," Joe Biden said, in his best l'état, c'est moi mode, "Right now, I am the Democratic Party." President Donald Trump shot back: "they're going to dominate you, Joe. You know that."

Well, one year in, chalk up another vindication for President Trump. Joe Biden was propelled to the Democratic nomination by a coalition of center-left, working class and minority primary voters who preferred him as a pragmatic alternative to his array of far-left rivals. You'd never know it from his record in governance. As president, Joe Biden has been a forceful advocate for the priorities of far-left, mostly white, mostly upper-income progressives whose vision of the country and its future are, in a word, extreme. He's abandoned the ones who brought him, and—as the 2021 elections signaled—they're actively seeking alternatives.

President Biden isn't veering to the left because of any personal or ideological conviction of his own. He's a political chameleon, and he's had to be, with a record in public office stretching back over half a century. The moment he first assumed public office in 1971 was closer in time to the Harding administration than to the Biden administration. Across that lengthy span, Joe Biden has held nearly every position, on nearly every issue. Some public figures achieve longevity in office through the advancement of a singular vision or emphatic point of view. Others make themselves into intellectual weathervanes, closely attuned less to the truth of any matter than to its present and future popularity.

President Biden is definitively of the latter type.

President Trump understood this clearly. He knew that Biden would govern according to the dictates of Democratic party elites—and that those elites would pull him hard to the left on nearly every front. This isn't an interpretive exercise on my part. I know it because I spoke to President Trump about it in the final days before Biden's inauguration. The night before that inauguration, in his final hours in the White House, the president shared with me his fears for the country. His line in the debate—that the far left was "going to dominate you, Joe"—was not just electioneering rhetoric. It was a prediction, and a warning.

One year after that day, the warning has proven entirely prescient. If you paid attention to news media over the past few weeks, you saw them mark a one-year January anniversary—on January 6—as worthy of commemoration as a dark day for America. It's true that the events of that day deserve memory, if not quite in the same vein as the Left would have you believe. But the truth is that January 6, 2021, was not the worst day for America that month. That day, the anniversary worth remembering, is January 20, 2021.

The simple truth is that January 20, not January 6, changed the lives of Americans—and for the worse. That's because the Left and the Democratic elite are dominating Joe Biden, now that he's in the White House.

One year later, look to all the challenges facing America: a looming war in Europe, a lost war in Afghanistan, rampant criminality in our cities, a pandemic wholly out of control, schools gripped by fanatical ideologues, supply-chain breakdowns and more. All these things are direct consequences of—or were massively aggravated by—the governance of President Joe Biden. And that governance is a direct function of the cohort that does, in fact, dominate him. There is a particular man in the White House, but he—far older than any of the late-Soviet gerontocracy—is a figurehead. The real rulers of the country are exactly who President Trump predicted: the socialists, the leftists, the progressives, the radicals.

Look at what they've done—and then consider that they have three years to go.

This one-year anniversary of the Biden administration is cause for regret: not for us who served its predecessor, but for the country. But there is also cause for hope. The American people see clearly what the Left is, and the fruits of its rule. They'll vote this year—and again in 2024. The left-wing elites can dominate Joe Biden, but they cannot dominate us. We will get our chance to speak—and reclaim what we've lost.

Brooke L. Rollins is President and Chief Executive Officer at the America First Policy Institute and previously served as Chief Strategist and Director of the Domestic Policy Council during the Trump Administration.