Has there ever been, in the history of the Presidency of the United States, so low a bar for the incoming occupant of the position as Joe Biden now has? After Donald Trump’s tenure, if Biden did nothing more in his term of office than not shit on floor of the Oval Office, nor set fire to the drapes, he’d still be ahead of the game, in terms of personal comportment. Lord knows Biden is not a perfect man nor a perfect politician, but neither is he a buffoonish sociopath with rage issues and a chorus of inadequacies screaming in and out of his skull all hours of the day and night. Biden is boring, in point of fact, and never has boring felt so good. We’re not settling for boring. Boring is what we’re hoping for.
But boring alone won’t be enough from Biden. It’s been a tradition for the last few presidential cycles for a Republican president to fuck up the country in some significant way, and for a Democrat to come into the office and spend a not insignificant amount of his term fixing things; indeed, one could say fucking up the country is an actual Republican goal, to keep the Democrats from being able to achieve their own policies and plans. In this regard, Trump has done marvelously well; the US is as dysfunctional now as it has ever been short of an actual (declared) civil war, and while Trump did not do that on his own — he had vital assistance from the Republican party, who aided and abetted his worst excesses, up to and including an insurrection against the legislature — he certainly did enough. It’s good that Biden’s boring, relative to Trump. But if boring means simply a functional status quo for the next four years, a milquetoast attempt to get back to “normal,” we’re all fucked.
I want Biden to use his boring for good — a bland, genial and chummy front to keep white people from freaking out about substantive work his underlings are doing. And when I’m talking about “white people” here, I’m not talking about the dimwit QAnon jackasses who will need years of deprogramming to even conceive of the notion that Joe Biden, of all people, is not in fact the head of an international conspiracy to do terrible things to children and pets. I’m also not talking about the actual fascists, who are these days too bold and too many. Those people are lost. Fuck ’em. I’m talking about the rest of the white folks out there, the perfectly nice, oh-sure-we-vote-Republican-but-we-thought-Trump-was-a-bit-much folks, and also the perfectly nice, oh-sure-we-vote-Democrat-but-let’s-not-get-ahead-of-ourselves-here folks, who even after an actual white riot at the Capitol still don’t grasp how their own privilege and assumption got us to a place where we almost chucked away our republic for someone who represents the worst possible version of our union. White people in their obliviousness almost “both sided” our country into authoritarianism and, yes, fascism. We have a loooooong way to go to get back from that bullshit. If Biden’s “Uncle Joe” shtick makes them comfortable on the way, great, because now we really do know what the alternative is.
That said, I’m not expecting miracles from Biden. One, the political reality is there are razor-thin margins of Democratic control in the House and Senate, and then there is a radicalized Republican party, much of which still won’t admit that Biden actually won the presidency in a legitimate election, and which still unfathomably has not chucked to the side a corrupt, unpopular and criminal president who lost them the House, the Senate and the White House. There are things Biden and his administration can and should do from day one, and it looks like at least some of them will be done. But a lot of the really hard lifts are still going to be hard. No one likes to hear that, but it is a real thing.
Two, Biden’s grandfatherly centrist shtick isn’t just a shtick, he’s really that way. He’s a 78-year-old white man who spent his entire political life just to the right of whatever was “center left” at the time, and is still under the illusion that just because he spent time in the Senate with Mitch McConnell, McConnell wouldn’t stab him in both kidneys at the earliest possible convenience, sniggering as he did so. This is yet another place where Kamala Harris will come in handy: pointing out to Biden that the Senate is a very different place now, and there’s only so far “bipartisanship” is going to take him. Hell, Biden should know that after watching eight years of Obama getting his hand slapped away every single time he reached it out. But I guess Biden is gonna give it the ol’ college try anyway.
So, yes, I suspect I will be exasperated with Biden a lot, and remember that I am a well-off cishet white dude who is not, in fact, a radical liberal. However exasperated I will be is a mere fraction of what others, more affected by the nonsense of the last four years, will be feeling. What I’m going to try to remember in those moments is that every step away from the abyss our nation almost toppled into is a good step. Biden will be my president (thank God), but he’s not the president for me. He’s the president for White People Who Still Haven’t Realized How Bad It Just Got, and hopefully through him, things get better for a whole lot of other people. Every day of that will be a victory of sorts. Or could be, at least.
I will take that for now. It’s a vast improvement over what we’ve had for the last four years. I’m willing to let boring work for us. Let’s see where it can get us in four years, and then, possibly, beyond.