Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President of the United States four times. He led America through the Great Depression and WWII. His reputation for leadership in those times of crisis commonly lands him on historians’ shortlists of the greatest U.S. Presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Perhaps FDR’s most famous spoken line was delivered during his first inaugural address as America stared down the Great Depression. Roosevelt uttered these immortal words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Implicit in his statement was that fear was not the answer. Fear was our enemy. America could beat anything. We could certainly beat the economic disaster at hand. We had to cast aside our fears, unite behind one another, and together beat whatever foe we faced.
Contrast that with Joe Biden in 2021.
President Joe Biden was elected in 2020 on two primary qualifications. The first was that he wasn’t Donald Trump. The second was that he and he alone was the choice that could defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. Among Biden’s limited repertoire of 2020 campaign proclamations was “I won’t shut down the economy, I will shut down the virus.”
Unfortunately for all of us, he has been unable to do so. The truth is that sometimes forces of nature (or of a Wuhan lab) are bigger than any one of us. In this case, it appears the coronavirus is bigger than the Biden administration’s best efforts.
That notion doesn’t sit well with team Biden. In fact, it is downright embarrassing to have promised to defeat the virus and, in turn, failed to do so. What to do now?
During his 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden employed a clear two-prong attack. With the full cooperation of the mainstream American media, he successfully linked President Trump with COVID-19. The two became synonymous. Mr.Trump became the boogie man. Then Mr. Biden fanned the flames of fear Americans felt over this new and deadly virus. As fear grew, so did distaste for the boogie man. The result? Mr. Biden victory in November.
Today it is different, however. Mr. Biden can only blame Mr. Trump for just so long. After all, it was Mr. Biden’s solemn promise to deliver us all from the world of lockdowns and economic distress if he was elected. What to do indeed.
The two-prong attack worked so well for Mr. Biden in 2020, apparently, the puppeteers behind the scenes have decided to employ the same strategy again, though the sequel needs a new villain.
The boogie man is you and me this time around, at least if we haven’t decided to get the coronavirus vaccine. No matter where you stand on the vaccine, one would hope you’d favor allowing people to make an informed choice for themselves. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I respect the liberty of all Americans to get information and decide what course of action to take. In normal times most Americans would agree and cherish that liberty.
However, these are not normal times, and because of that, Mr. Biden is again employing the second step in his two-prong attack, fear. Fear is possibly man’s greatest motivator. Instill fear into people, and you can convince them to do nearly anything. In Storm of the Century, Stephen King fans will recall when a Mom gives in and turns her son over to a demon of biblical proportions. Why? Fear, both hers and the overwhelming and irrational fear of those from her island community of Little Tall.
Mr. Biden is counting on that same irrational peer pressure to make anyone who has chosen not to get the coronavirus vaccine the new boogie man, and in turn, pressure them into making the choice he wants.
In a nationally televised address, Mr. Biden said the following, “My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We have made vaccinations free, safe, & convenient.” Then he got personal, condescending, and downright nasty. “We have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and the refusal has cost all of us,”
The refusal has cost all of us? Implicit blame. If you aren’t vaccinated, the flare-up in COVID-19 cases is your fault. Not the fault of the CDC, not the fault of a Wuhan lab, and certainly not an unfulfilled promise from Joe Biden. In an unprecedented maneuver, a sitting President of the United States actively worked to turn Americans against each other.
You may recall during the 2015 violent riots in Baltimore, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave “those who wish to destroy, space to do that….” The city’s top elected official literally gave permission to burn buildings and cars, smash store-front windows, and loot businesses.
The President of the United States took a page from the Mayor’s playbook and permitted Americans to express hatred at their neighbors. “To the vaccinated, I understand your anger towards the unvaccinated.”
Average Americans who lean left immediately took these words to heart. The wife of a close friend was on Facebook within minutes of Mr. Biden’s comments expressing her “disgust” for those unvaccinated taking up beds at hospitals. Her mother-in-law added a comment that those same people should be put out on the street. How very Christian of her.
The Biden team fears it is losing the battle against COVID-19 and, in turn, the public relations battle so essential in the next two elections. That fear motivates them to find a new boogie man who, in turn, will elicit fear from Americans everywhere. Average citizens fear illness. They fear death. They fear economic disaster. Who can they blame? Thanks to Joe Biden, they will blame other Americans. They will spew hatred toward their fellow citizens. Of course, this won’t cure coronavirus, but it will buy time and take the spotlight off Biden’s failings.
Apparently, FDR was wrong. We need not only fear fear itself. We should fear the Biden administration as well.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist for The Washington Times and hosts “The Capitol Hill Show” podcast every week from Washington, D.C.